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LOVE THURSDAY

Cindy Maddera

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I had this really great restored Schwinn. Chris bought it from our friend Brian for my birthday one year. It was so cool with red and white streamers and an Om symbol painted on the side. It was just the loveliest tooling around bicycle. Except it had zero gears. In the flat lands of Oklahoma, I could easily get away with that, but not here in the rolly hills of Missouri (have you guys seen my drive way?!?). But I hung onto that bike. I just wasn't ready to part with it. A friend had rebuilt it and Chris had purposefully gifted it to me. I mean, come on, Om symbol? This was made for me. Finally I decided that it was time to let it go. It wasn't right to keep a bike I knew I was never going to ride. I posted the bike on Craigslist and a week later I sold it to a Rockabilly dude who had an old Chevy truck he'd restored in the same colors. He wanted the bicycle to ride around on at car shows. I thought I would have been sad at letting that bike go. It was important to me. It was a symbol or a token of love. It was the kind of bike where you had to back peddle to brake, the kind I rode when I first learned to ride a bicycle. There was something nostalgic about owning that bike and it was sweet of Chris to have had it built just for me. I had visions of tooling over to farmers' markets or riding around with kittens in the basket. Maybe I'd even wear a red bandanna on my head. The reality was that when I lived in an area with few hills, I did not live in a bicycle friendly neighborhood. We were too far from anything cool or interesting to ride the bike to. Also, I was alone. Chris didn't have a bike and when he finally got one, his knee was all messed up and he couldn't ride it. So, not only did I not have a place to ride my bike, I had no one to ride with. It turned out that getting rid of the bike was less of a sad endeavor than actually owning the bike and not ever riding it.

It also helped knowing that the old bike went to a good home. Of course my old vintage Schwinn, painted black with red trim, dice shaped valve caps, Om symbol, and red and white handle bar streamers was meant for a Rockabilly dude with a vintage Chevy. I still have visions of tooling around town on a bicycle. There is a really great trail called the Katy trail (it's a state park!). The trail stretches from Clinton to Machens and I think it would be fun to do it in stretches. Those things were just never going to happen on that old bike, but those things can be a reality on the new bike. Oh...yeah...I got a new bicycle. I know very little about it other than it has twenty something gears that I have to learn how to use and new tire tubes (that I learned how to replace). But I'm pretty excited about it.

New wheels

Happy Love Thursday!

CHICAGO

Cindy Maddera

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The Christmas I was fourteen, I was the last remaining child in mom and dad's house. That was Janell's first Christmas with her first husband and instead of the usual gathering at mom's, we ended up at Randy and Katrina's. At least I think we did. I just remember the depressing car ride back to mom and dad's. Dad had taken the back roads that skirted the Tulsa Airport and as we passed one of the runways, dad said "Why don't we fly to Chicago tomorrow, just for the day?". So we did. We got up really early the next morning, flew into O'Hare, and then took the train into Chicago. We spent the day roaming around the Museum of Natural History. It was the first time I'd ever been to Macy's. We ate dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe and then we took the train back to the airport and flew home. I have no memory of what Chicago looked like as we were flying in or out. I have no memory of Lake Michigan.

Chicago

As my plane flew into Chicago Thursday morning, I had a perfect view of the city and Lake Michigan. I saw the Sears Tower (now it's the Willis Tower, what you talkin' about?) and that building the little girl slid down in Adventures in Babysitting. All of this was wonderful, but I was positively awe struck by Lake Michigan. I knew it was a big lake. I just didn't realize how big of a lake it really is. If I didn't know any better, I would have thought it was the ocean. There are beaches and waves and piers and big boats. I was floored by the shear enormity of Lake Michigan. As I rode the train towards my hotel I also noticed how New York like Chicago can be. I passed rows of houses that reminded me of Queens. I heard people talking in accents that reminded me of Brooklyn. When I got off the train my instructions told me to take a cab to my hotel and I no longer felt the New York vibe. I suddenly had no idea how to hail a cab in Chicago. I know that in New York, you step out daringly close to the street and put your hand in the air. I wasn't sure if it was done in the same fashion in Chicago. I tentatively waived at a few passing cabs with no luck. I walked a block up and stood next to a Starbucks talking to Michael on the phone and when I looked up there was a cab sitting at a red light right in front of me. I made eye contact with the driver and we both nodded to each other. Then he waived me over and I jumped into the cab. I sat back with relief and pride at successfully getting to my destination all on my own.

