Touch with your eyes


I had three boys in under five years. Not a particularly noteworthy feat, but enough to keep me wavering between “on my toes” and “off-balance.”
Especially in the store.

So as not to be forbidden access at every establishment we frequented, I told my boys repeatedly to “touch with your eyes.” This meant they could admire toys, bouncy balls and jars of jam via the sense of sight only. NO TOUCHING.

My draconian shopping rule got us through the childhood years without leaving a wake of scattered toys, rogue bouncy balls and broken glass.

Today I don’t think my grandsons need to be told to touch with their eyes.
EVERYONE touches with their eyes.
We have no choice.
Physical stores are closing their doors left and right.
We shop online and examine merchandise with nothing but our sense of sight.

Online shopping is convenient. I get that. Harried parents don’t need to drag cranky children from one store to the next looking for the perfect birthday gift, for the right size pair of shoes, for a bag of apples. No worries about little ones breaking things, or the necessity to frisk them before leaving the store for pilfered gum, candy or bouncy balls.

But now we grownups have to touch with our eyes too. One of my favorite department stores declared bankruptcy and a few boutique clothing shops I like went belly-up.
Just when I need a scarf to match a greenish skirt for a wedding, my real store options are shriveling. Online shopping it is.
I’m not sure if the skirt is Aqua or Turquoise or something between. Emerald maybe? All these colors and more are available from online scarf world. There’s one greenish scarf that looks close. Maybe if I hold the skirt up to the computer screen— The color is called Gloaming. (Gloaming?) Maybe it matches. Or maybe it doesn’t.

What will the scarf feel like around my neck? I’m the type driven to violent distraction by tags the scratch and have had to stitch up more necklines than I care to admit. My eyes tell me the fabric of the Gloaming-colored scarf  is “lightweight woven viscose.”
But my fingers have no knowledge of how viscose, lightweight or otherwise, feels.
I’m touching with my eyes but these fearfully and wonderfully made orbs have limitations.

How can I tell, looking at an online image, what a “Homesick” candle smells like? Would I enjoy the mix that makes “Honey Lavender,” or would it be too sweet? My nose might get confused in a candle shop, as I take off lids of jars and sniff each candle, but it is a happy confusion.

Smooth wood, rough wool, cool leather, fragrant perfumes and silken nightgowns; delicate lace, crinkling cellophane, and mouth-watering chocolate wafting from the candy counter. The physical store is a smorgasbord for the senses.

There’s plenty to see when shopping online, and sometimes even to hear. But the rest of my senses are itching for new sensations. I hope real, actual, brick and mortar stores aren’t soon as hard to find as Jiffy Frosting Mix. (Yes, it’s true. Jiffy discontinued their boxes of white and chocolate icing and I am bereft.)

Anyone want to come over while I hold the scarf option on my laptop under my chin? Tell me if Gloaming brings out the color of my eyes.

The Chatterbox



Jesus took 3 disciples up a mountain.
 His clothes became white as light,
 God spoke audibly from heaven,
 and Moses and Elijah, who had been dead several hundreds of years, came to discuss issues of life and especially death with Jesus. (Read about it in Mark 9.)

It appears that while these three phenomenal, unprecedented events were occurring, James and John stood silent.
 Then we have Peter.
 He suggested they build tents and camp out up there. With the Son of God and…the guys who had died.

WHY this inane comment?
Because “he did not know what to say…”

Say friends, I’m over at Heart”wings” today.

I hope you can hop on over to read the rest of the story.

Combo Plate


Something good, linked via “and” with something else good, becomes twice as nice.
Love and marriage, bacon and eggs, buttons and bows, Mickey and Minnie.
A lot of my favorite things double their pleasantness when I join them.
I started a list of some favorite combos, old and new. (The new haven’t replaced the old. Just joined them to make an even more superior combo.)

Favorite Combos by the Prude

Quote and the reason
New: “I have made this letter longer than usual only because I have not had the time to make it shorter.” (Blaise Pascal)
And I am always in a frenzy of word-cutting to get my manuscripts pared down to the required length.
Old: “Be not the first by whom the new is tried nor the last by whom the old is laid aside” (My father quoting his father quoting someone else.)
And it kept me from being trendy, gave me a horror of group-think, and helped me fight an inborn tendency to stodginess.

