Friday, December 31, 2010

The Prude Shares a Poem

The Prude is no poet, but she likes this poem that someone shared with her. She can't remember who.
She knows it wasn't King George.
Now she shares it with you. She doesn't mind if you don't remember that she was the one.

May 2011 bring you peace beyond measure, blessings in abundance and may you continually be surprised by joy.

The Gate of the Year

There is a poem made famous by its inclusion in the Christmas broadcast of King George VI in 1939.  It was, of course, the first Christmas of World War II.  The poem was written by Minnie Louise Harkins (1875-1957).

I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year
‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’

And he replied,
‘Go into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way!’

So I went forth and finding the Hand of God
Trod gladly into the night
He led me towards the hills
And the breaking of day in the lone east.

So heart be still!
What need our human life to know
If God hath comprehension?

In all the dizzy strife of things
Both high and low,
God hideth his intention."

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Wrong End of the Telescope

Long Ago and Far Away
We all know what a telescope does. We look through it at things far away and they appear large and clear and immediate.
But turn that same telescope around and take a gander.
Everything looks small and distant.

The Prude spent much of her life looking through the wrong end of the Time Telescope.
Young Prude, told by her parents that she had 30 minutes to clean her room, would grab her Time Telescope, peer through the wrong end, and note that 30 minutes was so far in the future that she had time to read another chapter­–possibly 2 or 3–of Nancy Drew.  Imagine her shock when, after half an hour, she would hear a knock on the door of her disheveled room.
The correct end of the telescope displayed, up close and personal, the stern and glowering eye of a parent.

Homework assignments hovered unobtrusively in the distance and never loomed ominously till the proverbial 11th hour.
Then Teen Prude would feel the hot Deadline breath blasting through the right end of the Time Telescope.

Adult Prude had 10 months–such a vast expanse of time!– to prepare her wedding. She crammed most of it into the morning she said her vows. She had to hold off the birth of her first-born a week to get his nursery ready.

Parties she planned remained pleasantly in the far and distant future. The Prude would merrily go about her business, occasionally glancing backward through that telescope until the morning of said party, when the relentless Time Telescope, looked through in the manner in which it was intended, showed guests heading for a half-cleaned house and a half-cooked meal.

When The Prude was young she looked at her parents’ mortality through the wrong end of the telescope too. It always remained, small and distant and unthreatening, in the future.

And then suddenly her parents were old. TIme, cold and unheeding of her protests, thrust it’s Telescope into The Prude’s hands. What she thought was so distant was a present reality. Her father was gone.

Four years ago, December 30, Time softly closed the door on my mother’s life. Both ends of the telescope looked black.

Today each end of my Time Telescope shows a past horizon of love and a future horizon dancing with hope.  And my parents have no need of the Time Telescope anymore.
They see their Savior face to face.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Lament of a Christmas Tree Puritan

Life can be difficult for a Christmas Tree Puritan.  There are rituals to be observed.
Timetables to be met.
Regulations to be obeyed.
This year The Prude and her family, a group of Christmas Tree Puritans, observed
every ritual, regulation and timetable
but one.
And that has made all the difference.

First Item on Timetable
-get a tree no later than the 2nd weekend after Thanksgiving

Ritual #1
Go into the wilderness and chop down a tree.

Ritual #2
Decorate the tree fulsomely and allow the baby of the family, assisted by dad, to put the angel on top.

Regulation B
Make sure the tree looks all warm and delightful at night.

Second Item on Timetable
Tree must remain up until after New Year's Day.

And this is when the Christmas Tree Puritans realize they have omitted
Regulation A
Get a Frasier Fir because they will not shed their needles-ever.
A Frasier Fir could survive the whirlwind trip from Kansas to Oz with every needle intact.

But our impulsive Christmas Tree Puritans this year choose a lovely, plump, majestic non-Frasier Fir.
They didn't realize till after they were committed to it that this particular non-Frasier has a genetic tendency to balding.

They drop needles when trucks rumble by, when the 13 pound dog passes, when air molecules wander into the vicinity.

But  true Christmas Tree Puritans will not abandon ship. They will not deviate from the Second Item on the Timetable.

The tree stays up until after New Year's Day.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

It’s The Prude’s 100th Post! Shall We Party?

Yes, The Prude, who usually is as consistent as a weak-willed butterfly in a poppy field, has managed to write a post every weekday since she began to blog (with the pardonable exception of Black Friday).
This is POST #100!!!!!!
And she has no idea how to properly celebrate.
She was going to read all 99 past posts and make pithy comments or detect trends or possibly develop a plan for future posts.
But remember, her nature is still mostly weak-willed butterfly with a dappling of pooped sloth thrown in.  Reading all 99 prior posts is a task she is not prepared to handle.
She plans, Lord willing, to continue writing, and possibly even introduce a modicum of structure here at ‘The Prude Disapproves’.
Possibly a photo-journalism piece here and there.
A soup├žon of poetry.
A recipe-of-the-week/month.
 She is open to suggestions

Anything to make you happy.
Because Your Prude loves and appreciates you.
She wants you to continue reading, not out of duty or pity, or even friendship, but because you take pleasure in coming here.
Even if you can only do so with the consistency of a weak-willed poppy-powered butterfly.

As a mini-celebration, she has used her favorite letter 100 times today! Can you find all 100?

