Houska and fossil of Christmas past

In this digital age I am thrilled to have a grandson collecting rocks, something real, tactile, weighty and usually scooped up from a gravel playground. In honor of this new interest, I mailed him a box of rocks for Christmas, providing U.S. postal workers some good laughs.

At the same age as my grandson, I discovered rocks. My Uncle Bill gave me a piece of rose quartz. Family friends presented me with this awesome fossil. Why would the Soderholm family have brought me this fossil from California? Who were the Soderholms? What was the family connection?

Waking at 3:45 the other morning, I let my memory roll around like a hamster ball in a big back yard. I recalled playing under a huge weeping willow tree with Paul Soderholm and his two sisters, possibly Kristy and Kathy. Once I was presented a box containing a glass wind chime on a winterized porch lit with multicolored lanterns. The fossil gift memory has a car pulling up in the driveway, and a hand-off being made.

Why? Who? What was the connection? It was almost, but not quite family.

Every Christmas we visited Martha Leuck at her little house at 3720 "A" Street in Lincoln bringing houska. [Houska is a Bohemian braided bread with raisins, walnuts, and mace, and I never could get it to turn out right.] Once inside, we kids sat on a large round ottoman and zoned out watching the revolving lights on her aluminum Christmas tree. Some years Martha visited our house when Auntie Em and/or Auntie Ada came from Pierce for the holidays. These were good times playing board games and being snowed in.

When I was really little we would go see Martha Leuck and Leo Soderholm at Leuck Radio Supply on L Street south of the state capital building. Back then Howie was building his own mono record player, tuner, and pre-amp with tubes and doo-higgies from Leuck.

Leo and his wife Mary Ann Soderholm were college friends of Howie and Fritz in the engineering department at the University of Nebraska after WWII. Howie and Leo were veterans. Mary Ann Marshall Soderholm was the niece of Martha Sucha Leuck, originally from Verdigre, Nebraska like my Mastalir ancestors. Martha and Louis F. Leuck did not have children, and doted on Mary Ann. My unmarried great aunts, Ada and Emma, were most likely childhood friends of Martha Sucha in Verdigre. Like Auntie Em, Martha Leuck (pronounced "like") was a primary school teacher. They would get together every year during Teachers Convention, an annual fall conference also known as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season on "O" Street in Lincoln.

I'm not sure of the connection between Mary Ann and Fritzi, but they probably had classes together and similar design aesthetics. Their first children were born about a year apart.  Paul was older than me. I was sure that the popular calypso song, "Marianne," was about the beautiful Mary Ann, whom I adored. I liked Leo, too. I remember him as very tall and skinny, prematurely balding, and laughing.

Snooping around on Google and Ancestry.com I learned that Louis F. Leuck, Martha's husband was born in Wisner, Nebraska in 1895 and went to Wayne State College. He served in WWI, and played an important part in communication technology during WWII:

During World War II the Army Signal Corps approached Louis Francis Leuck about running a laboratory to make radio transmission crystals. Leuck Crystal Labs of Lincoln was formed as a result. The entire output of the company during the war years went to the U.S. government. After the war the company became Leuck Radio Supply, which sold radios and radio repair parts, sound, communications, and recording equipment.

Crystal Clear: The Struggle for Reliable Communications Technology in World War II 

by Richard J. Thompson, Jr., 2011

Some of the defining leaps in technology in the twentieth century occurred during the Second World War, from radar to nuclear energy. Often left out of historical discussions are quartz crystals, which proved to be just as pivotal to the Allied victory-and to post-war development-as other technologies. Quartz crystals provided the U.S. military, for the first time, with reliable communication on the front lines, and then went on to become the core of some of the most basic devices of the post-war era, from watches, clocks, and color televisions, to cell phones and computers.
In Crystal Clear, Richard Thompson relates the story of the quartz crystal in World War II, from its early days as a curiosity for amateur radio enthusiasts, to its use by the United States Armed Forces. It follows the intrepid group of scientists and engineers from the Office of the Chief Signal Officer of the U.S. Army as they raced to create an effective quartz crystal unit. They had to find a reliable supply of radio-quality quartz; devise methods to reach, mine, and transport the quartz; find a way to manufacture quartz crystal oscillators rapidly; and then solve the puzzling "aging problem" that plagued the early units. Ultimately, the development of quartz oscillators became the second largest scientific undertaking in World War II after the Manhattan Project.
Bringing to light a little-known aspect of World War II, Crystal Clear offers a glimpse inside one of the most significant efforts in the annals of engineering.

