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Filtering by Tag: love


Cindy Maddera

We love. It is inherent to our nature, to love, to desire, to want to be desired. Love comes in many different forms. The love a mother has for her child is different than the love she has for her partner who helped create that child. Love is big. Love is small. We all love. The old saying of “you can’t always choose the one you love” holds some truth. If love was a choice, I’m not so sure it is something I would choose some times. Love has consequences. Love can be illegal. Interracial marriages were illegal for years. It wasn’t until 1967 that Supreme Court ruled that banning interracial marriages violated the 14th Amendment. Same Sex marriages took much longer to be recognized, but there are now 26 countries recognize same sex marriages.

There are at least 14 countries where homosexuality is punishable by death.

You could be put to death for love.

This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall riots. Our government kept lists of known homosexuals and favorite meeting places. Cities would routinely do raids to rid neighborhoods of gay people. In the early morning hours of June 28th, New York City police raided The Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. The usual protocol for these raids was to line everybody up and check IDs. People dressed as women were to accompany a female police officer to the bathroom where they would have to ‘verify’ their sex. That night, the patrons of the Stonewall Inn refused. No one produced IDs and no one was accompanying a female officer to the bathroom. The Police just decided to haul everyone in to jail. Crowds started forming outside while patty wagons pulled up out front and police started loading patrons into the wagons. One woman who was struggling and yelling and complaining about her cuffs being too tight was hit in the head with a baton. She looked at the crowd and yelled “Why don’t you do something?” That’s when the crowd became a mob and things got violent. Crowds surged forward to help those being arrested. Things like bottles and rocks were thrown. The riots and demonstrations against the raid would last for six days. The Stonewall Riots are considered by many to be the event that would expand the LGBT civil rights movement. Two years later, New York City would host the very first Gay Pride Parade. The Stonewall Inn was declared a National Monument in 2016. I have a stamp for it in my National Parks Passport.

It is hard to imagine the Stonewall Inn riots happening today. It’s hard to imagine a lot of things happening today, yet here we are. Still hating and discriminating. Some times I get really bogged down by this. How is it if we teach God is love and love is an inherent human nature, can we still be so hateful to one another? Then I am reminded that those who hate, hate because they were taught to hate. They hate because they were not shown or taught to love. They hate because they are jealous of the freedom to be the person they are and love the person they love. They are jealous of that acceptance, of the comfort that comes with being true to one’s self. I don’t say this to excuse them. But if you know the why, you just might be able to find a way to change it.

Love trumps hate.

I am thankful for those who came before me who have fought so fiercely for love.


Cindy Maddera

We gathered at the Yokalanda Lodge and Camp for Youth. The camp is nestled in the Yokalanda Woods. Established in 1957 by Earl and Rosie Feldstein, the camp has been a summer haven to underprivileged youth from all over the country. There are twenty cabins scattered through the hills and at the center of it all is the main lodge. The lodge is the beating heart of that camp. The main open room of the lodge is where all the campers gathered for meals and inside crafts. Depending on the weather, s’mores and stories were shared around the large fireplace that sat it one end of large room. In 1965, Earl died suddenly and unexpectedly from a heart attack. Finding herself unable to manage the camp, Rosie sold the camp and property to Billy and Ayleen Hershel.

Billy and Ayleen had originally planned to turn the camp into a commune. They had invited fifteen of their closest friends to join them in communal living, raising goats and growing their own vegetables. Ten of those friends agreed. That first year started off with the worst winter the area had ever seen with record snow fall and below freezing temperatures. The goats that didn’t freeze, were taken by wild animals. The hilly landscape proved to be too rocky for planting. The ten people who had agreed to join Billy and Ayleen all agreed now that communal living was not for them. Billy and Ayleen were forced to sell out to Carry and Diane McNabb. Carry and Diane turned the camp back into a summer camp for youth. After all this time, the two women still ran the camp, though in recent times and with less funding, the camp has seen better days. To make ends meet, Carry and Diane have opened up the Yokalanda Lodge in the off seasons to various retreats. Just last month an up and coming tech company rented the retreat for a managers training session. The Pakempsey Shakespearean Company rented out the camp for a whole month while they rehearsed their summer traveling program of King Lear. This weekend the Yokalanda Lodge was hosting a small group of artists for a weekend of workshops built around unlocking creativity.

The weekend consisted of various workshops of various themes such as How to Monetize Your Art, Authenticity and Integrity in Creativity , Conquering Your Fear of Success and Telling Your Story. There were trust falls and roll playing and vision board building. But the real breakthroughs happened outside of those workshops. In the evenings, after their communal vegan dinner, the artists would break off into smaller groups gathering around campfires and on cabin porches. There was always wine and the occasional passing of joint and they told each other their deep fears and they opened their souls to each other. It was in these moments that true cathartic release occurred. Tears flowed. Realizations were made. Plans were formed. Pacts were made. Bonds were formed. By the end of the weekend, as cars were being loaded up and cabins were being swept clean, the artists of that weekend retreat found themselves each quietly trying to process their experience from the past two days. Words were barely spoken until all were loaded up and ready to head out on their separate ways. They gathered to say their goodbyes. This was the moment that proved to be the most difficult of moments. They found themselves unprepared to say their farewells. They held each other tight as tears streamed down their faces. Then they got in their cars and headed out on their separate ways, fortified with their experience of this retreat and knowing that they would always have each others love and support.

That’s probably the best way to put into words what this weekend was like for me. I spent it at the Yokalanda Lodge. I have the bug bites to prove it.


Cindy Maddera

Tuesday morning, I realized that I couldn’t handle another night without heat. So I sent a text to Terry asking if he would take Josephine so that I could deal with laundry and Michael and I could go stay at work. He agreed to meet me around lunch time at my house to get Josephine. Terry walked into our house and said “Here’s what’s going to happen. I’m going to take Josephine. I’m going to take your laundry. Then you and Michael are going to come to my house. I will have dinner ready for you. I’ve put clean sheets on my bed and you and Michael can take my bed for the night.” And that’s why Terry’s a GD hero.

After work and my appointment with Dr. Mary, I stopped by the house to gather necessary toiletries. I pulled onto our street and all the street lights were on. Our power had been restored! I drove over to Terry’s who greeted me with clean clothes and large class of wine. He made spaghetti and brownies and we sat at his table talking about all of the things. It was just the two of us and the dogs. Xander was plugged into his video game on the couch. Clint was plugged into his video game upstairs. It was warm and homey and simply lovely. Then I went home with clean clothes and a played out Josephine and a to-go box of spaghetti. The lights were on in the house. The furnace was going. Michael had started picking up our refuge camp of a living room. There was a letter in the mail from Talaura containing the cutest enamel elephant pin. It was like the sprinkles on the end of that day.

