Friday, September 30, 2011

Your Cheating Heart

I was a young, impressionable college student who didn't even realize she was looking for the seasonal
coffee cups of her dreams.
Then I saw these.

It was love at first sight.
The love grew over the years with the addition of a Christmas cup from one of my students at my first teaching job,

a Valentine's cup as a new mom

and a set of springtime cups that I shared with my husband, to his overwhelming delight.

I bought this ego booster for myself when I started home schooling:

and dear Mrs. A got me this little harvest beauty.

I thought my joy would be complete with the addition of a WINTER as opposed to Christmas cup

but the joy only increased when I decorated my own little lovely with my favorite flower.

I was happy in my cups. I marked the changing of the seasons by bringing out the appropriate little cup, filling it with coffee and thinking how much better it tasted from a cup that corresponded to the calendar.
I would think the same thing as I refilled the chosen little cup, and refilled it again.

That is when the seeds of discontent were sown.
Slowly my eye began turning to big, muscular mugs. I began to purchase them. 
I would still get my pretty cups out as decorations and for guests who hadn't yet turned to the dark side. But the cups would sit, empty, while I avoided their gaze and filled the full-capacity mugs.

I'd like to say this story has a happy ending. That I saw the error of my ways and returned to the cups of my youth.
Alas. Once a coffee lover tastes from a mug, there is no going back to her cups.
Because beauty isn't so important.
It's what's inside that counts.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Happy Macarena Day! Hahaaaa!

Now don´t you worry ´bout my boy friend 
the boy who´s name is Nicorino 
I don´t want him, ´cause sent him 
he was no good so I - hahaaaa 
Of course you recognize that as the 2nd verse of the classic hit
Today is its
Happy 15th Hit Birthday.
It topped the charts this date in 1996. It was no doubt assisted in its meteoric rise when it was deemed the unofficial theme song of the ’96 Democratic Convention and Vice President Gore.
In honor of such a momentous event, wouldn’t it  be nice to learn the lyrics of the song that changed the playlists at proms and weddings across the planet ?
Because, be honest, while you are on the dance floor trying to figure out if your hand goes on your posterior lower waist or behind your head, or if you should whirl clock or counter clockwise, are you singing any word except ‘Macarena’? Over and over and over? 
Today The Prude intended to teach you the lyrics.
However, they are not Prude-approved.
The only reason she shared the above section is because she is giving ‘hahaaaa’ the benefit of the doubt.
Instead, we can spend the rest of the day visualizing Mr. Gore Macarening, and worrying about how that no good Nicorino survived his hahaaaing.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Duck and Weave! Bob and Wheel!

Put em up or POW! I'll pop ya!

Bob and wheel
Can’t you just see Sugar Ray Robinson, Muhammad Ali, or some cage fighter known as ‘The Slime’ ducking away in the ring and then bobbing up with a swift uppercut to the jaw? 
Or some Olympian boxer weaving away from an answering blow before he wheels and pops his opponent right in the kisser?
Today you will learn to bob and wheel from the comfort of your seat in front of the computer.
Bob and wheel
So gritty, so evocative, so masculine.
So 14th century poetry.
You heard correctly. It is a poetry device.
Bob- two short words followed by the
Wheel- 4 lines packed with alliteration so beloved by The Prude, and with the ‘abab’
rhyme scheme so beloved by symmetry lovers.
Here is an example from ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’, so beloved by high school teachers everywhere:
full clean.
Great wonder of the knight
Folk had in hall, I ween,
Full fierce he was to sight,
And over all bright green. (SGGK lines 146-150)
Don’t worry that the bob seems to be a partial sentence. It is. 
It links a longer alliterative passage that precedes it (which we’ll ignore) with the wheel (which we won’t).
Let’s do this together.
We want to come up with 2 strong words that link some exciting preceding passage,
and follow with four lines full of repeated initial sounds (alliteration).
The Prude will initiate the bob and choose the wheel sound we’ll alliterate.
Your job is to fill in the final, rhyming words . 
Remember- the 1st line has to rhyme with the 3rd line and the 2nd line must rhyme with the 4th.
Let’s bob and wheel!
she gasped,
Your brother has a black _____?
your nose is broke to the______?
You boys could make me _________!
Just wait till Big Daddy comes _________!
See! You too can write 14th century poetry! Bet you never heard 
that kind of quality come from Muhammad Ali!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Blame it on the zany redhead

