Day 192: Friday Firsts

Recycling Center Joplin e

Today I experienced two firsts. This afternoon, on the way to pick up grandson Dayan for a late lunch, Greg and I stopped by the Recycling Center in Joplin, located at 1310 W. A Street. My mom and stepdad are great recyclers and frequent the center. Mom had also told me how people bring items they don’t want and leave them under a large pavilion, free for the taking. She’s picked up all kinds of cool things. I had not been to the Recycling Center so today I took the opportunity to see where it was, note what items can be dropped off there and look through the freebies.

The center was a busy place! People were dropping of bottles, newspapers and assorted items, placing them in the appropriate bins. I was surprised at how many different types of bins there were for things such as plastic grocery bags, packing noodles and even used candles. There were the standard bins for glass jars, bottles and newspapers.

recycling center freebies e

Under the pavilion were magazines, books, puzzles, batteries and assorted odds and ends, free for the taking. The treasures change daily, I’m sure. I know Mom has picked up flower pots and potted herbs before. Today, I picked up an inspirational mini book and a 2014/2015 travel book. There was a shopping cart full of magazines. This will be a great source for magazines to use in creating my vision board for next year.

Dayan picked out Instant Karma for lunch. This cool downtown restaurant, located at 527 S. Main, offers gourmet hotdogs, hamburgers and other fun entrees. We’ve eaten here several times, so to include a first experience, we all tried something we had not had before. I’m really proud of Dayan! He has not only encouraged me in my journey this year by participating in firsts with me, but has embraced many firsts on his own also. He chose a peanut butter hamburger. The gourmet  burger had a beef patty, bacon, cheese….and yep, creamy peanut butter. The menu suggested there was a “smear” of peanut butter on the burger but there was a generous dollop! Dayan bravely tried it….and declared it good! We laughed at how often he had to wipe his mouth with his napkin! That smear of peanut butter went everywhere.

instant karma peanut butter burger e

I had the special of the day, which was the Just Beet It Burger. As the name implies, the patty was made of beets and walnuts, served on a brioche roll with orange tomatoes and queso fresco. The burger was HUGE, and well, beet red. And, it was delicious. Because we also ordered and shared a basket of regular and sweet potato fries, I could only eat half my burger. It was accompanied by a side of vegan chili, which also came home with me in a container! Greg tried a Turning Japanese Teriyaki hotdog that was bacon wrapped and had pineapple chunks on it. He enjoyed it also.

instant karma just beet it burger e

It was wonderful to take a couple of hours out of the day to visit a place for the first time and enjoy a fun meal with Dayan. I love the energy around doing firsts and experiencing new things and when those experiences are shared, the energy and the fun increases. As I returned to work later, I was refreshed and humming along at a high level. Life….what an adventure!

instant karma e

Day 191: Hang Mimi Leta’s Wind Chime in the Garden

mimis windchime e

Showers earlier today kept me from planting my next batch of flowers. However, a break in the clouds drew me outdoors and into the garden. I decided today was a good day to hang a large wind chime in the backyard where its tinkling chime could be enjoyed from anywhere in the garden.

I’ve had wind chimes hanging on my covered front deck for years. I love the sound of the wind stirring the hollow metal rods. I currently have two dragonfly chimes adorning the deck. I’ve never hung a wind chime in the backyard before. We certainly used that space when the children were little. It was more of a play area with swings and a sandbox and various children’s pools over the years. And then it was just a yard. I didn’t have a seating area like I do now, or the Japanese Garden, herb garden or meditation area. It seemed fitting to bring such a joyful sound into this space that is developing beautifully.

And this were not just any wind chime. This set belonged to Greg’s mother, whom the kids called Mimi. My best guess is that these musical chimes are approximately 30 years old. Mimi Leta bought them before Alzheimer’s began to affect her memory and sap her energy. She selected this particular chime because of the music note attached to the clapper in the middle. Mimi was a gifted pianist. She played the piano most of her life, in churches, for choirs, and during special occasions, like weddings and funerals, but mostly she played for her own enjoyment. Music was important to her and was a huge part of her life.

