Friday, July 27, 2012

Accidental Still Life

I never knew how hard still life photography is until I tried it this week.
No, you can't see the shots that didn't turn out. They stink.
But Prudes pride themselves on persistence so I'll keep trying and if nothing turns
out and I never master the principles of design I'll just hope you forget I ever said anything.
In the meantime here are some still-lifeish photos that look that way only by accident.
Swing a camera around and snap wildly for long enough and something is bound to
look intentional.

My parents got this lamp as their wedding present. It goes downstairs with me during tornado warnings
No way to improve on these colors and textures

If I could paint I would paint these to look just like this
Cold stones and frosted flowers
This photo is all that we have to remember these glasses. They are now among the 4 dozen other pair my husband lost

How can hatboxes be so photogenic?
Flowers and a Mercedes. What's not to love?
I may have gotten a little photoshop-happy here
Hey! This sort of counts as deliberate. I did this for a shower invite.  For my potato-loving daughter-in-law.

What does one do when the bundt cake spills over in the oven and smoke wafts through the house? Grab the camera!
Enjoy the weekend! I plan to!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Anything is possible, Cameroon

Fair warning:
Your Prude is an Olympic junkie.
For the next 17 days I’ll spend a bit of time writing about the Olympics and the rest will be spent watching them. My poor husband. My poor dog.

Did you know competition has already begun? Soccer.
The few fans in the arena yesterday saw the women’s team from Brazil trounce the ladies from Cameroon 5-0.
It was barely a competition.
However, this is the first time they have even qualified for Olympic competition.

The Cameroon women range in age from 16 to 29. They have names like Ajara, Claudine, Ysis,Drusille, Bibi and Jeanette. They come from an area of western Africa tugged and fragmented and fought over for hundreds of years by Bantu settlers, Muslim nomads, Germans, French and British. Its borders finally jerrymandered into some semblance of what Europe called a nation, Cameroon declared its independence to become one of the most corrupt nations in the world. The vice-riddled government and dishonest law enforcement have exalted bribe-taking to an art form.
Its fractious, fragmented citizenry fight over rubber and oil and rain forests and their future.
Cameroon has one of the highest literacy rates in Africa, but that rate for women is only about 58%.
They offset this by outliving the men by 3 years. On average a woman from Cameroon lives to be 54.
This means that many of the young women on the soccer field yesterday are long past the half-way point of their life expectancy.

The tough little soccer women of Cameroon face overwhelming odds on the soccer field but even greater ones back home.
Maybe that accounts for their fighting spirit despite the demoralizing loss to Brazil.
‘...this is football,” their coach said, “and anything is possible.”

Keep fighting, ladies of Cameroon. And don’t quit fighting when you get back home.
Anything is possible.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


It’s a good thing the ebola virus is not cute and furry. I probably would be reluctant to kill it.
Many people of my generation could pass through the parallel world of anthropomorphic everything that Mr. Disney et. al. created and have the good sense to realize IT DOESN’T EXIST.
Little toasters do not weep bits of burned bread crumbs on the way to the trash heap.
Ants don’t form emotional attachments to one another, skunks don’t have low self-esteem, and misfit toys don’t comfort each other on Christmas Eve. I keep telling myself.
Some of you may be scoffing at me. Others, when about to put a trapped fly out of its misery, may hear a faint echo of “Help...meeeeee,’ tickle the eardrums.

