Category Archives: The Cinnamon Girl

You Can Do Magic – The Cinnamon Girl’s Birthday


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Spring 2017Today is The Cinnamon Girl’s birthday and it is a day to celebrate all that she is to those of us who know her and those of us who love her. One of the many ways we will do that is to give her cards and gifts and that is good. I love – LOVE – to give gifts.

However, it occurs to me as I write this post, that she is the gift. She is the present. She is so very special.

She is the most special woman I know.

I cannot imagine life without her. I do not wish to.

I know that that our children, too, cannot imagine their lives without her in them. She has given so much to us and is the connection that brings us together, the light around which we all hover.

I marvel at who she is and all she does.

She is confidant and confider.

She is humorist and storyteller.

She is shocking in every good way.

She is kind and compassionate.

She is breathtakingly smart and stunningly quick witted.

She is incisive and insightful.

She is beautiful by any definition of the word.

There are many (myself included) who wonder if she has precognitive powers – if she is tapped into some kind of font that allows her to understand the world in ways that other people do not.

Here’s the secret: my Cinnamon Girl is magic.

She is pure magic.

Happy birthday, Cinnamon Girl. Thank you for being the gift.

 

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Only Three of Us Are Lucky Enough… Father’s Day 2017



The older I get and the more people I encounter in my life, the more I understand that I am one of the lucky ones. Not everyone enjoys a terrific relationship with their father for reasons of all kinds and I am sorry for those who do not.

But I am blessed enough to have had a great father and I will speak for my two sisters here: we were blessed to have Dad as our dad.

Whatever I try to be as a father, I learned from how my father fathered me. When I think of the memories I would like my children to have of me when they are adults parenting kids on their own, I want them to have memories similar to the ones I have of my dad.

  • Walking across the campus of my college alma mater, Catholic University, last week, I said to The Cinnamon Girl “That’s where the bank was where I opened my first adult account. Dad and I did that one afternoon my first week on campus.” He was taking care of me as he ever did.
  • Just yesterday, the hashtag #FirstComics was making the electronic rounds and I tweeted a picture of the first comic books in my collection (comics which are framed on the wall of my office). Dad bought them for me.
  • I think of dad each time I strap on my twelve string guitar. It has a hole in it that dad fixed.
  • We bought a new car in the spring and the impulse to check in with dad on what he thought was so very strong. He always had car advice even if it was not always good advice.
  • When my mother-in-law passed away last week, one of the first thoughts I had was how would Dad respond? What would Dad do?

I could share many more memories but I will conclude with this: I love my father. I always will.

I am one of the lucky three who can call him my dad.

Family 1989

Me, my sisters, our mother and father in London in 1989. Lucky family to have Dad as our dad…

 

 

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Best Combination, 10 Times Over


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Tin. Tin is the traditional gift for one’s 10th anniversary. The modern gift, by-the-way, is diamonds but no diamonds will be proffered to The Cinnamon Girl today.

Frankly, no tin will be, either. We have decided to treat ourselves to a lovely vacation in lieu of exchanging presents this year and it is killing me (but her birthday is in just over a month and I’ll make up for it, then!).

For reasons known only to her (and, I suspect, to God), The Cinnamon Girl married me and I married her 10 years ago today. And, while I could do some clever math adding up to 10 concerning the past decade –

Oh, hell, I have to do it now that I’ve thought of it!

1 purchased home +

3 graduations from high school +

2 new cats +

2 parents passing +

1 major job change +

1 perfect wife = 10!

Um, as I was saying, I could do some clever math, but I will resist the impulse. Instead I want to write about tin.

There is nothing particularly special about this metal. It is soft. My brave wife is the strongest woman I know. It is malleable. My incredible wife is the most confident and convicted a person as I know. It is not particularly shiny or attractive. My beautiful wife is absolutely dazzling.

What it has going for it is that it combines with other metals incredibly well and it makes them new, different, better. It changes and revitalizes them. That is what tin does.

Without question, that is what The Cinnamon Girl did for me when I met her over a decade ago. She did it when she and I married on a June 9 in 2007. She made me new, different and better.

