Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Little Things

So I went to Target

Ok, stop here. I just noticed that I have an awful lot of blog entries that have to do with me going to Target. So many that I might have to consider changing the title of this site to “Mindy goes 2 Target.” It is a wondrous place of profound thought-provoking subjects. Well, ok, it’s just a good store and I like to go there and buy both needed and unneeded objects to maybe improve my life. Alright, digression over, I now resume my story:

So I went to Target at lunchtime because I wanted to get out of the office but not be on the roads too much because, well, you know (Warren cops on the prowl.) I picked up a couple things from the dollar spot and actually found a little scrapbooking sticker pack with a Tiki bar on it, oh how I needed that! Then I was cutting through the camping aisle and I just had to stop and admire the display of tents. You know what I mean, where they have these little mini-versions of the real tents that are just so cute you want to run over to the toy aisle, grab some Barbies and set up a little campsite right there. I didn’t actually do that but I did take a picture with my cell phone camera. (How did I ever live so long without this important life tool?) Here it is, with my hand included to demonstrate scale:

I have this fascination with “little things” which are not just things that are small but those that are like something big but on a much smaller scale. Miniature. For example dollhouses. We had a great one when I was little, it was actually made by my grandfather and we had a mix of previous generation furnishings and then a collection of the glamorous “Petite Princess” line of furniture that came out in the 1970’s. I used to love to find and make little objects of everyday life to set up to make it look “just like real.” Another good source of tiny objects in my childhood days turned out to be a place called “Lynn’s Pantry” which was a cake decorating store that was next door to the “Junior Boot Shop” where we would go to buy the ugliest shoes in the world. They had a whole wall with these little packets of items that were meant to be put on top of cakes but turned out to be the perfect scale for dollhouses and we could get objects like little diplomas or rolling pins or cowboy boots.

The toy industry has always been ready to cash in on this fascination with the charm of Very Small Things, such as the Polly Pocket toys they have out now, and the many previous versions of itty bitty people and places. I have a theory about this (as I always do) that it stems from some instinctual subconscious relating of Small Things to our attraction and love for the best Small Things of all: Babies. So that the cave women would take care of their offspring and propagate the race by not being able to pass up the little shoes in the baby aisle at Cave Target without going: “awww! Look at these! Sooo cute!”

Recently I had my Theory of Small Things being unique to females busted by the occurrence of our trip to the Lionel Train Factory. This field trip was organized by my cousin TJ who when growing up was in possession of his own assortment of miniature items that differed from our dollhouse mostly by being vehicles and of course TRAINS. It was over the Christmas vacation when we gathered up all the next generation of cousins, and Uncle Tom, and went to the site of the former factory where they showed us a video of very old guys reminiscing about getting their first train sets, and then we were led back into the Train Room where they had the most incredible display of Small Things ever. You could just look and look and keep on noticing even more tiny details in the little things.

So I needed to revise my Theory of Small Things to explain why men and boys are so enchanted. How’s this: It makes them feel BIG when compared to something so much smaller, as in “master of all I survey.” Like when you go to the top of a tall building and look down and everything seems so tiny that you feel powerful over it.

Yeah, right. It’s just fun to look at tiny things and even better when you can rearrange the furniture or make the trains go around. See:

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Ain't that the truth!

I don’t watch much TV but last night we caught a little bit of “American Idol” with the kids so we could laugh at the auditions before they went to bed. After that a new show came on and since I’ve been bored (as evidenced by my last couple of blog posts) I decided to see what it was all about.

The name of the show is “Moment of Truth.” I found it to be simultaneously annoying and fascinating. The premise is that they ask the contestants questions while hooked up to a polygraph lie detector machine, and then ask them again in front of their friends and family. And the millions of people watching the show. The point of it seems to be to get these people into the situation where they have to admit to what they think or feel at the cost of destroying their reputations or relationships in order to win big money prizes. It seems to be designed to get the audience to consider what price they would place on sharing their true thoughts as the result of that becomes increasingly hurtful.

The annoying part is that there’s this computerized voice from the beyond that drones: “That answer is…..” and after a pause so long you could throw in a load of laundry: “True!” The pause is so long that unless you have a magazine to read you might start to call up some questions such as: “Why am I watching this?” “Where do they get these people?” “Who comes up with the questions?” “Is this all fake?” Which of course I know it is, and I should probably be more bothered about being falsely manipulated by a TV show that has the word Truth in it’s title, but it was entertaining.