As for the long cherished fossil, I hope it will inspire a new wannabe paleontologist!

© 2013-2016 Nancy L. Ruder


Christmas Eve at your neighborhood Walmart

Might be time for a tin foil hat to block those brain swiping rays from the extraterrestrials. I've remained disturbed by the wacky messages I receive when my prescriptions are ready to pick up. Again today I heard the voice say,  "nose not getting Libby."

Since Christmas Eve is a perfectly reasonable time to wear a tin foil hat in Walmart, I drove on over to the jam-packed parking lot. It was obviously two-for-one nutty fruitcake day, and many fruitcakes were driving the motorized shopping carts.

The competent kid with the Bloom County Steve Dallas hairstyle was at the desk wearing his blue Walmart vest covered in pins and buttons in protest of his soul-sucking job dealing with germy nutsos. When I told him the outgoing Rx notification voice message was goofed up he just shrugged me off. No doubt he'd waited on several dozen deranged old ladies by then, and it wasn't even one-thirty.

I shuffled off to buy trash bags and Woolite. [Let me be clear, I was not wearing slippers or pajamas, but real dressed-for-the-day clothes.] Picked up some more rolls of Reynolds Wrap, as one can't be too careful. Putin probably controls the space invaders, too.

Wandering past the pharmacy again on my way to check out, there was Brenda at the drop-off prescription window. Brenda has been there forever, since at least 2010 which is very long in Walmart years. She remains sane and helpful because she used to manage a day care. This is a walk in the park by comparison, she's said. When I told Brenda my story of the Libby's nose message, she was polite, intrigued, and in good humor. She was apologetic, and listened several times to the short voice mail on my phone that I hear as:

...nose not getting Libby.

So nice to be taken seriously! I wished her a merry Christmas, and she assured me she would get the message fixed.

Back home without my foil hat, I listened to the message again. It doesn't mention noses or Libby, nor my prescription being ready. It's a fragment, to be sure, but it says:

... ñol, marque nueve.

Ah. "For Spanish, press nine."

© 2013-2016 Nancy L. Ruder


Let the games begin

Lunching with friends before their holiday travels we discussed family game traditions. Board games have gotten folks through excessive holiday togetherness, blizzard snow days, August power outages, tornado warnings, Presidential elections, and family feuds, King Arthur devised the round table so his knights could play Yahtzee. It's way too difficult to play Twister in full armor.

© 2013-2016 Nancy L. Ruder


A partridge in a pineapple tree

Not limiting bird ornaments to the partridge, so there are hummingbirds, cardinals, owls, bluebirds, roadrunners, meadowlarks, and origami cranes on the pineapple. It only held a fraction of my bird ornaments. My mom loved birds, and she loved ornaments, so this little "Christmas tree" reminds me of Fritzi.

Maybe I should have left the pineapple outside on the stair landing when the frigid weather hit, but this silly plant has been outperforming expectations since July 2015 when I chopped it off the fruit and stuck it in dirt for a nature kids class.

The pineapple is also a bromeliad, a plant I've painted many times. If I keep this baby alive for another year and a half it might produce fruit. The two of us still have adventures ahead.


© 2013-2016 Nancy L. Ruder


Walmart dropping

So many reasons to resist a trip to Walmart, but there it is. I feel Wendell Berry angst every time I go pick up a prescription at the small rural community killer, thanks to Bert Evans, Studs Terkel, Barbara Ehrenreich, and Centennial College.

Mostly I dread the post-apocalyptic flocks of mutant grackles grackling at full blast in the parking lot and taunting me from the roof of my Buick. Plus, one never knows what one will step in alighting from one's carriage.

Last night the grackles could not be heard over the howling wind. Steering my shopping cart against the gale was nearly impossible. Wind chill was eleven degrees.

Just six hours earlier I strolled in balmy seventy-degree air snapping phone photos of glorious leaf colors. And what weirdness propelled my mission to Walmart's pharmacy?

The voice mail said only, "Noses. I'm not getting Libby." It had to be code.

