Dragon demographics

8-year-old boy:

"You know, there are more boy dragons than female dragons, but there are more girl females than boy females."

Pass the Paint

The preschoolers were pretty quick to catch on to Pass the Paint today. They learned to stop painting when the music stopped, and which direction to pass their color in less than three repetitions. There was only one minor spill, and just a few instances of polymorphously-perverse tempera-wallowing.

We were painting our bug castles. These are small box castles just the right size for the Queen Bee, her ladybugs-in-waiting, dragonflies, knight crawlers, and roly-polies of the round table to inhabit. The castles have paper towel tube towers, french fry box balconies, and teeny-tiny jewel-encrusted thrones. Alas, sometimes this idyllic kingdom of the Queen Bee is attacked by the evil Spider Queen and her minions. Don't get me started on what a weird word "minions" is. I see this scenario where Condoleezza Rice's brain is swapped with a scallion's brain, and everybody wears collander hats connected to tubes, wires, and ancient hair-dryers. You remember that Yogi Bear episode with the scientist in the Airstream trailer, swapping Yogi's brain with a chicken's? Of course you do! It is a Jellystone classic.

There are lots of advantages to playing Pass the Paint. Everybody gets every color eventually. Everybody gets to paint along to the "William Tell Overture" and the "Return of the Valkyries" with great gusto. Everybody gets to ooh and aah over every color like Santa had just brought them a pony. Everybody gets to argue about which musical selection was in Jurassic Park, or Fantasia Two, or the hit kid movie of the day. Everybody gets to practice a routine, master it, and correct their neighbors (a four-year-old's favorite activity), but the game has no winners or losers.

Sometimes I ponder redecorating the condo in one long game of Pass the Paint. Could my little castle home glory in the creamy paint application of Thiebald and Diebenkorn? Could it have the metallic accents of Whistler's Peacock Room? Could I revel in squishy purple polka dots on glitter pink walls? I want gift wrap tube towers and a cardboard drawbridge! Ms. Nancy, Ms. Nancy, let down your hair!


Revenge of the Storytime Lady

For seven years I've gathered small children in a circle to listen to stories. There are few things more magical than sharing books and stories with children. They respond to the words and illustrations so openly. I try to rise to their eager anticipation and rapt attention. In perfect moments we all become fused in the enchantment of the story. In other moments, there are Velcro shoes.

Velcro is to the Storytime Lady what Lord Vordemort is to Harry Potter. One child has the power to destroy the bubble of enchantment. Just one child with Velcro shoes can bring down a sparkling rainbow communion. Just one child, innocently, but inattentively, adjusting the straps on shoes that light up when stomped and sport a registered trademark movie character. SKRWASH. SKKRWASH. SKKRWASSSH. SSSKKRWASSSH. It's more contagious than yawning or SARS! In five seconds every child in the circle save one is doing the Velcro Thing. Once is not enough. The Velcro always SKKRWASHES twice, thrice... Nails on the blackboard. Dental surgery. Indiana Jones with snakes and rats. Diaper rash. Steel wool loofahs. College statistics classes. Bus rides. Athlete's foot. Campground restrooms. Machine coffee in a paper cup on a nocturnal crosscountry drive... And now that one non-SKKRWWWASHING child has covered his ears, assumed the fetal position, and is moaning for his special bunny....

The Storytime Lady finally acts. After seven years! The magic number. Yes, the Lady of the Swollen Feet, oh She of the Dark Fatigue, wraps herself in the Cloak of the Mastercard. She joins the Quest for the Perfect Shoe. She finds wilderness sandals that look like sawed-off walking boots with tire tread soles. Each sandal has four Velcro straps. The Storytime Lady lusts for the power! She becomes a crazed, stomping ,orthopedic, menopausal robot on the rampage. Rambo Reader draped in Velcro ammo belts... It's the whole nine yards! Anything you can SSKRRWASSH, she can SKRWWASSH better. She can SKKRWASSSH anything better than you. .......