Then this morning on my commute the radio DJs were all abuzz over the breaking news story about the Mayor of Detroit having been caught in a whopper of a lie, under oath, about his relationship with his Chief of Staff as proven by some freshly unearthed text messages. Perjury. It’s dissapointing because we want our leaders to be honest, and it hurts to find out how far they would go to make the reality that they want to be true appear that it is. This stuff makes good news because like that TV show it gets people thinking about truth versus illusion, and what we really want to know…or not.

There is a blog called Post Secret where people send in their secrets on a post card anonymously. It makes you think about what everyone around you isn’t telling. (Warning if you go there: not for kids) Everyone has secrets, and most of them are best kept that way. What if there was a way for us to go around with a lie-detector strapped to our bodies, like a mood ring, that would let everyone know when you are lying? I don’t think that I’d want to live in that world. Sometimes the truth that you want to be real is better than what really is.

Some lies just shouldn’t be told such as: “Their nuclear weapons program makes them a threat to our national security.” But other times I have to wonder whether I’d really want to know if I’m being lied to or not as in:

I can use this gift.

It won’t hurt very much.

You’re getting our very best deal on that.

You look good in your glasses.

I’ll bring you chocolate.

You’re invited because we want you there.

We could really use someone with your skills in this department.

You won’t have to worry about that because I’m going to take care of it.

You’ll lose 6 pounds in 2 weeks.

Not that I mean anything by any of these, I’m just making up examples…honest!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Baby, it's cold outside

Three Degrees out right now. Three. Zero-Three. Single Digits. BRRRRRR.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Mortar and Pestle

It all started with a trip to the bookstore last week when my mother was taking care of the kids. Jeffrey came across a laminated card about Identifying Medicinal Herbs and asked his Grandma to buy it for him which of course she did. A few days later he announced to me that he is going to be a Herbologist when he grows up, and that as soon as everything is growing again he is going to go out in the woods and gather plants to get started practicing. Then he told me: "But there's something else that I need, Mommy, it's like a bowl with with this crushing thing..." Oh, a Mortar and Pestle. We don't have one of those.

The last time I thought about a Mortar and Pestle was actually because of this blog, all the way back to when I bought all that Cardamom, and I got a comment from my old cubemate Danielle, who said she used a Mortar and Pestle to grind up Cardamom Seeds to use in making bread, which then set off the whole DFSS bread-making contest. Except that my Cardamom was already ground up. Since at that time I was trying to learn about cooking, I wondered whether I should own a mortar and pestle. I vaguely remember my mother having one, a pinkish little bowl made of some heavy marble, I think.

Anyways, now Jeffrey was fixated on obtaining a mortar and pestle, and last weekend talked me into taking him to our local Meijer store to see if they sold them. We looked up and down the aisles of kitchen gadgets but no such luck. On the way home we stopped at the library and Jeff picked out a book and instructional video about making things from herbs.

And then today while Larry was at the church I wanted to try to do my new Yoga Booty Ballet exercises but needed to keep the boys occupied. So I let them get started on their idea of "Extreme Room Makeover" which consisted of taking all of the objects out of their closets and shelves and piling them up in the hallway. Once Larry got back I had in my mind to make a trip to Target, they have sent me a 10% off coupon. I figured I could use it to save on cleaning supplies that we always use, and maybe take a peek at their Global Bazaar home decorations while I was there. Jeffrey wanted to come along so he could see if they sold a mortar and pestle. I really wanted to shop alone so I promised that I would look for it.

As I was getting ready to leave I could see that the situation of the mess in the hallway wasn't going over very well with Larry, and I suggested that maybe they should make an outing to the Farmer's Market to buy fresh herbs and use them for making dinner. Then I got the heck out of there.

So I made my way through Target and was pacing in front of the wall of mysterious kitchen gadgets willing the shape of a mortar and pestle to form in front of my eyes, when my cell phone started singing from inside of my purse. It was Larry, sounding a little edgy, asking where I was. I told him in the kitchen area looking for a mortar and pestle. He said that they were heading out to the Farmer's Market. Just as he was hanging up I heard Jeffrey's little voice rising from the background: "Remind her to get my mortar"

I propelled my red cart back and forth along the aisles one more time, scanning...and then I spotted a red box on a low shelf next to a tortilla heater. The picture was what I was looking for! But the box was titled "Guacamole Set." I squatted down to read the smaller print which said: "Set Includes: Traditional Molcajete (mortar and pestle) lemon squeezer, and avocado slicer." The thing is bigger, and more expensive, than what I was imagining, but I so wanted to come home and present my sweet little son with object of his heart's desire. I tapped the speed dial on my cell phone. Larry answered, in the car on the way to the market. "You need to buy avocados." I told him about the Guacamole Set. "I don't like avocados!" he complained. Then he tries another approach: "Those are fattening!" I know that Jeffrey will want to use this thing right away. "Just get some avocados!" and I click the phone shut.

