Bailing me out of chia pet trouble

My confusion is too big to fail.  The bales set out for Halloween decorations have sprouted little green chia hairdos. If I had teeny-tiny scissors I would give each bale a trim.

The trouble started when I could not spell baling wire. Could it be bailing wire? Could somebody bail me out here? Maybe I should go with duct tape and hot glue for a fix.

 Yesterday I heard a clunk. When I walked out to the kitchen I saw a cabinet door had pulled out of the cupboard under the sink. Screws were rolling around on the linoleum. It was too dismal out to go to Home Depot. Could I fix the door with baling wire, duct tape, hot glue, or maybe some toothpicks?

Don't give me that baleful look just because I can't spell any more. That bale comes from Old English balu for mental suffering and evil influence. The hay bale is from Old French for a large bound package of raw or unfinished material. A baleful look must be the squint of a satisfied cow.

Bailing out is such double fun! I was thinking of removing water from a leaky boat, not providing security to get somebody out of jail. When did government bail-outs begin?

If I wear a balaclava you won't see my chia pet haircut, but it will be difficult to eat the baklava. I did recall the balaclava's connection to the Crimean War, to the "Charge of the Light Brigade", and especially to Flashman at the Charge. If anybody still cares, there's a new biography of Tennyson coming out soon.

Since I'm already up to mid-calf in water in this rickety boat, I'll admit that I had balalaikas and ocarinas reversed. One has three strings and an important role in "Dr. Zhivago". The other is called a "sweet potato" and had a bit part in "Call Me Madam".

© 2013 Nancy L. Ruder


The Ice Cometh Not Yet

If there are too few spaces, you are too old.  And miles to go before I sleep ...  I still have the nightmare where I didn't leave enough room at the bottom of the page for the footnotes and I'm typing two carbon copies and I've got at least ten pages left to type tonight and it's New Year's Eve and I work tomorrow morning at six a.m. and the paper is due the second of January and there's an ice storm and I'm missing the party.

Dang. That's when I wake up with heart palpitations and visions of a citrus slice ice life preserver floating in rum punch.

Blogger wants a measly one space after a period. No pause, no breathing room, no grace, no chance to hear the river ice cracking. It's back to the STOP days STOP of STOP telegrams STOP. My little horse must think it queer to STOP without a farmhouse near.

True, no carbon paper for the topic:  Cuba After Castro.
How many spaces after the colon? We are all hunkered down waiting for an ice storm with the potential for a school "snow day" tomorrow.

Real true sheet of carbon paper, not mint condition

Weather Dot Com and the tv stations have got us in a flirl of freezing drizzle anticipation. The waiting is rough, the wishing is a road not taken. Do I want to stay home tomorrow? Sure. Do I want to start calling the families on my phone tree list at 6:30 a.m. trying to explain the "snow day" and "late start" concepts to non-native speakers from tropical climates? The telephone doesn't work very well for pantomime notifications.

This is the first time I've gotten it straight that the January 1888 blizzard in Nebraska known as the "The Children's Blizzard" was a different weather event from the March blizzard of '88. The January blizzard is depicted in a mosaic in the Nebraska State Capitol, perhaps as a warning to teachers, parents, and children. to check the forecast and dress appropriately. I couldn't send that reminder loud enough in English with carbon copies or by tableau vivant no matter how many spaces between sentences.

Drama queen of Verdigre in red velvet photo album

Neither of these are the blizzard described by my great-great grandfather in his handwritten life story. That was the Easter Sunday blizzard of April, 1873. reported by Prairie Bluestem. I'm feeling like a winter weather wienie!

© 2013 Nancy L. Ruder

Special K

To Kindle, or not to Kindle.  That is the question.

Whether tis nobler to snap crackle pop with technology, or to tote fresh-off-the-cataloger's-desk library books that do not require recharging but take up space and add weight to the carry-on bag, Thanksgiving travel is going to require reading material for the inevitable delays.

