A scary concept for Halloween

We were having lunch at the picnic tables Wednesday, and comparing notes about our costumes for the upcoming school Halloween party. The preschool kids at my table announced they would be a ladybug, a witch, Supergirl, and a Barbie Diva (registered trademark). They wondered what I would be, so I chose an Art Teacher Diva (trademark pending).  

"OH. MY. GOSH," said Supergirl.

My attire rarely elicits this sort of reaction,
but I must say I looked fabulous, Darling!

The preschool students arrived today dressed as ladybugs, firefighters, police officer, cardiologist, bumblebee, fairy, princess, knight, Dorothy, Spiderman, football player, pink leopard, witch/cat/pumpkin girls, and the Barbie Diva. 

I arrived in my itchy/crunchy white petticoat, white ruched gloves reaching to just below the elbow, my mother's peachy-orange costume necklace with matching clip-on earrings, a vintage black velvet hat with added russet and black plumes, the white feather boa from my son's wedding dance, and a few basic black underlying items of apparel.

"Are you the queen of London?," a seven year-old Rosa Parks asked. 
"No, but I had tea with her last week," I replied with my pinkie out.

The six to nine year-old students dressed up as "real people".  Most were the usual suspects like Rosa Parks and Pocahontas, Marco Polo, Amelia Earhart, some hockey player, "myself", Marie Curie, a squire training to be a knight, Christopher Columbus, an Iranian princess, Martha Washington, Julius Caesar, Davy Crockett, a ballerina, a couple students I never got to ask,


Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg back when she was an over-achieving high school cheerleader in Brooklyn! That may be the scariest concept for this Halloween.

© 2010 Nancy L. Ruder


treading water

Don't know when I've been so far behind on blogging, but I'll be back ASAP.

© 2010 Nancy L. Ruder



Ada and Emma were young working women helping support their mother in Verdigre, Nebraska.  They taught school, sewed, and made hats.  They had beaus fighting the Germans in France in World War I.  They had a hope chest packed with many never-used linens and clothing items. 

I'm unpacking the hope chest and pondering the meanings.  I have Ada and Em's scrapbook albums and photo postcards of young men in uniform on motorcycles.  Other albums show photos of young women wearing fresh, simple, white outfits and eccentric hats.  I just don't have time to connect all the dots right now.

This lovely knit garment is Munsingwear size 4 with a dropseat for ease of use in outhouses.  Tonight I am grateful for indoor plumbing and Charmin. 

Entirely too much of my day teaching preschoolers involves their ability to flush and wash their hands.  Thank you, Lord, I don't have to worry about kids managing their dropseat undies or falling into the primitive Port-a-Potty!

© 2010 Nancy L. Ruder


Gulf FlutterLarry

These photos of gulf fritillaries were taken at the Heard Nature Sanctuary in McKinney, Texas, not on my school playground. They show the beautiful butterfly, but not the red cypress vine flowers attracting it to our playground.   

The preschoolers are sufficiently impressed by the silver spots on the underwings to distinguish this butterfly from a Monarch.  Sighting a "flutterLarry" on the cypress vine can even distract them from their game of XTreme Duck, Duck, Goose.  Our kids' version varies slightly from other "extreme" versions described in the Wikipedia entry.  We seem to have at least three ducks and three geese running all over the playground.  Some of them seem to have special superpowers "with smoke coming out". 

I am XTremely pleased with any version that wears kids out for naptime!  Still, it is a shame to leave the fall noon playground with the flutterLarry on the cypress vine and skippers on the marigolds to go inside for naptime.

© 2010 Nancy L. Ruder



Far too tired tonight for a major attack on the rearranging/unpacking dislocated interior decoration of my condo.  Instead I've been reading about the new dinosaur species identified by paleontologists in Utah.  It is named the Kosmoceratops.  And yes, it reminds me of Go, Dog, Go!  And now do you like my hat?