© 2013-2016 Nancy L. Ruder


Me & Paula Dean quiche

Me & Bobby McGee
Busted flat in Baton Rouge
Waitin' for the train
Feelin' nearly faded as my jeans
Bobby thumbed a diesel down
Just before it rained
Rode us all the way to New Orleans
I pulled my harpoon out of my dirty red bandanna
And was playing soft
While Bobby sang the blues
With them windshield wipers slappin' time
I was holdin' Bobby's hand in mine
We sang every song that driver knew
Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose
Nothin' ain't worth nothin' but it's free
Feelin' good was easy, Lord,
When he sang the blues
And feelin' good was good enough for me
Good enough for me and Bobby McGee
From Kentucky coal mines
To the California sun
Bobby shared the secrets of my soul
Through all kinds of weather, Lord
Through everything I done
Bobby baby
Spinach and Bacon Quiche
Total Time:
1 hr
15 min
45 min
Yield:8 servings
6 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Salt and pepper
2 cups chopped fresh baby spinach, packed
1 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
1 (9-inch) refrigerated pie crust, fitted to a 9-inch glass pie plate
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Combine the eggs, cream, salt, and pepper in a food processor or blender. Layer the spinach, bacon, and cheese in the bottom of the pie crust, then pour the egg mixture on top. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes until the egg mixture is set. Cut into 8 wedges.
Recipe courtesy of Paula Deen

© 2013-2016 Nancy L. Ruder

Cramped quarters -- freedom within structure?

Image result for gentleman in moscow

  • Amor Towles' novel, A Gentleman in Moscow begins with Count Alexander Rostov sentenced to lifetime house arrest in Moscow's Metropol Hotel for the crime of writing a poem. The count is removed from his suite in the hotel and sent to a sixth floor cubby of a room with a low ceiling and barely enough square footage for a pirouette. 
  • When the Woolly Mammoth and I visit the Whitney and I am fascinated by Andrea Zittell's 1993 "Living Unit." Everything one needs for life packed in a box!
  • For twenty years my walking buddy and I have been scouting places where we could live in a cardboard appliance box when we are old or broke.
  • My walking buddy just got a new refrigerator. Where is the box?
  • Also at the Whitney, a corrugated cardboard and notebook clip geodesic dome. Aw, Howie, why didn't we try that?!

  • I'm wishing for a snow day to hunker down under a quilt dome and read in a very condensed version of home. Om. Instead we get a the coldest temperatures in two years. I must bring in the ridiculously huge pineapple plant from my balcony. Its circumference is the same as my dining table. 
  • Nina, a major character in Towles' book, drops a pineapple off the Metropol's ballroom balcony to test Galileo's theories.
  • Like a Christmas tree the novel is a structure for hanging bright ornaments of philosophy, Cold War history, literary criticism, etiquette critiques, and Russian culture observations.
  • Where on earth would I fit a Christmas tree, fake or "real," in this apartment? Besides the giant floor space-eating pineapple plant there's the sweater drying contraption in the living room next to the ironing board.

© 2013-2016 Nancy L. Ruder


Drove my Chevy to the levee

It is/isn't going to be a good year for green. I am totally over my old College View Seventh Day Adventist asparagus casserole recipe. Maybe crushing the last of the garlic rye Gardetto's and throwing them into the mix in lieu of bread cubes was not the best choice. Intuitive cooks do not achieve consistent, repeatable (or edible) results.

Don McLean's anthem, "American Pie," was a mystery within a jingle in 1972, but when it burbled to the surface of my mud geyser brain it seemed to fit the collision of Trump's pick to head the EPA and Pantone's pick for the color or the year, Greenery (green).

Lee_Eisemann Pantone Color of the Year 2017 GREENERY
Well, the good news is we still have seasons for the time being. I already miss 2016 Rose Quartz.

© 2013-2016 Nancy L. Ruder


Fir tree financials

Financial philosophical conflicts can rear their fire-breathing dragon jaws in marriages during the holidays. Financial manipulation in a relationship can be subtle at first and seem caring, sparing financial worries to a harried spouse. It might appear as penny-pinching prudence for young students and newly weds. It can masquerade as a political statement against blatant commercial excess.

