Copper and dust and Ingmar and Shirley

Just after the turn of the millennium I had a talented young art student named Ingmar. He made this drawing of a house complete with downspout, rain barrel, red tile roof, bee hive, and bird nest for me. It is one of my very favorite things, and I hope to find it in a moving box one of these days.

Today Ingmar performed a recital of Chopin and Scriabine works in Fontainebleau, France:

29 mars
« Le Jardin Musical », Fontainebleau, France - Récital - Œuvres de Chopin, Scriabine 

Life, work, and death circle round in patterns of curves and curls. And through all the eddies, vortices, spit curls, and tumbleweeds we can still count on Kirkus Reviews.

There's a new book out about Shirley Temple in the Great Depression at that Kirkus link above. Ingmar was obsessed with Shirley Temple movies when he was attending our school in Richardson, Texas. Now he has his own entry on Wikipedia.

A decade ago I wrote a blog post about Ingmar among other things. I still write posts about Ingmar and other things, like taking a tour through the Highland Park Town Hall. Finishing work continues on the renovation of the Town Hall with move-in scheduled for Easter weekend. Beautiful details are everywhere in the building, but my favorite is the copper gutter and downspout under the red tile roof.

No rain barrel or bee hive, though!

Highlights from the March first Kirkus Reviews issue:
  1. A disabling fear of feathers can propel a novel. Feather phobia is Pteronophobia. I read a review recently of a novel about fear of buttons. That one is Koumpounophobia.
  2. "...a shuffling zombie of a novel" (p. 6).
  3. "...at least we won't have to hear any more about his writer's block" (p. 8).
  4. "You'll never look at your Roomba the same way again." (p. 23).
  5. And the winner is, "...a murky effort exacerbated by myriad shadowy agencies and a deeply unsympathetic protagonist." (p. 41).

© 2014 Nancy L. Ruder


Chicken Soup for the Refrigerator Soul

Free range refrigerator soup:

This morning I found chicken soup for the soul all over the bottom of the refrigerator, although I initially suspected Wisconsin root beer. An appliance is as close as I get to an app, but there's probably an app for dealing with cracked and leaking plastic containers of defrosting homemade comfort soup. If I had a smart phone there would be soothing and inspirational stories while I cleaned out the low sodium organic (but still freakishly neon yellow) broth mess. 

Gratitude is the key to serenity, and I'm so grateful that the chicken chunks, beans, and veggies were still mostly frozen and inside the broken container. It's the little things that shine the light in our spiritual day! And the Lord said be sure to have some peanut butter in the pantry for when all hell breaks loose with your sack lunch planning.

© 2014 Nancy L. Ruder


On pause

Preschoolers are playing freeze tag on the playground. They still call their game "freeze tag", at least, but they call being frozen, "on pause".

"Why do I have to tell you the same thing everyday?," I ask. Well, duh. Because in kids' lives now they don't have to retain anything. They can always watch the same DVD again tomorrow. Ursula the sea witch will explain over and over that they need to have their lunchboxes checked before they throw away their trash. They need to fold the paper placemat corners in toward the center to trap their crumbs so they can carry it neatly to the waste basket.

I am crabby. I want to kick the can and yell "Olly, Olly, ox in free!" as primal scream therapy. I want kids to learn to tie shoes and tell time. What was that old backyard game about time and "Mr. Fox"?

What time is it, Mr. Fox? What time is it, Mr. Fox? What time is it, Mr. Fox? LUNCH TIME!!!

In the evenings after supper kids would gather on our front yard to play "Mother may I?" and "Statues". We would have already played cops and robbers, hopscotch, jacks, and baseball, then climbed trees, made mud pies with blue juniper berries, and built sandbox interstate highways before supper. We would have already sung "If all of the raindrops were lemon drops and gum drops," and "Little Rabbit Foo Foo".

The game we called "Statues" is more widely called "Swing the Statue". A big kid held you by the hand and twirled you around and around and then let go. You had to freeze in position as fast as possible, or be "on pause".

In this whole long day I did not twirl or fling anybody. Please hold your applause.

