Snipe hunting with Google

Spent my Sunday afternoon at the Trinity River Audubon Center south of downtown Dallas.  I'd been meaning to truck my bucket down there ever since it opened in 2008.  I wanted to see the LEED-certified green building housing the Audubon Society offices, meeting spaces, hands-on education experience, and science lab classrooms.  I'd read about the innovative use of materials and sustainability design.  The center was reclaimed from an illegal dump to make a healthy mix of wetland, prairie, and forest habitats. 

What a gem!  The pieces fit together perfectly...building to boardwalk to trail.  Although I was visiting on a windy November Sunday with few people around, the center served 18,000 school children last year.  I can imagine the kids' excitement when their schoolbus pulls into the unloading zone!

I spent two and a half hours walking the trails and boardwalks to the Trinity River overlook, around ponds, through wetlands, into the forest, and alongside the prairie.  Another delightful hour was spent downloading and editing photos.

The center's website includes a checklist of common birds, thank heaven.  Using the list I compared my photos and memories against my National Geographic and Golden bird books, a new library Stokes field guide, and Google images.

I caught a glimpse, but not a photo, of a chunky brown bird with a long beak between the reeds and a fallen tree.  The bird's feathers camouflaged it perfectly when it stood still.  After studying the list and guides, I'm pretty sure I saw a Wilson's Snipe

Isn't a "snipe hunt" a rather mean trick played on gullible newbies?  I didn't know snipe were real birds.  Wikipedia suggests a snipe hunt is a "form of wild-goose chase ... also known as a fool's errand, ... a type of practical joke that involves experienced people making fun of credulous newcomers by giving them an impossible or imaginary task."  That sounds an awful lot like a definition for a church youth group retreat dare back where I come from.

This tiny bird was staying out of the wind on the trail leading to the river overlook.  I've spent a whole lotta time trying to make a positive ID.  Although the accents on the rump and wing look greenish, I think this adorable bird is a yellow-rumped warbler.

Google doesn't lead me to any explanations about the expression "truck my bucket".  Obviously it is a sanitized version of "haul my ass".  So I just got my derriere on down I45 and Loop 12/East Ledbetter to the Audubon Center. 

A friend offered me a dozen coffee cans today, but I had to turn her down.  My storage space for art supplies, even primo items, is seriously decreased.  Her offer reminded me of Jim Lehrer's books about the One-Eyed Mack, the Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma, including Kick the Can.

"Kicking the bucket" was an expression known to me by age eight.  Although I still haven't seen the "Bucket List" movie, I get the basic concept of doing things before you kick the bucket.  Glad to check the Trinity River Audubon Center off my bucket list.

Now for my preschoolers ready to listen to some stories, please skooch your bizoozies back one skoochie so everyone will be able to see the pictures.  Or just truck your buckets. 

© 2010 Nancy L. Ruder


Leftovers for breakfast

Enjoyed my breakfast pasta with mushrooms, garlic, peppers, celery, beef, and pine nuts.  Can't remember when last I wore my jammies at ten a.m.  There's no chance sleeping in could become a habit, but it was a real treat. While wishing for some grated Parmesan, I scanned Abigail Carroll's story about leftovers, "Remains of the Day" in the New York Times

Living alone has freed me from the breakfasts of/for champions.  No more cereal, pancakes, smoothies, or Jiffy muffin mixes.  Nothing sweet.  My preferred jumpstart is a breakfast burrito with strangled eggs, cheese, peppers, tomatoes, cumin, cayenne, sometimes beans, avocado, or yogurt in the tortilla. 

It's been several years since my sons and I were together for Thanksgiving.  When they rolled out of bed that Black Friday, the guys were stunned to find Mom eating turkey, stuffing, and sauerkraut for breakfast. 

Abigail Carroll reports that, "The morning of the grisly 1892 Lizzie Borden murders in Fall River, Mass., the family breakfasted on mutton soup and cold mutton from the day before."  If the Bordens had started the day with sauerkraut no axes would have been required.

I read a review of Dave Dewitt's "Founding Foodies: How Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin Revolutionized American Cuisine "  yesterday.  Would George have like my English muffin with egg, cheddar, mustard, and pickles for breakfast?

© 2010 Nancy L. Ruder


I Heart Celery

Celery was forty-nine cents a bunch at Aldi.  Guess I never paid much attention before when I chopped off the end of a bunch.  The pretty star seems to have embroidery blanket stitching around the edges.  Now I'm wondering if every bunch looks the same, or if they are fingerprints and snowflakes.

I didn't put a stake through this heart.  We speared it on the stainless steel skewer to be a treat hanging in the cage for our classroom pet rabbit.  The rabbit pulled at each section with impeccable manners, like he knew how to eat artichokes with lemon butter.