But if it feels like a one-sided move to separate you from your family holiday traditions pay attention.  A victim likely feels ashamed and apologizes for spending deemed frivolous by the controlling person in the relationship.

Financial abuse may only be visible in the rear-view mirror. Objects may be much closer than they appear! I urge everyone to check out the financial abuse information at the website of the National Network to End Domestic Violence. Not all forms of domestic abuse are physical or violent, but the effects of financial manipulation can have long term impacts over generations.

© 2013-2016 Nancy L. Ruder


Screened porch painter's fantasy


"I know that woman," I thought approaching the large painting of people on a screened porch. The woman looking in from outside on the far right was the lady I'd met before, but where?

The Woolly Mammoth and I were celebrating Black Friday with ever so many New Yorkers. in the "Human Interest: Portraits from the Whitney's Collection" exhibit. The last time we'd seen the woman was at the Hirshhorn in D.C., but I knew her from way back at the Sheldon Art Museum in Lincoln where she was acquired in 1962.

All that time it never occurred to me the artist Fairfield Porter might be a man. The Sheldon's painting seemed a descendant of Mary Cassatt to me with my inaccurate assumption. Various online sources tonight explain Fairfield was the brother of photographer Eliot Porter. The Woolly Mammoth and I shared an amazing Eliot Porter exhibit at the Amon Carter. The sources cite Vuillard and Bonnard as influences on Fairfield Porter, two of my favorites. I also see some Diebenkorn. Life is good. Art is fine. I'm so grateful to have a son who likes to visit art museums with his mom. 

AND how cool would it be to paint family portraits on a screened porch after a breakfast of hashed browns, scrambled eggs, polish sausage, and strong coffee in the chilly morning?

© 2013-2016 Nancy L. Ruder


Ptah and the Four Nums

Princess Peony, my granddaughter, created the universe through the thought of her heart and the utterance of "Ptah." She is totally in the toddler moment, and her special utterance happens to be the name of an ancient Egyptian god, one of those tightly wrapped dudes I vaguely recall from Peter Worth's art history class at UNL. You don't need a lot of words if you use one word with wisdom and generosity. I wanted to know what "Ptah" meant in toddler-speak. 

"Ptah" is a useful expression conferring multiple meanings by way of different tones, volumes, and punctuation. It's like "Dude," but without any negative connotations.

From Wikipedia:  

Ptah (ptä), in Egyptian religion, great god of Memphis. He was one of the important gods of ancient Egypt and, according to Memphite theology, created the universe through the thought of his heart and the utterance of his tongue. As master craftsman, he was a patron of metalworkers and artisans. The Greeks identified him with Hephaestus.

Pronunciation alternatives:

Anecdotal usage:

Received a "Num num num NUM" approval score.
  1. Peony recognizes a favorite object, points, and says, "Ptah!"
  2. Peony offers a favorite object to Grancy saying, "Ptah."
  3. Grancy gives it back, and Peony says,  "Ptah."
  4. Peony sees a favorite food on her highchair tray and excitedly demands a boost into her seat with, "Ptah!"
  5. Peony wants a favorite food or toy delivered quickly...
  6. She wants visitors to know she is favorably impressed with their presence in her realm,,,
  7. Daddy gets home..."PTAH!!"


Princess Peony utters "Ptah" to express pleasure, approval, significance, interpersonal connection, appreciation, the offering of a gift, wonder, the making of a request, recognition, adoration, and acknowledgment of existence in the present. Her "ptah" is pretty much the toddler equivalent of Ram Dass's BE HERE NOW.

© 2013-2016 Nancy L. Ruder


Thanksgiving losses, gains, and late hits

Tonight I'm thinking about my blog muse, and feeling very, very grateful for her encouragement to try the new-fangled concept of blogging back in '03. My dear friend Juliet, who shall remain nameless, thought I might enjoy trying a new creative outlet. She volunteered her early techie support, cheerleading, and the courage to read pretty much everything I sent out into the blogosphere. From this distance it's clear we were new friends then, just a couple steps up from acquaintances, what with "friending" not even a THING yet in that primitive era.

Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday having won that title when the Fourth of July became too nerve-wracking as a mom. All Thanksgiving asks is that we spend some time in mindfulness and gratitude. Everything else is gravy.

