Bringing the car around

1954 Chevy Bel-Air
I want to thank the owner of this antique 1954 Chevy for having brunch at Corner Bakery. What a gorgeous sight in shiny brown and white! Couldn't resist taking some photos, as there can't be all that many still out on the roads.

Howie and Fritz bought their '54 Chevy from the dealer in Pierce, Nebraska after they took driving lessons.  It was their first car, and the only vehicle they ever bought new.  It was a "pea green" two door Chevy.

After brunch I had missions and errands, an expiring Arboretum membership and expiring shoe store bonus points to tackle. Clicked on WRR, 101.1, Dallas' wonderful classical music station to find an all Mozart playlist for Wolfie's birthday. Suddenly one recording plunged me back a year. There I was sitting at Howie's bedside along with the hospice nurse. Each of us making our own sorts of notations as we watched Dad slowly fail accompanied by Mozart's birthday playlist on WRR.

In one of our dementia rabbit hole conversations, Dad demanded I open his room window then bring the Caddie around.  When I pulled up in the Caddie, Dad planned to climb out the window.  Together we would light out for parts unknown.

light out
(intr, adverb) Informal to depart quickly, as if being chased
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003

Dad did not depart quickly. The hospice nurse and I waited, breathed, prayed, drifted, until it was no longer Mozart's birthday.  I wrapped the cord around the small radio and placed it in a bag.

© 2013 Nancy L. Ruder

Childhoods of Mediocre Americans

A girl and  her needle-nose pliers : a biography for young readers / by CollageMama.

This week I unjammed my document shredder with those needle-nose pliers.  Pretty pleased with myself.  True, if I didn't feed peculiar materials for worm compost bedding and/or mixed media collages into the machine it would work better. Then the diamond-cut shredder at work jammed, and I applied my new expertise and a liberal dose of shredder lubricant to the task.

I don't have a team of rivals or the art of power. Young kids have many over-achieving role models, with or without steroids. The first time a child gets a happy face sticker for folding his/her nap blanket, we are pondering future greatness. Never mind that blanket folding has not been accompanied by a reduced amount of digital nasal exploration, or a remembrance of things to be flushed, but I digress.

In Mrs. Ahlschwede's third grade class we read the Bobbs Merrill "Childhoods of Famous Americans" formulaic biographies.  Then we recorded the titles on lined 3x5 notecards in our very best new cursive handwriting.  Abigail Adams and Jane Addams were dull, depressing books, but I kept working my way through the alphabet picking up reading speed and comprehension.  When I was plucking books off the shelf it seemed that every female was either rolling hoops down cobble streets or wearing hoop skirts.  I couldn't even hula hoop.

Fast forward to Bernie Madoff : Young Ponzi Schemer.  I'm evaluating subtitles for my new series of deadly dull early reader chapter biographies. 
  • : Crockpot Girl of Old Nebraska
  • : Finder of Lost Fisher Price Chickens
  • : Hot Glue Sharpshooter
  • : Sight of Blood Fainter
  • : Young Letter Writer 
  • : Future Blogger
  • : Chex Mix Maven

I've never tried to insert an Excel document into a blog before. These are the 180 titles I've compiled so far for the Bobbs Merrill series, Childhoods of Famous Americans. Perhaps it will save some other obsessed person a long search.  Or it will suggest a new subtitle.