© 2010 Nancy L. Ruder


Post Its falling down like hail

The leaves near the creek reminded me of, gasp, the pile of neon red Post It bookmark stickies on the shelf next to my dictionary and field guides.  Shouldn't it be the other way around?  No poet would compare autumnal foliage to office supplies.  How dare you say "The blizzard smelled just like White-Out"?  That would be like saying Mom's homemade macaroni and cheese was almost as good as the Kraft box stuff!

Still, the autumn breeze was sending golden leaves raining down, and making the red leaves shimmer.  Had to head back home to Google the lyrics to Nat King Cole's song "Tenderly".  The evening breeze caressed the trees tenderly...

Competing for my attention was a Robert Johnson lyric about leaves falling down like rain.  No, blues falling down like hail, even though the leaves and Post Its were red. 

So now I've got a hellhound on my trail of sticky notes.  Hansel and Gretel might want to stop by Staples.

That was easy.

© 2010 Nancy L. Ruder


Relocation with beavers

My sister and I originally thought we would hire a medical transport ambulance to bring Dad from Nebraska to a facility in Texas. Now we have decided to just throw him in the back of a rental SUV and drive like bats out of hell for the eleven-hour trip from Lincoln. The move should be the week between Christmas and New Years, so we will wear reindeer headbands from Target for our mad dash through the snow. The whole thing seems more like the outline for a Coen brothers movie than an episode of "Leave It to Beaver".

And speaking of "Leave It to Beaver", I was reading that poem to the preschoolers that goes:

Over in the meadow

 in a cozy wee den

lived an old mother beaver

and her little beavers ten.

"Beave" said the mother.

"We beave" said the ten,

so they beaved all day

in their cozy wee den.

What in the hey-ho is beaving? I found one listing in the dictionary for "beaver" meaning the movable visor on a helmet of medieval armor. Just when you thought life wasn't strange enough, imagine ten little beavers in full body armor all raising and lowering their visors. That would make spending a day listening to kids adjust the Velcro straps on their light-up shoes seem much more normal.

© 2010 Nancy L. Ruder


Blue speckled enamelware

"Not I," said the goose.  "Not I," said the duck.  No one knew if the goose wearing the pan for a hat inspired all those adolescents in saggy pants and backwards caps.
  This is my favorite page of my ancient Little Golden Book copy of the The Little Red Hen, c1942 and 1954, (25 cents).  The paper is brittle and yellowed, but the design sense and humor still shine in J. P. Miller's illustration.

I love enamelware.  I love the chuckwagon practicality of it, and the dusty metal smell.  I'd like to have time to study it, although my fondness is difficult to explain.  At least I'd like to sort out enamelware, graniteware, and Agate. 
Thanksgiving is coming, and the children collected the last tomatoes from the garden.  The preschoolers are cutting them to make a sauce for the school feast.  We are all contributing to this effort in theory.

So far, the concepts of teamwork and sharing haven't kicked in. I read The Little Read Hen with my best animal voices, but the kids had no ideas why the hen was eating the loaf of bread herself.

© 2010 Nancy L. Ruder


I yink therefore I yam

 Drained of pink ink, my Canon printer hollered for more.  8 Magenta!  Need more 8 Magenta!!  I could have had a V-8, but instead I jumped in the Buick to buy pink ink.

Grabbed the 8 PM Pixma (photo magenta) refill at Office Max on my way to downtown Dallas for the symphony.  Came home still under the spell of Ravel's "La Valse" and ripped open the new cartridge.  Popped it into the printer and got WARNING WARNING DANGER DANGER messages with flashing lights.  Darn, but it likes to wink and blink!  I really need to print, but I think it's too late to buy the right 8 Magenta ink. 

© 2010 Nancy L. Ruder


"Take a picture. It lasts longer."

Remember hearing that snotty remark when Nerdy You were perceived to be starring at A Cool Kid on the playground?  Okay, maybe I was the only playground nerd.  Unfortunately for my nerd revenge scenario, the remark might be true.  At the very least it could save space and make trashing "keepsakes" easier.  It will be so much simpler for the next generation to send a cd to the landfill than to slog those photo albums to the dumpster...

These are some Russian dancer paper dolls I snipped at least a decade ago and mailed to my mom:

Maybe I could remember how to make them again even without the "hard copy", but maybe not.  Chances are good the need to recreate them will never, ever occur.  When I'm standing at the gate of heaven wearing a fitted sheet, St. Peter probably won't want me to demonstrate my Cossack-cutout ability. 

For years I considered myself a shoe-in to heaven based on my PSAT and SAT scores, plus my college GPA. Although I don't actually believe in heaven, I've recently realized St. Peter is no more interested in my scholastic prowess than in my papercutting.  Maybe I will be evaluated on my ability to let go of material possessions without overloading the town dump.  Maybe I'll get a thoughtfulness bonus for not burdening my sons with a ton of stuff the Historical Society really won't want.

Either way, I can't take It with me.  When I'm dead, I won't care about all the darn photo albums.  I won't care about the paper Russians.  It won't much matter if the photos were saved on some outdated media format. 

