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Filtering by Tag: vacation

I SHOULD HAVE SENT YOU A POSTCARD

Cindy Maddera

Michael and I got back into town around six thirty on Saturday evening. We were tired and dirty and hungry, but we unloaded the camper and checked on the chickens before ordering pizza and taking showers. Sunday was spent doing laundry and grocery shopping and laying on the couch. I did manage to upload and begin editing some pictures. I did not dig out the Nikon as often as I probably should have, but I did use it to take a series of images of the Wigwam Inn #2 and I'm really happy with some of the pictures I captured. Something else I didn't do on this trip was take notes. I did not sit down in the evenings and write about each day's adventure or even keep a list of things from the day. As a result of all of that, I am now sitting here trying to figure out what to tell you about our Abraham Lincoln trip of 2017.

The Lincoln family home in Springfield is lovely. If you are lucky, you will have Park Ranger Peter as your tour guide through the Lincoln's home. If you make eye contact with Park Ranger Peter, he will speak through his tour directly to you like it is your own personal tour and there are no other people with you in the room. Park Ranger Peter also has an eye twitch that makes it look like he is winking. He would also like you to know that he is very interested in being Secretary of Interior. Springfield, as a whole, is kind of like driving through the bad side of town. This may have worked in our favor because on our first day, the power went out for the whole campground. We had to take Josephine with us for part of the day because we could not leave her in a hot camper. She traveled with us to the farmers' market and Lincoln's Tomb and lunch at a walk up fish shack. Then we went to Gander Mountain for their going out of business sale and no one said a word about Josephine riding around in a shopping cart. It was a good thing we brought her too because she took up space in the cart that we would have otherwise filled with crap we didn't need. 

That night, we experienced our first big storm in a popup camper. I had been asleep for maybe an hour when Michael came in and said that the wind was picking up and that he was going to run our trash over to the dumpster and stop off at the bathroom. Less than five minutes later, the sky opened up and wind started howling. I sat up in my bed and watched the canvas walls of the camper flap in and out as if the camper was breathing heavy. The sound of the rain was deafening. Josephine sat alert in my lap while I reached for my phone in search of a weather report, hoping that it was just severe weather and not a tornado. I feel like riding out one tornado in a camper in a life time is enough. The power flickered on and off. Michael was trapped in the bathhouse. We started texting each other. Michael decided to make a run for it and I said 'okay' just as I read the weather report that warned of being struck by lightening. There was a loud clap of thunder and flash of lightening and thought "great! Michael's just been struck by lightening." Then he hopped into the camper, his clothes soaked. We ate string cheese and lunch meat while waiting out the storm.

The next day, we realized while we were trying to fold the camper up that the wind had actually twisted the frame of the camper slightly. We now have to do some magic tricks to get it to close up properly. Something happened to the battery during all of this too, so the camper has to be plugged in to raise and lower the roof. These are minor things that the dealership will deal with because of the warranty. It seems though that our camper needs a spa day or at least a vacation after our vacation. 

LEAVING ON A...LEAVING IN A TACOMA

Cindy Maddera

Friday morning, Michael and I head out for this summer's road trip. (Sing it now!) The camper's packed. I'm ready to go. That's really the only part of the song that works, because there's not a jet plane and I am not lonesome. But I am ready to go. Sort of. There's the whole actually packing a bag of clothes that needs to happen. That should take up a good ten minutes of my evening. I have had some time this week to do some research on Atlas Obscura, a site Talaura turned me onto years ago. Now it has become a reference guide for every trip. I got a little excited about the possibilities ahead, like a Lincoln Totem Pole and maybe sneaking into an abandoned amusement park in Kentucky. There's also Dinosaur World, which is dog friendly and I think I'm going to drag us all to this place. There's a pterodactyl flying out of the opening and they've totally mimicked the Jurassic Park font for their website. 

Look... the largest ball of twine is a road side attraction made for people like me. I once paid a dollar to see the oldest Cyprus tree in the US. It was dead because it had been struck by lightening the year before. 

I will be posting pictures when I can, but I am also banking on not having decent cell signal. Michael has plans to teach me how to play backgammon. I have plans to look at a screen as little as possible. I have been spending too much time looking at a screen, doing nothing productive. If I get my iPad out, it will be to read a book or maybe color. I haven't done that in while. I've packed the small spirograph kit that Heather sent me and my yoga mat and I am looking forward to some stillness. Maybe even get to a place where my brain doesn't catch fire while holding some yoga poses for five minutes at a time. I am so excited about the adventures ahead!