Navy Pier

After meeting up with Kizz, we walked over to Navy Pier to find lunch and a good place to leave Chris's ashes. We settled for tourist fare and walked the length of the Pier looking for an appropriate dumping place for ashes. Navy Pier was full of tourists, so we ended up leaving Chris under a "No Trespassing" sign with a view of Navy Pier and Lake Michigan. And this would be all of Chicago that I would see for the two days. The rest of my time was spent being shuttled between the hotel and the conference center, attending workshops and sessions, and filling up on inspiration. On our last evening there, Kizz and I took a cab ride out to the famous (well, famous in the vegetarian world any way) Chicago Diner for dinner. The drive took us up along Lake Michigan before cutting over into a neighborhood. I stared out the window looking at the vast open water, struck by the endlessness of it. Kizz said that they had had surf warnings earlier in the week. Surf warnings on a lake. For some reason I expected to see sharks. As the airport shuttle took us back to O'Hare the next morning, I realized just how little I had seen of Chicago and was a little disappointed that I didn't get to see more of it.

Cab ride

My time was not wasted though. I picked up some new skills that I may be implementing on the blog. I've already updated Wordpress without blowing up everything, something I had been avoiding because I wasn't sure what that would do to my blog's theme. I have a plan for getting a project that's been trapped in my brain out into the world. I met some great people and got a bunch of free stuff (I ate two Haagen-daz ice cream treats in one day). And I spent some quality time with Kizz. I did the important things that I needed to do for this trip.

Chris in Chicago

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

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Mom, Janell, Amanda, Randy and Katrina will all show up at my house tomorrow. Mom's (that's her up there in that picture) birthday is on the 15th and we usually just do a joint celebration. I've made reservations at a fancy fish house in the Plaza District. My mom has reached an age where she waves away the idea of another birthday. She tends to look disdainfully down her nose at it. Of course I think that's the wrong attitude for her to have. In fact, I think you should make a big deal about your birthday the older you get. Years for us have kind seemed like car wrecks. Any car wreck you can walk away from is worth celebrating. I'm thankful that Mom has aged so well. She's still relatively healthy. She's still active in her community and manages to keep herself busy. She texts and facebooks and emails. She may be a great-grandma, but she's a pretty hip grandma and is always there when someone needs a ride. And for me, I can say that I'm thankful she's around when I need her. I'm thankful for her willingness to help. I'm just thankful for my mom.

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I am also thankful that all of them can come here this weekend. I know my house is tiny, but the idea of all of us crammed in here makes me happy. It's like a camping trip or a slumber party. Actually, I think it's going to be very much like a slumber party with me and Amanda in the living room (she gets the couch and I get the air mattress). I've never had a slumber party with my niece. We should watch Sixteen Candles. I should buy us some slumber party like snacks. What do girls eat at slumber parties these days?

This week has been full with a return to routine and the weekend looks like it's going to be full with fun and laughter and love. How could I not be thankful? Here's a great week and a perfectly wonderful Thankful Friday.

LOVE THURSDAY

Cindy Maddera

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What's the difference between house and home? Early June, our landlord told us that he had to sell the house we are living in. At first, I panicked at the idea of finding a new place to live, but then I asked him how much he wanted for it. Chris and I looked at each other from the corner of our eyes and both said "SOLD!" at the same time. So, we are buying a house. We are buying the house we are currently living in. We are buying a home. It still seems surreal to us. We've picked out paint colors and have purchased a couple of things. I've drawn a sketch of the living room and how I'd like it to look. I've picked out some pictures I'd like to print out and frame, because I can do that now. I put things on the walls. We can have a place of our very own.