With sincere apologies to all of my wonderful friends who are not her, The Cinnamon Girl is the person with whom I want to spend my time, free and otherwise. She is the first thing I think about in the mornings, the last thing I pray about when I fall to sleep. She is the best friend I have ever had and she is the wisest person I know.

She is my wife and the combination is all but perfect.

Happy Anniversary, Cinnamon Girl. I love you more today than I did yesterday, but not as much as I will tomorrow.

2017-03-03 18.48.23

 

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The Passing of My Mother-in-Law


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In the early morning hours of Tuesday, June 6, my mother-in-law, Dora Thornton Durham, passed away in her sleep.

She was 84 years old.

Dora was a character in every sense of the word and her larger-than-life personality was in complete and delightful contrast to almost incomprehensibly small frame. Dora suffered from COPD and the disease took its toll on her, to be sure, but the twinkle in her eye and the edge in her wit remained until the end.

Dora and LBC

Dora Thornton Durham and Little Black Cat, April 2015.

Compassionate, intelligent and engaged, Dora had a saying for almost any occasion and many of them were wise, indeed. She was a life-long educator (her most important student being HJ jr who she taught to read) who valued knowledge and character development and she shared many, many stories about the children she had taught throughout her career. Dora married a man whom she first dated because she thought he was Don Meredith, believed in flying saucers and tried to always see the positive in negative situations. She became more liberal in her thought and politics the older she got. She was funny as hell.

There are so many things about my mother-in-law I will miss, but I will always associate Dora with how much she loved animals.

As she lay in our home in during the last days of her life, Dora was not alone. The incredible Cinnamon Girl cared for her night and day, ably assisted by first year nursing student Sous ChefHJ jr and I were around as well, and her son was by her side, too.

But I am not talking about the company she had from any of us. I am talking about our animals. We have cats and a dog and Dora loved them very, very much.

Dora shared many lovely “last words” with us when it was her time to go, but perhaps none were as precious as two directed at our animals.

As she was losing strength one afternoon, Dora saw our dog and lit up with a bright “Hi!” The wagging of the dog’s tail spoke for everyone.

Later that same day, our lovely Siamese cat Lulu crawled onto Dora’s bed. Dora looked down and said to her “soft.”

At that point, these words were an effort for her to form and they must have felt important to her.

I will cherish many memories of Dora, but, in particular, I’ll hold on to these two.

I did not have the luck to know Dora for a very long time , but I am blessed to have had 10 years with her.

I love her and I will miss her.

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Mother To Our Children


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The Cinnamon Girl is a mother to a blended family. I brought two, she brought one. That was ten years ago and I can say having been closer to the situation than anyone, that all three of our children have known The Cinnamon Girl as a mom.

What would a kid want in a mom if they could design her from scratch? Here is what I think:

I think they would want a mom who supports them in all that they do, who lets them know how special they are. I think they would want a mother who encourages them. The Cinnamon Girl has seen our children through freshman football and trumpet playing and softball tryouts and student council and job searches, college searches and homework assignments. And everything in between.

I think they would want a mom with a terrific sense of humor. The Cinnamon Girl does not only know how to laugh, she knows how to make our kids laugh.

I think they would want a mom with shoulders on which to cry. Each of them has had reason to turn to her in sorrow. Each felt better for doing so. The Cinnamon Girl makes the small hurts go away, the big hurts small and the impossible hurts easier to manage.

I think they would want a mom who is smart. I have seen it, time-and-again, seen The Cinnamon Girl give our children wise and wonderful advice. She gives them knowing advice. She gives them the advice they need. And she does not do this unless they ask her to do it.

I think they would want a mother who has their backs. Um, yeah. The Cinnamon Girl Has. Our. Kids’. Backs. Of that, there is no doubt. Do not cross a mother who is a lawyer. Do not do it.

I think they would want a mother who does not take the small stuff too seriously and who knows that the big stuff is not always as serious as it seems at first glance. The Cinnamon Girl has been so wonderful with our kids in these sorts of situations – the kinds that arise when you are a mom. They cannot be avoided. The Cinnamon Girl does not avoid them, she handles them with grace and confidence.

I think they would want a mom who loves them. If my children doubt this about The Cinnamon Girl, they have not been paying attention.

Happy Mother’s Day, my love.