The wind chime with the bright red music note was symbolic of her love for music. She hung the chime on her front porch, where its tinkling music filled the air around her home long after the piano in the living room fell silent. And longer still, after Mimi herself fell silent and no longer graced us with her presence.  Recently, as I sat on the porch with Greg’s dad, listening to the chime as the breeze played a soft song, he asked if I’d like to have the wind chime for my garden. I was honored. I didn’t want to take something that still brought him joy, but Dad Moore insisted that it was time for the wind chime to go to someone else.

This afternoon, I climbed up on a two-step ladder and perched there, secured a hook in the northeast corner of the detached garage. The wall of this structure is behind the brick seating area. I carefully hung the wind chime. The summer breezes can stir the rods and send music drifting throughout my garden. Mimi would have enjoyed sitting with me at the bistro table, sipping a cup of tea, chatting, and admiring the plants and flowers. Having the wind chime makes me think of her. And every time I hear the tinkle and see the music note, I’ll remember.

Near the top of the wind chime, suspended on the chain that holds the clapper, is a red heart. That ruby heart reminds me of her love of music, but more so, it reminds me of her love for her husband of 57 years, for her sons, for her grandchildren and for me. As the gentle waves of music fill my garden, I imagine her love radiating outward too, caressing each person enjoying the garden. The thought makes me smile.

Another first…adding a video. Mimi’s wind chime.

Day 190: Shop at Cato

Cato e

I took time today, in between appointments, to stop by a clothing store in Joplin that I’ve never shopped in before. I’ve seen the Cato store, located at 1321 S. Range Line, many times and yet I’ve never stepped inside. For my first today, I visited the store and made a purchase.

My interest in Cato began about a month ago. I like to stop by my local Goodwill Store to hunt for items such as containers or candle holders for the garden. At least, that’s what I did at first. Then I started buying T-shirts to wear as I worked in the backyard. At such low prices, I didn’t mind if the shirt got dirty or even ruined. I then bought a couple of long, summery dresses to wear around the house when I’m in for the day and ready to get comfy. My favorite is a long blue T-shirt dress with colorful butterflies painted on it.

It’s become a game, seeing what treasures I can find at the thrift store. One day I bought a sack full of very cute tops. These were NOT for wearing in the garden. I enjoy the shirts and loved that I got them at bargain prices. I noticed something when I got the shirts home. Most of them had the same clothing store label…Cato. I didn’t realize that when I bought them at Goodwill. I was intrigued.

When I had a free hour this afternoon, I seized the opportunity to visit the Cato store. What a delightful shop! The store was clean and bright, the staff friendly and helpful, the selection of clothing colorful and varied and the prices were great. I spent a cheerful hour browsing and trying on tops. It doesn’t take much guesswork to figure out I am a child of the 60’s and was a teen during the 70’s. I love the peasant tops, the fun knits, the “hippy” clothing. I also tend to favor black and white color schemes, but I’m venturing out more, color wise . Cato suits me because they have a great selection of my style of clothing! I found many shirts that I liked. And I didn’t even try on dresses, jeans or slacks today.

I bought one top during this shopping trip, a fun black and white peasant top. But I will most definitely go back to shop when I have more time to linger and try on clothes. Being a destination store rather than being inside the mall makes it an easy access shop. It was a fun experience, and that’s amazing coming from one who doesn’t particularly enjoying shopping. Cato just might make a shopper out of me.

Cato Cindy e

Day 189: IHOP’s 56 th Birthday Celebration

ihop 56e

Today’s first was one of those little experiences that are just fun. IHOP, otherwise known as International House of Pancakes, celebrated 56 years in business today. Restaurants offered their patrons a short stack of their famous buttermilk pancakes for 56 cents, from 7:00 am until 7:00 pm. Greg, Linda and I decided to have dinner at IHOP and join in the celebration.

IHOP opened its first restaurant on July 7, 1958, in Los Angeles, CA. The original concept was to have a restaurant that featured breakfast items, such as pancakes, crepes, French toast and omelettes. They were famous for their different flavors of syrup. In the 1980’s the menu expanded to include lunch and dinner items. IHOP immediately adopted the franchise model and currently have more than 1600 restaurants across the US and recently opened franchises in Dubai and Kuwait.