Thanksgiving does not insist on family, togetherness, football on tv, front yard football leading to dislocated collarbones, long-distance travel, TSA security checks, belief in the Pilgrims/Indians legend, agreement about cranberry or stuffing recipes, aprons, crockpots, brining, yams, family storytelling, or table decorations crafted by children out of toilet paper tubes. Family storytelling is preferrable to political arguments, though.

Over a lifetime I've observed Thanksgiving in many roles. I've been the mother, the child, the grandchild, the grandma, the host, the guest, the cook, the communication hub, the in-law, the parent without custody for the holiday, the parade balloon, the quarterback sack, all alone in nature, the charity case, the hospital kitchen worker, the sandwich generation caregiver, the griever, the teacher, the listener, the organizer, the raker, the pitted black olive thief, and the recorder.

The first Thanksgiving after losing a parent will be difficult, Dear. The pieces don't fit, the floor seems slanted, all conventions are off, but the family stories  bubble up from a long-plugged well. It's all good. The thoughts of many will be with you and your family. I'm thankful for you.

© 2013-2016 Nancy L. Ruder


Percolation palpitations

Ruth Ware's  The Woman in Cabin 10  is dredging physical memories of anxiety episodes twenty years past. Probably not the safest audiobook for my long commutes! Factor in the realization I forgot to turn off Mr. Coffee before my drive, and just blast me on-beyond-caffeine back to the panic planet.

How astonishing it is that our brains can connect squiggly black marks on a page or the syllables of a storyteller to personal memories of actual physical experiences deep in our past! Brain imaging would show an aurora borealis lighting up in our heads. And yes, "Aurora" is the name of the luxurious ship in Scandinavian waters in Ware's novel. Unfortunately that same astonishing brain can't remember to turn off the coffee maker.

The neglected old Mr. Coffee did not burn down the apartment building, but I'm not going to push my luck. That small appliance has the certain smell of doom. I need a coffee maker with an automatic shut-off.

...So the new miniature Brew&Go only makes enough coffee for one travel mug then turns off. I get a full sensory memory of every time I've made a tiny carafe of coffee in a hotel room without that twinge of concern about my memory halfway to work.

© 2013-2016 Nancy L. Ruder


Sun gets in my eyes

Alternate commute route. Alternate universe.

Went down Waterview after two mornings of dreadful drives, crashes, long delays, and emergency vehicles on expressways and arterials. Waterview is just a residential street through nice neighborhoods, sadly no longer a secret shortcut. There are 4-way stop intersections, small churches with changing messages on welcoming signs, mostly nicely mowed lawns.

Ronald Wright's "The Gold Eaters" in the cd player had just reached the epilogue wrap-up of hairy conquistadors and tweezed Incas when I spotted the pair of gold spray-painted yard flamingos standing planted next to a garage. Huh?

Back in the Sixties the summer library programs used to include traumatizing showings of the early Ray Harryhausen creepy puppet movie about King Midas and his daughter Marigold. Spray-paint was a new-fangled craft medium in those times, and scout troops gilded uncooked pasta, cigar boxes, and folded Readers Digest magazines, transforming cheap stuff into gold for festive kiddie Christmas gifts and sewing kits.

Four 4-way stops later I tried to focus on the message outside the little church. Was it political, or did I just need to clean my spectacles? Nevermind, it's all golden:


© 2013-2016 Nancy L. Ruder


Scrambled goldfish

"Maybe if you bought a goldfish your life would be more perky,"said the sneering plastic figurine balanced on my shoulder as I stared at the cracked egg 's happy yellow yolk. The coffee had not kicked in, and the fiendish bobblehead accurately read my perkiness deficit.

It's not pretty after a late night trying to win the next level on Ancestry.com. Your attitude stinks. Ain't nobody gonna tossle your hair and take you fishing, Opie. You can't keep hiding from current events in the upper branches of your family tree.

But still, there are some great names for imaginary goldfish in the high branches. Just today I found Keziah  Cooley. Elizabeth Knott Strange would be perfect for a molly. Patsy, Polly, and Phoebe are guppies. Maybe I should buy some neon tetras, since I have good names for them:

  • Bede is short for Obediance
  • Mitty is a nickname for Submit
  • Wealthy is short for paying the rent
  • Nellie is short for Eleanor
  • Bessie Veronica is just perfect for an early silent movie star
  • Minnie is short for Hermione
  • Hitty is short for Mehitabel

The coffee begins its magic. I could be Keziah Cooley, Private Detective.... 

