Tuesday, September 30, 2014 23:55

squirrely sunday: happy father’s day!

June 15th, 2014

It’s father’s day! I got pretty lucky in the father department, which is good since I totally take after him. We look alike (though I am a *bit* more girly), we act alike, and he taught me a lot of what I know. I also had pretty amazing grandfathers. My dad’s father passed away when I was pretty young after a struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. While a lot of my time that was spent with him was in nursing homes and hospitals, I do have several happy memories of him. My mom’s dad lived a long life, making it pretty close to 100 years on earth! He saw so many things, and shared so many wonderful things with me. I also have a very sweet father-in-law, and two brothers-in-law that are both fathers and probably a lot like what regular brothers would be like.

The hubs and me with my dad and "Detroit Grampy."

My dad’s father was born in Minnesota to two Belgian immigrants. My sister set the tone for what we called our grandparents, so our grandfathers were each “Grampy.” Since my father’s parents lived across the street (well, dirt road) from us, he was across-the-street Grampy to clarify which grandfather we were talking about. He was a farmer, and had his own farm in Michigan. By the time I was born, there was little left of the farm as he was retired. The chicken/rabbit coop was still there, and I have memories of walking down the path with him, surrounded by tall grass to feed the animals there. I remember sitting in the cab of his old green Ford pick-up. Like most lower peninsula Michiganders, he worked for one of the big three. In his case, Ford Motor Company. When I was wee, he would bounce me on his knee singing in Flemish. In the hindsight department, I wish I could or would have learned those rhymes. I was still pretty young when the Alzheimer’s set in. At first, he was able to stay in his home, and we hired nurses to spend the days with him while my parents worked. When I wasn’t at school, I was there with him and one of the nurses (there were a few, three I think, and they each worked a few days a week). I really enjoyed being there. He lived in this cool old farmhouse, a far cry from my folk’s modern ranch style home. I was always finding cool, old objects to play with and admire. For instance, the set of metal measuring cups that looked like tiny pots and pans. Just perfect for me to make pretend soup in. (Said soup consisted of hot water from the tap and an assortment of herbs and spices.) I would chat with the nurses, some of whom became close friends with my family. The disease progressed, and we had to move him to a nursing home. After they were out of work and I was out of school for the day, I would go to visit with my parents. I made friends with many of the elderly people who also lived there. I would watch MTV in between volunteering to help feed the folks that needed assistance with dinner. I would practice my baton twirling and dance routines to entertain the masses.

As time went on and he deteriorated with the disease, more time was spent in hospitals and a more skilled care nursing home. Admittedly, those are more painful memories. However, I am so happy to have some happy memories. He passed away when I was in the fourth grade. It was sad, but also kind of a blessing because it meant he didn’t have to suffer anymore. I feel a strong connection to that chunk of the family, that came from Belgium. I’ve visited his hometown, and am planning to visit the city his parents came from. I can solidly thank Across-the-street Grampy for my love of all things vintage, and my search for just the right vintage furniture for my home.

My other grandfather’s family came from France, to Canada, to Massachusetts, and eventually to Detroit. He was Detroit Grampy to us. He had a really great bungalow on the East side of Detroit where my mother and her brother were raised. Like my other grandparents’ home, I have some great memories of the house. The visible chimes for the doorbell, the cut glass doorknobs, and the cool attic room with dormers. I so wished for an attic bedroom with dormers, so it was a chance to have them, albeit temporarily. There was an adorable den/office with a French door to the backyard. My cousins and I would bang on his old manual typewriter in that room, playing office. I remember finding the old rotary mower in his garage and pushing it around the yard. Thanks to an old Donald Duck cartoon, I longed for one of those. My dad had a tractor to mow our large yard, which I couldn’t use, so it was a special treat to mow the lawn, even a small part of it. Yeah, I was a weird kid. When G and I got married, we even registered for a rotary mower which I loved using, and even had neighbors inquire about it and purchase their own. Sadly, he had to leave that cool house in the city. After some break-ins, his car being stolen, and getting car-jacked in his driveway (before it was even called “car-jacking”), it was decided it would be safer for him to move to the suburbs, so he got an apartment in a town between the ones that my mom and my uncle lived in. We still made some great memories in that apartment, but it wasn’t quite the same as the amazing bungalow.