So, consider this my Gone Fishin' sign. More like Gone Adventurin'. I'll be back eventually, hopefully with some new stories and most definitely with some new images.

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

My desk at work is L shaped. The section that is just to my right holds a big monthly calendar, the kind you can write on and tear of the page as you move to the next month. This is where I jot down notes and reminders that I have scheduled to train this person at that time on this microscope. This month has a big line drawn through the sixteenth all the way through the twenty fourth. "Vacation!" is written boldly under that line and for the last two weeks I have found myself glancing longingly at those dates as if willing the sixteenth to be tomorrow. I am on count down mode.

Back when we first bought the camper, before we could even us it because of the weather, Michael and I talked about camping trips. Every time, he would say "Hey! Maybe so and so can go a long." or "Do you think so and so would want to meet us there?" I was beginning to think that Michael either did not want to go camping alone with me or was scared to go camping alone with me. Did he think I was a bore? Or did he think I would murder him in his sleep and dump his body in the woods? There is no financial value for me to do the later, so I must be boring. Then, during one of these discussions about camping I said "Can't we go some where just the two of us?" To my surprise, he happily agreed and asked me where I wanted to go. Thus began our planning of what I am calling our Lincoln Trip, even though it's only partly about Abraham Lincoln.

We're going to do a big loop that takes us up and over to Springfield, Il. There, we will visit the Lincoln Library and Museum and all things Abraham Lincoln. From there, we head over to Kentucky and the Mammoth Cave National Park. We will be about thirty minutes from Abraham Lincoln's birth place and five minutes from Mammoth Cave. I have made one concession to this being a just the two of us kind of trip. Chad, Jess and the Kid will meet us at Mammoth Cave. This was Michael's idea because he knows that I don't get see Chad but maybe once every two or three years. He also remembers the big old crocodile tears that rolled down my cheeks as we drove away from Chad and Jess during our last visit. Technically, it will still be just the two of us because they will be staying in a different location then where we will be camping. Bending rules. Michael and I will finish our trip loop in the Mark Twain National forest. Michael has never really seen the Milky Way. We'll be in the national forest on a night with no moon and we have big star gazing plans. 

I realize that I have a week of waiting before we head out on the Lincoln Loop of 2017, but I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to this trip. The promise of time away and new adventures fills me with gratitude. The idea of sharing that time and those adventures with Michael, also fills me with gratitude. I am thankful that I will have a chance to laugh with Chad, sympathize with Jess and meet the Kid. Sometimes, it's just nice to step out of the current moment and allow yourself to think ahead. Just a little bit. Not years ahead or anything like that, but a few weeks can't hurt. I am grateful for the things ahead. 

Here's to a weekend of good things and a super happy and Thankful Friday!

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

Michael called me last week while I was still in California and said that the high temperature for the day was twenty six. My reply was "I'm not coming home." He then threatened to eat an animal a week until I got home, starting with the chickens and ending with the dog. So, I came home. I came home to freezing temperatures in order to save the lives of our pets. I hope they recognize the sacrifice I have made for them. I spent exactly one week in the bay area of California. It feels like I was gone a month and yet it also feels that I missed so much. I never made it to the Castro or Japan Town. I didn't spend enough time in Chinatown or walk enough steep hills. But, Oh the things I did see and do and eat.

Things I fell in love with:

  • Ike's Place. This place is where it is at and when I say "it" I mean the best dang vegetarian sandwiches I have ever eaten. The Handsome Owl made with fake chicken, teriyaki sauce and wasabi mayo on Dutch crunch bread, brought me to tears. Dutch crunch bread is the sandwich bread you didn't know existed but will want for every dang sandwich.
  • Muji. I don't even know how to describe this store, but it is the most relaxing shopping experience. The stationary and notebooks are a dream. I bought a pocketed notebook and some colored pens and I'm in love with them. 
  • All the National Parks I visited: I went to three different National Park visitor centers while I was in California. I asked for Junior Ranger badges from each one and received two really nice wood badges and one awesome patch. Our Junior Ranger badges from other areas have all been plastic and not all that special. The California badges are unique and lovely.