SInce–when–Bambi? Peter Rabbit? cavorted  on the scene, the world is no longer divided into animal, vegetable and mineral. It is ALL animal. And not animal-like animals. People-like animals. People-like vegetables and people-like minerals.
Everything has a personality and to throw away anything constitutes murder, or, at best, abandonment.
Can anyone else see a possible root cause for hoarding here? I’m willing to bet 100% of hoarders saw an animated cartoon about a little book that no one loved anymore.
Or a Velveteen Rabbit.
And therein lies my uh-oh.
The rains have come and my garden stands a fighting chance.
But early last evening a squirming mass of fuzzy adorableness caught my eye. Further investigation revealed a nest packed full of warm, blind, helpless baby bunnies.
Right on the edge of our dog’s primary restroom. Which leads me to believe Mama Bunny either has damaged nasal sensors, or she is a woman of great courage.
See the ramifications of my childhood worldview?
I have endowed Mama Bunny with anthropomorphic emotions.
She is also a loving nurturing mother who worries about her babies and has high hopes for their future.
A future that involves garden-invasion and vegetable-pillaging.
We should ‘eliminate’ this future problem before the 5 little squirming sweethearts turn into 5 pudgy vandals. But we won’t.
Perhaps I can sit by the nest and convince the babies that stealing is naughty.
With the cautionary tale of what happened to Peter Rabbit’s father thrown in for good measure.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

It's a rainy morning here and has me in a story-telling mood. Someday, Lord willing, I will be a grandma and I want to be the cookie-baking, story-telling-on-a-rainy-day kind. So if you don't mind I'll practice on you, because you are wonderful.

Me, on the horse on the left, supported only by a disembodied hand.

We lived on a ranch outside Denver when I was about 3. We have photos of toddler me on a huge black horse, smiling like an idiot. Then we moved to a farm outside Pimple-on-the-Map, Iowa. 6-year-old me had one of those get-thrown-from-a-horse-and-have-it-run-over-top-of-you moments. A couple of years later and we were living on a Wisconsin farm (we moved a lot) and 8.5-year-old me had become terrified of horses. I blamed my parents. They didn’t put me right back on the horse that had thrown 6-year-old me.
“We didn’t put you back on because you couldn’t walk. You had just been run over by a horse for Pete’s sake.’
Fine. But I hated being scared of horses.
Our little rented house was near the big farmhouse, which contained the farmer and his family. He had a daughter about my age named Lisette. She was skinny, had red hair, a temper, and perpetual dirt under her fingernails. That dirt was a badge of honor because she was a FARM GIRL.  She called me a CITY SLICKER, and supported this slander by pointing out that my parents made me bathe every night.
City slicker? How nasty could she get? Since my parents wouldn’t let me skip the baths, I needed an alternative plan to prove my city-slicklessness. I would ride Lisette’s horse Bubbles.

One fine morning found me standing by the barn, breathing deeply of fresh country air delicately scented with manure, Lisette at my back and face to face with Bubbles.
“Get up.” Lisette ordered.

“This is the most enormous horse I have ever seen!”

“It’s a pony, and it’s shorter than you. So am I and I can get up. Chicken.”

“There’s no saddle!”

“Could you get up with a saddle if there was one?”


“Then get up!’ 

Something that sounded suspiciously like ‘city slicker’ followed.  My pride welling, I put hands to Bubbles’ broad back. I launched into the air.  Too much adrenaline.   I almost vaulted clean over to the other side and would have landed head first in heaven knew what if Lisette hadn’t grabbed my ankles.

With much squirming (me) grunting (Lisette) and eye-rolling (Bubbles) I managed to get astride the creature.  I was even facing the right direction.  Lisette levitated up to sit in front of me, grabbed a handful of mane and bellowed, “Get movin!”

One second the world was quiet, orderly and stationary around me.  The next second barns, outbuildings, cows, and telephone poles shaped liked Lisette were flying past me in the opposite direction.  My ears were roaring and my eyes were stinging and if we had come up alongside a race car at that moment I’m sure we would have left it in the dust. I felt myself slipping sideways and clutched at whatever was within reach. Something long and red caught my eye and I snatched it like a lifeline.

“Hey, let go of my hair!”

 I saw Lisette’s eyes glaring at me where her mouth should be. Her face was upside down.  I pondered how this could be for a moment and then realized I was pulling back on her hair so hard that she would end up with her head in my lap if I didn’t act quickly.  I let go.  Gravity immediately asserted itself and I started to slip toward the other side.  I grabbed her around the waist.

“Can’t breath! Can’t breath!”