© 2013-2016 Nancy L. Ruder


Birds in the chimney, bats in the belfry

About the third or fifth time, slowly, very slowly surfacing from dreams, the sounds Activate Alarm System. 
Snuffle, scritch, metallic clink
flutter, scuffle, tumble clunk 

Thank heaven I passed all the online training modules for such emergencies!

A. Brain scrolls memory for a match:
  1. Memory Hit Returned.
  2. 1992. Birds in chimney.
  3. Birds get loose in living room.
B. Sleep-fogged brain proposes Brilliant Plan of Action
  1. Pull blanket over head.
  2. Do not let toes touch floor.
  3. Call in to work explaining rabid rodents holding hostage in apartment.
C. Brain runs Snooze/Reboot/Reject Protocol:
  1. Alternate sensory filters added to search.
  2. New memory hit.
  3. Rattling crockpot lid on tomato veggie soup started before bedtime.

D. Awake brain Accepts Results/ Plan of Action B :
  1. Suck it up.
  2. Do not huddle in bunker.
  3. Make sandwich to go with savory soup for lunch.
  4. Walk boldly through cobwebs.

© 2013-2016 Nancy L. Ruder


Potsherds, POTUS, and hash browns

"Niggling" has nothing to do with eels, That's the good news. Something has been niggling in my brain. It's a relief to know that eels, one of the few creatures that completely creep me out, are not involved. Can you imagine if you went to your precinct polling place at seven a.m. on November eighth  and it was full of eels?! Can this nightmare of a presidential campaign get any creepier?

"Sniggling" is a crossword puzzle answer for the clue "catching eels by hand." Banish that visual! Don't trap me in that weir! We are here to talk about politics, potshards, and hash brown potatoes. We are here to talk about casting ballots, not about smashing crockery against the kitchen walls.

In Mrs. Williams' Graeco-Roman history class we learned the backstory of ostracism. Yesterday's New Yorker Borowitz Report satire blog post said President Obama had signed an executive order requiring the loser of the presidential election to leave the country November ninth so healing could begin.  Niggle...niggle...

The ancient Athenians voted to banish persons deemed threats to their liberties, their democracy, their government. Voters scratched the names of those dangerous persons on bits of broken clay pots (reduce, reuse, recycle, remove!) and whoever received a significant pile of potsherds had to hit the road, Jack, for ten years.

Bits of broken pottery are called potshards or potsherds by archaeologists, and etymologically known as ostracons for the ancient Athenians. Being ostracized in Athens was more extreme than sitting alone in the dismal January noon junior high cafeteria while the popular kids were hurling canned peas at the frosty windows with spoon catapults. Ostracism was an ancient Athenian badge of popularity, persuasion, and power while being shown to the EXIT. That's why the junior high pea-catapulters gloated all the way to the principal's office!


Upside of an unbearable campaign

Can't listen to the radio on my long commutes. The news makes pledge drives seem delightful by comparison. Best audiobooks of this excruciating presidential campaign:

Everybody's Fool   A Hero of France (Night Soldiers, #14) 
The DovekeepersThe House at the Edge of NightThe Silence of the Sea (Þóra Guðmundsdóttir, #6)
  Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man’s Fight for Justice

M Train
© 2013-2016 Nancy L. Ruder


Bazooka Joe vs.Pepto Bismol in the battle against breast cancer

We are all wearing pink t-shirts on October Fridays for breast cancer awareness. Our t-shirts mostly make me aware how difficult it is to accurately capture color with a camera, display it online, or describe it in words. Coworkers agree the shirts are "pink", but there are so very many pinks in the world!

How do we capture color? How do we describe color? How much emotion is packed into color? How many chemicals? Is the pink natural or artificial?

Capturing the exact pink of the shirts has been a big fail. I've tried photos with and without flash, in daylight and under CFL lights, In desperation I scanned a sleeve. No go.

My coworkers call the shirts "Pepto-Bismol pink". Not just to be argumentative, I insist the color is more Bazooka Bubble Gum pink. A bit warmer, slightly less blue and more saturated...more technicolor. It might glow in the dusk...

