4-4 Time

True, it is the final day of Early Voting in Texas, and so glad I was able to take advantage of that option on my in-service day. It was pretty busy at the polling place.

Alas, I missed most of my chances to place daily votes in the March 2008 March Countdown at WRR Classical FM. I try to get out the door and into the Buick every work morning in time to hear the March of the Day at 7:35 on the radio. It's a fun, energizing start to the day.

The "Six Sousa Marches" was one of my favorite Little Golden Records as a child. Little Golden Records were orchestrated by Mitch Miller and featured the Sand Piper Singers. I can never quite catch the wisp of lyrics in my memory, but the Sand Pipers sang on several of the Sousa marches. This particular record, EP 489, was released in 1958, about the same time as the motion picture, "Bridge On the River Kwai".

My former mother-in-law once told me that she really wanted a doorbell that played the theme song from "Bridge On the River Kwai". Did she want POWs to march over and open the door? What was that march the POWs were whistling?

Buzz! Our contestant knows. It's the "Colonel Bogey March". But who was Colonel Bogey?

I'm particularly fond of Prokofiev's march from "The Love of Three Oranges". You can hear Prokofiev play the march on YouTube.

Just in case you are finding your piece of Trivial Pursuit quiche just out of reach at the moment, General Custer's favorite marching music was the Irish drinking song "Garryowen".

What was the Monty Python theme march? Sousa's "Liberty Bell".

These were the results of the 2007 voting for favorite marches:

  1. Stars and Stripes Forever (Sousa)

  2. Imperial March (Williams)

  3. Colonel Bogey March (Alford)

  4. Aida Grand March (Verdi)

  5. Washington Post (Sousa)

  6. Liberty Bell (Sousa)

  7. Seventy Six Trombones (Willson)

  8. Marche Slave (Tchaikovsky)

  9. Radetzky (J Strauss I)

  10. Pomp and Circumstance March #1 (Elgar) *

  11. Semper Fidelis (Sousa)

  12. Grandioso (Seitz)

  13. Raiders March from Raiders of the Lost Ark (Williams)

  14. Procession of the Nobles (Rimsky-Korsakov)

  15. Under the Double Eagle (JF Wagner)

  16. Symphonic Metamorphosis March (Hindemith)

  17. March of the Toreadors (Bizet)

  18. Entry of the Gladiators (Fucik)

  19. National Emblem (Bagley)

  20. Barnum and Bailey's Favorite (King)

"Colonel Bogey" may have been the nickname of an eccentric British colonel and golfer in WWI. Some say the colonel whistled instead of shouting, "Fore!" at Inverness.

This colonel in plus-fours is not to be confused with General William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army. Charles Ives' "General William Booth Enters Into Heaven" celebrates a struggle between two marching bands approaching and passing each other. Ives never forgot his boyhood experience of hearing multiple brass bands march by, their different tunes advancing, mixing and receding. I will never forget my experience hearing Andrew Litton conduct the Dallas Symphony Orchestra for a live recording of Ives' cacophonous piece while watching from nearly overhead.

"Battle of the Bands" and "March Madness" are common phrases. March came in like a lion, and tuned the radio to 101.1 FM. Enjoy your memory's Battle of the Marches.

© 2008 Nancy L. Ruder


Life Imitates Art Class

Set up twenty-seven worm bins today. One was real, and the rest were a pretend play art project for the preschoolers. Our class started a worm bin in January. This art project let kids review what we have learned about worms so far, and practice the vocabulary for fine motor manipulations and spatial relationships.

I seem to buy a package of mushrooms nearly every week, so I had lots of blue styrofoam packages resembling the class Rubbermaid storage container worm bin.