I have such a hard time asking for help. It nearly killed me to send that text to Terry and all I wanted was for Josephine to go some place where she would be warm and not stuck in a crate. And I got so much more than that. Kelly said something in yoga class about how we need to dig in to make connections. I don’t dig in enough. At least I don’t think that I dig in enough to get such love and support. If anything this week has taught me how important those connections are and how important it is to maintain them, to dig in and to give as much as you get. I am thankful for the good people I have in my life. I am thankful for the connections I have made.

I am also thankful for electricity and warm houses.


Cindy Maddera

I stood looking out the kitchen window as I washed our breakfast dishes. It was that time of morning when the sun is just about come up. Every thing was tinted dark and cast in shadows, like looking through sunglasses. I noticed one of the chickens poke her head out of the coop. She tentatively stepped out onto the ramp. It was Marguerite. I watched her as she pecked at the snow that rested on the ramp to the coop. A few seconds later, Foghorn peaked her head out the coop door and looked around. She carefully stepped forward to stand behind Marguerite. Neither of them ventured further than the first few rungs of the ramp and did not stay out long. The two of them carefully turned around and made their way back inside the coop. I assume they are nestled on their perch inside the coop. The four of them packed in there on the perch puts off enough warmth to keep them comfortable.

We’ve had the chickens for almost three years now. Technically, this might be our last year of eggs. They haven’t laid an egg since late September I think. That’s the time of year they all molt and lose their feathers. The chicken run and coop become littered with an array of colored feathers and the chickens take on a patchy Kramer-esc look. Bed head. They roll out of the coop in the mornings with bed head. Michael and I talk about what to do with one of the chickens when they die. We can’t bury them in the back yard. We might be able to put in a chicken graveyard in the front yard. Michael’s afraid he’s going to just have to put the dead chicken in a bag and put it in the dumpster, the same thing we do with the dead things Albus brings home. (Most common sentence in our house starts with “There’s a dead squirrel…”)

We also talk a lot about a new chicken coop. This chicken coop, along with the chickens, has been sort of like our first pancake for chicken raising. Our coop is difficult to access, making it hard to give them water. They recently decided to start laying their eggs inside the coop, but away from the nesting box. I cannot reach eggs that they lay outside of the nesting box. Michael has to reach his long arm into the coop and retrieve the eggs. There’s not a door to the run section and so it has to be lifted up to change out their water. I finally figured out a way to do this on my own, but all the chickens escape when this happens and I’m left with trying to figure out how to get them back in the coop. Josephine does a fairly decent job of herding, but it also looks like she’s attacking more than herding. The chickens end up fleeing to the safety of their coop. We talk about leaving the door open to the coop during the day and just letting the chickens roam free during the day, outside the safety of their chicken run. This has just been talk because secretly we both fear that something bad will happen to them.

Our original plan was to get three chickens. At the last minute, I picked up a chick and cradled her in my hands and said “Maybe we should get four in case one dies.” We took four chicks home and they have all survived. Each one has their own personality. They are not lovey dovey chickens. They barely tolerate being held and they have to be chased. They don’t come up to willingly. Matilda will bite you. But we love them. We love them enough to talk about doing it all over again when we lose these four.


Cindy Maddera

My first lesson in love and romance came from one of the many romance novels that cluttered the corners of the house. Mom tended to gravitate towards authors such as Judith McNaught, Danielle Steele and Maeve Binchy. When given some cash and a trip to the book store, I bought Christopher Pike and Dean Koontz and even sometimes, V.C. Andrews. Sometimes out of nowhere the memory of My Sweet Audrina will rise up in my brain. I'll shake my head and say to myself "Gah, that book was so fucked up." It really was. No young teenage girl has any business reading that book. Any way...that was back in the day when a book lasted me about a day. I'd finish up something and just grab whatever happened to be next in the stack of books by Mom's bed. 

side note: I started reading these books when I was about twelve or thirteen. It is very obvious that I had little parental supervision or my parents (Mom) just didn't really care what I was reading. It wasn't until I was about sixteen when an adult question me about a book I was reading. I was reading The Firm and the stranger sitting next to me on a flight to San Diego looked at me and said "Aren't you a little too young to be reading that book?" I had, of course, perfected the teenage eye roll and general unresponsiveness. 

Those books, even though I knew they were fiction, imprinted me with an idea of what to expect in finding your one true love. And also sex. Those books also imprinted me with some idea of the physical aspects of love. Considering that I can count on one hand the number of times I witnessed any sort of affectionate contact between my parents, these books became important guides in affectionate contact. This is what I knew about what happened when you encountered The One. First there would be a general spark of electricity resembling lightening during the first contact, the first contact being something like a handshake. Then the two main characters would finally kiss. The heroine's thighs would burst into flames and she'd swoon into the hero's rock hard chest. Other fireworks and explosion would thus ensue. 

It was around the time I'd kissed the second boy I'd ever kissed when I realized that those books where most likely over exaggerating the whole experience. I have never been struck by lightening. Not even with Chris. I also would not describe my sexual arousal as thighs bursting into flames. Nor have I ever felt like swooning. I had a friend in undergrad who thoroughly believed that it would all be just like the way it is in the books. Days of Our Lives was a very important part of her day. I remember asking another girl in the dorms once who was getting married, how did she know he was the one. I remember her shrug and say "I just knew. No big deal. He was just the one." They were only married for a few years, but I assume that in that moment she really did believe he was The One.

With Chris, I just loved (love) him. With Michael, I also just love him. Michael left out on his scooter one morning. I was not too far behind him. I was just putting my scooter helmet on when I could hear my phone ringing in my bag. I pulled the helmet off and fished my phone out only to miss his call. I could hear sirens in the distance. It took me three tries to get him back on the line. He was fine. He'd forgotten his glasses and was just calling to see if I'd left the house yet. I told him his call had scared me. We rarely talk on the phone to each other. He said that he was sorry to scare me, but my worry must mean that I do love him. I responded with "Maybe I'm just concerned for your well being." Because I am the Han Solo of this relationship.

