Emerging, creating, swearing, worrying

This is an early stage in the creation of the triptych backdrop for the spring music festival. It is pre-sea anemone, and completely lacking starfish.

Today the youngest preschoolers reviewed stripes and spots and worked on cutting, except they thought they were making sea anemones. They will be so proud when their efforts show up on the backdrop.  They are intrigued by strawberry sea anemones, and we will have to learn more about these creatures to discuss over lunch.

Only Carmina Burana will do tonight.  The music is full of tension, but also celebrates the return of spring.  It is "profane" and "erotic", and sings of the wheel of life, fortune, wealth, [taxes], and death.  And since I burned my supper, the roasting swan solo fits.

Dad asked me to feed him the slippery cinnamon baked apple slices this evening, and allowed me to spoon in some rice and ground meat.  It was nice to be asked, and good to have him eat much more than usual. 

The impending arrival of a roommate has Dad very anxious.  He had such a bad roommate experience in Nebraska that I fret with him.  We have been lucky to pay for a semi-private room for three months without having to share. 

Dad is expressing his anxiety inappropriately, even asking his 3-11 nurse, "Hey, b----, what do you want?"  She took it personally at first when Dad was obnoxious, but she is learning to celebrate his spunk.  Yesterday he slapped a tater tot clear across the room, and without a pingpong paddle.  Thank heaven my little students didn't observe this bad manner, as they would be sure to imitate!

This photo is from Tuesday morning.  Click on it so you can see the distinctive monarch wings inside the darkening chrysalis.   
The monarch emerged from its chrysalis in the middle of art class. It flailed a bit, but eventually crawled up to the top of the butterfly net to let its wings get stronger.

Nobody saw the actual busting out of the monarch, alas.  We were busy painting starfish for the backdrop.  Even empty, the chrysalis looks like a jewel.
The butterfly is just beginning to straighten its wings after emerging from the chrysalis.  It's not ready to dance.  Go ahead and click the link for some nice video of Carmina by the Tulsa Ballet.

© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder


Dirt and taxes

Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.

I was uncertain if I could find my crumbling 1966 copy of Bartlett's Familiar Quotations when my internet connection was balking, but there it was on the shelf chuckling about technology and dust into dust.

My worms would gladly consume my Bartlett's, but they are just one arm of my research this evening.  The other is Dad's taxes.  The left worm doesn't know what the right worm is doing.  Nobody seems to remember that there was no exit plan for Iraq and Afghanistan in the Bushy years, just as there's no exit plan for Libya.  But that is a "whole 'nother" puddle of mud.

Mr. Franklin was writing a letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy  on November 13, 1789.  However wacky our government and judicial system seem on any given day, the Constitution is an amazing gift from some clear-thinking folks.  I'm adding Andrea Wulf's Founding Gardeners:  The Revolutionary Generation, Nature, and the Shaping of the American Nation to my Hopefully Someday Reading List.

I'm still working out the overall points for the summer reading club worm presentation.  I'll need to address the concept of dirt vs. dirty for the 6-12 year olds, so I was interested to read about a filthy museum exhibit in London.

We can't live with it, and we can't live without it.  Dirt is essential.  We can improve dirt with worm composting.  We might need dirt to get through childhood strong and healthy.  We definitely need dirt to grow vegetables.  Without veggies we wouldn't have the strength to deal with Dad's income taxes.

And so the circle of life continues.

© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder

RDA of hydrangeas

The weather map shows snow, cold, rain everywhere as March plays its final tricks for this year. A dose of "snowballs" helped my outlook, even though Sunday was dark and drizzly at the Arboretum. They might help yours, too.

As a bonus, here is one row of the pansy beds and baskets.  There were three rows with every possible color of pansy neatly labeled for home gardeners.

© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder


Is thitta word?

What is an "undiesec"?  The blink of an eye when one adjusts ones bloomers while praying nobody is watching?

"Thitta" must be a lisping second cousin of "that so?"