Abigail Adams A Girl of Colonial Days Jean Brown Wagoner 1961 Adams, Abigail
John Quincy Adams Boy Patriot  Anne Weil Adams, John Q.
JANE ADDAMS,  Little Lame Girl  Addams, J
Louisa Alcott Girl of Old Boston  Jean Brown Wagoner Alcott, Louisa
John Alden Young Puritan Olive W. Burt Alden, J
Ethan Allen  Green Mountain Boy  Gertrude Hecker Winders Allen, Ethan
Susan Anthony Girl Who Dared Helen Albee Monsell Anthony, S
Louis Armstrong,   Young Music Maker Dharathula Millender Armstrong, L
John Jacob Astor Boy Trader Dorothy S. Anderson Astor, J
Crispus Attucks Boy of Valor Dharathula Millender Attucks, Crispus
YOUNG AUDUBON Boy Naturalist Audubon, John James
P.T. Barnum Circus Boy Augusta Stevenson Barnum, P
Clara Barton Girl Nurse Augusta Stevenson Barton, Clara
ELIZABETH BLACKWELL Girl Doctor Joanne Landers Henry 1949 Blackwell, Elizabeth
Daniel Boone Boy Hunter Augusta Stevenson Boone, Daniel
Jim Bowie,   Boy with a Hunting Knife Gertrude Hecker Winders Bowie, J
William Bradford Pilgrim Boy Bradford Smith Bradford, W
Anne Bradstreet Young Puritan Poet Montrew Dunham Bradstreet, Anne
Jim Bridger Mountain Boy Gertrude Hecker Winders Bridger, J
Luther Burbank Boy Wizard Burbank, L
Richard Byrd Boy of the South Pole Guernsey Van Riper, Jr. Byrd, R
Andrew Carnegie Young Steelmaker Joanne Landers Henry Carnegie, Andrew
Kit Carson Boy Trapper Augusta Stevenson Carson, K
George Carver Boy Scientist Augusta Stevenson Carver, G
Walter Chrysler Boy Machinist Ethel H. Weddle Chrysler, W
George Rogers Clark Boy of the Old Northwest  Katharine E. Wilkie Clark, George R
Will Clark Boy in Buckskins Katharine E. Wilkie Clark, W
Henry Clay Young Kentucky Orator  Helen Albee Monsell Clay, H
Mark Twain Boy of Old Missouri Miriam E. Mason Clemens, S
DeWitt Clinton Boy Builder Mabel Cleland Widdemer Clinton, DeWitt
BUFFALO BILL Frontier Daredevil Augusta Stevenson 1948 Cody, William
James Fenimore Cooper Leatherstocking Boy Gertrude Hecker Winders Cooper, J
Davy Crockett Young Rifleman Aileen Wells Parks Crockett, Davy
GEORGE CUSTER Boy of Action Augusta Stevenson Custer, G
Virginia Dare Mystery Girl Augusta Stevenson Dare, V
Jeff Davis Confederate Boy Lena Young deGrummond Davis, J
Stephen Decatur Gallant Boy  Bradford Smith Decatur, S
John Deere Blacksmith Boy Margaret Bare Deere, J
Lee DeForest Electronics Boy Lavinia Dobler DeForest, L
Cecil B. DeMille Young Dramatist  Hortense Myers  DeMille, Cecil B.
George Dewey Vermont Boy Laura Long Dewey, G
Babe Didrickson Girl Athlete  Lena Young deGrummond  Didrickson, Babe
Joe DiMaggio Young Sports Hero Herb Dunn DiMaggio, J
Walt Disney Young Movie Maker Marie Hammontree Disney, W
Dorothea Dix Girl Reformer Grace Hathaway Melin Dix, Dorothea
Mary Mapes Dodge Jolly Girl Miriam E. Mason Dodge, M