(Technically she has used her favorite letter 100-ish times. She gets a different total every time she counts.)

Monday, December 27, 2010

The day after the day after

It’s the day after the day after Christmas. It is also a Monday, and this results in a double-whammy of disapproval.
To top off the twofold excuse for blahness, The Prude is feeling churlish. She isn’t happy with herself. She engaged in too much excessive overindulgence.
As a counter-measure she will draw on the universal antidote to personal dissatisfaction: a Resolutions List.
But Your Prude is also a purist, in a murky sort of way, and knows that the proper time for life-changing resolutions is New Year’s Day.
So she will content herself with making some
This Week resolutions.

T.W. Resolution #1
The Prude will not, until New Year’s Eve, consume any foodstuff whose name contains a vowel.

T.W. Resolution #2
She will not inadvertently croon ‘Rocking Around the Christmas Tree’.

T.W. Resolution #3
She will resist the temptation to buy 30 rolls of Christmas wrapping paper because it is 75% off.

T.W. Resolution #4
She will not watch every episode of her ‘Perry Mason Season 1’ gift in a single sitting.

T.W. Resolution #5
She will burn her balsam-scented candle even when she doesn’t have company because it makes her happy.

T.W. Resolution #6
She will enjoy her peppermint coffee till it is gone instead of trying to save it till it for a special occasion.


T.W. Resolution # 7
The Prude will not succumb to post-Christmas blues. She will not.


Friday, December 24, 2010

God Rest You, Merry

This morning, on the way to join hundreds of thousands of like-minded last minute grocery shoppers,
The Prude heard a version of one of her favorite songs sung by a band whose name she blushes to repeat.
But she highly recommends this rendition,  by the 'Haven't Yet Decided on their Apparel for the Day Ladies'.

"God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman / We Three Kings"
author unknown
(feat. Sarah McLachlan)

God rest ye merry, gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay,
Remember Christ our Saviour
Was born upon this day;
To save us all from Satan's power
When we were gone astray.

O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy!

From God our heavenly Father
This blessed angel came;
And unto certain shepherds
Brought tidings of the same;
How that in Bethlehem was born
The Son of God by name.

O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy!

O, star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.

Born a king on Bethlehem's plain;
Gold I bring to crown Him again;
King forever, ceasing never,
Over us all to reign.

O, star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.

Glorious now behold Him arise,
King and God and sacrifice,
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Worshipping God most high.

O, star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.

God rest ye merry, gentlemen, let nothing you dismay
God rest ye merry, gentlemen, let nothing you dismay
God rest ye merry, gentlemen, let nothing you dismay

God bless you all, dear friends!
Merry Christmas with love from
Your Prude

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Don't we have something better to do?

What, The Prude asks herself sternly, are you doing sitting here at the computer?

For goodness gracious sake, it is Christmas Eve eve morning!
You have cookies to bake, 

gifts to wrap, cards to send, menus to finalize and Citracal to ingest.
And then she turns (figuratively) to you and says, “I appreciate your gracious support, but you no doubt have better things to do than read a nonsense blog.”

She is letting us all off the hook.
She wants to share a few favorite Christmasy photos.
Even if you gaze at each one for 5 seconds, you won’t have to linger here at ‘The Prude Disapproves’ for more than 35 seconds.

If, that is, The Prude will just stop writing.

Tidings of Comfort and Joy to you all!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

ABC’s Ad Nauseum, 123’s to Infinity

When The Prude was in her childbearing years, mothers were encouraged to communicate with their as-yet-unborn children, preferably by singing and making melody, to give the developing baby’s intelligence a head start.  Realizing that a tone deaf mother singing off-key to her expected child could have long term and adverse effects on that child, The Prude contented herself with talking to her tummy. Mostly she begged, “Don’t hurt me.”

Today parents are encouraged to begin educating a child immediately at birth, on the assumption that 9 months of in utero music lessons has produced an infant with the reasoning ability of a 4-year-old born in the ignorant 1950’s.

What kind of a world does this precocious little one find awaiting her?
One saturated with letters and numbers. In her crib baby looks up at a mobile with an alphabet blinking in time to Brahm’s Lullaby. Her crib sheet is printed with numerals 1-9.  Letters cover her sleeper and numbers dance across her diaper.

Benevolent toy makers join the chorus. Combining the ‘sing to smarten baby’ theory with ‘your baby can read before he walks’ , toys sing the alphabet to baby and croon numbers in his little ear.

Behold the children’s book section of your library or bookstore: thousands- nay, tens of thousands of ABC and/or 123 books.

Can baby escape to television? Everyone from singing rodents to crazed Elmos to evil geniuses are committed to teach baby reading and arithmetic.  There is no refuge in food - their pasta, their cereal, their cut-out cookies all surround our besieged little ones in shapes of numbers and letters.

The Prude is afraid. Knowing, as a human, what human nature is like, she realizes that too much of any good thing turns children into little rebels with heartburn. She pictures future generations of children who, upon seeing any of those 26 letters, run to the restroom in a fit of nausea. Children who scribble out the numbers on their clothing, linoleum, snack food and gym equipment in a frenzy of reverse-graffitism.

Could we be creating a society of people who would rather count on their fingers and toes than use the base 10 number system? Will they attempt to resurrect Ancient Sanskrit in a violent reaction to singing, dancing letters of the alphabet?