Word verifications for online security provide a lot of free entertainment in my humble existence.  They are like minnestrone for the mind.  The only ones I don't like are New York Times verifications allowing me to email or post a link on Facebook.  Those are always fiendishly cramped and hazy.  Make me feel like I've flunked an IQ test or a polygraph.  Don't let the officers take away my drivers license!  I can still see! 

© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder


Lazy lint living

Someone who wants to be mysterious left a VIP pass to the Dallas Arboretum clipped to my timecard.  When gifts fall from the sky, I am glad to take the hint that I need some pampering and downtime. 

Dad didn't want to talk this morning, but he was glad to drink coffee and eat some of the lemon tea tot cookies sent by Mary in Ohio.  He is lucky I didn't snarf them all when I ate a test tea tot or two or three ...

Sleep is a gift.  Dreams are hard workers.  After a few nights of insomnia, my dreams are working overtime to interfile all the new input in my Old School card catalog brain.  For some reason I keep waking up to find I've pulled the pillow case off my pillow.

No matter how crazed my life gets, I keep doing the laundry.  The clean laundry gets dumped in a pile on my bed.  The pile builds in geologic strata, waiting in vain for a folding moment. I begin pretending it is a shelter of mammoth tusks in a Jean Auel novel--The Clan of the Lint Living Lazy Folders.

I will post some photos of my afternoon at the Arboretum soon.  Now it is time to make the hummus of the week.  Sun-dried tomato?

© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder

Having the filling and agitating time of your life

He's having the time of his life!

That phrase popped to mind last weekend watching Norton the Preschool Rabbit create his perfect bunny cave in the myrtle around my patio. 

What is time?  What is the time of our life?  What is wrong with the timer on my old washing machine?  What is our life?  The washer is probably long past its expected life span.

It's been an agitating week, short on cool rinses and gentle cycles.  I've been permanent wrinkled.  Or at least wrung out in serious spins. 

This Sixties band never achieved the success of Jefferson Airplane or the Grateful Dead, but the songs "White Bird", "The Girl With No Eyes", and "Time Is" hold a special place in the minds of certain Baby Boomers.

What is It's a Beautiful Day, Alex?

Time is too slow for those who wait,
and time is too swift for those who fear.

Time is too long for those who grieve,

and time is too short for those that laugh.

But for those who love,

Sweet time, sweet love

Precious time, precious love

Time is eternity.

Wash, rinse, and spin are sometimes joined by pre-soak in this list of laundry appliance functions.  What are cycles for $400, Alex?

Could I get a new washer for $400, Alex?  My machine fills with whatever temperature water it feels like at a trickling pace.  I put the clothes in, and start the washer before leaving for work at 7:30 a.m.  I arrive home after visiting Dad, and the machine is still dripping water into the tub for the rinse cycle at 6:30 p.m. 

Unless I set the dial on Hot Wash Hot Rinse. Then the tub fills quickly, and my clothes shrink quickly. It is the machine's fault! I am not getting chubbier this fast.

Life is there for the cherishing and savoring.  The memorial gathering for Felecia was so moving.  We sat on our lawn chairs in the city's greenbelt park watching hawks overhead. Butterflies flew through. Somehow I delivered my little eulogy without getting paralyzed or totally dissolving in tears.  We celebrated the times of her life.

Get out there and have the time of your life today!

© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder


Something fishy in the snack bucket

This was the special preschool snack today.  The individual "fish tanks" had raisins for gravel, blue caramel corn for water, goldfish crackers, and veggie sticks for seaweed.  Pretty cute.

Things are looking fishy all over the school.  This week we painted the fired clay fish with liquid watercolors mixed with metallic temperas.  The seven to nine year olds were not totally thrilled when I limited their paint choices to analogous colors, but the results got them excited.

When we made the fish we spread the red plastic mesh bags from cherry tomatoes and rolled it into the clay with rolling pins.  The results were very scaly.

On a side subject, it's annoying that it's become so difficult to use images from Photobucket on Blogger now.  Last night I was almost ready to publish my jellyfish post, and there was an incompatibility issue between the photos and formats.  I finally had to delete
the post and start over, losing all the links I'd included.
Blogging is so simple now with widgets and toolbars, that it's a surprise when something doesn't work.  When was the last time you had to stick your arm down in a slimy bucket of HTML code to fish out an opening tag missing its closing tag?