Abner Doubleday Young Baseball Pioneer  Montrew Dunham Doubleday, Abner
Frederick Douglass Boy Champion of Human Rights Elisabeth P. Myers Douglass, F
AMELIA EARHART Young Aviator Beatrice Gromley Earheart, Amelia
Amelia Earhart  Kansas Girl Jane Moore Howe Earheart, Amelia
George Eastman Young Photographer  Joanne Landers Henry Eastman, G
THOMAS A EDISON Young Inventor Sue Guthridge 1947 Edison, Thomas
ALBERT EINSTEIN Young Thinker Marie Hammontree 1961 Einstein, Albert
Dwight D. Eisenhower Young Military Leader Eisenhower, Dwight D
Duke Ellington Young Music Master Martha Schaaf Ellington, Duke
William Fargo Boy Mail Carrier Katharine E. Wilkie Fargo, W
David Farragut Boy Midshipman Laura Long Farragut, David
Harvey S. Firestone Young Rubber Pioneer Adrian Paradis Firestone, H
John Fitch Steamboat Boy  Augusta Stevenson Fitch, J
Henry Ford Boy with Ideas Hazel B. Aird  Ford, H
Bedford Forrest Boy on Horseback Aileen Wells Parks Forrest, Bedford
STEPHEN FOSTER Boy Minstrel Helen Boyd Higgins Foster, Stephen
Ben Franklin Printer's Boy Augusta Stevenson Franklin, Benjamin
Jessie Fremont Girl of Capitol Hill  Jean Brown Wagoner Fremont, J
Robert Frost,   Boy with Promises to Keep Ellen Wilson Frost, R
Robert Fulton Boy Craftsman Marguerite Henry Fulton, R
LOU GEHRIG Boy to the Sand Lots Gehrig, Lou
George Gershwin Young Composer Bernice Bryant Gershwin, G
Robert Goddard  Pioneer Rocket Boy Clyde B. Moore Goddard, R
U.S. Grant Young Horseman Augusta Stevenson Grant, U
Nathanael Greene Independent Boy Howard Peckham Greene, N
Nathan Hale Puritan Boy Augusta Stevenson Hale, N
ALEC HAMILTON The Little Lion Helen Boyd Higgins Hamilton, Alexander
John Hancock New England Boy Cathrine Seward Cleven Hancock, J
Nancy Hanks Kentucky Girl  Augusta Stevenson Hanks, Nancy
Joel Chandler Harris Young Storyteller Ethel H. Weddle Harris, J
WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON  Young Tippecanoe Howard Peckham Harrison, William H.
Bret Harte Young Storyteller  Janet Branham Harte, Bret
Patrick Henry Boy Spokesman Thomas Frank Barton Henry, P
James J. Hill Young Empire Builder Mildred Houghton Comfort Hill, J
OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES, JR. Boy of Justice Montrew Dunham 1961 Holmes, Oliver Wendell, Jr.
HERBERT HOOVER  Boy Engineer Mildred H. Comfort 1965 Hoover, Herbert
Harry Houdini (Young Magician) Kathryn Kilby Borland Houdini, H
SAM HOUSTON Boy Chieftain Augusta Stevenson Houston, Sam
Elias Howe Inventive Boy Jean Corcoran Howe, E
Julia Ward Howe Girl of Old New York Jean Brown Wagoner Howe, J
Langston Hughes Young Black Poet Montrew Dunham Hughes, L
Washington Irving Boy of Old New York  Mabel Cleland Widdemer Irving, W
Andy Jackson Boy Soldier Augusta Stevenson Jackson, A
