Blondes get consumption, too.

Listened to "La Boheme" while driving to the nature preserve for a walk this Memorial Day morning. As a former cold and starving (well, not really starving, but definitely cold) art student, I love this opera of young artists living hand-to-mouth. As the mother of teen boys, I appreciate the jokes and horsing around of Rodolfo and Marcello. As a sweet, tragic, brunette embroidery seamstress who once suffered from pleurisy, I identify with Mimi.

A dearly demented friend has loaned me "La Boheme" with Jose Carreras and Katia Ricciarelli. The music is wondrous, but something is horribly wrong! Ricciarelli is blonde. Right there on the cd case, I can see that she is sweet and tragic, BUT she is blonde. That really ticks me off. Everybody knows that tragic sopranos with consumption are brunette, especially if they embroider and are poor.

Cough...cough, cough....

In the dozen years I've been teaching art with children, I've taught beautiful young ladies of many races and colorings. It makes me sad when they almost invariably draw a princess as a blonde with blue eyes. Do only blondes with blue eyes live happily ever after? Maybe my ideas about the tragic brunettes stem from early Disney indoctrination just like theirs.

Three picture books with beautiful, generous, and wise princesses of color are listed below. They are best for students six to nine years old, as they are a bit long for reading aloud to younger children. I look forward to reading them to my students each summer.

The Gifts of Wali Dad:
A Tale of India and Pakistan

Retold by Aaron Shepard
Illustrated by Daniel San Souci

The Unicorn and the Dragon
Written and illustrated by Lynne Cherry

One Riddle, One Answer
Written by Lauren Thompson
Illustrated by Linda S. Wingerten


Winspear Opera House

Now that I have some grown-up clothes, I like to do the occasional grown-up outing. I like the outing to be free to the public, but reservations requested. It was quite splendid that the schematic designs for the Winspear Opera House in the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts were being unveiled in the Horchow Auditorium of the Dallas Museum of Art on Friday morning during my break before summer sessions begin. Have chartreuse dressy sandals, will travel! Since I bought these sandals to wear to a wedding, I have to wear them A LOT to justify the purchase.

The Dallas Arts District already includes the Dallas Museum of Art, the Nasher Sculpture Garden, the Crow Collection of Asian Art, the Meyerson Symphony Center, the Annette Strauss Artists' Square outdoor festival area, and the Booker T. Washington Magnet School for the Performing Arts. Before this decade is out, it will add the Winspear Opera House, the Wyly Theatre Center, a completely renovated Magnet School campus, and the City Performance Hall. If I visit all of them wearing my chartreuse and black sandals, the purchase will be justified. Never mind that the sandals aren't really very comfortable, or that chartreuse will soon fade as the accent color of the moment.

I loved getting up close to ponder the architect's models for the Arts District, the Flora Street area, and the Opera House. The models were made with natural wooden geometric forms, like the blocks we had growing up.

I thoroughly enjoyed Spencer de Grey's presentation about the proposed and amended Opera House design, its energy efficient aspects, historical inspirations, acoustic considerations, CAD simulations, and other Foster and Partners' projects with solar canopies.

The traffic and pedestrian flow aspects of the design need some serious reworking. I'm suggesting that a mom who has spent eighteen years in the Pickov Andropov lanes at public schools could give the folks at Foster & Partners some practical advice.

My consulting fees are quite reasonable, and my sandals are up for the task!


Sponge Mom Square Tops

Spring is sprung.
The grass is ris.
Wonder what shape your t-top is.

At the end of last summer the washable knit t-tops from Kohls, Mervyns, Penneys, and even Dillards were rectangular. What happens in the deep dark recesses of the closet over the winter months that transforms them into squares? I don't want my midriff to show! It's not a good look, but my shirts have all gone short and wide. Can I stretch them on The Rack?

NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition! Our chief weapon is surprise...surprise and fear...fear and surprise.... Our two weapons are fear and surprise...and ruthless efficiency.... Our *three* weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency...and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope.... Our *four*...no... *Amongst* our weapons.... Amongst our weaponry...are such elements as fear, surprise....

