contact Me

Need to ask me something or get in contact with me? Just fill out this form.


Kansas City MO 64131

BLOG

 

 

Filtering by Tag: Love

LOVE THURSDAY

Cindy Maddera

The other morning as I was getting in my morning steps, I turned the corner on the forth floor and then glanced back over my shoulder at one of the office areas. Then I stopped and turned around to really look at that office area. The window was covered in raindrops and the morning sun was streaming through so that it looked like the window was covered in a million twinkly stars. I pulled out my phone to take a picture, but the camera just didn't capture what I was seeing. And I was good with that.

Over the weekend, Michael and I visited the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art. They were hosting a Chinese New Year celebration and we were unprepared for how popular this celebration would be. We ended up ducking into the photography exhibit to get a reprieve from the crowd. The current photography exhibit, Through the Lens: Visions of African American Experience, 1950-1970, is all of the good descriptive words. There was one photo in particular that made me stop and stare for a really long time. It was photo taken of Martin Luther King as he was being arrested for loitering as he waited for a friend to be released from jail. He was half leaning over a counter and looking directly at the camera as two police officers held his hand behind him and cuffed him. I stared at that picture for a long time with tears dripping down my face. If I close my eyes now, I can still clearly see that picture and the look in Mr. King's eyes. In this case, the camera wasn't capturing what I was seeing either, but it forced me to look deeper than the tangibility of the photograph. 

You might be able to tell just because of how late in the day I'm getting this posted. Squeaking in just barely still on a Thursday. I have had a hard time writing anything for today's post. I have deleted this entry twice now, both of them describing that photography exhibit and all of them inadequate. It is hard to see a connection between twinkly stars and an image of civil rights injustice. Both of these images caught me off guard and had me stopping in my tracks and I suppose the one connection I can make is one of inspiration. I am inspired to do better and be a better citizen. I am inspired to appreciate the beauty that surrounds us. I am inspired to be present in the moment and to be aware of my surroundings. 

These are just two examples of moments that have stopped me in my tracks this week. Some of those moments have caused me to close my eyes and protect my heart. Some of those moments have made me laugh out in a burst of surprised laughter. Some of those moments have just made me be still for small bit of time. Good or bad those moments have been important and significant. I hope you have moments that stop you in your tracks and I most definitely hope they are good ones. 

Happy Love Thursday!

LOVE THURSDAY

Cindy Maddera

I think it was the day after Thanksgiving. I walked outside to feed the chickens and pulled one light brown egg from the coop. That was the last egg. The weather turned cold and the days grew short. I would see the girls briefly in the mornings and be home in time in the evenings to see them walk up their plank into the coop. As soon as it's dark, they are on their perch and nestled down for the evening. In some ways, this makes it easier to change out their feeder because they aren't crowding me to hurry up. Did I mention that Matilda's a biter? It doesn't hurt, but it's a little unnerving to have her peck at your fingers. 

We knew this would happen. Not the pecking thing. That was a given. No...we knew that the hens would probably stop laying during the winter. We'd read it in all the books. Chickens that lay eggs year round are kept warm and inside during the winter. This also shortens their life span. Don't get me started on those commercial egg farms. Just imagining the inside of one of those barns makes me teary. Still, even though we knew, going out to the coop and not finding an egg or two has been a little deflating. Those days of egg collecting never grew old. Every time we'd pluck an egg out of the coop, we'd holler with joy. I'd ooh and awe over each egg and speculate based on egg color which chicken was laying what. We've decided that when we finally renovate the kitchen, we'll use the same colors as the eggs the hens lay. Beautiful taupe, light blue-green and an almost white.

It is yet another example of how Winter steals joy. And it's been cold here. We still have snow and ice on the ground from the storm system that moved through last week. Monday, I parked the car in the driveway, got out and walked up onto the front porch to unlock the door. Before I opened the front door, I reached over to fish the mail out of the mailbox. That's when I heard this odd scraping sound. I looked over to see my car sliding down the driveway. It stopped sliding long enough for me to hop back in it, but it took me two parking attempts to get it situated in a spot where it wouldn't slide. Yesterday we woke up to a fresh new layer of slushy wet snow. It looks like the front yard (that never sees the sun) is going to be coated with snow and ice until Spring, which is when I expect to see our next egg.

Except.

There were two eggs in the coop on Sunday and one on Tuesday and another one on Wednesday. I'm taking back the joy Winter steals one egg at a time. 

Happy Love Thursday! 