But now all is quiet. So quiet Bambi and his mother could walk out into the meadow. The Storytime Lady slowly opens the book. She begins to read "Millions of Cats", by Wanda Gag.


I think I'd like to invert the Shoemaker & the Elves. I'd make whimsical things by day, and the elves would spirit them away to sell to the king for fantastic amounts each night. Then the elves would leave a cute suit of clothes, and maybe some bread & cheese, on my work table.


Crossing over to the corrugated dark side?

A question came up today about Corobuff. The product didn't ring any bells, especially since I imagined it being spelled "Korobuff". Somehow that sounded like a perfect Greek Adonis or Cretan bull-leaper with a Zonker tan, so I was curious. After all, I'm old but not dead.

Did a little Dogpile search and eventually corrected my spelling. Oh, yeah, Corobuff is the printed corrugated paper rolls we use for stage sets, prom decor, scalloped bulletin board borders, parade floats, and patriotic grocery store displays. I found the site for Bemiss-Jason, the maker of Corobuff and lots of other great art materials like Spectra tissue paper. As I clicked around the site I suddenly found myself in The House of Darkness, a Stephen King website. Get me outta here! This is too much like the day I've had!

While squeezing a plastic bottle of fabric glue this morning, the entire top of the bottle blew off. Out plopped 4 oz. of something that looked like a Ghostbusters prop or industrial-strength Pillsbury cinnamon roll icing, and smelled quite mind-altering. The weirdest part is that the glue now coating my hand seemed to have an ultra-violet glow. Or maybe it was the fumes...

Haven't had so much fun since squeezing the tube of gold printing ink onto the brayer plate a couple summers ago. The bottom of the tube popped open shooting groovy gold goo back on me and my brand spanking new walking shoes. Just beam me up to Oz, Slimer.

Perhaps I should lie down with a cold cloth on my forehead. I keep seeing Mediterranean surfer dudes riding waves of blue bulletin board borders. Alternately, I could go rent "Shirley Valentine" again at Blockbuster.



Out of the blue the garbage disposal just yawned and belched like a crocodile that ate a poodle. Gave me the willies. I have goosebumps up and down my arms. The sounds of running major appliances are the background music of my life. If they all cease at once I wonder if my heart quit beating. (Oh, Lordy, Mizz Amana, we'z all agonna die!) Still, I never heard the disposal belch before in all my born days.

My mom used to admonish us for burping by chanting, "To squelch a belch and bear the pain, or belch a belch and bear the shame?" In my family shame was clearly more horrible than pain. A belch could go down on your Permanent Record, after all.


Scuba drama

Had to "dress up" for this camp's performance day. I love having a job that requires jeans and tennies 99% of the time. I can get by without pantyhose even on show days, which is a dang good thing in Texas. Today I couldn't wear my natural linen pantsuit with the raspberry knit shell that perfectly matched my toenail polish. I had to wear the black sleeveless challis and the Cornhusker red linen jacket with my uncomfortable black sandals. My toenails clashed!

At the end of the preschoolers' Australia play the kids who were the scuba divers in the Great Barrier Reef were supposed to say, "That was a fantastic adventure!" Everytime they ran through it this one little girl would belt out, "That was an enphastic adventure!"

"Enphastic Adventure" was probably the name of Clashing Toenails' first rock CD.


Beatles' Stewardesses

From tempera paint to Techno Woman! Whoo. Whoo. Whoo! I managed to make a link turn underline blue in the mysterious realm of html. Just visualize Granny from the "Beverly Hillbillies" making a guest appearance on "Mission Impossible". Be sure to visualize it in black and white on a 15" screen. Squint at it while drinking Quik chocolate milk and eating a tuna salad sandwich on Wonder Bread down in the neighbor's basement among framed National Geographic maps, souvenirs from The War In The Pacific, and dressmakers' forms. The smell of a baking Duncan Hines chocolate cake should lurk on the fringes of your consciousness.