What would Monty Python do about my shirts? WWMPD?

Fat-armed and dangerous

Women of my thermostatically-challenged age group often worry that they will start looking like their mothers. This is wasted worry time, because they WILL start looking like their mothers and even grandmothers. It's a done deal.

My sister and I have a much more frightening concern. We might start having swinging arm flab like our elementary school music teacher! First thing in the morning, when other women are staring into the bathroom mirror looking for gray hair and eye wrinkles, Mary Jane and I pretend to direct the sixth grade SSA chorus. Does our arm flab swing back and forth more today than yesterday, than last month, or last year? Does it swing back and forth enough to hypnotize a sixth-grader??? Does the flab look so bad a sixth-grader will lock his/her knees, faint, and fall off the risers during the choral concert?

I don't remember much about the choral concert, except that a kid named Steve had the lead role of the duck. As a second soprano, I sang mostly, "He swam round and around and around and around..." I had a pretty voile dress in Monet cool colors and my first pair of nylons. Voile is back in this year. Fainting on the risers is not, and neither is swinging arm flab.

I had a better role in the sixth-grade dramatic presentation of "Julius Caesar by Shakespeare Adapted for Young Performers". I got to be Caesar's wife, Calpurnia. Caesar was played by the sixth-grade heart throb, Clint Dudley, with his tight jeans, million dollar smile, Roger Staubach passing arm, and Beatle boots. Still, it was tempting to lock my knees, faint, and fall off the stage, strangling myself in my bedsheet tunic ala Isadora Duncan.

If I could stay up late enough, I might find an infomercial for the Amazing Ginsu KTel Swinging Arm Flab Reducer, starring Rosie O'Donnell. Trouble is, I fall asleep singing, "He swam round and around and around and around."

No one ever tells me what's cool until it's too late!

My son is off on a trip. He spent more time dressing his iPod than packing his duffel bag. I hope he has a toothbrush. He forgot his razor, but that might have been on purpose. Last year he only packed two days worth of clothes for a four day trip. New Orleans is not a place where you want to put on the same sweat-drenched clothes you wore the day before. Even if you put them on top of the a/c vent overnight they won't have dried out.

His iPod is dressed in an elegant but understated black glove with the fingers cut off. I did not know electronic devices needed clothes! Nobody ever tells me this stuff. I can't take a picture of the iPod attire, because it is off in the French Quarter or visiting the D-Day Museum. I think it is going to be too warm on the swamp airboat tour and the visit to the Metairie cemetery.

This seems to be commercial iPod outfit, but my son is going for a more indie look:

I'm trying to catch up, but I might be too late. In the summer iPod's and other electronic devices may go to nudist camps. This is my oldest son's first Speedo from the Baby & Me swim class we took in Omaha in 1983. I can't believe it is too large for dual VCR and DVD remote controls:

These outfits for all occasions date to my ex's mid-1960's G.I. Joe doll. G.I. Joe has a fuzzy blond buzz cut, bends, and is slightly larger than Ken. I especially like the Dubya look for the t.v. remote--flight suit and cowboy boots:

Size-wise, Ken's wardrobe may fit better, but the choices are limited. Here we see what the fashion savvy Samsung will be wearing to prom, while Nokia takes the field with its drum major look:

Maybe I should get the Sousa ringtones, but I still think electronics should definitely not wear clothing:

Abducted by the Pod People

Actually, it was iPod people, male teens speaking their alien tongue, who abducted my computer. True, they didn't actually take it away. They more took it over, and my studio/office/bedroom, too, for three days.

"What are you doing?" I asked. The iPod people mumbled unintelligible phrases in their low voices. "Please give it back. Please, please," I pleaded. I was too sad and afraid to look into the eyes of my little mouse as she was forced to do their bidding.

At times during the long days, they would go off in search of large quantities of spicy provisions, letting me know from their growls, glares, and gestures that I was not to touch anything. Other times they would call me from their handheld communicator devices demanding that I perform ghastly technological chores that I could not understand beyond the words, "Click on".