Probably, my favorite experience was visiting the Point Reyes Lighthouse. You have to walk down 308 steps to get to it, but it's worth it just to read an excerpt from the lighthouse keeper log book. There was something very rewarding about making it back up those 308 steps as well. I'm pretty sure I saw a whale. I did see a giant slug and couple dozen deer. The Point Reyes National Seashore is the home of the Alphabet Ranches, so we saw lots of dairy cows and a few coyotes. Heather and I ate so much cheese from the Cowgirl Creamery and we learned that building fires in a wood stove is kind of my super power. Heather named my fire Satan's Asshole. All those years of camping and watching the men in my life build fires has paid off. 

I am thankful for many many things this week. I am thankful for not just the time spent in California, but the time spent with Heather and her two beagles. She's been trying to get me out there for a few years now and I hate that it took me so long to do it. I am thankful for Heather. I am also thankful for Michael who held down the fort while I was gone. I came home to a clean house and Christmas cards printed and ready for me to address. All the animals are alive even though Josephine ate five of Michael's crab rangoons. I am thankful for this, the clean house and living animals thing, not the crab rangoons. And even though it's a whopping twenty five degrees today, I am thankful to be home and settling back into a routine.

I am thankful for warm snuggles from the puppy and love from the cat. I am thankful for wasabi flavored marshmallows. I am thankful for thumbprint art. I am thankful for you. Here's to a weekend of calm before the storm and a super Thankful Friday. 

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

I'm starting to feel like the official end of summer is upon us. Michael started back to work with students this week. The Cabbage starts her first day of kindergarten next Wednesday. There was a school bus picking up kids in my neighborhood this morning and because the parking lot of the school I pass on the way to work was full, I slowed down for the school zone. Advertising has moved well on past bikini season to the hottest new looks for Fall. The temperatures are still in the high nineties but there's an expectation that any day now those temperatures are going to drop and the leaves are going to change colors over night. In fact a cold front is expected to move through this evening, dropping our temperatures down into the low eighties. August is a strange month of transition. 

For many of us, there's no difference between spring and summer and fall other than temperatures. For me, summer vacation ceased to be a real thing when I reached graduate school. Actually, now that I think about it, it probably stopped being a real thing for me in college because I continued to take classes throughout my summer. I am sure those times were a little more lax back then. I maybe showed up to the lab at eight AM instead of seven AM, but I was still at work every day. At the time, I was just driven and focused and really wanted to finish school. Once I graduated and was off into the real live world of grownups, I had forgotten about summer vacation completely. But then came summer campfire nights with friends and tiny little road trips that reminded me of those times when I was young and school was out for the summer. Every year, as all the kids get out of school for their summer vacation, I tell myself that I will also have some sort of a summer vacation. I will have more lazy days and lemonade. I will take advantage of weekends for fun and not chores. I will let myself fall out of my usual routine. 

Every summer, I say those things and then pretty much only accomplish a lemonade or two. Falling out of my usual routine is the equivalent to me standing in the open door of an airplane. I may have a perfectly good, working parachute strapped to my back and I know the whole free fall thing is probably amazing. I just can't seem to step out of the plane because of that whole idea that I may be killing myself by jumping. Who cares if the parachute is perfectly good and working? This summer was a little different. I didn't fall completely out my usual routine, but I did fall a little bit out of my usual routine. There were a few more lazy days and even some spontaneity. I let some chores fall to the wayside (the garden is a complete crazy mess right now). I drank several limoncellos with tonic water which is basically like lemonade. And even though kids have gone back to school, I am still holding onto the idea of summer vacation. I am thankful for those moments of spontaneity and for limoncello with tonic water. Mostly, I am thankful for reclaiming the idea of summer vacation.

Michael and I have plans to drive out of the city to watch meteors and stars. I realize that the peak time for watching the Perseid Meteor Shower was Thursday night, but we don't really care. The idea of laying on a an air mattress in the back of Michael's truck while doing nothing but gazing up at all the stars in the sky is enough for us. We should all do one summer vacation like thing this weekend. Get out there and throw some water balloons or roast some marshmallows! Here's to a holding onto the summer vacation weekend and super Thankful Friday! 

