Tag Archives: 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.

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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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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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I Carry This Feeling… Nine Years


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And you were right, when I walked into your house,

I knew I’d never want to leave.

The Cinnamon Girl and I have been married nine years today and I love her more now than I ever have.

We met later in our lives, The Cinnamon Girl and I, later in our lives after we’d lived a little, after we’d had children, after we’d been through ups and downs. We met when we were adults. We met when we were certain of who we were apart from other.

We met at the perfect time.

The single, best decision I’ve ever made in my entire life was marrying The Cinnamon Girl. Simplest. Easiest. Best.

Early in our engagement The Cinnamon Girl and I made another decision. This decision is easily the second best decision I’ve ever made in my life.

I don’t know which of us posed the idea first but I would guess it was The Cinnamon Girl because she is both more insightful and more wise than I. We made the decision to treat each other with kindness, always. We decided that kindness would be our default when talking to each other and about each other. We determined that we wanted to treat each other as well or better than we treated anyone else.

When you’re blessed enough to be married to someone like The Cinnamon Girl, being kind is very easy.

We’ve lived through nine years together, nine years of raising kids and watching them grow, nine years of career ups and career downs, nine years of weaving our closeness ever closer.

Nine years of kindness and charity and love.

I am a better man now than I was before. I am a stronger man. I am a kinder man. That’s what the love of this woman has done for me.

These nine years have been all but perfect. I know the next nine will be even more wonderful.

Happy Anniversary, Cinnamon Girl.

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Our Own Christmas in Colorado


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This is a series of posts that I wrote back in 2013. I was going to update them, but they were primarily perfect the way they are.

Beyond spending time with the kids, The Cinnamon Girl and I look forward to this time of year in part because we are creatures of habit and there are wonderful routines and tropes we anticipate renewing this time of year. They are what makes the Christmas Season feel like Christmas.

One cannot always count on the weather. On December 21, 2015 as I update this post, it’s sunny, so one must generate the Christmas Spirit in other ways.

It isn’t hard to do.

Christmas Things We Enjoy

12. Decorating the House

Right after Thanksgiving, we love to get the Christmas lights and Christmas tree up and running. We did this when Stretch and HJ jr were home for their Thanksgiving Breaks. Our outdoor lights are white icicle and we added a Christmas Fox to our yard this season.

The tree is trimmed. It shines all day. I love this time of year.

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11. Making Christmas Cookies

The kids are older now, so some of the overwhelming excitement about butter, flour and sugar may be a bit lessened, but we spend an evening this week making and decorating our cookies. Everyone gets to do just what they want to, make and decorate for as long as they wish. We put on a movie or Christmas Carols, break out the cookie press and bake. These are times to enjoy!

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10. Listening to Christmas Music

Also immediately after Thanksgiving, I begin listening to Christmas music. I have a playlist ready to roll all year for this event and I even change my running routine (I’ve been listening to audio books for my runs this year) to Christmas classics. The song below is my newest favorite…

9. Christmas Kringle

When I married the Cinnamon Girl and we began to combine Christmas traditions, I can say that the best thing I gained in the bargain was the eating of the Christmas Kringle!  Never heard of it? Here’s what wikipedia has to say: “In the United States, kringles are hand-rolled from Danish pastry dough (wienerbrød dough) that has been rested overnight before shaping, filling, and baking. Thirty-two layers of the flaky dough are layered, then shaped in an oval. After filling with fruit, nut, or other flavor combinations, the pastry is baked and iced.”  Um, yeah. That description doesn’t do the Kringle justice! It’s a delicious (and calorie free!) delight that I wait all year to eat!

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8. Holiday Shopping

Each year, The Cinnamon Girl, the kids and I go out for a meal and shopping for Christmas presents. The day begins with breakfast, brunch or lunch (depending upon the shoppers’ mood!) at the Cheesecake Factory and then we wander the mall while the kids point out things they want from one another  and we do the same for them. It’s a lovely tradition that we’ve been doing for years and it is clear from these young adults that they want nothing about this tradition to change – don’t even mention it!

Once home, the kids retire to their rooms and wrap their gifts and then get them under the tree.

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7. Holiday Calendar

We love to plan the month… and plan the season. We love to work everything in that we want to do. With three teenagers and two households to consider, that gets a bit challenging, but we make it work!

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6. Smelts

My dad was Italian. A little. His mother was Italian. A lot. Italian families celebrate Christmas Eve with the Feast of the Seven Fishes. In our context, this meant only smelts. Smelts need to be cleaned – de-boned and washed. That task has fallen to me for the last decade. It’s a tradition… perhaps not the most joyous one!

In case you don’t know what that is:  from wikipedia: “The long tradition of eating seafood on Christmas Eve dates from the Roman Catholic tradition of abstinence – in this case, refraining from the consumption of meat or milk products – on Wednesdays, Fridays and (in the Latin Church) Saturdays, as well as during Lent and on the eve of specific holy days. As no meat or butter could be used on such days, observant Catholics would instead eat fish, typically fried in oil. The meal may include seven, eight, or even nine specific fishes that are considered traditional. The most famous dish Southern Italians are known for is baccalà (salted cod fish). The custom of celebrating with a simple fish such as baccalà is attributed to the greatly impoverished regions of Southern Italy. Fried smelts, calamari and other types of seafood have been incorporated into the Christmas Eve dinner over the years.”

smelts

5. Sponge Bob and the Christmas Moose!

Each year for the last few, Sponge Bob and the Christmas Moose have been a part of our celebrations. They turn up when we least expect them… they scare the animals, they frighten the children, the make us laugh!

They haven’t made their annual appearances yet, but I am sure they are coming…

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4. Christmas Cards

Is it a dying tradition? I don’t know. I certainly hope it’s not. There is much to be said for the act of writing, the act of signing one’s name, the act of putting a stamp on something and putting it in the mail. I love sending cards as much as I love receiving them.

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3. Christmas Eve Celebration

With the extended family on Christmas Eve, we always feel as though we are home.

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2. Cinnamon Girl Makes Christmas Dinner

No matter what she decides to make for us, it’s always delicious. This year, it’s likely to be crab and mashed potatoes with asparagus. She might even make homemade cheddar biscuits to go with along. She’ll give us champagne cocktails. She’ll make it perfect. The Cinnamon Girl is actually the best gift I got this or any year. Period. End of discussion.

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1. Time with the Family

Sous Chef.

Stretch.

HJ jr.

The Cinnamon Girl.

Family makes Christmas. My family makes Christmas great.

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