It's over now. I have my computer and mouse back. The iPod people created their LAN, downloaded and copied (or vice versa) over two thousand songs into the iPod. How long these songs will sustain them, I don't know. Be on the lookout. Next time they may need YOUR computer.


Make a new plan, Stan!

Hop on the bus, Gus!*

My brother-in-law has an expression about being ready to gnaw off his left arm if he doesn't get out of a church service or meeting soon. I certainly felt ready to gnaw off my left arm during the graduation ceremony for the 1112 members of the high school class of 2005 yesterday afternoon.

The ceremony was held at Reunion Arena in downtown Dallas where the Mavericks and Stars used to play. Graduation for my middle son two years ago was held there also. My oldest graduated in the sweltering Texas Stadium (where the Cowboys still play) with the class of 2000, one of the largest graduating classes ever in Texas. That "graduation from hell" is legendary in these parts, as is the incredible traffic jam that followed the ceremony. After that hours long jam, I vowed I would never drive to a graduation again.

We went down to Reunion Arena on the bus from the senior high, which was fine. Riding the bus to and from Reunion in 2003 went fine. This time it took two full hours to get back to the senior high after the mind-numbing ceremony. Big wreck under the High Five at rush hour, but our bus driver didn't know any other way back to Plano. We finally got off "Central" 75 with the help of another bus driver herding our bus along like a stubborn dogey, but by then the alternate routes were also big jams. It was exhausting. The air conditioner wasn't cooling, passengers were sweating, fanning themselves, snoring, talking loudly, or listening to all the stomachs growl as we inched along. Worst, the situation was out of our control. In our own cars, we could battle the frustration by taking action, pitting our wits against the Evil Traffic Beast. On the bus we were just starving passengers in pinching dress shoes who hadn't eaten since breakfast. In a moment of supreme maternal sacrifice, I gave my graduate the only Starburst in the bottom of my purse. That's all the pomp I could muster under the circumstances.

I work near the High Five construction for the 75-635 Interchange. I am really quite fond of driving through the interchange and noting the progress. I'm still the structural engineer's daughter! I am amazed that such an enormous and complex undertaking is proceding as smoothly as it is, and ahead of schedule, too. I just discovered that I can view webcams facing each direction of the interchange. Take a look. Squint hard and you can see the bus. I'm the one waving out the window!

Slip out the back Jack
Make a new plan Stan
Don't need to be coy Roy
Just get yourself free
Hop on the bus Gus
Don't need to discuss much
Just drop of the key Lee
And get yourself free

*Paul Simon's Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover

Olive the other reindeer

...used to laugh and call him names. They never let my Howie join in any reindeer games...

My dad is one lucky dude. My brother brought an assortment of taste delights from the olive bar at the HyVee in Sioux City when he visited Dad last weekend. Dad is grooving on green olives stuffed with bleu cheese, black olives stuffed with red peppers, red peppers stuffed with green olives, a blue dog over a yellow tree, a yellow dog under a blue tree, and many other gourmet Go, Dog, Go! delicacies.

My favorite part of Snapshots From the Wedding is the kids wearing pitted olives on their fingers. Nothing says "special occasion" like wearing black olives on your fingers! I really think Olive the Other Reindeer should wear olives on her antlers.


Family black sheep

I've tried to keep it secret for many, many years, but my dad learned the truth when he visited here last month. I am a crumpler.

"My ex-husband divided people into two groups, the crumplers and the folders. He was obviously a folder..." —Name Withheld, from "The Woman Who Irons the News: In Quest of the Quintessential Quirk", by Judy Reiser, in the May 2005 AARP Bulletin.

My poor father. He wonders where two parents who are both such precise folders could have gone wrong to produce a crumpling daughter. I don't crumple everything. I fold paper bags neatly. I fold clothes nicely in suitcases. I refold newspaper sections, even after I've done the crossword puzzle. I fold much of the clean laundry, although I started crumpling the teen son's underwear since it all gets heaped on the floor of his room right next to the dirty heap.