  • POKE--Each student poked airholes in pretend worm bin with a marshmallow-roasting skewer under intensely supervised conditions.
  • TEAR--We tore newspaper strips for bedding in the bin, then brown paper for soggy fall leaves, and pale green paper for lettuce.
  • SQUEEZE--We pretended to wring the water out of our newspaper strips the way we did the real worm bin bedding (to the consistency of a damp sponge).
  • ADD--Maroon yarn for "red wigglers".
  • CRUMPLE--To make our "lettuce" texture.
  • CUT--Construction paper "carrots" and "celery" to worm size bits.
  • PEEL--Worms love banana peels, so we pretended to peel and eat a banana, then added the yellow paper banana skin to the bin.
  • DIG--With our garden spoon we dug a hole in the bedding to bury our kitchen waste.
  • LIFT--We gently lifted the vermicompost, but didn't stir it. We didn't want it to flip out of the bin on our pretend carpet!
  • TURN OVER--We turned over the compost with our spoons.
  • COVER--Because worms don't like light, and teachers don't like escapees.
  • CARRY CAREFULLY--The preschoolers were so into the imaginary play that they took more careful steps than they usually do when carrying their cup of juice to the table for snack.
The most difficult part of this day was getting the kids to stand up and push their chairs in before picking up their worm bins. I wonder how Miss Nancy on Romper Room got the children to do it so well. Maybe after worm art it will be time for Do-Bees.

When I got home my own mail-order worms had arrived. Just so you can imagine, a 6" x 7" x 7" box contains one pound of worms, or about one thousand of the little eaters.

© 2008 Nancy L. Ruder

The Green Night Heron, masked superhero

The eight year old boy didn't really want to enlarge his sketch of the gray-green bird for the painting project, but it was his best bird sketch in the little drawing pad. He had caught the bird's posture so well in his initial analysis. This bird wasn't brightly colored, and it wasn't going to be quick and simple. We looked at the 8x10" magazine photo together.

"You know what I like about this bird?," I asked him. "He's wearing a mask. He's carefully watching and waiting, noticing everything. See that piercing stare? He's standing totally still, but he can catch his prey in a flash! When I lived in Oklahoma, I used to see these little herons around the creek by my house. They weren't big, but they were so disciplined, like a karate master. They stood so still and were so camouflaged they could surprise any enemy. I had to be really alert to notice them on my walks. Look at the way his wing feathers make that zigzag diamond pattern. How cool is that!? I know you like to draw superheroes. Man! Doesn't The Green Night Heron sound like a cool name for a crime-fighter? You could make a whole comic book of drawings about The Green Night Heron's adventures after you learn how to make the bird look strong and smart."

I'm not bragging. I'm more relieved. My student took the bait and did some of his best work ever. Feel free to use any part of this motivational speech. Before this decade is out, The Green Night Heron will go to the moon. Ask not what The Green Night Heron can do for you...

True, I had my bird names confused. The bird in the magazine photo was probably a yellow-crowned night heron, not a green heron or a black-crowned night heron. It's neck was too short to be a little brown heron. There's no such thing as a green night heron in my bird book, because, of course, a super-observant crime-fighter must keep his identity a secret, sort of like Dick Cheney in his bat cave.

[I really did love espying herons and egrets on walks near Bankside Drive in Edmond, OK, back in 1988.]

© 2008 Nancy L. Ruder


Bells are ringin'

Unseasonably warm today, up in the eighties--the kind of weather that gives me a headache and sets off my tornado storm senses. On the phone with my dad, the wind suddenly changed, and all the wind chimes in condo alley were set to clanging.

The song in my head is "The Bells Are Ringin'" from the 1942 musical, "For Me and My Gal" (Gene Kelly and Judy Garland). The picture in my mind is from 1981's movie, "Body Heat", with Kathleen Turner and William Hurt and many windchimes on her porch.

Maybe the warm afternoon encouraged these baby spiders to emerge from the silky egg case down in the hole of the plastic playground barricade. Maybe it was just the RIGHT TIME.

Each tiny spider looked like a grain of cornmeal, smaller than a pinhead. Each one climbed up the web strands, and headed off as fast as possible for parts unknown.

© 2008 Nancy L. Ruder


Guest workers

Getting ready for my helpers who will arrive by mail late this week. I'm preparing my worm bin, the place where they will live and work, eating my kitchen waste and turning it into rich soil for patio flower pots.