 

LOVE THURSDAY

Cindy Maddera

When I was little, Mouse Soup was one of my favorite books. I read it over and over. Each story the mouse tells the weasel is funny and enjoyable, but my favorite line is in the beginning of the book. The weasel captures the mouse and takes him home to make mouse soup. The mouse tells the weasel "Wait! This soup will not taste good. It has no stories in it. Mouse soup must be mixed with stories to make it taste really good." I was thinking about the mouse and the weasel and mouse soup while I was making a pot of stew for dinner on Sunday. When I planned our meals for the week, I knew that Sunday was going to be a rainy miserable day. I couldn't think of anything more comforting than wrapping my hands around a warm bowl of hearty stew with maybe some cornbread on the side. It is something that I have done many times on days such as these my whole life. 

I remember winter evenings with bowls of hot stew and plates of cornbread. The fire would be going in the fireplace and I'd have my Strawberry Shortcake blanket spread out in front of the hearth. That's where I'd be, picnic style, watching something on TV and pretending to drink my glass of milk which I would set next to me so that Bitsy (our little terrier) could drink it for me. I will always link the meals my mother made us with the seasons like Taco Salad is summer and camping. Stew is winter, warmth and home. I don't know the origins of Mom's stew recipe. I assumed it was something she picked up from her mother. It's not a fancy soup. Meat, potatoes, carrots, bag of frozen veggies, bag of frozen okra because they never include that with mixed veggies, large can of diced tomatoes, Italian spices and some water. Mom would put all of this in a crockpot and cook it all day. I would walk through the door at the end of a yucky school day and smell the wonderful smell of soup as I pulled off layers of coat/scarf/hat. I was usually the first one home. I was probably what you'd call a latchkey kid but without the key because we never locked the door then. If it was locked, the garage door was always unlocked. Any way. It was a comfort coming home to a warm house that smelled of home cooked stew even if it was an empty house. Because the house wouldn't be empty for long. Dad would be home not too long after and then Mom and the three of us would fill our bowls and settle in the den. Sometimes Janel was there, mostly she'd be off doing teenage girl stuff though. 

These are the things I was thinking as I lugged my enamel cast iron stew pot out of the cabinet. I thought about the stories that would go in this pot to make it taste good. Something more than onions and garlic and potatoes and carrots. What's my stew pot story? I do not have a fireplace. The Strawberry Shortcake blanket is long gone. I do not need to pretend to drink milk and in fact rarely remember to buy any for Michael and the Cabbage. There is still the comfort of holding a warm bowl of stew in the palms of my hand, maybe even more so now that those bowls were made by Mom. I will admit to sneaking crumbs of cornbread to Josephine. The stew still fills the house with that oh so familiar smell of home cooked goodness. My stew pot story is not very complex. There is simplicity in the ingredients and in the eating and sharing of the meal itself. It is this simplicity in a complex life that makes this soup taste so good. 

Maybe I'll throw in some crickets next time for good measure (or not). Happy Love Thursday. 

 

LOVE THURSDAY

Cindy Maddera

That Saturday after my week of being sick, I was finally getting back into my groove. I got up and did my usual morning routine. Heirloom, breakfast biscuit, coffee, and my Fortune Cookie journal. I had just had a week of nothing, where I hadn't written a single word of creativity. Everything written and posted that week was complaining about being sick or a laundry list of pointless. I admit. I'm good at those kind of posts. They're easy, but no one wants to read that crap. The creative posts, the ones where I have to look things up and spend actual time contemplating the words I'm going to type out, those are the hard ones. Those are the ones where I have to work, but I've noticed that even if only five people read it after I've done the work to write it, those kind of posts make me feel pretty dang good. It's like that after workout feeling some people talk about getting after a good spin class. My fortune prompt for this day was "The most beautiful views have the hardest climbs."

She felt it all the way up her right side. She'd fallen hard, slipping on a rock. The moss on the rock making it slick and treacherous. She hugged her knee into her chest, rocking while trying to breathe away the pain. The voices in her head started their chattering. "What on earth made you think you could do this?" "You are physically incapable of climbing a dumb mountain." "You're not even wearing the right shoes." "I think the number is 10. 10 years ago you might could do this. 10 lbs lighter you might could do this." "You are weak." She heard those voices loud and clear. She could give up. Easy. Limp her way back down the trail. She turned her head to look up and saw the sun sparkling through the trees. And she knew. She couldn't give up. She stood, gingerly testing out her leg. Then she continued to pull herself up the mountain. 