Detroit Grampy was born in 1910, and was the second youngest in a large family. He remembered prohibition and his father making wine to drink with dinner. He went to the University of Michigan for a year, but left when the depression hit. He became a draftsman for Chrysler. Yup, I am from a mixed Big Three family! Ford and Chrysler! (Now you know why I think GM is the devil. Besides that they are the devil.) Friday, my department at work went to the Minneapolis Institute of Art to see an exhibit on Finnish design. (We are the design department for a Scandinavian company so it was totally relevant.) After the exhibit, we were encouraged to tool around the museum and get inspired. One of my coworkers, who is also a pretty great friend, and I set off to explore. I had a flood of memories just walking around. When I was a kid, my grandfather would take me to Detroit to go to the Detroit Institute of Arts. The DIA spoiled me for all other museums. It’s huge, and has some of the most renowned pieces of art in the world. Van Gogh’s self portrait, a Diego Rivera mural which was painted right in the room, and one of the original castings of “The Thinker.” My grandfather favored traditional art styles, and would grumble at some of the modern pieces saying, “That’s not art.” As a kid, I wanted to be like the adults I admired, so I would agree. As I learned more about art, I was able to appreciate everything, even the things he would not consider art. At the MIA, there was a wee room set up like a vintage office, to highlight all the design elements of the 1920s-1940s. The desk, chair, and typewriter were just like Grampy’s. My friend and I marveled over all the details. She pointed out the ashtrays, and I said that those weren’t part of this grandfather’s lifestyle. (My other grandfather, however, was quite a smoker. One of the fortunate effects of Alzheimer’s is that he forgot that he smoked.) We walked through a photography exhibit, that had lots of cool pieces. Like any Detroiter, I really appreciated pieces that were from or of the city. I came across one that was a shot of many draftsmen working for one of the Big Three. It didn’t say which one of the companies, but it reminded me of a shot of my grandfather. He’s in his crisp white shirt and narrow tie, standing at his drafting table. The men in the photograph at the museum looked just like that. I carefully studied the photo just in case my grandfather was in the shot. He wasn’t, but so many memories came back. I told my friend about them. About the DIA, about his life. About how we would eat together at Big Boy on our way home from the DIA. How distinctly I remember going to the Main branch of the Detroit Public Library. It was so, so cool to me. I was usually only able to go to our small town library, so it was amazing to get to go to a real city library like I read about in books. I was especially excited to see the little ballpoint pen vending machines. Again, something I previously encountered only in books. My grandfather gave me the necessary coins to purchase one. I was so thrilled!

We always played Chinese checkers and Scrabble together. He was very supportive of my love of creating. He would always load me up with art supplies on birthdays and at Christmas. He would say that while he would normally not advocate it, I was born to be on the stage. It meant a lot that he believed in my and my performing and art, since he was a pretty conservative guy, including his view of traditional gender roles.

Amanda & Al

My dad is a pretty cool guy. If you ever wonder where any of my personality traits came from, he’s the answer. My sense of humor, my weird habit of singing songs about random things in odd voices, and my trickstery tendencies. I love hearing the stories of his antics in high school and at work. He was such a character! Well, he is still such a character! Because of how alike we are, we would often butt heads. Neither of us would be willing to back down, even in my youngest days. We would do lots of great things together. We would go to KMart together, where he would often let me pick out one thing to get, usually a Matchbox car. On the way out, he would treat me to a frozen Coke, usually in a plastic collector’s cup. When my grandfather was in better health, we would pile into his work van to go get Christmas trees (one for our family, one for my grandpa). His van was orange, and came with only a driver’s seat, so he added one passenger seat. Thus, one seat was black and one white, and I would ride in the empty back. Probably wouldn’t get to do that nowadays!