Rachel Jackson  Tennessee Girl  Christine Noble Govan Jackson, R
Tom Jackson  Young Stonewall Helen Albee Monsell Jackson, Thomas
TOM JEFFERSON A Boy in Colonial Days Helen Albee Monsell 1939 Jefferson, Thomas
Lyndon B. Johnson Young Texan Thomas Frank Barton Johnson, L
John Paul Jones Salt-Water Boy Dorothea J. Snow Jones, J
Chief Joseph Boy of the Nez Perce  Olive W. Burt Joseph
Helen Keller Handicapped Girl  Katharine E. Wilkie Keller, H
Francis Scott Key Maryland Boy Augusta Stevenson Key, F
Martin Luther King, Jr. Boy with a Dream  Dharathula H. Millender King, M
Robert E. Lee  Boy of Old Virginia Helen Albee Monsell Lee, R
John L. Lewis Young Militant Labor Leader George Gershon Korson Lewis, J
Meriwether Lewis Boy Explorer Charlotta M. Bebenroth Lewis, M
Liliuokalani Young Hawaiian Queen Shirlee Petkin Newman Liliuokalani
Abe Lincoln Frontier Boy  Augusta Stevenson Lincoln, Abraham
Mary Todd Lincoln Girl of the Bluegrass  Katharine E. Wilkie Lincoln, M
Robert Todd Lincoln President's Boy LaVere Anderson Lincoln, R
Vince Lombardi Young Football Coach  Hortense Myers Lombardi, V
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow  Grace Hathaway Melin Longfellow, H
Juliette Low Girl Scout  Helen Boyd Higgins Low, J
Dolly Madison Quaker Girl Helen Albee Monsell Madison, Dolly
Francis Marion Young Swamp Fox  William O. Steele Marion, F
John Marshall Boy of Young America Helen Albee Monsell Marshall, J
Cyrus McCormick Farmer Boy Lavinia Dobler McCormick, Cyrus
William H. McGuffey Boy Reading Genius Barbara Williams McGuffey, W
Maria Mitchell Girl Astronomer Grace Hathaway Melin Mitchell, M
James Monroe Good Neighbor Boy Mabel Cleland Widdemer Monroe, J
Samuel Morse Inquisitive Boy Dorothea J. Snow Morse, S
J. Sterling Morton Arbor Day Boy Clyde B. Moore Morton, J
Lucretia Mott Girl of Old Nantucket  Constance Buel Burnett Mott, L
John Muir Young Naturalist  Montrew Dunham Muir, J
Edward R. Murrow Young Newscaster Hortense Myers Murrow, Edward
Annie Oakley Little Sure Shot  Ellen Wilson Oakley, Annie
Osceola Young Seminole Indian Electa Clark Osceola
Robert Peary Boy of the North Electa Clark Peary, R
WILLIAM PENN Friendly Boy Miriam E. Mason Penn, William
J. C. Penney Golden Rule Boy Wilma J. Hudson Penney, J
OLIVER HAZARD PERRY Boy of the Sea Laura Long Perry, O
Zeb Pike Boy Traveler Augusta Stevenson Pike, Z
Allan Pinkerton Young Detective Kathryn Borland Pinkerton, Allan
Molly Pitcher Girl Patriot Augusta Stevenson Pitcher, M
POCAHONTAS Brave Girl  Pocahontas
Pontiac Young Ottawa Leader Howard Henry Peckham Pontiac
JOSEPH PULITZER Boy Journalist  Pulitzer, J
George Pullman Young Sleeping Car Builder Elisabeth P. Myers Pullman, G
Walter Reed Boy Who Wanted to Know Helen Boyd Higgins Reed, W
Frederick Remington Young Artist  Clyde B. Moore Remington, F
