Life Joy Glad Run Go Play in Traffic

Today I followed kids full of life and joy run and play on the new Chisholm Trail mural under Spring Creek Parkway. Nobody had to tell them how to play. No signs, directions, or coaches. No technology devices were required. It was glorious!

"May we be excused?," we asked Dad. "Yes, go play on Cotner," Howie would say. Cotner Boulevard was the nearest busy street. Nowadays Dad would be arrested for child neglect at a minimum. Did we run out into traffic? Of course not, but we knew we had free run of the neighborhood until after the fireflies came out or the mosquitoes got too vicious. Mom went off to spend quality time with Joy and Cascade, while Dad smoked his pipe and read the Lincoln Evening Journal.

Anita Bryant came up in a discussion yesterday when we lacked lemonade to make Arnold Palmers. I went looking for Anita's obituary, but it seems she's still alive. I bet she's rolling in her grave today, anyway. My generation automatically thinks, "it's not just for breakfast any more", when somebody mentions orange juice. We all knew that a "breakfast without orange juice is like a day without sunshine," just as we knew to "buckle up for safety", and that if "everybody won't pitch in to clean up America, it won't be America any more."

For the past month I've been thinking litter thoughts 24/7, with lots of googling trash bags, nitrile gloves, tree loppers, grab sticks, hooks, and nets. Glad that's over! Cheers!

© 2013-2015 Nancy L. Ruder


Cleopatra at the salad bar

I've been working through my salad repertoire because my "salad days" are evenings when it is too hot to cook in my west-facing kitchen, so basically May to October.  Next up will be Fritzi's ravioli salad. I've already done 

  • cole slaw
  • shrimp Caesar salad
  • three bean church basement potluck salad
  • taco salad with broiled steak
  • mustard potato salad
  • deviled eggs
  • tuna salad with green olives
  • radish salad with tzatziki dressing
If I get to molded Jello salad just shoot me. When I was working in the hospital kitchen back in my other youthful and unexperienced "salad days" I got to assist the Jello-maker once or twice. The mixing bowl was the size of a Little Turtle swimming pool. Takes a whole lotta mini-marshmallows or canned mandarin orange sections to swim there!

My attempt at salata bil adas wa jazar, or Palestinian lentil carrot salad started out spicy and refreshing with lemon juice and cumin. The concoction keeps refilling the Tupperware no matter how much I eat, like a magic porridge pot. It was tasty, but please make it go away! And all because I had to buy carrots with greens attached to show preschoolers that carrots actually GROW IN DIRT. Crazy concept! 

Bonus summer salad explorations, boys and girls:

  1. Salad
  2. Caesar
  3. Shakespeare's Anthony and Cleopatra, 1606
  4. Hives--As a kid I had a really bad case of hives after eating Grandma's tangy cukes and onions salad. It might have been caused by a spider bite. My face swelled out swallow my nose. 
  5. Was the salad bar invented in Stevens Point, Wisconsin?
  6. Sneeze guard history
  7. Green in judgement, cold in blood
  8. Don't make me spell vinagrette viniagarette vinegaret *
  9. Veni vidi vici is not a pasta salad 
  10. Where does the salad fork go? Remember fork and left have four letters, but knife, spoon, and right have five.
  11. What was that tomato soup dressing we made in Campfire Girls, Janice?
  12. Helen Corbitt's Neiman Marcus chicken salad
  13. Maybe Mary will send me her quinoa salad recipe if I hint, hint...
  14. Can you survive on boiled water lily roots? I'm reading a Wilbur Smith novel about the siege of Khartoum during the Mahdist War. South Sudanese still survive food crises by eating water lilies.
  15. But what I'd really like is a fresh spinach salad with sliced radishes and cucumbers, quartered strawberries, dried cranberries, sliced almonds, watermelon cubes, feta crumbles, grilled salmon, squeezed fresh lemon juice, and balsamic dressing garnished with bacon crumbles.
*vinaigrette (n.) Look up vinaigrette at Dictionary.com
1690s, a type of condiment, from French vinaigrette (14c.), diminutive of vinaigre "(aromatic) vinegar" (see vinegar). Use in reference to a type of dressing for salads or cold vegetables is attested from 1877. From 1811 as "small box or bottle for carrying aromatic vinegar."

© 2013-2015 Nancy L. Ruder


Sharp knives in Barbie's workplace

I hate Outlook's Calendar, but it's a reality of gainful employment Just clicked "accept" on a team-building exercise to be held prior to an afternoon of project evaluations. I have enough lead time to storehouse a healthy level of terror. We will be building our team at a ritzy grocery store with a chef and a simulated reality show challenge. Doing a simulation of a reality show seems a tad twisted, but letting coworkers have sharp knives is way more scary. If we don't stab each other in the shiny industrial kitchen, we will skewer in the conference room. Shish kebab!

