Lucky Charms

Thinking green thoughts for friends planning travel to Ireland. Green thoughts, too, for the Martian alien weirdness of spring! Nature is jam-packed with so many bizarre ways for life forms to grow, feed, reproduce, and conserve energy.

So this post is only about green weirdness and wonder close to home.

Not a stegosaurus

Prickly pear duet

Oak gall

Ruffle design inspiration

Ooh! Design a hat for derby day?

Like the leaf shape

Probably poisonous

Beetles are not for breakfast

They're magically delicious!

© 2014 Nancy L. Ruder


I can't get ready for work

There's a barn swallow on the railing outside my front door. It's singing, and preening its perfect little forked tail. If I walk out to the kitchen to start the coffee, I'll disturb the barn swallow. If I don't have coffee, I can't work, so there's not much point even getting into the shower.

© 2014 Nancy L. Ruder


Happy belated National Library Week?

I couldn't find any appropriate greetings for this occasion in the card aisle at Kroger. But it's way past time to add two Oregon libraries to my Life List. This brings my total to sixty-nine.

Valley Library at Oregon State University has child care for parents doing research or studying in the library.

The Corvallis/Benton County Public Library is a very nice library. If you are two years old the best thing about the library is that trains go by on the track right outside!

Mark your calendar now for National Library Week in 2015, April 12-18. You'll want to dress for the occasion.

Dress for success

© 2014 Nancy L. Ruder


Peeps are green, but hell is a cafeteria

Second from right.
My dear mentor muse posted an old snapshot of three cousins in bell-bottoms. Hers were green*. But what green exactly? Taking snapshot age and yellowing into consideration, I'm thinking maybe Pantone 357.

I see her flashback outfit and raise with my own frightening outfit of that approximate era. It was a double knit polyester plaid battle jacket worn with matching skirt, white turtleneck shell, white knee-socks and green suede shoes. The battle jacket could also be worn with matching bell-bottoms with two-inch cuffs. And what green would that be??? Half-way between green Peeps chicks and Ghostbusters' Slimer green. About Pantone 361. Thank heaven I'm unable to find a grainy color snapshot of the ensemble.
Second from right.
A really sharp preschool student has difficulty distinguishing between green and orange across a range of tints, shades, and saturations. Is he color blind? When is it appropriate to test, and how is it done? 

A six year-old is being introduced to singular and plural nouns. A singular boy is working. Plural boys are picking their noses. It seems like half the class has sinusitis, again somewhere between Peeps and Slimer. When is it appropriate to test, and what Pantone is it!? Usually 373.

  • Her bell-bottoms were green.
  • Her pants were green.
  • Her three-piece suit was green.

What about hell? You are in line at your dormitory cafeteria with your meal plan card. You have lived in the dorm for forty or fifty years, but have never made it to the cafeteria before. You don't get a tray, but walk down the line and ask for the potatoes and scrambled eggs. The lady in the hairnet serves them with her ice cream scoop onto your paper placemat. There's no way to get jelly for your toast from the giant jar. Everyone ignores your search for a chair. ALL the seats are taken. Nobody has bussed the tables in forever. There are clean tables OVER THERE, but the hairnet ladies are putting pieces of pie with whipped cream and iceberg lettuce with Ranch dressing at all the places. There are NO CHAIRS. Your paper placemat is disintegrating. Aiaiaiyerghhh!

Maybe this nightmare was caused by the fresh asparagus/potato/celery/sugar snap pea/olive/tomato/honey mustard dressing salad I whomped up last evening. Maybe it was the polyester double-knit flashback. My health class teacher warned us about this.

  • She dropped one singular knife in the Welchs grape jelly jar.
  • She dropped all the plural knives in the jelly jar.
  • She way sticky way up past her elbow and it was a really bad nightmare.

© 2014 Nancy L. Ruder

One egg short of a dozen

Yes, an egg is unaccounted for. The good news from Oregon is the missing egg is the plastic kind, and it is AWOL indoors.

Mr. Short Stack's parents have already learned the hard $way that dogs must not eat raisins. I'm hoping the wayward ovoid holds only organic Cheerios.