“What? I can’t hear you! Slow down!”

I must have gripped tightly enough to stop the flow of blood to Lisette’s brain because she slowed to a trot.

Technically, trotting is when the horse comes up as you are coming down and you meet with enough force to crush cylinders of steel.  After a few minutes I was convinced that I would never sit on any solid surface again without a pillow strapped to my backside.

“D-Does B-Bubbles have any sm-smoother gear?”

Lisette, who somehow seemed to bounce in time with Bubbles, said through what sounded suspiciously like gritted teeth,

“Sure. How’s this?”

“Less bumpy. Still too fast”


“Nope. Too fast yet”



“We’re stopped.”

“I know.”  I slid to the ground with amazing grace.  Once I could stand without wobbling, I brushed Bubble hair off myself and started down the road.

“What are you doing?”

“Walking back.” 

“It’s over a mile!”

“I know.”

Limping happily back to the farm, I startled an inquisitive little mouse who scampered out of the ditch to see who was bow-legging her way down his dusty road. 
“Don’t mind me,” I told him. “I’m just a city slicker.”

Friday, July 20, 2012

Just Messing Around

Sometimes I like to pretend that my kids are all out of the house and I have time to mess around with my photos. Below are the results of way too much messing.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

My Mom Knew a Girl

It was dangerous to know my mom.
Cautionary tales about the sad ends of young women in her acquaintance littered my childhood.
We could not play with balloons.
She knew a girl who inhaled a bit of popped balloon and died.
We were ordered not to pick pimples.
She knew a girl who picked a pimple on her nose and died.
Dishes had to be washed in water so hot our fingernails shriveled.
Mom knew a girl who ate off a dirty dish, got salmonella and died.

Guess what happened to the girl mom knew who went on a hayride?

No balloons dance through my childhood memories (not that my steam-sopped fingernails could have poked a hole in one anyway), and I still believe touching a blemish on one’s face will lead to immediate blood poisoning and certain death.
And though I spend every hayride with my head swiveling fore and aft, to and fro, on the alert for approaching danger, I trust my dishwasher and Cascade to protect me from dirty-dish diseases.

But one sad end has affected my life as a vehicular passenger.
I still can’t stick my hand out the car window to enjoy fresh breezes wafting between my fingers.
My mind’s eye recalls the visual I always conjured up for the story of
The Girl who Stuck her Arm out the Train Window.
This story and the stupid girl who engendered the story stole from my childhood the clean joy of air pressure suspending my arm out the window in a state of wobbling, wind-forced bliss.
Even now as I inch my fingers out the window my mind’s eye recounts the story:
I picture the Girl waving her arm merrily out her window, oblivious of the train hurtling toward her on the next track. As it zips past– WHOOSH!– it takes her arm right along with it.
I picture the Girl, no longer able to wave because her arm is being borne in style by a fast-moving passenger train heading the opposite direction.
I picture the look of utter surprise on her face.
I do not picture any blood. My mind’s eye never conjures up gore.
My mind’s eye never bothers to question how the heck long the girl’s arm was.

My mind’s eye simply does the job my mother always meant it to do.
It yells, “Don’t stick your arm out the window because Mom knew a girl who...”

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Right to Bear Opinions

Americans are guaranteed the right to our opinions. We love this right. We use it all the time.
If we set it to music it could be our alternate anthem:
I have a right to my opinion, it’s a part of me
Don’t question my op-in-i-on; we'll agree to disagree.

Wars have been fought so we have the right to bear opinions.
But with such a great right comes equally great responsibility.

