Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Rumble Strips on the Highway to You-Know-Where

The world has always needed prudes.
It has needed prudes to tell it to play fairly with others.
To not take what doesn’t belong to it.
To stop talking behind the backs of others, to chew with its mouth closed,
to not use such dreadful language.
The world needs a prude at its elbow to let it know when it is getting too big for its britches.
And speaking of britches, the prudes will gauge when the britches need to be less baggy or more loose so as not to reveal what shouldn’t be revealed.
We prudes like to think of ourselves as the rumble strips on the highway to you-know-where.
We can’t stop the world from tearing along Naughtiness Lane but we can make the trip a lot less comfortable.
I like to think of myself as your personal Prude. Not that you need one. You seem like a well-behaved bunch.
I want to provide a place for prudes to rally. To encourage each other. To know that, although prudes seem to be a tiny portion of the populace, we serve a vital function.
Who else will monitor clothing choices, points of etiquette, salty language, and general contrariness?
So, although the Prude will be taking a break until the Monday after Easter, she plans to return, Lord willing, with a whole new gaggle of disapprovals. And, because you are pretty fabulous, she hopes you do too.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Don’t Leave Your Chewing Gum on the Bedpost Overnight (it may get stolen)

Stick 'em up! Hand over the gum!

Have you seen the commercials for chewing gum on TV? The ones in which folks are willing to use gum (Trident Layers?) as currency? Where folks say ‘Of course you can pay me in gum!”?
They may want to think about banning those commercials in England.
Somebody is taking them way too seriously.
In a ‘Life Imitates Art’ reality twist, members of organized Romanian gangs living in England will troll up and down supermarket aisles, pocket CHEWING GUM, exit without paying, HOP IN THEIR GETAWAY CAR, and bring the gum to Romania where it is used AS CURRENCY.
The Prude is unsure which of these is most astounding. She does appreciate that one can pop a good deal more gum into one’s pocketses than, say, cereal boxes.
What is not to love about the gang members dashing off in the getaway car (whose engine has been running) and laughing wildly over the looted  piles of gum, pausing only to cuff the hapless driver who tried to sneak a piece surreptitiously but was betrayed by his fresh-and-fruity breath?
Who cannot appreciate that some shopkeepers in Romania who run out of small change will give you gum back from your dollar?
And doesn’t it give a whole new meaning to ‘sticky fingered pickpockets’?
Of course, it’s fun till someone gets hurt. So far no shopkeeper has been injured while defending his gum, the getaway cars haven’t mowed down any pedestrians in their mad dash to freedom in Romania, and no Romanian tourist has bitten down on a piece of gum well past its expiration date and broken a tooth.
If you happen to travel in England, don’t be surprised if you notice that the gum is kept in a locked case behind the registers.
And for goodness sake, if you bring gum along, don’t chew it in public places. 
You never know who is watching.

Friday, February 17, 2012

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today…

Baby day. Off to the hospital to be delivered via C-section of our 3rd child.
After two boys I was hoping for a girl. My husband wasn’t talking. He had lived through the previous 2 C-sections of which I had little or no memory and he knew what he was facing.

It was the Winter Olympics and we settled into our room to watch and wait until surgery where they put me under general anesthesia and I went to sleep.

I woke up (if it can be called waking)  to a voice saying “Wake up! Don’t you want to see your baby?”

And I squeezed my eyes shut and jutted out my jaw and thought, “No. Because I just know it will be another boy.”

But one is weak-willed under anesthesia, and eventually my jaw unjuttted and my eyes opened and I looked at my baby boy and fell totally and utterly and forever in love.

Since then my eyes have squeezed shut on numerous occasions (‘Oh no. NOW what?)

And my jaw has jutted (‘Oh no you won’t!).

And I still remember the question I asked myself when I opened my eyes and looked at baby boy number three. “How could I ever have wanted you to be anything else?’ 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Free Fall of Juror Three

Yesterday morning I bustled and dashed, too busy to blog.
It was my third day as Juror Number Three.
I had a special badge that opened special doors, my own designated parking spot, my own special stenographer’s notebook with ‘3’ written on the front,  my own chair and a personal restroom I need share with only a few other women.
Yesterday, whenever I approached the courtroom, the bailiff would demand ‘All Rise for the Jury’, and indeed, all, including the attorneys and the judge, would rise.
I listened to testimony. I observed, pondered, took notes, kept an open and impartial mind. 
I made friends with fellow jurors, I drank coffee prepared by my own personal bailiff.
The plaintiff and defense rested. All that remained: Instruction to the jury and final arguments. But first, it must be determined which of the 14 of us were the 2 alternates.
This was decided by picking 2 names at random from a bowl. 
The first name was called and it wasn’t mine. 
I now had a 12- in-13 chance of not being the second alternate.
Please note:when there is a 1-in-13 chance of my name being chosen as winner of anything, I lose. Regularly.
The second name pulled from the bowl was mine.

Immediately everything changed. I was hustled from the courtroom and directed to have no contact with my ex-fellow jurors. I was relieved of my badge and my steno notebook, reminded that I now had to use the public restroom, and shown the front door.
I was ex-Juror Number Three.
This morning I am just one more prude amongst millions, wondering how my ex-fellow jurors are doing, if my ex-bailiff made the coffee stronger and if the defense attorney wore a different tie.
Mostly I wonder how the jury will find. How the verdict will change life for some of the people involved. 
It was a privilege and honor and daunting responsibility to be Juror Number Three. 
I dislike being Ex-Juror Number Three. 
But life as a Prude is pretty good, the sun is shining and I hope someday I’ll be able to serve again as Juror Number Something.  