What upsets my dad is my treatment of plastic grocery bags. I wad them into the tiniest crumple possible, then stuff them into a woven container to keep squishing them further. The woven container looks like a Baltimore oriole nest, and it makes me happy to have a use for it.
No, those aren't my ankles.
This is how my parents save plastic grocery bags.


Consider becoming a member today!

I hope you have enjoyed your visit to the newest attraction in the greater Dallas Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area Arts District, the fabulous KoozMuseum of Art. Please consider becoming a member at one of the generous or merely affordable levels of support.


Curator, Founder, and Executive Director
Zphinx Level:

Annual contributors at the Zphinx Level of $1,000,000 support the research mission of the Museum which seeks to understand the proliferation of Koozies in the late Bush Dynasty. Members at this level receive invitations to the official ceremonial unveilings of all KoozMuseum archaeological discoveries; commemoration of their support written in Sharpie on a cool beverage can of their choice; their own signed and numbered designer insulated beverage suit; and voting privileges on the Museum Beverage Acquisition Committee.

Koozhuna Level:
Generous support of the KoozMuseum's artistic outreach mission at the $100,000 level of annual giving brings the finest of contemporary performing Koozinart into area schools. The Koozoff Ballet will be this year's featured company. Koozhuna level contributors will receive their very own silver spray-painted replica of the famous Koozitiki, and a downloaded version of the Hawaii Five-O theme song.

Sustaining Level:

Contributing at the $1000 annual level, supporters enjoy the special exhibits and fine koozine in the tearoom of the KoozMuseum, also known as bean dip and banana smoothies at the curator's kondominium. This facility, featuring a rotating display of the finest known examples of Koozinian busts, is available for contributor's private parties and corporate functions. Sustaining members also receive the monthly museum e-newsletter with information about special discounts and upcoming events.

Friends and Family Level:

Contributors at the $100 level fund the actual preservation and display of the permanent collection. They enjoy reduced admission prices for all special exhibits, free admission during regular KoozMuseum hours, a 10% discount in the gift shop, and a hot glue burn named in their honor.


Moving in circles of power

A friend took her students on a field trip to meet Justice Sandra Day O'Connor this week.

My family's favorite breakfast cafe used to have a good waitress who looked just like Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

I would rather have a good breakfast any day than ride on a school bus for a field trip.


So the lion ate Pierre.

"I don't care."

Pierre is graduating from high school now, and his parents are about ready to bop him with the folding chair and leave him there. Not send him to college anywhere. Pierre has a wonderful scholarship offer to a fine and scenic university, but he does not care. He wants to go elsewhere.

Thank heaven for Maurice Sendak! I didn't realize his classic early reader from the Nutshell Library would be so apropos at this stage of the parenthood game. I wish I could spell out life for my eighteen year-old with "a cautionary tale in five chapters and a prologue". The whole empty nest scene looks more appealing when kids pour syrup on their hair!

One day
his mother said
when Pierre
climbed out of bed,
"Good morning,
darling boy,
you are
my only joy."
Pierre said,
"I don't care!"


Misty watercolor memories

"What's this movie?", asked the resident son, surfing the daytime cable options.
"ahOhrk!", I choked,"It's The Way We Were."

Bought a green sleeveless silk/linen top with a mandarin collar at the 40% Off one day sale at the mall. The green chokes me back to the way we were in Millard Lefler Junior High's cafeteria in the late Sixties. The girl from my advanced math class, Lisa, was sitting across the lunchroom table pulverizing her canned peas. I wonder what happened to Lisa. She was very smart, but subversive.

I only purchased the 40% off sleeveless top because I bought some Lisa's pulverized peas colored dress sandals last weekend to wear to a wedding.

C'mon baby, do the olfaction with me

Get out those disco moves and dust them off! Step on out there on that lighted dance floor with Grand Funk Railroad.