Parents, The Prude understands your desire for intelligent children. She begs you however, to exercise some balanced restraint. Because if the alphabet revolution comes too soon, she may have to learn Sanskrit to communicate with her grandchildren.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Supermarket Rant


 The Prude is a proud shopper at her beloved local Piggly Wiggly, But even The Pig is not immune to some Supermarket Issues:

-Produce bags that clamp themselves tightly shut. Produce shoppers vainly tug a bag this way and that, rub what they naively believe to the top of the bag between their hands fast enough to ignite sparks, and finally rip it open with their teeth.

-Feuding hot dog and hot dog bun manufacturers and their deliberate creation of lunchtime chaos. Mothers who barely survived Algebra 1 have to figure out how 10 hot dogs fit on 8 buns. The Prude believes this may have triggered the whole carbohydrate-free diet craze.

-The sub-zero temperature range of the refrigerator/freezer section. It is perversely lowered even further in the summer months when shoppers tend to leave thermal underwear, snowmobile suits and insulated gloves at home.

But The Prude has her own special gripe with supermarkets–or, let’s be fair– food manufacturers.
The Prude is a recipe doubler. Most recipes said to feed 4 were barely an appetizer for her 5-person family.
And as good shoppers know, larger size packages of food tend to be more economical that the small ones.
Pasta manufacturers graciously package their products in multiples of 4: 8 oz, 12 oz. 16 or 32 ounces. Can you see how this makes doubling (or 1.5-ing) possible?
Canned tomatoes are trickier- 8 oz, 14.5 to 15 oz, and 28 to 29 oz.
Obviously not perfect doubling. But The Prude just adds a bit more water or maybe some catsup, reminds her family she is no Julia Child, and everyone is happy.

So where is the rant? You may well ask.

In the cream cheese department. 
Small packages: 3 oz.      Large packages: 8 oz.
Can you understand the frustration that comes from doubling a recipe calling for a small package of cream cheese, using the more economical 8 oz package, and having 2 lousy ounces of cream cheese left over?
Sadly, The Prude Family seldom remembers to use those 2 extraneous ounces on their bagels and eventually they (the cream cheese, not the Prude Family) turn green and are dumped into the trash and The Prude wonders how thrifty she really was.

The Prude will no longer remain silent. This Issue should be remedied. She will travel to Philadelphia and demand that they either make large packages exactly twice the size of the small ones, or start coming up with recipes for 2 ounces of green cream cheese.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Hesitant Hugger

There are 3 types of huggers in the world.

-The Habitual Hugger embraces, in a genial and non-lascivious manner, almost anyone.
The Habitual Hugger is a warm, positive sort of person. The sort who has, somewhere in the essence of his or her being, a boundless wellspring of hugs that burst forth in the presence of other human beings, most (non-human devouring) animals, and even, in certain instances, deciduous trees.

T-he Heavens No! Huggers are easy to spot, (they are the ones who keep arms rigidly at their sides upon meeting and greeting others) and can repel even the most enthusiastic Habitual Huggers.  Their wellspring of hugs is significantly smaller and reserved for the favored few.Their Personal Space is almost palpable and is not to be invaded except by personal invitation. For the unsure Habitual Hugger (whose Personal Space Antenna may have been damaged by a lifetime of over-enthusiastic embraces), The Prude will share this helpful little diagram:
The pointy thing on the Heavens No! Hugger is his/her nose. Just FYI


-And then we have the Hesitant Hugger.  The type raised in a loving, but non-demonstrative family. The type who does not easily display affection. Their wellspring of hugs is hopelessly tangled with the faulty Personal Space Antenna which is in turn hopelessly stuck because our H.H. fiddles with the controls for too long. The Hesitant Hugger tends to be a slow processor of thoughts and emotions. Upon meeting a friend or family member, or parting from a friend or family member, the Hesitant Hugger undergoes the following internal conversation:

“Here I am, face to face with _______. I have a great deal of affection for _______.  Is _______  a Heaven’s No! Hugger? Drat! My P.S. Antenna is stuck again! Or maybe _______ is a Habitual Hugger whose P.S. Antenna is all bunged up and isn’t sure if I’m a Heaven’s No! Hugger or not.  And is this a proper occasion to hug? And if it is, do I do the One-Armed Squeeze? The quick Burp Pat? Or the full frontal Bear Hug?”

By this time of course, the opportune moment for an embrace is past. The Hesitant Hugger stands awkwardly gazing at ________ a moment before excusing him/herself to the restroom.

The Prude, as those personally acquainted with her can confirm, is of the Hesitant Hugger variety.
This coming Sunday she will be saying goodbye to some friends who are packing up their adorable children and moving across the country and there is a chance she will not see them many more times this side of heaven.
And The Prude will most likely just say an awkward farewell before fleeing to the restroom. But in her heart, that tangled wellspring of warm embraces, they will be held with great and enduring affection.

Friday, December 17, 2010

And the POS award goes to…

Yesterday The Prude wrote on adverbs.
Last week, (if she remembers correctly), she wrote on ellipses.
She is obviously infatuated with the Parts of Speech.

She has so many favorites (as long as we use the term Parts of Speech in its broadest possible context).
Here is The Prude’s definition:
A part of speech is anything that can be reproduced on a keyboard.
This of course includes the traditional nouns, verbs, pronouns, etc. etc. etc.

