No eels is good eels

Swimming upstream all week against the eels and the executive orders. My eel anxiety is totally irrational. My executive order anxiety is sane and prudent.

The eels are not in my overalls. The lemon is not there either. I checked. I've been looking everywhere for the lemon. It is not in the fridge, freezer, pantry, or car trunk. It did not roll into the laundry closet.

Eric Clapton is singing, "I lost the lemon, but I did not buy the tartar sauce." My jaunt to Tom Thumb was specifically to buy tartar sauce for the tilapia, but then I was ambushed by a hoard of cookie-pushing Girl Scouts.

Winston and Julia did not have rodents down their overalls, nor Bounce dryer sheets. The rats were in a cage hooked to Winston's face.

And now back to the big closet cleanout.

© 2013-2017 Nancy L. Ruder


Magic words and Amazon incantation.

Amazon Prime is terrific except when it doesn't work. Then one has the challenge of searching for the magic lamp and tackling amazing feats to get consumer relief. 

You can take your tracking number and 

Oh, PLEASE, no, don't do that!  Use your magic words instead.

THANK YOU for the help of the UPS web site. A genie named Orlando actually responded with useful information.


Use your magic words to open sesame the help folks at Amazon. If your order does not arrive, or shows "delivered" when is didn't/wasn't be sure to bibbity bobbity this boo:


© 2013-2017 Nancy L. Ruder


Size, numbers, space

My kids are buying an enormous house OR the inauguration was the biggest crowd ever. All spatial awareness is in question since I scraped the bumper of a Texas-size pickup truck with my tiny Buick while parallel parking shortly after a breakfast of mini-cinnamon rolls and two fried eggs over easy. Imagine the trouble I'd be in if I'd had scrambled.

The damage looked really minor to me, but the pickup owner may have a significantly different perception. We will work it out without 3 a.m. tweets. I feel pretty silly and incompetent because I was listening to the audiobook of the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu discussing suffering and joy. Just when I was flying with my caped serenity superheroes I misjudged the size of a police officer's truck and the curve of the street.

Just how gigantic is the palace my kids are buying? It's a matter of comparison to every home I've lived in distorted by time, emotion, and memory. My homes have been plenty large for riding horses in the living room, resident alligators and hamsters, whole neighborhood Barbie doll cities,  and medieval jousts.

Where in the brain is our spatial perception? Where is the part that counts the crowd attendance and voter fraud?

First I lived in a third floor apartment in a large house at the corner of 20th and B Street where my parents had a green sectional sofa. The apartment was hugely full of my parents' love and care for me, but the details are hazy.


Then we lived in a duplex on Franklin Street that had a basement for my dad to build projects plus a sidewalk that led around the corner to Dave's house. The sidewalk had uneven spots that led to Band-aids, but the Dalai Lama says suffering is inevitable, and Bishop Tutu emphasizes love and human connections are essential for finding joy.

Not because of climate change, but the snow is always deeper in one's memory. We cannot deny the photo evidence of my brother Roger who shall remain nameless in a typical winter accumulation. Our new house was not a palace. Three bedrooms and one bath, all indoors, a GI Bill wonder! What was the threat level of my mom's pressure cooker? Dad studied fallout shelter design. It was the Cold War with snow pants. Did we fantasize about adding on another bedroom and bath? You bet. 1293 sq ft was a tad too cozy and short on privacy, but a family of five could be really happy there.

Skipping over college and early married life apartments, we arrive at the 974 square foot mansion with pink kitchen appliances and a mildewy basement. It looks pretty depressing in this current Google street view, but it was big enough for two small boys to have a diaper car race course.

Next we had a house big enough for horse races in the living room and birthday parties in the kitchen. Zillow alleges 1476 square feet, obviously an alternative fact. This house seemed huge. Our lack of furniture added to the spacious feel of the place. We could build a fire, pitch a tent, and go camping in the living room.

Our first rental house in Oklahoma looked out across a creek and a big field of nothing but rodents and hawks making lazy circles in the sky. The kitchen was plenty big for an artist to paint while covered in calamine lotion recovering from chicken pox. Three bedroom, two bath with a great room open floor plan. There was no real way to arrange the furniture, and the invading mice tweeted all night. 


The next house did not have a sporty red car when we lived there. It had over 1700 square feet, snakes in the garage, and not a single tree on the lot. It housed Cub Scouts, Ghostbusters, Boomer Sooners, and a computer. Asthma,  allergies, and anxiety filled this house. It seemed very cramped. But it had mauve wallpaper, and the bigamist next door had another family in Louisiana.

Everything's bigger in Texas. We made it past 2200 square feet, with four bedrooms, 2.5 baths, and a great U-shaped kitchen plan. AND  two really nice trees. There was a small back patio for roasting marshmallows, and a sunken living room  for watching the Branch Davidian compound burn on t.v. If we needed more space we could go west playing "Oregon Trail."