And it feels good. It feels good to finally, after all the struggle and unsure and hem-haw, to finally have a place of our very own. A home and not just a place we are occupying in this moment. The other day I looked at Chris and said "We will put up a Christmas tree in our house". I realize it's not the structure that makes a home, but the people in it. But now, all those ideas and "if we had a place we'd do this" can happen. I am living in a moment were we can make really good things happen. It's a nice change of pace.

You don't know how hard it's been keeping this "secret" (I've already told some people, because it was too much of a secret. Chris didn't want to say anything until closing, but he gave in too). Happy Love Thursday!

GARDEN DIARIES

Cindy Maddera

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I woke up this morning and laid there for a bit debating whether or not to get up and head out to the garden. The sky was gray. I knew that the weed situation was holding. It was 8 AM on a Sunday morning. All very good excuses to skip church. But I rolled out of bed to the sound of a creaky body and headed out any way, because that's what we do. Always worth it.

Cucumber Curly

We've got cucumbers! Lots of them! We're just going to eat refrigerator pickles all summer long. And kale. Poor Chris is getting really tired of the kale. We eat it in just about everything. We will have kale until forever. It's the new spinach. The squash has me worried. We have lots of baby squash, but they turn black before they can get big enough to pick. So far we've eaten one good squash and I picked another one yesterday. But the plant is loaded with baby squash. We should have squash coming out our ears by now. I've got to do a bit of research and head out to the garden center for some help or there will be no squash casserole.

Bad squash Bloom

That's the only plant giving me grief right now. We've got tomatoes. They're so cute; I've named them Princess tomatoes (I have no idea what kind they are, heirloom from the farmer's market) because they look like tiny princess pumpkins. Instead of a carriage, I'm hoping my fairy godmother chooses to turn into a big ripe red tomato. Everyone has been sprayed for bugs and Dipel dusted. Chris read somewhere that Bounce dryer sheets will keep bugs away. I'm thinking of tying a few out by the tomatoes ad squash. I'll let you know how that goes. If any thing they may just look like white flags of surrender blowing around in the garden. I like that.

LOVE THURSDAY

Cindy Maddera

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Ten days. That's how long we went with out power. Last night when the guy from KC Power and Light showed up, he looked up at the lines and said "this is all you've been waiting on?!" and then rolled his eyes and shifted his wad of dip to the other cheek. Twenty minutes later we had power and Chris and I started whooping and hollering like that guy had just made it rain. We ran inside and started turning on everything like the light switch was a brand new invention, lahightswitch. I'm not saying that every single person we dealt with during this ordeal was a peach, but for the most part everyone was so nice and understanding. The first pair of P&L guys that came out about the downed power line told us that it would have been better off if they hadn't come because when they saw the damage they new they'd have to turn off the power. They new that everything on the outside of the house would have to be replaced by an electrician. Our landlord couldn't even get an electrician to call him back until the second day. Oh, and our landlord? Nicest of them all. He was fraught with worry. He offered to put us up in a hotel, but we declined because we knew Hooper would be miserable there. He brought over an ice chest of beer and water. He brought over a heavy duty extension cord to run to the empty house next door. That helped a lot actually.

But that guy up there in the picture? That guy? He's my favorite. Not only did he get out power back on, but he totally agreed to pose in my 365 day picture. And that's why he's making it into a Love Thursday entry. He had no idea what he was getting himself into and I'm pretty sure he thought we were crazy. Yeah, well, that's what 10 days without electricity will do to ya.

GARDEN DIARIES

Cindy Maddera

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There's a lot of green happening right now in the garden. But if you look close, you'll see bits of color. Mostly yellow. The radishes are out of control. The squash is blooming baby squashes. The tomatoes all have yellow blossoms. Things are about to fruit out all over the place here.

SQUASH!
Possible tomatoes

I feel like things are right on track. We've been to a few Farmer's Markets lately that specialize in local produce. The only things we've walked away with were eggs and bread. All the booths had things that we were already growing in our own garden. It was a nice feeling. When I need lettuce for a sandwich or a salad, I take a pair of scissors and cut off what I need from the garden. Last week I made a stir-fry with asparagus, green onions, and kale. All but the asparagus came from our garden.