I sometimes wonder about that girl from undergrad who believed in the fairy tale version of love. I hope she hasn't been disappointed. I hope she's figured out what I did. The real thing pales in comparison to the fiction. 




Cindy Maddera

Yesterday, someone asked my what day it was and I energetically replied "Tuesday!" Apparently this week worked out so well for me that I was willing to extend it. That or maybe I did figure out how to make extra time, but I can't tell you the details because then I'd have to kill you. It's not like I hit the end of this week without thinking "oh Saturday, let's make out." It's just that I did a pretty good job of filling up this week with good things. There were two days of scooter rides, two evenings spent in the good company of my boys (one of them turned 40! this week), and there were five yoga mat encounters. I fed the chickens yesterday and found one egg. It was warm when I picked it up. The chickens have been on an egg laying vacation. I think this one egg is a sign of more eggs to come. 

This has been a good week even if I didn't get the house vacuumed before Mom shows up this evening. Sorry Mom. I got dirty floors and for the first time in probably forever, I really kind of don't care. This week has just been too full of dog walks, quite moments, love and laughter to worry about vacuuming. I am thankful for all of this. Last night Terry asked me to tell us all about one good thing that had happened to me that day. I sat there slightly stumped, not because I couldn't think of anything, but because I could think of many things. New projects. That granola bar I packed in my lunch that saved my bacon when my stomach started growling at ten. It stopped raining long enough to walk the dog. An evening spent in the best company. And quite simply, I am thankful for all of this. 

I realize that all of this sounds very Pollyanna. I can promise you that more often than not there are days and moments when I struggle to be thankful for even the simple things. I can also tell you that before I started making a point to notice the joyful moments, I didn't see joy even when it was smack dab in front of my face. I am truly thankful that I've learned to make a point to notice. I am thankful Mom can come up for a visit this week. I am thankful the sun has come out. I haven't heard from Tiffany or Tom today (they are getting hit with a hurricane), but I want to be really thankful that those guys are okay. I am thankful for favorite songs popping up in my playlist. I am thankful for you.

Happy weekend everyone and happy Thankful Friday!


Cindy Maddera

Michael has gotten real hipster with his beard and mustache. If he uses enough beard wax, he can twirl his mustache up into a curl on either side of his face. Yes, it's a little bit ridiculous, but I cannot express how much I love it. It's a little bit hilarious and a little bit sexy. Lately he's been thinking about suspenders and adding them to his work clothes. He wears dress clothes to work with a tie and everything. Over the weekend, he bought himself a set of suspenders and this morning he put on his blue and white checked shirt with his pink paisley tie and his new suspenders. I can't even. I came undone. I mean, usually I get a little turned on when he's all dressed for work, especially when he rolls up his dress shirt and his forearm is showing, but add the suspenders and well...I of course returned the favor by saying something about slowly taking all of that off him and rendered him speechless. 

That's something I'm really good at. Michael can talk quite a bit, but I can take a handful of words and say them just right as to turn him into a stammering rendition of Porky Pig. 

Then, I get a phone call reminding me of a life before this one. I sent in paperwork weeks ago to close out an account that Chris had had. I didn't know about the account until recently. I had supplied them with a death certificate and a notarized family tree starting and ending with me and Chris. Yet the place still had to call and ask me if I had obituary. I went blank. Obituary? I stumbled around online looking for one. I finally came across one that was in the Chickasha News. It contained a bad photo of Chris and a short paragraph announcing the memorial service. The whole thing made me wince. I can't believe I didn't write or have someone write and submit a proper obituary when Chris died. I didn't even think about it at the time. I didn't really think about a whole lot of anything at the time. 

"Couldn't pay my respects to a dead man. Your life was much more to me." - Neko Case

I could only imagine what the woman on the other end of the line thought as I sent her a link to this homely obituary. I wanted to tell her that she should have heard the things his friends said about him at his service or to go read through his facebook page. We all thought (still think) the world of Chris. We were just too surprised by his death to write about him. When I hang up the line, I'm perturbed that they would even be calling me to ask about an obituary. Don't you think a death certificate is enough? What about that whole depressing little family tree I sent in? The woman did ask about that. "No children?" said in a voice dripping with pity. I wanted to respond "thankfully, no." but instead I just replied "no." A widow is sad enough on her own without the added element of children.

This is almost a typical day. There's always a trigger. Some triggers are worst than others, like that phone call or when that one Mumford and Sons song starts playing. I see Chris, throwing his head back and opening his mouth wide to sing like a Muppet. This image is replaced with an image of Michael making a bad motorcycle sound as he drives us down the road and then watching him crack himself up over it. I'll read some political crap in someone's feed on Facebook and think about how Chris would write a response so sharp you wouldn't know you were cut until you noticed the blood and fallacy of your own statements. I always look at Michael when getting ready to leave a tip because he does the math without even really thinking and it is always correct. Chris genuinely laughing at something, probably the Simpsons. Michael laughing while twirling the ends of his mustache. The memories I have swirl together with the memories I'm making.

It is not a bad blend of colors.  



Cindy Maddera

It's been weeks since I've had my usual Saturday morning ritual of sitting down at my favorite bakery with my Fortune Cookie journal. Our weekends have been full of museum visits, impromptu trips, and good visits with out of town friends. I realize that I could make time to write in this journal at any time, but there's something about Saturday mornings. I tend to be awake before most of the world and there's something about the stillness and quiet of these mornings that makes it easy to sit and write. This Saturday, I woke to drizzly rain and in that quiet and stillness, drove to the bakery. I placed my order, made myself comfortable at the counter table and pulled out my journal. I opened the journal to next prompt and paused. Laugh often, love hard, eat and repeat. 

Of course. Of course this would be the fortune cookie prompt that I would get after weeks of inactivity, just three days before what would have been my eighteenth wedding anniversary. We were going to get married on March fifteenth, but then remembered that we should "beware the ides of March" and chose the sixteenth instead. Chris made me laugh often, that's for sure. He made everyone laugh often. Chris had this sharp dry wit that was smart and so well timed. I have not met another person, with the exception of maybe Chad or Talaura, who could make me laugh so much. And love? He was my first love, so of course we loved hard. Fierce. It was the kind of love that gave you confidence. We could do anything, handle any misfortune, survive any tragedy as long as we had each other. The whole eating thing was practically a hobby for us. I remember at one time, Chris bought a couple of dinosaurs because he had an idea for a food blog called Dinersaurs. I think the T-rex had a monocle. Most of our vacation stories centered around all the restaurants we experienced. Our whole reason for visiting Eugene OR was to eat pizza at the Pizza Research Institute. Laughter, love and eating were a continuous loop in our life.  