Friends, Romans, countrymen, as we pushback from the gate the flight attendants are demonstrating safety measures, so look up from your books and lend them your ears. You might not even have to power down your ebook reader.

Packing is a fine exercise where the what-ifs meet the essentials, the potential improvs, the weather events, and the future in-laws. It is always good to have all your medications readily accessible in case you end up sitting between a big bucket collecting roof drips, a sweaty man holding a giant box of donuts, a nursing mom with one boob hanging out, and bickering preteens as the delays pile up. Yes, you will be ready to check your luggage at the gate for free when the airline gets sufficiently desperate. Yes, you will be willing to take a later flight just so there are no shrieking red-head preschool twins on the passenger list.

The trouble with immortality is eternity. The fountain of youth starts looking like an infinite afterschool detention with the eighth-grade English teacher of your worst nightmare. She would not just let me say this novel is like People of the Book with a splash of Jitterbug Perfume.

Neither a borrower nor a lender be; For loan oft loses both itself and friend, and leaves books in the seat compartment or overhead bin.

To sleep, perchance to dream, no doubt:  A page or two, and this self-loading freight's out. If I'm stuck in the center seat, I might snore and drool.

Full upright and locked I come not to carry-on Caesar, but to get my 3-1-1 liquids through security and my shoes retied. Doesn't look like the owls are going to fit.

I already got a minor adjustment haircut for the holiday.

© 2013 Nancy L. Ruder


Golden moment, sepia daguerreotype

Let's play dress-up tea party with the Queen! We had our make-believe photo shoot Tuesday, and it was a total hoot. I costumed the preschool and elementary students in vintage garments, jewelry, and hats, gloves, beaded bags, and brought in vintage table linens and tea cups. A $3.99 bouquet from Trader Joe's completed the ambiance.

Alas, student privacy rules prevent me from sharing photos, but the moment was what ad writers call "priceless". Since I can't post those, I will add these gems from the treasure trunk:

© 2013 Nancy L. Ruder


The Special Bunny

"You're tough, Mom."  It was both compliment and reassurance, and also hard to accept. Accepting compliments and care don't come easy when you've put on the tough act for so long. I come from a long line of tough women, but a touch of pampering would be ... well, hmmm.  What would it be? Difficult to allow through my impermeable membrane?

My stress level has been a little high lately. Thanks to sons and dear friends offering me a fuzzy ear of the Special Bunny.
1982 Fisher Price Security Bunny
© 2013 Nancy L. Ruder


Regenerating stubs

  • LIZARDS  Many lizards have the ability to drop their tail and grow a new one almost as nice as their original.    Autotomy is as self-defense mechanism, a self-severing of the tail or other limb. Watching green anoles on my patio over the years, I've been amazed at their ability to rebound from their tailless condition in just a few weeks.
  • LETTUCE AARP suggested regenerating romaine lettuce from the stubs of store-bought heads as a money-saver. So far I haven't regenerated enough for a salad, but have grown some tasty new leaves to put in sandwiches.
  • CELERY  Another successful windowsill regeneration resulting in a few bites of fresh stalks.
  • TICKETS  I'm saving stubs in a glass on the windowsill just in case! I'm so grateful for generous friends who treat me to cultural outings
  • NO LUCK growing Franklin, Lincoln, Jackson, Grant, Hamilton, Jefferson, or George in glasses of water in sunny windows. I've tried all the windows!

Tomorrow I'll pick up two reserved books at the library. I'll wish I could regenerate enough hours in a week to actually read them. They are both well recommended:

  • The Elixir of Immortality, by Gabi Gleichmann. "A Dan Brown novel done right, full of wit and mystery. Memorable and sure to be one of the big novels of the season." --Kirkus Reviews starred
  • Book of Ages: the Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin, by Jill Lepore. Book of Ages is the name of Lepore’s extraordinary new book about Jane Franklin, but to call it simply a biography would be like calling Ben’s experiments with electricity mere kite flying….The end product is thrilling—an example of how a gifted scholar and writer can lift the obscure out of silence. In so doing, Lepore enriches our sense of everyday life and relationships and conversational styles in Colonial America….The brilliance of Lepore’s book is that plain Jane’s story becomes every bit as gripping—and, in its own way, important—as Big Ben’s public triumphs.” —Maureen Corrigan, NPR

© 2013 Nancy L. Ruder


Tucked in

It seemed right to cover the last blooming patio plant with the small comforter before the first freeze of the fall. Thirty years of tucking-in prepared the little blanket to shield the mistflower from cold until temps could invite bees and butterflies to return.