Last night Chris helped me hook up the garden hose to water the garden. There's no back faucet so we have to hook it to the front and run it through the garage. We haven't had to do this very often because of all the rain we've gotten here. But yesterday we needed to water the garden and that was about it. I pulled a few weeds. Sprayed everything down with soap. Sprinkled leafy things with Dipel Dust. And that is the extent of this weeks work in the garden. Some times I'm still surprised and amazed at how easy all of this has become.

WHAT'S IN THAT BOX!

Cindy Maddera

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It's like a new game show. This box was labeled "kitchen glass" and was packed before we moved in with Chris's mom. I obviously didn't feel it was important enough to unpack when we unpacked all the other kitchen items. I was surprised by my find. This is what was in the box.

Glassware

Two items that are for sure staying are the elephant tumbler glasses and the beaker with the handle (can't really see those in the picture). The thing I'm on the fence about is the cocktail set. It is a complete set, with numbers 1 through 8 on the bowl and pitcher and all eight glasses (1-8). The thing is, when I bought them, I could totally see them in my future home. Still can. But do I need them? Would I use them?

So, internet, what do you think? Want to help me decide? Keep or EBay? I'll review all sides of the argument and post my final decision on Friday.

LOVE THURSDAY

Cindy Maddera

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I remember the first time I saw Cati twirling her hair. She was so little, strapped into her car seat. Her cheeks were red and remnants of lunch were smeared on her shirt. We'd spent the day out doing something and while Steph drove, I glanced over my shoulder to see Cati with droopy eyes and a tiny finger looped around a lock of hair. And at that moment, I thought "this is Stephanie's child". You see, if you were to ask me what's the one thing I remember the most about my best friend, it is that she twirls her hair. Every class we were in together it was a guarantee that I could look over to my left or right and Steph would be sitting there, a pen in one hand and a finger tangled into a lock of hair. Some may say that this habit is a nervous twitch, but I find it to be soothing. It could also be said that Cati's habit of twirling her hair is a learned behavior, but I choose to believe it's a hereditary trait. Cati is so different from Steph in personality. She could give Carrie from Sex and the City a run for her money on the shoe collection alone. She is a girly girl, where Steph was more just girl. The hair twirl though, that's the clincher.

Now that my hair is getting a little longer (OH MY GOD IT WILL NEVER BE LONG ENOUGH TO DONATE!), I have taken to the habit of twirling my hair. It is calming, but that's not why I do it. I do it because every time I start, I think of Steph. It's a simple way to keep them close.

Happy Love Thursday!

GARDEN DIARIES

Cindy Maddera

Our garden is complete. This morning I put in three tomato plants, cilantro, oregano, basil, two sweet Italian pepper plants and something else I forget. I'd take pictures, but I'm too tired. Yesterday we all went down to the City Market where they were having this big plant sale and we all loaded up. My favorite thing is the little blood orange tree we bought my mom for Mother's Day. The lady told my mom that she'll probably even get fruit off of it this year! We were unprepared for the size and scope of the plant sale. We got there kind of late, it was crowded and parking was a bitch, but it was worth it. I think we could have spent all day there. There were a couple of things I wanted, but didn't get. One was this beautiful hanging chenille plant. We saw a guy walking with it and asked him where he got it. He told us he'd taken the last one. He was buying it for his 90 year old mother. I think she deserved it more than me. The other thing was a miniature olive tree. This I could go back for and just might have to.

It was a good day. And since I don't have pictures of the garden, I leave you with these mushrooms that have popped up in a bale of hay we had sitting in the backyard. It's given me an idea. I think I can grow mushrooms in the basement!

Shrooms

GARDEN DIARIES

Cindy Maddera

What's the deal with onions? How do they grow? 'Cause I got this concentrated area of grass-like stuff popping up around the onions, but I don't know if they're weeds or some off shoot from the onion? Have I been pulling baby onions out of the ground or weeds? I have no idea. Weeds or Onions

Also, the spinach I planted isn't doing so well. I have three plants out of a whole row of spinach come up. To fix this, I planted some chard seeds. Maybe I'll have chard and spinach. Either way, I think we have our greens covered.