My worm bin looks like most of the others pictured in vermiculture blogs. The dark-colored heavy plastic storage tub drilled with ventilation holes sitting up on water bottle lids over a plastic tray. Many worm advice columns suggest using a piece of burlap to cover the bin, but the effect was not aesthetically pleasing. I'm sticking with the lid of the storage tub with air holes added.

I've made up the bed for the Eisenia foetida and put little mints on their pillows. Okay, no mints, but a lovely arrangement of soggy leaves, shredded newspaper, torn egg cartons and tp tubes with in-room coffee grounds for grit. And in the gourmet restaurant I'll be serving all fresh and natural delicacies to my wiggling vegetarian foodies. Expect to read about the accomodations in next year's Fodors!

© 2008 Nancy L. Ruder


Napkin collection

Way, way back in The Beforetime we did not use scrapbooking as a verb. The compilation of scrapbooks was not a trendy and expensive hobby. It was a compulsory archival duty of all female children over the age of six. Newspaper clippings, party invitations, blue ribbons, and report cards were all adfixed into fat albums of black paper with rubber cement or white paste. Black and white Kodak snapshots were added with little lick and stick photo corners.

Maybe because we had so much less stuff generally, or maybe because "special" events were so rare and spread out as to be truly special, we saved momentos of the slightest occasion or diversion. Unlike recent generations, our itty-bitty self-esteems weren't being perpetually inflated with pink and sparkly atta-girls, so we saved any schoolwork with a twinkly star drawn by our teacher (our school PTAs didn't spend fortunes on stickers and other "classroom incentives".) Much of childhood was an exercise in oral history not unlike the retelling of Homer's "Odyssey" and "one potato, two potato" to each new generation, so we hoarded the visual evidence of our existence.

Small children were allowed at any neighborhood event as long as we didn't pick our noses, stick our fingers in the cake frosting, or otherwise disrupt the proceedings. Indeed, we took our responsibilities as honored young observers and civilized-persons-in-training at least as seriously as the papal representative to the United Nations, and the runner-up to Miss America. How else were we going to learn to play those shower games and swallow sour punches made with pineapple juice, pink lemonade, and Sprite after eating frosted cupcakes?

These were the Napkin Years. Most girls had a department store gift box filled with commemorative napkins under their bed. Attending any special event required keeping your paper napkin spotless for archiving. Sugar packets were added to note the rare meal in a restaurant. When your grandmother bought you an Andes Mint after supper at Larry's Cafe in McCook, you might preserve the green foil wrapper. If you had the good fortune to have your father go out of town on business, you could add little cocktail swords and umbrellas to your collection. Poking your little brother with the cocktail sword would result in summary loss of all accumulated napkins and twinkly stars, but it was still a strong temptation.

My napkin collection is long gone. I can find only four in my scrapbooks. Three are from weddings printed in silver:

Crys and Jim

Catherine and Frank

Jan and Bill

The fourth napkin is from Fred and Effa Dale's fiftieth wedding anniversary. That oppressive New Years weekend spent holed up in a McCook motel right there on Highways 6 and 34, wearing itchy new clothes and dreading a command piano inferiority performance with cousins I barely knew would have stayed in my memory even without the napkin.

I don't have many personal convictions about an afterlife. I do strongly believe that there is a circle in Hell for hostesses who force guests to play moronic games at wedding and baby showers. There is no question that every adult who ever coerced a child into performing at a piano recital against her will has an eternity ahead in Hades. I'm sure Dante would back me on this.

© 2008 Nancy L. Ruder

What is play?

I've been taking photos of a collaged cigar box, and altering the images to make a sort of virtual quilt. I pretend I'm "working".

This image inside the Barrister cigar box collage is a photo of a steam iron created by youngest son, the Woolly Mammoth. I pasted prints of the image inside the box bending like a Bandaid from the bottom to the side.

Once the box was given a glossy varnish it was tricky trying to photograph it, as the flash glare wiped out sections of the image. What was left reminded me of a quilt with triangular pieces of solid and striped fabric. How could I use that design? That's where the line between work and play blurred.