Today's concept is smell memories. Went down to work yesterday. The custodian had stripped and buffed the floors, and was starting to wax them. Floor wax! Flashback. Robert Kennedy assassinated by Sirhan Sirhan. I was home sick from junior high school. Mom was hosting her bridge club that evening, so all the blue dining chairs were lined up in the living room. She was mopping the dining room floor. I was watching the tv news coverage. Walter Cronkite. Mop & Glo. Forever linked. Do The Bump on over to the Institute of Smell!

And yes, bridge club was on Wednesday nights. The front page is from the New York Times the next day, Thursday, June 6, 1968.


Effluent on EBay

An Australian blogger alerted me that researchers suggest fish should be raised in livestock effluence. Just what is effluence? Well, let's just say it has to do with flowing out. Try to visualize Isadora Duncan and her "Isadorables" dancing in floaty, filmy scarves. It's like that, only lots more slimy.

Had I known, I wouldn't have spent most of yesterday and seventeen dollars cleaning the darn aquarium. The tetras and danios were all pretty happy, healthy, self-motivated, working together as a team, and possessing positive self-esteems in the skunky tank.


Just to make everything perfectly clear, I am not the Collagemama with the photos on community.webshots.com. One of these days I'll have to find out more about this other Collagemama. I'm curious how she came up with this name. Did her journey involve Merle Haggard or Jerry Garcia? Mama tried, Mama tried.

And I turned twenty-one in prison doing life without parole.
No-one could steer me right but Mama tried, Mama tried.
Mama tried to raise me better, but her pleading, I denied.
That leaves only me to blame 'cos Mama tried.

This Collagemama tried to raise three guys better, and they turned out even better than I can claim credit for. So this is a disclaimer for them, too.


Smashing my guitar

About a year ago, at the time of Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival in Dallas, a Dallas Morning News critic named Thor Christensen wrote a piece on the history of rock star guitar smashing as ritual. It started off, "The rules of romance say if you love something, set it free. But the rules of rock tell you to smash it to smitereens."

When I first got the sofa, it was true love, but our relationship had lost the spring and shine of love about a decade ago due to trauma inflicted on it by the four men in my life. Sons are rough on a couch, and so is being hauled around to different apartments in a divorce. Too bad I didn't set it free in the property settlement and stick my ex with it. For several years now, the couch has been held up by three sturdy under-the-bed boxes from Target jampacked with National Geographics, debate trophies, Magic cards, and role-playing game books. The guys and their friends still found it comfortable enough to throw themselves onto it perfectly so that the three threadbare cushions were never properly pushed down and back under the upholstered back.

Gradually, the sofa became the symbol for my suppressed aesthetic needs, my overcrowded, cluttered condo, and my chronic low-grade financial frustrations. Basically, it came to represent the dark side of being a single mother. Don't get me wrong. My sons are fantastic young men, and I have loved every bit of being their mother. I love being single, too, and this condo has been a wonderful haven for rebuilding a family.

Over 66% of my sons has shared a fondness for Classic Rock with me. My youngest's most vivid tantrum was thrown in the Penneys store at Quail Creek Mall in north OKC while I was trying to purchase a red polo shirt for his dad's thirty-fifth birthday. He threw himself out of the stroller onto the floor, sobbing, kicking, and screaming, "I NEED my Classic Rock!!!!" And that was just last March.

No, not really. It was March, 1989, but it's gouged in my memory like the carving on a junior high school desk. His room, his incredibly messy, overflowing, sweaty, and oppressively stacked room (See Exhibit A) where he managed to write his scholarship applications, is decorated with Led Zep, Beatles, Who, Pink Floyd, Grateful Dead, and Doors posters.

Exhibit A

His brother took the poster of Jimi Hendrix burning his Stratocaster off to college, along with a great one of Stevie Ray Vaughan. The guys have shared John Mayall, Santana, and Steely Dan concerts with their old mom, along with the aforementioned Crossroads festival.