It includes punctuation: the dash, the confusing em-dash, even this guy:
:) his sly sibling ;) and the pitiful :(

It includes CAPITALIZATION, italicization, and underlining for emphasis

We will even honor more amorphous POS’s, such as the Incomplete Sentence, so frowned upon in grammar class and so ubiquitous here at ‘The Prude Disapproves’.

We can’t leave out one of The Prude’s personal favorites, (not that she would),
the parentheses.

And The Prude got to thinking…
Everything gets an award these days. Even now, nominees for the Golden Globe Awards are being announced, and The Prude imagines they have nothing to do with favorite planets or solar flares.

The Prude would like to honor something most of us who communicate in some way or other can’t do without.

She wants to know-
what is your favorite part of speech?
And why?
Can you use it in a sentence?

Polls are open now. Struggle past The Prude’s comment dragon, or share on her Facebook page, or just use your favorite POS sometime this weekend and point it out to others. Let’s honor POS’s as all good award recipients are honored- with overuse and over-exposure.

The Prude will go first. It was a hard choice, given her love of the ellipsis, her passion for parentheses, her adoration of italicization. But what she really likes to sink her teeth into is a good Acronym.
So- what is you favorite POS?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Hey You! Drop That Adverb!

We all know what adverbs are, correct? They take a plain old verb, dress it up with an ‘ly’ word here or there and give it all kinds of nuanced meaning.

Recently, The Prude’s writing buddies told her reluctantly that adverbs unfortunately are currently Not in Style.  Sadly, Your Prude carefully reread her work and grudgingly admitted that she suffers rather severely from B.O.A.T. (Broad Overuse of Adverbs Tendency). She realized she should immediately rectify this tendency by stringently limiting her use of adverbs.

Take, for example, the above paragraph. Stripped of adverbs, it reads:
The Prude’s writing buddies told her that adverbs are Not in Style. Your Prude reread her work and admitted she suffers from B.O.A.T. She realized she should rectify this situation by limiting her use of adverbs.

There you go. Nice, terse, spare sentences. Sentences that get right down to brass tacks with no shilly-shallying. Verbs that stand alone, stripped of their adverbs. The Prude is thinking those verbs look downright chilly.

There is a parallel writing style, all the rage, that encourages one to show, through action and description, what is occurring. This style also uses Strong Verbs. Verbs that need no help from any floofy adverbs.

So The Prude’s paragraph in this manifestation would read:
In the short time preceding this post, The Prude’s writing buddies, their brows furrowed and their voices hushed, apprised her that adverbs, whose fortunes have been declining, are at this present time Not in Style. With overflowing eyes and lurching stomach Your Prude scrutinized her work and was aggrieved and nauseated to discover herself rocking in the B.O.A.T. She clapped her hand to her forehead and lost no time bailing this flood of adverbs.

See? Strong, muscular verbs. Metaphors. Visual images. The above paragraph is virtually dog-paddling in them, with nary an adverb in sight.

The Prude will work hard in upcoming posts to stay away from the B.O.A.T. She expects things will go swimmingly…

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Words to make a Prude Cry

Young Prude, unoriginal child that she was, wanted to be, at various times, a nurse, a missionary, a singer, shortstop for the Chicago Cubs, and a writer.  Her mother, well aware of Little Prude’s aversion to blood, her tone deafness and her 2 left feet, tended to encourage the missionary and writer aspirations.  “Maybe you can write stories about missionaries!” She would say brightly to the Prude who was fumbling a baseball and singing an off-key ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame.’

The Prude eventually learned what her mother saw clearly. She throws like a girl who can’t throw, she sings like the first reject from ‘American Idol’ and hypochondria means she approaches a medical journal with fear and trembling. She never made it to the mission field (though her prayers and support did).

But she always wrote. The Prude even now is in the process of writing a book. She hopes that someday, by hook or by crook, with a wing and a prayer, and possibly by copious bribes, to have it published. And maybe (hope against hope) even read.

The Prude can be blindly optimistic at times.
But on her trip this weekend to a Major Midwestern City, Life scooped up a handful of cold reality, shaped it into a hard ball and threw it right in her face.

Her favorite bookstore in that town is closing. 3 stories of books, all on final clearance.
The Prude wandered a labyrinth of how-to’s, self-helps, mysteries, thrillers, romances, children’s books, coffee table books, books for dummies, books for experts, nature books, cookbooks and blank books. All sales final, no returns.

And she couldn’t see one single book she really wanted to buy, even at 80% off.  Someone had slaved and cried and maybe even prayed over each of those books during the writing process. They had rejoiced when their manuscript was accepted, celebrated when it was published, sighed in relief when it was purchased.
And now it sits, all shiny and beautiful and cheap and unwanted and unread on a shelf.
Sort of like the ornaments that say ‘Christmas 2009’.

The Prude is sad.  All those words, but what are words if no one reads them? A tree falling in the forest with no one to hear has more significance. At least it becomes fodder for future generations of trees.

Is she just contributing to Print Noise? Should she dust off her baseball mitt? Hire a voice coach? Join the missionary society? Go to nursing school and figure out how many maladies she suffers from?