PAUL REVERE Boy of Old Boston Augusta Stevenson 1946 Revere, Paul
James Whitcomb Riley Hoosier Boy  Minnie Belle Mitchell Riley, J
Knute Rockne Young Athlete Guernsey Van Riper, Jr. Rockne, K
WILL ROGERS Young Cowboy Guernsey Van Riper, Jr. Rogers, W
Eleanor Roosevelt Courageous Girl  Ann Weil Roosevelt, Eleanor
Franklin Roosevelt Boy of the Four Freedoms  Ann Weil Roosevelt, F
TEDDY ROOSEVELT Young Rough Rider  Edd Winfield Parks 1953 Roosevelt, Teddy
BETSY ROSS Girl of Old Philadelphia Ann Weil 1954 Ross, Betsy
Babe Ruth  Baseball Boy  Ruth, Babe
Sacagawea Bird Girl Flora Warren Seymour 1945 Sacagawea
Carl Sandburg,   Young Singing Poet Grace Hathaway Melin Sandburg, Carl
Sequoyah  Young Cherokee Guide Dorothea J. Snow Sequoyah
Sitting Bull Dakota Boy Augusta Stevenson Sitting Bull
John Smith Jamestown Boy Thomas Frank Barton Smith, J
Young Jed Smith Westering Boy Olive W. Burt Smith, Jed
John Philip Sousa Marching Boy Ann Weil Sousa, J
Squanto Young Indian Hunter Augusta Stevenson Squanto
Myles Standish Adventurous Boy Augusta Stevenson Standish, M
Adlai Stevenson Young Ambassador Ward, Martha E. Stevenson, Adlai
Harriet Beecher Stowe Connecticut Girl Mabel Cleland Widdemer Stowe, H
Jeb Stuart Boy in the Saddle Gertrude Hecker Winders Stuart, J
PETER STUYVESANT Boy With Wooden Shoes Stuyvesant
Zach Taylor Young Rough and Ready Katharine E. Wilkie Taylor, Z
Tecumseh Shawnee Boy Augusta Stevenson Tecumseh
Jim Thorpe Indian Athlete Guernsey Van Riper, Jr. Thorpe, J
Harry S Truman Missouri Farm Boy Wilma J. Hudson Truman, H
Harriet Tubman Freedom Girl Gertrude Hecker Winders Tubman, H
Lew Wallace Boy Writer Martha E. Schaaf Wallace, L
John Wanamaker Boy Merchant Olive W. Burt Wanamaker, J
BOOKER T. WASHINGTON Ambitious Boy Augusta Stevenson Washington, Booker T.
GEORGE WASHINGTON Young Leader Augusta Stevenson 1959 Washington, George
Martha Washington Girl of Old Virginia  Jean Brown Wagoner Washington, M
Anthony Wayne Daring Boy Augusta Stevenson Wayne, Anthony
Dan Webster Union Boy  Bradford Smith Webster, Daniel
Noah Webster Boy of Words Helen Boyd Higgins Webster, N
Benjamin West Gifted Young Painter  Dorothea J. Snow West, Benjamin
George Westinghouse Young Inventor  Montrew Dunham Westinghouse, G
Narcissa Whitman Pioneer Girl Ann Spence Warner Whitman, N
Eli Whitney Boy Mechanic Dorothea J. Snow Whitney, Eli
Kate Douglas Wiggin The Little Schoolteacher Miriam E. Mason Wiggin, K
WOODROW WILSON Boy President Helen Albee Monsell Wilson, W
F. W. Woolworth Five and Ten Boy Woolworth
WILBUR AND ORVILLE WRIGHT Young Fliers Augusta Stevenson Wright, Wilbur, Orville
Brigham Young Covered Wagon Boy Polly Carver Jordan Young, Brigham
JOHN PETER ZENGER Young Defender of Free Press  Zenger, J
© 2013 Nancy L. Ruder


