10.16.2014

Random Ramblings on a Thursday Afternoon...

I can't even begin to pretend that I have been doing a ton of wildly interesting things while avoiding this little piece of internet.  I can't tell you that I've been traveling the globe and meeting new people and finding a cure for cancer and making dreams come true across the country.   In reality, I've been doing what other normal, everyday people do:  work, complain about work, sleep, repeat.

Sure, there have been some fun things in there.   My husband was promoted at work, and is now a Captain.  At work. His rank at home hasn't changed, nor will I salute or call him "Captain" within these walls.  Said promotion has also meant a schedule adjustment for the both of us, as we have never both been a 40 hours schedule since we've been married.  So far, it's going alright?  I guess?.   At least I think it is.  I'm slowly getting used to him hogging the remote sharing the television and he's getting used to me hogging the blankets when we go to bed.  We haven't filed for divorce yet, so I think it's going fairly well.

A few weeks ago, Adam and I escaped to my happy place up north for 4 days of sanity.  The place isn't the same without Grams and Gramps there, but it will always be the place my heart finds peace and my mind settles.  If we could own property up there tomorrow, I wouldn't think twice.  As it's not in the cards right now, we just go when we can, which isn't a lot.  That just makes me appreciate it more when we do get there.

The past 2 weeks have been a bit tougher.  On the 29th of last month, we lost my Uncle Len after an 18 month battle with cancer.  I took the news with mixed feelings.  Sad, of course that he was gone but happy that he wasn't suffering, especially since the past 4 months have been extremely hard on him and my aunt.

Funeral home visits are never easy. Period.  This one was a bit harder given the fact that my entire family was affected as Uncle Len was both on my dad's side of the family and my mom's side.

Go ahead.  Read it again.  I'll wait.

Ok.  I know that many of you are wondering if my family tree branches. I assure you that it does.  This couple in particular, my dearest Aunt Eve and Uncle Len, just happen to have woven the 2 families together before my parents did.  Rather than have you try and figure it out, I'll explain:

First, you have my dad.  His mom, my beloved Grams was one of several children, and Uncle Len was her youngest brother.

Then, there's my mom, and Aunt Evie is her oldest sister.

Youngest brother + Oldest sister = Aunt Eve and Uncle Len.

So, my uncle Len is at the same time a brother-in-law and an uncle to my parents, and an uncle and great uncle to me.  I know. It's confusing, but trust me that there is nothing devious about it.  If you don't get it, it's fine. I was well into high school before I figured out how that particular union worked.  I just spent most of my life thinking that we loved them more than my other aunts and uncles because they were at EVERY family celebration and holiday.

While sitting at the funeral home, I started thinking about how someone's passing really affects a family. I mean, aside from the obvious and that person not being physically present any longer.  (I'm not even going to dip a toe into the metaphysical and spiritual happenings that I believe linger after a physical form is gone.  Suffice it to say that I'm fully on board with the whole "just because you can't see them doesn't mean they're not here" realm of thinking.)

I've talked about traditions before, and I will admit that I'm not one to take change easily.  With each passing family member, things have changed in regards to the way holidays are celebrated.  How conversations will inevitably go. Things that you recall from your childhood will not be repeated and your heart has to come to terms with what your brain already knows.  Uncle Len's sister, my great Aunt Lil has been gone for close to 10 years now, and I still miss stopping by her house on Christmas Eve before heading to my Grandma B's.  Of course, both Grandma and Grandpa B are gone as well, so there's no going to their house either.  I'm not sure either of the residents of either house would be happy if we barged in on Christmas Eve (even if it was to just tell the inhabitants of the Inkster road house that the damn Christmas tree does NOT belong in the window!!).  But, I digress.

While I'm feeling the hit, I know my brother, husband, cousins, uncles and dad are having a hard time adjusting to Uncle Len not being here.  He was a general contractor and taught my brother and my husband pretty much everything they know.   Unc was the foreman on most jobs, the biggest being my brother's complete demolition and rebuild of his home a decade ago.  In fact, the guys had to do their first job with out Unc this weekend when they put a new roof on Aunt La's house.  I'm willing to bet that stepping on that roof without hearing "well, are you ladies going to work today or just stand around?" was a bit harder than normal.