Or maybe she just keeps writing. Doing her best. Knowing that the One who gave her any gifts she possesses is the only One she really needs to please. That may be her mission.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Between the Sheets

Nothing warms a Prude’s heart cockles and gets her blood a’coursing through her veins on a raw and wintry morning like a good rant.
Fortunately The Prude has a rant at hand.

She is perturbed with those, especially in the hotel trade, who ignore the maxim:
'Never send a flat sheet to do a Fitted Sheet’s job.'

To be thorough and appear scholarly, the Prude did extensive research (via her proxy at eHow) into the history of Fitted Sheets.
Below is the result of that research:
Fitted sheets also referred to a bottom sheets and serve as a barrier to protect you from a mattress. Since a mattress cannot be washed, a fitted sheet provides a clean and comfortable surface to sleep on. If you don't like the idea of waking up sleeping directly on the mattress, then you will want to use fitted sheets. (EMPHASIS MINE)

In 1959, an African American woman by the name of Bertha Berman patented a design for fitted sheets that had corners sewn in a way that would fit the sheet to the mattress. These sheets were still less than perfect as they still managed to pop off the bed. These sheets needed elastic garters and other gadgets to keep the sheet on the bed. Finally in 1990, Gisele Jubinville created a fitted sheet deep corner pockets that grab a mattress and stay put. She sold the patent in 1993 for $1 million.

Obviously hotels didn’t buy into Gisele’s patent.
Below you will see the tragical results when a flat sheet is placed on a slippery hotel mattress and a gangly teenaged boy is placed on top of the flat sheet.
And The Prude has 4 pertinent questions:
1) Is it any wonder that Bedbugs are making a resurgence?
2) What would Bertha and Gisele say?
4) Could Bertha and/or Gisele teach The Prude a better way to fold fitted sheets?
3) What are the chances of The Prude convincing her children to name her grandchildren
after her heroes- Bertha and Gisele?

Stay warm and healthy today. The Prude will be petitioning the government to make December 14 FITTED SHEET DAY. We can all celebrate by staying in between the sheets.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Make Way for the Claustrophobe

Every December, the Family Prude takes a trip to a Major Midwest City.
So, apparently, does almost everyone from the lower 48 states, the Ukraine, and a province in France where men and women weigh less than 100 pounds, wear tight pants, high-heeled boots and enormous fur hats.

This plethora of people can cause some complications for those suffering from claustrophobia. For the claustrophobia-immune, here is a short synopsis of the malady:
A Claustrophobe, in certain situations, feels as though the ceiling is descending on his/her head as the walls are closing in around his/her shoulders as the floor is rising up to meet him/her as someone is stuffing cotton wool in his/her mouth. And all the while, 11 pipers are piping tunelessly in his/her ears.

The illustration below demonstrates graphically what a Claustrophobe would feel like if the Claustrophobe were a building in a major Midwest City.
Claustrophobe being squished from all angles
Plunk your prudish Claustrophobe into the midst of this city, surround her with several million shoppers, thousands of Salvation Army bell ringers, a virtual army of taxis, buses, trolleys and horse drawn carriages, and she will immediately want to visit a restroom for some privacy and some air.

However, air in the public restrooms of the major city is seldom fresh, privacy is an illusion and the stalls are only broad enough to accommodate the skinny provincial French. The floor is usually littered with toilet paper which rises up to meet our Claustrophobe.

Restaurants provide no haven. Most have tables arranged so closely together that the hostess has to make sure a right-handed guest is not sitting back-to-back with a left-handed guest since their elbows will collide upon lifting a spoonful of hot soup.

Hotels, instead of sprawling, are stacked. They are built so closely to neighboring hotels that were, say, a guest at the Hilton able to open a window, that guest could compare brands of complimentary shampoos and body lotions with a guest at the Hyatt.

One learns to hold tightly to small children on the streets of this major city. If a parent should lose the grip on a child, that child knows to stand still and let the foot traffic eddy around him whilst the parent, unable to turn and buck the flow to get back to the hapless child, instead circles the block and scoops him up on the next pass.

Traffic signals wink naughtily at the Claustrophobe, enticing her into the middle of the street before changing from green to red. At this point the taxis take over and surround her with horns a-honking and rude hand signals a-flying. Elevators, escalators and revolving doors wait patiently for their chance to entrap her.

Eventually the weekend of squishiness ends. Our Claustrophobe Prude goes back in her quiet little village. And immediately begins to plan the trip to the Major Midwestern City for next year.

Friday, December 10, 2010

More Dove to Love

Top Ten Reasons You Should Love Mourning Doves
Part 2: The Final Five
If you remember from the little tease at the end of yesterday’s post, the main reason The Prude enjoys mourning doves so much is that they remind her of middle-aged woman-dom. Read our Top Five and see if you don’t agree.

She has a pear-shaped figure.
Middle-aged women gaze in the mirror in wonder at figures that have redistributed
themselves south, making the purchase of jeans a time of weeping and gnashing of teeth. If Mourning doves wore jeans, they would understand.

The pear shape leads to awkward body movements
It’s not only desire to clean up the area around the bird feeder that keeps mourning doves on the ground. The cute little songbirds can flutter and swoop and look adorable while landing in impossibly small places to peck away at their food. Our poor dove, once she has the ground tidied up, sighs deeply, looks around in hopes no one is watching, and hauls her ungainly pear-shaped form up to the bird feeder where she sits tottering as it rocks madly for and aft.