My dad worked in construction for many years. He did commercial and industrial HVAC systems, working with sheet metal. He was able to point out buildings he worked on all over Southeastern Michigan, including the Renaissance Center and The Detroit Opera House. He is full of stories about all of his jobs. Helicopter lifts, accidents, pranks, you name it. He was fortunate to be in a union, which was probably the start of my political leanings. Thanks to the union, our family was okay even during some rough economic times. In my early school days, my dad was the one who would get me ready and get me to school. In the Reagan years, construction jobs were lean, so he was at home with me while my mom was at work. He taught me how to properly brush my hair, and explained why I should part my hair on the side instead of the center. In the spring, I helped him plant the vegetable garden and flowers in the front of our house. He taught me all about how to plant things and take care of them, and when the right time to plant was. He taught me how to do things around the house, use tools, repair things, especially how to figure out making parts or making things work when there aren’t ready-made solutions available. When I moved out on my own, he put together a five-gallon bucket full of all the tools I would need, put together from his tool collection. A cordless drill motor, screwdrivers, hammers, a hacksaw. He showed me how to use steel wool and car wax to polish the chrome trim around my bathroom mirror in my apartment. He gave me suggestions for upgrading some of the furniture I picked up from alleys and next to the dumpster.

As I grew up, he taught me about why I should work and pay for my own things. Why I should only buy things I can pay cash for and when I had to use a credit card, that I should pay it in full every month. That no matter what else I have to sacrifice, I should never, ever, ever go without health insurance. That it was okay to like what I liked, whether it was a Tonka dump truck or a Cabbage Patch doll. He built the swingset I grew up playing on, and the sandbox I played in as a kid. He salvaged a metal playground slide for me, got it into shape, and made it so I could play on it off of our deck. When I realized I wanted to go to school for theater and design, he, um, encouraged me to explore all my options first. However, when I insisted that it was theater all the way, he was super supportive. Whenever we talk on the phone, he tells me what’s going on back home in the film and theater world, or what cool thing he saw about costuming or fashion design. When I got married, the week before was pretty crazy. I had to make my niece’s dress, because she was not sized like the patterns or anything I needed to have her there to fit the dress, and needed help with last minute things. One night, when my sister fell asleep instead of making the pew bows, my dad asked me what they should look like and set to work making them on my ironing board. It was a small thing, but it made my wedding extra special to have this great story.

Recently, I was on the phone with my dad, and he told me about how he was watching the Ellen Degeneres show. Lady Gaga was the guest, and he told me all about the interview, because he knows how much I like her. He detailed her outfit, and how eloquent she is. He told me about how she said that she would never buy a house, because that would mean she was “grown-up,” and she would never grow up. He didn’t say the words, but I got the impression that he appreciated that because it was just like me.

I often take it for granted all the things my dad and grandfathers taught me. Not that I take it for granted for myself, but that I assume that everyone got such a great education from their fathers and grandfathers. I am always surprised when a fellow adult doesn’t know how to use a drill, or install something around the house. That they weren’t sent off with a tool kit to start their adult life. When kids are encouraged to only play with things or act like their gender. It makes me realize how lucky I am to have had these really great people in my life to both shape who I am, and to support all my life decisions, no matter how wacky. So, thanks to my dad, and to my grandfathers for being especially awesome. Happy father’s day to them, and to all the fathers in my life, and those who take on fatherly roles, whether they be men or women. Also, happy father’s day to the hubs, the best kitty daddy, and ratter daddy, and hamster daddy there ever was.

Now, for the squirrel! No, I’m not trying to tell you something with this baby tee. However, it is super cute, and while it’s too late to get it for this father’s day, maybe an idea for next?

Nuts About Daddy

Click the photo to visit the Etsy shop.

As always, Happy Sunday Friends!! xoxox

squirrely sunday: baby zoo

June 8th, 2014

My friends are pretty supportive of my quirky loves and hobbies. They tend to find pretty great things for me that I love, but either wouldn’t find on my own, or wouldn’t feel like I should splurge on. In this case, a friend who has a sweet bento box collection and makes fancy lunches, got me this adorable and hilarious bento box that combines my love of squirrels with my love of odd, quirky things. I’m still working up to making myself fancy lunches (especially when freezer space is consumed with taxidermy projects!), but at least when I do I have the perfect box for them!

Today is a memorial day

What do you love that you might not splurge on for yourself? Noodle on it, and let me know in the comments!

Happy Sunday, Friends!!
xoxox

linked: dealbreaker!

