Detour Productions


weblog by Jacquée T.

To celebrate Venus — then, and if I could again

June 9, 2012. I wore a pink dress and pink heel sandals with a bow strap to the Adler Planetarium ‘Transit of Venus’ public celebration last Tuesday. ‘Twas to fete Venus transiting between the sun and earth in plain sight. Had I understood the magnitude of the event, I’d have celebrated differently.

My idea of celebrating this celestial event would have taken grand planning, and would have included champagne, and a dress code for guests.

Yet, like many folks who aren’t astronomers, I wasn’t aware of this unique appearance of Venus till of late.

The day before Adler’s celebrating the Transit, I noticed a press release about it, and decided to announce it on my A romantic in Chicago Introduction page. I called the PR contact to fact check. She iterated that this was the last time this century to view the Transit of Venus. The next opportunity would be in 2117.

This celebration

My announcement turned into an “Adler Invitation to celebrate Venus” article. I invited videographer Wayne Anderson to join me to cover the event.

Adler Planetarium staff were thoughtful and spectacular at hosting a Transit of Venus celebration. They opened doors to free general admission, moved Adler public telescopes to the lawn, and distributed “Eclipse Shades” that folks could use to gaze safely at the sun.

To see Venus! Through the Eclipse Shades she was a speck against the sun. Through the telescopes she was a dot. It seemed anti-climatic to see this tiny dot against the sun. Until I learned that the view showed a planet 27 million miles away.

‘Twas more amazing to learn that astronomers around the world were veritably at bated breath to observe. These were folks who had access to the most powerful telescopes on earth to view Venus any day. However today offered a rare opportunity to learn more about all planetary paths.

I captured the event by the heels of my pink shoes. Mr. Anderson and I recorded scenes and interviews on video yet to be released.

If I could do it again

Now that I understand the magnitude of this event, I’d opt to host a soiree to honor Venus and her daylight appearance.

“Pink” would be the a “pink champagne” or sparkling rosé. Dress code: cocktail attire with a suggested pink influence. I envision ladies in pink dresses and/or using pink accessories, and gents in tuxes with pink cummerbunds and pink bowties. White sparkling also be served for those who preferred, as well as a full bar.

Where: A place with a full sky view, like a greenhouse or backyard terrace. Guests would receive solar viewing shades with pink frames. But of course I’d have a telescope with a filter so folks could also behold the Transit of Venus through that.

Guests of honor: One male, one female astronomer. My take is astronomers are romantics. Afterall, early astronomers named the planet Venus; ’tis said because she was the brightest planet in the sky. And, gazing at the stars oft as they do, they’d be helpless to a romantic bent. The invited astronomers would regale guests with stories of Venus and the universe. And, they’d present the official raising our glasses to Venus.

When: December 11, 2117. The party would last afternoon into the night. Perhaps by then telescopes would be more a home staple than TV sets.

Yet the next “Transit of Venus” date is the toughest part. Sans a time machine, no need to make plans to host a stellar Venus soiree.

Still, it’s nice to stargaze.

Visit here to read about the Adler ‘Transit of Venus’ event

Cinnamon roll conviction

May 6, 2012. A lovely Sunday morning. Partly cloudy and a Midwestern spring warm. As I started to grind coffee beans, I contemplated what breakfast to accompany. An omelet with organic greens on hand. And a cinnamon roll on the side. My appetite smiled. My craving conviction kicked in, and a mini-adventure began.

Packaged donuts from the convenience store across the street wouldn’t suffice. Only a fresh baked cinnamon roll thick with icing would. The cinnamon roll might be blocks away or miles away. I prepared to find it.

Hair in ponytail, capris pants, light jacket, maryjane earth shoes. I brought sunglasses but not the case, as the sun had boldly upstaged the clouds before I stepped out.

I headed east and found a Polish bakery that offered delicious pastries; stepped in to ask if they had cinnamon rolls. They didn’t.

I proceeded further east, a good 10 blocks from home to encounter a bakery and cafe that proved popular to Sunday brunchers. How charming, I thought as I passed the hostess stand to the bakery case. There I discovered cinnamon rolls!

Flat ones, about hockey-puck height, with medium diameter and thin frosting glaze– at $4 per! My brows furled.

Perhaps the noisy people behind me who sat at tables and lined up for pastries were fooled by this price, not I.

The $4-per cinnamon roll could be demanded by likes of Ann Sather’s, Cinnabon, and by privately owned bakeries that offer a tall, memorable cinnamon-rich swirled pastry. This establishment merely offered an insult to my intelligence. I not only demurred surrendering to purchase their pseudo cinnamon rolls, I vowed not to patronize their bakery or cafe at-all.