She has poor body image
How can she have anything else? She is  always hanging around feeders along with the chickadees and the sparrows and the cardinals. None of whom is pear-shaped.

In spite, or because, of the above, she dresses sensibly
She knows that shades of gray and taupe are slimming. She doesn’t accessorize much, hence she doesn’t call attention to ‘problem areas’. But she is always grateful when she is told that she has a pretty face.

She makes sure her husband holds her in high esteem.
She knows she can never compete with the petite chickadees or the elegant cardinals.
But she still makes sure that potential suitors court her with respectful bows.
And when the right one comes along, she lets him take an active part in sitting on the nest and parenting the children.

The mourning dove. She may not be the loveliest of birds, or even the brightest.
But she works hard and her husband loves her.

What a woman.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Dove Love

Years ago, The Prude dabbled at being a naturalist. This involved taking her coffee cup outside and observing the behavior of the birds socially networking at the feeder.
She even wrote stuff down about them, ala John James Audubon.
Her favorite birds were the mourning doves, and she took prodigious notes.
This morning she wanted to write a post on her favorite bird, and tore the house apart looking for the notes.
She remembers quite distinctly that they were genius notes. They were full of wisdom and keen observation and pithy comments.
She can’t find them anywhere.

So this morning we’re banking on The Prude’s memory, which has a reliability factor approaching that of an MP3 player purchased from the Dollar Store.

But The Prude has a great appreciation and respect and empathy for mourning doves and believes you should too.


Reason #10
Her name. You can’t go wrong with a name whose homonym leads one to believe she gets up early to take care of all her tasks, but actually means she sounds mournful because the world is such a naughty place that needs so much tidying and so many lectures. Listen to her sometime. That cooing? Those are the constant sighs of a Bird with Too Much On Her Mind.

Her work habits. Watch her at the bird feeder. She spends most of her time cleaning up the birdseed messes left behind by others. And sighing while she does it.

She won’t be bullied by blue jays and crows. The cute little songbirds all dash off nervously when the thugs show up. But the mourning dove calmly goes about her business. If she doesn’t keep things tidy, no one will.

She whistles while she travels. Listen to her on take-off. That whirring sound is the equivalent of The Prude singing along to the car radio while her children roll their eyes.
Note that you will never see adolescent doves flying alongside their moms.

She recycles. Her husband isn’t big into nest building, so she sensibly just moves in to nests other, fussier females have abandoned for bigger and more ostentatious nests.

Come back tomorrow when we round off the Top 10 with the self esteem issues mourning doves and middle-aged women share.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Worry Drawer

Yesterday The Prude referred to her Disapproval Toolbox. Today she will introduce you
to a drawer in this toolbox. This drawer was standard equipment and though she doesn’t really want it, but she had no choice.
She is the reluctant owner of a Worry Drawer.
(Note- it may seem The Prude is plagiarizing like crazy from an excellent humorist and author named Patrick McMannus who wrote about a Worry BOX. But note that a Drawer is a lot different than a Box, and The Prude had this Worry Drawer long before she ever heard of Patrick McManus. She just never thought to give it a name)

In this Worry Drawer are several smaller compartments with generic names: ‘Things I Forgot’, ‘Things I’m Afraid Of’, ‘Things Going On With Extended Family and Friends’, ‘Things Over Which I Have No Control’ and ‘Bats’.
The contents of these smallcompartments may change on a daily basis, but they are rarely full.
However, the 4 large compartments are always filled to overflowing. The Prude can’t even shut them.
There is one for her husband and one for each of her sons.
The ‘Husband’ one is almost manageable. After all, his mother, as mothers are wont to do, shares a small portion of the contents with Prude Wife. Every little bit helps.
Son #1, #2 and #3 compartments always had contents spilling out because there was so much about which to worry. Sometimes The Prude had to temporarily store Son worries in other compartments, such as ‘Bats’ (ie.- worry that sons would be bitten by rabid bats)

Then Son #2 got married, and with great relief The Prude handed the vast majority of his Worry Compartment contents to his wife, who is managing them beautifully. Only a few worries remain in the Prude Toolbox, such as ‘did I  teach him the proper way to eat spaghetti?’ and ‘does she remind him to watch out for drunk drivers?’

When Son #1 married this summer, The Prude gleefully emptied his Worry Compartment
into the one owned by his wife, and thought she could finally begin to use the extra space to catch the overflow of ‘Things I Forgot’.

But then, last evening, the wife of Son #1 called to say he was sick in bed. Obviously she couldn’t fit any more in her ‘Husband’ Worry Compartment and needed to share some of it.
Immediately The Prude could feel Son #1 Worry Compartment expand to the point of explosion.
She spent most of the night sorting through the compartment and praying over the contents in an effort to get them under control.

And although the pediatrician tried for decades to drum into The Prude’s head to let sleeping children sleep, she called poor Son #1 at 6:30 this morning.
He was feeling a bit better.
So his Worry Compartment, while still full, can almost shut.
But she will be delving back into it and praying over the contents till he is all better.
Moral of the story: The Prude will never experience ‘Empty Worry Compartment Syndrome’

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

My Ellipsis Tape Was Just Here a Second Ago...