So perhaps it isn't entirely peculiar that after we received the long-awaited word of my youngest's college destination and the way to finance it, I smashed the davenport. I'm only sorry I wasn't able to set it on fire out in the parking lot. I hauled the cushions to the dumpster, then cut off all the padding and upholstery. I sawed the frame up enough to collapse it for ease of dragging across the parking lot to the dumpster. Climbed up on each side of the dumpster to tip open the double lids, and was well on my way to sliding the sofa carcass up and over, into the mosh pit when a passing jogger decided to help. This is my cathartic transition into empty-nesting------tidy, spacious, relaxing, soothing, white-walled, fingerprintless, tastefully decorated, eclectic-style empty-nesting (See Exhibit B)!

Exhibit B

You're never too old to rock and roll. On guitar-smashing, Eric Clapton told Christensen, "To me, it's show biz. I don't see much value to it, to be honest." I didn't see much value in keeping the sofa, either. Now, I've got to find my cd.


Widor "Toccata"

Lightning didn't strike when CollageMama attended a beautiful wedding of two precious, gentle, wise, talented young adults yesterday at First Baptist Church of Dallas. I love this sincere couple, and celebrated their happiness together that I first saw when we attended the Santa Fe Opera's "Don Giovanni" together last August at the time they became engaged.

Their wedding recessional was Charles Marie Widor's "Toccata From Symphony No. Five". The First Baptist pipe organ was fine, but I was instantly transported to my personal Wonder Years church choir career of 1967-1973. The "Toccata" is a jubilant get-yourself-on-up-the-aisle-shake-hands-and-eat-fried-chicken-with-biscuits-and-gravy uplifting experience. I wonder what would happen if
Lyle Lovett and Charles Marie Widor could collaborate...

To the Lord let praises be
It's time for dinner now let's go eat
We've got some beans and some good cornbread
Now listen to what the preacher said
He said to the Lord let praised be
It's time for dinner now let's go eat

And the moral of this story
Children it is plain but true
God knows if a preacher preaches long enough
Even he'll get hungry too
And he'll sing

To the Lord let praises be
It's time for dinner now let's go eat
We've got some beans and some good cornbread
Now listen to what the preacher said
He said to the Lord let praised be
It's time for dinner now let's go eat

I grew up attending First Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ in Lincoln, Nebraska. The pipe organ behind the screen was dedicated in 1968. Our Minister of Music, C. Richard Morris could play a dandy Widor Tocatta that made the members of the junior and senior high choirs want to march up the aisle, snag a donut and some juice in the fellowship hall, and head out to Pioneers Park to enjoy God's gifts of sunshine, green grass, Frisbees, and good friends.


Pest Control

My preschool students presented me with a garden poster with their school photos glued onto a drawing they each made. They were extremely excited to tell me what they had drawn to be their character in the picture. "I'm a butterfly. I'm a tulip. I'm a worm. I'm the sun. I'm a snail..." My favorite was the little boy who told me he was a talk-roach.

Went to the condo association meeting last evening which quickly disintegrated into a complaint session on landscaping and pest control issues. Some residents were touting an organic magic elixir which when poured around all the foundations would spin straw into gold. No, wait. That's a different story. This fabulous product allegedly forms a magic force field that repels all insects without being the least bit harmful to humans or dachsunds. When I suggested we confer with the local bug expert from Texas A&M Extension, who happens to be a friend of mine, before trading the condo cow for a handful of magic beans, I got put on the landscaping committee to listen to residents' concerns. Just shoot me. Preschool talk-roaches are cute. Perpetually malcontent talk-roaches with too much time and too little to do are not cute. I may have to sell my condo and move to another town. That's the escape route of many previous association board members and committee members. They may even have a safe house I can use! I will hide under the refrigerator and only come out in the dark of night, then scuttle back if a light is switched on.

Rumpelstiltskin was at the meeting. Our little condominium complex's version of Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper, our former board president who went "a little funny in the head", showed up with a long list of rants.

If we can't get a restraining order against Rumpelstiltskin, maybe we can spray with amazing OrangeGuard.


Eau de Citronella

A dearly demented friend's plans for today involved "playing in the yard". That's a vintage phrase from the Dick, Jane, and Sally era. "Playing in the yard" calls up multi-sensory memories. It was what kids of my generation and socioeconomic level did whenever we weren't at scout meetings, piano lessons, or "playing in the basement", which will have to be a different blog a different day.