Well as soon as I pull into the garage Jeffrey came leaping out to help me carry the bags in, hoping for what he might find inside. Of course he was thrilled when he found it. The thing is huge and heavy and likely to scratch the counter. Oh well. Right after our dinner of herbed raspberry chicken we made some delicious guacamole.

It sometimes wonder if it's just my kids that seem to get these crazy things in their heads to want that seem so far removed from what normal children are supposed to desire. I kind of think all kids get that way at some point. In fact, thinking about Danielle reminded me of the time her son only wanted a Chandelier for Christmas. So that he could swing from it like on "Cheaper by the Dozen." So it's not just us. And now if there's anything that needs to be mashed up, we are READY.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Speed Trapped

Yesterday morning my friend JJS stopped by my desk, he was in the building for something and was then on his way to the Warren City Court to argue a speeding ticket. Of course that meant I had to relate the entire story of my Warren speeding ticket from a couple of years ago, and how I went to court all ready to argue about it. I got to sit there with all of the convicts and hookers and then take my turn to politely ask to have the points removed based on my good record. The judge said “sure and that’ll be an extra $25 in court costs, pay now at the cashier.” And then I got to watch as they built this elaborate new civic center that you can see from the tall building at the GM tech center. Quite the fancy place, largely funded by the traffic ticket revenue from GM employees, I suspect.

Then around lunchtime I got the idea in my head that I had to go outside and experience the oddly high temperature. (62 degrees) I didn’t have anywhere I needed to go, but since I have that good parking spot I got in my car and started driving. I made a Michigan left turn and headed south on Mound Road. I have absolutely no idea what caused me to make that decision, perhaps some cosmic karmic forces, I just don’t know. As I went past the ramps onto 696 I pondered how wide and open they made Mound road at that point, almost like an expressway as it goes under, and then up, and then slopes down and then…that’s when the police car shot out from behind the embankment with his lights a-flashing. DANG!

I pulled over and got out my wallet as the mustached cop walked up to my window. I put on my best innocent-terrified-nice person face and held up my license. He paused a moment when he looked at my face, and I tried to squeak out a tiny tear but he just walked back to his car and returned moments later with my ticket. He said that I was going 63 in a 50 but that he only put me down for 5 over. Then he waited for me to thank him for that. I did, and then pulled back into traffic. I went south just until I could turn around but there was a stalled car in the way with a young nervous-looking woman standing next to it with a cell phone. I went around her thinking that my cop would be right along to help her out. Well after the U turn as I was going North I saw my cop still in the very same place already handing the ticket to his next victim! Never mind the citizens of Warren in need of help, murder and crime rampant in the streets, they’ve got a new civic center to pay for!

As soon as I got back to my desk I instant messaged JJS telling him he’d never guess what just happened. Unaware that I had ever left my desk, he surmised: “Bob died.” No! I related my story, and we ranted about those darn Warren cops tricking us GM employees. Bolstered by that conversation I decided to call Larry, which I rarely do in the middle of the day. “Something bad happened!” was my lead in sentence which prompted a moment of panic on his part thus softening the news of the $100 we were going to have to cough up for my ½ mile adventure.

The moment I hung up my coworkers gathered around to discuss the situation. Without even trying to hide the fact that they had all actively listened to my phone conversation, they all related their stories of getting ticketed by the Warren Police.

We discussed whether I have anything to gain by going to the courthouse for this one. I can’t exactly plead to my perfect driving record since it’s not perfect anymore due to that last ticket. I had the very brilliant idea of trying to calculate the speed of acceleration of my vehicle down the slope of the road minus the friction of the tires to prove that I wasn’t intentionally going fast (it was gravity’s fault!) but Bob didn’t think that would fly.

I get 14 days to either pay up or apply for a court appearance. I need to figure out if it’s worth it to try to get the points removed and if the court costs exceed the increase to my auto insurance (do I call them?)