With Photoshop, I could crop the image, then flip it horizontally or vertically. I could "paste" the pieces together in various ways.

It took a lot of concentration to flip the images, instead of them flipping me! This arrrangement seemed to have the most potential:

Much of my evening was spent in this effort. Maybe the design won't lead to a "work" project. It was certainly relaxing "play".
© 2008 Nancy L. Ruder


A 2 Walks Into a Bar

This is an altered photo of the interior of a collage box. I had a lot of fun playing with the image, despite the difficulties of recording the corners of the box. I don't know if the penguins are waiters or customers at this bar! The shuffleboard table must be off over to the right.

© 2008 Nancy L. Ruder

Somewhere over the rainbow

Thought it would be fun to have a sort of drop down menu on the sidebar for color-related posts. Click on a color in the rainbow, and it would take you to all the posts with that color label. Pink, Red, Magenta, Purple, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange, White, Black, Gray

True, I've just been fooling with it for an hour, and my knowledge of coding fits in a hummingbird's egg. So far, I can't even get a drop down menu to work with my color labels. I was using HTML Basix to generate the code.

Ideas anyone?

© 2008 Nancy L. Ruder

What's in your child's lunchbox?

Lunchboxes can hold more than your child's lunch. They can harbor germs and bacteria that cause colds, flu, and gastro-intestinal illnesses. The condensation on those refreezable ice packs we all love adds moisture to the lunchbox, leading to mildew problems. It is important to wipe out the lunchbox every night, and leave it open to air. Your child's lunchbox may have come with cleaning instructions when you purchased it, or a tag inside with that information. If not, here are some suggestions gathered from WebMD, Good Housekeeping, the Berkeley Parents Network, and the TAMU Extension Nutrition Specialist:

  • Soft-sided thermal lunchboxes should be thrown in the washing machine once a week with a load of laundry, then line dried. It's easy to make this a weekend routine by placing the lunchbox in the washer on Fridays after school. This weekly washing keeps the zippers working smoothly for young fingers, and doesn't seem to shorten the useful life of these lunchboxes. Between washings, they can be sprayed with diluted bleach and wiped dry to kill mildew.

  • Some soft-sided thermal lunchboxes have a hard plastic liner that can be removed for cleaning. With the liner removed, the lunchbox can be placed in your washing machine on a gentle cycle, then line-dried.

  • Hard plastic lunchboxes should be wiped clean each evening with a disinfecting wipe, or sprayed with a diluted bleach, dried, and left open to air. Some types can be placed in the top rack of your dishwasher for a weekend cleaning.

  • Metal lunchboxes must be dried immediately after washing to prevent rust. Food materials lodged under the rim and in the hinges make these lunchboxes more difficult to keep safe.

A clean lunchbox is important for your child's health. Just as important, the improved smell and appearance will make lunch more appetizing for your student.

My insulated lunchbag from Whole Foods isn't perfect, but it is sturdy. I've been washing it once a week for most of a year. The capacity is about right, but I would prefer one with the height and width reversed.

© 2008 Nancy L. Ruder



"When you die they make you into a statue." The preschoolers are discussing death and Bibles while chewing PB&J sandwiches with their mouths open. It's scary. What if the statue is formed from masticated Wonder Bread?

At the State Fair someone carves a likeness of Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, or the champion bull from a giant blob of butter. When I die, I hope I won't be sculpted in butter. And when I'm dead, dead and gone, there'll by three sons born wondering how their mom was turned into a Gaston Lachaise "Floating Nude" sculpture!

The talented songwriter Laura Nyro died of ovarian cancer in 1997 when she was only forty-nine. She sold her first song to Peter, Paul, and Mary in 1966. It goes like this:

And when I die and when I'm dead, dead and gone,
there'll be one child born and a world to carry on, to carry on.

I'm not scared of dying and I don't really care.
If it's peace you find in dying, well, then let the time be near.
If it's peace you find in dying, when dying time is here,
just bundle up my coffin cause it's cold way down there,
I hear that's it's cold way down there, yeah, crazy cold way down there.