Prudes never leave home without their well-stocked Disapproval Toolbox.
They can pull out, for example, the Lecture Board, sometimes making several adjustments to the Lecture Board during delivery with tools such as the Voice Modification Ratchet, the Weighty Pause Stapler, the Direct Gaze Level and the Significant Eye Roller.

But today we will examine one of Your Prude’s favorite tools of all time.
Her roll of Ellipsis Tape.


An ellipsis is easy to pull off. Look:             
3 dots. On the computer it is even easier than by hand.
Just hold down the ‘1 dot’ key 3 times.
If you want to make multiple ellipsis, you can, but you have to refer to them as ‘ellipSES’ and you run the danger of over-kill taping.

Ellipsis Tape covers something The Prude is implying without really saying it.
 ‘OK, honey, if you think that shirt you bought in 1984 still fits you…”

Ellipsis Tape can extend a grievance indefinitely.
 “Even Wilma Flintstone and Aunt Bea have garbage disposals. Why don’t I have one, I wonder…”

Ellipsis Tape patches together the disparate thoughts that zing simultaneously through The Prude’s head as she tries to communicate them to her family.
 “Drive carefully, watch out for deer and drunk drivers, and…you’re wearing THAT to go out tonight?”

Ellipsis Tape is a temporary fix for The Prude’s horrible memory.
 “I could have sworn I had enough gas to get us there…”

Ellipsis Tape can make one look more intelligent than one really is.
We can look as though we are mulling over a significant notion when really we just totally lost track of what we were about to say.

The Prude loves her Ellipsis Tape because she never really wants to quit talking.
A period puts a direct and speedy end to a thought, idea, comment, or statement. But the ellipsis lets her put that thought, idea, comment or statement on limitless hold until she returns and wants to stick something else onto it.

If anyone wants some Ellipsis Tape, let me know… I’m willing to share…

Monday, December 6, 2010

Happy St. Nicholas Day, or, How to Lie to Your Children

Today we begin the week with a cautionary tale.
A story of what can happen when a Prude of Strong Convictions turns to lying and deceit.
Our story has a happy ending, but beware. Never take happy endings for granted.

Your Prude, who ordinarily delights in touting the virtues of honesty, for years engaged in living and promoting the most blatant of lies.

Yes. Your Prude not only allowed her boys to believe in Saint Nicholas, she encouraged, nay, nurtured that belief as vigorously as she encouraged them to believe that
‘early to bed and sleep through the night would keep a mother from looking a fright’

On St. Nicholas Day Eve (Dec. 5) she would let them fill wooden shoes with straw, carrots and an apple for St. Nick’s horse, and cookies for the old man himself. She helped them write letters to Saint Nicholas and scurried them off to bed so she could begin the process of nurturing this untruth she had fostered.
She would bury the carrots and apple at the bottom of the trash, fling the straw to the 4 winds, eat the cookies, and lay out gifts for each boy. She would make hoofprints from the horse in the snow outside the door that led to the road. Then, in fanciful handwriting she would answer their letters. One year she even took a photo of the corner of a red tablecloth and let the boys believe it was part of St. Nicholas's robe.
The ruse was wildly successful. Our Prude gloried in ever-greater levels of ingenuity and her boys continued to believe in St. Nicholas.

But when her boys were almost old enough to shave and still believed in St. Nicholas, The Prude knew she had carried the deception a shade too far.
With tears in her eyes, she had to explain to her oldest boys that St. Nicholas really had not come all those years. The last vestige of their innocent childhood was gone as they asked in the quivering voices of youths whose voices were beginning to change, “You mean YOU got to eat all those cookies?”

The Prude continued  prevaricating about St. Nicholas for her 3rd son.  But as he fast approached adolescence still wondering how St. Nicholas could be 1700 years old and get around so well, The Prude knew it was time. Son 1 and Son 2 stepped in to Break the News, while The Prude sat in a corner sniffling into a tissue as her last child was dragged from a world where innocent children are lied to by their mothers.

In spite of years of falsification, The Prude's sons appear not only unscathed by their mother’s duplicity, they still view her as an honest sort of parent.

There may be a moral here about the permissibility of fanciful white lies in the interests of advancing the cause of whimsy and imagination.

Or The Prude may open her door one December 6 to a 1700 year old man in a red robe who wants to know where all his cookies have gone.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Hug a Brit and Hand Him a Shovel

For some unknown, but rather delightful reason, when The Prude hits ‘Latest Headlines’ on the gray area of her Google start page called (I am pretty sure) a TOOLBAR,
she immediately accesses BBC news, which has a whole different approach to World News than, say, CBS, Fox News, MSNBC,  or Nick News with Linda Ellerbee.

As she scrolled down the headlines, looking for something on which to comment, she realized that the state of the world today is nothing to laugh at.
She figures it would be redundant to disapprove of the propensity of N. and S. Korea to air strikes, tactless to comment on Nigeria’s lawsuit against Dick Cheney, and boorish
to call attention to England’s loss to Mr. Putin as host of the 2018  Soccer World Cup.

But as she scrolled down the headlines, she was fascinated to see the following:
-‘‘Much, much colder’ weather in UK’
- ‘Trains off as temps plunge’
- ‘Travel disrupted in heavy snow’
- ‘Fresh warning of snow and sleet’

And just as she was beginning to wonder what Charles Dickens and Winston Churchill would have thought of a country on the North Sea and on the same latitude as parts of Hudson Bay that whines about SNOW in DECEMBER
she scrolled down to this headline:

-‘Is the UK Uniquely Bad at Coping with Snow?’

