Library Life List

Tornado sirens sounded just as we were leaving work at the library Saturday evening trapping us for two hours with gobs of holiday candies, multiple computers for tracking weather radar and warnings, and a bag of clementines. Attempt to drive home or not? Thankfully there were no library patrons. That would be a huge responsibility.

Sad to say, the storm fatalities were almost all persons in vehicles. Similar reports come from the St. Louis flooding. The fatalities are mostly persons in vehicles. It's a tragic reminder that our cars are not the personal insulated safe pods we often assume.

Libraries are good places to be trapped. I used to make mental lists of the five books I would want with me if marooned on a desert island. Aha! Imagine being marooned on an island with a library instead.

These are photos of the Dr. Eugene Clark Library in Lockhart, Texas. Besides having the oldest continually operating library in the state of Texas, Lockhart has the title "Barbecue Capital of Texas (therefore of the world)". My library life list is now at seventy-four.

1899 construction cost $6000.00

Stained glass for book lovers!

One of the fan windows from the inside.

Cute couple celebrating their engagement.

Building on right houses most of collection.

The library telescope!

Smitty's Barbecue--my eyes are still smoky!

That's all, folks! I'm off to my desert island.

© 2013-2015 Nancy L. Ruder


Lest we falter in our resolve

I make pretty darn good minestrone soup. Once decades ago when I had to write up personal life goals, I listed "learn to make minestrone soup". Probably not what the counselor had in mind when assigning this exercise, but it was an achievable goal. (The secret is the parmesan cheese rind.)

Achieving that goal continues to bring tasty satisfaction, unlike the New Year's resolution I made to match the plastic food storage containers and their lids. This is the Sisyphusian Rubbermaid resolution that can never really be completed. Still, life requires the repeated efforts.

Did I ever learn to make pie crust? No, but I learned to make savory potpies with refrigerated pie crust dough. Close enough.

As for last December's vow to construct a Lego version of the NYC High Line for my composting worms in 2015, sadly no. It's been a hectic year. The resolution made for some high quality daydreaming, even if the worms did not get an elevated urban park. My grandson is finally old enough for Santa to bring him Legos. That bring joy to his father, and joy to me.

Hereby resolving in 2016 to master the requirements of my new library cataloging job.

  • achieve goals and replicate results
  • take daily vitamins for the uphill boulder-rolling tasks
  • know when close enough is good enough
  • know when to take shortcuts
  • understand when excellence is the only acceptable outcome
  • apply creative approaches to stale routines
  • keep whimsy in my mental toolkit
  • know when to follow the printed directions and when to design my own tower

And always eat a healthy breakfast!

© 2013-2015 Nancy L. Ruder


Vacuuming up the stages of grief

Got the bad news yesterday. My "new" vacuum is beyond repair. The fix-it guy I've relied on broke the news.

My "new" Sanitaire vacuum had many tune-ups and refurbishings over the twenty-some years of it's life, and now it is taken from me too soon, too soon. Lately it spent most of its time alone in a dark closet, but it reminded me of the times when it gobbled up Legos and MicroMachines, then gagged on sweatsocks. It had outlived five crockpots and too many coffee makers to count.

At times misty-eyed, and other moments angry that Fix-It Steve had given up on my long-time servant, I got through the day in a sour mood. It was worse once I got home and sat staring at the white felt clippings from the snowflake project all over the carpet. There's a whole pack of vacuum bags in the closet...

What would a new vacuum cost? The old "new" one had been about $250.00 in 1990's dollars. Maybe I should just limp along with a DustBuster. No, that's pathetic! Snap out of it!

...best... vacuum ... apartment ...images ... Google popped up photos that looked like my grandson's toy vacuum with the colored beads popping around in the clear tube. Whoa! That's what vacuums look like now! I had no idea.They are lightweight, bagless, and affordable. Cool! And the instant gratification of seeing the gross stuff coming out of the carpet is motivating. Merry cleaning to me, and to all a good year!

© 2013-2015 Nancy L. Ruder


You can't see me!

I’m not really here!

Went behind the fence to retrieve the wood building blocks, binoculars, and other toys that had been thrown over. These photos are the back side of the bird blind with its feeding shelf of birdseed and peanuts. This squirrel was acting so oddly I started to think she was really stuck like Santa in the chimney. Did she eat too much? As I walked to either side, she would turn her head, but didn't move a bit otherwise. When I finally got within a foot and a half, out she popped and ran off lickety-split.

  • Wait a sec! Does lickety have one t or two? Only one, and I just plain don't have time to wonder about "a lick and a promise" this evening. Not going there. 

  • Also not wondering how the squirrel would look hiding behind the arras with Polonius in Act 3, Scene IV.

  • Was the squirrel waiting in the wings for the cue to enter, stage right or stage left and say, "Aha! Now we know the identity of the murderer"? 

  • Was the attempt to become invisible a sign of squirrel intelligence? 

I keep trying to write a post about the many things I learned while preparing my "Trim a Tree for Wildlife" program, most particularly about receiving a gift pamphlet about commensal rodents. This, again, is not the evening for that endeavor. 