Sad Spinach

Still no animal attacks. I'm seriously considering a FURminator for Hooper. Not only to help with the tons of hair balls we have floating around the house, but to tie around the garden. I'll make my own voodoo talisman against vegetable predators.

Radish

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

Grandpa is buried at the same cemetery as J. In fact the ceremony took place just feet away from J's site. And once they got past that gun salute, the service was very nice. When they did the gun salute at J's funeral, I felt myself separate with that first shot. The only things grounding me to the earth was Chris and my cousin, both grabbed hold of me in that moment. The salute yesterday wasn't quite as a traumatic, but there was a second where I felt myself hover above everything before settling back into my skin. The pastor said all the things about Grandpa that I would have said and I know his words helped Steph and her family as they said their goodbyes. I am thankful for this. After the service, Chris and I walked up to visit J's site. There's a tree next to it and Katrina has hung all of these wind chimes and whirl gigs from the branches. Those weren't there the last time I visited and a bubbly sob of laughter burped out at the perfectness of those things. Then Chris and I cried and held each other for bit, taking some time to grieve. We moped ourselves off and headed out for our own goodbyes. I am thankful that we had this moment.

I am thankful that we made it home before the worst of the storms hit our area. I am thankful that my friends and family survived the storms relatively unscathed. I am thankful for a snooze button. And I am thankful that my cleansing diet is over.

So say we all.

And thank you to The Force.

WHIRLING DIRVISH

Cindy Maddera

Chris and I are all about getting every last drop out of a weekend. Let's look at this last weekend, for example. Chris picked me up from work on Friday. We drove down to Oklahoma City. The next morning we picked up a U-Haul and then I went to get a haircut. We saw Misti (too short) and Robin (I unsuccessfully tried to convince her to chuck it all and move to Kansas City). We loaded up the rest of our stuff including the scooter. We met Traci and Quinn for dinner. Chris and I then split ways and I took our old garden to Misti while he went back with Traci to get our couch. We drove to Tulsa and the next morning (ish) met my brother and sister-in-law for brunch. Then we headed back to KCMO. Got back and unloaded all the stuff just in time for a big thunder storm. We are exhausted today. Chris picked the dog up from the vet/boarder/groomer's and the dog is exhausted. I can't even remember where this entry was going. I'm that tired. The house is a wreck. We're in desperate need of some groceries. But I really don't care. 'Cause you know what? V is parked right out there in our garage. And right now I am not sitting on an air mattress. I am on a real live couch.

And now I'm going to bed. At 8:00. Don't you judge me.

THE DISH RAN AWAY WITH THE SPOON

Cindy Maddera

Today, Chris and I went to clear out the storage unit and get rid of some things and figure out what we were keeping. When we got there, we found that there was a new lock on the door. Turns out, there had been a little accident involving a trailer hitch breaking through the side of our unit. Everything inside was OK, but some of the boxes were a bit water damaged. As we started poking around in there, we discovered that our dishes were among the water damaged boxes. This was a bit disconcerting considering that I thought our dishes were stored at my mother's house. We went to U-Haul and bought some new boxes along with the dish saver packing kit (worth every penny). So, this evening, I sat down and re-packed my dishes. My dishes are special. They were made by my mother and I know it's not a good idea to love things, but I love these dishes. Not only are they beautiful, but they were specifically designed for us. We had Mom make the dinner plates 9 inches in diameter as opposed to the traditional size of 11. They are portion control plates.

As I sat on the couch, unwrapping each plate, each bowl and placing them in foam sleeves, I realized just how much I've missed these dishes. I realized how special each meal was eaten off of those plates, how comforting chili could be eaten out of those bowls. I realized the important role these dishes played in our meal times and I can't wait to have that back. I can't wait to have people over to dinner and have someone ask about those dishes and to proudly say "my mother made those".