Painted myself into a corner

Spent Friday evening watching paint dry. Yes, it was exciting!

The dining area and short hallway form the hub of the condo. Kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, living room, and front entry are all spokes of the wheel. While the concrete stain was wet I was trapped. Even if I had rolled double sixes I could not get off GO.

So I did clean the toaster oven, washed iron skillets, and unloaded the dishwasher. Cooked ratatouille that turned out delicious.

Poor planning, as I had no phone, no camera, no computer, and no cd player to continue with The Snowman. Had to 'sclusively replay in my head Danny Glover reading "How the Leopard Got His Spots". It's been the naproom story for the past couple weeks, along with Jack Nicholson reading "How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin," and "How the Camel Got His Hump". Oh, best beloved, the three put most kiddies right to sleep.


Kipling's word inventions turned up several times in David Crystal's The Story of English in 100 Words. That audio book was good word nerd fun, with short sections quite right for commuting.

There was time to fret about how the floor was looking more spotted than stained between the first and second dye applications with the pressure pump sprayer. Also time to wonder why the U.S. Post Office had such a lack of preschooler friendly postage stamps. As we finally finish our annual grandparent project it's time to stamp the envelopes and meet Our Community Helper, the letter carrier.

Johnny Cash, Lady Bird Johnson, the March on Washington, foggy mountains of West Virginia, and Chinese firecrackers were not the stuff of a line time discussion. The modern art stamps were too strange. The only option was Made in America. At least we can talk about how people do work, and we all work to help the group. Several of the kiddies would gladly swing on that pulley.
The floor looks better in the morning light. It's ready for the accent color, and eventually I'll be painted into a corner again.

© 2013 Nancy L. Ruder


Wrapping on heaven's door

The yolk stares up at me like a Christo island wrapped in white. Not in the mood, I poke it with the corner of the spatula, then unplug the toaster oven. Every time I write a new to-do list I add "clean out the toaster oven so you don't burn down the condo".  Never crossed off, it hovers right next to the item about selling everything on Craigslist to become fabulously wealthy and retire to a small yellow cabin with a screened porch. Those are both preferable to having a baseline colonoscopy., and more likely than "catching up on ironing".

Peek-a-boo ICU. The pickles wink. The toast is ready with melted cheddar, mustard, and a couple hamburger dills. Add the egg, and bite into a substantial wake-up sandwich.

The sky is full of floating, gleaming spider silk. Baby spiderlings have cast their fates to the wind, ballooning off to new territories, or wrapping telephone wires. Sinking to earth, the silk drapes flower beds and fences. We have been t.p.ed by fairies and Jack Frost. We have been gossamered!

noun: gossamer
  1. 1.
    a fine, filmy substance consisting of cobwebs spun by small spiders, which is seen esp. in autumn.
    "her dress swirled like gossamer"

Tonight I am wrapping, wrapping, masking the walls. Jeanne-Claude and Christo are too busy to help. I'm just surprised they are still alive. Tomorrow I'll use the cleaner/etcher on the prepped concrete floor.

May your valley of dreams be draped in pale orange silk.  Nighty night.

© 2013 Nancy L. Ruder


Sandman, sandbars, and quicksand

Two tubes of Quikrete Concrete Repair (Reparador Acrylico de Concreto) fought a heavy battle against me Sunday afternoon.  Today it's clear they won. The gray goop has not hardened in the patches after twenty four hours. The blops resemble either melted ice cream or old gum under the table. The blops are obstinate and recalcitrant*. They are both nonsandable and unremovable. Perhaps they are unsandable and irremovable. It's obvious they decline to put the fun in dysfunction. You would not want to wear spike heels in their vicinity.

More cooperative by far, the Quikrete Gray Concrete Crack Seal is making a nice map of rivers, tributaries, sandbars, and oxbows on the dining area floor. So tempted as I drift off to sleep to add Quikrete center pivot irrigation circles and airport runways to be discovered by future archaeologists.

Tut, Tut.

© 2013 Nancy L. Ruder



My son, wearing his Chef Jeffy apron, took his Kiddie Cuisine cooking rec class way too seriously. The newspaper clipping reports the children were pasting paper feathers onto apples with honey to make "edible turkeys".  How do you spell "insanity"? 

My current bushel basket of preschoolers is learning about apples. The kids could probably stick on paper feathers just with nose goobies--no honey required. Security and privacy concerns always keep me from posting the hilarious class photos of students counting, washing, and coring apples for our crockpot applesauce. The recipe is ridiculously easy:
  • Six big apples cored and sliced
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • 1-2 cups of apple juice

Put all in crockpot.  Cook on high four hours. Send through a food mill and add a tiny bit of cinnamon. Chill. Feed the apple cores to the earthworms in the class vermicompost bin, but not the lemon rind.  Worms don't like citrus.
Aa apple:  Golden delicious books

We are sharing apple books in the preschool class because our big grandparent project theme is all about apples. We can slice an apple vertically or horizontally and see different shapes.  Books can slice the story of apples into many concepts for young children. When the preschoolers are ready to mail their grandparent project, they put stamps on envelopes and meet the letter carrier. They are so proud of their efforts!

