Death by Webinar

There are still a few bugs to research before I write my murder mystery. Like how did the murderer do it when the door was locked from the inside??!!  

The trainer/host had a smiling caricature avatar in the upper right hand corner of our screens, but a severe upper respiratory infection on audio. His review of interlibrary lending procedures in the consortium was frequently interrupted. A participant with an unmuted mike had a more fun-loving office.
Resistance is futile

Since we've built up resistance to Power Point presentations, our captors have created the next ring of hell -- Death by Webinar. You want to sleep. You need sleep. But you must not sleep in the office. The scratchy audio makes your skin itch, your nose run, but you can't move. You can't move your mouse. In fact, to do so would be sure death. You are trapped by inertia and duct-taped into your swivel chair.

You must watch the screen with the invisible hand moving the cursor around in vague motions. There are no facial expressions or hand gestures to help you interpret your captor's utterances. Questions devoid of grammar and punctuation appear in the chat box. How long can this go on? You've been signed in for, what, 98 minutes already. There is no chocolate anywhere.

So let me offer some reading suggestions to relax after your killer commute:

  • Death by Downloadable Audiobook
  • Death with Scheduled Upgrade
  • Death Created an IT Ticket
  • Your Password Expired and You Ain't Lookin' So Good Yo'self

© 2013-2016 Nancy L. Ruder


Uber glass slipper moment

Pulled into a parking place near work all in a frazzle because it was raining and one of the Buick windows declined to "roll" up. Getting out to inspect the situation I noticed a  man in a safari vest running up the sidewalk toward me, talking on his cell phone, and looking hopeful.

This is the first time I've ever been mistaken for an Uber driver. The car he was seeking was across the street and down the block. He was kind of cute for a confused white-haired guy standing in front of a razed lot where only one tree, a rustic kids' treehouse, and a For Sale sign remain.

The library is acquiring more romance paperbacks and ebooks lately of both the satin-dressed heiress and unbuttoned cowboy shirt varieties. Perhaps there's room on the shelves for some mistaken Uber contemporary romances. Some enchanted morning you may see a stranger across a crowded road...

,,,But for now I must rig up a trash bag with packing tape to keep the rain out of my pumpkin carriage until I can get to the car repair shop.

© 2013-2016 Nancy L. Ruder


Step Inside This House

Tonight I am filled with gratitude for the two gracious, kind, wise women named Janie who independently and separately introduced me to the music and storytelling of Guy Clark twenty years or so ago when that was exactly what I needed.

Hold this piece of glass up to the light comin' through the door.

© 2013-2016 Nancy L. Ruder


Petal dancer

On this, her nineteenth birthday, I celebrate my niece with blossoms and dance and petals, not for the first time. She is a poised, strong woman who acts on her convictions, lives comfortably in her own skin, and moves with style and grace. Clearly she is not related to my college freshman self!

 Geographical distance has limited our niece/aunt connection. Sad to say, when we were together it was often in high stress situations. I'm hoping she wasn't scarred for life.  She has an artist's eye, and I've always wanted to send her gifts for making art or of my creations. This year the gift is finished, but not yet in the mail.

Through sloggish commutes the audiobook, Art of Grace, by Sarah L. Kaufman plays on in the Buick. Its many good points are diluted through excessive repetition. Much as I love Cary Grant movies, is the actor really a saint?

Life maintenance tasks were shoved to the back burner this day off. Peony buds were blooming--

© 2013-2016 Nancy L. Ruder


Mystified frosted flakes in a concealed-carry world

Life feels SO serious lately, what with candidates as pleasant a gagging on a tongue-depressor, endless pledge drives, and the death of the department store. We need mystery fiction, cozy, historic, romantic, with or without cocker spaniels. Throw in some biplanes, dessert recipes, and secrets in an Antiques Roadshow clock. 

Library work is rarely glamorous, but it does have publisher blurbs inside dust jackets that inspire curiousity, wonder, and wacky visuals!

It's another day of agony at the dentist's office for ninety-two-year-old poet-sleuth Victoria Trumbull when a fellow patient, wealthy Mrs. Wilmington, dies in the next cubicle. It's an unfortunate, though seemingly not murderous incident, but the receptionist is hysterical. With the police shorthanded due to an upcoming presidential visit, Victoria takes on the case. As she wrestles with her ex-son-in-law, a three-million-dollar will, four greedy heirs, and a deadly dental clinic, Mrs. Trumbull discovers that nothing in the case is quite what it seems-- Adapted from dust jacket flap of Bloodroot by Cynthia Riggs.

  1. 92-year-old
  2. wrestling 
  3. ex-son-in-law
  4. dental agony
  5. poet-sleuth
I want to be there when the 92-year-old poet-sleuth wrestles her ex-son-in-law over three-million-dollars just to see the hyphens fly.

Texas gun culture and workplaces don't mix on multiple levels. Governing bodies are trying to set policies for carrying concealed weapons on the job. It's been a bad couple weeks in the Man vs. Machine category with recalcitrant printers, obstinate computers, and demon-possessed coffee-makers. I shot the copier, but I didn't shoot no vending machine. 

In other workplace mysteries, I accidentally looked inside the break room fridge.  Birthday Cake @ 3:00 Today introduces plucky human resources professional Jemima Benefits who must find the killer in this forensic culinary thriller before moldy leftovers claim another victim. Sequel May 2017  working title:  Case of the Queso Crockpot.