Speaking of slimy buckets, Dad's room now has three breathing gizmos, thanks to hospice.  There's the basic oxygen machine that looks like the old dehumidifier from the  basement in Lincoln, except for the tube and nostril attachment.  Dad uses oxygen at night now, and doesn't fight it too much.  Then there's a nebulizer for breathing treatments, but fancier than my sons' old asthma machine.  Creepiest, in the back corner there's a gizmo for suctioning Dad's lungs after a breathing treatment.  Like those fancy vacuum cleaners with the clear cannisters, you can see what gets sucked out.

Sometimes when Dad survives one of his coughing fits, I say "Roman Hruska".  Phlegm always reminds me of the name of the former U.S. senator from Nebraska.  On duty visits my Democrat parents would get into intense discussions with my emphysemic Republican granddad when I was a kid.  That's when we would escape and take long walks in dry, hot, windy McCook, up past Senator George W. Norris's house.  My parents had great respect for Norris's integrity. 

Once I have heard the Hruska coughing gurgle, I go off on mental missions searching for the names of other Nebraska politicians.  Thank heaven for Google, so I can find Terry Carpenter and Carl Curtis and not have to wonder at three a.m.

After the blue popcorn and a fire drill, we had a special guest at school today.  The author of a book about monarch butterflies came to read.  Better than that, she brought us a real monarch chrysalis expected to open Sunday or Monday.  The chrysalis should turn black when it is closer to opening.  Right now it looks like a jade and gold jewel.

  The photo is quite enlarged.  The real chrysalis was about 5/8" from top to bottom.  The chrysalis is inside a butterfly tent for the weekend.  Sure hope the monarch waits until Monday to emerge.  We are still watching for changes in the mystery chrysalis on the playground fence.

Preschool is all about living things and life cycles in the spring.  A student brought a tiny live grasshopper in a plastic Gerber Junior Foods container with some mud in the bottom and one hole in the lid.  The 5/8" grasshopper had been in the container about 48 hours according to the mom.  Our lead teacher explained solemnly to the students that grasshoppers need food and air, and that they want to be outside with their families.  Go ahead, she nodded to me, the grasshopper needs air desperately so open the box.  I popped the lid, and the grasshopper was out on my lap, under my hand, then onto the rug, and the kids were jumping up ready to rush the grasshopper and crash into each other.  The child who brought the grasshopper was wailing.  Our lead teacher was trying to calm everybody and catch the bug in a paper cup then leading the child outside to release it into the wild just after an impromptu photo shoot. 

I held up the next Show And Tell item, a book of Sleeping Beauty and Other Princess Fairy Tales with gold lettering.  The book's owner selected her favorite page, and I began reading the first paragraph about the king with seven sons and one daughter and their mother died and the king remarried and the new queen wanted to get rid of the children so she sent the daughter far, far away and turned the sons into swans.  Holy crap!  What next?

In the afternoon I had a "care plan" conference call with the director, social worker, dietitian, activities director, and nurse coordinator of Dad's facility plus the hospice social worker and pastor. Don't know why the hairdresser wasn't invited.  We worked out problems with the contact phone numbers that have been goofed up since Dad was admitted, and a billing problem. Dad has lost sixteen pounds in three months, but his oxygen saturation level is back above 90% since his respiratory infection. Dad let the pastor play jazz for him and the social worker read his letters. All of them said having the names and locations of family members posted on Dad's wall helps as a talking point in their visits. I added more names, and Dad is studying them while he eats. Thank heaven for Scotch Removable Poster Tape, one thing that does make my life simpler!  Much of the week he's been hollering for my sons to come downstairs and adjust the heat in his room.  It's eighty-three degrees outside, hot, windy, dusty like McCook, with a heavy dose of pollen. 