How much space does a family need? Enough room for survival? For hobbies? Beginners practicing tooting large band instuments? For large reptiles? This condo of 1200 sq. ft. plus or minus seemed emotionally vast if physically cramped. 

So, there was a point to all this. The question of how big is big enough for a house has a major emotional component as well as practical considerations.

What is the psychological component behind an obsession with a big enough popular vote that makes one holler "fraud." Is it a personal reaction? Or is it a plan to bamboozle a population into acquiescing the loss of convenient voter registration and balloting?

This nation is our house. It's cozy. It's a bit cramped, but plenty big if we avoid the distorted sizes and numbers, threats and frauds. Reason makes things roomier.

© 2013-2017 Nancy L. Ruder


Threads spooling

Denver Art Museum textile exhibit
Visiting the Denver Art Museum to view the special exhibit "Star Wars : The Power of Costume" last weekend was a joyous reminder of costumers and seamstresses. I so wish Fritzi and Felecia had been there with me, but in a way they both were.

My mom has been gone twelve years now, but she made many costumes for Natalie Grossman's modern dance productions in Lincoln in the 1960s. A perfectionist seamstress, she was also a creative problem-solver sewing unusual materials to create animal headdresses for dancers. Fritzi would have loved sharing the art museum with her grandson and great grandson, just as she loved bringing her own children to the Sheldon Art Museum so long ago.

Wizard friend Felecia is always present when the subject is capes, and Star Wars is a cape carnival! Felecia has been gone almost six years, and I still feel robbed of her artistic enthusiasm. I wanted so much to share the exhibit costume shop with her, reveling in the lush textured materials, glorious vintage 1920s fabrics, stage combat aspects, theatrical illusions, and Samurai influences.

Fritzi's spool shelf above her sewing machine

Others join the memory dance -- makers of papier mache helmets, fans of Japanese kimonos, embroiderers and stitchers, students of imperial Chinese robe design, sisters posing in great aunts' hats, kids with Halloween costumes of their own design. But in the present moment my grandson, son, and I pin fabric scraps, foam packing pieces, CDs, ribbons, coils, and straws on a life-size mannequin to design a "Dark Vader." The Force is definitely with us in the hands-on studio!

Pattern pieces hang in the recreated Star Wars costume shop.

Threads pull and wind, bind and weave, tangle, mend, unravel.

© 2013-2016 Nancy L. Ruder


Vocabulary study sheet

petulance Reluctance to admit the president-elect reminds you of the elderly irritable yippy-snappy Pekingese in the yard across the street from your grandma's house, you know, chained out there next to the tractor tire planter filled with red geraniums and barking at every kid walking past.

emoluments Beauty regimen slapping emojis all over your face to promote healthy, glowing skin tone in trying times.

authoritarian populism when the assistance principal in charge of vice pretends to be your friend in the hallway at dismissal bell.
accrue ac·crue  əˈkro͞o/
Accrued vacation pay is the amount of vacation time that an employee has earned as per a company's employee benefit policy, but which will likely be spoiled by high mountain cedar pollen counts. SEE sneeze into your elbow.

fake-snooze Waking up at 3:40 a.m. to worry about the vocabulary study sheet and current events quiz, but finally getting back to sleep around 4:50 a.m, but then the alarm sounds at six a.m. and you keep hitting the snooze button but not actually getting back to sleep.

I keep thinking he's fixing to sing that old Cub Scout song.

© 2013-2016 Nancy L. Ruder


Motivational seekers

Nobody expected the flurries would stick or go on so long. The TV weather guys said there was a 10% chance of  waltzing snowflakes. How did each snowflake feel about getting up, lacing on those toe shoes and going to work knowing the gig might never happen? 

These are not the star snowflakes, mind you. They won't get the frozen sparkly glory. These are just the corps of interchangeable snowflakes making slightly over minimum wage. Did these random snowflakes ever get the overhead view of a June Taylor Dancers kaleidoscopic production to find their little roles in the big production?

Word rippled in drifts through our workplace. The boss and his #2 were outside sweeping the snow off our cars, cleaning our windshields for a safe drive home. How chilly awesome is that?  I felt appreciated and acknowledged. My personal life and safety seemed valued. I was amused by two men of a certain age out playing in the snow in the guise of cleaning our cars. 

                            PAYOFF by Dan Ariely

                            SHOE DOG by Phil Knight

Motivation is the unplanned theme of the week. Reading Payoff on lunch breaks. Listening to Norbert Leo Butz's terrific performance of Phil Knight's memoir, Shoe Dog, on my slow commutes.

What motivates me? Being able to get that big occasional view of the grand scheme and my place in it. Having my ideas acknowledged. Being in the loop. Verbal thanks.

Knight quotes General Patton several times, and this may be my long-term takeaway from the book:

'Don't tell people how to do things, tell them what to do
 and let them surprise you with the results.'

© 2013-2016 Nancy L. Ruder