Barbara Feldon. Agent 99. Great hair. Great voice. Smarter than Maxwell. That is who I wanted to be when I grew up.

Spent many happy Sixties hours playing "The Beatles' Stewardesses" with the three other girls on the block in my grade. As stewardesses, we had to dress up in sparkly plastic Cinderella shoes, old, itchy petticoats, and Julie's grandma's ancient fox furs with the eyes, teeth, and claws. We had to be so charming that the Beatles couldn't help but fall in love with us. There are probably sociology and psychology masters theses examining "Tribal Status as Predicted by Childhood Imaginary Beatle Boyfriend". So as to foster a spirit of openness in this blog, I must reveal that I was always George's girlfriend. I was very sad when he died forty years after our idyllic imaginary romance.

This is Julie's 48th birthday. She was always Paul's special stewardess. We played this game on the basement stairs, while listening to her big sister's LPs on the family stereo that was as big as a house trailer. It was just like the cardboard stereo in Barbie's Dream House! When we got tired of catering to the Fab Four's in-flight whims, we adjorned to the "mud room" to drink warm bottles of Coke, and eat potato chips from a large cardboard tub. My fondness for the burnt chips confirmed my status as George's girlfriend. John's imaginary girlfriend grew up to write contracts for industrial carpeting and Christian romance novels. Paul's girlfriend is the hostess in her husband's Mexican restaurant. Ringo's girlfriend achieved professional success despite that early stigma.

I'm hearing "A Taste of Honey", but smelling Julie's cat's litter box. I'm a day tripper....


Didgeridoos in the car

Began assembling the equipment necessary for a preschool photo safari in the Outback today. We used stencils of crocs and roos, with sponge paint rollers to decorate our expedition kit boxes. We each made a lovely camera using an Altoid box with a yarn neck strap. Rx lids make great "flashes", and we glued on lots of buttons for "zooming in and out" and taking pictures. These kids are all geared to digital cameras, so they needed a button to see their imaginary captured images. Our products are some of the best smelling cameras on the market today!

Tomorrow we'll make magical "Dreamtime" binoculars from the ubiquitous t.p. tubes. We will add colored cellophane "lenses" so we can see Bunyip and the Mimis, instead of just Uluru. If you want to know about Mimis, go to www.aboriginalartonline.com. Mimis are real characters! Eventually, we'll add a compass and other survival gear to our photo expedition kits.

The didgeridoos were huge hits. We used poster mailing tubes, about 4" in diameter, instead of the PVC pipe in the http://www.kinderart.com/multic/didgeridoo.shtmlplans. The poster board mouthpieces did not work. On the other hand, most of the kids could do "motorboat lips" into the tubes to make wonderful, LOUD noises, and didn't want to add the mouthpieces anyway. We glued on drawings, wrapped colored masking tape stripes, and added strings of pony beads and feathers to make groovy, if not authentic replicas of this ancient musical instrument. Visualize kids so excited that they took their didgeridoos along in the SUV on weekend road trips. Visualize parents with Ibuprofen!

G'day, mates!


Sims White House

I'm continuing my experiments with using The Sims as an anger management tool. Now I'm trying a new family, the Rumsfelds. I am still building their big house because there's Don, Dub, Dick, Condi, Colon, Ashy, and the twins, Puritan and Privilege. Eight people, and not a single bookshelf. Lots of tvs and mirrors, though. Can't figure out a way to have smoke with the mirrors. Got the "Caesar Psychopathus" statue out in front of the rosebushes, and the oval office has matching stuffed rhino trophies on the wall.


Two seven-year-old girls were discussing death while they waited for a turn in the restroom. The discussion was brought on by the idea of eating Australian long-necked turtles for supper.

Girl #1: When you die, you get to go to heaven. Then you get to be an angel with wings.
Girl #2: But if you want to be a mummy in a museum, then that's a different story.