And when I die and when I'm gone, there'll be one child born and a world to carry on, to carry on.

My troubles are many, they're as deep as a well.
I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell.
Swear there ain't no heaven and pray there ain't no hell,
but I'll never know by living, only my dying will tell,
only my dying will tell, yeah, only my dying will tell.

And when I die and when I'm gone, there'll be one child born and a world to carry on, to carry on.

Give me my freedom for as long as I be.
All I ask of living is to have no chains on me.
All I ask of living is to have no chains on me,
and all I ask of dying is to go naturally, only want to go naturally.
Don't want to go by the devil,
don't want to go by the demon,
don't want to go by Satan,
don't want to die uneasy,
just let me go naturally.

© 2008 Nancy L. Ruder

Potato Ostrich: Details at Ten P.M.

Just dozed off the other evening during a primary election victory speech. I'd been wrapped up in an afghan on the sofa wondering how Hillary could wear those pointy-heeled shoes on the campaign trail, how Dubya could keep his head so buried in the sand, and why birds' knees bend backwards.

And so, a week after making tiny hummingbird art, we switch to large flightless art. Ostriches have long legs and long eyelashes. I asked the preschoolers to touch their knees, and then to bat their eyelashes. Several of the kids tried to wiggle their eyebrows instead. Can you say "mah-mah-mah-Maybelline?"

Ostrich feet look like ugly, uncomfortable taupe high heels. Worse, ostriches run across the desert in those shoes! Haven't they heard of Nikes?

When I was really little, my dad was so skinny he could hide behind a telephone pole. When he would do his knee-swapping version of the Charleston, I really believed he was moving his knees from one leg to the other.

© 2008 Nancy L. Ruder

Cross-Dressing Ostrich Does Charleston

If you look awhile at the little students' art you begin to see a storyline for the ostriches. The birds start off cautiously, and one surreptitiously hikes up his sagging pantyhose.

They settle into the march, ready to go a long distance over the parched grassland of Africa.

Some are afraid of their shadows. Others are more bold and confident.

Getting up to full stride, one runs like crazy. Others do chest bumps, endzone victory displays, and the knee-swapping move of the Charleston.

Male ostriches have black and white feathers. Females have brown and gray. All of them have fabulous long eyelashes.

© 2008 Nancy L. Ruder


Gorgeous gray

This tiny moth is sunning itself on the west wall of the school. It is less than three-quarters of an inch long. In the 3:30 winter light its scales are almost silver. The digital camera lets me see the furry and feathery edges. The wings overlap like royal kimona sleeves.

Can't decide if this moth would best inspire a gown with translucent layers of mottled gray chiffon, a full-length fur coat, a silk cape sewn with silver threads and beaded with hematite, mica, and pearls, or a ski sweater of Peruvian alpaca yarn! I doubt there will be many designs as breath-taking on the Oscars red carpet.

© 2008 Nancy L. Ruder


Tosca Exercise Program

"Compare and contrast," the essay instructions often began. "Open your Blue Book and begin writing." Bet no colleges kids write their essays in longhand, blue or black ink, in a Blue Book exam booklet now. They probably turn in their essay burned on a cd. Bet they are still comparing and contrasting, though.

I'm prepping for the March ninth Dallas Opera's "Tosca" now with two-a-day workouts. Some coaches would berate me in the locker room for not focusing on next Sunday's game, "Porgy and Bess". I'm looking forward to that performance, but I've known that music almost from birth. "Tosca" is new territory for me. I didn't play it in the preseason, but I did read an historical novel last year that pivoted on the opera's premiere in Rome in 1900.

When I was first embarking on my opera hobby, a dear friend gave me a recording by Mario Frangoulis called "Sometimes I Dream". I didn't realize the achingly beautiful song set to a backbeat was a famous aria from "Tosca". A couple years later I found the same music on an orchestral cd of opera favorites. I pop that cd in the player often during preschool naptime. It's so nice to have an almost-siesta with music after lunch!

Months ago I borrowed an Australian Opera video of "Tosca" from the library to get a sense of the plot and staging. Then I began to understand the "E lucevan le stelle" aria in the context of the story.