I finished writing that journal entry and my whole body felt lighter. I have a theory. All of us have the ability to be creative in some way or another. Some of us have to work harder than others at creativity. For some people, it's just easy, but even if it's a struggle to write or paint or whatever, we have to make the effort to do so. If we don't, that pent up creativity forms knots of tension inside our bodies. You don't even realize they're weighing you down until you've done something creative to release them.

I've been thinking a lot about labels lately. We label things to make sense of them, to understand, to be able to have conversations about those things. Sometimes, though, those labels are too confining to describe the reality of what that thing is or who that person is. I've always been so resistant to being called a writer because it's hard for me to see myself as such. I am more than any one label. We are all more than any one label. I think this is why I've fallen in love with my Fortune Cookie journal. It makes me feel like maybe I am a writer. It reminds me I am more than any one label. 

I've written other stories since the one posted in today's entry. There's a story about arguments and ice cream and how Chris used to bribe me with ice cream to get me to go to a computer store. My latest one is about trading lemons for cookies. It involves a woman with an over abundance of lemons from her backyard lemon tree and a man with an over abundance of cookies from his backyard cookie tree. It's a silly short story that makes me smile at the idea of cookies growing on trees. It doesn't have to be good or polished. I just have to take a moment to let myself be inspired. Every time I do this, I am filled with joy. I went home that Saturday after finishing the hardest climb story and once again thanked Michael for giving me that journal. This time it was more than a simple "thank you". This time it was more of a heartfelt "no, really. THANK YOU!" I told him that he had no idea how much this journal makes me happy or how important it has become to my Saturday mornings. 

Because all of that is true. 

Happy Love Thursday. May your day be filled with love and joy on this Thanksgiving Day. 

LOVE THURSDAY

Cindy Maddera

It is tradition. The carving of the great pumpkin. I have attacked this task with gusto every year except for one that I can remember. Shopping for a pumpkin is like shopping for clothes. I am choosey and meticulously study each pumpkin in the bin until I find the one that is just right. Even then, I may press my ear to one side to see if that pumpkin "speaks" to me. Then I'll spend days turning it this way and that while studying the curves and lines and bumps before deciding on the face I will carve into that pumpkin. It has been this way for as long as I can remember, even back before I was allowed to do the carving. All of this makes it sound like I am a pumpkin carving artist who creates miraculous works of art on a pumpkin. I am not. I don't go for the printed templates that you can get these days to help you turn your pumpkin into a whatever character that is popular. I am a traditionalist. The pumpkin gets eyes and a big grinning mouth. One year I even went back so old school as to do the generic triangle eyes and nose face. Each pumpkin has a face, a face that is inspired by the pumpkin itself. 

This year, there was a Martha Stewart Pinterest thing going around social media where she had turned small pumpkins into vampire pumpkins. I am not crafty. I mean, I have my moments. I can be crafty if I have to. I am the princess of a crafting queen and I know how to use a gun. The glue kind of course. I tend to avoid attempting things I see on Pinterest because I am not confident in my glue gun skills any more. I did a bazillion craft projects in my youth. I'm over it, but I saw those dang vampire pumpkins and I fell over laughing. I wanted them. I wanted a front stoop full of little vampire pumpkins. When I said this to Michael, he said "OK. Let's make it happen." We bought four small pumpkins, a package of glow-in-the-dark vampire teeth and a box of pins. Then the two of us spent an evening making our vampire pumpkins. And they were not a Pinterest fail. I arranged them carefully on our front stoop and giggled at their silly vampire faces. 

I carved a traditional pumpkin as well. I did that Friday night while Michael watched the World Series and did his best not watch me dangerously jabbing a knife into a pumpkin. He's always amazed that I haven't chopped off a digit by now. Saturday, we all went out to run some errands and get lunch. We pulled into our driveway just as our mail carrier was starting her rounds. As I reached out to get our mail from her, she said "Hey. I have to say, you guys have the best pumpkins in the neighborhood. And I should know! The first time I saw those, they made me laugh so much. Really. They're the best ever." I was so moved and replied with a very genuine "thank you." As Michael finished unlocking the door and we all shuffled inside, he leaned in and said "Did you hear that? We have the BEST pumpkins." It's been a thing for days with us. The Royals won the World Series and we have the best pumpkins in the neighborhood. 

Happy Love Thursday.