I sold my old Nikon on Craigslist over the weekend. It was my first DSLR. My first fancy pants camera. Chris gave me that camera. I don't know if he bought me that camera because he believed it would foster and encourage artistic qualities in me or if he just bought it because it was a new shiny gadget. Chris was a magpie for any kind of new electronic thing, but he was always encouraging (almost pushing) me to be more creative. Either way, it doesn't really matter. That camera served it's purpose. I learned to be more observant of my surroundings and little bit about light and aperture settings. It was the learning camera. In the same way, my relationship with Chris turned out to be the learning relationship. I just didn't know it at the time. I learned that it was possible to be in a relationship that didn't require constant arguing. I learned that two people could communicate wants and needs with out complaining. I learned that not all relationships were like my parent's.  Constructive communication, compromising and the give and take are the valuable take-away lessons from my time with Chris. I learned how important it is to laugh often. I learned how important it is to love hard and fully and to find the joy in eating. I learned the importance of that continuous loop. 

I marvel at how life changes, but stays the same. Michael bought me the new Nikon, probably less because it was a new shiny gadget and more because he believes in my creative talent. He's told me that I have a better eye for seeing things that not everyone sees. Maybe that's true. I am probably more practiced in the art of observation than some, but only because I work at it daily. Michael makes me laugh often. Maybe not in the same way as Chris did, but he makes me laugh. I love him and his willingness to say yes to every little scheme I come up with. Our joy of eating has expanded beyond the new restaurant find by bringing new ingredients into the kitchen and cooking things together. The loop goes on, just maybe in the opposite direction or the loop is more elliptical than circular, but it's still a loop. Sort of like the rubber band from my rubber band sketches. Malleable. Our lives are malleable, bendy and stretchy. 

Maybe that Fortune Cookie prompt should have said laugh often, love hard, learn continuously, eat and repeat. 


Cindy Maddera

Since the weather has turned too cold to walk outside even while wearing my new coat, I take little walking loops through the building here at work. I have a system. I go up to the third floor, walk one wing over to a different stairwell and then up to the fourth flour. On the fourth floor, I walk two wings and then back down to the third floor to walk to a different stairwell that takes me to the second floor. I know. It all sounds pretty maze like. Stay with me. On the second floor, I walk three wings and over to a completely different stairwell. I take this stairwell down to the first floor and then walk the wing down to my office. It's not as long or as interesting as the inside walking route that Robin and I had mapped out across OMRF and the OUHSC Campus, but it it is a nice get-off-your-ass for ten minutes kind of walk. 

That route changes. Sometimes I turn left instead of right. It wasn't always as long. I used to just do the two wings on the fourth and second floor. I had figured out that this was about 1500 steps. I would do this three or four times a day and along with my treadmill time this would give me my goal steps for the day. I added in the extra steps when it got too cold to do the loop outside. At first I was grumbly about it. People would see me just walking around randomly. I probably look really goofy too with my giant headphones on my head. Then things started to change. There were people I'd say hello or good morning to. There were labs I started to get more familiar with and the best discovery has been the unexpected pockets of light I have discovered. At certain times of the day, sunlight streams in through the various windows forming shadows and patterns that are spectacular and they are constantly changing. One morning I turned the corner to see a giant eye reflected on the wall. An hour later it was gone. 

Every photography book I've ever picked up has preached the importance of light and most specifically, the importance of natural light. Karen Walrond from Chookooloonks is always telling us to "LOOK FOR THE LIGHT!" and I thought that this was something I usually tried to do. When my camera is in front of my face. I've been trained that the minute I put that camera view finder up to my eyeball to look for the light. It's just that now I realize that I have started to look for the light, camera or no camera. I think we all understand the healing effect sunlight has on our souls. So I encourage you today on this Love Thursday to seek out a spot of light and maybe stand in the middle of it for a minute of two. 

Happy Love Thursday! 


Cindy Maddera

Last year year, Michael drove me through a neighborhood that he swore put up a huge Christmas light display. He said that every house on the street would be covered with lights. There were no lights. He drove up and down the streets through the Brookside area thinking maybe they were just a street over. They were not. Finally he had to admit defeat. That neighborhood he remembered didn't exist anymore. Something similar happened that same Fall when he tried to take me to park that was supposed to have had the most amazing over look. We walked all over that park. There was no overlook. 

Friday night, we went to Michael's Christmas party. I find parties where I have to be social and make conversation to be exhausting particularly at the end of a long work day. But I went. I plastered a smile on my face and I made conversation and I made sure the Cabbage didn't stick her fingers into all the slices of cake on the dessert tray. I was relieved when were all finally in the car, heading home even if a headache had started to pulse on the right side of my temple. We passed the Plaza Lights and both the Cabbage and I oohed at all the lights. A few blocks later, Michael turned right when he should have turned left. I gave him a sly look and asked "Are you trying to be romantic right now and drive us through Christmas lights?" He replied "I will always drive you through Christmas light displays even if they are in a different neighborhood than I originally thought as well as parks with Fall leaves that don't exist any more." 

Michael never really paid much attention to the Fall leaves or the Christmas lights before. Now he goes out of his way to find these things for me. He knows that the colorful leaves make me point and shout. He knows that the Christmas lights make me clasp my hands together and grin from ear to ear. He has no interest in holiday activities, but he will drag all the Christmas boxes up from the basement for me and he will take them all back down. He will do this all again when it's time to take Christmas down. Michael even made a note that we need to make room on the ribbon board for all the Christmas cards that he expects we'll get this year. His willingness to please me and make me happy still confounds me.  I mean basically he's saying he'll drive to the ends of the earth for me. It's not that I don't think I'm deserving. It's just that I'm surprised that every time I start a sentence with "Do you think we could....?", he always answers with "Of course we can." 

It just still surprises me. That's all. Happy Love Thursday!



Cindy Maddera

A while back, I was watching the news. There was a story following the refugee crisis. This was a day or two after images of a lifeless toddler on a beach circulated the internet. The boy had been on a boat full of refugees that had capsized. That little body on the beach made people sit up and pay more attention to the crisis and chaos of Syria. This news story that I was watching had the reporter walking along with refugees as they tried to get across boarders. There was a man with two children and one plastic bag of belongings. He's a doctor. He has a medical degree. There was a woman who was a teacher. All of them fleeing their homes because their home has become a war zone. 