© 2010 Nancy L. Ruder



Prairie Bluestem suggested I find one color or theme in my possessions and build my interior design on that color.  What a wonderful organizing principle.  Oh, that I could discipline myself to make that choice.

I like red. 

A lot. 

Not really scarlet, crimson, or garnet.  More pimento and marinara and fire engines.

The red of the cannas that attract the hummingbirds.  Especially the red of my mother's collection of Dansk cookware, and the hot lava glaze on the Woolly Mammoth's pottery piece. 

Fresh tubes of cadmium red light oil and watercolor paints.  Cherry tomatoes and a well-worn dictionary.

Stuffed red peppers for a winter supper. A can of Mr. and Mrs. T Bloody Mary mix on the airplane between Denver and Lincoln.

Head 'em up.  Move 'em out.  The red pieces should probably be accents in my condo arrangement.

© 2010 Nancy L. Ruder


When I grow up

Maybe someday I will have a sense of style.  For now, I just accumulate interesting things that don't go together at all. 

I've just shipped an ABF U-Pack Relo-Cube from the house where I grew up to the condo where I live.  Neither location feels like home at the moment.  One was my parents' residence for fifty-two years.  The other has been my abode for a decade.  Being stiflingly stuffed with possessions does not make a house a home.  Being a warehouse for generations of mementos isn't necessarily conducive to healthy living.

This afternoon I've tried to compile an inventory sorted by color and historical era.  I wish I could step back three giant steps to get an overview.  In the meantime, I am washing items to get rid of the cedar chest smell that makes me sneeze.

© 2010 Nancy L. Ruder


We did not quibble over tokens

Dividing a houseful of personal property isn't going to be pretty.  You will need allergy pills and eye drops for the dust.  You will need an industrial strength sense of humor, and a tolerance for spiders.  Buy the three-pack of Office Depot packing tape.  You won't believe how much tape you will need.

The process brings out the best and worst in siblings, but we made it through with only one big misunderstanding. My third of the loot is now in Texas.  The curse of generations continues.  Someday my sons and their ladies will have to deal with this stuff.  They will roll their eyes.  I know because I did some major eye rolls with my sister over my parents' incredible random acumulations. 

My living room is filled with boxes.  One of those boxes holds the green houses and red hotels from a Monopoly game.  My sister thought I would need the Chance cards, but not the deeds.  She wants me to broker a deal where I send our brother the race car token so he might send her the iron or thimble token for old times' sake. 

Another box holds marbles, dominoes, and Mom's Scrabble game.  Quibble starts with a ten-point letter.  Avoiding major arguments is priceless.  

© 2010 Nancy L. Ruder

Letter sweater

Perhaps they award letters for selling and clearing out parent's houses in the cosmic high school with our "permanent records".  I don't want to wear an itchy wool sweater, but I would like a letter.  I haven't been able to think, let alone blog, about any other issue for a very long time.

I couldn't resist claiming possession of my Dad's sweater letter for penmanship when we found the high school mementos from the Pierce High School graduating class of 1941.  I know Dad lettered in basketball and glee club.  We found three major sweater "P"s.  This one had the Palmer Method penmanship firmly affixed.  Was it really possible to letter in penmanship?

© 2010 Nancy L. Ruder


Where do you go? And aim, please!

We all need our little happy place to travel in our imagination when the going gets rough and the preschoolers keep peeing on the floor.  Lord knows where preschoolers' minds go, but they need to aim better!

When stressed my boss goes to Orcus Island.  It looks like a beautiful place for mental travel.  I go to El Malpais.  We both travel to places with lots of space and air and quiet.  I don't go "home" to any of my previous homes.  I choose a place of stark, arid beauty.  I might remember the spiritual experience witnessing the bats leaving Carlsbad Cavern.  Monahans Sand Dunes is another place where my brain can get a dry, abrasive, and cleansing dose of calm.  My boss chooses a place with wild black rabbits or whales. 