June 2nd, 2014

Happy Monday! I don’t know how I racked up so many links for today! I even had some that I wound up setting aside for later, so you wouldn’t go into overload. Plus, it was taking me long enough to put this together, so I figured I should just get this out there, so you have something to finish off your Monday with!! Hope you have a great week, friends! xoxox

So, I read this Onion AV Club article, and it reminded me of the bit on 30 Rock, where Liz had a talk show based on her “Dealbreaker!” catch phrase. While I don’t know that I have any cultural dealbreakers for friends, there are definitely some that if my spouse were into, he wouldn’t be my spouse. Do you have any pop culture dealbreakers?

Having just spent some time at Walt Disney World, and planning some Disneyland time later this year, the original proposal documents for Disneyland were especially fascinating! I’m really hoping that somehow the originals wind up in the hands of Disney so they can be properly shared with the world.

I maybe have an above average obsession with macabre history. The hairpin is helping satiate that obsession with their new series on female killers. The first installment goes way back, with the first known female serial killer!

Plagued by a haunting? Here’s a guide to the ghost zodiac, which might provide some insight to why things go bump in the night.

As a performer and artist, I often wrestle with the problem of wanting to pursue my dreams as careers, but they are dreams that people don’t want to compensate for as careers. Most folks assume that if someone has any level of celebrity, they must be loaded. By any level of celebrity, I mean anything from actors who have a pilot that got picked up for a few episodes to a professional sports team’s cheerleaders. I think this piece on being seen is a great breakdown of why settling for minimum compensation isn’t always wise.

Even before we downsized by about 300 or so square feet, I was trying to lighten our load of belongings. I still seek to pare down, and while I’m not at a truly minimalist mindset, I find there is plenty to learn from minimalists. This list of highlights is an excellent guide.

Speaking of paring down, have you ever wondered why you just haven’t been able to find the perfect pair of boots? Or just the right blazer that you’ve pictured in your mind’s eye? It could be your closet clutter blocking your fashion chakras.

One of my fashion quests is to find a bike helmet that will protect my noggin while still rockin’ some serious style. These helmets styled to look like hats might fill the bill.

Having a mastectomy is a pretty complicated situation. One is already going through a lot with cancer or risk of cancer, and a woman’s breasts are often closely tied to one’s sense of femininity and sexuality. Some Finnish designers looked to create swimwear for women who have had mastectomies. The results are stunning! (I wouldn’t call them NSFW, but I can see how some workplaces might raise eyebrows.)

As the mercury rises, tips for getting your body ready for summer populate magazine covers and e-mail newsletters. I think these tips for getting yourself caftan-ready are the only tips you’ll need.

Bodies come in all types, and some of them even have ribs. Many are seeing LaPerla removing mannequins that have ribs as a victory, but as someone whose ribs show no matter how much weight I’ve gained I think the mannequins should stay. Bodies are all different, why is it okay to shame some of them?

I’ve been waiting for these two crazy kids to make a go of it for about 20 years! I’m crossing my fingers it works out for them!

While we’re thinking of 20 years ago, I had fun looking through this collection of people magazine covers from the ’90s. I owned several of them, and it was a fun walk down memory lane.

Looking for a little inspiration for a decorating project or art piece? This site offers a color palette-a-day!

I’m guessing you’ve seen one or more of those maps highlighting what your state might be known for. I was quite delighted by this map highlighting the deep, dark secrets of each state.

Finally, last week saw the mid-season finale of Mad Men. I thought it was lovely, and can only hope the final finale is half as delightful. This interview with Robert Morse was just as lovely as the finale, though if you aren’t caught up, there be spoilers in that link!!

linked: vacation time

May 26th, 2014

I thought I was going to do so well with my vacation. I had grand plans of prepping posts and getting them out and those all fell apart. My brain is on work overload, and our vacation was jam packed with action, so those plans fell by the wayside. Hopefully all these goodies help make up for lost time!

First up, some rejection letters to famous people. I don’t know about you, but it makes me feel a little better knowing that I’m not the only one who doesn’t make it on the first try. Gives much more hope for all that future success!

This infographic on what happens to you when you don’t get enough sleep…both after one night and after many nights makes me glad I’m working on the narcolepsy thing, but also a little worried. Eep.

I love this list of now gone Victorian words. I think we need to bring these back!

This one is from April, but I still had to share. Victoria Beckham shared some snaps from her 40th birthday celebration. It looks like she had quite the time! I hope that my 40th is even half that fab!

I only read Ladies Home Journal in waiting rooms, but I am sad to see it go. I am always sad to see a magazine go out of print, as it signals a disturbing trend away from print media. I did enjoy this slide show looking back at the magazine, though.