I think it's easy to see the hoards of refugees as just poor homeless people. We see them dirty, living in tent cities, and they become something other than normal in our my brains. We forget that these people are not much different from us. They are doctors, teachers, educated, hard workers. They are husbands, wives, mothers, daughters, fathers, sons. Before the bombings. Before the violence. They had normal lives. Just like you. I've been thinking about this and trying to write something for days now. I have deleted everything because I just don't know how to organize my thoughts in a way that doesn't sound like I am preaching to a choir. But I know that I am preaching to a choir. 

I don't know why or how my ancestors came to this country. I am Scotch-Irish, so I can only assume famine and persecution was a pretty good reason for risking a voyage across an ocean to a land you knew nothing about but just knew it had to better somehow. It's hard to imagine that people still believe this, but they do. Immigrants and refugees even today, when asked why come to America, they all say it's the land of opportunity and place for a better life for their families. How humbling that is to know you're part of a country like that. Yet there are so many of my fellow Americans who do not see it that way. They say no to letting refugees take sanctuary in the United States. It's not safe. I think about the things we have done because of fear. In 1942, we imprisoned 127,000 American citizens because of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. It is a part of American history that is deeply regretted. 

Risk. The scary thing about taking a risk is the uncertainty, the not knowing what will happen but hoping the risk is worth it. The consequences of not taking in some of these refugees is far greater than running the risk of allowing a terrorist to enter this country. It's funny to me that so many seem more afraid of the terrorists that exist outside this country than they are of the ones that are already here. The ones who threaten students and hurl hate. Timothy McVeigh. But that's another rant. The consequence of not providing sanctuary is that you've turned a whole country of people against us. The consequence is that we just create more terrorists with our lack of compassion. The consequence is that we lose our own humanity. 

There are bible school lessons that have always stuck with me. Love thy neighbor. Treat others as you would wish to be treated. Love one another. These are simple lessons taught across a broad spectrum of religions from Christianity to Muslim to Buddhism. Scary things are going to happen. Bad things. Loss. All of it just the other side of a coin. It is how we react and deal with these fears that defines our character. What kind of human being are you? What kind of human being do you want to be? We can let our fears decide that for us. I prefer to tell my fears to fuck off and chose for myself. 


Cindy Maddera

It's usually September when I head to the Farmers' Market to buy ugly tomatoes. I buy a box of them. I pick the ugly tomatoes because they're cheaper and looks are not as important as what's on the inside. I buy a big box of the ugliest heirloom tomatoes and then, with a full bag of fresh produce already balanced on one shoulder, I finagle my way back to my car while mumbling to myself that I can make it with out dropping this box. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can. Once I'm home, I repeat the process because why make more than one trip from car to house? Then I spend all day Sunday roasting tomatoes. I wash and cut the tomatoes in half, slather them with olive oil, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, throw in some smashed garlic and rosemary and basil and then roast them at 350 for two hours. Then I package them up in quart sized freezer bags and freeze for tomato soup and spaghetti sauce. 

It is October now and I realized that I never made it to the Farmers' Market to buy tomatoes. I thought I would just skip it this year. We didn't end up using all the tomatoes I roasted last year. Michael is not as keen on tomato soup as I am. When I mention it, he makes a face, but when I make it he eats it right up and asks for more. So I didn't really feel like making up batches of roasted tomatoes this year. Then sometime last week, Michael came in from the garden with a bounty of green tomatoes. I placed them in the window to ripen and Tuesday night Michael noticed that all of them had turned red. He said something about it and I told him that I was going to roast them. It was then decided that the tomatoes wouldn't last until the weekend to be roasted. So I washed them. I sliced off the tops and cut them half. I slathered them with olive oil and sprinkled them with salt and pepper. I tossed in some smashed garlic, rosemary and basil and I roasted two trays of tomatoes. 

And I realized that the real reason for roasting the tomatoes is not for the soup that they will become. It is the ritual of the roasting. The action of putting the tomatoes together to be roasted is like walking a meditation labyrinth. The oils from the herbs, cling to my hands and I smell of rosemary and basil. It doesn't take long for these scents to fill the house. In fact, it doesn't take long for the whole house to smell like it belongs to an Italian grandmother preparing Sunday dinner for her family. The oven heats up the house, making it feel warm and cozy inside. Homey. Roasting tomatoes makes everything feel homey. I had not planned on roasting those tomatoes until the weekend. It seemed like too much work for a week night. I think all of us can relate. Weeknights are for quickly slapping together a meal to be eaten while watching TV and just sitting after a long day. Weeknights make it easy to forget that the true heart of a home is the kitchen.

I found my heart. Happy Love Thursday!


Cindy Maddera

The other day I watched a guy on an orange Vespa, just like Chris's, drive down the road and disappear around the corner. Then I felt a million tiny needles prick my heart. Recently I noticed that trees looked like the ones on the Talahina Drive during that trip we made to see Dad during Thanksgiving. It was one of the last visits I made where Dad actually knew who I was. It was the last good visit. These are the kind of bitter sweet visions that when they flood my brain, they force me to lay flat on the floor staring at the ceiling while waiting for them to fade away. The other day I read a blog post written by a woman who recently lost her husband. She said something about not being good at loss. I wanted to tell her that no one is good at loss. There's no grading system for grief. There's no good or bad. You just deal or you learn to accept that grief is just always with you in some way or another.

In fact, I've noticed the you'll reach a point where you think "hey! I'm doing A Okay!" and then grief will sneak in and give you a titty twister worse than any playground bully. Because we have memories. We remember things like how Chris and I used to zip around town together on our scooters and how there were few moments when you could catch Chris with grin on his face. When he was on his scooter, he would grin like a fool. Those were good times. I remember all those times Dad would just randomly show up at work and take me to lunch and how even on that Thanksgiving visit before he forgot me, he was cracking jokes. Grief is that little alarm that goes off telling you "It's time! It's time to remember!" This is where you determine if you are a glass-is-half-full or a glass-is-half-empty kind of person. This is where you choose how to let those memories affect you and your present life. 

I am thankful for each memory because before it was a memory it was an experience. I was a part of that. I was an active participant and that's what I am most grateful for. I am grateful for those scooter rides with Chris. I will even admit to being a little grateful that he didn't replace that scooter after he wrecked it. I missed our rides together, but it provided me with independence and something of my own when it was just me riding around on a scooter. I am thankful for those lunches with Dad. I am thankful for that last really good visit with him. Sometimes I am even thankful for the grief. The fact that I can still get waylaid by grief at times is proof of the value and importance of those relationships. 