Fritzi made the little yarn-tied comforter for her visiting grandchildren sleeping in a playpen or napping on a mat. A couple decades passed and the blanket became an extra layer of warmth for my frail, fading father in a series of nursing homes. The room numbers were crossed out, overridden, overlapped, and generally ignored by laundry staff.

Most of Howard's final possessions went straight to Goodwill. For some reason the little blue comforter survived to become an emergency car trunk picnic blanket, then a floor refinishing project knee pad.

Last night the blanket comforted the mistflower, hanging over a clothesline to make a tiny tent.

I don't believe The Velveteen Rabbit is a story for young children, but neither is Peter Pan. Tonight I do believe the small blanket sewn by my mother became a well-loved real true comfort.

© 2013 Nancy L. Ruder


Asphyxiation by Bacon

Hmmm.  There could be worse ways to go, especially if there are crispy waffles drowning in syrup and whipped butter on the side.

Insects and breakfast don't often coincide, so the Living With Insects blog bacon post caught me by surprise. In this news season of drone warfare and NSA security weevils," human bot flies" sounds like another relevant comedy skit. But no! Human bot flies are the sort of thing you don't want to consider when insomnia holds you hostage at two a.m. Don't go to sleep without plenty of bacon and fingernail polish on your bedside table or bot fly larvae will drill down to your skull!

Been having enough bad dreams already without the bot flies. Rodents in my waking hours scurrying along the patio fence all weekend bore into my thoughts like fiendish flies. Indiana Jones and I don't like rats, so we went to Home Depot to get some bait traps and glue traps, a typical Sunday morning outing in suburbia...

Dang, now I'm feeling like a truly horrible human because a spotted gecko got stuck on the rat glue trap surface in the storage shed. How do we choose which living beings to honor and mourn, and which to drown under layers of bacon fat? Is the bot fly deserving of a long and bacon-less life? The pig? The rat? The gecko?

Maybe I should go with a bagel this morning. A Denny's Grand Slam doesn't sound so good.

© 2013 Nancy L. Ruder


Lou Noir, Ace Handle Jiggler

A down-on-her-luck teacher at the Acme Preschool continues to ask life's persistent questions while jiggling the handle.  She knows her tombstone will read:

Last words
Two jobs.
Seven toilets.
All running marathons, but failing to rehydrate.
Two too wimpy to flush when push comes to shove.
One water turned off due to construction.

Hey baby, can I untangle your chain? In the course of a week I lift the lid and untangle chains at least twice a day. I jiggle handles once an hour during daylight. Using the plunger is a regular part of my job, but not in the description.

On a normal school day I intercept a preschool potty-user at least every fifteen minutes to return for hand-washing.Yes, it's a glamour job.
The Shadow Knows

Run, run, as fast as you can

So that's why I'm listening to Nordic noir books on cd in the car. For my dark commute in a city with obstinate and belligerent plumbing a Scandinavian detective tracking serial killers and heroin purveyors is a sunshiny moment.

Mummifying Tut

© 2013 Nancy L. Ruder

Pinkie up art

Once upon a time a tea party was a magical playtime with tiny china sets, teddy bears, and dollies. Some tiny tea sets were blue china, and some were plastic with red flowers. So I lift my tea cup to Frances, and carry on .

Yep, that was a galaxy far far away, but I know the way. I know because I have mental mapping tools. Another day, another blog post I will rant about how GPS is eating our brains like oatmeal with raisins.