Where to Play
A grassy lawn is best for Swing the Statue.
How to Play
One player is chosen to be "it." He or she takes each of the other players in turn and, holding them by a wrist or hand, swings them in a circle and then lets them go. The swung player must freeze as soon as possible and hold that position as long as possible. The first player to break the freeze becomes "it." Since the first player swung must hold the position longest, begin with the oldest child first. The entertainment value comes from seeing the strange positions that players end up in and watching them try to hold those positions.
© 2014 Nancy L. Ruder


Dust and iron with Woody and Ken

Not those everyday under-the-bed dust bunnies this time; I'm talking about The Dust Bowl. I'd been hearing stories from my relatives about The Dust Bowl for years before I heard of the Rose Bowl, Orange Bowl, Gotham Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Sugar Bowl, and all those other corporate advertising name bowls.

Not sure how it happened, but I'm listening to Woody Guthrie's only novel, House of Earth, in the car. Actor Johnny Depp and historian Douglas Brinkley edited the previously unpublished novel for the centennial of Guthrie's birth. Will Patton narrates the very earthy novel. The manuscript had been in the special collections of the McFarlin Library at the University of Tulsa.

While I press my spring clothes after their long and crumpled languish in the ironing basket, I'm watching Ken Burns' Dust Bowl.  Someday I'll get back to my family archive project, including photos of my mother growing up in the Dirty Thirties.

© 2014 Nancy L. Ruder


Welcome to Voodoo Acres

Can I check out, but never leave?

Not Richard III

A white van parks in the lot below my window. There are two baseball caps on the dashboard. One's a Toronto Blue Jays cap. Also on the dash, a fifteen-inch-tall plastic skeleton, reclining.

Stay tuned for dust to dust tomorrow.

© 2014 Nancy L. Ruder


Inn-Room coffee

Walked into the apartment with arms full of groceries, and the smell sent me back forty years... to McCook, Nebraska. Why was I here? Was Peggy Sue getting married?

My scent memory is pretty slow on the up-tick. I went about tasks with vague memories of Sixties roadtrips in the '54 Chevy. Only when the sun began to set did the ON light on the coffee maker shine its tiny green dot. ON? Oh, no! On all day! That smell is the last half cup of coffee left on the burner for ten hours, slowly changing from liquid to solid. Exactly the smell of "Inn-Room" coffee prepared by three kiddies who have already been jumping on the motel beds for a half hour before they experiment with the instant coffee maker at the Cedar Motel on East "C" Street in McCook, Nebraska.

We didn't always stay at the Cedar Motel even though Granddad was friends with the owner. The windows rattled and whined, and Dad had to push matchbooks into the cracks.

Sometimes we checked into the Red Horse Motel farther east on 6/34. The Red Horse had a pool that was a cross between the Great Salt Lake and Jello, only turquoise. Pool chemicals must have been rocket science in the Sixties. The pool was so saturated with chlorine you floated effortlessly, your swimsuit disintegrated, and your petal latex swimcap turned to goo.

To be fair, we stayed at the Chief Motel on B Street (6/34) for the big fiftieth anniversary reunion for Fred and Effa Dale. The trauma of playing a piano piece for all my relatives wiped out any warm, boiled-on coffee scents. Occasionally we stayed at the very viscous Melkus Motel, probably the nicest of the bunch in 69001.

Soaking my Mr. Coffee carafe. Playing poison dart gun with those hollow brown plastic stir sticks and the powdered creamer packets.

© 2014 Nancy L. Ruder


"...the tip of a very dirty iceberg..."

See these pretty, clear ice cubes? Had a little trouble with the ice maker in the new apartment's freezer. To start with, it was making black ice. And so the post title quote from a Kirkus book review (February 15th issue) was appropriate.

I love Kirkus. Where else could I find all these goodies in just a few pages?

"Marla seems to have the learning curve of a slug..."

"The fun is replaced by waves of turgidity..."

"Throwing logic and any semblance of good dialogue and well-defined plot to the wayside..."

"...face threats from a rival group of chronokinetic adepts..."

With my sluggish learning curve could I use these wonderful vocabulary words in a sentence? My walking buddy has returned from a driving trip to Wisconsin where she observed late winter's wayside -- dirty snow piles, ice, and dangerous potholes. Why are there no book reviews comparing plots to the dreaded driveway ice plugs after the snowplow's been down the street? Dialogue as thudding as breaking ice with a spade? The fun is replaced by the corrosion of highway salt on your car's finish?