Online Etymology Dictionary indicates "mensa" is related to table like mesa, not moon or monthly. The meaning of the high IQ Mensa organization: 

The word "Mensa" means "table" in Latin. Mensa is a round-table society, where race, color, creed, national origin, age, politics, educational or social background are irrelevant.

That's all just dandy, but I want the squirrel to eat at the birdfeeder, not at my table, no matter how smart and theatrical it is.

Oh, and olly olly oxen free!

© 2013-2015 Nancy L. Ruder


A few new strings is all

Got it now. Thanks! Wrapping the stair rail with holiday lights did the trick.

Yes, it's late to be getting the Christmas commercial spirit. Not so belated for THE REST of the holiday outlook. You know, those parts with meaning, family, friends, gratitude, joy, wonder, waiting, weather changes, music, sharing, postage stamps, senses, and twinkly lights. Particularly blue twinkly lights, but also white, purple, pink, and assorted. As many strands of 70-100 lights as needed to make it seem complete, and just $2.98/string.


While I was a-wrapping the railing the little family in the next apartment emerged. How many months have they lived next door? Why do we never cross paths? Now we have exchanged greetings. It's not wassailing, but it's a start toward neighborliness.

Time is a-flying now. It flew up the flue while you gawked at the gorgeous, bright, soggy fall leaves. As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, when they meet with an atomic leaf-blower get sucked into a giant plastic bag.

So few days left in the year to tell people I hold them dear. The days are so short I don't even unplug the extension cord for the lights.

© 2013-2015 Nancy L. Ruder


Out of the frying pan and opening the flue

Chatted with an architect today who had designed a CEO's office on the 38th floor of a New York City building. The big boss wanted a fireplace in his office. The designer found that opening a flue at that height created an air flow strong enough to suck the CEO's secretary right up the chimney.

This story beat my cautionary tale about opening the damper to prevent singeing my eyebrows. I never saw the woman architect before, but I'm sure she was real. I hope her story is true. Even if it's a fable, it reminded me how life often feels like being drawn up the chimney and blasted out into the sky above a teeming metropolis against one's will and without a superhero cape.

I'm more scrambled than usual transitioning from two half-time jobs to one full-time position with actual big-girl grown-up benefits. I'm filled with gratitude for this opportunity. The only damper is working a year before taking vacation days flying to see grandkids.

In dreams I flew, body-surfing the warm air thermals above a mall food court, amazing the cosmetics clerks from Macy's and Foley's. In nightmares I can never reach my parents or my sons by cell phone in the cosmic labyrinth shopping center. Plus, there are no clean restrooms at the mall.

© 2013-2015 Nancy L. Ruder


If at first you don't succeed

Opening night and world premiere of the Dallas Opera's "Becoming Santa Claus" was a strange and wonderful event. To begin with, I dribbled toothpaste on my black opera attire, and had to start over dressing in my dark chocolate opera outfit. We will not even get into my failed frozen pumpkin experiment except to say the thawing sections are too gooey for the intended bird feeder craft project. Now I'm attempting a slow drying in a low oven. The theme of the day is Plan B.

The Dallas Opera commissioned Mark Adamo to create a Christmas opera in hopes it would become a reliable Nutcracker/Christmas Carol/Polar Express-style annual money-maker. I admire the motivation, but I'm not sure they succeeded.

Good news first--the production has successful sets and costumes designed by Gary McCann.  It's quite Through the Looking Glass, complete with portraits that express more emotion than the living characters.

Bad news is the intentionally shrill, shrieking music, especially the vocal parts of the elves. I don't expect new operas to be hum-friendly toe-tappers, but they should not cause physical pain! Oh, and the wigs looked like they came from Party City.

I remain fascinated by the huge collaborative undertaking required to create a new opera or a new production. For the 50th season of the Dallas Opera local sculptors Tom Orr and Frances Bagley were invited to design the sets and costumes for Verdi's "Nabucco", and the results were stunning. Attending the premiere of the Dallas Opera's commissioned "Moby Dick" with mind-blowing projections was an amazing five star experience. Already in 2015 the Dallas Opera presented two brand-spanking-new very successful operas, "Everest" and "Great Scott". The mountain-climber opera made the audience part of the oxygen-deprived challenge. "Great Scott" was a delightful Rossini-does-NFL soap, enjoyable and even thought provoking, but nothing I can hum. Of course I am basically tone deaf.

In all of those bold ventures the Dallas Opera  created works where I felt totally engaged. At "Becoming Santa Claus" there was no personal engagement, no emotional connection, no likeable characters, and no transporting music. I kept trying to imagine any child of my acquaintance sitting through it (with no potty breaks or snacks).

I sincerely hope the Dallas Opera can do a major reworking of this opera to fulfill the possibilities of an annual family tradition/money-maker. And this time Dallas Morning News opera critic Scott Cantrell and I agree!

© 2013-2015 Nancy L. Ruder