Indeed.. ... What do you want to be when you grow up?
I want to be a mummy in a museum.
But, ew, like wouldn't that be icky? The clothes are so old.
Yes, but the jewelry is nice.


Big Mama Crocodile

The swimming pool has reached a perfect temperature for morning swims now that our daily highs are near one hundred degrees. None of that jumping around on tippy toes to get used to the water! Now I just lumber in like a big mama crocodile, and hang in the water waiting to bite large fish and small children. Since neither are present, it's wonderful to watch the blue dragonflies and listen to the locusts and mockingbirds. Naturally, this extreme aerobic exercise makes me ravenous.

It's amazing to me that this is our seventh summer in the condo. That is the longest I've lived anywhere in my adult life. When we moved here after the divorce, the boys were still young enough to need adult supervision at the pool. They jousted with those silly pool "noodles", building both noodle weapons and noodle steeds. They taught each other to dive, and had breath-holding competitions. They learned to be considerate of the old ladies, but when no old ladies were around, they had excellent water fights. We worked out the snags in our new family arrangement, and splashed off a lot of custody/visitation stress.

This is my real home now, and life is good. I hope someday I will share the pool with grandchildren. They will learn to be considerate of this old lady, but we will also have excellent water fights.


Spit curls

Two first-graders styled their hair with papier mache goopy-goo (Ross Art Paste) today. The effect was quite dramatic. Ross Art Paste is non-toxic, cheap, and long-lasting. Perhaps if the word got out, we could bring down the megabucks hair products industry. Goopy-goo doesn't say much on the box about it's actual contents. I've always figured it was made from pulverized yak toenails, so I tell kids it's just like Jello without the color. Most of them don't eat it. They prefer using gluesticks for lipstick.

Remember that white paste that came in gigantic jars? I have a precise visual memory of the Sunday School room where I first tasted that heavenly delight. It must have been a three-year-old's cosmic experience. I can still see the dark wood tables and scary, shadowy brown brick fireplace on that gray, rainy morning. Some folks find the Virgin Mary in a poorly installed double-pane window. I tasted direct evidence of God's bountiful goodness that day.

Found an old letter from Mary from back when her kids were toddlers. She said their uneaten breakfast Pillsbury cinnamon rolls smelled just like Play-Doh. As a person who still loves to wham the cardboard tube on the edge of the counter, this has been a troubling concept for two decades.

Coming soon: The lion and the lamb. One three-year old brings her Fisher Price sheep to camp tucked in her undies. Last camp a kid kept a quarter in his Under-Roos, but had to constantly verify that his funds were safe. Never underestimate the importance of a full-service bank that gives you peace of mind.


How can you have any pudding?

Gruel is such an odd word. Like suet and porridge, it seems to come from an ancient dwarf language...

It was a grueling day in Art Land. We started our papier mache crocodiles. G'day mates! Are you thinking Dundee or Hunter? Used washed-out plastic water bottles, scavenged from soccer teams, for the body. Added a french fry box for the head. You know, the cardboard sleeves for McD apple pies, etc.? And no, for once they aren't recycled! Then cut a triangular section from a 2-litre pop bottle for the tail. Now time for the legs. That's when we put the Bridge Club Ladies' empty Rx bottles to use. At four bottles per student times 28 students, we use a lot of cholestrol, blood pressure, thyroid, and hormone replacement bottles! Thank heaven those Ladies take lots of drugs! Now for the eyes made of tiny plastic Easter egg halves. Since one half is round, and the other is oval, the croc seems to be winking.

Do you know that Cub Scout pack meeting sing-along standard, "The Lady and the Crocodile"? Goes about like this:

She sailed away on a sunny summer day on the back of a crocodile.
"You see", said she, "He's as tame as tame can be. I'll ride him down the Nile."
The croc winked his eye as she bade them all goodbye wearing a happy smile.
At the end of the Nile the lady was inside, and the smile was on the crocodile.