Remember this -- any workday when you don't show up on the nightly news is a good day. Don't wrestle, write haiku.

© 2013-2016 Nancy L. Ruder


Another day, another donut

Work is on my mind. It keeps circling and surfacing, diving deep, getting mired, then bobbing up like the bloated drowning victim on the PBS detective series... Okay, maybe not bloated, but recurring.

I leave my job duties most days at the office, but the concept of work follows through waking and sleeping hours. Dreams of my first job, my worst job, my most inadequate moments as a classroom teacher take on an Escher repetition.

Jobs are not the same as work. I've never had a career, but I suspect a career is not the same as  a job. "Career" hints at a commitment to a profession and a reserved parking space. A "job" may or may not have the same type of commitment, and rarely rates the parking space. Over the years I've met some impressive people with enormous commitment to work that is often unpleasant, but who do it with grace and dignity. 

Facebook is full of photos of moms this week, and mothers deserves respect and gratitude. Parents aren't the only people out there changing diapers. I'm overwhelmed again at the excellent, patient, gracious care my father received in his dementia and decline.  The big-spirited woman with the sense of humor and personality plus who managed angry, bedridden Dad when he removed his soiled Depends and threw it across the room at the Clock of Vicious Time was working for more than a paycheck.

Way back just after the dinosaurs died out I read Studs Terkel's book Working for a Centennial College project. Decades later I come back to the quote, "Jobs are not big enough for people."

“Work is about a search for daily meaning as well as daily bread, for recognition as well as cash, for astonishment rather than torpor; in short, for a sort of life rather than a Monday through Friday sort of dying.” 

“I think most of us are looking for a calling, not a job. Most of us, like the assembly-line worker, have jobs that are too small for our spirit. Jobs are not big enough for people.” 
― Studs TerkelWorking: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do

I'm stewing on bullying and disrespect in the workplace after last week's racial profiling session, not just police officer to citizen, or boss to peon, but also between coworkers. Some people just never seem to get beyond middle school in their behavior!

In the Centennial College "Work Project" we discussed Protestant work ethic along with calling and vocation.  How do you think the idea and practice of a work ethic changed from the Greatest Generation through the Baby Boomers, and now the Millennials?

Cataloged Callings by Dave Isay today. It's subtitled "The purpose and passion of work".   Adding it to my must-read list along with David Shipler's Working Poor.


Tonight I'm saluting the work ethic of a young man with a passion for airplanes and a commitment to doing 100% at every single task. I am so proud of the person he's become.

© 2013-2016 Nancy L. Ruder


Reptile profiling

The word for the week is "profiling".  A papercut profile of my granddaughter arrived in the mail for Mother's Day and reminded me of that most dastardly of spelling test words:


I appreciate the skill required now, but as a child I found these framed family images on neighbors' walls confusing. Peter Pan's missing shadow was all mixed up with our February presidents, Washington and Lincoln. The girl shadow pictures were Martha, Tinkerbell, and Betsy Ross. 

Diverse turtles sharing a log in March 2016
Racial profiling training lasted three hours Thursday.  It wasn't a how-to workshop, but more of an employee awareness session. Distilling the class content into applicable bullet points basically:

  • Live by the Golden Rule
  • Be professional, courteous, kind, gracious
  • Be prudent on social media
  • It's all about others' perceptions of disparity in treatment
  • Don't bring reptiles into the library
  • All persons openly carrying a live, crawly turtle with scratchy toenails into the library should receive equal treatment.
  • De-escalate library patron/reptile/staff interactions to prevent snapping.
  • Concealed carry reptile policies are being drafted for council approval.

© 2013-2016 Nancy L. Ruder



Once upon a time, a very long time ago now, about last Friday, the Woolly Mammoth lived in a forest all by himself under the name of Fargo, dude.

© 2013-2016 Nancy L. Ruder


Blue is my world now I'm without you

Health class teachers warned us about flashbacks. They could occur at any time because of dangerous choices we might make in our adolescent years. White Rabbit... Stairway to Heaven... Truckin'... These might sneak up on us at any time in our life and we'd be sent straight to the loony bin.

I didn't expect to have a severe flashback while waiting my turn to have fabric cut in JoAnns. Nobody expects the Paul Mauriat "L'Amour Est Bleu" flashback. My mental turntable was spinning at 45 r.p.m., a floral corduroy Nehru dress was floating above my eyes. I'm sure I was on my back in a yard of mostly crabgrass and clover with a transistor radio earpiece wrapped around my ear, clutching the KLMS 1480 Superhit 1+ 48 Survey.

Factoid: Paul Mauriat's orchestra easy listening single was a number one hit in the U.S. for five weeks in early 1968, the only record by a French artist to every be #1, and the second longest instrumental behind the theme from "A Summer Place". Oh, geez, I never even warned my sons about the dangers of Percy Faith and his Orchestra! Talk about a gateway drug!!

Too much squinting at the sun and then at my watch might have been the trigger. Used the last square of cyanotype fabric in our short patch of sunshine, and rushed to order more. How would a sunprint addict make it until delivery?

Of course, by choosing blue quilt fabrics at JoAnns...

© 2013-2016 Nancy L. Ruder