Brunch Advisory Council

After a perspirrrrrry walk in the Sunday morning humidity, the council met at the usual Corner Bakery. Two members ordered Power Flats with sides. One member of the council ordered pancakes. We had a lot of catching up to do.

The council has no by-laws or official leader. Its members offer advice with no expectation of implementation. The council members report, brainstorm, mull over, and shoo away grackles on the patio. General meetings are held at Corner Bakery. Quarterly sessions are held at La Madeleine. Members have no term limits and no actual power. A long shared history and a sense of humor are required for membership. You could say we come from "all walks of life," but the truth is we are old, slightly saggy, walking buddies and former soccer moms just keeping on keeping on through all the stuff life throws our way. In the movie version, I want to be played by Judy Dench.

After a review of the realities of a special education teacher duties, and a report on a police call involving a salty pork chop, we considered the problem of munchies for the team-building emotional intelligence session. One member advocated for donuts and OJ. I countered with reason after reason why this was unacceptable. The third member cut through to the wise course--a bag of Cuties, and a bunch of bananas. The items are naturally packaged in individual servings. Keep it simple.

Edvard Munch, is unfortunately best known as the Oslo painter of "The Scream". Munchies, therefore, have a chilly Scandinavian emotional component. After reading Luncheon of the Boating Party,by Susan Vreeland this week about Renoir's painting (owned by the Philips Collection), I've bounced to a Jo Nesbø audiobook narrated by Patti Smith about a dyslexic Oslo hit man in the Seventies.

As for the council's suggestions, I've taken them all under advisement. Meeting adjourned until the new movie based on Bill Bryson's book, A Walk In the Woods, opens. Thanks to all the many food face posters on the Web for your emotional intelligence. 

Find the sources of the collage. Team-building menu to follow.

© 2013-2015 Nancy L. Ruder


Team-building breakfast challenge

Listening to Marilyn Johnson's  Lives In Ruins, an audiobook about modern day archaeologists, but my cd player is ejecting the discs at random times. This is not a relaxing addition to a morning commute in evil traffic. I'm feeling as disjointed as a Malaysian cave hobbit hominid. Still I caught most of the section about early humans' method of extracting bone grease to make pemmican. If pemmican did not require bone grease and dried meat jerky, it would be the perfect food to take when I host the fourth quarter team-building session on emotional intelligence next week.

The team-to-be-built is composed of nine environmental educators plus one emotional intelligence expert facilitator.

Budget: $20.00 (Coffee will be provided by venue)

Event: Morning meeting

Serving requirements:
  1. Minimal waste, aka Zero Waste
  2. Organics will be composted
  3. Absolutely no individual serving packaging
  4. Low carbon footprint
  5. Reusable serving utensils 
Menu requirements:
  1. Local
  2. Vegetarian
  3. Low salt
  4. Low carb
  5. Low refined sugar
  6. Preferably untouched by human hands
  7. No preservatives
  8. Include antioxidants 
  9. Unprocessed
  10. Brain food
  11. Tummy sustaining
  12. Respecting all learning styles, especially the nibbler route to knowledge
  13. There will be fruit
Personal goals
  1. Mildly festive
  2. Easy when awakened by alarm clock
  3. Educational and/or entertaining
  4. Visually appealing presentation
  5. Jalapeno jack cheese 
  6. Zero kelp/Zero kale
  7. Slather on the cream cheese!
Obviously, no vending machine Hostess powdered sugar donuts in this ring of hell. Hunter-gatherers did not have Power Points.

FYI, I found some vegetarian pemmican recipes...

© 2013-2015 Nancy L. Ruder


Galapagos Toes

It'd been a long week and it was only Thursday evening. Took off my shoes, propped my feet, checked my email, and eventually realized I had been staring at my old, tired toes for many minutes. Slow. Old. Plodding. Propped. Toes. And those toes looked just like Galapagos tortoise heads and necks.

Turtles have had an interesting week on social media. Butterflies sipped turtle tears. A sea turtle had a drinking straw extracted from its nostril without anesthesia. And my toes plodded on, slowly but surely to win the race.

"You just need a pedicure, and you'll feel better," a friend advised. "Shoe shopping!," said another. No, I want to draw tortoise eyes and nostrils on my toenails with a Sharpie, but it's such a long reach down there!

Back in the day, Michael Franks had a witty song about "Popsicle Toes". Poor guy probably still has to perform that song in casinos. Kind of sad. I've got turtle tears just imagining, should butterflies want to sip. They are dripping off my nose onto the mildewy shag carpet. The tears, not the butterflies.


© 2013-2015 Nancy L. Ruder


What to my wondering eyes did appear

Zillow informs me my former condo is listed for sale. No nostalgia for the good old days of waiting for repair persons and paying big condo association fees for me. Once in awhile I miss being in a space I had alternately endured and cultivated for a dozen plus years. Like a farmer with years of drought, years of floods, plagues of grasshoppers, and never a dime to show for it, I had a certain fond spot in my heart for the old sod house.