Consistently their top seller, IHOP has sold more than 700 million of their buttermilk pancakes. According to an IHOP spokesperson, there are three secrets to making a tasty pancake: water temperature of 50 degrees or less, lumpy batter and a hot 350 degree griddle The lumpy batter makes the pancakes rise, creating a fluffy, thicker pancake.

ihop pancake stack e

I love having breakfast for dinner. We each ordered the 56 cent short stack and asked for a side of crispy bacon. Add in a glass of ice water, and we had a delicious and extremely inexpensive meal! Linda and Greg requested warm maple syrup for their stacks but I opted for blueberry syrup. Our waiter, James, was friendly and fun. He said the Joplin store had had a very busy day. And indeed, everywhere we looked, groups of diners were enjoying short stacks of pancakes. We left James a generous tip, in spite of the low cost of our meals.

Tomorrow I’m back to no sugar, however, tonight I enjoyed my fun dinner. Happy Birthday, IHOP! May you have many more birthdays, and  many reasons to celebrate.

ihop cindy e

Day 188: Summer Vignette in Pop’s Army Trunk

Pops army trunk e

I love doing vignettes. It’s like working a puzzle. All the pieces are there but I’m never quite sure what the final picture is going to look like. That’s the fun part, trying different pieces together until they all fit, and I’m satisfied with the look. For my first today, I created a fresh summery vignette in my grandfather’s metal army trunk.

I uncovered the old trunk late last fall. My grandfather, affectionately called Pop by the family, passed away in 2007. My mom stored his army trunk here at my house and now has let me use it in my decorating schemes. I spent time sorting through the papers, notebooks, scraps and bits that had occupied the rusty trunk for many years, storing them away in a plastic bin. I enjoyed fixing the trunk up for the holidays, which was actually the first such vignette I had ever done with a vintage piece. That fun experience led to other first vignettes. Although I created a holiday scene in the trunk last year, this is the first time I’ve used the trunk for any other decorating.

The vignette that I created last Christmas focused on pieces that connected to my grandfather and his life. I included stars, trees, and a vintage gas can. I loved the treasure hunt I was led on to find the right pieces and the finished look. I hope Pop will forgive me for giving his army trunk a very feminine look this time around! The sticks of willow and the living green plant tucked inside the bird cage remind me of Pop though, who had a knack for growing flowers and vegetables of all kinds. Some of my fondest memories of him are of watching Pop work in his garden. He would allow me to tag along and ask questions and as I grew older, help out in the garden. I’m sure that my love of gardening and getting my hands dirty can  be traced back to those days spent trailing after my grandfather as he coaxed green plants to grow and produce.

Pop in uniform e

Pop was a very special man. He served his country bravely during WWII, coming home with a bronze star. When Pop met my grandmother, she was a widow with three young children. My mom remembers seeing Pop in his uniform and thinking he was so handsome. She prayed that this kind man with dark hair and eyes would be her new daddy. Her prayer was answered. He not only raised three children as his own, he was also a wonderful grandfather to the grandchildren that arrived later. He very rarely talked about his time spent in the army. It used to bother me to see tears run down his cheeks when he shared stories from that challenging time.

I will enjoy walking by the trunk multiple times during the day and thinking of Pop as I glance at it. Rather than storing this piece in a closet, out of sight, I’d rather have it serve a purpose here in the open. The trunk is an object of quiet strength, endurance and rugged beauty, offering to serve simply, creatively and completely, without a fuss. Those traits sum up Pop very well too.

Pop and Dayan e

Day 187: Love Letter

love letter vintage e

This morning, as I was contemplating what my first would be after rain shifted my plans, an idea arose. As I moved through the day, the idea grew, and I realized I had received several nudges toward today’s first. I just needed to acknowledge it and go with it. Yesterday, I shared a post from Begin with Yes on my Facebook wall. In part, it says, Walk on the wild side today: Wear a wrinkled shirt, memorize a short poem or write yourself a love letter. “ That post reminded me that a year ago, before I knew I would be moving beyond by doing a year of firsts, I had written down that intention, to write a love letter to myself. Today, for my first, I did.

Last summer, I spent time sorting through old beliefs. I was learning from an amazing author, named Byron Katie, to question those beliefs and the thoughts and stories I told myself that rose up around them. I listened to Byron Katie read her book, “Loving What Is”, on Audible and was intrigued when she spoke of having a loving relationship with oneself as an exciting, knee trembling, deep as you want it to go type of connection. I knew I didn’t have that. One evening I made a list of all the things people tend to do when they are entering into a new relationship. On the list were things like, Listen, know the other person’s hopes, beliefs, dreams and fears, be present, celebrate successes, spend quality time together and write love letters. At the bottom of the list I wrote, “I choose to develop such a relationship with….ME.”