THE CICADAS ARE SO LOUD

Cindy Maddera

We're back! I thought by adding an exclamation mark on the end of that sentence that it would give me some enthusiasm for getting back to the regular routine. I've spent my morning sorting emails and gathering protocols for clearing tissue samples for imaging and listlessly staring out the window. I'm not really ready to be back. I'm not ready for the things that are coming up on the calendar like a wedding and an unexpected trip to Boston for work and packing up my desk to move into the new space. I'm not ready to be up-to-date on current events. We came home to a police barricade because the man suspected of killing three police officers in Baton Rouge lives or lived in a house one street over. They arrested the man's brother who is now out on bail. Our neighborhood is a crime scene. I haven't had time to get facts or to form coherent thoughts on any of this. All I can say is that the deaths that have occurred in the last few days are horrible and that sounds trite. 

Can I have just three more days of vacation, please? 

Michael and I learned a whole lot of stuff in the last five days. Lake Superior is called Lake Superior for a reason and that reason is because that lake is HUGE. I mean, I knew it was big because in geography, our teacher told us it is the largest lake (by surface area) in the world, but being told this does not prepare you for actually seeing it. We were thinking that we were going to see a bunch of little islands but what we actually saw was maybe four of the islands from way off in the distance surrounded by an ocean. For about fifty bucks a person, you can do a boat ride that takes you around five of the twenty one islands without stops. A hundred dollars will get you to two of the islands with stops and tours. Getting to the islands is not easy. We watched a tour guide pack up a tandem kayak for a couple he was taking out to an island for camping. He told them it would take about three hours to get to their campsite. So, yeah, we didn't make it to any of the islands on this trip but we did kayak around the sea caves and from our kayak, we could see Eagle Island and Sand Island. We also spotted a bald eagle. 

We learned that summer temperatures in Northern Wisconsin are somewhere in the mid to low seventies and that the biggest threat while kayaking is if you fall out of your boat. It takes about ten minutes of being in the water for hypothermia to set in even on a nice warm, sunny day. I wore wool socks while kayaking and should have packed at least one more heavy blanket. We learned that our air mattress leaks air and I'd wake up in the middle of the night with a rock jabbing into my hip. We learned under these circumstances that I didn't mind Michael's snoring or how he took up most of the mattress because I was only warm when he was present in the bed. We learned that we could joke and laugh about all of these things. We learned that even though we could handle a tandem kayak without too much arguing, we both want our own kayak. We learned that we'd rather spend the four thousand dollars we were going to spend on purchasing central air on things like kayaks and trailers. 

The biggest lesson we learned was that it doesn't take a whole lot of effort to get away. Our camp gear was already well packed and organized with only a few minor things that needed replacing. Of course, we have to replace the air mattress now since we left the old leaky one in a bear proof dumpster in our campsite. But for the most part we're good. We did discover that we over pack on food. The amount of food we packed would have worked if we had been completely isolated, but we were not. We ended up in a camp ground just outside of Bayfield WI and had access to local foods like trout and white fish, pulled from Lake Superior the very day we bought them. We decided that we should take advantage of local foods and produce. We learned that this trip was like adding kerosene to a camp fire. We've done nothing but discuss how we are going to cart scooters and kayaks and camp gear. When we're not trying to figure out how transport these things, we're looking at maps, trying to figure out our next destination.  

I think we should put a map on the wall and just throw a dart at it and wherever it hits, that's where we'll go. 

LOVETHURTHANKFRIHAPPYNEW

Cindy Maddera

The tree is up and all the presents are wrapped. The annual viewing of Love Actually happened last night and now I have nothing to do but sit here and twiddle my thumbs until Christmas Eve. And maybe clean our bathroom before we head out to OK. Vacuum. I should vacuum. Maybe I'll make us some sandwiches for our Christmas day drive. You guys, I've never been this far ahead for Christmas. I don't know what to do with myself. I believe that the whole idea behind getting things done early was so I could sit back and relax. That idea was stupid because now I'm just feeling anxious about things that might need to be done even though there's nothing to be done. The car! The car needs to be cleaned out! That's something that needs to be done before Christmas. Anyway. Being prepared for Christmas means nothing for a person with crazy brain. 

So here's what I'm not going to do. I'm not going to worry about this space for a few days. Michael gave me my birthday present early because he couldn't wait and it has a thirteen day return policy. It's a new camera! He wanted me to have time to make sure it was all well and good before the thirteen day return was up. I think I'm going to take some time do just that. I'm going to play around with my new camera and take some photos. I'd also like to put together a slide show of all the things from 2015 to post here, as well as maybe a short vlog post about things I want for 2016. Look for those things sometime next week. 