Two years ago I started an insane endeavor to rip out the carpet, and then stain the concrete floors. It was satisfying in a strangely sweaty, sore muscle way, and I liked the results 92.75%. And then I had to sell the condo.

The buyers reimagined the old homestead through a different lens, as I noted the few times I went over to pick up old mail. No problem. I never told them about the rat snake on the patio...

Nowadays Zillow informs me that the condo is back on the market, and the owners want big bucks. I'm okay with it. I did what I had to do when I had to do it. The bad news is Zillow sends me photos of the condo as it looks now. I question my memory and my sanity looking at them. Have I really forgotten a red brick fireplace?

Forced to reinforce my memories with photos, I tracked down images taken at the end of the concrete floor adventure. That fireplace was NOT red.

And that rat snake was real.

© 2013-2015 Nancy L. Ruder


Snaps crackle at staff meetings

My turn to lead the biweekly staff meeting is not as demanding as, say, being the leader of the Free World, but it does cause anticipation anxiety. I try to not hyperventilate or lock my knees, but I sure would like to fake having a nosebleed and go hide in the restroom. Hey, it worked in high school Spanish class!

Our agenda template includes a prohibition against Rabbit Trails. Being fond of rabbits and their calming presence in the preschool classroom, I think introducing rabbits into the office environment might be an improvement.

The most confounding part of the agenda is Snaps. We go around the conference table announcing we "have Snaps" for our coworkers who have accomplished amazing acts of heroism or just held the door for us when we entered the building. What are Snaps? Why do we have Snaps for _your name here    instead of giving Snaps to _your name here?

Although it is still early in the agenda, I get distracted. The Addams Family song plays in my ear. Sadly, this will be the last staff meeting with our water educator, Pugsley.

But what about ginger snaps dunked in hot black coffee? Or Rice Krispies?

And from that happy thought, I boomerang to bra straps in junior high school. Boys would walk up behind young ladies and pull bra straps out to snap back against backs or shoulders, through clothing, of course. This sort of tween harassment was considered perfectly normal behavior of boys-will-be-boys. To have your bra strap snapped in the late Sixties was less humiliating than not having a bra strap to snap. Either way, this obnoxious behavior was just something girls should accept. Huh???

  • Maybe SNAP is a management acronym. Acronym meanings for SNAP make a long, long, unmanageable list

  • The library has a new book, Snap strategies for couples: 40 fast fixes for everyday relationship pitfalls, by Dr. Pepper Schwartz. It sounds like quick casserole recipes!

  • What are the rules of Snap? Kiddie card games were popular birthday gifts and favors in the Sixties. Snap showed up in packages with Animal Rummy, Go Fish, Hearts, Authors, Old Maid and Crazy Eights.

Before I get my sled runners back in the groove, I must mention the strange Scandinavian children's books starring the triplet boys, Snipp, Snapp, and Snurr.


Corresponding blonde girl triplets in the book series, Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka, might have belonged to a sorority where applause was too loud and disruptive, and so they invented "Snaps" for meetings.

© 2013-2015 Nancy L. Ruder


Bandannas on the line

It was so very lovely, breezy, and cool at 9:30 this morning the mommies and nannies were stunned. It wasn't even 90 degrees! We had to get the kids outside, so that's where I set up the craft and activities.

Our playful theme was "Love YOUR Water", or how even little kids can enjoy, protect, and conserve water, and learn nearly everything they'll ever need to know, all at the same time. That was why I strung up the low clothesline, set out the tubs of sudsy and clean water, and the baskets of clothespins and bandannas.

Water play is a huge topic in early childhood and nature education. We all agree that kids need to play with water. Recirculating water play features for outdoor classrooms are expensive, use electricity, and are prone to breaking at the first dump of sand into the works. But an outdoor water education experience can keep it simple.

Little kids need to have sensory water experiences, so get your checklist of goals and objectives:
  • Gross motor scooping/pouring time
  • Early math measuring time
  • Opposite wet and dry moments
  • Fine motor strengthening activities with  hand-wringing and finger-pinching
  • Language development describing all the things water can do or be
  • Kids need to understand cause and effect. What happens if you flush a toy down the toilet?
  • They need to gain an understanding of time. If you wear your shoes into the puddles they will be soggy for a long time. If you water paint with brushes on the sidewalk in the summer, your "art" will dry and disappear in a minute. How long does ice take to thaw?
  • If your grandma takes you to the car wash, but forgets to roll up the windows, you will remember this vividly your whole life even though you forget that's the day your baby brother was born. 
  • Almost as long as you remember the time Daddy ran the mower over the sprinkler and garden hose and said those bad words. Mad, sad, glad!
  • You need to feel the shoulder motions of dropping, thunking, hurling, and skipping stones of different weights into the pond.
  • And the sensations of wading barefoot or puddle-hopping in big boots.
  • Prediction and comparison--What will sink? What will float?
  • Before and after sequence of clean and dirty. Shampoo, rinse, repeat!
  • Kids need chances to be a helper washing dishes, cleaning windows.
  • Kids want to experience personal power turning faucets ON and OFF. 
  • Controlling impulses to turn the faucet OFF while brushing teeth.
  • Water dilutes paints and kids can experiment with saturation, light and dark
  • Sequence--A storm is a story with beginning, middle, end.
  • Rhythm--rain drops can make a rhythm. 
  • Working through fears during a storm with wind and clouds, lightning and thunder, rain and hail.
  • Cycle--of precipitation, evaporation, condensation.
  • Coordination required to drink from a fountain or a hose.
  • Motions of stirring, spiraling, swirling down the drain.
  • Planning ahead with raincoats, boots, and umbrellas.
  • Joy and wonder! The beauty of iridescent soap bubbles and rainbows.
  • The OM of concentric ripples on the pond.
  • The experience of thirst.
  • The smell of rain.