That was a great little exercise that opened my heart and shifted my thinking. Although I stayed mindful of what I had written, I put the notebook away without doing many of the things listed there. We are told to love our neighbors as ourselves, implying a high level of love and care. Yet as children or adults, we aren’t told, or shown, how to create healthy self-love. We often lose sight of who we are as we enter school and we are taught to conform and be like everyone else. Fear of being thought of as selfish causes us to try to love others more, put others first, but it is difficult to do when we don’t really know what deep unconditional love looks like, feels like. Self-love is not the same as self-centered. One has to do with the heart, the other with the ego.

I sat this afternoon with the laptop perched on my knees, and wrote a love letter to myself. I had to get past the notion that this was a silly thing to do. I had to let go of concern about what anyone else would think. I decided to just type as fast as I could and let the thoughts flow as words though my fingers. I didn’t edit or over think what I was doing or react to what I was typing. I allowed love to flow, unfettered, from my deepest heart. When I finished, I emailed the letter, from one of my Gmail accounts, to another.

When I opened the letter, I read it slowly and thoughtfully. I read it as a letter of love and encouragement from someone who cares deeply for me and has only my best interest in mind. I was moved. Tears filled my eyes and space opened up around my heart. Everyone should receive such a letter. I saved mine.

I have learned much in the last year about letting go of the past, letting go of those old beliefs and letting go of expectations where others are concerned. I have opened my heart more to myself and in doing so, more to others. For it is only in loving myself without judgment that I can even begin to hope to do the same for another. Loving myself, I am free to love another without demanding anything from him or her. I am complete, and the love can overflow without fear of how it is received or whether it is returned.

D. Antoinette Foy says, “The core of your true self is never lost. Let go of all the pretending and the becoming you’ve done just to belong. Curl up with your rawness and come home. You don’t have to find yourself; you just have to let yourself in.” Beautiful. I have thrown open the door and invited myself in. I am home.

Day 186: Passport

 passport e

Today’s first is a very exciting one for me. I received my passport. I’ve never had one before. I’ve not needed one. The only trip I’ve taken beyond the borders of the USA was to Mexico, back when a passport wasn’t needed. When the envelope arrived in the mail today, I know I held my breath as I carefully opened the package and slipped the blue passport book from within. My passport. My upcoming trip became very, very real.

All my life, I’ve wanted to go to Scotland. As a wee girl, I heard my mom and dad talking about how the Lauderdales came from this country across the ocean. My mom told me stories of that far away place and showed me on a map where Scotland was. A spark ignited in my little heart that has burned brightly all these years. No other dream has occupied a place within me for so long, without being fulfilled.

Scottish map

As a young adult, I researched Scotland myself. The Lauderdales are connected to the Maitland Clan, in the Borders of Scotland. I learned our family history. I looked at pictures of Thirlestane Castle, in the village of Lauder, where my ancestors came from and where current distant cousins still live. I found myself feeling homesick for a land I’d never seen. The sound of bagpipes magnified the ache I felt and caused my breath to catch in my chest. Scotland has called to me, haunted me, my whole life.

I’ve been making vision boards for quite a few years now. Every year, there is a section devoted to Scotland. I’ve never doubted that someday I would go there, it has always been a matter of when. This year, amazingly, during my year of firsts, that opportunity has arisen. My cousin on my dad’s side, Mindy, and her son Harry, have invited me to join them on a Scottish adventure. The three of us depart next month. The trip is paid for, hotels booked, flights secured. And yet holding my passport in my hands today, made it all seem real. This is happening.

What an incredible series of firsts this trip will be. I’ll be blogging daily from Scotland, which will be a great way to capture and remember each day. My heart and mind will be open, ready to receive and learn. I expect there are great mysteries for me to discover in the land of my ancestors, and there will be a sense of coming home. I will find myself and what is deeply true about me, in this ancient place. I can’t wait!