LOVE THURSDAY

Cindy Maddera

Earlier this week I had a work related dinner and I ended up sitting across the table from one of the guys that works in our office, but not in our department. We were talking about cars and I  mentioned that I had finally bought a new car just a few years ago. I said that after Chris passed away, my old car just didn't seem safe. Brian, the guy sitting across from me, knew a little of my story, but he didn't know the whole story. So he asked me about Chris and I found myself telling the story of how Chris died for the third time in the last two days. My first thought was "holy goats! how can I still be telling this story?!?" I mean, come on. The whole me being a widow is so passe. My second thought was "man, this story has gotten really easy to tell."

When I was telling Brian this story, I could hear myself explaining Chris's illness and death in such a matter of fact way, like this is no big deal. People go to bed with Food Borne Hep A and wake up with inoperable tumors on their livers all the time. Except I could see Brian turning slightly red as tears began to well up in his eyes. In that moment I knew exactly what he was thinking. He had done the math. We're about the same age. I was married to Chris for almost fifteen years, the same length of time Brian and his wife have been married. He's thinking that this story could easily be his story. I looked directly at him and said "I have zero regrets. I cannot look back at a day with Chris where we did not laugh. We were happy and yes it sucks, but it is an unchangeable and unfixable event. I had a choice. I could give up on my life too or I could honor Chris's memory by truly living my life now. And then I met Michael. I fell in love and I am happy. Every moment matters."

I said those things to Brian for a couple of reasons. First of all, it's the honest to gods' truth. Every single word of it. In between times when life has been punching me in the face, I have had (still have) some beautiful, hilarious, happy moments over flowing with love.  My life has worked out in a very yin/yang sort of way.  Also, the poor man was on the verge of a melt down. He had not been prepared for the full impact of my story.  I was making an attempt to calmly and rationally extinguish that melt down. Maybe it was a little bit on the cliche side to say that every moment matters, but at the very least Brian went home to his wife and told her how much he appreciated the life they share. Without it being an anniversary or a birthday or some other holiday. 

I've said it before that I can not tell a story of how I came to this place without mentioning Chris. Terry pointed out Saturday night as we hugged for the millionth time while I was trying to leave the party, that all of this is because of Chris. The good parts and the bad parts. For a while there, I had to tell that story and end it with "it sucks, but I'm fine." Now I can tell that tale and tie it up with "I fell in love. I am happy." 

LOVE THURSDAY

Cindy Maddera

I had a goodbye gathering for a coworker to go to on Monday after work which left Michael in charge of dinner. He'd picked out some lentil/poached egg dish that I could tell he regretted because I received a text shortly after I got to the bar that asked "Bela Napoli's?" I'm sure I've mentioned Bela Napoli's here before. Their pizzas are $5 on Mondays and their pizzas are the closest thing you'll get to actual Italy. I took my friend Jen here when she visited. Jen used to stay with her grandma in Italy ever summer. She ordered a pasta dish the night we went to Bela Napoli's and she looked at me with wide surprised eyes after her first bite and said "This tastes like Nona's!" I feel like that's a pretty good endorsement and on Monday nights, particularly when the weather is nice enough to sit outside, Bela Napoli's is the place to be. It was the place I always suggested when I was on the dating scene because, though the company may end up to be not ideal, I was sure to get a good meal. 

This is where I met Michael for our first date. I thought about that when he texted me about eating there that evening. Dates and time kind of blur together, but I had a vague idea that we were creeping up on an anniversary of sorts. June 10th. Almost two years ago. Monday night, as we sat eating our pizza, Michael said something about taking a trip to Italy. We have plans to tighten up the budget and maybe do Dave Ramsey's program when we get back from vacation. Our spending has gotten out of hand. Our reward for paying off all our credit cards is to save money for a trip to Italy. That night Michael said "I think we should each just have our own backpack and that we should rent scooters to ride all over Italy." He didn't know that this was a thing on my Life List, that I wanted to ride scooters all over Italy. I looked away and out the window when he said it. I don't know why, but I didn't want him to see how this idea made me so happy. Then he spent the rest of the evening trying to read my mind.  

All I could think in that moment was how dang happy I was. I was so happy that I thought I'd burst into a million bubbles. Ridiculously happy. Filled to the brim happy. And it made me pause. When I'm looking for a certain photo in my Flickr archives, I hardly ever go back to the time before Chris died because I can see in those pictures just how happy we were together and I can't take it. We were Bonnie and Clyde, Desi and Lucy, Abbott and Costello.  I remember that first summer in Kansas City and how I blubbered all over Brene Brown about how happy we were and we were, or at least I was, unbelievably happy then. I am tentative to let myself be that happy again for so many reasons. It's not fair for me to be this happy. I am not deserving of such happiness. I want to tell Chris that I'm sorry for being so happy even though he's not here. I want to tell Chris I am not sorry for being so happy despite the fact that he is not here. I am slightly terrified of being ridiculously happy. Look what happened the last time. We have all of these self help books dealing with happiness and finding happiness, but nothing about having your happiness and owning it.