A ski run down Yahoo shows folks curious about time-bending ballets:

Q. Do any of you have chronokinetic powers? How do you achieve such power? 

i'm interested w/ choronokinesis (ability over time power) and cyrokinesis (ablility over ice power).. i wonder if they are real and if ever it is possible to anyone to actually learn it.. does any of you know what sort of training i must go through to achieve it? and for those who do have these abilities.. how did you discover and develop it? how long did it take? thank you.

A. Somebody's been reading too many comic books.

Q. But what about cryokinetic abilities? Can we use our ice powers for good or evil? Can we even spell it correctly?

A.  Yes. We can store the mugs in the freezer since they won't fit in the cupboard.

Tomorrow I'll reconnect the washer and dryer with my super powers.

© 2014 Nancy L. Ruder


Three archaeologists walk into a bar

Arthur Evans, Howard Carter, Heinrich Schliemann sit down. Amelia Peabody brings Shiner Bocks, guac, and chips.

Seems all their grand excavations were just Public Storage units under a few millennium of dust.

© 2014 Nancy L. Ruder


Something old, something new, something borrowed...

...too tired to be blue.

Maybe I dreamed it, but I'm pretty sure I read a book review in the last few days about a moving new novel. An elderly Jewish couple gets ready to move from the East coast to a California seniors community. The moving van arrives a day earlier than expected, and all their belongings disappear, stolen. The review could have been in a February issue of Kirkus, Booklist, or Library Journal.

Picked up a tiny old book for a quick reread. Alan Bennett tells a tale of a middle-aged couple who go out to the opera, Cosi fan Tutte, and return to their flat to find absolutely everything gone. Burgled. All they have left is The Clothes They Stood Up In.

I could regard my new abode as a Villa of Reduced Circumstances, so I had a quick read-through of Alexander McCall Smith's book of that title. Comic relief is welcome at any villa.

My walking buddy and I read Anne Tyler's Ladder of Years  in 1995. Ever since in times of discouragement we have entertained the fantasy of walking on down the beach alone, out of our current life and into a very spare existence. One room, a bed, a window, and a clean slate...
By Saturday my slate won't be clean. It is trickier to leave your baggage behind than to have your belongings burgled.

© 2014 Nancy L. Ruder


I coulda gone viral

I coulda been a bird-watching you tube sensation.

The blue jay was making the strangest sound and hopping straight up and down. Bummer, I had no video camera. It was like this video at about 0.58 only funnier. Thanks to LesleytheBirdNerd for that video and this. I love the description "gurgle-bob".

I coulda had facebook users eating seeds outta my hand. No more BuzzFeed. It's time for a BirdFeed quiz. Which nature preserve bird are you?

Which bird are you?

Top to bottom, left to right:

  • Red-shouldered hawk on the Rowlett Creek Trail
  • Downy woodpecker at the old homestead
  • Red-tailed hawk at the old heron nest tree near the lake and Timber Chase
  • Gurgle-bob bluejay on the Redbud Way
  • Cedar waxwing on the Willow Springs Trail
  • American crow near the construction in the meadow
  • Junco on Old Morton Vale Road
  • Kestrel in the parking lot
  • Great blue heron in the parking lot last year
  • Black heron on the Caddo Trail in January

I coulda been a contender!

All photos taken at Oak Point Nature Preserve last weekend or in the last year. Trail map available at http://www.nttr.org/assets/map-oak-point-park.pdf  At one point I was watching a soaring red-tailed hawk, a snowy egret, and a kestrel on a light post, all at the same time.

© 2014 Nancy L. Ruder


Splatting on the floor plan

The red-tailed hawk seemed to wear dark glasses at Oak Point Nature Preserve Sunday noon. Blackland Prairie Raptor Center presentations have convinced me that birds poop before they fly to lighten their load, sort of like airline baggage fees. This large, handsome bird looked ready to lose my suitcase if I got one step closer.

I am playing Sims for real, arranging my digital couch and bookshelves for the new apartment. The management is understanding about my composting and educational worms.

Living with less and then more less and even more less has been a fascinating experience. I do not want to surround myself with all that STUFF again. Right now the STUFF is in the storage unit, packed to the gills. Each item will have to persuade and bribe its way out of storage and into my abode.