In the meantime, I hope everyone has a wonderful Holiday. Be safe. Savor those hugs and smiles. Tear into those presents like it's the first time you've been given a wrapped gift. Then squeeze the person who gave you that gift so hard, you hear something pop. Sing silly carols as you drive to your Holiday destinations. Eat, drink and be merry. Merry Christmas. Happy Solstice. Hope your Hanukkah was a good eight days of lights. I hope all of you enjoy this time you have with your families how ever you plan to celebrate. 

Enjoy.

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

I stayed pretty disconnected last week. I still took photos and posted them on social media, but that was mostly for the Cabbage's Mom. Proof that I had not let a shark eat the Cabbage. I realized after we got back that I didn't even really take a lot of pictures. I got my Nikon out only a small handful of times. The Cabbage is not really into getting her picture taken unless it's her idea. Then you're stuck with that weird unnatural smile she plasters on her face as she "poses" for the camera, but you take the picture any way so you can tell her when she gets older that this was her way of posing for the camera. It just seemed too much to get the camera out when there was sand to squish in between my toes. I also had every intention to make a video blog post near the end of the trip, but that didn't happen either. My phone became a map and a camera only. 

I did write down some notes and feelings on driving trough Mississippi. These thoughts I will share with you later. Maybe. I did forgo one morning of yoga and instead of rolling out my mat on the beach, I roamed the beach with my camera. Photography meditation is just as beneficial as a sun salutation. I did read a book with real live pages to turn, but I mostly sat in a chair and stared at the water. What if I just used my phone as a phone/camera/map? What if I took all the other things off? My sudoku game? All the social media? If I use Instagram to share my pictures to facebook, Flickr, and Tumbler, do I really need those apps on my phone? What would happen in those moments of so called nothing to do, waiting for this or that, if I had nothing to look at on my phone?  I'd be stuck with my own thoughts. I'd be left with observing the things happening around me. I may not be ready to go cold turkey just yet, but I'm thankful for the seed planted by this vacation. At the very least it's a reminder that I need to unplug more often. 

I am thankful for the time spent with Tiffany, Tom and Allison. Tiffany and Tom have produced this remarkably patient and kind little girl. I say little girl lightly because Allison is an eighty year old woman trapped in a seven year old's body. I am thankful that Tiffany was present for leaving some of Chris's ashes on the beach in Florida. I am thankful that we could share that together, just the two of us. I am thankful for our too short visit to Chattanooga to see Chad and Jess. I don't know how we managed to pack as much laughter and tears into such a short amount of time. I cried as we pulled away from their apartment complex. Hell, I have tears in my eyes now just thinking of it. I am so thankful for those two. Even if the Cabbage refuses to remember their names. Hint: his rhymes with bad and her's with mess. 

I am thankful for the bounty of squash we came home to and the chickens who survived without us. I am thankful that all went well for Josephine at the vet while we were gone. We left the water hose on in the back yard and the hose busted. I am thankful that there was only a tiny amount of water in the basement. Michael left his truck unlocked. I am thankful it was still sitting in the driveway when we got home. I have lots to be thankful for, but I am really thankful for all of you guys.

Here's to a peaceful weekend and a truly Thankful Friday!

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

The other day, I went to yoga class and we had a substitute teacher. She had us attempt and or do Urdhva Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana, which I twisted myself into with zero effort. I was the oldest person in class that day and I could hear the other students grunting and struggling with the pose while I hung out with a smile on my face. This is a total brag. I know that. I know that it's not even a humble brag. I can bend myself into a pretzel, take that you young whipper snappers you. Arm balances on the other hand, elude me. One of those young whipper snappers asked me after class how long I'd been practicing yoga and I had to stop and do some math. I was twenty one when I started taking my first yoga class. I have been practicing yoga for eighteen years. I have been on my mat at the very least once a week for eighteen years. There have been months here and there where I have fallen off my mat, but I've always gotten back on and I do that almost daily now. So of course I can bend myself into a pretzel. Truthfully I should be better at arm balances, but I am guilty of avoiding poses in my practice that I just don't enjoy doing. 

Thursday morning I woke in the disguise of a cantankerous old biddy. I felt mean, like I was ready to pick a fight, post some inflammatory statement on facebook or punch someone. Those things could have easily happened and I finally reached a moment in my day where I felt I had stewed over nothing for long enough. I picked up my yoga mat and headed over to the gym and rolled out my mat. And at the end of my practice, I felt less like punching someone. I know I've talked so many times about my yoga practice here and after awhile it's all blah blah yoga blah. Also I know that I talk about all the times I don't get on my mat, those weeks where I miss a bunch of days. I do miss a lot of days. Sometimes I have a week where my mat sees the light of day only one time. Yet, lately, I am more likely to get on my yoga mat then I am to pick up a book. 