Unaccounted for Easter egg
Hard-boiled egg
Plastic egg
Pew sulphur
Pet hazard
Mower hazard

Thirty years ago I was usually one chicken short of a Fisher Price farm. If I couldn't find all the fowl, I couldn't get to sleep. Still, I believe those days as a stay-home mother were the most important job I ever held.

Where am I going from here? The crystal ball is foggy. The ducks are not in a row. The chickens have not come home to roost, nor have they crossed the road.

If I had GPS, my future would be clearer to Big Brother. The data collected from your GPS for three months allows "Them" to accurately predict your next move. "Them" might be able to find the missing Easter egg under the sofa cushions.

Looking forward to reading Hiawatha Bray's new book, You Are Here  From the Compass to GPS, the History and Future of How We Find Ourselves

Bray calls for limits on government use of advanced location techniques to track citizens, noting that police departments now “keep tabs on us with almost Orwellian diligence.” It takes just three months’ worth of location data for a researcher to predict a person’s next move with accuracy.

You are here, but where's the egg?

© 2014 Nancy L. Ruder


Hot, black

Fortunately, I still have white kitchen appliances tonight.

Unfortunately, I have no idea how long this will be the case.

Fortunately, I did not burn down the apartment building.

Unfortunately, the meat loaf never did get done. Maybe a new oven air-dropped in would be a good thing even if it is black.

Fortunately I got to see the small exhibit of Robert Smithson's Texas works at the Dallas Museum of Art last Friday night. His concepts for the Dallas/Ft. Worth airport were amazing. His Amarillo Ramp project was less so.

Unfortunately, there was too big a crowd for me to see the DMA exhibit about light and science in the Islamic world.

Fortunately, I had the Alexandre Hogue dust bowl "Erosion Series" gallery to myself.

Fortunately Unfortunately Remy Charlip

© 2014 Nancy L. Ruder


Thanks for the memo!

Found this classic clipped to my front door upon arriving home:


[Apartment complex name]

April 21, 2014


We will be entering your apartment sometime this week or the next one, to install new black appliances in your kitchen, we apologize that we don't have the exact day and time, please have everything removed from the refrigerator, stove and dishwasher.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Any questions please feel free to give us a call.


[Apartment complex management]

Let me get this straight. I'm supposed to take the ice cream out of the freezer every morning before leaving for work? Could we possibly pin down the date? Three calls later, the black appliances are not optional, but I can leave the food in the refrigerator for the installers to transfer to the new fridge. Any dishes left in the dishwasher must be clean for transfer into the new DW.

This is the craziest notice I've received in the ten years since Uncwy's auto insurance was cancelled. We won't even discuss punctuation!

© 2014 Nancy L. Ruder


Hugging Shamu

Almost as often as little kids start crying in the vicinity of a giant costumed Easter bunny, other kids spontaneously run up and knee-hug the bunny into submission. A small percentage of kids will pound on the bunny head, giving the costumed grown-up an inner piƱata revelation.

About fifty-three kiddies sat on the bench in the park with me during my hour in the premium deluxe bunny costume. Some of the thirty adults in attendance also had their pictures taken.

Being the Easter bunny is a real hoot with a few caveats:

  1. Wearer cannot see near or far, only people at a distance of six feet.
  2. It is difficult and potentially unsafe to cavort. I knew I could not do the Bunny Hop, but I had hoped for a bit of Hokey Pokey.
  3. It is a sauna experience, potentially moving all toxins out of the body and promoting weight loss.
  4. Prehydration is recommended.
  5. The Bunny does not talk.
  6. The Bunny's nose starts to run after about half an hour in the sauna suit, and the wearer can't do anything about it.
  7. After the event, the Bunny doesn't get to sit back and smoke a cigar, or go with Elwood P. Dowd down to Charlie's Bar.

In the second "Digitize My Life" episode, I did an album from 1990-91 of short family trips in Texas. My youngest was three. I'll never forget how he ran up to hug the giant costumed "Shamu" at SeaWorld in San Antonio. No fear, just instant love for the giant fuzzy faux figure. It gave me creeps as a non-costumed, non-fuzzy mother. Also from that album a "map" dictated by the three-year-old detailing our visit.