Children like to hear the same story read aloud many times. Here are our favorites:

  1. Apple Farmer Annie, by Monica Wellington
  2. Apple Pie Tree, by Zoe Hall
  3. Ten Red Apples, by Pat Hutchins
  4. Apples & Oranges:  Going Bananas with Pairs, by Sara Pinto
  5. How To Make and Apple Pie and See the World, by Marjorie Priceman
  6. Ten Apples Up On Top!, by Dr. Seuss
© 2013 Nancy L. Ruder


A salute from Mr. Potato Head

Kiwi print ears

I can't seem to string two whole sentences together lately, but the further adventures in veggie printmaking were successful.
Carrot print hair curlers

Squash noses and watermelon smiles


© 2013 Nancy L. Ruder

Things break in threes, please!

Have replaced my cell phone, computer mouse, and coffee maker all this week.

© 2013 Nancy L. Ruder


Bigger than a shoe, smaller than a mitten

New animals have stolen my heart away. Still mourning the death last spring of Norton the Very Best Preschool Rabbit In the Whole Wide World, we've found a tiny baby bunny living on the playground. Children discovered it the first week of school completely hairless. A school dad tucked the bunny into a likely hidden nest spot under the slippery slide.

Two weeks later the bunny is still hanging around the playground. It has fur now, and plays "statue" really well. It can hide in plain sight while shrieking kiddies run within four feet of it. We've never spotted a mommy bunny. This is a good time to learn about tame and wild.

When Norton was a baby bunny he was as black and tiny as a licorice jelly bean except for a white mark on his forehead. The playground baby bunny also has a white forehead mark. Let's just say even the most unreligious preschool teacher can feel a sense of enveloping protection, wisdom, and goodness in this wee coincidence.

While the bunny would fit in the palm of your hand, my new granddoggy would just barely fit inside a breadbox. She already weighs thirteen pounds. I can't wait to meet her at Thanksgiving!

© 2013 Nancy L. Ruder


Sideswiped by DIY

Officer, I never saw it coming.

Out of the blue the heavy oak dining table-top was off the pedestal base, rolled into the bedroom, and leaning against the black steamer trunk. Contents of the trunk were stacked on and under the dining chairs.

Officer, no mind-altering substances were involved.

I just got into the flow. Forgot all my job frustrations and money worries. Cut up the creepy and creeping carpet in the dining area and hall. Pulled up the pad and yanked up tack-strips. Pulled out nails.

Next thing I knew, Officer, I was swiping my credit card at Home Depot.

Yes, I'm in possession of another Behr Concrete Dye Kit, Quikrete repair items, and suspicious latex gloves.

A little bummed I couldn't buy the dyes, cleaner/etcher, and sealer individually without the kit dvd and pressure pump sprayer. Otherwise everything is groovy.

Peace, man.

© 2013 Nancy L. Ruder


Green Eggs and AT&T

Would you could you with a tomato-eating rat?
Feeling crabby.

  • It's probably not just one rat.
  • Hardiest, most compact tomato plant I've ever grown.
  • Rodents climb the plant, carry off the green tomatoes, and gnaw them in a hidden corner of the patio.
  • I only know this because I was doing a high-five Snoopy victory dance after swatting the fly that had been buzzing around the condo for two days. From an odd angle I spied the rat and the green tomato.  

Could you would you with a dying cell phone battery?
A mouse has cut the wire. Good-by.

  • I really like my blue Pantech phone. It matches my Buick, but it doesn't hold a charge any more.
  • It is my "new" phone, only 2 1/2 years old.
  • It has a nice keyboard for texting, and works great for making and receiving phone calls.  What a concept!
  • My Ghostbusters ringtone makes me happy.
  • I want another one just like it, except for without the camera and alarm clock.  Maybe that would help it slim down.

Could you find pale green pants on a 70% off rack?

  • My jeans size is as elusive as a phone to fit my specifications. Not finding any on the regular shelves, I tried to navigate the hodge-podge 70% Off racks. 
  • Let's be nice to each other, smile, and text, "Hi!"
  • If I'm in a dark and gloomy Snide-field I know how to read a map.

And now we meet quite often.

© 2013 Nancy L. Ruder


Today's mystery

Headed out the door this morning I spied with my late-for-work-eye a plastic bag stuck in the sedum plant between the holly bushes. No time to pick up litter!

Back home after the first art class I saw it again. Had to carry in the basket of art shirts to wash, the bucket full of art materials to clean, the bag of library books, the paint-stained fruits and veggies destined for compost, plus my lunchbox before I could check it out.