Scan 150770000

Dad, trying a new combo of his own

Beverage and concurrent activity while imbibing
New: Bulletproof coffee and watching local news
Old (very old. 1970’s old) Diet Dr. Pepper and sunbathing

Author and character
New: Patricia Wentworth and Miss Maud Silver
Old: Josephine Tey and Inspector Grant

Color combination
New: Sage and red
Old: Sunshine yellow and cobalt blue

Sacred song and place to sing it
New: “Merciful God”* and a worship service with my brothers and sisters
Old: “How Great Thou Art”** and a country road, walking, as a melancholy teen. Feeling all nature-y.

Word & its association
New: Hiraeth—A nameless longing and homesickness for a home you can’t return to, or that never was. And the longing for a Home that we’ve never seen.
Old: Serendipity—A happy accident. And my dad explaining the meaning.

Entertainment and simultaneous drudgery task
New: Old B&W Falcon or Charlie Chan detective movies and ironing.
Old: “A Christmas Carol” (1938 or 1951 versions) at midnight and wrapping Christmas gifts.

New: Any color and any other color as long as it results in a riot of color
Old:  Wild chicory and Queen Anne’s LaceSONY DSC

New: Balsam and Cedar
Old: Pumpkin and Spice

New: Dark chocolate caramel and sea salt
Old: Clotted cream and jam

New: Naked cheese curds and ranch dip (Wisconsin is basically bathed in ranch dip)
Old: Chili and cold white milk

Poem and location to read/recite it
New: “Pied Beauty” by Gerard Manley Hopkins
and sitting on the patio just after sunset when it is still light enough to read. With feet propped up on the sandbox.SONY DSC
Glory be to God for dappled things –
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

Old: “Irish Peasant Song” by Louise Imogen Guiney and walking along country roads being melancholy. (no car as a teenager meant my pensive self was resigned to moody trudges along country roads.)

Version 2

This is it. The road I walked along as a melancholy teen, reciting poetry and singing hymns. Sort of the opposite of Betty and Veronica

I try to knead and spin, but my life is low the while/ Oh, I long to be alone, and walk abroad a mile;/ Yet if I walk alone, and think of naught at all/ 
Why from me that’s young should the wild tears fall?

The shower-sodden earth, the earth-colored streams/  
They breathe on me awake, and moan to me in dreams/ 
And yonder ivy fondling the broke castle-wall/ 
It pulls upon my heart till the wild tears fall.

The cabin-door looks down a furze-lighted hill/ 
And far as Leighlin Cross the fields are green and still/  
But once I hear the blackbird in Leighlin hedges call/  
The foolishness is on me, and the wild tears fall!

There you go. Some of my favorite combo plates. Got any others you can share?

*Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty, and Stuart Townend

**Carl Boberg

Grand Old Flag


SONY DSCIt’s almost Flag Day folks! I’m gettin’ my stars and stripes on this Thursday, June 14, and you know why?
Because it’s also Granny’s Preschool day and I couldn’t think of another topic.

Truly, I love my country and what my flag stands for. But I don’t usually spend much time thinking about Flag Day. Saving that burst of red, white and blue for 4th of July, don’t you know.

But since small people expect me to teach them something on Thursday—or at least I like to pretend they sit at my feet thirsting after knowledge—I’ve done some research on Old Glory. It really is a Grand Old Flag.


I don’t care what anyone says. I’m choosing to believe Betsy Ross stitched the flag after a visit from George Washington. If you try to reason with me about this I’ll turn on the song “Boys the Old Flag Never Touched the Ground” and sing along at full throttle.*

Why the song “Boys the Old Flag Never Touched the Ground”?
Thank you for asking. It has SUCH A COOL STORY.
William Carney, slave born, soldier in the Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War, was the first African-American to receive the Medal of Honor.
During the Battle of Fort Wagner in 1863, under heavy fire, the color guard for Carney’s regiment was killed. Carney caught up the flag.images-2
On hands and knees, under heavy fire and with multiple serious injuries, Sgt. Carney crawled back to his regiment, making certain that the flag never touched the ground.

If you want to know more about this lovely and honorable man please look him up. He is worth your time.
Sgt. William Carney is my new love, (almost but not quite displacing Elihu Washburne). He also puts me to shame. That kind of respect for the flag and what it is meant to represent? I fall so far short.

Martin Van Buren was the first president born under the flag we know as the Stars and Stripes. Please don’t tell me what what an ineffective president he was.