And so the kids plunged the bright bandannas into the purple tub of sudsy water, then rinsed them in the blue tub of clean water. Using the alligator pinch clothespins to hang bandannas on the line was a new skill to learn. The dollar bandannas seemed to glow as they fluttered in the breeze. The kids were anxious for the bandannas to dry so they could unpin them and start the process again. The grownups savored the rare cool August breeze.

Meanwhile across the patio kids were experimenting with stones, shells, leaves, bark, and plastic Easter eggs in a galvanized tub. They were developing their focus and intention to find just how hard you should heave the rock so the splash will soak your socks.

We were all starting to feel groovy, reminiscing about clotheslines, hand-washing pantyhose with Woolite, and car caravans across Iowa with CB radios. What a magical hour of curiosity and wonder and learning.

© 2013-2015 Nancy L. Ruder


Worms on the map and in the corner office

Composting worms always amaze me with their interest in current events, architecture history, and contemporary design. Down in the dark of the worm bin I suspect they are reading Zinio digital magazines on teeny tiny devices. They tweet complaints about complete lack of progress on my New Year's resolution to build them a Lego version of the High Line. They follow Zillow and pin ideas to Pinterest.

When I added coffee grounds, torn newspaper, and cucumber peels to the worm bin this evening the tension was palpable. The eisenia fetida had learned Plano is #2 in the Top 10 Cities With the Largest Homes. Plus, the red wigglers had seen the drawings of the new Rolex headquarters under construction in uptown Dallas.

The worms are demanding a Lego map, a ridiculously large Plano Lego home, and a field trip to the construction site of the new Rolex headquarters in uptown Dallas. Yes, that would be the Kengo Kuma design that looks like a vertical vermicompost Worm Factory crossed with a spread deck of casino playing cards.


And yes, there should be under-the-desk vermicomposting in every office!

This development will set a new standard for work life in the US," said Harwood CEO Gabriel Barbier-Mueller. “We intend on creating an office that will feature a unique blend of innovative architecture and gardens that Dallas has never seen before.”

© 2013-2015 Nancy L. Ruder


Return of the YRMLMs

This time it isn't so much a case of ruining his life, as in YRMLMs of ye olde days. It's more a case of distorting the record.

My sons' lives are recorded in a double entry accounting system. I have the Mommy Official Chronological Albums. But my apartment also houses the Grandma Fritzi's Less Authoritative multi-volume set. Like many libraries, depositories, and museums, the Mommy Official Storage Space is limited.

I could, of course, ruin my youngest's life by posting his bare baby buttocks on Facebook and grocery check-out tabloid covers. That would be WRONG-O.

So, I've begun a scan-and-collage interpretation of the epic legend. Grandma Fritzi preserved the annals of the Woolly Mammoth and his brothers in "magnetic" photo albums. The snapshots were mostly Walgreens "double prints" with savings coupons. That combination is distorting, discoloring, and destroying the photos. Pulling prints off the sticky album pages makes them curl, tear, and weaken, distorting our knowledge of past events. Gosh, but isn't this like Fox News pundits?

YRMLM is the impish gremlin acronym for "You Ruined My Life, Mom".

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."--George Santanaya 1905

"Those who cannot find the remote control are stuck watching Judge Judy  and Wheel of Fortune at maximum volume in the nursing home."--Collagemama 2011

© 2013-2015 Nancy L. Ruder


Miss Clairol in the conservatory with the curling iron

Clue: The culprits took the tv, and the curling iron, but dropped the laptop on the driveway. Talk about your bad hair day!

Police log in local newspaper: Sample for middle school journalism students to rewrite.

WWELD? What would Elmore Leonard do, or Dippity Do? Donald Westlake's Dortmunder gang? Maybe Jonas Jonasson's 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window with the curling iron?

Who? What? Where? When? Why? I bet my journalism teacher, Beverly Renee Blume nee Austin is rolling in her grave or on some sandy beach somewhere...

© 2013-2015 Nancy L. Ruder