Tonight I'm able to compare and contrast two very different recordings. On the small cd player in the dining room I've got Andrea Bocelli singing the role of Mario Cavaradossi. On the computer Windows Media Player it's Giuseppe Di Stafano. Fred Plotkin's Opera 101 is open on the desk, with its readable guide to listening to this heartbreaking lament. I run back and forth playing bits of each recording. Maybe if I moved the cd player upstairs it would count as step aerobics rushing between the players. Still don't know which tears my heart more. The English translation cannot begin to explain this well of emotion:

And the stars were shining,
and the earth smelled sweet,
the garden gate scraped,
and a step brushed the sand.
She came in, fragrant,
and fell into my arms.
Oh! sweet kisses, oh! languid caresses,
while I, trembling,
released her lovely features from their veils!
My dream of love has vanished forever.
The moment is gone, and I die in despair!
And I never have loved life so much!
Comparing sounds is very difficult for me. My little students use a set of hollow cylinders filled with sand and gravel to discriminate and match sounds. They are all better at it than this old gal.

© 2008 Nancy L. Ruder

Herbie Hancock & Bill Bryson

Don't know when my master bathroom became the recharging room. There are only two electrical outlets. I've got my toothbrush, phone, and camera battery all recharging, and then my little nightlight in one plug. I know I'm unlikely to forget my phone if I plug it in here, but will probably forget it plugged anywhere else.

Funny image, remembering the old Miller and Paine Ladies' Lounge on second floor of the downtown department store. Besides the clean restroom with dozens of toilets, the lounge also had a room for lady shoppers to put their feet up, rest and refuel, meet friends before a lunch in the Tea Room, take care of infants, or even read the newspaper.

Nowadays we do all our recharging electronically. What would the Miller and Paine Ladies' Lounge look like with laptops recharging, women multi-tasking by cellphone, instant-messaging, listening to iPods, and showing the kiddies a movie on a tiny portable dvd player to keep them from fussing?! That would only happen if we slowed down enough to sit even briefly in the lounge.

We forget that we need to put our mental feet up, rest, meet friends before lunch, and refuel. I'm grateful to have a three-day weekend. Even more, I'm glad to have a gray, rainy weekend reminding me to keep things simple and recharge. Lunch and walk with a friend, writing, making art, listening to Herbie Hancock's River: the joni letters... Wayne Shorter's sax flows through me like mercury beads from a broken thermometer scooting across the bathroom floor.

Laughing. What wonderful biofuel for the psyche! Bill Bryson's memoir of childhood in 1950s Des Moines, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, has me laughing so hard the tears run down my cheeks.

The Turbo Tax return will wait another day or another week. How much better I feel for untasking and relaxing!

© 2008 Nancy L. Ruder

Interior Decorator Set

My walking buddy was telling me the joys and frustrations of playing her new Sims 2 Deluxe, creating new dysfunctional families and trying to move them out of their starter homes into more palatial digs. We both grew tired of the original Sims game quite awhile back.

Why do fiftyish women like the Sims? Mostly because we like building the houses. We hoped that her Sims 2 would have better kitchen counters and other choices.

As we walked into Borders Bookstore, I had a flashback to a similar amusement in the precomputer era. There in the gifts and cards department was an address book by Paperchase. On its cover was a picture of my Irwin Interior Decorator Set.

Obviously, the House Plan Design set had some fans back in the Sixties for it to show up on this trendy retro nostalgia object. I loved arranging rooms with my set, but the neighbor girls made fun of it. The set wasn't really a toy or a dollhouse. It didn't require batteries or show up on tv ads. My dad probably picked it up from the clearance table at the Toy Castle. Also, the set was one of those open-ended playthings that my mom preferred to provide for creativity, unlike the limiting effect of Chatty Cathy's simplistic phrases. It required fine motor skills and tolerance for frustration when walls and floors didn't always fit together as well as one would hope.