Again, tact, (even though The Prude is descended from a long line of hardy, we-laugh-at-cold-weather type of Dutchmen), prevents The Prude from commenting on the above headline. You and the UK can draw your own conclusions.

But The Prude is not heartless. She saw another story, about an Olympic skier (as in downhill in the snow) named Mr. Kwame Nkkrumah-Acheampong from the tropical West African country of Ghana who is hoping to build a ski slope there.
In tropical Ghana.

And The Prude wonders in Mr. Kwame Nkkrumah-Acheampong, obviously an optimist
with big ideas, couldn’t possibly help the UK with their snow issues, or at least their attitudes.

The Prude will see if she can set up a meeting.

Have a wonderful weekend, and if the weather is bad where you live- keep a stiff upper lip and show the Brits how it is done.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

If I click my heels and ring a bell, can I have a fairy?

You may have noticed that The Prude, in an attempt to stave off possible copyright accusations, has taken to providing her own illustrations and artwork. She realizes the dressed-up dustmop may be reminiscent of certain television commercials, but The Prude was dressing up cleaning products years before it became fashionable.

When Young Prude was in her preteen years, she wished she had a fairy godmother who would make her look like Laurie Partridge from ‘The Partridge Family’ (note- the Prude NEVER wanted to look like Marcia, Marcia, Marcia) 
Fairy Godmother let her down and for a time she looked more like the freckled Danny Bonaduce.

During college finals time, she wished there was a fairy to sprinkle pixie dust over the eyes of some handsome millionaire, who, on seeing College Prude, would breath breathlessly in her ear and tell her there was no need for a college education on the tropical island to which he would whisk her.
Pixie Dust Fairy let her down and she got her degree and handsome thousandaire who whisked her briskly back to the Midwest.

Young Mother Prude would return home after church or 3 t-ball games in a row, close her eyes tightly and throw open the kitchen door, wishing that Housekeeping Fairy had been there to finish the dishes, mop the floor, and clean the spills from the bottom of the refrigerator.
Instead, Housekeeping Fairy smirked and moved in with Young Mother Prude’s already immaculate mother-in-law, where she spent her days fluttering around the TV and watching ‘Judge Judy’.

This morning The Prude stepped out of her warm bed into her chilly house and wished there was, somewhere in the continental United States, a Firewood Fairy who would keep the home fires burning through the night so the Family Prude could awaken to a blazing fire in the hearth.
Firewood Fairy was either burned out or busy with an old flame.

OR, horror of horrors, none of the above fairies exist.
Maybe no fairies exist.
Maybe The Prude will have to make do with a bearded, wingless guy who gets out of bed first in the morning to get the coffee going.
But, just maybe, wishes do come true.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Many Disaprovals

It is morning in the Prude Household and already she has found 3 situations that elicit great personal disapproval.
And The Prude is conflicted. Prudes are never so content as when they find world situations that demand a good lecture, a good Time Out and a good overhaul.

HOWEVER, when these situations worm their way into The Prude’s own household, nay, her own person, that contentment is somewhat dampened, nay, totally obliterated. And her reaction can only be described as crotchety.

But if you have broad enough shoulders to bear with a little whining, read on. And determine for yourself if her orneriness is not justified.

Disapproval #1
Stubborn Sneeze Syndrome
This was manifested all through the night somewhere in the upper echelons of her nasal cavity. Either because of the warmth, the company of other sneezes-to-be also lodging in her nose, or just sheer pig-headedness, The Sneeze refused to do its prescribed duty and erupt into the atmosphere. Goodness knows The Prude tried. She lectured and cajoled and threatened all night but as of this current moment The Sneeze is ignoring all eviction notices.
The Prude Demonstrating the Position of the Stubborn Sneeze

Disapproval #2
Hereditary Horrible Memory Disorder
2 out of 3 Prude children have been afflicted with this, as well as (forgive me, sis, but it must be said) one of the Prude’s siblings. She will remain un-named but she knows who she is.
The Prude, as she has mentioned before (she thinks) cannot remember from 12:00 to noon. Yes, the synonymous 12:00 and noon. She literally forgot she had 3 children once and left her infant in a carseat at Culver’s.
The Prude is counting on daughters-in-law who are not afflicted with the Family Curse to water down the Horrible Memory Genes and give The Prude memory-rich grandchildren. Who she will try not to forget at Culvers.

Disapproval #3
Wrong Lyrics Entirely Condition.
The Prude does not have the excuse of misheard lyrics for this condition. Not like her friend’s mother who thought ‘Hang On Sloopy’ was ‘Hang On Stoopid’ or her son’s VBS song ‘Joy is the flag flown high From the castle of my heart
When the King is in residence there’
which became ‘Cuz the King and the Presidents There’

NO. In this condition this morning The Prude sings, over and over again, to a song she knows perfectly well, the following lyrics:
‘When the moon hits your eye like a bigga pumpkin pie, that’s amore…’

She can’t help but think Wrong Lyrics Entirely Condition is directly related to Stubborn Sneeze Syndrome and once the sneeze is evicted from her nose she can sing more meaningfully and heartfeltidly about being hit in the eye by a bigga PIZZA pie.
That will be Amore.