I am thankful for evenings on the couch where the cat and the dog both think they have to be on the couch with us. It's just a pile because the couch is tiny. I am thankful for crisp morning rides. I am thankful for trees that look like they are on fire with their red dazzling leaves. I am thankful for the dead mouse Josephine brought me this morning. Actually, I told Josephine how nice it was for her to bring me a present, but I wasn't really all that happy about it. But between her and the cat, maybe we'll see less mice this season. That is something to be thankful for right there. As always, I am thankful for you.

Here's to a beautiful weekend and a wonderful Thankful Friday. 


Cindy Maddera

In two years, Michael will finish his Masters. To celebrate, we've been planning a big trip to Italy.  It is pretty much all Michael talks about. It started out as a one week trip that has now grown into this grand adventure across Europe. We talk about flying into where ever is cheaper and spending a week backpacking like young college students, slowly making our way into Italy. There's a villa that sits somewhere between Florence and Rome that provides Vespas and maps for all the guests. We talk about spending a week riding scooters all over the Tuscan country side. The last week will be spent eating pizza along the Amalfie Coast. Of course, this is the current plan. Most of that right now is just dream planning.

Dream planning is part of the fun though. The other night Michael was trying to find the cheapest place to fly into right now and he came up with places like the Netherlands and Sweden. I immediately envisioned us dressed in sturdy wool coats with red stocking caps on our heads and large army like backpacks on our backs. We would prop our heavy hiking boot laden feet up on the empty train seats across from us and lean against one another with my head resting on his shoulder. I know this is all wrong. We will be travelling in the summer time and I will not need a heavy wool coat, probably just a sweater, but there we were riding the Euro Rail down through Sweden into Germany where we'd stop for a beer and a pretzel. Next stop would be France and maybe even a day or two in Paris so that I could stand at the top of the Montmartre Steps like Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face with my arms spread wide, singing "Bonjour Pari!" and then we would be off to Rome and the rest of Italy. I see us zipping along on our scooters past fields of grapes and little farms surrounded by long-eared goats. I'm going to eat so much bread and cheese.

There is a very real fear that Michael will lose me to the Amalfie Coast. There is a very real fear that I will lose myself to the Amalfie Coast, deciding that this is the place I need to be for the rest of my life. Michael mentioned putting his name on the deed to my house so he will at least have a place to live when he comes back to the states without me. I told him we should just plan on buying a retirement home there and be done with it.  He'll get a little fishing boat and I'll get a couple of goats. We'll eat fish and goat cheese and grow pots of basil and rosemary. I'll wear a giant sun hat all the time. In the meantime we are learning Italian. Michael is ahead of me, already  moving onto phrases while I'm still working on plurals and food. Last night Michael handed me a fork, to which I responded with "grazie." He responded with "prego!" Then he handed me a plate of food and again I said "grazie." and again he responded with "prego." So we had a whole conversation in Italian. 

Dream planning sounds like I think that we may not ever really take this trip. That's far from true. I know that someday we will go to Italy. I don't know if it will be the three week grand adventure just like the one we've been talking about, but I do know that it will be a grand adventure of some sorts. Dream planning a vacation is very much like planning your dream house. It may be a little bit crazy and over the top but who cares? It's YOUR dream. We could go on this trip in two years and not end up doing half of the stuff we talked about, but at least some of that dream is going to come true. So why not dream big?

Dream big for today's Love Thursday.


Cindy Maddera

Last week, I was catching up on all of the things with Todd. We hadn't seen each other in probably two years. In the first five minutes of seeing each other, we couldn't stop hugging or just looking at each other's faces. It was kind of ridiculous. We all went to dinner. I even dragged Sean with us and after dinner we walked up to the Apple Store (I had forgotten my charger for my laptop). As we walked, Todd asked me about Michael and how things were going. He said by all appearances, it looked like things were going well. I sighed and told Todd that I wanted to complain, but there's nothing really to complain about. I found myself begrudgingly admitting that things were good. Things ARE good. 

A few months back, a neighborhood garage sale turned into a "hey! look at that house for sale!" and we started peaking in through windows of some great old houses. At one point Michael said that I could just sell my house so we could buy one of these homes. I waffled. I waffled a lot and I even said that selling my house was a really big commitment. It was the wrong thing to say. Because I didn't follow that up with the right words, the words I really meant. What I should have said was that selling my house was committing to believing that I would never need a small space to live because Michael left in some way. My house is my escape hatch for that day when Michael A) grows tired me or B) dies. Except, I didn't say any of that. I left it at "big commitment" because I am a jerk and a fraidy cat. I let Michael fill in the blanks of what "big commitment" meant. And let's face it. We are all prone to fill in blanks with the worst case scenario.  Any way, we left it at that and neither of us said any thing more on the subject. It just sort of got filed away with things to mule over.  Or stew over.

The day Michael finished the chicken coop, I told him that if he asked me, I'd marry him. I may not always say the words that I should say, but I don't say anything I don't mean. It's a pretty big deal if I of all people admit that "yes I will marry you." The problem is that I don't want to admit to things being good. In the back of my crazy brain there is an idea that if I admit to being happy or things being good, something will happen to end all of that. Did I mention I am a fraidy cat? I don't understand how I can be so fearless in so many aspects of my life. I am the girl willing to jump out of the airplane or off that cliff, yet I am not emotionally fearless. My science brains tells me that people are unreliable without meaning to be unreliable. Which is true. People are just like pets. You get attached and love them and then they die. This is expected if you have a dog. They get less years on the planet. Humans have who knows how many years on the planet. Humans are the ultimate unknown. 

Except...I am attached to Michael. So even if he were to go away tomorrow, I'd be hurt. I've already jumped out that airplane and been emotionally brave enough to let this relationship happen at all. I think that's the part of it that I need to remember. I've already done the scary part. I've already been fearless. Michael is starting graduate school this Fall. There are chickens in the backyard. We have this really crazy dog and this weirdo cat. This morning I had to tell Josephine to please stop dragging the cat across the floor by his ear. They're the best of friends. We eat tomatoes and squash that we grew ourselves. We kiss each other goodbye in the mornings and are happy to see each other at the end of a long day. I'm just going to straight up say it. I'm the most fearless girl you've ever met. And things are good.

Happy Love Thursday!