The buzz about the upcoming Jem and the Holograms movie has me all aflutter. While I dreamed of rocking out like Jem, I never knew that the costumes on the animated show were designed by an actual fashion designer! Vanity Fair takes a look at the glam looks from the show, and wonders if the designs in the flick will live up.

The recent Met Gala was dedicated to designer Charles James. Vogue took a look at the heaviest of his gowns, and put it in terms of adorable puppies for the non-couture crowd. I would still be glad to wear one of gowns.

Speaking of adorable puppies, what is it about photos of painfully cute animals that makes us want to squeeze them? Here’s a look at why we feel that way.

‘Tis the season for superhero movies. Here’s a slideshow of your favorite action heroes, before and after their superhero training.

If you’re anything like me, all those clickbait headlines in your newsfeeds drive you crazy. Yet, the do somewhat pique your curiosity. I mean, there is this tiny part of us that wonders what is so dramatic on the other side of those headlines. Personally, I blocked all the clickbait sites from my feed to keep me from the temptation. Thus, I appreciated this look into the grammar of clickbait headlines.

Growing up, I read and re-read all of the tales of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her frontier life. This letter from her daughter, giving her notes on her work was a fascinating look into her books.

Here’s another look at the past. I vote we bring back the trend of “horsemanning!”

Finally, since we are without an episode of Game of Thrones this week due to the holiday. Here’s an alternate look at the series. I admit, I kind of want to see this version!

Have a lovely holiday, friends! xoxox

squirrely sunday: and we’re back!

May 25th, 2014

I had the best of intentions to post whilst on vacation, but the brief respite from work and responsibilities took over and I lapsed into a state of internet withdrawal. But, I’m back, and even brought some squirrels. Or at least found some.

big-nuts squirrel

This guy always makes me laugh. Hopefully, he brings you a laugh, as well!
Happy Sunday, friends!!
xoxox

squirrely sunday: happy mother’s day

May 11th, 2014

It may be hard to believe, but even narcoleptic squirrels have mothers! My mom is pretty great. She still wanted to bring me home from the hospital, even though I came out too early and looked like a creepy, Roswell-type, alien. She dealt with all my antics through the years, even those crazy teenage years! Here we are amidst all that, sometime after my creepy alien phase, when I looked like a little boy with orangutan hair, when my mom looked like the church lady. (Boy, is she gonna be thrilled I shared that!)

manda n mom

Plus, to keep things squirrely, here is a lovely vintage listing from Etsy! You know you want an adorable ceramic mama squirrel with all her babies. They’re even on a wee leash, much in the way my mother may or may not have had to wrangle me back in the day!

ceramic squirrel family

Happy mother’s day to all the moms out there, whether your kids have two legs, four legs, or no legs, whether they have hair, or fur, or scales. I hope it’s a lovely day! xoxox

squirrely sunday: may the fourth

May 4th, 2014

Full disclosure, this one’s a repeat. I thought for sure I hadn’t used it before, but it wasn’t in my pending folder. However, I think today is far more appropriate for this pic, so let’s pretend to know nothing about the other post.

star wars squirrels

May the fourth be with you, friends!
xoxox

linked: rollin’ down the street

April 28th, 2014

Whoa! So much going on this last week, and I didn’t even make my usual internet rounds!! G and I left the house three nights in a row to go out and about on the town, so my adventures in the real world cut into those in the virtual world. However, I still have links a plenty to distract you on a weary Monday. As I listen to the wind howl and hail tapping the windowsill, I hope the weather is cheerier wherever you are!!

Over at The Cut, check out a slide show highlighting collegiate style of years past. Highlighting the new book Seven Sisters Style, I found many of the looks to be classic enough to look at home on current college campuses. My personal favorite was from Smith in 1929!

I may have let it slip once or twice that I am obsessed with Tilda Swinton. Paper Mag takes a look at some of her most memorable moments. *swoon*

Game of Thrones fan? I thoroughly enjoyed this compilation at Buzzfeed, imagining how real life media would have reported recent events on the show. I think my favorite is the take on how the NY Post would have reported!! (Note: SPOILERS if you haven’t been watching the current season/haven’t read more than half of the third book.)