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Three Years Ago Today

Three years ago today, the jangled mass of raw nerve endings that was my middle son made Valentine’s Day dinner for his girlfriend. I was at his side through the ordeal process and between his jitters and my spineless culinary skills we put together a pretty good meal.

I thought of everything he didn’t (ie. rose-scented candles, pink napkins, romance music from some TV station called ‘Romance Music’).

Then his father, brothers and I huddled in the basement (per family rules, unmarried couples spend precious few unchaperoned moments in the house) while he sparkling grape juiced and dined her. 
We were allowed to emerge from the basement and clean up the mess while he took her to a snowy park that was one of their favorites, and proposed.
She said yes.
And that is how The Prude took her first step on the wonderful road on mother-in-law hood.
My husband is a wonderful, loving, kind, supportive, humorous man with a terrific work ethic and a sincere faith. All those fabulous, to-die-for qualities leave little room for his romantic facet to blossom.
Or else he just generously passed an extra measure on to his middle child, who put it to work with skill, hope and anxiety and mocha cheesecake three years ago today.
Happy Valentine’s Day/Single Awareness Day/Founder’s Day! (more on that last one tomorrow)

Monday, February 13, 2012


In 8th grade literature class at Bethany Lutheran School with Mr. Furstenaur, we read ’12 Angry Men’. Since there were 12 of us we each got to read a part. I think I was the angry one :)
But that started a fascination with courtroom drama. Reruns of Perry Mason helped cement this interest, even though very few Perry Mason episodes utilized a jury. (too much money to pay all the extras).
I was even pre-law for one semester in college.
Since then I have continued my informal education by
  1. watching more Perry Mason reruns
  2. watching Matlock
  3. reading most of the Earle Stanley Gardner 'Perry Mason' books
  4. reading John Grisham novels.
Therefore I should feel fully competent to head downtown today for my first ever
attempt at jury orientation.
Alas. I am a quivering mess.
I really don’t know what to expect. Most people tell me I’ll probably just get sent back home. 
But then I remember the other courtroom drama I watched.
The O.J. Simpson trial. 
You know, the one with the sequestered jury? The jury who remained sequestered for a good portion of forever?
So, The Prude will either be back tomorrow with some tale that would set Perry and Della chuckling, or she will see you some time next year.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Let's get the Love going

All Because
Author Unknown

I climbed up the door 

and opened the stairs,

Said my pajamas

 and put on my prayers,

Then I turned off the bed


crawled into the light

And all because 

you kissed me goodnight!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Where, oh where have my cooking skills gone?

 The Prude possesses few culinary skills. The ones she has are hidden under a bushel, where they cower until she yoo-hoos for them. Then they come scampering out to be put through their paces.

The Prude and her skills begin any new cooking project with determination.  A promising  recipe, the desire to elicit adulation from the family, the need to bring something edible to the church fellowship meal–all these and more encourage her and her meager skills down the path to culinary glory.

She motivates the reluctant skills with a description of fabulous food. She wheedles them into action by promising that she will remain imperturbable during the cooking process. She whips them into a frenzy with flour, whisks, room-temperature butter, and all the paraphernalia cooking skills dote upon.

Alas, she isn’t a patient or kindly taskmaster. At some point in every cooking venture, her skills have a small mishap. A little stumble. Something a more tolerant cook could compensate for. But not The Prude. She begins to mutter. It rises to a grumble. Pans and utensils clatter. The Prude stomps about the kitchen and that is all her high-strung skills can handle. They high-tail it back under the bushel and sit  quivering, leaving The Prude to finish a dish or a meal alone. She tries to coax her skills back but it is too late.  Nothing to do but forge ahead, skill-less.

Take last Sunday.  The Prude’s family would be coming for dinner. She decided on meat loaf.

She never makes meat loaf but convinced her culinary skills to try.
The Prude doesn’t touch raw meat.
This thing helped to an extent. 

The Prude remained calm.
She mixed a bunch of stuff in, but the skills were getting agitated. Too much onion? Too little oatmeal? 1 or 2 cans of tomato soup?
He skills were dubious about putting the mess in the crockpot but The Prude didn’t listen.
She left for church. The edgy skills tried to stand guard over the blob in the crock pot. But then something– a gurgle? a hiss from the settling stack of meat?  startled them enough to send them scurrying  to the safety of the bushel and they haven’t been seen since.
The Prude knows they left halfway through the cooking process. Because instead of a loaf of meat, she returned home to this mountain.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

'Snow Bound'

From ‘Snow Bound’
John Greenleaf Whittier

The moon above the eastern wood
Shone at its full; the hill-range stood
Transfigured in the silver flood.
Its blown snows flashing cold and keen,
Dead white, save where some sharp
Took shadow, or the somber green
Of hemlocks turned to pitchy black
Against the whiteness at their back.
For such a world and such a night
Most fitting that unwarming light,
Which only seemed wherever it fell
To make the coldness visible.