Back to the street, clouds covered the sky. I took sunglasses in hand, pointed westward toward home. Kept my eyes open for another bakery or cafe.

Stepped into a couple cafes to inquire if they had cinnamon rolls; they didn’t. Stepped into another Polish bakery; by now hoped my craving might compromise. “Do you have anything cinnamon?” I asked the Polish lady behind the counter. “Cinnamon,” she repeated, and replied, “No.” I picked up a fresh baked, plastic-wrapped cake that seemed to have swirls of cinnamon. What’s this? I asked. “Plum,” she answered before I finished.

I thanked her, and considered the plum as well as a raspberry swirl cake next to it. They’d be delicious another day, and I’d be back that day. Yet now I craved a cinnamon roll.

I stepped out of that corner Polish bakery. A couple of Polish men stood outside, chatting in Polish before they paused to gaze at me. Perhaps they sensed the vortex in my cinnamon roll search. My sunglasses were back on, safer propped on my nose than in my fist, as I waited for the light then crossed the street.

I backtracked to a Dominick’s grocery store outlet, ceding to a chain bakery that might respect that cinnamon rolls first needed to be,
second needed to rise tall. I went straight to the bakery counter, to see it displayed croissants and cookies. I beckoned the teenage girl behind the counter “Do you have cinnamon rolls?” She referred to a bakery kiosk toward the front of the store. I hurried there to find muffin options. Turned to see she had followed me. “Guess they’re not here,” she said. “We’ll be making more cinnamon rolls soon.”

How long did she expect me to linger? “Could you give me an idea how soon?” I asked.

She looked at her watch. “About an hour.”

I considered it for a weak moment, and realized ’twas time to grasp a white flag.

I checked Dominick’s packaged donuts offers, and selected a three-donut combo box, plain, powdered and cinnamon. To boot, it beat the donut offers per the convenience stores across my home street. The cashier called me sweetheart as I made the purchase. I wished her a fabulous day.

Back outside and proceeding home, clouds covered the sky. I held bag with box of donuts in one fist, sunglasses in the other. My maryjane earth shoes accommodated a healthy pace. Thunder grumbled above.

I arrived home, plopped my sunglasses on the kitchen counter as a downpour splashed beyond the windows. I started the coffee, made the omelet and served a donut on a small side plate.
‘Twas a comforting compromise without surrendering all day to locate a perfect cinnamon roll. I’d gotten walking exercise, eliminated significant prospects to make way for the next cinnamon roll search, and discovered interesting cafes and bakeries to re-visit.
And that donut, that’s the said compromise in all this, was cinnamon-sugar coated, and tasted delicious when dipped in fresh brewed coffee.

Where’s Grandma’s soup?

September 8, 2011. Tonight I wanted a recipe to include garlic, olive oil, and broccoli, and thought to call my mom for suggestions. Then refrained. I knew her response. “Search the Internet.” And I missed that ol’ recipe box, with the worn hinges, and packed-in 3″x5″ cards that had handwritten recipes and vanilla-extract and oil stains.

I grew up a finicky eater, and the most calamitous cook among five siblings. Yet I’d always bellied up ravenously to favorites like Grandma’s delicious cream soups and Mom’s homemade chili. ‘Twas during college days I began to love the art of cooking, and I oft called home for beloved recipes.

For cooking or for baking, whether Mom or Dad answered the phone, they were able to reference my request and read it to me. I envisioned the recipe cards they held, and my mom’s handwriting.

Over the years they read recipes for chili, pasta salads, cakes and cookies, spaghetti sauce, and hotdishes — as we say in Minnesota; folks outside the state call them casseroles.

I jotted the recipes on scraps of paper. During more organized times, I tapped them into a computer file — and saved them on computers that eventually crashed.

One time Mom suggested a cream of green bean soup recipe, that I didn’t take down. As much as my palate had evolved to be open for new tastes, I was still finicky about green beans.

Sometimes Mom read recipes then shared twists she made. I added twists of my own. Yet there was comfort in the base “family recipe.”

Comfort I didn’t appreciate till lately. Somewhere in the whir of my needing recipes, Mom no longer referenced the recipe box to find the card that may or may not have been in place.

“Go online and I’m sure you’ll find a recipe,” became her response. She was right. I could find recipes there. An infinite amount. Yet I had to link through several references to seek recipes I might like.

Last time I talked to Mom, I recalled Grandma’s homemade cream soups. I could actually taste them, like a dream. “Do you have Grandma’s soup recipes?” I asked.

“No,” Mom replied. “But you can go online …”

Yes, yes, I thought, I could go online to find soup recipes, yet not Grandma’s soup recipes. Would I ever taste Grandma’s soup again?