I love good design. I really love good design that solves a problem, such as keeping common items out of landfills. I was thrilled when I was introduced to Fireclay Tile via Apartment Therapy. Like the author of the article, I have been burned by Kickstarters in the past, but this project is fully kicking butt and gives me some hope. These tiles are so gorgeous, I almost wish I had a reason to tile something!

I’ve worked many years in retail. It has long frustrated me that the louder the customer, the more they seem to get. My motto whenever I’ve been a manager is the nicer the person, the more I’m willing to work with them. They demand things from the start, I give nothing. Also, I support the coworker. There is nothing more frustrating as a lower-level employee, than following policy, then having a manager turn around and not offer their support, and give in to demands! So, I was pretty thrilled by this article on Huffington Post that points out that “the customer is always right” is not the best method.

Even ten years after the finale, my love of Friends still holds strong. I sure wouldn’t turn down a reunion special, such as the one announced as an April Fool’s joke. However, I appreciate the creators for holding strong, and being confident in the finale. I enjoyed the interview they did with Entertainment Weekly, and found that their statements articulated everything I found problematic with the How I Met Your Mother finale.

I was a little skeptical of the headline of this article from Salon about gender issues and McDonald’s Happy Meal toys. However, I’m glad I gave it a chance. Gender identity is so complicated as it is, we don’t need a corporation telling children what is acceptable for them to want and enjoy. Particularly for children who are already struggling with being something other than the body they were born in. Also, since I know more boys than girls who are fans of My Little Pony, they clearly can’t assume to know what a child is going to want to play with.

Growing up in its suburbs and having a mother who grew up within its limits, I am fascinated by the journey of Detroit. I am fascinated by the Detroit Urban Index site which provides an interactive slideshow of Detroit then and now. It is well designed, and the overlay of photographs is phenomenal. I still hold out hope that the old glory can return, though I know there is still a long road ahead. The slideshow on the unrest in the city illustrates what I am saying when I try to describe the impact on the city of the riots in the late ’60s.

Finally, thanks to a hometown news site, I was led to the genius that is Jimmy Fallon’s team carefully editing footage of Brian Williams. This time, Brian Williams is performing the rap classic “Gin and Juice.” I could watch Mr. Williams all day anyway, but watching him “rap” is especially amazing!

So, go forth and conquer Monday!
xoxox

squirrely sunday: bein’ healthy

April 27th, 2014

I generally try to live a healthy lifestyle. Mainly by making good food choices and being active. I don’t always achieve 100%, but I shoot to make more good choices than bad choices.

This guy is a pretty good reminder to read those labels and stay healthy. Especially with the weather slowly making a turn for me to pull out a more revealing wardrobe!!

nutritional squirrel

Happy Sunday, friends!!!
xoxox

linked:

April 21st, 2014

So, a wee adorable kitteh has been unexpectedly taking up much of our time. He’s awesome and sweet and totally cuts into my time for finding sweet things on the internets! But, I still found some super rad things to share! Just the thing to get you through a post-holiday Monday!

I think just about everyone, at one time or another, has wondered if their favorite television characters could really afford their digs. Friends was one of the first I remember everyone really questioning the income to rent probability at play. Over at Fast Company, check out a great graphic breakdown of your favorite shows, including Friends.

Another great find at Fast Company, a former Googler created a revolutionary way to buy bras! She is also working to create more affordable options, particularly for those with hard-to-find sizes or who aren’t quite an existing size. I’ve seen some sketchy ideas getting a lot of publicity lately, but this one is genuinely genius! I can’t wait for the android version to be developed.

Something I think many readers would like to see, Elle shares the newest round of ads for David Bekham’s collaboration with H&M. Nothing innapropriate there, but you may get a little hot and bothered, FWIW.

A beautiful statue of my beloved Edgar Allen Poe will be unveiled in Boston later this year. I think I see a vacation to the East Coast in my future!!

A new full body dryer seeks to do away with towels forever. I am in favor of less laundry. However, I can’t help but think that this will just be covering us with hot germs instead.

Finally, head over to Buzzfeed for something that can only be described as the most delightful combination of unicorns and rainbows and magic and glitter. Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart play the Newlywed Game, and it’s wonderful!!

I hope that helps cheer you up on this Monday! Have a lovely week, friends! xoxox