Cindy Maddera

All those years ago we travelled to Portland. How long ago was that? Six years? Probably longer. We used to tell people that we'd left our souls here. Chris, Amy, Brian and I wandered the streets of downtown for days. I remember passing this hip looking yoga studio and being sad that I didn't have time to take a class. Also feeling a little relieved. It was fancy and fancy intimidates me.  

I wandered by it again on this trip. Yoga Pearl. Same look. Cute little super clean food restaurant attached to the side. I thought "I'll go to a class this time." I signed up and paid online for the class so I wouldn't be able to back out and panic at the last minute. Determined. I left our condo and arrived way too early. That's the thing I do when I'm anxious.  I walked around the block just to kill some time and then roamed the tiny display of yoga props and clothes in the front of the studio. I felt out of place. I was a poser carrying a yoga mat. Some how I managed to gather some courage though. I plopped my yoga mat down near the front of the class, claiming my space with some yoga props. I would smile and find joy in this new place, this new class. And I did. My mat became my island and I sank into the poses with a smiling heart. 

I've worked to make this trip my own. It was hard not to travel the same paths we travelled together on that first trip. My first day there I ended up at all the favorite restaurants even though I told myself I would not do repeats. Peanut butter, banana and chocolate chip pancakes are hard to resist. Then I let myself be talked into renting a bicycle and I found myself in new neighborhoods with new restaurants. I rode the tram. We didn't do that the last time. Now I've ridden two trams in one summer. I'm hanging out in a karaoke bar tonight. I'm doing so many things outside my comfort level.

What I have learned from this trip is that my Portland of then is not the same as the Portland that is here today. There are more tourists and there are more homeless. The number of homeless here now is staggering and depressing. Housing is so much more expensive to accommodate the growing tech industry.  I realize that I am content and happy with the home I've made for myself in Kansas City. Though, Portland remains a beautiful place to visit. Traveling here is worth it just for the food. I've eaten so well here and this town does a lot to promote green spaces that I love so dear. I've nearly wrecked my bike three times while gawking at community gardens. I believe that Kansas City is within reach of all of those things as well. 

Spending time with Todd and his family has been oh so good. The boys have grown so much and so fast and it warms my heart to see Yuko so happy. Evenings chatting about all things with Todd has awakened a section of my brain that's been sleeping or zoned out. I will leave a piece of my heart here when I leave. I will be sad to say my goodbyes to Todd and his family. I will be sad to say goodbye to that dream Chris and I had of living here one day, but dreams fade and new ones take their place. Yes, I will leave a piece of my heart, but I'll take my soul back with me. 


Cindy Maddera

I was on the fence about taking my Nikon with me to New York. Up until the day before I was leaving, I still didn't know. There is a section of gmail chat between me and Talaura that goes something like this.

  • Me: I'm not bringing my Nikon. I am bringing my Nikon. 
  • Talaura: Oh for the love of Pete, Woman!

It's possible Talaura didn't actually say "for the love of pete", but we both agreed that I would bring my Nikon. I just wouldn't carry it with me on conference days. This seemed like a reasonable solution. Also it would give me incentive to get it out and use it. If I'm going to lug that thing all the way to New York City, I better use it. And I did. Sunday morning Sarge was very patient with me as we walked through Ft. Tryon park and I kept stopping to take this or that picture. I used it all day on Monday while I walked the Highline and all through Chinatown. Sometimes I'd have the strap of my Nikon looped around my neck and my iPhone tucked into my bra strap, at the ready to shoot with either weapon of choice. 

I knew there were pictures I was taking that would turn out great and I knew that there were some in the bunch that would just be mediocre. There were times I was frustrated with lighting and times I was frustrated by the limitations of my current lens. I really need to replace the lens on my Nikon. Then there where moments where I spent time on setting up a particular shot knowing that this was going to be a great picture. Like the one I took while standing in the middle of the street. In New York City's Chinatown. "Get in the car Cindy." Really, when I'm taking pictures with the Nikon, I don't know if the images are going to turn out to be keepers. Yes it s a DSLR, but the screen on the back is too small to tell me much other than if the image is too bright or too dark. So in a way it's still kind of like working with a film camera. I'm not really sure about what I'm going to get until I get the pictures loaded onto my computer for editing. 

That picture above is one of the ones I took in Chinatown. I remember being rushed in taking it. So I am surprised that it turned out the way it did. It is one of my favorite shots taken that day. I think this is because there is so much going on in the picture. The man behind the window is busy stirring trays of food. The cars reflected in the window are zooming down the street. The lights are streaky, giving the whole image an appearance of motion. This picture is motion. Then if you look closely, you can see my reflection in the window. Me and the roasted birds are the only things still in this picture. My gangling arms are holding the camera to my eye with my elbows jutting out at dangerous angles. It took me several minutes to even recognize myself in this picture.  I am dressed as the teenage version of me.  Shorts, t-shirt, sandals. Even my hair is the same, though you can't really tell that here. I don't cringe at this reflection. In fact I think "You are totally rockin' that R2-D2 t-shirt, Cindy." Age shmage. 

Happy Love Thursday!


Cindy Maddera

Our weekend was a one of scooters and fireworks. After dropping the Cabbage off with her mom on Friday, Michael and I traded the car for the scooters and zipped down to the Boulevard for tacos. Saturday we decided to make a picnic and scooter over to Long View Lake for their fireworks extravaganza. The ride home that night was like driving through the Apocalypse with neighborhood fireworks going off all around us. A heavy sulfurous haze settled over the roads and as Michael crested one hill, he almost ran over a guy who was in the process of lighting a firework in the middle of the street. I wonder how long I have to live here before I will get used to fireworks in the neighborhoods and city limits. I don't think it's legal, but no one seems to care too much. Sunday, we rode the scooters back out to the Long View Lake area to get our hairs cut and then to find lunch. Except it was more like lupper because by the time we got there is was three o'clock. 

Friday, as I followed Michael up State Line, I couldn't stop thinking about when Michael bought his scooter. I was in Chicago for BlogHer '13. He sent me a text telling me he was scooter shopping and I had a mild panic attack. Because I knew that he wasn't just buying a scooter. At the time I wanted to say "Dude, don't". Don't buy the scooter. Don't fall for me. Do not get remotely serious about this relationship. His buying the scooter was the equivalent of presenting me a diamond ring while kneeling. I would have none of that, thank you very much. Of course, Michael did a great job of playing it off, like buying the scooter was no big thing. He said if we didn't work out, he'd still have the scooter. Except, I knew better and I did my best to ignore the giant diamond ring in the room or garage and just go with it. Like riding a scooter.