Artistic representation of future politicians etc. at their most vulnerable
When politicians make excuses, when Wall Street bankers pass the buck, and elected leaders pass the blame, do not FOR A SECOND doubt them.
It is not their fault.
They were born and bred that way.
The Prude will go even further. She can almost guarantee that every single man and woman of them have one thing in common.
At some time in their lives they saw an episode of ‘I Love Lucy’.
And that is where all the trouble began.
These impressionable little original sinners were plopped in front of the television and subjected to a half hour of a young woman opening her eyes big and wide and lying and scheming and tricking and wasting money and maneuvering herself into positions of power or leadership or dance numbers for which she was totally unsuited.
And everyone laughed and loved her.
Can you look at those governing us and all our stuff and see any difference?
Except for the loving part- not one thing.
But next time you want to point a finger of shame when your Duly Elected Representative or a Federal Reserve Banker or a Ponzi Schemer badly misbehaves, take a second look.
See them through the eyes of compassion. 
Remember that at a crucial juncture in their formative years, when their entire worldview was being formed, they were learning that naughtiness is funny and cute and laughable.
The Prude is only surprised that more of them haven’t dyed their hair carrot-red.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sari? Wrong number?

         A harried young mother in the Upper Midwest, USA makes a phone call and keeps her fingers crossed. A careful voice at the other end says, 
“Good day to you! What should we discuss about?”
Her heart sinks. She realizes she has reached a call center in India. Resignedly she says, 
“I have a computer problem.”
The young Indian woman’s heart sings. Her previous USA caller had asked ‘How y’all doing?’ and the operator had politely polled everyone around her workspace before a savvy co-worker told her it was just a conventional southern US dialect idiom for ‘Hi’.
The young midwest mother, striving for good international relations, asks brightly, “How are you guys?”
The operator, a female singular, had never before been confused for a male plural, and attempts to raise the timbre of her voice and make sure she sounds like one woman talking.
“What is your good name, Mrs.?” she asks.
The midwest mom wonders why the poor woman suddenly sounds like a hamster on helium. But she gives her name and explains her problem.
“OK. Well, I started my computer and then I went to put the brats in the crock pot for this hot dish. I ran to go by Grandma’s house first–she lives just kiddycorner from us– and see if she could borrow me some onions. I came back and grabbed a pop from the frigerator and checked the computer and it was just making this funny noise and then it gave a pop and the screen went blank.”
Silence comes from across several oceans and continents as the Indian woman flips desperately back and forth through her English phrase book. She wonders if naughty children placed in pots is a viable American disciplinary measure.
She eliminates ‘father’ from the item taken from the ice box and eliminates ‘carbonated beverage’ from the sound issued by the computer and works her way through the rest of the nearly indecipherable sentence. 
“Blessed Americans don’t know how to speak English”, she mutters, then asks brightly, “OK! I can help! Do one thing. Turn off computer. Unplug computer from power source. Hold down ‘alt’ and ‘shift’ key while turning computer back on.”
Midwest Mom looks at the phone in confusion. Which one thing was she supposed to do in the list? Why couldn’t Indians speak English? She decides to try each one thing in the list and is rewarded by a rejuvenated computer. The Indian operator hears a jubilant shout and Midwest Mom says something that sounds like:
“Hey! It works! Good stuff! Gotta run- Ant Bev is here and we have some cyupons to clip!” The young Indian coughs slightly as she pictures a bevy of cyupon ants invading the home of this nice young American who is armed only with clippers.
Midwest Mom, hearing the cough, says, “Maybe you should get a drink from the bubbler. And if I was a pain- Sari!”
They each hang up. The Indian operator debates figuring out how bubbles could help a cough and if why the conversation ended with a reference to native Indian apparel. She turns to her coworker.
“Uff man. Americans are so hard to understand!”
Midwest Mom greets her aunt at the door.
“Uff da! Those Indian operators are so hard to understand!”

Friday, September 23, 2011

Do you smell fall? Nope. I smell team spirit.

Toward the end of the summer season, but right before the fall season, football season begins.
In a display of fan solidarity and and team spirit, for a few brief weeks The Prude's home state
proudly dons the colors of our professional football team.
Can you guess what team that would be?

Wait just a minute. How did those last 2 get in there?
Blue and ORANGE??????
Must be from somewhere along the southern border, where da fans of da team that wears those colors lurk.