Just curious, but where do you go to find that little piece of quiet or shred of sanity?  What locale do you visualize?


© 2010 Nancy L. Ruder


The real treasure found

Who gets the Bavarian crystal wine glasses that my dad shipped back to the U.S. at the end of WWII?  The list is missing.  We can all remember seeing the list written out on lined paper in my mother's script.  We just can't remember where we saw it. 

Dividing a family home is emotional business.  Sometimes the emotion is guilt about not feeling more interested in shipping alleged family treasures across country to our already stuffed homes where they will sit in boxes for another couple decades.

I sat cross legged on the floor deciphering Mom's handwriting through a bundle of letters I had marked "SAVE" years ago.  Perhaps the crystal mystery list was in one of Mom's letters.

No, but Mom was in the letters.  Her phrasing, pacing, petty grievances, insecurities, vast love, often queasy innards, amazing common sense, observance of nature, love of golf tournaments and a nice restaurant meal, and great enjoyment of her grandsons all spoke through the pages.  How lucky I was to share many lovely fall days with Mom and my very young sons at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha.  How fortunate my sons to have that close connection with their grandmother.  How lucky I will be to ever share similar experiences with future grandchildren.

Does it matter who gets the crystal punchbowl? 

© 2010 Nancy L. Ruder


New butterflies and a casserole

Thank heaven fall has finally arrived in North Texas.  We wait soooooo long, so I've been crazed to get outside every chance this weekend.  The timing is perfect as I need to walk off lots of stress related to my father's health and the sale of his house.

Friday I took a long walk at Plano's Oak Point Nature Preserve.  Saturday I walked along the creek in Highland Park.  Sunday I visited the Heard Nature Sanctuary in McKinney.  Today I walked along my own little creek, and then out at Arbor Hills Nature Preserve. 

Concentrating on nature photography takes every problem out of my mind.  When I get back to the computer, there are still logistics to figure and phone calls to make.  For a little while, though, the butterflies and spiders take charge.

At the Heard there were many medium sized butterflies obviously attracted to tree trunks.  They didn't seem to be exactly the same, but they had the same ability to become camouflaged on the trunks.  Hackberry Emperor butterflies, Asterocampa celtis, were new to me; not colorful or flashy, but intriguing.

Look hard for these two.


This is a common checkered skipper, according to my Audubon field guide.  I'm sure I've seen them many times before, but the sun caught the slightly blue body just right today on the blue salvia.  So now I know its name. 

As for the casserole, it is exciting to use my oven again without overworking the air conditioner.  I walked to the grocery store for the ingredients this noon.  I needed to use up some frozen hash browns, so got chicken, cream of chicken soup, frozen broccoli, and shredded monterey jack cheese.  Plebian, yes.  Satisfying, indeed.

And now for the spider:

© 2010 Nancy L. Ruder


Creative visualization project

It had been too long since I did a creative visualization projects with the elementary students.  The students closed their eyes and listened to my story.  Whenever I asked if they could see what I was saying in their imaginations they had fun ideas.  We will keep working with the ideas in the visualization story for the next two classes. 

© 2010 Nancy L. Ruder


Craning my neck at Oak Point

I was more like owling or hawking my neck at the Oak Point Nature Preserve, walking the Barred Owl Bypass Trail.   At four-thirty looking up into the trees and squinting straight at the setting sun, I couldn't see the birds.  I could hear their raucous calls that seemed evenly spaced and usually preceded flights.  What were these large birds with striped underwings and tails?  When they flew, they were always beyond my camera range and slow reaction time.  The one time I got a clear view of a bird sitting on a branch way up, the bird looked reddish-brown. 

I have to laugh because a friend has been complaining about the music her teens enjoy.  There was something very immature and teenage in the calls of these birds.  This flower was more in my range, caught in a shaft of sunlight through the trees.

© 2010 Nancy L. Ruder


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