After visiting Dad, I've come home most evenings to work on a piece for the celebration of Felecia's life tomorrow. It seems right that the memorial will be outside in a park, a bring-your-own-lawnchair affair. Actually standing up to read my little eulogy terrifies me, although I'm comfortable with my composition.

Walked down to the creek to take a stab at serenity. Daffodils were blooming. A leafwing butterfly played peek-a-boo. Three mallard drakes were having a boys club swim meeting by the storm sewer drain. Followed a slow-moving fresh swallowtail

from weed to weed. It landed to feed, and sat still enough long enough for a photo.

A green anole rose up from a nearby log. How dare this butterfly invade his space? 

Still processing this roller coaster week, and that requires writing.  Good phone calls with sons, thoughtful treats from friends.  Bad nights coughing with itchy lungs and long lists squirreling in my head.  Too many three a.m.s.  Breathe in.  Breathe out.

© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder

With a name like Smucker's

The beginning reader book says a group of jellyfish is called a "smack" so therefore, it must be true.


"Jellyfish" is one of those words that lacks credibility.  The more I look at it, the less likely it becomes.  This cannot be the proper spelling!

Efforts to discover the WHY of "a smack of jellyfish" have been unsuccessful.  A student brings peanut butter sandwiches on white with green mint jelly every schoolday. 


Another improbable word.  Jellyfish have no brains, hearts, or bones.  I'd like to watch Judge Judy slap one around.  Drifter.  Stinging.  Invertebrate!

So much to do tonight, but I've been hanging out with a strange crowd.  Collective nouns for animals.
A group of jellyfish is sometimes called a bloom or a swarm.[9] "Bloom" is usually used for a large group of jellyfish that gather in a small area, but may also have a time component, referring to seasonal increases, or numbers beyond what was expected.[10] Another collective name for a group of jellyfish is a smack.[11]

The post-pretense of this verb is smuck.  The jelly company slogan was coined in 1962.  With a name like Smucker's it has to be good.

The jellyfish art on the music festivals won't be good.  It will be bloomin' fabulous. 

© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder


Mystery chrysalis

A student discovered this cocoon on the playground fence near the utility box.  I'm out of time for identification efforts this morning, but I'll throw my butterfly and insect field guides into my bag in case there's a free moment.  I like the way it looks like it has a zipper.

This is the base of the utility box.  It could have a zipper, too.  It sure has teeth.

© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder


Another hundred jellyfish just got off of the train...

...and got into my brain.  And another hundred jellyfish got tentacles today on their way to becoming the cover art for the Montessori school music festival programs.  It was mass production medusas this afternoon. 

I don't know my Stephen Sondheim from my Susan Sontag.  Driving home after the play Saturday night, hearing  A Night On the Town on WRR 101.1, I listened to songs from "Company".  The one that became an auditory barnacle was "Another Hundred People".  It's stuck in my head.  I can't get it out.  It's making me dread another hundred programs, but we're forging ahead.

Now to get medusa I go to the Online Etymology Dictionary:

"jellyfish," 1758, as genus name, from the name of one of the three Gorgons with snakes for hair, whose glance turned to stone him who looked upon it (attested in English from late 14c.). Her name is from Gk. Medousa, lit. "guardian," fem. prp. of the verb medein "to protect, rule over" (see Medea). The zoological name was chosen by Linnæus, suggested by the creature's long tentacles.

My big red dictionary explains tentacle (and also tenacious):

An elongated, flexible unsegmented protrusion, such as one of those surrounding the mouth or oral cavity of the hydra, sea anemone, or squid....Something resembling a tentacle, especially in ability to grasp or hold. [New Latin tentaculum, from Latin tentare, variant of temptare, to touch, feel TEMPT.]

Our tentacles are tissue paper, cellophane, and the irridescent crinkly plastic for filling gift bags.  Grasping and gluing it requires tenacity.  Photos soon.

© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder


Life, death, and itty bitty pith helmets

It was only a Super Moon sitting up in a paper sky, but Norton the rabbit didn't get out to see it.  He was ever so pleased this morning to get out on the patio to continue crafting his rabbit cave in the ground cover.  He wore his make-believe pith helmet.  I took a big mug of coffee.  It was sixty-three degrees.  Together we might dig the Panama Canal and find a cure for malaise.