I know I'm rambling.  I just needed to write.  I promise to be back and be more entertaining in the future.  (tomorrow's Friday.  I was recently called out for my lack of Friday posts, and was even guilted into the fact that "it's only once a week, can you at least give us that??" )

Until then,  blogstalkers (if there are any of you left, I can't see past the cobwebs on this site...)

5.06.2014

Ground control to...the next aisle over?

Back when AJ and I started dating, we both had mall jobs.  Funny enough, both stores are now defunct. I was at the shoulder pad and pleather heaven, Winkelnan's. He worked down the corridor at the home of Z-Cavaricci and plaid flannel shirts:  County Seat.

If you're too young to remember either of those stores, or have never owned a pair of Z-Cav's, then you need to get out. Go. Just get out because you don't even KNOW, man.  I can't begin to explain it either, because it will make your head explode from all of the awesome.

I'd like to say that these were the women's version...but I'm not even sure there was a difference...

Anyway, the point of that is not only so you can laugh at the past fashion of your elders like my generation has (we're looking at you, 70s polyester).  Not at all. Rather, I just want to know when retail became so...so...so...ridiculous.

Case in point: the headset.

We've all seen them.  You walk into a store and the person greeting is wearing something like this:

(just as an aside....Emily?? Is that you??)


While I understand that technology is everywhere, I don't get headsets.  Alright, I will admit that I'm sure they can come in handy when you're at a larger store. A Meijer's. Home Depot.  Anyplace larger than a standard strip mall space of an outlet.  However, these places aren't where I see this technology deployed.  Rather, it's used in a roughly 2500 sq. foot space. Ok, fine. There may be a vast underground storage unit where there are a hundred people and they can only access them by either traveling down a chute located behind the mirror in dressing room C, or they can use the headset and save the trip.

In most situations, that's not the case.  No  no.  The last dozen or so times I've encountered the headset wearing "retail associate" is in one section of the store, or in stores smaller than my house.

I will admit that I do about half of my shopping online.  Mainly because I know what I want, and it just saves time from driving back and forth. I also rarely need something last minute. If there's an occasion or if I know I'm out of socks/underwear/tees or whatever, I will usually give myself enough time to shop either online or stop by a store on my way home from work.  I can also get better deals online for the most part, and combined with free shipping just makes it less expensive.

When I do venture to the store though, I am always reminded why I like to shop online:  the sales people.  Now, when I worked retail back in the stone age, we weren't paid on commission.  I'm not sure if they even do that in retail any more, outside of big ticket items, do they?   Regardless, I like to do my own thing.  It's nice when a salesperson acknowledges me when I enter and asks if they can help me find anything and gives me the rundown on any deals they may have going.  Nice people are always awesome, and there are times I do need the help.  However, if I say I'm just looking, thanks, then that's your cue to back off.  Take your headset and go bring in a rocket or whatever you're doing on that thing and I'll see you at the register in a bit. Call me a bitch, but I've left stores where I've been asked every 2 minutes if I need any help.  You can help me by not hovering.  I'm pretty sure I can read the chart on the back of the Spanx package and find what I need, thanksabunch.

A few weeks back, I was in Kohl's. I have a perfume that I love, and I happened to have a coupon as well as hit a sale at Kohl's, so I was getting my scent at a hell of a deal.  If you haven't been into a Kohl's in a while, it looks like they're ramping up their personal care space. Kind of like Sephora but with the B-team brands of makeup: no Bare Minerals or Smashbox or Urban Decay. They have names like "Blossoming Minerals" or "City Ruins" or something like that. It's a nice atmosphere, but it's also the size of my living room.  Perfumes are in a closet sized space right next to the makeup.  Having not been in a brick and mortar Kohl's in a while, I was perusing the selection when I was approached by a sweet 20 something whom we will henceforth refer to as "SG1".  She was polite and asked the standard questions. I told her I knew what I was looking for, thanks, and I was just browsing around since I hadn't been in the store in a while.  She smiled, said let her know if I needed anything and walked to the other side of the display. I could see her.  Her twin coworker, SG2 was at the end of this aisle, approximately 5 feet from us, straightening out the blush. As I approached, she went through the schpeel again and I said thanks, I'm just looking.  SG 1 is now in the other side of the display, but the racks are short enough that I can see her.  Not even 2 minutes goes by and she asks again:  "Finding everything ok?" I assure her I am.