Always comes to mind when someone is in denial. Not good, but better than being in decrocodile.

Some other day: Gender differences in elementary student behavior during initial exposure to papier mache paste: A Master's Thesis? Was it good for you, too?... Teacher! Teacher! Can I wash my hands? May I wash my hands? Well, I suppose that would probably be better than licking it off!... Also for PE credit, a beginner's guide to floor slime skiing.


I went out for a ride and I never came back...

Floating on a wave of optimism after posting so smoothly, I ventured forth into a glorious Lone Star evening to purchase three Quick Pick tickets--one for each college education. The sky is a lovely shade that I can only describe as the hue of vanilla ice cream when the carton is placed on top of the fridge instead of into the freezer. You discover the mistake the next morning, when it is certainly not convenient, especially before coffee. The ice cream has melted all down the side of the fridge; you see the gelatins, dyes, and other mystery components that have separated and recongealed into subtle agate bands of color. Alas, you find it has also affixed the kids' drawings, pizza coupons, emergency phone numbers, cutesy magnets, and Christmas card photos to the fridge in a very enduring way. Into this twilight glow, please imagine thin bands of canned salmon, not yet mixed with Campbell's Cream of Mushroom, and sprinkled lightly with violet powdered tempera paint from your first grade classroom, with the rust from the a/c evaporator coils you can't afford to replace. The only thing needed to complete this idyllic vision is a red and white 1961 Plymouth Sport Fury with push-button transmission and rectangular steering wheel.


Stayed up late, lordy, it must have been nearly 11:30 CDT, to make Chex Mix the old fashion way for my youngest. Had to stir it every half hour, of course. We call it Kris Kringle Krunch in my family, even though it is ninety+ degrees outside, and it is one of my son's Basic 4 Food Groups. (Yes, I'm so old I don't know the Food Pyramid). His four groups are bagels, strawberry Yoplait custard-style yogurt, burn-it-himself cheese quesadillas, and Chex Mix. All washed down with Dr. Pepper. During the school year this diet is enhanced with apples and Domino's pepperoni pizza. Because he is sixteen now, he is trying new foods, and has actually managed to consume hamburgers when the social situation required. His dad managed to eat perfectly charcoal-broiled Nebraska corn fed T-Bones just long enough to woo and wed me. Then he reverted to his preferred vegetarian diet of M&Ms and beer, with the occasional brussel sprout or kohlrabi for garnish. Kohlrabi, the veggie from outer space!

Sure hope NASA can launch the Mars Rover. Spent a lovely portion of my childhood building Lego vehicles inspired by the Chariot of the "Lost in Space" TV show. After a long day, I wish I'd concentrated on building force fields.

Coming soon to a theater near you: "Danger, Mrs. Robinson, danger." Koo-koo-ka-choo.


The beginning

Creating a new blog can't be any more embarassing than the rest of my day. Dressed up as an Aussie Outback guide, taught kids to make burrito jeeps, and received a large shipment of recyclables from the Bridge Club Ladies back home. Some of the Ladies have been playing bridge together for over fifty years. Today's box contained the responses to my plea for Seventies fabric remnants. I offered the Ladies unconditional Polyester Double Knits Amnesty. No questions asked. No judgments made. I need these other-worldly remnants to clothe genii hand puppets in August. The genii will travel by flying carpets made of interior decorating upholstery swatches. The Ladies can't see well enough to sew these days. Their daughters loathed the polyester hot pants, midi skirts, gaucho pants, and those groovy giant zippers for bodysuits their moms wanted to sew. Those daughters were busy discovering the Grateful Dead, staging high school moratoriums, fearing Nixon, and wearing denim. Can't really blame either side. Luckily, those remnants were packed away in decaying corrugated Almaden boxes for thirty years. Perhaps the Generation Gap can be plugged with hot glue, wine corks, and sequins.

Coming soon: A Medicare prescription bottle plan


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