The moon over White Rock Lake was quite fabulous last night after Fred Curchack's one-man play at the Bath House Cultural Center.  Dang if the play wasn't about life, death, generations,  words, and our sense of self.

Dad is not wearing his pith helmet.  Still in his hospital gown, he is refusing to get out of bed.  This would seem right if he was just protesting the end of spring break.  Alas, it  is a larger comment on mortality, the weekend staff, over-grown nose hairs, and self-determination. 

One of the stand-out reviews read in March issues of Library Journal  was Elizabeth Foley's consideration of  the Law of Life and Death.  When are we alive?  When is life gone?  What happens when the latest medical information meets the current legal opinions?  Why is the juice always red?

Started reading Diane Ackerman's One Hundred Names for Love while sitting under a tree by the jogging trail.   Kites.  I love kites.  So many families picnicking and frisbeeing in every language.  What is language?  How do we communicate love?  How can we repair a writer's brain after a stroke?
© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder

Same tunnel, new light

Circumstance skinny son

marching in

May pomp

teen niece in pink soon

© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder


Hospice care double dare

On a dare from my walking buddy, I have refrained from emailing updates about Dad to my siblings during my Spring Break.  She was correct in her theory that they would not contact me for updates.  Trouble is, if I don't write stuff down, I don't remember it.  Does that mean I'm senile?  Or does that mean the letter-writing habit begun in sixth grade has changed the way I experience events?  Did the note-taking skills grilled into us in the old-timey junior high guidance classes of the late Sixties undermine my ability to hold onto the unrecorded thought?

I know, know, know I read a book review last Saturday from Booklist (2/15/11), or a recent Wall Street Journal or New York Times.  According to the reviewer, the author suggests social media and the internet have changed the way we experience our own lives.  Is part of our consciousness split off watching ourselves for potential blog posts, FaceBook status updates, or tweets? 

I'd love to tell you more about this book, but I didn't write it down, and now I can't remember or find it online.  It's not among my desk litter of scraps listing books with intriguing reviews.

My friend changed her loan of size 9 boots into a gift.  I'm thrilled because I can keep my creek clean-up effort going.  I love the creek, but have to ask if I'm authentically noticing nature, or just searching for the next 365 Project photo op?  Thank you, Ms. Janie!

Was I curious, or just looking for new material?  Norton, the class rabbit, has fretted much over terry cloth towels I put under his cage.  The bunny knows these are not HIS towels.  Also, he doesn't appreciate the padding layer of newspaper I put under the bath towels in one corner to prevent orange rabbit pee stains on my ancient carpet. 

Norton fusses every chance when he's out of the cage.  He pushes the substitute towels around, nibbles at them, shreds the newspapers, and huffs his indignation.  HIS towels are in the dryer and will be back in place under Norton's cages as soon as possible. 

Was I curious, or just looking for new material?  I stopped in to see Dad this noon.  He was obsessing about the names of my four sons and their wives.  He would not accept that I only have three sons.  We reviewed his grandsons, the two wives and their whereabouts, and made more cue cards. "What about the fourth couple?  What about the other Mike?," he demanded.

"I'm very lucky," I told Dad.  "I have three wonderful sons.  They have terrific wives and a girlfriend I adore.  But one Mike was plenty!"

"That's the way I feel, too,"  Dad says, "but what about the other couple?"  As we go around and around, releafing the family tree, I hear the approach of the hospice chaplain.  I hear with the same relief and trepidation every woman experiences when the OB/GYN who has left her wearing that silly gown in the exam room for forty-five minutes (after an hour and a half in the waiting room) finally pulls her chart from the rack outside the door with a big whoosh.  Well, finally, BUT, crap, here comes the pelvic exam.