Until I finish putting together my "Cup and Saucer" slideshow for the current art project, I can't wander off on other projects and diversions. This post is to salute my sister for taking photos of our great-aunt Emma's collection of tiny tea cups for my slideshow when she didn't have time to do it. I am mightily grateful to her. I am grateful, too, that we did not fall out just because I like coffee and she likes tea.

Auntie Emma's collection

Don't fall out with your sister.

Back to work on the slide show!

The painter Mary Cassatt and her sister Lydia lived together in France, neither ever marrying. Auntie Em lived with her sister Auntie Ada in Pierce, Nebraska, neither ever marrying. There is a Cassatt painting of a couple ladies sipping tea in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. I don't think I can use it here, so click the link, but don't chip the china.

© 2013 Nancy L. Ruder


Frostweed, frost warning, freeze wishing

Frost on the rooftops finally. It is safe to call it fall in North Texas. We aren't pulling out the sweaters or stowing the flipflops, but it is progress. We aren't running the a/c OR the furnace. It's happy utility bill time!

Michael at the Plano Prairie Garden blog identified the white flowered plant in my recent Moody Blues post, for which I'm grateful. He says it is frostweed, Verbesina virginica, which doesn't appear in my useless Texas Wildflowers book under either name. Click the link to see what frostweed does after a hard freeze. I hope to catch that frozen novelty sight before the year ends.

This afternoon frostweed is a village, a carnival, a PTA fundraiser for bug school. Enjoy the crowd watching.

 © 2013 Nancy L. Ruder


Between a bark and a hard place

So good to be home, to untie my shoes, and sit down at the computer. My "dogs were barking," and so I was wondering if I first heard that expression when Ann Richards was the governor of Texas. No, it was a few years earlier. John Candy and Steve Martin were on an airplane in the 1987 movie "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles".

Ann Richards used the expression, "That dog won't hunt" in her keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention in 1988. That dog adds to my confusion, and I wonder about Ann and Candy sitting together on an airplane in heavenly skies with their shoes off.

After posting some photos of butterflies slurping up oozy sap on my other blog and on Facebook, a knowledgeable conversation about tree bark broke out. I've been reading Gen and Claudia's blogs for so long I feel like they are old friends. Now they are discussing my tree bark photo. What a wonderful, strange world this is! Were the butterflies sap-slurping on a persimmon tree or a hackberry?

Tone-deaf and tree bark-challenged, alas, I retreat deeper into my rain jacket. It's a thrill to proclaim the end of summer and true beginning of autumn in north Texas even if I'm not sure which tree to bark up and whether to end the sentence there or elsewhere.

barking up the wrong tree bark (v.) Look up bark at Dictionary.com

in reference to a dog sound, Old English beorcan "to bark," from Proto-Germanic *berkanan (cf. Old Norse berkja "to bark"), of echoic origin. Related: Barkedbarking. To bark up the wrong tree is U.S. colloquial, first attested 1832, from notion of hounds following the wrong scent.

I love how the meanings play tennis across the net between dog and tree barks, and even boats and planes! And just what would be an "echoic origin"?  

HELLO!               hello!

To disembark (v.), 1580s, from Middle French desembarquer, does not mean to fall down into Rowlett Creek while taking photos of oozing sap bark. That would really bite, and would be worse than bark.

This confusion harkens back to the days when I had a sister-in-law with a gift for mangling idioms. On dark days I remember Doris fondly for her expression, "Every hat has a silver lining."

Boom diddy-ah da, boom boom! The mighty moose wanders at will, trampling on my tiny brain cells. 

Land of the Silver Birch, Home of the Beaver  

Land of the silver birch
Home of the beaver
Where still the mighty moose
Wanders at will
Blue lake and rocky shore
I will return once more
Boom-diddy-ah-da, Boom-diddy-ah-da, Boom-diddy-ah-da, bo-oo-oom

© 2013 Nancy L. Ruder