"Autumn Joy" might be the name of my sedum. My plants all date way back to the brick wall next to driveway of my childhood home in Nebraska. I've broken off stalks and stuck them in mud every time I moved to a new home, so eight times minimum. This is the first time I've seen today's mystery of nature in a sedum plant.

It's not a plastic bag.

It's not a puff pastry.
It's not bigger than a bread box.

It's not a paper lantern.

No sign of life inside.
If you've got an idea I would love to hear it. Sure hoping this isn't a new invasion of the body snatchers!


Stamp, stamp, stamp

Giving this book two thumbs up for calming a wild herd of preschoolers. Mama Crocodile hears many sounds, but she stays still until her babies begin chirping to get out of their eggs. The repetitive sounds and slow pace worked at line time and again at nap time.

tromp, tromp, tromp
thump, thump, thump
whump, whump, whump
chi, chi, chi

Long day back to start my six-day work week.  I can't convince one boy that the fruit is not "plumps".
I've been eating some of those plumps, and making prints with one also.

Tomorrow the youngest kids will make prints with apples halved vertically, and apples halved horizontally. We will strive to press and hold, not stamp, stamp, stamp, slide. Pray for me!

Older students will experiment making prints with fruits and veggies.  Stopping late at Albertsons, I grabbed a kiwi. Wonder how a kiwi might print.

Another diving expedition into the big black treasure chest. Pulled out a string-tied shoebox marked "Stamps". Just beginning to get a sense of the sorting and research the trunk contents will require. It's clear I'm not the first compulsive collector in my family tree.

Stamp details tomorrow if I make it through the apples and kiwi.

© 2013 Nancy L. Ruder


Trunk dreams

Before the next assault on the condo carpet enemy, I must attack the ancient trunk. Pretty sure WWII is in there, and maybe traces of WWI.

On the bright side, I know for sure there are no creepy china dolls in the trunk. When my sister and I first explored the contents we couldn't handle the damaged dolls, and agreed that no antique monetary value would make up for the nightmares. The hats inside were a different story, a fabulous shared experience for grown siblings.

Now I can't remember what is inside the trunk, but I'll have to empty it before it can be moved. No buried treasure, and hopefully no buried family secrets. Perhaps the value will be in practicing with Excel to catalog the contents.

Lately I'm aware of dreams about my deceased parents. My mother died in 2005. For a long time she only appeared in my dreams as a small gray-green bird. Now she usually appears as herself in the early Eighties as a delighted grandmother.

My dad has been gone a year and a half. He has started appearing in dreams, but only in his elderly, demented, and immobile condition.

My dear great aunt who owned the trunk was trapped in my memory for decades as she looked in her open casket, shockingly waxy and unreal. Finally she is returning to my memory and dreams as the character and mentor she was. This is a big argument against open casket funerals as far as I am concerned. Blasting away fond mental images of a person's life with one bizarre image of death seems like a sacrilege.

Here are a few photos of the early trunk exploration last evening:

Ration stamps

Postage stamps

Very heavy full, and still heavy emptied.

  © 2013 Nancy L. Ruder


Cosmic dust

Star light
Star bright
First star I see tonight
I wish I may
I wish I might
Have the wish I wish tonight

I see the moon
The moon sees me
The moon sees the one I want to see
God bless the moon and
God bless me and
God bless the one I want to see

Dust coats the skylight
Scraped and strewn by Dad's drill inside
Dropped from stars to the surface outside
Nature abhors a vacuum cleaner with very long attachments

Mr. Short Stack went to the coast
and brought home a lot of sand
The octopus was napping
The potty chair is not a hat

Rocking on the crescent moon
Rocking under the full moon
Spooned mooned
Cupped cuddled in the yellow rocker

Nightmare of my mother rocking
Worried wondering where I am
Her blueberry dessert for bridge club
Fingers too fat to push the cell phone buttons
Always too fat for 911

I do not know her number
Her phone is not turned on
She would not like that flocked wallpaper

The empty mall open so late
for haircuts manicures even though 
the blizzard swirls outside Sears
Still in dreams Dad needs a walker

My car is buried in a drift
The acrobats do not have a way home
Her yellow leather jacket misses its button

© 2013 Nancy L. Ruder


Surf's up and parts gettng reconnected

Dick Dale in the cd player-- Jessie, Jessie, Jessie Pearl!

Jessie Pearl ?

Putting the living room back together after the big floor project, and liking the results. Trouble is, as always, I have too much stuff!  Found these china doll parts in a button box. Miss Jessie Pearl seems a tad kinky for a gal at least a hundred years old.

Feels so good to reassemble and even re-imagine my space. Treated myself to a $19.99 area rug at IKEA. I've got the DIY bug bad now, and can't wait to rip the carpet out of the dining area.

Played a couple classic movies while I moved furniture and hung pictures.  Didn't give them my full attention, but they added to the mid-century vibe. Glad my library is getting classic movies on dvd like The Day of the Jackal and The Thomas Crown Affair.

© 2013 Nancy L. Ruder