Pardon our dust.  This Itty Bitty Blog is heading to sunny side up climes.  Every decade or so it's time to hit the trail.  Thank you for your faithful or misguided  arrival at this blog.  I would be delighted if you stopped in at my new blog, CollageMama's Hearty Breakfast Blog.  The first post is  here 

© 2013 Nancy L. Ruder aka CollageMama


Mental health with feathers

Hope is the thing with feathers, according to Emily Dickinson.  A good walk with birds is the thing for my mental outlook. So much to do at home, but the dark rainy morning had changed to a gorgeous sunny afternoon. The sunshine grasped me in her talons and dragged me through the bright blue sky to the trailhead at Renner Road and US 75.
Mockingbird, juvenile.

Greeted by a woodpecker. Under the watch of a kestrel. A red tail hawk circled overhead. A mockingbird posed. Mallards bickered and bullied in Spring Creek under the highway.

Bad boy mallards
Kestrel photo good enough for an ID.

Odd, loud, buzzy, rattled bird calls tantalized me as I got closer to the US 75/190 George Bush tollway interchange.
Kingfishers avoid paparazzi

The buzzy calls led to a pair of kingfishers on a telephone wire above the creek, but under the highways. No mistaking the shape of the kingfishers, or the glorious blue when they swooped along the creek declining to be photographed by the paparazzi.

Teeny brown birds in a budding tree consented to photos but declined to be identified. On the way back I spotted a heron looking scruffy near a heap of trashed grocery carts.

Something was bothering me earlier.  I wonder what it was... besides the ugly grocery carts.

© 2013 Nancy L. Ruder


Rose-scented handkerchief

Started this month searching for a rose-themed Valentine's Day art project for my young students. Inspiration arrived with the International Quilt Studies Center and Museum "Quilt of the Month" email.  You can search on IQSC's website by keyword, so I looked at lots of rose quilts from various eras.  I made a collection of my favorites that you can view here.

After more googling, I found the rose image to the left that made the art project click into place. The children were very excited about their rose art. It made a nice gift for their families on Valentine's Day.

We dyed coffee filters in liquid watercolors.  These are not, I repeat, not made from pastel scented Kleenex. Oh, that favorite kiddie craft of the Sixties! My mom used to get so ticked off when we used expensive Kleenex for something other than sneezes. Yes, people actually carried cloth handkerchiefs when I was a kid. Washed them. Ironed them! That's how little girls learned to iron. Little boys did not learn to iron in the Sixties!  At birthday parties we played Drop-the-Handkerchief, and Ring-Around-the-Rosy.

We've come a long way, baby, except we make twice as much waste per person as we did in 1960. The average American makes 7.1 pounds of trash a day. Some of my preschoolers make that much just in tissues, toilet paper, Pull-Ups, and juice boxes.  Alas.  Thanks to Edward Humes' Garbology for the statistics.

And thanks to Marie Hall Ets for one of my favorite read-aloud picture books of all time, In the Forest. I wish it would be republished, perhaps as a board book.  Rose still rhymes with nose, the original reason for the art class theme.

© 2013 Nancy L. Ruder


We interrupt our program of dance music

No, this is not coming to you from the Meridian Room of the Park Plaza Hotel in New York City. It's just an itty bitty pulp week here in north Texas. First, I was introduced to the entertaining Pulp-O-Mizer cover maker website. Find your own inner mad scientist or grab your ray gun!*

Amazing Wonder Stories is a book we kids read at the breakfast table all about worms of THE FUTURE.  Nothing like a bowl of two shredded wheat biscuits with two heaping teaspoons of white sugar floating in the bluish skim milk to start the day right.  KFOR Radio droned the local news and farm report in the background as the "shattered wheat" slowly changed from inedible haystack to incredible Blob.

Home from school for lunch we sit on the tile floor of the basement at the house next door drinking Chocolate Quik, eating hot dogs or tuna fish sandwiches, and watching Twilight Zone reruns. Giant ants. Black and white tv.  Alien abductions. Worse, the dark laundry room and wood shop workbench behind the curtained doorway. You get scared, kid, you gotta go upstairs to the bathroom and risk meeting the irritable mother of the house.

Jump into the time machine, boys and girls, and travel with me to THE PRESENT DAY.  Enter the circular parking lot at a favorite park in your cream puff low-mileage used car. Only later will we realize how obvious    a landing site this is for armies of revenge-seeking giant Frosted Mini-Wheats from outer space.

Yes, the disciplined invaders began their march from the circle's center. It is important to note that this estimate is preliminary, and may be revised as more data is obtained.

We interrupt this cereal take-over report with a special bulletin:



NASA says the meteor hit is unrelated to the asteroid miss. Yes, the last two are real, but don't let your cereal get soggy. Don't say you weren't warned.

* Being of a certain age, Reagan always made me think of ray guns.

© 2013 Nancy L. Ruder


You must change your purse.

Rilke did not say that. Mom said, "Don't spend all your money on a purse, as you will have nothing to carry in it." Mom also bought me a "good leather purse" when I got married, predicting accurately that it would be a very long time before I could afford to buy another.

I did not spend all my money on this life-changing purse, but I can fit pretty much all my retirement savings inside it. And archaic Apollo would go for the cross-body strap.

It is indeed time to change my life. I need to hit the road and travel lighter. I need to get out of Dodge and go west. Wish I could take nothing but photos and leave nothing but footprints, but a condo is not so easy to shed, especially full of so much....  So envious of the caterpillar that makes a chrysalis and emerges to fly away.

© 2013 Nancy L. Ruder


Survivor--100 Days of School

Happy, happy one hundredth day of school!  We made it! May I not see ten groups of ten Cocoa Puffs for another year.  I am so very counted out. When I ground the coffee beans this morning I forgot to stop at my usual 28, and was still grinding at sixty!  Oops.