I wonder if Mom still has that recipe box. The one she doesn’t refer to anymore. If so, I’ll ask her to send it to me.

And all the base recipes that I grew up on, will be at my fingertips. Maybe even the cream of green bean soup. Perhaps it’s one Mom had jotted down while Grandma recited it, and holds the secret behind all Grandma’s delicious cream soups.

By candlelight tonight

Mother’s Day, 2011. Mom wasn’t home when I called to wish a Happy Mother’s Day. Dad said she and my little sis were at a movie. What did he and Mom do for Mother’s Day, I asked. Nothing in particular, he replied. Yet he’d promised her a trip to Duluth in September.

Fabulous! I said. And what were he and Mom doing for dinner tonight? Nothing in particular, he replied. He’d ask Mom what she wanted to do.

While Dad and I were talking, Mom arrived home. After my bidding ‘I love you,’ to Dad, Mom took the phone. We played a little catch-up, my goings-on in Chicago, her updating me on the family goings-on in Minnesota.

Do you still get breakfast in bed? I asked. She knew what I meant. When me and my four siblings were growing up, Mother’s Day meant presenting Mom a breakfast in bed. The making of the actual breakfast, supervised by Dad.

She and I laughed, acknowledging that the Mother’s Day breakfast in bed days were bygone. “He made the bed this morning,” she said.

“That happens once per year?” I replied.  She indicated yes. I joked, “the annual making of the bed!” and Mom and I laughed again.

“Tell Jacquee to lay off,” I heard Dad in the background. Mom repeated it to me, and we laughed again. How did he know we were joking about him?

Mom and I caught up some more. Before I bowed off the conversation I said, “Whatever you do tonight, be it a special dinner or throwing together favorite leftovers … do it by candlelight.”

She informed me that Dad just told her, “Tell Jacquee I’m getting the candles out.”

“All right!” I exclaimed. Mom and I laughed again.

“Something must have rubbed off,” Mom said, referring to my influence. I’m the noted family ‘romantic.’

I was thinking the same thing; that something of my being an avid romantic rubbed off on my dad. “Tell him that I tell everyone he’s the reason I’m a romantic,” I said.

‘Tis true. The way he loves my Mom makes me settle for nothing less. I simply acknowledge the nuances in the meantime.

I also know that candlelight dinners aren’t foreign to my parents. I recall, that as a tot, I’d crashed one of their candlelight dinners after my bedtime.

The ensuing years of raising five kids, then attending grandkids, might have put candlelight dinners in the shadows. But not tonight.

My mom and dad are celebrating Mother’s Day by candlelight tonight.

Happy Birthday Cedar

March 19, 2011. It’s the wee hours of my niece Cedar’s birthday. She’s thirteen.  I’ll want to give her a call later. And I’ll want to tell her how I remember when she was a little bundle in my arms.

I warn myself now, to refrain. There’s a certain phase in which kids don’t want to hear about being “bundles” or babies, and that phase is most strong when kids are teens. I recall my own days being a kid when adults would begin “Why, I remember when you were a ….” and I’d tune out their words, subconsciously, as I smiled back at them. That’s when adults were most alien to me, telling me about knowing me when I was a baby, or standing only “so high.”

Back then I didn’t fathom that one day I’d be an auntie saying those words. Yet here I am. And it’s Cedar’s birthday. I already feel the tightness in my throat. “You’re 13? Why, I remember when ….”

When I first met her.  She was tiny and sleeping.  I’d arrived from Chicago to Minneapolis late at night, to my brother’s house. As soon as I’d stepped in I asked that he introduce me to her. He brought Cedar to me, such a tiny thing, and I took her in my arms and said little else to my brother than “Goodnight.”

My brother and sister-in-law went to bed, and I held little Cedar for hours, and sang to her, and rocked her, and fell asleep with her in my arms. She didn’t wake till after 6 a.m., the latest in the morning she had ever slept  so far.

I know I’ve already told her that story, aware even at the time that she would naturally put up a buffer and consider me an alien adult for speaking so.

Yet I also know, when the time is right, Cedar will recall those words and appreciate them.

So, will I refrain from telling her another “baby Cedar” story when I talk with her later? Maybe …. Maybe not.

“Goodnight Grandpa” “Goodnight Johnboy” …. “Goodnight Twitter”

March 17, 2011. How far are we from the rising view of the darkened farmhouse windows, as the family that has survived another day together sets in for slumber?

“The Waltons” represented a large family, oft riled by life’s tribulations, that by shut-eye time were cozy under one roof, and ready to let go the day with their “Goodnight’s.”

’Twas a scene that we all could identify, and smile at, and pull up the covers to.

