Aug 10 2010


Cloves are one of the greatest things ever. If you don’t know what they are, they are those little spiky things you see sticking out of Christmas hams.

I first got hooked on cloves back when I used to smoke. I know, I know, I was supposed to get addicted to tobacco and not the cloves, but both the flavor and the aroma are so intoxicating. Sometimes I walk in the kitchen, go to the spice cabinet and huff the cloves.

In the autumn and winter you can be sure to smell cloves at our house whether it is from the fresh spiced cider, the oatmeal-raisin cookies, or the Christmas ham.

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Mar 20 2010

Vintage photo of MadMania’s founder, c. 2002

Spring 2002, a long time ago.

I was out of work–me and everyone else but two people from my old job were laid off right before Christmas.

I’m standing in downtown Kansas City. The photo is super-grainy because we are using a 1.2 megapixel Kodak I got from the aforementioned job. The camera was as big as a medium-size hardback, and just as heavy.

I don’t know what’s in my jacket pocket there, but it’s probably clove cigarettes. I had started smoking right before Christmas; Heather and I couldn’t afford to get each other a real present, but she insisted I at least get something.

Besides, the tobacconist’s was right next door to the toy store.

I grew the massive goatee during that time, and I finally trimmed it a few months after I started my current job. The long, tangly hair stayed for another 6 years.

It’s pure Providence I got hired at all: in addition to the hair and the goatee, I wore all black to the HR interview.

I wasn’t teaching Sunday School yet–that was still another year off, and so was giving up cigarettes.

The taste for cloves still lingers, though; I put them in pie filling, French Toast, and every autumn and winter I make hot spiced cider.

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