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The Shack – A Movie Review

 


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The ShackI had a number of reactions to The Shack, almost all of them positive, but my first reaction struck me very early on in the movie. The voice-over narration (provided by a very much in-his-element Tim McGraw) speaks of the family at the center of the film, of the religious devotion of the mother, Nan Phillips played by Radha Mitchell, and how she has such a close relationship with God that she calls God “Papa.” It goes on to tell of the church going habits of the Phillips family and then settles into a lingering shot of the family in church, praying and singing hymns.

I turned to The Cinnamon Girl, my all-time favorite movie-going partner, and said “people will accept all kinds of things in movies: superheroes, elves, hobbits, the undead, but throw a church scene in and people stay away in droves.” This is no great insight, but I do think it is a true observation. Audiences are highly uncomfortable with depictions of normal, every-day faith on television or in film. Audiences can suspend all kinds of disbelief, but do not expect them to stomach and kind of actual belief.

If you are reading this review, you know that The Shack deals with a lot more than ordinary belief. The film centers on a very solid Sam Worthington as Mack Phillips, a man who has suffered much tragedy in his life (and has caused some, too). The final straw that breaks his relationship with God happens in a shack and the shack becomes the place where Mack will have to wrestle with his faith. As he meets the Trinity in physical form, Mack must decide if what he is experiencing is real and if, at the end of the day, that matters. Mack is so distant from God, encountering God in the flesh, as it were, may not be enough to fix what is broken inside him.

The Shack is a very good movie. In moments where I suspected it would disappoint, it did not. The movie actually asks some very big questions and provides very few answers. It tackles issues of the problem of evil in the world, the question of how an all-knowing, all-loving god can allow suffering and the tension between religion and faith. Rarely does the movie take the easy way out of these questions and it should be commended for this.

The film’s success rests squarely on the chemistry between Worthington and the ever wonderful Octavia Spencer. She is terrific here. In a role that could become tiresome and preachy, Spencer finds humor and a character arc. That is saying something considering the character she is playing. She and Worthington do fine together. He is very buttoned down for most of the film, but that is what the story calls for. Much like other actors with whom she is paired, Worthington comes to life in scenes with Spencer. Their chemistry is the second best part of the movie

The best part is Avraham Aviv Lalush. Playful, magnetic and, yes, inspiring, Lalush takes a character who has been portrayed time-and-again and makes him his own. The movie is better ever time Lalush is on screen and I wanted to see much more of him.

Not everything works and director Stuart Hazeldine is asked to capture on film things that are almost impossible to capture, but he does a fine job. The movie he has crafted is unapologetic, moving and spiritual. Adapted from the novel by William P. Young, The Shack is not always easy to watch, but it always has something to say. I have yet to read the source material so I do not know whether it was director or author who chose to have God represented by an African American woman, an Asian woman, a Muslim man and a Native American man but well done! Very, very well done!

I would be leaving something out of this review if I did not mention that I was moved by the movie. It does have emotional heft and spiritual resonance.

It deserves a wider audience than it is likely to get.

THE SHACK receives FOUR NOTES IN A MAILBOX out of a possible FIVE.

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I Will Be Her Valentine If She’ll Continue to Have Me…


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This Valentines Day, I count myself lucky that The Cinnamon Girl hasn’t come to her senses, that she still wants me as her Valentine and that she still loves me as she has for these many years.

I have the best Valentine in the world.

I am reminded of this quote from Much Ado About Nothing: “They say the lady is fair: ’tis a truth, I can bear them witness; and virtuous: ’tis so, I cannot reprove it; and wise, but for loving me:by my troth, it is no addition to her wit, nor no great argument of her folly.”

She is fair, wise and virtuous, and what I have lucked into is very special.

It’s special to be married to your best friend.

It’s special to feel romance hasn’t faded in the years you’ve been together.

It’s special to know that the person you most want to spend time with also wants to most spend time with you.

It’s special to know that someone knows you better than you know yourself.

It’s special to be in love like this.

My Valentine is The Cinnamon Girl. She’ll be my Valentine for as long as she’ll have me.

She is strong. Intelligent. Insightful. Loving. Sexy.

She is everything I have ever wanted in a partner and she is so much more than I deserve.

Happy Valentines Day, my Cinnamon Girl.

2017-valentines-edit

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