Happy first fall season weekend from the Prude and the Green and the Gold!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Storing September

This is a poem from an anthology of the same name by a local poet named Elizabeth Rooney. Her daughter collected her poems into a set of four books
called 'All Miracle'. They are all lovely. I wish I had known Elizabeth Rooney.
Storing September

You ask me what I did today.
I could pretend and say,
"I don't remember."
But, no, I'll tell you what I did today --
I stored September.
Sat in the sun and let the sun sink in,
Let all the warmth of it caress my skin.
When winter comes, my skin will still remember
The day I stored September.
And then my eyes --
I filled them with the deepest, bluest skies
And all the traceries of wasps and butterflies.
When winter comes, my eyes will still remember
The day they stored September.
And there was cricket song to fill my ears!
And the taste of grapes
And the deep purple of them!
And asters, like small clumps of sky...
You know how much I love them.
That's what I did today
And I know why.
Just simply for the love of it,
I stored September.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Moon, June, Croon...Goon? Is that right?

Good writing consists, sadly, of more than good grammar and sheer volume of words.
The good writer should be able to dash off lovely, moving, accurate, pithy descriptions of persons, places, things, ideas and actions to give the reader that all important feeling of
Verisimilitude enables the reader to feel as though he sees what the author is describing, feels the action, etc., etc., etc., blah, blah, blah.
Take, for example, the following description of a moon coursing its way across the night:
The moon strolls at her leisure across the evening sky. She sheds the robe she wore on arising, because bright orange makes her look fat. She opts to slip into a cool, silver little number that emphasizes her remote and elegant figure.
The Prude struggles with descriptions. She chooses instead to drown every word picture in a plethora of nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs and leave the poor reader to struggle through it all on her own.
For instance, a beautiful rising moon emerging from a bank of clouds inspired The Prude to set the lovely scene to words.
Hey! Look at the moon! It looks like a wedge of pie. Maybe lemon meringue. No, more like orange meringue. But not a bright Valencia orange. More like a muted Mandarin orange. That’s it! The moon looks like a wedge of Mandarin Meringue pie with all the meringue scraped off because it got sort of moldy greenish gray, and it’s piled up all around the edge of the pie.
Oh yeah. Now that is beauty.
There you have it. Can you almost see that moon? No? You say you are feeling a bit nauseous? It’s OK. The Prude can help. She is working on her illustrating skills.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New Plagues? Story on A3.

Hitherto Undiscovered Frog Species

Remember the 10 plagues against Egypt?
The frog one in particular?
Things were pretty unpleasant along the Nile for awhile because Pharaoh was behaving badly.
Somebody on planet Earth is misbehaving these days because we have alarming new developments in the Amphibian-Reptilian arena.
Page A 3 of the paper reports that in India, 12 new species of frogs have been discovered.
Discovering 1 or 2 new species would be cause for rejoicing. 3 or 4 new species would be noteworthy and 7 or 8 may make you chuckle uneasily and start watching where you walk.
But twelve? Twelve new species would give one pause to reflect that
a) there are other hitherto undiscovered species all over the world and–
b) these undiscovered species are lurking just below the surface of the water of the world, watching our every move with their bulging eyes, and waiting for the signal to–
to what? and with whom?
And that is where our second alarming development comes into play...
A tiny headline, also on page A3 in the paper reads thus:
Two alligators seized in drug raid
That is correct.
Alligators are now turning to the seamy underworld of drugs.
These aren’t the old, 30-foot long alligators who thuggishly swagger the byways of Florida terrorizing snow birds and toy poodles.
These are young, underdeveloped alligators, turning to a life of crime at ever younger ages.
You don’t really believe these events are unrelated, do you?
You can’t look at the world’s desperate need to be taught a lesson without subsequently looking around your feet to see if an alligator wearing low-slung baggy jeans is offering you a ‘good time’. 
Don’t be surprised if, upon taking a refreshing slug of mineral water, you find a previously undiscovered frog blinking slyly at you from the bottom of the glass.
The Prude has no absolute proof of this conspiracy to commit an amphibian/reptilian plague. She does encourage us all, however, to write to the powers that be and encourage them to be on their best behavior. We don’t want next week’s page A3 headlines report a mysterious convening of locusts around the globe, do we?

Monday, September 19, 2011

the big 24

A son is born and a mother thinks she couldn't be any happier.
And then he grows up and gets married and she realizes she was wrong.
Happy 2 years/24 months/730 days anniversary Kirk and Mikaela.
Singly you bring us joy, but together you make that joy complete.
(photos courtesy fabulous Skala photography, convertible courtesy the fabulous Mr. Morrison)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Too Cool for School?