Here is a picture of the new Warren civic center. The way I see it, a couple of the bricks over by the clock are MINE.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

St. Albertus

My sister Becky has a variety of unusual interests. Unusual defined as different than the other people I know. Some of them stem from her involvement in the preservation of historic architecture. In fact she has a master's degree from Columbia University in it and has authored a book. (A little bragging on my sis there)

This weekend she invited her family members to come into Detroit to attend mass at a church where she is the lector. Because she is Becky this isn't just any church. It has been closed as a Parish for the past 17 years and is maintained by a non-profit organization of which she is a member. It was built in the 1880's and was the first Polish Catholic Parish in Detroit. They only have masses occasionally in there using a retired priest and other volunteers, and not very many people attend. So to fill out the crowd we made the long drive down to celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany and a day of Polish cultural experience.

Walking into St. Albertus is breathtaking. It as beautiful as any cathedral, where you can just look and look and never stop seeing another detail. And all of it so old: since around the time they invented electricity. There used to be an enormous Polish community in this area, enough to support this church and two others within viewing distance of each other. (Sweetest Heart of Mary and St. Josephat) The church was the center of their community and their pride and joy. It feels a little sad to sit there among all of this glory and know that there are no longer enough people around to support it, and that despite the efforts of the association it is falling into disrepair, and could eventually disappear as many other once great buildings in this city have.

When I sat there listening to the sound of the Priest's voice speaking in Polish, I could almost see the ghosts of many people who have been inside of these walls. Baptisms, weddings, and funerals, the happiest and saddest of celebrations, for generations over a century. And if I wanted to see actual dead people all I had to do was look into the glass coffins on either side of the altar.

Well they aren't really dead people although I told the kids that they were just to spook them for fun. I'm still trying to figure out why if you're going to make a statue of someone who's dead why not make it with them standing up with their eyes open instead of how they looked after their time alive had ended. Anyways that's what's so great about extremely old ethnic stuff is that sometimes it comes off all wacky when we look at it today.

The location of the church is in what is now pretty much an urban wasteland, here is a view of across the street.
The hinges from the front door have been stolen but you can still see the shadows of what they looked like. Becky said a friend of hers found them in a resale shop but the police didn't want to get involved.

After the mass we went to the Polish Art Center Store and had lunch at Polonia in Hamtramck to finish off the cultural experience. If you think this is something you would ever want to do check out the website for the schedule. And you could say hi to Becky!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy New Year!

It was just so nice to be off from work all those days in a row. It kind of reminded me of...not working! How wonderful it was. Plus there was no school, homework, kid's sports, activities, or piano lessons going on either. And there were parties and presents and places to go and fun things to do. We topped it all off with a trip to a waterpark hotel for a New Year's Eve Radio Disney Splash Bash with our friends the Smiths. Huge fun for the kids, at one point I noticed Jeffrey skipping down the hall without even realizing he was doing it. Oh to be so happy that you must skip for transportation to the next great thing.

But always there was that feeling of knowing that it was going to come to an end. For me anyways. The kids don't have school until Monday so the party life rages on for them. I had to go to work today. And I'm extra tired from the lack of sleep on New Year's Eve, and then I've been fighting off a cold which hasn't slowed me down too much, except for when I'm trying to sleep and the laying down causes the phlegm to form a glob at the back of my throat...a feeling that makes me not want to lay down no matter how tired I feel. And then we got slammed with 15 inches of snow in one day and the roads were still a mess from it.

So I was a little bit less than perky when I arrived at work this morning. Late. What a way to start the new year. Maybe it'll just keep on improving from here. Since I was still feeling kind of sick good old Bob suggested that I drink some hot tea. So I ventured into the Coffee Room of Delights and found that someone had put two new boxes by the tea bags. One said "Brain Enhancing" and the other "Oolong Slimming." What a decision! Since I just finished a week of nonstop eating that included Kielbasa and Sauerkraut leftovers in the refrigerator at my house, I went for the slimming tea.

Every year I make the same resolution (lose weight) and every year of my life I have gotten bigger. This has to stop. I have been getting away with disguising my fat thanks to my telephone pole stature, but putting on a bathing suit at the end of Christmas week made the reality of the problem obvious. This time I REALLY MEAN IT. Diet, big time. Not an easy time of year for exercise because I can't ride my bike in the snow and I get bored with the trainer after about 2 minutes. So to try something new I just ordered "Yoga Booty Ballet" which should arrive in my mailbox in just a couple of days. This is sure to work because it has a catchy title. I'll let you know how it goes.

What is your new year's resolution? I'd love to hear all about it.