-His name was Martin. So was my dad’s.
-He was Dutch. Prick me and I bleed tulips and windmill cookies.
-His hometown is Kinderhook, New York. How can you not love a town called Kinderhook? And all its native sons and daughters?

The idea of Flag Day was birthed by a Wisconsin schoolteacher. I am a Wisconsin schoolteacher! (emeritus)

(because don’t you sort of like the idea that the U.S. isn’t quite like any place else on earth?)
We are the only country that officially pledges allegiance to the flag. Our national anthem is in homage to it, Sousa’s “The Stars and Stripes Forever” honors it, we have laws protecting it and societies that tell us how to handle it. No other country does any of the aforementioned. Oh yeah. Our flag is our brand.

Sixth:                                                                                                                                                     The current pattern incorporating the 50 stars on the blue field was designed as a class project by a high schooler. He got a B-minus.

There’s so much more to learn about the flag of the United States of America.
At Granny’s Preschool we’ll probably recite the Pledge of Allegiance, do a stars and stripes craft, hear the apocryphal story of Betsy Ross and eat red, white and blue food.
But I hope that my grandchildren will begin to grasp the meaning of the flag. They’ll learn that not everything done in its name is decent or honorable or right, and many people don’t so much wave it as wield it. But what it stands for now is what it was always supposed to stand for. Liberty and justice for all.
I hope these little ones grow up willing to contend for all the good and true things Old Glory represents.

SONY DSC*This is an idle and empty threat. I can’t find any recording of “Boys the Old Flag Never Touched the Ground” and therefore can’t sing it at any volume. Although I could recite the lyrics at the top of my voice…

Baby, I’m a Travelin’ Gran

(I guess you could call this The Tuesday Prude Plus One. Because—Wednesday and all that)

As of last Friday we’re married 32 years. I thought dinner at a nice restaurant on a lake would be nice. My husband thought he would continue the tradition he began in 1986— coming up with something totally unexpected.


“Let’s go to Amana Colonies and stay overnight at a bed and breakfast.”

He won.

We stayed here:


Die (pronounced “die,” according to the lady at the woolen mill. My 3 years of high school German begs to differ) Heimet Inn. That is a maypole in front. THAT IS A MAYPOLE!!!!!!


We slept here


We ate breakfast here. Was it good? I had to stop my husband licking the plate. Or was it the other way around?


Yay us!







Do you know about Amana Colonies? I tried to explain it to my son.
It is one part tourist attraction.
One part “Save our History.”
Two parts of getting on with the practical business of living.


Weaving wool. A most fascinating and beautiful piece of machinery.


Made right in the colonies. Spalted maple. Not spelted, Prude. Remember. Not spelted.

It was settled mid-19th century by German pietists seeking religious freedom. They found what they wanted in lush, quiet, uncrowded northeast Iowa.


450 buildings from those early days still stand in the seven settlements that are known collectively as Amana Colonies.

See? Like these.


The Minneapolis Moline tractor wasn’t around in 1855. But in my opinion, any era of world history could be improved by the addition of a Minneapolis Moline.


Most houses were brick, but these stone ones are fascinating. Those Germans knew how to build!


The Ox Yoke restaurant. Wiener Schnitzel, anyone?


Confession: I took this photo and the previous one last November when we dashed through the colonies on our way back from California.

The colonies functioned as a commune for decades, which sounds really cool. Unless you have to live in one. By 1932 the good folks still wanted to worship as they felt led but were ready to live more independently.


Philosophy of Christian Metz, founder of Amana Colonies. A man after my own heart.

No, for those who wonder. They aren’t like the Amish.

Well, except that they are (were?) pacifists who value hard work and fine craftsmanship and simplicity and piety. And food. Oh, and they went to church 11 times a week.
Now, don’t you feel like an impious slug?


Who knew the Germans liked things so cozy?

Maybe at the height of tourist season you can’t walk from the German restaurant to the German beer hall to the toy store to the woolen mill to the German brewery to the locally handcrafted furniture store without side-stepping two hundred walkers and vaulting dozens of children in the throes of tantrums. (There isn’t a water slide or arcade to be had for love or a Deutsche mark.)


You should go to Amana Colonies some day. It’s an oddly satisfying place—fully twenty-first century with a semi-transparent overlay on 1855. A totally unexpected place.

Kind of like my husband.