Now whenever we get ready to go somewhere, the question is "Do we take the scooters?" The answer, unless the outing involves a large bag of groceries or the Cabbage, is usually a resounding "yes". There was joy in riding the scooter alone, those weekends when I'd head out into the city to hunt up something new. But it's better with two. Michael always manages to find the longest way to get someplace. He is the winner of stretching out the ride, making the most of the day. Which is his way. He's good at pushing me outside my comfort zone. I don't think I tell him this often enough. So while we munched on chips and fresh guacamole, I told him what I had been thinking about during our ride. I no longer ignore the giant diamond ring that sits in the garage. I just accept it for what it is. 

Years of scooter riding adventures.

Happy Love Thursday!


Cindy Maddera

Chad knows about number sixty one on my Life List (I really need to update that thing) and was really happy about it because it meant that he finally had someone to go with to the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum.  Yup. This is a thing. It's not just a museum. It's a HALL OF FAME and museum. Jess, Michael and the Cabbage were uninterested and said they'd wait it out in the car. Michael said I couldn't come out until I knew exactly how someone got inducted into the Hall of Fame. It was the first thing I asked the man at the counter as we purchased our tickets. To be considered for the Hall of Fame, you must have been part of the towing and recovery industry for at least twenty years, active in your community, and "over all good guy". Chad added "or good gal?" and the man said "Oh yes. Or good gal. we have women inductees all the time." Towing and Recovery is an equal opportunity industry.

First, we watched a short movie that talked about the museum and showed us all the tow trucks we were going to see. Then we went and looked at tow trucks. We saw old tow trucks, big tow trucks, small tow trucks and even the World's Fastest tow truck. It's a small museum, but we made the most of it by taking all kinds of pictures. Some of the trucks had velvet rope fences around them so you couldn't get up too close. Unless you knock them down, like Chad did. He was taking a picture of one tow truck and I was half paying attention to him when I heard this loud thunk. I looked over and he had backed himself into one of the velvet ropes and knocked over  one of the poles the rope was hooked to. That was enough to make me start giggling, but Chad had to take it one step further because as he went to set the pole back up, he inadvertently pulled another one down like a domino chain reaction.  Now that little bit of slap stick put me on the floor gasping for air. There was a little old lady who witnessed the whole thing. She also started laughing. A really great ending would be "and that's how Chad and I got kicked out of the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum." Except that didn't happen. We did probably laugh more than any visitor has ever laughed in that museum. 

That's the thing with Chad. Whenever the two of us are together, we are laughing. Even if we are crying about something like when we left Chris's ashes with General Bushrod R. Johnson. Chad said some lovely words that made us both start crying and I followed it up with "I'm going to put Chris under the General's nose. You think that's OK?" Which totally set us off with snotty laughter. There are two people in my life that have this affect on me and he is one of them. Talaura is the other one. Just have her scroll through her pictures of her and Sarge, the ones where she says "this is where I'm telling him a joke. And this is his reaction to that joke." That's enough. I can't even. So when I'm around either one of these two, I soak it up. I laugh until my sides hurt and tears leak out my eyes. Laugh until I am gasping for breath and rolling on the floor. It is the best exercise. For all things. 

Happy Love Thursday.


Cindy Maddera

Two years ago yesterday, I sat outside Bella Napoli's waiting for Michael to show up for our first date. I was early. I am always early. Any way, I sat on a bench texting with Chad to kill the time when suddenly the very last thing I wanted to do in the whole world was meet this man for dinner. I sat there and thought "I could just leave. I could leave and he'd never know the difference." I sent a text to Chad that read "I think I've made a terrible mistake.", but Michael showed up before Chad could reply. Suddenly, there he was introducing himself and I had no other choice but to reach out and shake his hand in greeting. Yes. I shook his hand in that "hello pleased to meet you" kind of way. Then we had a nice dinner followed by a walk around the neighborhood. He kissed me with my scooter helmet half on my head before we parted ways. 

That was just two years ago. If I think about it too hard I fall into a time warp of how has it only been two years and it's only been two years. Then my brain explodes over how it's even possible that so much and so little has happened in my almost forty years of life. Just a few days ago a bubble of grief welled up inside me so fast, all I could do was just sit down and cry. Which I did. I'm getting baggies of ashes together for traveling. That's become the summer thing. Pack Chris up and leave him somewhere. Dingle Peninsula. Statue of Liberty. Mount Rushmore. This summer it will be the beach, some where in Chattanooga, and Portland. It's the Portland trip that conjures the most ghosts. And this explains the bubble. This was followed up with a grin over something Michael texted that day (he hates the word "texted"). My life has become a great big mish mesh  of deep grief and blinding joy. I am not complaining. Even though there are times when it all is a bit too sharp and bright. 

Monday night, Michael stood in the kitchen doorway as I washed dishes from dinner. He said he was going to the gas station and then asked if I needed ice cream. I thought about this for a minute and what ice cream choices I'd have from the gas station. "Maybe an ice cream sandwich or a Klondike Bar, because they're the same thing." There was a pause as Michael looked at me and then he said "Klondike Bars and Ice cream sandwiches are not the same thing." So then we debated the differences for five minutes where I was sure that a Klondike Bar was an ice cream sandwich and Michael was like "no way it is totally not an ice cream sandwich." Finally Michael said "I'm bringing you back a Klondike Bar." And you guys? It turns out I have never in my life eaten a Klondike Bar before now. My whole life I've been eating ice cream sandwiches thinking they were just like Klondike Bars. I thought Mom just got the box of generic ice cream sandwiches because it was cheaper than getting the name brand fancy Klondike Bars. No. It's because Dad liked ice cream sandwiches, not vanilla ice cream coated in delicious hard shell chocolate. 

Michael's the one who insists I get that T-shirt with R2D2 on the front and that sundress that reminds us both of the 4th of July. He is always amazed that I am so smart, yet I still buy chairs that are too big for the space intended and I cannot open a package of any sorts. He stops when I hesitate and waits until I'm ready whether it be for taking a picture or writing something down. I feel like he's been part of my life for more than two years and I don't mean that in a negative way. He's made it easy to lose track of the quantity of time and only notice the quality of time. 

And he knows the difference between an ice cream sandwich and a Klondike Bar.  Happy Love Thursday!