Now I see folks saying goodnight per my glowing computer screen. Not saying goodnight to their kin, nor to me, but saying goodnight to Twitter. And my brows furl.

I get the message, even per their being well below their allowed 140 characters, that this is an endearing note … to Twitter, that I happen to see.

Oh, I understand that I’m somewhere in the note-giver’s intentions – lost. They have no conception whether I’m Mary Ellen or Jim Bob they’re addressing. And they don’t care.

I’m somewhere in the cloud of Twitter, that they have plugged into all the way to bedtime. Instead of saying goodnight before they shut off the lamp, they say goodnight before they shut down the computer.

They say goodnight to the Twitter stream that I happen to trickle through. And I wonder why they bother.

Yet since they did, I wish them sweet dreams. And continue tapping away at my computer.

The cinnamon roll

September 9, 2010. Another day closes, for me, in the wee hours of the morning. I have much more work to cover, yet I am beginning to tire. The persisting flame within me, has dwindled. All I need to do is re-light it, and it might last another hour or another minute.

Crazy, I feel it might last the hour, yet I prepare to re-light by the minute.

Or I could let go tonight’s flickers, say goodnight now. Flickers that suggest energy as much as they suggest rest. I take the rest; it seems to be winning . Let go tonight’s frustrations and tomorrow I might have a cinnamon roll.

That the case, all I’ll need to do at the beginning of the day is to sense the cinnamon roll.  To dream its aroma enough to wake me, so I’ll make a pot of coffee to go with it, and enjoy the duet, perhaps with strawberries at the side, before I persist in the projects that will take me through another day.

Labor Day lull

Labor Day, 2010. Labor Day makes quite a marker. ‘Tis a pause we all acknowledge, at some degree.

The tourist industry represents it as the end of summer, and many ‘summer’ venues follow suit by bowing out.  Yet on the universal scale, per se, the summer lasts until the autumnal equinox, September 22nd.

Some fashionists proclaim this as the last day to wear white shoes, pants or dresses, till next Memorial Day, and they exude much pressure to this affect. Yet, how worthy is that rule? Just last spring my fashion-abiding sister, Audrey, asserted wearing her gorgeous white patent leather shoes, with cork soles and high heels, to work — pre Memorial Day — and I saluted her. My guess is, those shoes remain in her wardrobe selections now as the balmy weather persists.

For many, this is outdoor-grilling day, or a last day to catch a swim at the public ‘summer’ beaches. It is a national holiday away from the office, worth celebrating.

Labor Day came  as one result of  labor disputes in the late 19th century, and was designed to honor laborers, and all workers who, one day after another, contributed to the country’s economics.

All said, it is a day of pause, across many plains, yet is most acknowledged by a lull in phones ringing, or phones left ringing, as folks take time out to celebrate.

‘Love’s Cry’ online

July 18, 2010. I just posted my first work on Here I have a profile to share some of my poetry and fiction online. The first: “Love’s Cry,” a passionate’s poem.

I know exactly which gent inspired me to write “Love’s Cry,” and that’s my own secret. Yet I would not have written this poem to the gent, were it not for a few very special beaus I knew and loved before him.

Find “Love’s Cry” here.

Mom’s red rose

Mother’s Day, 2010.  I recall a day I’d prompted my dad to buy my mom a rose.

Dad had spent the week with me in Chicago, so he could paint my condo. He was to board a train home to Minnesota. Before we left for the station, I took him to a florist to buy Mom a rose.

It seemed like leading a horse to a thistle patch. Dad didn’t understand why I was taking him there.

Once he purchased the rose, he gave an anticipatory smile. He realized this rose said more than he could in words.

Dad had done this before, expressed his love for Mom sans words — per dancing with her throughout their years together, through gestures and through his eyes tearing at sentimental occasions.

Yet when it came time to buy my mom presents — for anniversary, birthday or Christmas — he remained lost. His gauge when shopping, for example, was a bottle of perfume he found at a drugstore and that he valued by its exravagant bottle size. Such gifts remained chortle-able to today, per Mom’s recalling.

How relieved Dad was when my older sisters came of age to guide him in presents to complement my mom. Scarves, blouses, skirts, satin,  silk and cashmere.

The pampering end of practical, in retrospect. Clothing in elegant materials — and in styles that suited my mom’s boldness and elegance.

Yet now I prompted Dad to bring Mom a present sans an occasion, a simple rose, long-stemmed, red bloom. He boarded the train, ready to care for the rose.

I asked my mom about it, after Dad arrived home. O yes, he gave her the rose, she said, and she liked it. Yet per her description, he seemed more excited than she was about his giving it to her.

He had in his hand, a new way to express his love for her. It was a traditional way, and it said so much — especially because my dad was the one giving her the red rose.

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