Moms of the Sixties believed that children were less irritable and/or constipated if they ran around out in the fresh air and sunshine as much as possible. It probably helped our moms' outlook, too.

The bell rang at Eastridge Elementary at 3:15 p.m., and we all walked home, with older siblings looking out for younger. We didn't have backpacks because we didn't have homework. What a concept! We accomplished a great deal at school because we wore our "school clothes" and knew not to bring "nuisance items", and then we went home, changed into our "play clothes" and played. It didn't hurt that our moms all knew that breakfast was the most important meal of the day, and that bedtime was eight o'clock. We went to school fed and rested so we could do our job of learning, and then we played in the yard. All that fresh air and exercise helped us sleep and eat well. What a wonderful, healthy, balanced system! I wish no child would be left behind from that system, instead of being stuck in the perpetual testing mode of elementary schools today.

"Playing in the yard" looks like kids wearing plaid pedal-pushers, Keds, grass stains, and calamine lotion. It sounds like Simon Says, crickets, squeaky swingsets, and a golf ball bouncing on the driveway in a game of jacks. It tastes like strawberries with powdered sugar, honeysuckle flowers, watermelon, and roasted marshmallows. Playing in the yard smells of fresh mowed grass, dog poop, pine needles, soggy fall leaves, and chalk for hopscotch. It feels like grass between toes, snow down your overshoe, and the stinging burn of merthiolate* on your skinned knee.

*I hope no one uses that stuff anymore!


Adopt a Word

The trouble with pets is the whole pooper-scooper issue. We have a small and skunky tank of ridiculously hardy tropical fish. No matter how much we neglect them, they refuse to die. That is my pet history in a nutshell. Harriet the Hamster was also known as The Hamster That Would Not Die. For all I know, she is now six feet long, and living along the Salt Creek Watershed in a west Omaha suburban community, feeding on small children and poodles. Our fish refuse to die unless they can leap out of the tank and get smelly on the carpet behind a son's bedroom headboard. Hermit crabs scuttle under the piano and starve to death rather than come back out into the savannas of the open free-range wall-to-wall carpet.

Don't get me started on cats and dogs. I am unable to comprehend that many people find these creatures cuddly and amusing and worth the trouble and the itchy eyes. People actually walk around with their pet dogs collecting warm feces deposits in plastic bags. These same people get squeamish about slimy papier mache glue!

I've seriously considered adopting a zoo animal in the past. Pride of ownership without hairballs and scooped poopering for my kids. Unless I wanted to sponsor Madagascar hissing cockroaches, this sort of pet was out of my price range.

Give this etymologist a butterfly net! Online Etymological Dictionary now offers users the option of sponsoring a word for six months for only ten buckaroos. You never have to take a word to the vet for shots, or clean its habitat. One still has the problem of selecting the cutest, fuzziest, most loyal word to sponsor. I want one that is playful, but never gets fleas, and cleans up after itself. You can the word pet's pedigree. Afterall, that's what etymology is all about!


Crabby start to the day

Shame on the Dallas Morning News for placing yellow adhesive advertising stickers on the front page banner many mornings in the past month. I cannot believe the newspaper really wants to annoy and alienate so many subscribers. We don't have to subscribe, you know. We can get our news online. For a small price I could get my New York Times crossword puzzle online, too.

I happen to like waking up early, but slowly, with the newspaper and hot coffee enjoyed in bed. So every morning at six I sneak out front to snag the plastic bag containing the DMN. I pour my first cup of coffee, and head back to bed to open the paper. Dagnabbit!! There's another one of those yellow stickers assaulting my eyes.

Newspapers have always had a silent contract with readers. Both sides know that "All the news that's fit to print," really means "All the advertising they can possibly squeeze in." Everybody got along more or less, as long as the front page was only news reporting. In the latest redesign of the DMN, we got a far left column (not politically of course, just on the page) advertising features in the next day's paper. It's the equivalent of t.v. news teases that say "Cows close four lanes of freeway. Details at ten."