Michael has told me that I have one job next week. My job is to get up in the mornings, take my yoga mat down to the beach and do yoga. Every morning. That is exactly what I am going to do. I have panicked all week about things I need to pack. Last night I put all of my summer clothes in the suitcase. All of them. I zipped up the suitcase and set it the living room where I stared at it for an hour. Then I picked it up, placed it back on the bed where I unzipped it and removed half of the things. The Cabbage will be wearing underwear in the car ride down on Sunday, because every bit of summer clothing I have for her is packed. I've upgraded her toy bag from my medium sized canvas World Market tote to a giant IKEA bag. Today we take Josephine to the vet to be boarded while we are away. We also scheduled for her to get spayed during this time. I've been a wreck for days about this. It just seems like an awfully long time for her to be away from me. I have spent extra time scratching her belly and letting her chew on me, but I still predict some tears when we drop her off.  My unofficial job this week has been to worry about all of the things. 

I am thankful that even though I have been worrying about all of this stuff, Michael has been standing by constantly telling me not to worry. He keeps reminding me that we are going to have so much fun in Alabama. He keeps reminding me that I only have one job and that's yoga. I am grateful. To be able to even go on this trip is a gift. The Cabbage dances in her recital tomorrow night. Randy and Katrina are coming up to see her dance and meet the chickens. Then on Sunday morning, we load up and head south. So...things are going to be quite around here next week. I'm not taking my laptop or my iPad. The phone is a necessity, but my plan is to only use it occasionally to take some pictures. The Nikon is already packed and Elephant Soap is on vacation.

Here's to a lovely weekend and hoping that your next week is full of ease. And here's to a wonderful Thankful Friday. 

CLOSED FOR THE HOLIDAYS

Cindy Maddera

Last night, after work, I went to one of the neighborhood grocery stores to finally drop off my box of canned goods. They'd been riding around in the back of my car for over a week. I parked my car in an upper level parking lot because this particular grocery store has a crazy parking lot that is a mess all the time but particularly hazardously messy at rush hour. It just seemed easier to carry my heavy box of canned goods down a flight of metal stairs in a cold drizzle than to find a spot in the main lower level lot. I walked in the front door and was greeted by a young man arranging the shopping carts. He kindly took my donation box and carried it over to the Harvester bins for me. From the grocery store, I headed down the block and up the street to the The Dime Store. Yes. We have a Dime Store. I am not speaking from the past. 

I was looking for one last thing to go in Michael's stocking and I thought maybe the Dime Store would have it. It wasn't really too cold outside. It felt more like Fall than winter, but it did start to sprinkle as I got to the corner of 63rd and Main. I dashed across 63rd and when the light chained, I sprinted across Main reaching the row of store front awnings just as the rain picked up to a bit more than a sprinkle. I opened the door to The Dime Store and there stood Santa. I said "hello Santa!" and he replied "Merry Christmas!" I wished him well and continued on with my hunt for that last stocking gift. I won't say if they did or didn't have what I was looking for, but as I left the shop I smiled at Santa and smiled back with wink. That's when I knew. I had just encountered the real Santa, right down to the white beard and twinkly eye.

I smiled to myself as I made my way back across Main and over to 63rd and all the way back to my car. The magic of Christmas gets tarnished as we grow older. There's not too many surprises under the tree and the myth of Santa has been busted. That's OK because most of that magic is replaced with love and the understanding that being able to be with those we love is more important than pretty wrapped packages or a man in a red suit with a white beard. Michael, the Cabbage and I will spend the evening with his moms tonight. Then, the three of us will celebrate Christmas Eve together on Wednesday. And then Michael and I will travel to Oklahoma on Christmas Day for time with family and friends. So with that my friends, I think I'm going take some time off from this place this week. I've got some healing to do and as therapeutic as it may be at times to write it all out here, it's also a crutch. So I'm going to go wrap a wool blanket around my heart and come back to you guys next week with tales of laughter and love. 

Have a safe and wonderful holiday! Merry Christmas and Happy Hanuka and all the rest!