During long visits with Melva and Elvira on the other side of the hall, the hospice chaplain plays a recording of hymns performed by a country western singer.    Shall we gather at the river?  The elderly ladies sing along.  Nearer Mike Odd Toothy.  Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the anticipation.  Would Dad be polite with the chaplain?  Would he decline to sing, but tell tales of the choir loft at First Plymouth just after WWII?  Would Dad tell the minister to go to hell or to drop dead the same as he tells the nurses?  Since Dad has no filters, it could be a full-contact confirmation class.  And then I could write about it.

Alas, the encounter didn't live up to a bloggable moment.  The chaplain explained to me how he can help Dad phone my siblings and other faraway relatives.  That would be good.  Or my siblings could call Dad when they were ready for an update. 

For now, Mike Odd Toothy is on the phone telling me his wife's zucchini pie recipe.  Plus Norton has HIS towels back.

© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder

Book touring #1

The model boat pond in Central Park was frozen the morning of Sunday, 2/20/11.  We were the only people around except for two men with enormous camera lenses on tripods.  The pond's official name, The Conservatory Water, doesn't pop quickly to my mind.  We had just made a mapless journey through the icy Ramble after visiting Strawberry Fields.

Looking up at the buildings of Fifth Avenue, it didn't click that the photographers were watching for Pale Male, the famous red-tailed hawk.  I was just thinking about Stuart Little sailing across the model boat pond in E. B. White's children's book.  The pond was much bigger than I had imagined as a child.

I was loving everything about Central Park, and sharing it with my son and daughter-in-law.  We were headed to an art museum, but hadn't decided which one.

I just reread the chapters when Stuart Little, dressed in his sailor suit, steers the Wasp across the pond and back racing the Lillian B. Womrath. Perilous weather and a paper bag test all Stuart's skill.

By the time we were finished at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and walking on Fifth Avenue, I remembered the Central Park hawks.  I kept trying to spot a nest on one of the apartment buildings, but was frequently distracted by the amazing assortment of people and shoeware on the sidewalk.

Jumping around Pale Male blogs and websites this noon, I learned hawk copulation was in progress the very day of our visit!

The picture books about Pale Male are too long and advanced for most of my students so I haven't checked them out lately.  Wikipedia lists these three:

  • The Tale of Pale Male: a True Story, by Jeanette Winter (Harcourt, 2007)
  • City Hawk: the Story of Pale Male, by Meghan McCarthy (Simon & Schuster, 2007)
  • Pale Male: Citizen Hawk of New York City, by Janet Schulman (Knopf, 2008)

Now that I can visualize the setting better, I'll look for Marie Winn's book, Red-Tails in Love.

© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder

E-smoking in bed

Library patrons recently returned a stack of books with a tale of woe.  Some of the books were damaged when Reader #1 dozed off while smoking in bed.  Other books were damaged when the smoking reader's spouse, Reader #2, attempted to put out the fire with water.  Water is not much better for library books than cigarette ashes.

The couple owes about $135 in library fines.

Dogs and babies chew lots of library books and videos.  Kids in the car spill lemonade onto whole bags of books.  Parents think, if that is the correct word, that reading books at the edge of the swimming pool is a good idea. Even this blogger dropped the New Orleans Frommers travel guide into the hotel bubble bath.

Pressure is high for librarians to add e-books to their collections for all those people who received Nooks and Kindles for Christmas.  Publishers don't know how to price their product for libraries, as reported in the New York Times this week.  Libraries aren't sure how to manage circulation for e-books.  It all makes my head hurt, but one thing stays the same:

Don't smoke in bed!

© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder

Seating arrangements

What did you do on Spring Break?  Some of my students have been globe-trotting.  Some have been dropped off at the roller rink all week.  What would I say?  I hung out with Turbo-Tax?  Got an oil change?  Sat in my chair and stared out the window?  Sometimes looking.  Sometimes pondering.  Often zoned out.  Not in the driver's seat.  Blasted back by the airbag, and can't recall the collision.  A crew is smashing the concrete on my street to replace a rectangle, then another rectangle, then another. 