Sure, we may have the constitutional right to bear opinions. But opinions, misused, can be full of sound and fury, signifying the boorishness of the bearer. At best. When opinions get really dangerous is when they are sprayed about indiscriminately, with little regard for the wounds they cause and the wreckage they leave behind.
Possibly those bearing opinions should pass some basic requirements before they can be counted as registered opinion bearers:

-Opinion bearer will have at least 70% accurate knowledge regarding the subject of each opinion, or refrain from voicing the opinion until knowledge is attained.
-A ‘cooling off’ period will be required before the discharge of an explosive opinion.
-Opinion bearer will take responsibility for misuse of those opinions.
-A previous record of misusing opinions to the detriment of others or to the process of logical reasoning will result in delay of permit.
-Opinions will be aired for pleasure, recreation, debate, discussion or in self defense, and never intentionally, with malice of forethought, to cause harm to others and the process of logical reasoning.
-Bearers of opinions agree that, although the right is guaranteed, an opinion is not required on every issue, matter, dogma, or bit of gossip.
-Assault weapon opinions will not be used when  BB gun opinions will suffice.

Fellow Americans, we should bear our opinions with respect and caution and dignity.

But of course, that is just my opinion.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Scenes from a wedding

We're in that graduation party/wedding overlap time of life. And I have to tell you, I am enjoying the overlap. Getting together with wonderful people to celebrate wonderful events. Not much can beat it.
Besides, my husband has to dress up cute and I don't have to cook dinner when we are reveling.
There has been a spate of outdoor weddings the last few years.
Here are some shots from the most recent.

It was hot. It was sooo hot.

Father of the bride


Oh, it's one of THOSE parties.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Getting to Know You

Here’s an interesting fact:
While the vast majority of those who read ‘The Prude Disapproves’ come from
the United States, the second largest readership is from...wait for it...

Who in Russia
(or Germany or The Philippines
or Chile)
is reading ‘The Prude Disapproves'?
This is a burning question for me.
The next burning question is, 

‘Why is Canada all the way down at #7?'
Really, Canada?

So now I’m curious.
Are my stats correct?
Do people from around the world really read ‘The Prude Disapproves’? Or
does some innocent reader in Chile mis-type ‘prune’, run across this blog, and in befuddlement try to figure out where the prune recipe is hiding?

Let’s try a bold experiment.
Could you tell me where you are from in the comments?
I know it isn’t easy to leave a comment.
But if you are willing and able I’d love to hear about you, even if you have never commented before.

To my dear friends who encourage me every day– I know who you are, but hope you still stop by and say hello.
You have blessed me beyond belief.

OK. Let’s give this a try. Who are you? Where are you from? And what does Canada have against Prudes?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

About this drought, Lord

My prayers for rain are getting perfunctory.
“Convict our government to make godly decisions, come quickly Lord, and send rain.”
I pray for the above because we’re supposed to, but in my heart I doubt the Lord will answer.

Drought has settled in. Crisp-dried crops surround our towns and villages, disappearing ponds and streams feebly try to moisten the land, thirsty creatures congregate at mud holes and vultures begin to gather.

It isn’t yet as bad as it could be.
But that is small comfort.
It could get as bad as it could be.
There’s no rain in the forecast. I haunt weather maps looking for a green splotch in the manner of a teenager haunting Facebook looking for status updates.

I mutter the prayer again. “Lord, send rain.”
It seems so fruitless. Nothing is on the radar. When is the last time God worked weather miracles?
I work up a little resentment and direct it to an iron-blue sky.
“So now you’re siding with the environmentalists! Now they’re jeering at us. Sneering that they were right about global warming.”
The iron sky doesn’t answer.

But my resentment bubbles and froths into another complaint.
“This is the midwest! Decent, moral people abound here! I would say we’re in the majority. Shouldn’t you be sending your rain on the just?”

A small, barren cloud winks at me, darkens a moment with a teasing promise of precipitation, then dissipates.
“C’mon Lord! Your creation is groaning. Don’t you care?”
The hard sky doesn’t care.

“I know our nation is corrupt. If we all behave and go to church and vote in leaders who will respect your laws, could we have rain then? But even if we elected 100% godly people who enacted your laws 100% of the time (and that has never EVER happened) would be too late! We need rain now!”