Drawing with dictation
SeaWorld San Antonio

Hugging Shamu

Elwood P. Dowd and Harvey

© 2014 Nancy L. Ruder


Digitizing my wedding

Want to get fit stair-climbing and lifting weights? I've got a deal for you! I'll let you haul boxes filled with photo albums and scrapbooks out of the rental storage unit, and then up the stairs to my apartment. You will, I say YOU WILL feel the burn!

The weight of memories, archives, anecdotes, ephemera, and yellowing photos is enough to sink my second floor apartment below ground. And so, let the scanning begin!

If you were at the wedding, I'll send you a digitized souvenir. But the photo that really gets to me is this one of our first apartment with the harvest gold appliances, the yellow Copco tea kettle, and the lovely macrame plant hangers. Ooh. I still miss that Quaker Oats cookie jar!

© 2014 Nancy L. Ruder


Necessity, that mother of invention

Aesop woke me up early, but not for the worm. That would be a German proverb, not the moral of our story. Aesop was telling me to ignore the birds chirping at 4:05 a.m., and go back to sleep for another hour. At that time we would meet to consider all pressing problems while the coffee brewed, like why my khaki pants aren't ironed.

Pressing Problems:

  1. Is the American Robin really the early bird?
  2. Why aren't there more words at the end of the alphabet that preschoolers can grasp? I mean, you are five. What do you know about "prune", "rude", "cube", "fume", "uncle", "ugly", "vase", "yolk", and "umpire"?
  3. What was that amazing book about raven intelligence I read many years ago? 
  4. Are crows as intelligent as ravens?
  5. How do crows learn?
  6. Why are there so many Aesop fables about crows?
  7. Are crows really smarter than most five year-olds?
  8. How totally awesome is this science video in the online New York Times of crows reenacting Aesop's fable about the crow and the pitcher and learning?
  9. The crows need to directly see the cause and effect to learn.
  10. What is Bernd Heinrich's new book release? 
  11. Is it still considered "mobbing" if only one crow harasses a hawk as we observed above the playground Friday?*
  12. If you arrange a flash mob, but only one tuba player shows up, what do you call the performance?
  13. Should I set up the ironing board in the living room and watch the rest of Ken Burns' "Dust Bowl"?
  14. Why can't I find a good IQ ranking for animals? Is a crow better able to learn and solve problems than an octopus?
  15. Does a sloth have S.C.T.? Is Sluggish Cognitive Tempo for real? Is it another invented diagnosis promoted by pharmaceutical companies to sell drugs still under patents? 
  16. How does a composer mark his score for sluggish cognitive tempo.

Oreo, the preschool rabbit.

*Crows do not get along with birds of prey, such as hawks, owls, and eagles. They will gather together to mob these birds if they can. Mobbing includes dive bombing, chasing, and harassing.

© 2014 Nancy L. Ruder


The Traumatizer Bunny

That's a very scary big bunny! 

The shopping mall Easter Bunny photos of my grandson express just how stunned he is by the size of the long-eared fuzzy white guy. Even with him sitting on Dad's lap and holding Mom's hand, the photos should have a banner that reads, "This two year old is gonna have nightmares!"

That's just Grancy in a big bunny suit!

Next week I get to wear the ears for the annual library storytime/Easter Bunny photo shoot in Prather Park. That's the costume on the right. Please don't let me traumatize any little kids!!!

The Energizer Bunny is still drumming away at twenty-five years of age. Oreo, the new preschool bunny at five months old is faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap up on every shelf, chair, and table in the classroom. Oreo is intelligent, extremely social, and almost litter box trained.

 The Best Preschool Bunny in the Whole Wide World.
Tomorrow marks the first anniversary of Norton's death. Norton was eleven years old. Choosing a rabbit for a family pet should not be an impulse holiday decision. A bunny can live a very long time, need special food, care, and quality time. The commitment to long-term pet care will pay you back with bushels of entertainment, calm, cuddles, and insights. Cat allergy sneezing and scratchy eyes have not been a problem with Norton or Oreo. Still thinking about an Easter rabbit pet? Watch this bunny cam, and do your research with the ASPCA and House Rabbit Society.

