Why didn't I think of that?

I had never considered making itty bitty collages on my fingernails until my site counter indicated Google hits for "nail art collage football". I'd not even thought of creating a collage on a pigskin, but it has possibilities. Bad spelling can inspire art, but it impedes searches for teensy pinkie nail decals.

My favorite football story this week comes from Kevin Sherrington of the Dallas Morning News. The newspaper story about Mike Leach is better than the Texas Monthly magazine photo. I didn't pick the magazine off the newsstand to check for a centerfold:

LUBBOCK – Peering one-eyed from the cover of the latest Texas Monthly is West Texas' resident Bluebeard, a coach who doesn't just march to the beat of a different drummer, he's leading his own merry band.

For instance: Asked if he had any issues posing with an eye-patch for the magazine, the Pirate said no.

"They said there wouldn't be any nudity," he added, thoughtfully, "so I felt good about that."

Don't we all.

Might be time to pull Kathy Tucker's picture book, Do Pirates Take Baths?, off the shelf. The preschoolers always love hearing it. Wish Tucker had written a storytime sequel called, Do Pirates Flush and Wash Their Hands With Soap?

© 2009 Nancy L. Ruder


Dilly Bar + I Do

I'll be wearing a classy Dove Dark Chocolate with Vanilla Ice Cream Bar to my son's wedding. Or maybe I'll look more like a DQ dip cone. Either way I'm thrilled that I have my mother-of-the-groom (MOG) outfit.

Thanks to all my underpaid wedding attire consultant friends for your patient guidance and fashion brainstorming. An outdoor wedding in a mountain town in mid-October with four mothers for the bridal couple present some interesting challenges.

I plan to savor every moment!

Irresistibly rich, ice cream smothered in decadently delicious DOVE® Chocolate — you’ll savor every moment.

© 2009 Nancy L. Ruder


Orifices and oracles

"I'm afraid you need to go wash your hands with soap," I told the four year-old.


This was tricky territory, so I suggested her hands weren't clean enough to eat lunch after touching her "crotch".

"I don't have those kind of shoes," she said. No Crocs on my feet either, but she still needed soap.
On my last road trip I put Bob Dylan's "Planet Waves" in the CD player. Old Bob and I are equally nasal and tone-challenged. "Tough Mama" might be due for a preschool makeover.

...Silver Angel
With the badge of the lonesome road sewed in your sleeve,
I'd be grateful if this golden ring you would receive.
Today on the countryside it was a-hotter than a crotch,
I stood alone upon the ridge and all I did was watch.
Sweet Goddess, it must be time to carve another notch.

© 2009 Nancy L. Ruder


Thanks be to Bakers Coconut

The choreographer found it first. "Oh, my gosh! I've got to have this!," she said.

We were going through Mom's cookbook cabinet. The cover of the pamphlet pulled at something deep inside me, but I shrugged and said, "I don't like coconut."

Turns out, my choreographer sister doesn't eat coconut, either. We were remembering instead our fascination when Mom cut and formed a sheet cake or round layer cakes into birthday party works of art. Mom could spin a whole party theme from a few cuts and manipulations of Duncan Hines.

Transforming a sheet of paper or lump of clay with simple cuts and manipulations to create an artwork is the core of my work as an artist and teacher. Taking shapes and angles and moving them through three dimensions to fit a piece of music is my sister's work. Building on a subject theme fires our creative burners.

This evening I'm sad for kids with bouncy house/Chuckie Cheese birthday parties. Where is the creativity in that?

Seafoam punch was served at the fish party. Lime sherbet and ginger ale, with maybe a bit of pineapple juice...

© 2009 Nancy L. Ruder


Twenty-seven years ago today

My dad has a twenty-seven year old grandson today, and I have a son half my age. I'm bunny-sitting a rabbit that weighs more than my son did on August 11, 1982. Just sitting here feeling like a very lucky lady all round.

© 2009 Nancy L. Ruder


"Birthers" and other conspiracy theorists

In February I wrote about our childhood fascination with the two pages of presidential portraits in our grocery store encyclopedia.

The presidents were in the middle of volume fourteen, Pil-Raf, of the Golden Home and High School Encyclopedia, copyright 1961. (LCCN 61-13292). Mom began collecting the encyclopedia set for us about the time I began learning about George Washington and Abraham Lincoln in school. Of course, we pronounced it "Worshington". The Safeway grocery store ran this promotion about the same time our Conoco gas station began giving out pastel thermal coffee cups, tumblers, and pitchers.

I don't know what year I finally convinced Mom to get rid of the worn-out plastic tumblers, but it was probably in the late-Eighties. I never would let her get rid of the outdated encyclopedias because of the Great Assassination Conspiracy.