A circling crow laughs.
Around me, small birds laugh back. Small birds, whose short lives may be made even shorter by the drought, laugh and sing and rejoice.
Stupid birds. Showing me up. Delighting in the day the Lord has made.
“Oh dear God. Remind me again how you made the earth good but our sin messed it up back then and still does today. Remind me that rain falls on the just and unjust. Encourage my thirsty heart to trust that even if all your children die from drought, we’ll be ushered into an eternity of refreshing delight.
Don’t let me forget that you...You are my all in all. My future isn’t tied to rain or sun or cool breezes. My past and present and future are in the One who makes all things new.
Help me trust and rejoice.”
I look again at the fathomless sky.
“And Lord? Please send rain.”

Monday, July 9, 2012

Yellow? I call it ‘Bit o' Buttercup’

I told a girl at church I liked her salmon color shorts. She said she preferred to think of them as ‘coral’. Salmon made her think of smelly.
Later that day, I was correcting a paper one of my students emailed over. I make comments, but it is more fun to make them in color, and it is more fun when the color has a fun name. My Mac has a palette called ‘crayons’. I don’t write in red, blue or green. I write in maraschino, or blueberry, or clover.
I commented on her paper in ‘Ocean’.

In the early 1990’s Crayola announced a contest to name its new colors. When the winners came out I splurged on a box of Crayola Crayons.
‘Macaroni and Cheese’, ‘Tickle me Pink’ and Denim’ were dandy, but as soon as I saw ‘Purple Mountain’s Majesty’ named by Mildred Sampson (age 89) I fell in love. If my sons wanted to butter me up they just had to draw me a picture using Mildred’s purple.

I’m a sucker for emotive color names.
Don’t bother tempting me to paint my kitchen with a couple of gallons of white. Tell me it would look great with a fresh coat of ‘Sun-Rinsed Linen’.
Dark blue trim wouldn’t excite my imagination till labelled ‘Moody Blue’.
Come to think of it, that would look good with ‘Nights in White Satin’. Musical groups provide so much inspiration. ‘Nickelback Gray’. Or ‘Maroon 5’. Your biker-dude husband may opt for some ‘Back in Black’.

Don’t forget literary characters. Can’t you just picture ‘Charlie Brown’? ‘Scarlett O’Hara’ would have to be a pretty potent shade of red. And ‘Tinkerbell Pink’ not only sounds feminine, it is fun to say. Paint your living room “Dorian Gray’ and you probably wouldn’t hang your family portrait in it.
And while ‘Narnian Snow’ would be more tempting than ‘Bright White, it may mean little to those who don’t read fantasy.

Beigey-taupe paint called ‘Putty’ would be OK with my carpenter spouse, but I would pass until it became ‘Shenandoah'.  The duller the color, the more ethereal its name.
Tan is just washed out brown till you name it ‘Grandma’s Casserole’. The name really doesn’t have to do anything with the color. It just has to make an emotional connection.

My husband can be an inadvertent master of emotional connections.
He called his neighbor’s horrific siding color ‘Gang-green’.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Bring me back my 4th

My mother-in-law worked in the school system and always said that once 4th of July is over, summer goes by at top speed.
June draws out its bit of summer and arranges each moment in slow succession and for utmost enjoyment. July picks up momentum and by the time August gallops on the scene entire days are tossed in a compression chamber and emerge on Labor Day as a sun-and-heat-weary blur.
If the drought continues in my neck of the woods, it's possible that July and August won't go by fast enough.
But still.
This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Flowers in the ditches are oblivious to drought

Hay made while the sun shines
Patriotic in-laws

Patriotic kids
More patriotic kids
Patriotic doll.
My husband wore an orange shirt for fireworks and thus is banned from the album of the 4th.

We usually sit here for fireworks. It was closed off and firetrucks surrounded it

The Road Runner showed up
My favorite: the bursts that turned into fireflies. Although they look more like aggressive constellations here
What happens when an inexperienced photographer changes the settings on her camera
My July baby waiting for his already damaged cake to burst in air.

  May your summer 2012 be worth the remembering.