Always fond of chairs, and this book, Chairs.  Edited by George Nelson. Published by Whitney Publications, copyright 1953. We had a bunch of second-hand bentwood chairs in the basement. I loved the arches and circles, the smooth, dark wood. These chairs provided the seating for Blue Bird meetings and birthday parties along the converted shuffleboard table.

I twirled on a stool at the Highland Park Pharmacy Soda Fountain (since 1912) for an early lunch -- Grilled ham and cheese on white with mayo, no lettuce, a bag of chips, and a root beer, $8.19.  Old fashioned experience at 2011 prices about the same as Corner Bakery's.  Plus I can like it on FaceBook.  Dad would have ordered the goose liver sandwich and Mom the pimento cheese.  Then they would have traded halves.

Stickley probably didn't host shuffleboard evenings or Blue Bird meetings.  I headed downtown to renew my Dallas Museum of Art membership and see the Gustav Stickley exhibit.  The furniture pieces on display dated from 1901-1913.  They might have inspired the pieces in Grandma's house in Pierce.  Certainly the dark wood, green walls, and Craftsman aesthetic had trickled down to northeast Nebraska before the first World War.  I wished my Ohio friend Mary could have joined me, as she is a student of the American Arts and Crafts movement. 

Far more fun than Stickley was the DMA's installation in the Center for Creative Connections.  The current exhibit is great fun for kids, families, and art teachers. "Sculpting Space: 299 Chairs" is a fantastic installation created by students from DISD's Skyline High School Architecture Cluster using standard-issue fourteen-inch classroom chairs.

Just finished watching a strange artifact of American movie history. "Neptune's Daughter" starred swimming sensation Esther Williams, Ricardo Montalban, and Red Skelton. These chair formations could become synchronized swimming routines!

This one reminds me of a student I taught many years ago.  He couldn't pronounce his "L" sound. Yes, this yooks yike a yunar yander!
© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder


Arkady Renko and the allergy sinus funk

Into the Moscow pothole I happily sunk, ready for the ever-inefficient and corrupt Putin-era cement to be scooped into the bottomless pit.  What a treat to have Martin Cruz Smith's Three Stations to read while Dad or the class rabbit napped nearby.  Book over, I pulled back to a redbud-blooming Texas spring against my will.  Back to driving the rusty Buick Skylark instead of Sergeant Victor Orlov's Lada.

Definitely the shortest of the Arkady Renko novels, Three Stations is not Smith's best.  But weak Arkady is better than no Arkady at all.  Wolves Eat Dogs is on my mind because of the Japanese nuclear reactor situation.

Gray, pollen-filled sky, too-warm and humid air with no hope of rain, this day signals the beginning of tornado season.  Squeezy head days make me want to nap, but was too agitated to actually curl up on the couch.  I'll regret it tomorrow, but I went to hike at the Heard Sanctuary near McKinney. 

Grandma babysitters were trying desperately to tire out Spring Break children, walking them all over the refuge.  A few older children had escaped to the parking lot to sit in warm minivans with their stocking feet on the dashboard and an electronic game in their hands.  Smaller children played Hansel and Gretel, leaving a trail of crunched orange Goldfish crackers. 

My father leaves similar crunched Cheez-It messes and a trail of used Kleenex.  His blinds are closed and he bashes his wheelchair into the wall while he demands his coffee.  At least Dad isn't in Arkady's Moscow, wheeling into the perpetual pothole of the Putin era. 

Sightings today at the Heard:
  • Great blue heron adding material to its nest
  • Canoeing kids watching the heron = great
  • Carolina chickadees improving a hole in a tree
  • Wrens skipping on exposed tree roots
  • Indigo buntings just blew me away
  • Cardinals
  • Hairy woodpeckers in the wetland
  • Snowy egret
  • Pair of bluebirds
  • Titmouse
  • Blue-gray gnatcatchers
  • Camera-shy goatweed butterflies (this one has its head under the whitish leaf)
  • An out-of-focus funnel spider
  • Too busy crescentspot butterflies
  • Teasing falcate orangetips
  • Two yellow swallowtails too early in the season
  • Mossy red-eared slider turtle snoozing.  No novel.  No nap?
© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder


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