Be prepared for disappointment. How many of us heard this and heard it often growing up? Your life will be a series of mediocre moments with mediocre events. You will go to school. You will get a job, probably a house and a family and you will be happy enough; emphasis on enough. We are programmed to believe that there is contentment and somewhat happiness, but nothing more. And when we do find that there is more, that  more than happy enough is possible, we don't have a clue as to how to handle it. No one told us to be prepared for overwhelming joy and happiness. No one warned you that there would be times when joy would flow into you so fast that it will squeeze your heart until tears leak out your eyes. Only spiritual gurus experience such overwhelming joy and happiness, not the regular every person. In fact, the God I was raised on wouldn't want me to ever have that kind of happiness. It is decadent and sinful. 

Life is filled with disappointment and since I was prepared so thoroughly for it, disappointments have become the mediocre event. I've got them. I know how they work. I know loss and pain and heartache. Those are easy. A piece of fucking cake. I can say goodbye, shed a few tears and move on better than anyone.  At one point I thought I did happiness pretty well too. It took some time to get there. I had to practice to be mindful of those moments, but eventually I thought I could relish in those moments of bliss. I could look around and exclaim "Holy Goats! Look how stupid happy we are!!!" with out blinking an eye. I didn't learn how to do that early enough in life and I'm still in class learning. That shattering end to the last ridiculously happy moment shook my confidence. So if you were to have asked me a few months ago, even a few days ago if I was happy, my reply would have been "I'm happy enough." even though it is a diminished answer of the truth. 

If you were to ask me today if I am happy, my reply would be "Yes. Yes, I am ridiculously happy."

LOVE THURSDAY

Cindy Maddera

I have been pining for a swing or hammock like sanctuary in the backyard for ages. A few weeks ago we were in IKEA buying some picture frames and bins for chicken things. We were on our way towards the checkout line when we passed a lovely hammock and hammock stand and I skidded to a halt. Michael looked at me and said "If you can look me in the eye and tell me you would hang out in that hammock today, we'll get it." It was pouring buckets outside. The backyard was a swamp. He knew I couldn't say that I would and he also knew that we couldn't really afford it. Even at IKEA prices. So I pulled out my best moody teenager and slumped my shoulders and dragged my feet as we continued on to checkout. Michael left me there pouting while he went to rescue Smaland from the Cabbage. 

On Saturday, we were in Home Depot getting things to build a fence around the garden and tomato cages. They have all the outdoor furniture right there when you walk in the door and I walked right straight over to all of it. Every thing was just too much of an expense, but then I saw some cloth hammocks on a shelf. They were only $20. I looked at Michael and asked "Do you think you could find a way to hang this between the clothes line pole and that tree in the back corner of the yard?" He replied with "Sure I can!" So we bought some rope and a couple of carabiners and on Sunday, Michael earned his knot tying merit badge. Later that day you could find me lounging in my new hammock. 

I took a magazine, a notebook and a small pillow out and stretched out with the intention of actually reading that magazine. Instead I was soon lulled into semi consciousnesses by the sound of the wind rustling the leaves and the gentle sway of the hammock. The giant oak trees where in the process of shedding their long straggling flowers. The yard is coated with them and they stick to Josephine like Velcro. Yet, it was still pretty to watch as the strands drifted down from the tall limbs of the massive trees. Nature's confetti. If I turned my head to one side, I could see the chickens pecking around in their run with Josephine lounging in the shade of their nesting box. Josephine has claimed one of two spots on this particular day. If she's not guarding the chickens from under the nesting box, she's chewing on a stick near my feet under the hammock. 

And for a moment, I don't think about getting up and folding clothes or washing the dishes from breakfast. I don't get antsy about being still for too long or that I'm being lazy and should get up and do some chore or another. I let myself surrender to the curves of the hammock. I watch the clouds swirl in the sky and I listen for noise. The only noise I hear though are the sounds of the occasionally passing car, the rustle of leaves in the breeze, the bounce of a ball as the neighborhood kids put together a basket ball game. I can hear the chickens and I can hear other birds. Mostly I listen to the stillness. After about five minutes  of being in the hammock, I am completely at peace and I think, or maybe even say out loud, "this is the best thing."