...filled with favorite childhood memories of the gum, lollipop, and balloon each child received from the bartender after a fried chicken dinner at Lee's Restaurant. What fun to head home opening the gum wrapper to find a Bazooka Joe comic.

Will the shirts bleed? Will they fade? These are practical consideration as well as descriptors. So far my shirt has not turned any items pink in the laundry. It seems unfaded.

On the moisture scale, Pepto-Bismol pink is chalkier, more white-knuckle gripping the dash when you feel queasy in the mountains. Chewing a tablet or chugging it straight from the bottle is not the same color as a celebration with Bazooka gum.

Our shirts are the color of neon flamingos after a big supper of Disney animated shrimp in a salty bay. They need the organic quality of saliva and some Beach Boys playing on the car radio...

These shirts are more begonia than vinca, more Midge than Barbie, more beauty salon than OB/Gyn surprisingly. That must hint at acetone and jobs dependent on customer tips. This pink could be frozen then deep-fried at the state fair. It is not the right pink for the baby's crib, the flower girl dress, or frosting cake donuts.

The succulent hen and chicks plant out on the balcony is blooming. The little blooms are lovely, but this means the hen is about to die.

Check out Pantone Bubble Gum hereolor

Properties of Colors

The scientific description of color, or colorimetry, involves the specification of all relevant properties of a color either subjectively or objectively. The subjective description gives the hue, saturation, and lightness or brightness of a color. Hue refers to what is commonly called color, i.e., red, green, blue-green, orange, etc. Saturation refers to the richness of a hue as compared to a gray of the same brightness; in some color notation systems, saturation is also known as chroma. The brightness of a light source or the lightness of an opaque object is measured on a scale ranging from dim to bright for a source or from black to white for an opaque object (or from black to colorless for a transparent object). In some systems, brightness is called value. A subjective color notation system provides comparison samples of colors rated according to these three properties. In an objective system for color description, the corresponding properties are dominant wavelength, purity, and luminance. Much of the research in objective color description has been carried out in cooperation with the Commission Internationale de l'Eclairage (CIE), which has set standards for such measurements. In addition to the description of color according to these physical and psychological standards, a number of color-related physiological and psychological phenomena have been studied. These include color constancy under varying viewing conditions, color contrast, afterimages, and advancing and retreating colors.
© 2013-2016 Nancy L. Ruder


The mummy of the groom toast and the haunted hotel

"Boodmo" (Будьмо) is Ukrainian for "cheers"  ...

Now that my brief moment of fame as the ToastMama is over, I have to admit it was fun. My ancestors were Ukrainian, Bohemian, German, Irish, and English, but I must be part ham.

ToastMama is different from MummyToast. Food Network Magazine mummy toast is made with string cheese, sliced black olives, pizza sauce and toast. When I get to the store to buy bread, I plan to make an avocado version. Sure beats those weird wax lips for Halloween.

After checking in at the haunted hotel in Baltimore's Fell's Point area it was time for serious speech practicing in front of the mirror. But the menu  on the desk for the meatball sub restaurant next door was haunting my hungry thoughts. How could I concentrate on toasts, hosts, satin slippers, and parallel parking with that distraction?

After our subs and a local brew, the groom and I walked around in the gray rain looking at boats.

Two mangled tidbits of advice I couldn't work into the speech, with fond memories of my former sister-in-law:

  • If the shoe fits, buy it.
  • Every hat has a silver lining.

© 2013-2016 Nancy L. Ruder


Toast-it postie notes

Fear itself. OR death, taxes. Oh! No! Public Speaking!

Maybe I'm just too ______________________ to worry. (Choose one)

  • Old, crusty, cantankerous
  • Proud, happy, relaxed
  • Rich, famous, beautiful

Memory options:

  • Teleprompter
  • Writing on my arm with Sharpies
  • Post-it notes
  • Index cards
  • Outlines with Roman numerals and indentations typed with carbon paper

Friendly advice:

  1. NO potty-training stories
  2. Practice in front of a mirror
  3. Using sock puppets would cover up my pretty manicure

Preschool teaching experience suggests:

  • Bring visual aids
  • Use sensory vocabulary and images
  • Ask everyone to sit criss-cross applesauce

Examples from a Toast Yoda:

  • A toast is a gift
  • It's not about me
  • Enjoy the moment 
  • Make it personal for the audience
  • Make them laugh

On the third rewrite of the fourth attempt of a toast for the wedding reception of my all-grown-up youngest son and his stellar bride I had one of those flashbacks our Health teachers predicted. I think I hyperventilated.