Playing spoons

For information on the card game Spoons click here.

If you want to play spoons as a musical instrument, then you want to click here.

But if you are ready for another adventure in aggravating three-year-old inventiveness, here is the lunch special recipe of the week.

Take one three-year-old.  Add a thermos full of rice and beans, one very ripe banana, and a plastic spoon. Spill a lot of the rice on the floor. When the teacher says, "Oh, my, you are making quite a mess," drop a few banana chunks down there too. Stomp and slide this around, and get a good mash on the bottom of your shoe.  Scrape the bottom of your shoe with the plastic spoon to see what interesting sounds that will make until you get a grown-up's attention.

This is a lot more annoying when repeated on the next day!

Come on and hear, come on and hear,
Alexander's Ragtime Band.
Come on and hear, come on and hear,
It's the best band in the land!

© 2013 Nancy L. Ruder


A closer walk with chickadees and Thee

I can't see the forest for the trees. I can't see the forest as a static entity. The whole forest is in a continuous loop of growth and decay.  The fallen tree is not dead; it is becoming. Can you hear it?

If the tree falls, who hears it?  Who sees it? Who dismantles it, reuses it, recycles it, rechoreographs all the creatures whose existence is entwined with that tree?

There are so many fallen trees in various stages of decay and rebecoming.  As I walk the trail my sense is the tall standing trees contain matter and energy almost equal to the matter and energy in the fallen trees, branches, and leaves.

Is God in the hairy woodpecker, the ruby-crowned kinglet, the chickadee?  Is God's intent in the throwing of a football between two kids missing their front teeth? Or in the smooching of the teenagers in charge of the football kids?

Attended an evangelical funeral recently, and was scolded.  Only those who proclaimed Jesus as their personal savior would skip down the gold-paved streets of heaven. This was a horribly sad time for the family and friends of the deceased. The preaching was so far from my understanding of God, of love and death, of birth and decay, of humility and grace, that I could not hit the trail at the nature preserve fast enough. I needed to trample out some vintage.

Where is the line between the sacred and the smug?  What does God see through a microscope?  A telescope? Does God cherish the lichen with its surprising colors and forms. Does God chuckle when the chickadee hangs upside down on the branch? Does God accept those who wonder, or just those secure in their answers?

© 2013 Nancy L. Ruder


Zooming in on the small grey-green bird

Home today. I almost made it to the three-day weekend before coming down with a snozzfest headcold. Adding to the sinus pain is an eye twitch. Herbert Lom's Chief Inspector Dreyfus had Clouseau. Like many teachers, I could name my eye twitch after a certain student, but I won't do that publicly! I could name the likely suspects who shared this headcold, too, but again, a bad idea.

In between naps I sat in a sunny spot and stared out the window. To my great joy, a small grey-green bird was hopping about the soapberry tree on the neighbor's patio. It only took fifty photos, three field guides, four checklists, and two websites to get a partial ID.  My feathered insect-eating friend seems to be a warbler. Maybe a prairie warbler. Feel free to jump in with a better suggestion. Its tummy and rump shone yellow in the bright sunshinne.

Been writing about winter visits by the small grey-green bird since shortly after my mother died. I've never gotten a good identification, but this guest always cheers me up.


The day warmed up to near sixty degrees, so perhaps insects became active. I watched a red admiral butterfly materialize from nowhere to circle the patio.  Two anole lizards were out back, too.

The next two days should be warm. My camera and bird books are waiting by the window with the box of tissues.

© 2013 Nancy L. Ruder


Mice skate close to the edge, write 8s

Thanks so much to Kim of Hummus Anonymous for getting me inspired for this week's art class.  Seeing the finger figure skates made by her daughter got me looping about the mental ice. But like most inspirations, I was caught in the crossfire of memories, images, words, and events.

Snow on the playground made Tuesday magical. Getting the smallest students bundled for a real life snow experience involved lots of turning sleeves right-side-out, and aiming thumbs into their own mitten studio apartment.

The five year olds are practicing writing the number eight.  This number is both the beautiful, graceful, double om of loops on ice, and purest torture for most young writers.  S S S, then / / /.  Link the bottom to the top.  No!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!, don't take that detour!  Don't double back around!

My ankles are too wobbly for skating, and my shoulder too shaky for holding the picture book back-handed.  Ed and Rebecca Emberley's picture book, Mice On Ice, added more ideas to the mix.  Next week the kids will make a 3-D ice rink.  The white crayon wax resist with the blue watercolor/black ink wash looked nicely icy.

"You are skating on thin ice" implies risky behavior without the disrespectful attitude associated with "pushing your luck". While I was pleased to find Kristi Yamaguchi's Olympic "Blue Danube" program online, I can't find Mary Tyler Moore's classic figure skating spin from the early 70s.

I'm midway between the eighth anniversary of my mother's death and the first anniversary of my dad's. As Dad worked through paralyzing grief at Mom's death, he found a little window of light.  "I'll never have to watch figure skating again!"

© 2012 Nancy L. Ruder


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