This was not a JFK assassination theory. It was the fascination of children trying to get a handle on cosmic order, destiny, and fate. The presidents who had been assassinated when we got the encyclopedia, Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, and Harding lined up in one column of the portraits. We did not know why Truman had not been assassinated, but thought it might be due to FDR's four terms.

After November, 1963, we struggled to understand how our president, John F. Kennedy, could have been killed by Lee Harvey Oswald. Unlike the rest of the nation, we felt something had gone horribly wrong because JFK's portrait was not in the "assassination column" of volume fourteen. We worked out a grim reasoning that 16-14=2. Lincoln was the sixteenth president. It was volume 14. That was why Kennedy was two pictures away from the column.

Once in awhile it helps me remember the sort of magical rationalism elementary students do. When the whole world seems out of order, blame it on the encyclopedia. In case you are wondering, Obama would be in the column with FDR and Woodrow Wilson.

I admit trying to sell my neighborhood playmates on my theory, but I was nine at the oldest. After that I didn't go into either politics or broadcasting. Now I wonder what grocery store encyclopedia Lou Dobbs, Fox News, and the other "birther" nuts have been studying. Same for Sarah Palin with her fictitious "Obama death panels". As Timothy Egan writes in today's New York Times, "quit makin' things up." None of their theories make as much sense as 16-14=2.

© 2009 Nancy L. Ruder


Time to create new passwords

Farhad Manjoo did not tell me to use lemon juice for invisible ink to make coded spy documents. Farhad Manjoo is a technology columnist for Slate, but he may not have been a Cub Scout. Farhad convinced me to make new user names and passwords for online accounts today, by way of his column reprinted in today's Dallas Morning News.

I've had fun creating file names ever since my first computer math class at East High in 1972 or so. Back then we did our programming assignments by typing a punchtape. The computer was somewhere in a big room up the Interstate in Omaha, and I can't remember how our punchtapes got to Omaha to be run. I do know Mr. Beckman was our computer math teacher, and he wasn't properly impressed by my witty file names.

Spent several hours today working for a friend of a friend building a filing system. I tried to create logical file names for him to access his teaching materials, but old Mr. Beckman was on my mind. Could I understand enough about how this friend of a friend thinks to make a filing system that fits his retrieval process?

According to Farhad Manjoo, automated systems can analyze our computer and online activity to discover all our account passwords. Pretty amazing since I can't figure out the way my Dad's memory encodes things for future recall. Tonight Dad is watching baseball and trying to get his mind around the proper spelling of Andy Pettitte's name. I don't understand why this is important to his personal filing recall. I can't hack into his system.

So much of teaching preschoolers involves asking questions to help kids realize they already know their own answer. How do we help them build their inner filing and retrieval systems?

What are the questions we ask to create our own mental organization? What do we ask to decode another person? How can an automated program uncover our secrets?

Farhad Manjoo recommended a technique for creating nearly-uncrackable passwords that are still memorable enough when we want to log on:
  1. Begin with an original, personal, memorable sentence.
  2. Turn it into an acronym.
  3. Add some symbols, numbers, and capital letters.

To that I would add in vintage American Bandstand Rate-a-Record style:

  1. Make sure it has a good beat.
  2. Dance to it.
© 2009 Nancy L. Ruder



That would be the fear that Emily Post, Amy Vanderbilt, and Letitia Baldrige are going to swoop down from Mt. Olympus in their perfect plus-size mother-of-the-groom attire hurling lightning bolts at me for my glaring errors. This week I am trying to avoid their wrath as I address the envelopes for my son's wedding.

My son and his lovely fiance don't have the same concern about Mr. and Mrs., Master, Miss, and Ms. They are busy young professionals who have grown up in the email generation. To them an address includes first.last@.

Choosing the proper pen with Letitia's guidance was a treat, though I worried Amy and Emily would be jealous. You know how those goddesses are.

It's nice to use the dying art of handwriting for a good cause. So soothing gliding the pen in lovely curves and curls on the large envelopes. Just please don't let the three goddesses of wedding protocol get me in their sights. Was that thunder I just heard?

© 2009 Nancy L. Ruder


Choosing baby names

Twenty-seven years ago, nervously lumbering around our inadequately air-conditioned starter home in Omaha, I sweated the details choosing a name for the baby I was sure would be a boy. I did a lot of lumbering and sweating and wondering as I chalked up the ten days past my due date.

I worried how our baby's name would look and sound in future situations. I'm pleased to say his name looks very handsome in a major situation--in fancy script on his wedding invitation.

© 2009 Nancy L. Ruder


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