Stand-off continues

Now starting its second week, you refuse to back down. Fox News is celebrating my neighbor's standoff with the apartment garbage collection service. Wave your flag!

Our apartment complex has an alleged amenity known as "valet trash". Five nights each week the valet climbs every stairway to retrieve bagged trash from our front doorways. We will not discuss my complaints about the trash truck's blaring radio in the wee hours, or the way the valet guy bashed the holiday lights on the stair rail. Tonight we are focused on your freedom to disregard the directions.

The lease instructions are pretty clear that trash haulers will pick up bagged garbage. The hauler will place your bag-o-trash into one of the two giant bags hanging from his shoulder yoke, and then run back down the stairs to the pickup truck with the blaring music.The haulers will not take garbage they can't grab, such as your chip box and giant detergent bottle.

If the "waste concierge" cannot grab and lift your garbage, it will be left outside your door. Tonight. And tomorrow night. And the next night....  If you set out a bag of used Pampers next to the chip box and laundry detergent bottle the stair-climbing garbage bag retriever will collect the bag, but leave the other stuff.

That windy day all your trash in the paper sack inside the chip box blew away, floating like rabid jellyfish around the apartment complex until it snagged on that tree by the creek. When it rained the napkins and paper towels became lumps of papier mache on the stairs. Heaven knows what critter's been gnawing on those paper plates.

You have the spine of Ted Cruz, the spleen of Sara Palin, and the spittle of Donald Trump. You will not back down. You will not squash the box and bottle and stuff them in a garbage bag. You will not bow to the federal government, and just carry the stuff the half block to the dumpster.

© 2013-2016 Nancy L. Ruder


Doing real work, not pretend

Sure, the thrill will wear off in a few years, but I love my little office. I love that it's off the map and barely on the floorplan. I love working with new library books. The $5.00 spent on tasteful magnets makes me happy. I'm plotting to put potted plants on the window sill.

My working life has been spent in art rooms, art supply closets, preschool classrooms, lunch rooms, and nap rooms. I've stood outside all day in every weather, hung around circulations desks, ladled up cream-O-wheat, and been out standing in my field of chiggers and ragweed. This is the cubicle I've always wanted!

Plotted : A Literary Atlas doesn't include Jo March's attic garret or Cinderella's hearth, but it has amazing maps for book junkies and fiction cartophiles. Andrew DeGraff throws in a bit of M.C. Escher, too. Try it, you'll like it!

© 2013-2016 Nancy L. Ruder


White out

Unprepared for the sudden snowstorm on a weekend trip to Grandma's house, we fashioned booties of aluminum foil and plastic bags to get out in the snow, 1967. A chronically "special" visitor to the library wear hats, foil helmets to protect from space rays, plastic bags like shower caps. Toilet paper bandages wrap around Jacob Marley's toothache. A Salvador Dali mustache of twisted Kleenex, 2016..

We are all in our assorted mental blizzards and white obsessions. Sometimes digging out. Other times hunkering down. Staying in touch with my family members in the East Coast blizzard this weekend. Watched the cell phone video of the bulldog running in the snow. The bulldog is sometimes running upside down or sideways.

Family vehicle owners shovel and shiver. Those who rely on mass transit play Monopoly, take artistic photos, and run low on wine. A good reason not to own a car!

I'm not making much progress reading Edmund de Waal's White Road : A Journey Into Obsession about porcelain and white clay. The book reviews didn't mention it was nap-inducing!

Cutthroat Monopoly : That sibling with the evil landlord gene. Piling on the houses and hotels, Park Place .Boardwalk. Making you PAY. What do you remember about blizzards? I spy with my little eye a lot of white:

White-haired great aunts and spinster schoolteachers doing jigsaw puzzles at folding card tables. Popcorn shooting from the air popper; potato soup with homemade egg noodles; wind-sculpted drifts overhanging roof eaves; staying under the quilt with Kerouac's On the Road and a bottle of port. That wine stain is still on the white quilt. Being trapped with the dorm roommate who played Nights in White Satin and A Whiter Shade of Pale over and over. The world covered in clean white snow before it all gets ring around the collar.

© 2013-2016 Nancy L. Ruder


Blame it on W.E.B.