I'm getting Michael new tires for his bicycle for Father's Day. It's something we've been talking about for some time now. The other day he asked me what I wanted for Mother's Day, which I still feel odd about. I said "I got a hammock." and really, I'm good with that. Michael said that I can't retro fit a gift. Maybe I should tell him that I just want time to be in the hammock. Time can be a gift. Now I'm singing "Time in a Bottle", but changing the lyrics to "time in a hammock". It's true that there really never seems to be enough time to do the things I want to do. Time in my own little hammock sanctuary though, would probably make a really good gift. In fact it might even be the kind of gift we could all benefit from. 

Here's to time spent in your own kind of hammock on this lovely Love Thursday.

LOVE THURSDAY

Cindy Maddera

Remember how I woke up with that song in my head and I couldn't figure out what the song was? Yesterday, I sat down at my desk and started singing "dreeahhmin', dreamin' is free" and I had a complete Ah Ha! moment. It was Blondie, not the Go-Go's, singing in my head. Dreaming is free y'all, not breathing. Though breathing could also be free. I'll tell you what was happening while that song was playing in my head. I was dreaming. I was in a convertible with the top down and a chic scarf on my head. We were on a road trip and that's the song that was playing on the radio. So I woke up with an urge to chew some bubble gum and bye some new sunglasses all while snapping my fingers to the tune of Dreaming. 

April stems from the Latin word aperire, which means 'to open'. All of the tulips that had seemed to be opening up one by one around here are now all open and in full bloom, all of them saying "Hello!" to April and the landscape has taken on that dreamy Monet look. Because in a very cliche way, April began with showers. The pastel pinks and the vibrant greens are viewed through a layer of mist, making it all look like one big watercolor painting. The crazy awful dreams of March have been replaced with lazy daydreams while staring out the open window. Are you beginning to sense a theme? April is the month to open everything up. 

I feel like I've been closed up all winter. I have the tendency to shut myself off from the cold and from the dark memories of the past. My shoulders feel hunched, my chest concave from crawling inward and curling into a ball. Yet, I've noticed that rolling myself out of that ball has been more difficult than usual. It has left me prickly and annoyed and lacking patience. Patience. That's the piece that seems to be the triangle supporting the teeter totter of life. Those tulips didn't just pop out of the ground and pop open. They pushed their way slowly up through the dirt and then rested in buds for weeks before finally opening up. I should be like the tulips and have more patience. 

Last night all of us went down to see the chickens. Michael lifted the Cabbage up so she could stand on the table and look down into the bin at the (rapidly growing) chicks. After we talked and petted each one, the Cabbage's mom said "OK, let's get going." and plucked her off the table. The Cabbage started begging for one more look as soon as her feet hit the basement floor. She whined and begged as we all made our way towards the basement stairs. Finally I gave in. I lifted her up and said "OK, I'm going to count to five and then we are done looking at the chickens." I slowly counted to five, the Cabbage counting along with me as she dangled her hand in the box. When we got to five, I lifted her off the table without any complaining or whining. All it took was just a few more seconds of patience.

Today I will be open to being more patient with those around me. Today I will be open to being more patient with myself. Happy Love Thursday.

LOVE THURSDAY

Cindy Maddera

I have had this screen open all day, but I've been consumed with other tasks and unable to put any thought into a Love Thursday post. I always try to write these entries the day before. So, as I sit here typing this, it is really Wednesday. It started snowing here around noon and has progressed from teeny tiny flakes to medium fat flakes. The city was turned completely white in less than an hour. I am currently watching the traffic outside. At 3:30 pm the cars are already bumper to bumper. Everyone is moving at a snail's pace. 

There's a large flock of starlings swooping around in all of this weather too. They showed up around here last Friday. By late afternoon, they have migrated to my side of the building.  I watch them all settle into one tree. It seems like as soon as they are all settled they are up again, swooping this way and that. They make their own cloud and their black bodies contrast sharply against the white sky. I watch them floating this way and that and it makes me want to dance with them. I see myself swaying and moving my arms around like some hippy child at Coachella. I am reminded of that line in Forest Gump. "Dear Lord, make me a bird so I can fly far far away." They are my reminder to move freely. 

It's cold and miserable outside, yet these birds twist and turn and float with ease as if there is no such thing as uncomfortable temperatures. A lesson I have yet to learn. I mentioned the possibility of yoga classes being cancelled to Talaura and she said maybe they'd move class outside and we'd use our mats as sleds. My mat would make a terrible sled, but I did suddenly want to go sledding. Maybe I am learning that lesson if I'm willing to entertain the idea of zipping down a hill on piece of plastic. Those birds are my new meditation for surviving winter. 