This week the students brought in "collections" of one hundred items to practice counting and grouping.

Packing peanuts wiggle when lined up.

We have counted:
  • Legos
  • Hot Wheels
  • Pennies
  • Popcorn kernels
  • Beads
  • Jigsaw puzzle pieces
  • Drinking straws
  • Crayons
  • Jelly beans
  • Popcorn
  • Angry Bird cookies
  • Animal crackers
  • Cocoa Puffs
  • Cheetos, for crying out loud
  • Mixed crackers
  • Feathers
  • Pompoms

Marthe Jocelyn's book, Hannah's Collections, helps kids consider the idea of saving items. Other books focus on the counting and the excitement of bringing a group of objects to preschool. Hannah in the book is not a hoarder, although I question the accumulation of sticky popsicle sticks. Wish I could remember what book featured a boy saving chicken drumsticks in his sock drawer!

I'm not a hoarder, I'm just disorganized and hesitant to throw things away! Maybe I've spent my whole life accumulating items to take to school on the hundredth day. My dad wasn't a large scale tv-worthy hoarder.  He was more of a mini fast food condiment collector. My frail 89-year-old neighbor isn't so much a hoarder as too unsteady to go to the dumpster and too proud to ask for help.

Parents don't seem to send their kids out in the yard or park to collect acorns, juniper berries, clover flowers, or maple seed helicopters. In my childhood I could have taken a hundred foil potpie pans to school.

The hundredth day of school for grown-ups:

Four rows of ten hangers plus six rows of ten pickles equal one hundred.

Four rows of ten red wiggler worms do not cooperate.

Ten rows of ten wine corks can't go to school!

© 2013 Nancy L. Ruder


A heart-shaped Slinky, a jug of wine and thou

My mission:

To create a tiny poem based on the structure in Cynthia Rylant's book, If You'll Be My Valentine. The poem  will be attached to heart-shaped Slinky toys for students.  And then, of course, the tape will self-destruct.

Time is ticking down, and the theme from Mission Impossible is messing with my heart beats. It's syncopated with the original Slinky song from 1960s television commercials

If you'll be my valentine
I'll  dum de dum de dum
I'll dum de dum
and dum de dum
and dum de doodle dum.

My mission is doomed!

A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread,--and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness--
Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!

© 2013 Nancy L. Ruder


Obituary for the iron

Fans of the Monopoly iron wept in their beers tonight after Hasbro announced that game piece was voted off the board. There were no reports of protests or rioting, but my choreographer sister expressed fans' indignation in a text message:

This is an outrage. The iron slid across the board with grace.

So well said.  It's unlikely my epitaph will be so uplifting.  It will probably be more like:

She languished half-charred in the greasy hell at the bottom of the stove burner drip pan.

My little students are unlikely to be able to identify an iron, steam or flat.  They don't even know the word "stove".

The Monopoly iron slid along the board, as did the cannon.  The other pieces had to be tapped along to count out one's roll of the dice. I flopped down on the floor and peered under the bed, but my Sixties era Monopoly game was not there.  Seems like after Norton the rabbit hopped under the bed to nibble the box and eat the $500 bills I moved the game somewhere "safer".  But where?  Probably under the stairs and beneath the boxed up fake Christmas tree.  I blog for truth, freedom, and vintage game board pieces, but I'm not moving the sofa to haul out the Christmas tree to find Monopoly.

Clue was under the bed instead. Will we be voting to change the deadly weapons next? Or will we send Colonel Mustard into exile?

On a different tack, my tie dye experiment results were underwhelming.

© 2013 Nancy L. Ruder

Stockholm Octavo

Picked up roses for today's art class at Albertson's. This one is an intriguing smoky salmon red. The children won't like it, but I couldn't resist. Three to nine year olds prefer the glaring colors I call Walmart Purple and Target Pink, preferably with sequins and leopard prints.

I've read several books since I finished Karen Engelmann's Stockholm Octavo, but that is the one staying in my mind.  The patterns of the octavo, a type of fortune telling with cards, are much like patterns in quilt blocks and even tie dye.  Tie dye being my other project of the moment.

This is the first time I've tried pulling basting threads on a dye project.

© 2013 Nancy L. Ruder


Red roses for a blue lady

 Art class plan for next two Wednesdays
Theme  roses
 rhyming noses
Valentine-zy without being Valentine's
Valentine-ish without smooching or Saint
Please no movie product tie-in Happy Meal toys
A rose by any other name
would smell as sweet
Peppermint tea remember
when white paste was to eat

A dozen for counting
a horse for Robert
the Rose Horse
but No Roses for Harry
that dirty dog

My luxurious gift

what girl can resist
a $313 Buick window regulator
sure beats a push-up bra
from Montgomery Ward

Pull out the old wallpaper sample books
All those princesses pricking their fingers on thorns
Outlook less Gypsy than Grimm


© 2013  Nancy L. Ruder


So far behind I cain't get caught up

Shuffle/ Don't even know where to start, so I'll just swagger into this saloon and sit myself in the corner with my back up to the wall.  You know how to deal?  Cut the deck.

I do not have enough patience stored up in my lifetime account to teach any more children to play card games unless those kids are brilliant, well-mannered, good sports, and therefore direct descendants.  Deal clockwise.

Wild Bill, my ancient next door neighbor, is in the hospital. I don't know if he will ever return to his condo. Wild Bill is like a shadow of my dad, Howie.  If this is Bill's exit event, I pray he can leave with most of his wits and much of his dignity. Go fish.

© 2013 Nancy L. Ruder


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