As best as I can wrap my head around it, staff will wash hands then go to battle as Chickens vs. Vegetarians vs. Desserts. There will be chopping and iron forks, but hairnets are not promised.

Thank heaven this quarter's team building event does not require rappelling or remembering religious cults, baseball teams, and Sixties sitcoms. It doesn't involve a bus ride to an isolated locale for a simulated illegal nighttime border crossing like the one on This American Life.

I'm on the planning committee for the last quarter's team building event. We are charged with arranging a professional development day, not anything requiring role-playing or suspending disbelief. Possible topics:

  • Environmental impact of semi-colon extinction.
  • Hoarders hiding in your department? Stop enabling and get tough with storage issues.
  • Pulling weeds/Sharing roots: Weeding the green roof and sharing your genealogical story.
  • Bagels or donuts? Making corporate volunteer groups feel appreciated.

© 2013-2015 Nancy L. Ruder


"I just want to play store."

Last week the preschoolers played "Have you got the bags!?" This game was about reminding parents to take the reusable bags into the grocery store. We played grocery store with plastic veggies, a toy cash register, and a bunch of fabric shopping bags.

Afterwards, I had to pack up the plastic vegetables, little shopping baskets, and cloth bags in the big Rubbermaid tub. It was sad. My coworker stood looking wistfully at the most realistic of the toy carrots. "After a long day," she said,"I tell my husband I just want to play store for awhile." It's their code for needing some relaxing imagination refueling time.

No pressure. No goals and objectives. No metrics. I just want to cut and paste sometimes, with round-tip safety scissors and the white paste from the big jar. Paint samples from Glidden, bits of rickrack, a bit of fuzz. It was enough to get the paste on the scrap of fabric or paper, turn it over, and stick it down on the faded construction paper.Any aesthetic decisions were only to please myself. Any story I told to adults asking, "What did you make, Honey?," could be short, cryptic, and changed for the next time. "It's a big brown bear." "It's a slippery slide." "It's my baby brother." But you don't have a baby brother, Honey! Doesn't matter. "It's my dad who never ever takes a bath..." Ahhh. The grown-ups looked at each other knowingly.

So this week, I'm bringing back the plastic veggies. After we read Growing Vegetable Soup, by Lois Ehlert, we will harvest vegetables from the pretend garden, "wash" them in plastic colanders, chop them on cutting boards, and stir them in big stew pots. Then we will do potato and pepper printmaking on kid-size paper chef hats to take home. I don't know about the kids, but it feels therapeutic to me.

Good vegetables, good soup, good pretending, good Earth.

Fresh plastic veggies from and imaginary garden are bound to taste better than plastic veggies from the "gorphries store."*

* Pronunciation from my real baby brother.

© 2013-2015 Nancy L. Ruder


Salad Season Sci Fi

Something snapped. Must have salad. All salad. The cute clamshell packaging for four miniature heads of lettuce drew me across the aisle with its tractor beams. Cute. Little. Four. Red. Green. Must have salad.

My love-hate relationship with plastic packaging was kicking in. Could the clamshell be a paint mixing pan, a mold, an alien space pod and trading post? Could Kirk and Spock contain the tribbles?

When let loose the four petite lettuces (let-tooses, of course) expanded exponentially. What looked like two or three lunches, now seems to be a whole lotta rabbit food lasting longer than my lifetime. And me with only six cherry tomatoes and the last pits of an olive bar attack. There's a pattern emerging. The olive bar container also had four sections and appeared potentially useful to art teachers, bead sorters, and hoarders.

Back in the Sixties, my dad Howie pronounced the Eastridge Iceberg Edict: No salad shall be served that consists of only lettuce and Zesty Italian dressing. French dressing was forbidden, as was jello fruit salad except the dark sweet pitted cherry one.

In junior high home ec class Mrs. Starr and Mrs. Meston tried to expose us to lettuce beyond iceberg. We had a lettuce tasting with bibb, romaine, loose leaf, iceberg, and curly endive. We wore the gingham aprons we had sewn.

Only Eeyore would eat endive, in my opinion. This photo is not really the Millard Lefler home ec classroom, but it's mighty close. From left that would be Janice, me, Debbie O. and Debbie B.! We practiced measuring vinegar and oil. We washed eggs before cracking them badly.

The group of mini-heads in the clamshell are petite green tango, petite red tango, petite gem and petite oak lettuce. They are O.K., but a little tickly, bitter, and lacy going down. They are not alone with the Zesty Italian. I gave them red bell pepper, steamed asparagus, cucumber, boiled shrimp, bacon fried with chopped garlic, cannellini beans, the final olives, and the six cherry tomatoes for friends. That's for Day One of Salad Season.