Scottish flag

Day 185: Cornhole Lawn Game

It was another beautiful day on Lake Dabinawa. We are experiencing unusually cool  temperatures for July. The recent days have been mild, breezy and low in humidity. Which meant, it was a perfect day for being outside near the lake. I spent the entire day outside, beginning with some peaceful time on the dock early in the morning. When the cousins returned from a fishing trip, Tim gave Greg and me a tour of the lake. I enjoyed cruising the perimeter of Lake Dabinawa in the boat. It truly is a beautiful and friendly community. Neighbors waved from their boats or docks as we motored by. I see the advantages of having a private lake to play on.

cornhole game on the boat e

After a hearty brunch, presided over by our gracious hostess Lisa, we all returned outdoors, where we remained for the day. The youngsters gathered on the boat dock, ready for swimming and tubing, and launching water balloons at passing boats, which is a tradition here on the 4th of July. There was some confusion over whether the parade of boats was today or tomorrow. After filling many balloons with water, the Moore Clan Generation 2 discovered it was officially being held tomorrow. However, several boats launched today, decked out in appropriate party décor, and the kids enjoyed pelting them with balloons, and dodging the return volleys.

cornhole game younger cousins 2e

I enjoyed observing all their antics from the nearby shade of a large tree as I relaxed in a lounger. Today was one of those days where there was absolutely no need to hurry doing anything or being anywhere. When a game of cornholes started, I moved my chair to a better spot so as to watch this new game. Cornholes is a lawn game, played with two people or two teams. It is also known as bag toss, tailgate toss or corn toss and is played by throwing bags of corn (or beans or chalk dust) at a raised platform with a hole in the far end. A bag that goes through the hole scores 3 points while a bag landing, and sticking, on the platform scores 1 point.

The matches are played with two sets of platforms and two sets of 4 bags. Different colors are used to distinguish the team’s bags. The platforms are 30 feet apart. When teams play, each member of the team stands at opposite platforms. All four players take turns tossing the bags, alternating between the two teams, and the points are tallied for each round. The scoring is interesting. If both players land on the board, or get a bag through the hole, the points cancel each other out. For example, if one player lands a bag on the board and gets one through the hole, that’s 4 points. But if the second player gets identical placement on and through the board, the points cancel each other out. There is no score. If the second player gets a bag through the hole and 2 bags on the board, he ends up with a score of 1, after the other points are cancelled out. The first team to reach 21 points, or for a shorter game, 15 points, wins.

cornhole game 6e y

I watched the teams play and thought it looked like a fun game. As a teen, I was the pitcher for a girls slow pitch softball team. I wanted to give it a try. When teams reformed for another tournament, I paired up with Tim Moore and entered into the competition. Although it is not as easy as it looks to hit the board and even more difficult to get a bag through the hole, the game is very fun and challenging. Tim and I made a great team! We advanced through the tournament, taking on new challengers, and defeating them. Each team played best 2 out of 3 rounds, and Tim and I never lost a round. This was primarily because of Tim’s skill! I did okay though, placing a good number of bags through the hole and landing even more on the board. I thoroughly enjoyed the game, the competition and learning something new. Cornholes, and winning the competition with my team mate, Tim, was my first for today.

It was wonderful to spend time with this generous and loving group of people. We all agreed we would not let so much time pass before meeting again. I am grateful for their hospitality, kindness and fun loving spirits. Until next time, Moore Clan, God bless our journeys and bring us back together once more.

cornhole game cousins close up e

Day 184: Lake Dabinawa

lake house e

It’s a holiday week. Many people head out of town, to play, to celebrate the 4th of July, to gather with family. In a little community tucked around Lake Dabinawa, just north of Lawrence, KS, a group of people joined together to do all of the above. Mark, Linda, Pam and Tim are Greg’s cousins. Bringing most of the members of their families with them, they’ve traveled from four different states to be here for this annual event. This year, Greg and I joined in the fun. For my first, I am enjoying the beauty of Lake Dabinawa and being with the Moore Clan for the 4th.

I have not seen most of Greg’s cousins for years. As teenagers, though, we spent many summer days together, playing in the creek, picking strawberries, and sharing family meals, when the cousins and their parents, Uncle Bill and Aunt Maxine, would visit Grandma and Grandpa Moore in the tiny town of Noel, MO. Fun loving and close knit, this family was always a joy to be around. Greg and I were dating at the time, yet to me, they were my cousins too.