LOVE THURSDAY

Cindy Maddera

I am not an alcohol connoisseur. The times I've been required to or handed a shot of alcohol to down, I usually can get about half of it down before gagging. There's just something about the smell and the burn of it that turned me off. I do like the occasional cocktail but more often than not I will sit down with a glass of wine or a bottle of a good micro-brewed beer. Over the weekend, we drove over to New Haven to tour the Pinckney Bend Distillery. When I hear the word "distillery", I think of whiskey. Whiskey is not really my thing (see above) but learning about the process of making whiskey sounded interesting and I knew Michael would really enjoy it too. Neither of us didn't really know what to expect, but I don't think Michael and I expected to become quite so enamored by Pinckney Bend. 

For a measly five bucks, they start you off with a tasting of their various products (in a commemorative glass!). The first thing you taste is their vodka followed by their two whiskeys and then ending with their gin. They offer some cranberry juice to those who do not enjoy sipping vodka on the rocks and they make their own tonic to go in the gin. They ask that you taste a sip before mixing in a mixer just to appreciate the taste. If you're me, you take that sip and then make that cartoon gasping sound. There were two exceptions to this: the rye whiskey and the gin. Don't get me wrong. I wasn't all totally turned into a straight up whiskey on the rocks gal. I still winced at the sting of the drink, but for the first time I suddenly understood how people could actually sip this stuff straight up. I could actually taste all the flavors they were talking about, the caramel sweetness and the bite of rye. The first thing I noticed about the gin, was the smell. It smelled of juniper and chamomile and when mixed with their hibiscus tonic, made the most refreshing drink. We bought a bottle of gin that day. I had no idea I was gin drinker.

As enjoyable as the tasting was, it pales in comparison to how entertaining it was to hear these young men talk about their product and describe the process of distilling. There was excitement in their voices as they talked about the unique flavors in each liquor. There was pride in the way they poured their drinks. They were humble about how they did everything from bottling, corking and labeling all by hand. They don't do all of those things by hand to be trendy. They do it because they have to, but these guys love it. They love their job. They may be a small operation, but they are a small operation with a huge heart (and one amazing mustache). 

I think when many of us graduated from college or grad school, we figured we'd end up working some job or another. Many of us would end up with jobs just for the sake of having a job. It's not often you hear someone talk about their work and express joy, particularly in corporate America. Occasionally, though, you run across someone who has figured it out. They have found a way to make a living while doing something they love. I saw this in the chef for Port Fonda when I interviewed him. That was back when Port Fonda was a food trailer and Chris and I had the privilege of sitting in the trailer while the chef, Patrick Ryan, cooked us a meal and talked about creating good food with good ingredients. The guys working at Pinkney Bend speak the same language. There is joy and passion in the things they do. When I meet these people, I always say "Yes! This is what it's all about!" 

Maybe it has something to do with my inner hippy girl or my liberal arts background. I don't know. But I am always over joyed for those people I meet who have found that thing, that magic of creating something they can be proud of and use to pay the bills. This to me is the true example of the American can-do attitude. So today, for Love Thursday, I raise my glass to to those of you who have found a way to make your joy and passion work for you. 

LOVE THRUSDAY

Cindy Maddera

He tells me that my hands are a barometer and that winter is coming. I am standing in the kitchen putting quinoa and chopped sweet potatoes into the rice cooker while my breakfast cooks in a skillet behind me. He's just peeled himself from his bed and wandered into the kitchen to get a drink of water before jumping in the shower to get ready for work. His hair is sticking out at all angles and his eyes are all squinty. He wraps his arms around my waist and rest his chin on my shoulder as I stir the contents of the rice cooker before placing my hand over his. 

"Winter is coming" He says.

He tells me he knows because the other night, only my finger tips were cold to the touch. Now the cold has moved all the way into the last section of of my fingers. The cold has moved from the distal phalanx, on through the middle phalanx and has settled into the proximal phalanx. He tells me that soon the cold will creep all the way into the palm of my hand. That's when he'll know for sure that winter is here. My hands do not tell fortunes or cast spells, but they tell you the weather. 

Meanwhile he is always radiating heat. The miserly old man inside me refuses to turn the heat on until November. As the evenings grow increasingly colder, I move from my side of the couch to his side. It's the equivalent to placing a hot stone at your side or hot water bottle in your bed. I do my best to avoid touching bare skin with my icy hands, but it's inevitable that this will happen. Depending on the situation that contact will be met with a gasp or yelp. I try to be mindful not to induce a yelp, but sometimes it's unavoidable.