If you are all grown up, but still having shopping mall Easter Bunny flashbacks and nightmares, you MUST see these eerie paper doll images from artist Amy Earle.

© 2014 Nancy L. Ruder


Bob-bob-bobbing along

Live, love, laugh, and be happy.
Nice cross-stitch sampler.

The early bird gets the worm.
Good reminder, thanks. From an old German proverb.

Bing sings about the red, red robin.

Guess I'll go eat worms.

Please wash your hands with soap first.
Do you have a fork?

I'm just a kid again, 
doing what I did again, 
singing a song.

Okay, not exactly what I did as a kid, but here are the Osmond Brothers singing and dancing to "Red, Red Robin" on the Andy Williams Show.

Got a teardrop in my eye.

Poor little robin walkin', walkin', walkin' to Missouri;
He can't afford to fly. *

Rockin' Robin 
with the Jackson Five?

Tweedily deedily dee, Tweedily deedily dee

Tweedily deedily dee, Tweedily deedily dee

Tweedily deedily dee, Tweedily deedily dee

Tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet

Little Robin Redbreast

Sat upon a tree,
Up went the Pussy-Cat,
And down went he;
Down came Pussy-Cat,
Away Robin ran,
Says little Robin Redbreast--
Catch me if you can.

1952 Words and music by Bob Merrill.

© 2014 Nancy L. Ruder


Odd Duck Lamaze with Pollen Soup

Squinting through green at the metal heavy cloud cover each morning, the sneezing starts quick as the engine. It's pollen soup season in North Texas.

Preschoolers stick like velcro to the slippery slide, the slope coated with a mix of sap and pollen. In the elm tree above a married couple of cardinals share a branch with a hairy woodpecker. Sit stuck on the slide and look up.

Mrs. Mallard is nesting in the tall ornamental landscape grass outside the classroom window. Her head pops up occasionally like a Soviet sub periscope, but usually she's completely hidden. Mr. Mallard waddles over and Mrs. Mallard leaves the eggs to stand with him on the sidewalk. Drake, duck, ducklings! Make way for nomenclature.

Wearing shoes on her wrong webbed feet, my little student walks over like a drunken duckling. She wants to know why I don't have a Band-Aid on my finger any more. But she especially wants to show me the colorful Band-Aid on her own finger. And wouldn't Band-Aid Envy be a good name for a kiddie rock band?

"Oh! Oh! Another baby is popping out of my stomach!" Two kindergartners are playing Lamaze in the wooden doll house while another two are crawling around like baby kittens. It must be spring, because we all don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' no babies.

Each morning I swallow prescription pill with large glass of water, brew coffee, pack lunch, and burn breakfast. I peer through the dark at the swimming pool mallards. The two drakes stand all self-important like old fat guys in Speedos waiting to swim laps. The females used to snooze on the pseudo-waterfall, but now they must be hiding in the tall grass like the preschool mama duck.

What is an "odd duck"? Or who? Maybe or maybe not true, but this is an entertaining answer.

Goldsby, Slosher's a slick duck

© 2014 Nancy L. Ruder


Tired Mother Robin

Build your house using just your feet and beak? No problem! Balance construction on a twig in the wind? Look at your work with one eye, turn your head, then the other? Get done on time and under budget?

Today's art project was not a total success, but we gained new respect for nest builders. Maybe robin parents rush sometimes, but this art teacher should have made this a two-class project, not one. We didn't even have time for our tinted coffee filter cherry blossoms.

Guess I'll go eat worms.

Oh, be sure to look for these gorgeous, informative, and new picture books about birds at your library:

  • Nest / Jorey Hurley ; illustrated by Jorey Hurley.

  • Two little birds / by Mary Newell DePalma ; illustrated by Mary Newell DePalma.

  • Have you heard the nesting bird? / by Rita Gray ; illustrated by Kenard Pak.

  • Mama built a little nest / Jennifer Ward ; illustrated by Steve Jenkins.

  • Feathers : not just for flying / Melissa Stewart ; illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen.


© 2014 Nancy L. Ruder