[Chatty Cathy was sold by Mattel from 1959-1966, and spoke fewer than twenty phrases when you pulled her string. The Interior Decorator Set dates from 1964, and had "1000 and 1 interchangeable combinations featuring House and Garden coordinated colors." ]

My sister and I had the living, dining, and bathroom sets. We craved the bedroom and kitchen sets shown in the instruction pamphlet.

Since I happened to know which box in my closet still held the Interior Decorator Set, I put a few rooms together. It was fun and a bit frustrating, and totally in style today! Well, except for the minty green bathroom fixtures...

© 2008 Nancy L. Ruder


Single dips and double jugheads

It isn't easy learning to draw and cut Valentine hearts. I'm surprised I don't remember learning it as a kid. I have such vivid memories of learning to draw houses and people, to zip my jacket, to swallow pills, to stop a nosebleed, to avoid brussel sprouts, to climb a tree, and to spell y-o-u, l-o-o-k, and r-e-d.

My lead teacher makes Valentine hearts using the Department of Motor Vehicles method. Imagine finding your one true love in the line to renew your drivers license. Some enchanted afternoon in a crowded civic buildng smelling of dried roaches, repressed cigarette smokers, and mildewed corrugated cardboard you would have plenty of time to get acquainted, and possibly create little Yugos. It's the inspirational stuff of Rogers and Hammerstein!

m + v = heart

Somewhere in the last couple decades I began teaching kids the Baskin Robbins method of drawing and cutting out Valentine hearts. A heart is really just a cheap date for teenagers too young to barhop. They are sharing two dips of strawberry ice cream in sugar waffle cones. This is the best method for drawing along a fold of colored paper before cutting.

(cone + dip) x 2 = heart

My tulips are thine.

Puns are an essential part of any school Valentine celebration. It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that zing!

Two ears are better than two lips for drawing hearts. An amphora is a two-handled Greek vase, generally with a swollen belly, narrow neck, and a large mouth. Sometimes the vase had a pointed bottom.

Jughead is a recurring character in the Archie comic books about Riverdale High School. Girls didn't seem as interested in comic books as boys when I was a pre-adolescent. I bought my Archie and Millie the Model comic books in the sunshiny front window of the Rex-All drugstore in Pierce, Nebraska. In those days of Twiggy and Yardley, I learned to draw Valentine hearts inspired by Jughead's ears.

© 2008 Nancy L. Ruder

Husband Goes, Collar Stays

Back in my other life there were always collar stays lurking on counters, dressers, and inside drawers. My spouse's main incentive to keep our marriage together was his need for somebody to pick up his starched shirts at the cleaners.

This section of my current box collage project looks like a quilt block for the heavily starched. I needed a plastic collar stay for my collage. Been through all the drawers, closets, and ironing basket in my search.

After lunch we stopped in at the Jos. A. Bank store where we did our Christmas shopping. Silly me, I imagined they might have collar stays littering the floors of their dressing rooms. My art will have to do without! Jos. A. Bank would be happy to sell me a seven dollar box of collar stays, but had none for free. The arrow points to


© 2008 Nancy L. Ruder

Valentine Hummingbirds

Our preschool art project this week was making drawings of hummingbirds flying around and sipping nectar from bright red flowers. It isn't hummingbird weather here in North Texas, but it was a good excuse to practice drawing Valentine hearts to make the red flowers hummingbirds love.

It's not snowman weather, either, but the kids loved the idea of starting their hummingbird with a green snowman. I'd love to say I thought that up all by myself, but I got the idea from Drago Art online. What I didn't anticipate was how alive the birds would seem in the kids' drawings. You can almost see the blur of the fast-beating wings!
Prior to the drawing class, I shared three books with the children:
  • A Hummingbird's Life, by John Himmelman.
  • Little Green, by Keith Baker.
  • The Hungry Hummingbird, by April Pulley Sayre .
The preschoolers are still excited about hummingbirds, and the elementary students caught the fever, too. They are drawing imaginative and colorful hummingbird pictures in their free time. I can't show any of those, as the kids took them home to give to their mommies. Bet they are gracing lots of refrigerators!

© 2008 Nancy L. Ruder


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