He is always hot and I am always cold. The electric blanket on my bed stopped working last winter, but because I had nothing else, I put it back on the bed when it turned cold. The other night I shivered as I climbed under the covers into my cold bed. Michael said that he loved climbing into cool sheets. I shivered and rolled into a ball letting my roly poly impression reflect my disdain for crawling into a cold bed. He told me to buy a new electric blanket. He is still sleeping under a thin sheet and measly comforter.  

We are a temperature example of the basic rule of magnetism: like poles repel and unlike poles attract. 

Happy Love Thursday. 

LOVE THURSDAY

Cindy Maddera

That crumbling photo album I pulled from the attic was actually my Mom's high school scrapbook. The book itself was unsalvageable, but we were able to pull all of the photos free. the photos were mostly pictures of Mom, Dad, Uncle Russel and their cousin Helen. It showed them goofing around the giant monuments of the Civil War cemetery in Vicksburg. All the boys were wearing those white t-shirts with jeans, so James Dean cool. The girls wearing their pleated skirts and flats. Mom said they would all load up in a car and drive off to all kinds of places and spend the day. These pictures where the proof of those carefree days.

I snagged that picture of my mom and tucked it into the few bits of odds and ends I took home with me. It has become my favorite picture of Mom. I look at it and almost don't even recognize her, though I've seen pictures of her during this time period before. For some reason, the woman in this particular photo is foreign to me. She's wearing a smile I've never seen. She's flirty and has a sense of humor. It is a picture taken before marriage, Michigan, kids and loss. It is a picture that was taken before all of life's disappointments and bitterness has had a chance to settle on her. 

I look at this picture and I think "Mom was happy" and I wonder when exactly did it all change because I don't really remember a time she was just happy, unconditionally happy. There has always been a "but" or "except for" tagged to the end of joyful moments. Looking at this picture makes me wonder, even want to believe that wasn't always the case. And I want to know that girl. I want to believe she still exists. She doesn't tell many stories about the good times. This picture is a relief to me. It proves that there were good times. I love that there was a time when she could smile with ease and be flirty and funny.

LOVE THURSDAY

Cindy Maddera

"I love you more than you do" says the Cabbage. I know what she means, but I hear it grammatically and think "you're probably right about that". Instead I tell her "it's not possible" because I know she means that she loves me more than I love her, which is sweet.

The other day I took a new selfie to replace my facebook picture. I figured it was time to remove the one where I'm swallowing a giant blue pill. I took several images of myself. I pretended to pick my teeth in one shot. Another one had me doing my best evil Calvin impression. I went with the somewhat serious, more professional looking photo. Of course, once I posted it, I immediately received all of these nice comments about how pretty I am and blah blah blah. Really, all I kept looking at in that picture was my teeth. It's almost like I should have captioned that photo "My! What big teeth you have!". The better for tearing out your throat! Which is what I mentally do to people who have pissed me off. I'm looking at you Dude in the pickup truck that sped past me in a school zone and then cut me off. This Love Thursday entry is moving quickly over to the dark side. 

Any way, my eyes gravitated instantly to the things about me that I see as ugly, like my big nose and crater pores. I have brown spots on my cheekbones that look like dirt smudges (they are probably sinus or gluten related). Also, why is my forehead always so dang shiny?!? I use mattifying EVERYTHING on my face. And my teeth are seriously the size of Chiclets. I mean, I could replace all my teeth with miniature marshmallows and no one would even notice. That's just my face. Don't even get me started on what's going on from the neck down. Lumpy dumpy mess. 

"I love you more than you do."

OK, so I have big teeth. But guess what? I've never had to wear braces. Those straight (fairly) white teeth are mine and I haven't been to a dentist in twenty years (I know...I'm going soon...I promise). I know that smile holds power. Those eyes? Stunning. Hands down, my eyes are probably the best feature on my face. Sure, I may use a little mascara, but it's only because the tips of my eyelashes are blond. The mascara just helps you get the full effect of my long doll baby eyelashes. 

It's so easy to love others more than ourselves. We can easily see the beauty in others. In fact our eyes are usually trained to find the best features. Except when we're looking at ourselves. And yeah, I know the Cabbage doesn't love me because I look like a princess. She loves me because I sat on the floor and colored with her and sometimes I buy her junk from the $1 section at Target. But any way. Today, I'm going to love myself a little more. 

Happy Love Thursday.