Check out Brian Doyle's novel, Mink River, from your library.  You will love it.

© 2010 Nancy L. Ruder


October bats and gloves

This post is not about the haunting defeat of the Texas Rangers by the San Francisco Giants in the 2010 World Series.  We do not even speak of baseball these days.  This photo is a very cute and easy Halloween project for which/witch I can claim zero credit.
Find a bunch of black one-size-fits-all gloves at the Dollar Store after the winter.  Get some Fun Foam at the craft store.  Make a few stitches, and your bat finger puppet vill vant to dwink your bwood.

Should you need something scarier to contemplate, my brother reports from Saipan that the endangered fruit bats of the Mariana Islands are considered a culinary delicacy worth risking federal prosecution.

© 2010 Nancy L. Ruder

Hairy caterpillar has body and luster

I'm not a Breck Girl, but it's just not fair
 when an insect has better hair.

It sure ain't right when I check my junk mail folder
 and find spam sent from my own email address--in Chinese! 

It's seriously wrong that the person who cleans up the most bodily fluids at work gets paid the least.

And why can't the shoemaker send those elves to my address!

© 2010 Nancy L. Ruder


Great literature/Embarrassing parents/Burning questions

Upon reaching middle school age our children announce that we parents must walk a good twenty feet behind them and try not to embarrass them by acting related. 

In our middle age we wish we could be twenty feet behind our elderly demented parents, but instead we are pushing them in their wheelchairs.

Desperately trying a new tack to entice my dad into a conversation, I asked him if he'd ever read Moby Dick. I said I'd just finished it, but it took four months to read on my Kindle. Dad said he'd never read it. He was wheeling his chair back and back out the door and into the hall. I made a spyglass gesture and said, "Ahoy, matey. If you keep backing up you will go right out the window, and splat onto "O" Street." He agreed, then announced in his loudest voice, "Speaking of whales, here comes..." the weekend LPN.

Turning beet red in embarrassment I tried to explain the great literature problem to the nurse while wanting to jump out the window.  Dad has no filters at this point in his dementia.  Any idea that pops into his mind gets blurted out of his mouth.

Sunday an aide accidentally spilled a paper cupful of water on Dad's lap when she was offering him a half dozen pills.  Dad swore like a pirate.  Today Dad spilled very hot coffee into his own lap.  The burn is large and blistered.  Don't know if Dad's swearing was creative, but I can guarantee it was oceanic in scale.  I would gladly walk WAYYYY back!

© 2010 Nancy L. Ruder


Dog is my copilot

This week is starting better than last when my hot water heater pilot refused to stay lit. I had strained my back moving furniture. Each time I got down on the floor to stare into the pilot window, I was afraid I wouldn't be able to get back up. Pathetic way to die, starving to death flat on my back on the laundry room floor six feet from the refrigerator.  I don't have a St. Bernard dog to rescue me.

© 2010 Nancy L. Ruder


Cherrypickers and the absurdity of life

Each night this week I'm falling asleep with tears quietly running down my cheeks and into my ears.  I pray a dear friend will soon be lifted from her pain.  She wrote me today reminding me to enjoy this beautiful weather and the amazing absurdity of life!

This was the perfect day to contemplate absurdity. I won't attach photos, as you will see this clearly in your mind. After morning preschool "work time" the class headed out to the playground. The attention deficit boys and the ones who hadn't done a speck of counting or remembered to flush the toilet were suddenly totally focused.

Tree trimmers were at work on the lot next to the playground, riding up and down in a cherrypicker and wearing safety neon yellow vests and hardhats. All the little boys climbed to the top of the playground fort to watch the men at work. When a guy in the cherrypicker waved at them from on high I was surprised the ecstatic kids didn't wet their pants.  It was better than catching a World Series home run ball.

Near here in Arlington, TX, the World Series continues with sports celebrities and media hype.  I like baseball.  I loved sharing Texas Rangers games with my young sons fifteen years ago in the Pudge Rodriguez/Rafael Palmero/Nolan Ryan/Steve Beuchel years.  Even earlier I loved sharing cherrypicker moments.

I treasure the parenting times spent dining at a giant truckstop near Omaha.  We ate diesel-scented pancakes for supper while our little boys watched big rigs gas up outside.

Got a call at 2:30 today informing me that Dad fell out of bed.  He forgot to use his call button when he needed help.  No injuries.  Just the embarrassment of waiting on the linoleum for the "cherrypicker" hoist to lift him off the floor and put him back into bed.

Life is absurd.  Growing old is the pits, but so is not getting to grow old.  Gather ye rosebuds while ye may and watch the cherrypicker, too, although Robert Herrick didn't actually mention tree-trimming in "To the Virgins, to make much of Time".

Hey, Girl. The hunk with the yellow hardhat is waving at you!  Maybe he'll give you a boost.

© 2010 Nancy L. Ruder


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...