We all grew into adulthood, married, had children of our own. We lost Grandma Moore first and then Grandpa. The cousins scattered to different cities, different states. Sadly, Greg’s mother and brother passed as did Uncle Bill and Aunt Maxine. Our children grew up. Life shifted and we all journeyed on. The last time I saw most of the cousins was at their dad’s funeral.

With Facebook, however, connections have reformed, pictures  are posted and shared, and although still scattered, it has been much easier to stay in touch. I met up with Pam recently in NW Arkansas and met her husband Jay. And I was thrilled to be invited to the lake house to join the whole family for their gathering.

The lake is small but gorgeous and peaceful. The house has plenty of space for this sprawling family. It has been good to meet Tim’s wife, Lisa and their daughters. The lake house belongs to Tim and Lisa and they have been marvelous hosts, freely sharing their home and providing ample amounts of delicious food. Mark and his wife Kristy made the long trip from Colorado with two of their young adult children. Pam and her daughter and grandson came from Arkansas. And Linda arrived from Illinois with three of her six children.

lake house Moore clan e

Although we are all older, the gathering reminds me of our youth. We’ve laughed and played games and shared a meal together. As we lingered around the table after dinner, enjoying cool breezes on the screened in porch, the story telling began. What fun to hear the cousins tell humorous stories on each other. The siblings, although separated by miles and busy lives, are still a close knit family and it shows. Greg and I added a few tales of our own. We all remembered the grandparents and the parents who are with us now in memory and spirit.

It is hard to believe that we are now the parents and grandparents in the group and there is a new youthful generation making its mark on the world. We all have children and grandchildren to be proud of and much to be grateful for. Not the least of which, are the enduring relationships among this joyful clan. I look forward to future gatherings.

lake house Tim and Mark e


Day 183: Peace Garden Gate

peace gate e

I have been very excited about this project. Before the backyard began being transformed into a garden sanctuary, a cedar privacy fence was built across the back and along one side of the yard. Greg did an excellent job of building this fence. It is a wonderful backdrop to the garden and offers, well, privacy. There is a functional gate at the back for access to the alley. At the front, I wanted something different as an entrance into the garden. My first for today was to see the completion of the garden gate.

Greg designed the entrance, using a great deal of consideration, care and creativity. Using 6×6 posts and cedar, he framed in the supporting structure and used the same tinted toner that he used on the fence. It goes beautifully with the fence. And this is a solid, heavy piece, held securely in place by 720 pounds of cement, below ground. Instead of building a matching gate, the entrance into the backyard is an old wooden door, salvaged from a house that was heavily damaged in the tornado. Greg saw the door being hauled out of the house and asked for it. Ask and you will receive! I love that instead of being thrown away the door now has a special place of importance in my garden.

peace gate in process e

I helped a little with the support structure, mostly by holding a piece of wood or handing Greg tools. And on the day he was ready to raise the structure and secure it, I did call my nephew Scott to come help! My main contribution to the project was to work on the old door. It survived the storm well, with no damage to the door itself or to the nine panes of thick opaque glass. There was, however, old varnish on the door and a coat of chipped paint. I considered leaving it as it was, since I like chippy paint! Since the door will be outside and exposed to weather, it made sense to strip it and protect it with primer and a couple of coats of exterior paint. And that became my job, to help strip the door and paint it. I chose a teal color that leaned more toward jade green. It’s called La Fonda Artisan Green.

My favorite part about this gate is that the door doesn’t swing open on hinges. Greg designed it to slide open. He installed two small castors on the base and built the enclosure in such a way that the door opens by sliding, or rolling, behind a panel that is part lattice and part solid cedar. It is such a beautiful piece and very welcoming as an entrance. Friends and family who have seen the project in process have said they have not seen another gate like it. A friend gave me the bird bell that hangs near the door. I like the idea of guests ringing the bell for entrance into the garden!

peace gate bird bell e

As Greg turns his attention to the final section that will enclose the yard on the north side, I have one more piece to add to the new garden gate. I will affix a sign, or lettering, that states:

Peace to all who enter here

And I truly desire that, for all who pass through the gate. I think of this entrance as the Peace Gate. May it be so.

peace gate welcome e