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