When I looked in the Tupperware crisper, I hadn't made a dent in the lettuce. It's still expanding. Soon it will be in all the air vents and hatches of the Enterprise. Adjust your rabbit ears and stay tuned.

© 2013-2015 Nancy L. Ruder


Bamboo, it's what's for breakfast

Channeling my inner panda after receiving a gift of bamboo for the outdoor classroom today. Oh, the structures kids can build when they are not playing light sabers with the bamboo! Oh, the fun things I would love to build, beginning with a very simple shade structure for the classroom. Maybe some Girl Scouts could give me a refresher course in lashing poles together with rope...

Six vertical poles lashed to permanent wire fences, three on each side, ... two horizontal poles lashed across at the tops, ...three poles lashed spanning the divide, ... fabric draped to give shade and create a dramatic play setting. I'm thinking Barbie Dream Canopy Bed on Gilligan's Island. Hmm.

The professor and Mary Ann...

My dad, Howie, made a treehouse of lashed boards for us in a dying, sappy weeping willow tree in the backyard. Dad had to realize the tree was in bad shape, so lashing the boards was not about saving the tree. Maybe it was a Cub Scout project for my brother to do the rope lashing. Probably the goal was to keep nail holes out of the wood so the boards could be reused later. After all, this was a structural engineer who used rubberbands to manage major bathtub faucet problems. Just a temporary fix for two to three decades... We had a rope ladder and a pulley bucket message system, even if shade was sparse. The treehouse was my escape for reading about archaeologists and embroidering lazy daisies and french knots. Ants got stuck in the sap. Dad was stressed to the max. His mother was in the hospital, and then the nursing home after a broken hip. I was stressed to the max transitioning to junior high. Watching ants stuck in the sap while I read about Knossos in the treehouse was the highpoint of the year.

But back to the bamboo, let's get more Stick-lets for connectors. We'll build a tiny resort for miniature pandas, part childhood jungle, part Buckminster Fuller with drinking straws and spiderweb, part haiku.

© 2013-2015 Nancy L. Ruder


Pantone mistaken, but just a tad off from soothing


Marsala is not the color of 2015, but Pantone was on the right track. We are looking for a color:

  • equally appealing to men and women 
  • flattering against many skin tones
  • an earthy shade with a bit of sophistication
  • conveying organic nature, but adding a sheen of luxury
  • a trace of zinc for industrial design
  • rooty, yet hinting of a satisfying meal
  • don't drink it
  • guess again. It's still not Marsala. 
  • found at CVS, it's not Pepto Bismal, but same price range
  • design uses include popular decor scheme for mammogram offices
  • both matte and sheen finishes look great on ankles
  • not fortified to last long ocean voyages
  • relief from the dang chiggers
  • if doesn't work for chigger itch relief, might try sherry, port, or madiera taken internally
  • causes a cooling sensation as it evaporates

© 2013-2015 Nancy L. Ruder


Way back in the before time with Iguana Bob

Had to make a brunch casserole for a departmental staff meeting and it turned out edible, so I'll spare you the details except that I cheated and used store-brand seasoned salad croutons.

Yesterday I took my recyclables to the big collection dumpster in the parking lot of the public library. Behind the dumpster is a small strip mall with this new addition:

Yes, indeedy, pizza acupuncture! I love it! I just wish Iguana Bob could share this discovery with me as he did Wok Bueno so many years ago. Many's the time Bob and I drove around with the top down singing "Wok This Way" and eating peppermint ice cream cones.

Iguana Bob ditched me years ago and drove off into the sunset. Now I hang out with Arlo the Air Quality Armadillo. Arlo needs a car with fins in my opinion... an electric car with fins!

Arlo should not stop for an ice cream cone.
Before what time? Before digital cameras and cable internet. Back when I spent real time making real things, quirky but real. My sons shared our condo with a variety of papier mache lizards, dachsunds, penguins, an owl, a giraffe,a monkey, Ma Chicken, Wally the wall alligator, and some giant insects. AND the kids turned out okay.
Bob's convertible was about the same size as the Smart Cars we used in D.C. last month:


© 2013-2015 Nancy L. Ruder


Refueling: postcard from an introvert

Having a wonderful time
you did not hear
from me

Moving walkway strides five a.m.
just a carry-on roller bag
memorizing parking location

Lifting off not
completely under seat ahead of you
Electronic devices in flight mode
Slow taxi to hangar

No calls please no texts
No decisions what to do next

Contents may have shifted
Prepare for descent
the wing dip
wading green heron along the bank

Cabin pressure


© 2013-2015 Nancy L. Ruder