This month, the DMN voided the contract with readers. It started slapping yellow stickers on the front page making sure we all know that advertising is king. The stickers are clearly marked with the 3M trademark. 3M is the maker of Post-It Notes, those ubiquitous "stickies" that contaminate recycled paper and gum up the works of deinking and recycling machines.

The American Forest and Paper Association defines contaminant:

Any item or material that reduces the quality of paper for recycling or makes it unrecyclable. Contaminants include metal, foil, glass, plastic, stickies, food, hazardous waste, carbon paper, waxed boxes, and synthetic fabrics. Collecting paper co-mingled with other recyclables may increase contaminants.

Today's yellow contaminant advertises Troy Aikman's car dealership. If you would like to call Troy and tell him this advertising is proof those concussions on the field caused major brain damage, the number is (214) 361-8100.

Dallas Morning News, a subsidiary of Belo Corp.
508 Young St.
Dallas, TX 75202
Circulation (214) 745-8383
Main number (214) 977-8222
Viewpoints (214) 977-8494
Fax (972) 263-0456

American Forest & Paper Association
1111 19th Street, NW
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Following a fivesome on the green

The Nasher Sculpture Garden's "Saturday Night in the City" event was great fun. The Nasher is a lovely green art oasis in downtown Dallas' Arts District, between the Dallas Museum of Art, the Morton Meyerson Symphony Center, and the Crow Collection of Asian Art. The Nasher was designed by Renzo Piano to showcase the Raymond and Patsy Nasher Collection of contemporary sculpture.

The evening was low-keyed with jazz and wine, people sitting on marble benches, posing for photos by the fountains, and walking around the sculptures as the evening darkened. In some parts of the garden the breeze was pleasant, but in others the humidity portended a thunderstorm.

Contemporary Dance/Fort Worth presented a piece created for the garden. Five female dancers began at Jonathan Borofsky's "Walking to the Sky", then danced to different sculptures with the musicians and audience walking all around with them (an effect similar to following a foursome at a golf tournament). They danced around the George Segal figures, the Maillol and Rodin nudes, the "Schist Furniture Group", over to the Borosky "Hammering Man", around and through the Serra Curves, then the headless Polish crowd, the very large steel sculpture by di Suvero, ending back at "Walking to the Sky". The music was by three musicians with electric guitar, keyboard/synthesizer, and ceramic drum, that was only annoying a few times.

After the dance, I went through the David Smith exhibit, which is excellent. Smith's powerful calligraphic brush drawings give an excellent insight to the sculptor's though process. I am puzzled by his mixing ink with egg white, and have had no luck researching that online. Maybe after I go to the grocery store I can try it. Then back outside to see the sculptures in the garden against a darker sky. I am marking my calendar for the Bruce Wood Dance performance on June fourth.


Tangled up in blue

The Friday Lunch Gang helped me fill my youngest's bedroom with blue balloons this noon. I fed them even though my son couldn't be there for lunch. Actually, that worked perfectly. They didn't feel silly doing their ravenous locusts routine since they were helping me inflate fifty giant balloons and hanging five hundred blue Christmas lights. A dearly demented friend gave me the blue lights for my birthday because she knew they were my favorites. I didn't want to wait until Christmas to use them.

I had a snack of microwave nachos with cheddar cheese not long after blowing up at least fifteen balloons. That is a peculiarly lingering combination. During the Clinton administration I used to be an ice cream volunteer lady in the middle school cafeteria twice a month.* Several times I watched boys squirt entire cans of CheezWhiz straight into their mouths for lunch. I bet it was a similarly lingering experience.

*FYI: Cookies'n'cream ice cream sandwiches were the most popular. Today I served Mooo Bars instead. Once read a novel by John Updike called Memories of the Ford Administration. For some reason, my memories are starting to glump into four-year chunks. I wonder what frozen novelty each president preferred. And what Bob Dylan likes best...


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