SG2 is now focused on a rack behind me, still in the same aisle.  SG 1 is on the opposite side of the rack of nail polish I'm viewing when she lifts up the microphone and says - in a normal tone -  "Gina, when you're done, can you please come fix this row of eyeshadow?"  I'm thinking that she's talking to someone on break or maybe in the underground storage unit only accessed through the mirror in dressing room C.  She wasn't.  She was talking to SG2.  The one right behind me who was in plain sight and close enough that she didn't have to use a headset.  Gina answered into the headset - in a normal voice - "Absolutely" and walked around the display.

The what?  At that point, I couldn't not ask.  I was kind of laughing when I said to SG1: "do you guys use those to communicate with other departments?"

You guys, I had broken the rule. I had questioned the headset.  The look on her face was sheer confusion. It kind of reminded me of the look the Dobe gets when we're talking to him.  Like, he gets that we're trying to communicate, but we've used words other than food or outside or ride and he has to tilt his head at a 45 degree angle in order to comprehend.   Blank stare, then she responds: "What do you mean? Like talk to someone I'm not working with right here? Like in housewares or something like that? Oh no.  Other departments don't have these."

I couldn't help it.  I was snickering - a bit more obviously - and I said "so you and Gina are the only 2 people here and you have to wear a headset to communciate? Do you guys leave the floor at all?"  Thinking are you ever outside of 25 feet of each other during your shift?  She smiled and said "Oh!  No.  If we go on break, we have to leave them at the counter. (apparently there's a high black market for cheap headsets?).  No, we wear them because we look more professional.  It saves us from yelling to each other."

I was about to point out that their total area didn't take up more than a 12x15 space, but I figured I'd save the breath.  Apparently, "Professional looking sales associates" means "looks like they're working the drive through".

I went to check out, and Gina was ringing up the perfume when she had a question. I had to bite my lip and not giggle when she radioed to SG1 that she needed her to bring another package of said perfume up because that one wouldn't scan.  SG1 was literally working on a shelf to my left. If I would have turned and taken a step in that direction, I would have run her over.

I get that technology is useful. I love my Kindle, my iPhone, my laptop, my DVR and all of that jazz that makes life easier.  I just don't get the use of those headset thingies to communicate with someone who is within a certain radius of you.  Personal communication, people. Put down the headset and go look someone in the eye for a change.  You'll be laughed at by the consumer a whole lot less, I guarantee it.




4.23.2014

I don't think this is a real post, but it's something? Yes?

I know I've not been here lately, so thanks for refreshing and upping my view count. It makes me feel loved.  Hey, at least I left a good looking dude on the front page so you had something nice to look at.

See? You're welcome.

There have been a million things and nothing going on, all at the same time. I didn't think you wanted to sit here and listen to me bitch (read my writing?) about how I hate winter and how it's snowed for the past 900 days in Michigan and how summer is never going to get here.  Everyone else was doing that, and I was raising my fist in quiet solidarity.

Now, it seems that the winter has finally gone, and I say that quietly because we got 3" of snow not just 10 days ago.  After I spent the day prior in a tank top and flip flops with all of the windows in the house open.

I don't want to tempt fate, but I think it's safe now.

Anyway, there really isn't a point to all of this except that I didn't have anything really to say and didn't want to bitch about the weather but I think I ended up doing that anyway.

Huh.

I promise to be back within a few days to give you something better than this.  I'm still here, even though the post count has declined steadily since January.

I know you're all waiting on the edge of your seats.  For that, I thank you.

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.