Ex-elementary school teachers don't retire. They just, in lieu of switching out the bulletin boards for every new season, decorate their homes.
September in the House of Prude means decorating for the school year.
Since her boys are all graduated she doesn't go to quite the extent of grapevine wreaths with pencils and markers, but she does want to share some old faithful back-to-school tales.

This is an old school desk all painted and pretty–a gift from my folks and sister when I began homeschooling 17? 18? years ago. the adorable little boy in the frame is my husband. Yup. I robbed the cradle.
 This handsome guy is my dad, 5th grade teacher extraordinaire. I was blessed to have him for 5th and 6th grade at Kenosha Christian.
Molly, looking fine.
Samantha and Kit eyeing the apples
My middle boy calls this 'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington'
Actually it is my dad heading to teach school in South Holland, IL in the 1950's.
Demure Felicity eyeing the cute curly headed guy.

Poor Kit doesn't have a school outfit. She had to borrow Molly's. Good thing they are the same size.
Here is something nifty. My  'Down the River Road' reader from 1938 has a page closely replicated in an old 'Ideals' magazine fall issue from the late 50's. 

My girls will be enjoying their school finery for only a few more weeks before Teacher Prude switches everything out for the autumn pretties. Now if she can convince her husband to wear only rusts, browns and golds until Dec. 1...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

How to hardfry a drive

Load the desktop computer with photos and email and bookmarks and movies and music and 5 people on it almost every minute of every day and sometimes night for over 5 years.
Burn hundreds of photo and movie and music CD's on it.
Use it for business, bookkeeping and banking.

And then one morning try to turn the bloated, exhausted computer on.
It whines.
You have hope.
Whining is a sign of life, correct?
Not in a computer.

The experts inform that the start-up disk is fried.
Burnt to a crisp.
Nothing to do but replace the disk and hope and pray that all the photos, movies, music, business etc.
are still safe.

The Prude needs to replace her hard-fried disk with a nice, soft, malleable one.
Words cannot express her level of disapproval right now.
But somehow, just because she is muleheaded, she is going to figure out how
to have PhotoJournalism Friday from her tiny laptop.
It may just consist of pictures of her napping dog, (because all her OTHER photos are stuck behind that crispy start-up disk on the desktop) but there will be something at Friday at the Prude.
Right now I am going to find some sackcloth and ashes to sprinkle on my poor, charred desktop computer.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Could I have some Woostershur Sauce on this tea sandwich please?

What if the Queen some day, on a whimsy, decides to ask a stateside commoner to High Tea?
What if that common American is you?
You will be packing your bags, reviewing your ‘What Not to Do’ list:
-Don’t give the Queen a hearty hug
-Don’t ask if Welsh Corgis are a large breed of rodent
-Don’t request to switch out your dainty teacup for a nice, hearty mug of coffee

These are all very good, but The Prude, wishing you to put your best Yankee foot forward for the honor of your nation, has a few other pointers.

That group of islands in the North Sea is not England any more than Dubuque is Iowa.
You can refer to the United Kingdom (England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland) or you can refer to Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales)
or you can make pithy remarks about each country (so Wales doesn’t mind that the Prince of Wales isn’t Welsh?) (don’t worry if the Scots start playing bagpipes- I brought my own earplugs) (I hear ‘Danny Boy’ was written by an Englishman. Are the English as sappy as the Irish?) (What do feminists think about this whole ‘Isle of Man’ thingy?)

When someone mentions ‘Shetland’ ‘Jersey’ or ‘Guernsey’ check to see if they are talking about the pony, the cow or the other cow,
the island, the island or the other island.

You’ll also want to brush up on your vocabulary.
How do you pronounce  ‘Pepys’? If you said ‘Peeps’ you are correct. If you made it sound like multiple Pepe la Pews you would be in serious breach of etiquette.
‘Cholmondely’?  ‘Chumli’! Right!
Mary ‘Magdalen’ would be surprised to hear part B of her name called  ‘Maudlin’,
your neighborhood mailman named Ralph would have to answer to ‘Rafe' in the UK (which ups his appeal to the opposite gender immensely)
and whether you see ‘St. John’ as a first or last name please address the bearer as ‘Sin Jin’.
If you want to exit your train at ‘Featherstonehaugh’ and strain your ears to hear a multi-syllabic name shouted, listen more carefully. You’ll want to get off at ‘Fanshaw’.
Think ‘Marjoribanks Mainwaring’ would be a prodigious name for your daughter?
Only if you don’t mind her hearing 'Marchbanks Mannering' everywhere in Great Britain.