But then Jolene Walker, my junior high speech teacher seemed pleased I've finally fought my fear of public speaking to a draw. Really, now. Would you rather debate Donald Trump on national t.v. or deliver a three-minute how-to speech about broiling T-bone steaks to a classroom of junior high smart-ass teasing tormentors?

© 2013-2016 Nancy L. Ruder


Personal hygiene -- Your fronds will appreciate it!

Waiting for the coffee maker, staring out the window at the swim pool while squinting sidelong looks for ants around the kitchen sink, the sturdy middle school guy in the black t-shirt and black shorts is duly noted. Poor kid. He's gonna hit the Coke machine for his breakfast before he gets on the schoolbus. What's wrong with his parents? Why can't they feed him a nutritious bowl of oatmeal or something for the most important meal of the day.


Well, yeah, my kids ate a whole lotta Honey Nut Cheerios until they got old enough to appreciate a cuppa coffee before 8:00 class. They knew not to expect meaningful conversation from Mom at that hour. She just had to get their picky-eater lunchboxes packed. Best mornings had bacon and pancakes with Aunt Jemima syrup. I apologize to their teachers for the sugar rushes.

This kid in black out there by the swim pool is not getting a Coke. He keeps pacing around, then trying to relax on a pool lounge chair, then pacing again, looking over the fence to see if the bus is coming. He hollers at kids walking to the bus stop.

Someone throws something over the fence to the sturdy kid. He's looking for some privacy. Geez. Don't let him be shooting up! I don't want to see. I can't stop watching.

The kid in black's climbing between the palm fronds of the swim pool landscape that is intended to make the complex exude exotic luxury vibes. Crap. He's not gonna get undressed, please Jesus! I've seen a lot of things out by the pool from my kitchen window. That bobcat drinking that one time, the annual meeting of the mallard males, kids doing their best to get hit by lightning making me really nervous, a wise shaman barbecuing ribs on the gas grill...

This kid in the fronds, though, is reaching up under his shirt to first one pit, and then the other. He is putting on deodorant. He steps out from the fronds and walks to the fence, tossing the deodorant to someone. He arranges himself, then heads out the pool gate. Maybe he will get to sit by the cute girl with earbuds and violin case.

I think I can I think I can get moving. The coffee is ready. Life is good. My job is not driving a school bus full of sweating hormone-exploding middle school kids on ninety degree days.

Tomorrow the coffee maker will chug and gurgle again. Tonight I stare out the kitchen window at the Coke machine down at the pool. Did the sturdy kid do some homework? Did he have a chance to shower, squirt some Frebreez in his shoes? Will the bus driver be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed pulling up to load the kids Friday morning?

© 2013-2016 Nancy L. Ruder


The House At the Edge of Night

I have traveled so little, but I know we bring to to each new place and experience a brain desperately trying to make connections and draw parallels with previously visited places, to pull stories, histories, mental images, and other stimuli from the deep stacks and vertical files. Indeed, I think our brains are a bit like tiny shushing librarians in sensible shoes racing to be more spot on than Google. At the end of the day their support stockings sag, but they have won.

And so, in Sardinia images of scruffy New Mexico landscapes, Puccini opera stage sets, magical realism with/without cholera, Great War-era genealogical trees, watercolor mixing lectures, and Escher dorm room posters flooded my dreams and daytime musings. 

These three tiny clay houses smaller than my thumb are my main souvenir. They represent Alghero, but also remind me of the Alexander Girard arrangements of miniature villages and processions at the International Folk Art Museum in Santa Fe. I hear the church bells and shepherd's song at the beginning of Tosca Act III, see the fortress in Carmen

Listening to the audiobook of Catherine Banner's House at the Edge of Night was a perfect appetizer for my trip. I highly recommend this family saga set on a fictional island near Sicily if you are traveling or just taking your inner librarian on a much-deserved cruise.

War memorial in Stintino

© 2013-2016 Nancy L. Ruder