My headache is enormous, and may yet hatch a dinosaur goddess--Athena cluck-plucking straight out of Zeus's forehead in full stegosaurus armor.

A continuing struggle with the cataloging Authority over the standardized name form for W.E. Butterworth, (William Edmund) , 1929-   aka  W.E.B. Griffin is the probable headache cause. He has about eleven pseudonyms and three variations of his name.

I find no indications W.E.B. is related to Oliver Butterworth, author of the wonderful children's book, The Enormous Egg.

Can't find on-line confirmation of the Mrs. Butterworth's pancake syrup advertising jingle stuck in my head. Self doubt enters sneering stage left. Am I maple-y, butter-y losing my marbles?

 I'm telling you this song was almost as major as the Oscar Mayer baloney jingle.

How do you do, Mrs. Butterworth's?
How do you do today?
You make pancakes delicious
When you bow down this way.
Maple-y, Maple-y taste.
Buttery, Buttery taste.
Mrs. Butterworth's! 

At least the bologna has a first name, O-S-C-A-R. The bologna has a second name, M-A-Y-E-R. 

Author, annoy not the cataloger, 
or your name will be baloney.

© 2013-2016 Nancy L. Ruder


Omens with/without alligators

The white dribbled from the cracked shell right down the tiny space between the kitchen counter and the side of the range. That the oven was preheating was a bonus/curse. I could not move the darn major home appliance to clean up the mess. Still, with enough baking and broiling the egg white might petrify and prock off.*

It was not a good beginning, and I was already rattled about the alligator recipe dream. I mean really, how many limes does it take to marinate alligator steaks? Why doesn't my cell phone ever work in dreams?

Did I start the day over, as we used to advise the preschoolers? No. I went forth into the world and got a ticket in a school zone. Truly, I shoulda stood in bed.

Standing on the bed to dust the ceiling fan, I remembered how Grandma Halma broke her hip falling off a stepstool when balancing herself with a broomstick to replace the bulb in the hanging light over the chenille bedspread in the pink room. Grandma did not have a smart phone or a life alert button. She dragged herself through the house to the telephone in the living room to call  0 for operator. Halma coulda cooked a mean alligator, though.

"Prock off" was a weird expression used by Halma. Scabs prock off. Crusty stuff procks off surfaces. I can't find an origin for the idiom when things dry up, crumble, and fall away.

Reading Rick Moody's Hotels of North America consisting of fictional online motel ratings posts brings me to consideration of crusty stuff procking or not off. I nod, gasp, and chuckle behind my hand. My own essay collection of childhood vacations, "Memories of the Blue Fox Motel," still hasn't got past the title page.

We coulda, shoulda, woulda played  or ploud.

Halma played pinochle, cribbage, bridge, and any game that was going. [I am a card game failure. After Crazy 8s it just didn't connect.] In the blink of an eye between rounds, Halma would whomp up a midnight supper of pressed chicken sandwiches, or steamed tamales.

Just finished Empire of Deception, the account of frauds and swindles perpetrated by Leo Koretz in 1920's Chicago. Koretz out-ponzied Ponzi, and set a shining example for Bernie Madoff. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

© 2013-2016 Nancy L. Ruder


The belated but still Coveted Nancy Awards

The judges have finally announced the 2015 recipients of the Coveted Nancy Awards for fine literary consumption at the breakfast table and on the morning commute. I do much of my best "reading" while inching along on the expressway. My new office is a grown-up version of the private cereal box reading fort.

Recollecting the reading of 2015 is easier now with Goodreads.com. The website can be a time suck, but it's been better than my previous list attempts.

The 2015 awards go to:

  • Audiobooks narrated by Patti Smith -- as addictive as jalapeno/sea salt peanuts.
  • Author of the Year Award to Erik Larson -- 4 titles including the
  • Nonfiction Award to Dead Wake
  • Fiction Award to Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler
  • Most Unrewarding Slog Award to Anna Karenina

Previous recipients can be found at the links below:




2012 link not working, but the memorable titles were The Tiger's Wife, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, and Quiet: The Power of Introverts.

Goal for 2016: To spend more weekend morning time reading bundled between quilts and pillows the way I did as a kid. My mom, Fritzi, just required us to be up and dressed by noon. Someday I will have to write about books shared with Fritzi who passed away eleven years ago today. O, Best Beloved!

© 2013-2016 Nancy L. Ruder


My life as a charm bracelet

Sixth grade snags aqua mohair
Trout's flashing tail caught in so much monofilament

Significant animals exchange idle chitchat with Neil Armstrong
first man on the

Barnum and Bailey moon hanging up in the I-80 Stuckey's sky
Chipmunk souvenir

Old woman chooses new shoe hue repainting touching up

Mermaid in the museum with the crayon Clue.
Lizard and owl pea green boat

So many children didn't know what to do didn't know what to do
Sailboat escape

© 2013-2016 Nancy L. Ruder


The tiny niggle of dissatisfaction

Thank heaven the etymology of "niggle" seems to bear no trace of eels. Eels give me the willies. The word is probably late-16th century Scandinavian. My big red American Heritage Dictionary is atop one of the heaps of books on the floor, and so the verb niggle, -gled, -gling, -gles, is 1. To be preoccupied with trifles; worry over petty details; fret. 2. To keep finding fault: complain trivially; carp.

The adjective niggling leads to fussy via 1. Excessively concerned with details. Niggardly seems akin to stingy and miserly.
Upon first googling niggle: Syllabification: nig·gle Pronunciation: /ˈniɡəl/ I find the verb meaning Cause slight but persistent annoyance, discomfort, or anxiety: a suspicion niggled at the back of her mind, and the adjective niggling aches and pains.

The pea under the mattress of this whole niggle was the shortage of illumination provided by the golden globe hanging lamp over the breakfast table. Fritzi was always crabby if there wasn't enough light at the dinner table. The golden globe is an ugly retro piece that goes with the apartment. It never provides enough light to read while sipping coffee or other beverages, and it makes me almost as crabby as my mother.

As I wanted to finish the 95% delightful novel by Patrick DeWitt, Undermajordomo Minor, on my day off, the slight but persistent annoyance grew into a giant beanstalk of a plan to do a major reorganization of my apartment without the help of seven dwarfs whistling. 

Home Depot had no hanging lamp globes to replace the golden one. Target lacked cashiers, so I walked away from a cart of organization housewares spruce-ups. If Target goes belly-up, you will know why.

My week's reading of Michael Cunningham's The Wild Swan plus Undermajordomo Minor is the most fun following bread crumbs trails I've had since The Tiger's Wife and Night Circus. Tom Stoppard and Tom Robbins seemed to ride in my bindle on a stick. 

The apartment is still in upheaval, but I feel much lighter.

© 2013-2016 Nancy L. Ruder


Pantone trending office decor

2016 promises to be excellent based solely on the announcement of Pantone's Colors of the Year: Rose Quartz and Serenity. Not "Baby Pink" and "Baby Blue", these colors are chillier, more elemental and glacial.

The Pantone copy mentions "mellowing" and "mindfulness", "reassurance" and "security", "gender equality and fluidity". I'm hoping for just a hint of reassuring clarity, or at least translucence. Should hell freeze over and Trump become President, I will be signing on to any ship seeking the Northwest Passage.

In my winter funk I celebrate the translucence of rose quartz and the magic of its name for young rock collectors. Removing my heavy silver and Picasso marble earrings this evening was a lesson in the enduring magic of names. "Tiger eye", "snowflake obsidian", and "fool's gold" tumble in my mind with gypsum, talc, mica, jasper, agate, geodes, calcite, and playground "pea gravel".

Pantone is a system for communicating color specifications across mediums, but is its color of the year a prediction or a report? Thank heaven 2015's color, Marsala, has passed the crown to Miss Quartz. Call it a fortified wine if you wish, but marsala was a bit too rotting fruit and bodily fluids for me, with a Lubbock dust storm stirred in.

The rose quartz in the photo is fist-size. I've had it for decades sunk in aquariums. Remove algae accumulation in the dishwasher or a bath with Efferdent fizzy denture cleaners. Then it's ready to make my new office totally trendy.

© 2013-2016 Nancy L. Ruder

Flanless in the kitchen, six p.m.

My walking buddy complains her flannel pajamas are no longer warm, cheery, or comforting on these very long nights of early winter.. The thrill is gone, as is the flannel fuzz. We long to don our happy jammies about 6:27 p.m., or maybe earlier after a rough day. Being flannel-threadbare is bad news, indeed. It's discouraging to be flanless.

Tis the best time of year for waffle suppers, Boy Scout troop pancake feeds, or German egg pancakes--eggy, soft, warm, crusty. Eggy, but not a custard, so the French "flan" is not the chilly word of the evening. So what is flannel? The origin is Welsh. It could be wool, but I'm thinking of this:

...a soft, warm, light fabric of cotton or cotton and another fiber, thickly napped on one side and used for sleepwear, undergarments, sheets, etc. 

Thickly napped! Sounds like a lifestyle!

When the fuzz has departed your grannie-style nightgown, is the right term for the garment "deflanned"? "Disflanned"? "Unflanned"? Doesn't sound good, but it might be better than being fleeced or defleeced.

Dr. Seuss characters all look like they are wearing delightfully saggy jammies of flannel , fleece, or knee-stretched Walmart sweatsuits. My tiny granddoggy sports a new Schnorkie Nordic parka with reflective stripes and red fleece lining. 

Stay warm. Read under the quilt.

© 2013-2016 Nancy L. Ruder


Go Share Make Be

All Gaul is divided into four parts, or maybe five. So Julius Caesar emails Brutus, Cassius, and Casca a link to Survey Monkey to take a personality quiz.

2015 will go down as The Year of the Personality Type Surveys

Learning styles
  • visual
  • tactile 
  • auditory 
Don't tell me you have provided a printout of the Power Point so nobody has to take notes! If I can't take notes, I'm outta here no matter how good the snacks look. If there are no snacks, forget it!

Calm/Storm workplace communications  This survey yielded colors and numbers I never did understand. The quiz was based on the Friendly Press style profile for coworkers. Results and categorizations of staff based on this survey were disputed adding to workplace discomfort.*

Team player type
  • collaborator
  • contributor 
  • communicator 
  • challenger
True Colors 
  • green--inventive, conceptual, complex
  • gold--responsible, loyal, conventional
  • blue--compassionate, poetic, dramatic
  • orange--active, daring, exciting
Our trainer tried to correlate our True Colors results with the four team player types, but it did not hold up, and we got to go home early. 

Chef Team-Building

For this staff event we expected to be randomly assigned to groups to cook a meal within time constraints. Instead we were allowed to divide ourselves based on attraction. I had worried a lot about which staff members I could envision working with in the kitchen. I was growing fond of the everybody, but that didn't mean I could cook with them! I bet you could try the same thing at a big family holiday dinner. By attraction we ended up in comfortable groups of similar approaches and time use styles. The food was good, too.

Some facilitators split us into groups by type. Other threw us into a big flour tortilla with one person from each category for a Chipotle burrito exercise. If money was no object, what would you do? From this I developed my four Gaul parts. I think we each have an overriding motivation:

  • Go
  • Share
  • Make
  • Be

You have a responsibility to tell me I'm full of it until I upload my online quiz and start raking in the big bucks. 

The United States Institute for Peace has a conflict styles quiz. It is short. 
  • avoider
  • compromiser
  • competer
  • accomodator
  • problem-solver
John Janovy wrote in Chapter 11 of  Keith County Journal that we work for one of four reasons

  • love 
  • joy 
  • pride 
  • money

As Sixties kids we wondered which of the Beatles we would date
  • John?
  • Paul?
  • George?
  • Ringo?
And then there's the matter of backbones. Which vertebrate are you?
  • fish 
  • amphibian 
  • reptile 
  • bird 
  • mammal
*Grandma Halma had this framed poem on the pink bedroom wall for the calm and the storm:

It is easy enough to be pleasant
When life goes by like a song,
But the man worthwhile 
is the man with a smile
when everything goes dead wrong.

May 2016 be your year of staying in the cave grunting and snarling at passing coworkers and saber-tooth tigers.

© 2013-2015 Nancy L. Ruder