Just remember that “Woolfardisworthy’ is ‘Woolseri’, Leveson-Gower is ‘Loosen-Gaw’ and ‘Wriothesley’ is ‘Roxli’ and the Queen will welcome you with, if not open arms, at least a tidily gloved hand.
As long as you don’t elbow her husband in the ribs and ask him how he feels about playing second fiddle to the little woman.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Show you care. Join WHOMBATS.

Someone has to speak up for the young men of America.
WHOMBATS (Women Helping Our Men and Boys Avoid Trauma and gain SAC (Suitable Advertising Compensation))
is all over it.
The Prude hopes you are willing to organize a local chapter.

WHOMBATS goals are simple.

Goal 1: Suitable Advertising Compensation
We circulate petitions demanding that undergarment manufacturers start paying our young men who advertise their product. Nike pays athletes to wear their sweatbands. Coke pays TV stars to drink their beverage onscreen and Minute Maid gives oodles of cash so stadiums are named for orange juice.
But do Hanes or Jockey or Fruit of the Loom pay these willing males to wear  pants due south of the waistband of their undergarments and functioning as walking billboards for the tidy whities etc?
Our petition will demand a living wage for our boys.

Goal 2: Avoiding Trauma
We hold bake sales.
With the proceeds we purchase bits of colorful, ‘mod’ fabric.
We hold a WHOMBAT version of a quilting bee.
A loop bee.

How will loops help our young men avoid trauma?
The same way they kept young Victorian women from tripping over their dress trains on the dance floor.
Young men, victims of undergarment makers and a mistaken notion that the waist is located 8”below the hipbone, have seen their range of motion increasingly hampered by pants worn about the knees.
Although The Prude doesn’t worry about gangs of ruffians attacking our young men, (because ruffians have similarly low-slung pants thereby evening the odds)
what will our boys do if chased by, say, a mad dog? An out-of-control Buick? A fuming ex-girlfriend?
Our boys don’t stand a chance.
WHOMBATS members sew a stylish little loop on the waistband of their dungarees.
Our fleeing boy need only put his wrist through the loop, hitch up the britches, and sprint to safety.
And all because WHOMBATS dared to care.
Prototype of Loop of Rescue. Note the 'mod' pattern that will appeal to stylish young men.

Monday, September 12, 2011

9 - 12

Here we are, on the day after the day of remembrance. We experienced some of the unity of that horrific, hallowed time, but now Americans will retire to our respective corners and pick up the war of words and insults and recriminations we have been aiming at each other lately. Or we’ll sit cowering in that corner because there are still those who hate our nation and would happily blow bits of it to pieces again.
Maybe we’re back in the corner driven there by guilt (how many people haven’t reminded us that America doesn’t have a record, past or current, that is spotless) or despair (atrocity will never end and we are powerless to stop it.)
I have a suggestion.

Let’s make 9-12 a day to lean.
You’ve seen those 9 - 11 symbols, haven’t you? Where the 11 is made to look like the twin towers?
Look at the ‘2’ in 9 – 12. If you squint a bit, doesn’t it seem to be bending, bowing, or maybe leaning or inclining?

2 can remind us that, in spite of the bickering and hostility which divides our nation, when someone outside the family attacks us we are united.
We can bend a bit, if not with our ideals and opinions, at least with our rhetoric when we deal with our American brothers and sisters.

We can bow our heads in soul searching. No one has the power to bring World Peace. Everyone has the power to, if possible, live at peace with all. It doesn’t count to just keep our mouths shut if we can’t say something nice. We better dig for words of healing and encouragement and love.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, at the end of 9-12, we  realize that we lean on the ONE. The ONE who holds the world, its past and its future. The one who doesn’t let a sparrow or an airplane or a tower fall without knowledge and compassion and purpose.
We can lean on the ONE who can and will bring about world peace when He beats swords into plowshares. He is the same one who will honor our feeble efforts to treat all people with dignity.

The One who saves is also, incredibly, the One who takes the position of a yielding number 2 when He inclines His ear to hear the faint, helpless cries for help and mercy.
Praise God He brings us past a 9-11 into a 9-12.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Oh, what a foretaste

Do you know what heaven will be like?
Me neither, but I surely hope it looks something like this: