3.14.2014

Friday Five: Him


It's this guy's birthday today. 

For those of you who may happen upon this blog randomly, the handsome dude above is Adam. AJ.  My love of 19 years, my husband of 11.  This is the dude who has to deal with me on a daily basis.  (You can leave your sympathies below, I'll pass them along.)

Today is his 37th birthday.  So, in honor of that, he's the topic du jour.  Without further hesitation, I give you today's Friday Five:  Adam

1.  This guy. This guy is pretty much the epitome of "you can do anything you set your mind to."  Over the past 19 years, I've watched him give up smoking - cold turkey.  Give up chewing tobbacco - cold turkey.  Drop 40 lbs over the course of a summer and begin running when he'd never taken a step toward a finish line in his life.

2.  He's run 2 full marathons and about 18 half marathons, not to mention crazy runs like Warrior Dashes and Foam Fests, as well as a million 5ks.   I like to call him Forrest Gump some days because he'll tell you "I just started running".  Well, alrighty then!

3.  He's a talented woodcrafter.  A few years back, he made cutting boards for all of the women in the family, and he handcrafted the desk at which I'm currently sitting.  He's also pretty skilled at construction and just basic handyman stuff.  I always giggle a bit when people at work talk about hiring people to do their remodels or plumbing or things like that.  I mean, I have a husband (not to mention a whole family and slew of friends) who can do this stuff, doesn't everyone??  The one thing he will stay away from is electrical.  I'm glad he knows his boundaries, because, well, I like my house.

4.  He's a baseball nut, and ranks up there as one of the Detroit Tigers #1 fans.  When he was in high school, he was a catcher, and ranked in the top 10 his senior year out of all the HS catchers in the state.

5.  He's just awesome.  There's a million other things I could go on about, but seriously, the list is only 5 things long.   I know others could add as well, but we'd be here all day.

So, happy birthday baby!!  You're proof that it only gets better with age.  I love you...here's to many more birthdays together. 

3.06.2014

Made with Love

Because I'm nearing senior citizen status, I occasionally listen to news radio on my way in to and home from work.  I listen mainly through the traffic report and then change it, but in the afternoons, traffic is always sponsored by a local market.  One of their taglines "like mom and grandma used to make", and it always gets me thinking.

There is no argument that the art of being a mom or grandma in the kitchen is dying. Before you get your aprons in a bunch, I'm not saying that today's moms aren't good cooks and don't provide nutritionally sound meals for their families.  That's not it at all. It's just, the whole role of a mom has changed over the years.  Moms are more involved outside of the house.  Again, I tip my hat to parents, because whether you work full time or stay at home, you're likely always on the go. Sports, dance, school functions, your own appointments.  Life is just busier now days than it was in the middle of the last century.  The days of puffy skirts and pearls to clean the toilets and make sure dinner is on the table when your husband gets home are gone.  The era of the Cleavers is dead, yo.

That's not what I mean though when I talk about that tagline getting my wheels turning.  "Like mom and grandma used to make" evokes a feeling of nostalgia that makes me sad when I think that younger generations may not really get what that means.  I'm talking more about the feeling behind the food.  What makes it so much more special than just throwing some sauce from a jar over some grocery store brand spaghetti?  It's the process behind it. The emotions. The time. 

There are certain foods in our family that have become "must haves".  However, as I get older, I realize that it's not just the food that makes the tradition, but it's the tradition itself.  Follow me for a moment here:

Say, in your family, you always have an apple pie at Easter. It's been that way since you were young, and you aren't sure how it came to be that the apple pie was there every Easter, but you always knew that it would be or Easter would be ruined. RUINED, people.  In addition, it couldn't be just any apple pie. It had to be great-great-great-grandma's recipe with the lard crust and 4 different kinds of apples and only Stroh's french vanilla ice cream on the top.  It must be served warm, and no less than 2 pies shall be made, as not getting any for dessert after your ham dinner (with grandma's scalloped potatoes and Aunt Betty's casserole, also always expected on Easter) would be a crime. 

Now. Unless your descendants are vampires, it's not likely that great-great-great grandma is still around to make this pie.  Somewhere along the way, she's given this likely highly guarded information to her child or niece or grandchild, and they were tasked with carrying on this tradition.  Great-great-great grandma could see the future, and knew that future without her apple pie was not a future she wanted her family to live in.  So, she took time to teach someone the way of the pie.  Gave them the recipe. Made them make it a few times until it was damn close to hers (because let's face it, you're never gonna replicate that kind of love).  Sometimes, there wasn't even a recipe. Somewhere along the way, the recipe was all in great-great-great grandma's head, and she cared enough to attempt to write it down so it could be carried on after she was gone.  

I fear that outside of a small group, the younger generations won't get to experience this feeling.  I am doubly scared that they just won't care.  It's not that they wouldn't miss it if the apple pie never showed up again at Easter, but they wouldn't go the extra effort to make sure that it did.  This goes 2 ways as well.  I fear that those who are in current possession of the tradition will be so busy that the first time they don't get a chance to do it, it's missed, but they'll "get to it next year".  Then sadly, next year never comes.

In my family, there are certain recipes that I can't imagine having a holiday without.  Aunt Lil's cheese ball.  Grandma's cake roll or hamburger stuffing.  There are stuffed cabbage rolls as well, although there is a debate over whose recipe is better.  Luckily, there are actual hand written recipes for these, because there was a time when someone cared enough to say "hey mom/grandma, can I have this recipe?"  So mom/grandma then entrusted said person with these recipes so the traditions could be carried on for our family. 

My mom taught me how to cook.  I can cook fairly well, although I'll argue that Adam is the better cook, if only to get out of making dinner every night. (shhhhh!!)  Anyway, mom makes a version of chop suey that we love, and my brother requests it for his birthday dinner every year.  It's not like what you get at a restaurant, but it's so good that I'll eventually have to learn how so it's not lost years down the road.  My brother actually asked me if I'd learned how yet, and I immediately responded with "why? Is there something wrong with mom?"  I know I'll eventually learn, and want to because somehow life without mom's chop suey is not a life I want.

My Grams basically taught me how to bake. While Adam is the better cook, I am the better baker.  Half the time he doesn't even eat sweets, which is downright criminal, but that's another post for another day.  Anyway, while learning the tricks of the trade from Grams, I was told many a time "you'll know it when you taste it" or "if it doesn't look right, you'll know" and how to fix it if it wasn't.  She taught me how to take the time to make sure things were just so.  I recall more than a few times having them turn out wrong and having that be met with "well, honestly!""   I wanted to learn these things though. I wanted to spend the time on them. I still feel honored when I am asked to make the cake roll because it was something she was pretty well known for. I feel closer to her when that batch of cookies turns out just right because I knew how to fix the runny batter or the first pan of cookies that spread too thin while baking.  It's the tradition of spending that time in the kitchen. The tradition of making sure there is hamburger stuffing or a cheeseball on the holidays.  It's what makes them, in my opinion. 

So, I hope I'm not right on this one. I hope that there is a younger generation of people who will prove me wrong and want to take the time to learn.   Take the time to understand there's a difference between just following a recipe and actually putting the time and care into making something that you'll serve to someone else.  I think that's the real meaning behind "like mom and grandma used to make"  or whomever it was who put the time and the love into the final product that made it part of the actual fiber of your family. 

2.28.2014

Friday Five - I love the 80s

You'll have to do without the fab graphics of the VH1 show that aired a few years back. I have neither the technology or time for fancy flying toasters or random shaded sunglasses to appear over my photo, even though that would be totally awesome!!

Tonight, for the 3rd year in a row, Adam and I will be hanging with our friends at what's come to be known as the highlight of a long winter:  Lincoln Park Fire's Mega 80's bash.  I can not even begin to tell you how totally awesome this party is, and the people watching is amazing.  Pretty much everyone dresses up. There are various incarnations of Madonna-wannabes.  Guys from Top Gun.  So much Aqua-Net that I'm sure we do more damage to the ozone in one evening that most of the year.

It's just awesome fun.

There's something about the 80s. I mean, other decades had awesome times, but I have yet to see a sock hop reminiscent of the 50s or a disco party from the 70s that gets the response an 80s party does.  It's just that cool.  For those of you who missed it, I'm so sorry. You'll never know, dude. It was just too cool for school.

I'll try to explain below, or at least give you a glimpse with today's Friday Five:  My favorite things from the 80s:

1.  If you don't know what this is, and you grew up in the 80s, we can no longer be friends.


For those of you not lucky enough to grow up 80's style, allow me to introduce you to Merlin.  Aside from the fact that he resembles an early cell phone, he was my favorite back in the day.  I spent many an afternoon playing tic-tac-toe and memory on this bad boy.  I could also make beautiful (one tone, digitial) music, and could play the Popeye theme song like nobody's business.   I have been looking for one of these for years.  The only one's I've come across on eBay are sketch or expensive, or both.  My undying love to anyone who can find me a new Merlin to love.  I will throw my Candy Crush addition to the wayside faster than a speeding bullet if I could get my hands on Merlin's edges again. 

(Sidenote, if you had to Google "Popeye" - you're on notice.  Youngster!)

Runners up were anything from Colecovision and the original Atari.  You guys, I mean, seriously. Barnstormer? PONG!!  You can keep your God of War and your PS3.  Give me an old Nintendo or an Atari 2600 and I'm good to go.  (Speaking of, I actually traded conversation with my husband for a game of Super Mario a few years ago. Like literally hung up on him because it was my turn. Now that's love.)

2.  Molly Ringwald:

Also responsible for my lifelong crush on Andrew McCarthy. Enough to watch all of the "Mannequin" movies just to see that smile.  If you've ever seen any portion of the movie "Mannequin or a subsequent sequel, you'll understand. 


Jake Ryan.  That is all.



I'd like to think I was a bit Molly, but more likely not.  

I can't even begin to put into words how Molly Ringwald was my role model.  I would call her my teenage spirit animal, but I didn't know what that was back then.  She was perfect, and honestly, I was always a little jealous of my cousin, who resembled her back in the day.  I just wanted to be that cool.  Molly always had a handle on situations and was just bad ass without even trying.  

Oh, and because, Ducky:



"You ever had one of these?"  I WISH!!

3.  80's TV.  It's no secret that I find most of what's on TV today to be less than entertaining. Aside from a few shows each season, I don't watch a lot of TV.  I would love for nothing more than to go back and give a swift groin kick to whomever thought reality television was a good idea.  90% of the programming on today could go away and I would not cry.

I was lucky enough to grow up when TV was still cheesy entertainment.  Sunday nights were spent with Ricky Schroeder on "Silver Spoons".  The 1-2 punch of "Happy Days" and "Laverne and Shirley" is still one of my favorite television combos.  And Saturday mornings?  Dude.  Saturday mornings were the best.  Up early, in front of the TV watching "The Smurfs" or "Looney Tunes" when it was still good.  Cartoons, period, were still good back then. They relied on actual creative artwork instead of CGI. I love me some Pixar a much as the next guy, but there's something to be said for Elmer Fudd shooting the bill off of Daffy Duck for a laugh.  (That's the other thing, every cartoon is so PC today I want to scream.)

Long gone are the days of Webster, Alf, Mr. Belvedere (although now I have Mr. Carson, so it's not all bad).  There's something to be said for cheesy sitcoms from the day though. That was good TV.

Also:  The After School Special.  It's like Lifetime TV for kids, before Lifetime TV.  Between that and the words "Tonight, on a very special episode..."  Man, you just knew that some heavy shit was coming your way.  Those were the best!!

Also also:  MTV. Kids, there was a time that MTV actually stood for MUSIC Television. As in, asde from 1 or 2 cheesy game shows (Remote Control, anyone?), it showed music videos.  All day long.  And it was awesome. 

The original "Vee-Jays". You can only wish you were this cool, people. 
 

4.  The fashion.  If you've never owned a pair of jelly shoes or bracelets, neon everything and spandex shorts under a skirt, you haven't lived.

Frighteningly enough, each year this 80s party rolls around, it's super easy to dress for it as all of this fashion is coming back around.  I'm not sure if that's cool or scary. Maybe a little of both?  

5. This one really isn't a thing, more of a feeling, but it's one I miss:  everything just seemed so much more chill back then. Ok, I get that I was a teenager and I didn't have all of the responsibilities that adults had. I'm sure people worried about bills and adult things. However, it was way more simple in the fact that we all weren't so connected.  There weren't cell phones in anyone's pockets. No one was ignoring you at the dinner table so they could check Facebook.  We were outside and playing and no sports team was adopting a campaign to get kids to move.  (Seriously, this is a thing now. )

We went out and played with the neighbors and came home when mom bellowed across 4 yards for us to come home for dinner, or if we were out after dinner, be home by dark. 

This pretty much sums it up, even though it's by Bucky Covington.
Basically, we made it through despite our parents not trying to wrap us in bubble wrap. 

You'll likely notice that I didn't say 80's music.  Mainly because it goes without saying that music will never be again what it was then, but also because there's a separate post on the way down the line on that one.

Anyway,  I must sign off now so I can go work on my makeup.  Pink eyeshadow and purple lipstick takes time.  I must look perfect to go relive one of my favorite decades, if only for a few hours. 


2.24.2014

Come On, Get Happy

Alright.  I'll start by saying that I'm guilty of what I'm about to write just as much as the next guy, so if you're getting ready to point fingers back my way, don't.  I KNOW.

Here's a question:

For being the shortest month numerically, why in the HELL does February feel it has to be the most dickiest of months every year?  Every. Damn. Year.  Whether the winter is mild or Mother Nature has to remind us of her wrath. Whether we try to do things to keep occupied or just sit on the couch eating all of the Girl Scout cookies that have been recently delivered.  Whether we drown ourselves in work or try to make some time for fun, at the end of the day, February leaves everyone grouchy.

I'd like to try and combat that.  If only for today, so I'd like to put something out there, and I'd like to think that at least some of my peeps will make an effort to do this.  Mainly because I am, and we know what a bitch I can be.  You know, when I'm not being a sweet princess.

So, your marching orders are as such (and yes, at this moment, I am the boss of you):

Smile at someone in public.  Be it a cashier at lunch, the checkout person at the grocery store, the gas station attendant, some random dude in a car next to you at a light (but not for too long because that can get really creepy really quickly). Just flash those pearly whites at SOMEONE you normally wouldn't.

If you're feeling extra froggy, ask them how their day is, or just say thank you to someone.

If you're feeling like you want to go on Facebook and proclaim how much today sucks or how you hate winter or you don't like the color green, stop.  Think of one thing you do like and talk about that.  (Again, I KNOW. You guys, I tried to give the Terrorist away on FB yesterday.  Like, not even to a good home. Just to a home.  Adam made me leave the house for a while and go for a drive so I could get away from the dog, people.  The D-O-G.  Every day I'm convinced we made the right decision to not have kids.  I'd be forever taking drives, I fear.) I don't think I'm one of those people who is filled with drama-rama on that site, but there are a few friends with whom I've had to exercise the "hide" feature lately. Likewise, I'm sure I've been hidden as well.  It's ok.  Winter is long, yo.  There's not much to do so we focus on all of the negative crap because we're trapped inside for the most part with little options for outlets.

So today, just try for 5 minutes to smile. To talk. To be the bright in someone else's day. 

That's it. I'm not going to make any further demands than that, and I'll stop being the boss of you now. Maybe.

Go out there and spread some happy. Good is the rule. Be the good.

Happy Monday, loves.  Here's to a better week than most of us have had over the past few months.  We can do it, if only for 5 minutes.  Sometimes that's all it takes to turn a whole day around.  

2.19.2014

Wednesday.

Unfortunately, I was at work. And "everything I thought it could be"?  Not really...

Allow me to explain, let you think I've done nothing but surf the web today.  I haven't (much).

So, in case you hadn't heard from my FB status earlier, Wednesday is on notice. 

This morning did not start out fabulously.  While driving into work, I blasted music, sang at the top of my lungs and convinced myself that I will not have a bad day.  Positivity and all that shit, you know?  

Once I arrive at the parking garage, I key in and head up the ramp like every other day. I see a coworker getting out of his car and think "Hi Dave!" as I'm moving at a normal person speed up the first ramp en route to the next.  People who can not drive in parking garages are the bane of my existence most days, so I generally give them a bit more space.  Clearly, the dude in front of me is one of these people, because the following ensued:

Me.  Oh look, it's Dave! I really need to talk to him later.

Car in front of me: Nicely tooling to the next ramp, passing ramp that leads back down toward the exit, spots an empty space on the level below, slams on brakes, backs up at the speed of light.

Me:  ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW??

Yes kids, said driver of the car in front of me slams on his brakes, puts it in reverse *WITHOUT LOOKING, BECAUSE WHY IN THE HELL WOULD YOU DO THAT? YOU OWN THE GARAGE, CLEARLY!!* and his rear bumper meets my front bumper with a sickening crunch in .002 seconds.  I'm not exaggerating. By the time he had slammed on his brakes and I had a chance to reach for the gear shifter thingie, he had hit me.  

Again.  ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW?

He gets out of the car, and is immediately clueless as he's from a foreign land.  I believe they call it...Canada...French Quebec to be exact.  Clearly, there are never any accidents in this mystical magical land, because he immediately starts speaking in tongues and the only English he can muster is "So, what do you do now?"  

What?  What do I do?

Oh, you mean besides kick you in the nuts?  I tell him  go up a level and find 2 parking spots and we'll deal with it then. I'm not about to be one of those people who is going to block the whole garage while I sort it out with Pierre or whatever the hell his name is. 

Oh, and I'm FINE, by the way. THANKS FOR ASKING.

We park, and in less time than it took to hit my vehicle not 5 minutes prior, he's outside my window, tapping on it.  Listen, Pierre, let me put the car in park and then I'll deal with your scarf-wearing ass.  I take a deep breath, because really, it's not going to help for me to be a bitch in this situation (ok, any more of a bitch than I've likely been to this point, if we're being technical).  I ask him if he has insurance, which he does - thankfully.  I ask him to give me his name, phone number, a work email or a second way of contacting him and his insurance carrier.  I give him the same.  He's clearly worried about his car, but for ramming into me at 75 miles per hour, he has nothing but a black mark, approximately 4" long across the middle of his dark gray bumper.  

Then, I get out to look at my poor little car.  

You guys, I have to preface this by saying I love my little car. I do. It's the first brand new car I have ever purchased on my own and it's 10 years old. It's a Saturn Vue, which I affectionately call "the Voo" and she's definitely taken her fill of beatings over the past few years.  She was quarter panel hit by an old couple from Canada (again with the Canucks??!) a year ago and suffered nothing more than a small bump.  2 years ago, she took on damage from the monster hail storm that beat everything in it's path late June. She has divots on the front of the hood and a cracked side view mirror.  On the interior, her back seat has been all but decimated by a Terrorist who loves to go for car rides but does not know how to act nicely, so he runs about with all of the vigor of a squirrel on crack in a space not even 5 ft. wide.  

I know.  You're likely thinking that I'm crazy, writing a love letter to something that should probably be .2 seconds away from the junk yard.  However, I love my Voo.  I love that she's never not started for me, or she's never weaved her way across yards into a river without me.  I love that other than routine maintenance, I've never had to sink large amounts of money into her, and she's always started when I needed her to.  Even when it was -20 earlier this year, and people were having trouble starting their new vehicles, she revved up without a problem. She's seen me safely through commutes to and from the D for 10 years, as well as many a trip up north. She is probably the most loyal thing I have in my life, and never gets sassy if I want to take her through that puddle that's deeper than I probably should.  I just love her. 

So, I get out of the car and I walk around the front.  The driver's turn signal light is popped half out of place, so I pop that back in, thinking this may not be so bad.  Then I get in front of her.  Now I have the sads.  

The front grill is pushed back, and the bumper has been cracked from impact as well as pulled ever so slightly away from the grill. The dude was driving a Ford something or other, and it wasn't that big, but apparently he was up enough to go over my bumper and pull it as he came off.  Mine isn't hanging and is still driveable, but she's definitely taken some damage. 

So, Pierre and I exchange information and I find that his name is Jacques.  See? I wasn't far off. Jacques is babbling about something or other and I give him my info and tell him that I'll send him an email or give him a call to let him know what happens next.  At the same time, I'm thinking that he'll likely get off without having to do anything, but I'm not saying that because I'm so pissed I'm shaking and I don't want this to end with "anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law..."

I arrive at my desk now 25 minutes later, call my husband and cry. Not because I'm hurt, but because I'm pissed and that's how I adultly handle things: by turning into a 2 year old.  I'm a rock, y'all.  Detroit Police are so understaffed that they won't come out to the building to take an accident report, so I get one from the building and discuss further with Adam later.  We determine that having documentation from the building security and their photos will suffice, because really, what can we do.  

I've spent the rest of the day trying to not be that person at work who repeats the one thing that happened to them today, while trying to focus on work. The result:  25 outgoing messages in my inbox, 3 of them to the building security, 2 to a friend and 1 to cancel lunch plans.  So, 20 work related emails.  As a comparison, on a normal day, it's anywhere from double to triple that.  

Le sigh.  So, today has been fully unproductive and has sucked. It didn't make it any better when I went downstairs to grab some lunch and was all but mowed over by some kid on his cell phone.  

I AM NOT INVISIBLE!! 

So the fate of the Voo hangs in discussions with the husband, who will be hopefully not moshing his way through the Dropkick Murphys concert tonight, but enjoying it like a responsible 36 year old would....from the safety of the balcony.  I can't take having 2 things I love banged up today, so I'm hoping wisdom prevails.

We will likely not turn anything into insurance or bother to get it fixed, because the facts are that the car isn't even made any longer. It's 10 years old and we were hoping to replace it within the next few months anyway.  I was just trying to hold off, because while I love it, my most favorite feature with that car is that it has no payment.  It's been mine outright for 5 years.   I'd be lying if I said that this didn't make me a bit sad (and vindictive, but fuck off, I've been through some stuff and some things today), but JacquesPierre will get off without a ding on his insurance or having to pay for the Voo to get medical attention.  Not because she's not worth it, it's just that sometimes, you gotta face facts, and the fact is that she's not getting any younger and I should probably start looking at cars that are appropriate for someone not in their freshman year of college. 

There will be a sequel, I'm sure, when it's time to let go, and it won't be without tears.  But, today I guess that I'm thankful no one was hurt (although Jacques' nuts were in danger for a few seconds) and that my little Voo will continue to tool me around for a bit, even being a bit worse for the wear.  

We should all be so lucky to have something so awesome in our lives.