© 2014 Nancy L. Ruder


A L P H A - B I T S

Not   P E T S

Nor   P E S T

Vermicomposting seems so normal to me after seven years with red wigglers, that I never considered the wiggly questions involved in moving my little garbage-eaters into an apartment. I need my red wigglers to be healthy for a worm program at the Flower Mound Public Library this summer. Still, I can't really afford to pay a pet deposit and pet rent for the little guys. Also, I'm worried about the regular pest control measures in the apartment complex exterminating my living visual aids.

Wrote up an informative note for the apartment managers. I did not mention that my red wigglers crawl through Lego mazes and spell words for children. Just focused on the garbage reduction in the dumpster, the lack of odor, and not attracting pests.

No   S H I R T

No   S H O E S

No   S E R V I C E

W O R D   B I R D S

Right before the norovirus kicked in, I was making a "Mystery Word Bird" game for my students. Having dropped out of popular culture way back, I didn't know the "Word Bird" song was a recurring theme on "Family Guy". I didn't even know about "Family Guy". Kinda clueless, I know.

My opera buddy and I bonded reading campaign yard signs for a Dallas City Council candidate back in 2005. This year Linda Koop is running for a seat in the Texas legislature. She'll always be kinda loop to Jeannie and me.

K I N D A    L O O P

L I N D A   K O O P

Close to my once and future homes there's a barber shop called

E L I T E    K U T Z

No matter how many times I drive by, the sign will always remind me I'm an elite sort of klutz.

P O S T   N O   B I L L S

Alpha-Bits was a Post cereal in the Sixties.

A B C   D E L I C I O U S

C. W. Post created the town of Post, Texas in 1907. It's a cute town, but I've never gotten to do more than a quick drive through.



E M U   A R E   Y O U?

W H O ???

© 2014 Nancy L. Ruder


Transitioning with Odysseus and Penelope

LASH  me to the mast!!

It's been one stormy week for innards, outerds, and emoticons. Still, the progress far outshines the midnight hour intestinal circus without a net. My stomach was between the rocks and a hard place.

The condo sale negotiations are moving forward through a maze of epic proportions. I did not know black kitchen appliances and shag carpet were the "new look". Dang, what did I do with that beanbag chair?

Rushed out this morning to buy sauerkraut with active cultures, Greek yogurt, and kosher turkey franks at Sprouts. I didn't buy bratwurst for my innards rehabilitation program. "BRAT" in the mnemonic for a bland diet after gastrointestinal odysseys--bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast.

After intestinal misadventures I take a divergent course through sauerkraut, chili, pickles, horseradish, mustard, probiotics and fermentation. It's been working all my life, so why would I go off course?

© 2014 Nancy L. Ruder


Gut Trusters

Who you gonna call?

Seventeen years ago my walking buddy went with me to see about maybe renting a condo close to my sons' three [3] schools. The owner with his unnatural coif of blond hair told me I could NOT put three boys in the upstairs of his condo. I thought my sons would make less of a mess than the large dogs of the previous tenant. It was a cold evening, but we walked over to see the condo swim pool. On the way I lost one of the Zuni earrings I'd given myself that Christmas. Fortunately, I found it retracing our steps later. That was the beginning. My walking buddy had good vibes about the condo. I had good vibes. We trusted our guts, and I signed the lease, paying the additional Three Boys Security Deposit.

Good friends and lucky earrings got me through a lot after my divorce, and helped me relearn to trust my gut. I should have put on those same Zuni earrings today to go apartment hunting with that same walking buddy. We visited some apartment complexes that did not pass the gut trust test. It's strange to leave the condo complex that has been my home longer than any other in my life. It's going to be fine, I know.

© 2014 Nancy L. Ruder


Rilke, Percy Bysshe, and a deluxe apartment in the sky*

Heavy tired legs stone immobile in the desert, check.
Torso aka trunk--archaic, check.
Mighty pleasure dome needed, or maybe yurt alert, decreed.
You must change your life. Kathleen said so, and Rilke told her, therefore it must be true.
You must, you must, you must increase your bust.
Half-sunk shattered visage. My visage is perking up. It's my life that's half-sunk. Did Ozymandias have zits? What's up with this AARP-age acne anyway???

Warm, dry sand around my ankles, wanted.
Going to my happy place. Sinking in.
Wind rippling the dunes, tousling their blond hair. Darn dunes, those third grade boys, burping, gross, belching in response.
Burping Dunes. Wouldn't that be a good name for an apartment complex?

*We finally got a piece of the pie!

 © 2014 Nancy L. Ruder