Showing Love

I just returned from a long day at work. I left my home just before six this morning, and now it is nearly nine in the evening. Katarina was asleep when I left for work, and she is asleep now. I feel bad because I missed an entire day of her life.

But I don’t want to dwell on the sad parts right now.

My lovely wife had prepared delicious food for me, had the kettle simmering gently, and a mug with my favorite herbal tea ready to be filled with boiling water.

It may not seem like much to you, but she was showing me love by doing this.

That means a lot to me.

Wrangling Onward

I worked as a wrangler at Sorrel River Ranch for two seasons.

It seems like just yesterday, and yet it has been a decade since I spent my first season there on the Colorado river. It was there, in that paradise, where I was told my life was perfect and that I should never change. When I thought about the future that summer. When I looked out ten years later for my life, I did not see anything like this now. I probably would have laughed if someone had told me what would happen. My life is nothing like I pictured it would be. I never expected to be married to Tiffany, or to own a home, or to be in California.

I most definitely would not have understood how I feel about Tiffany and Katarina. My wife and baby girl changed my perspective in a way I could not comprehend.

And yet.

In many ways I feel like I’m still the same, I still feel like I’m very young and naive. I feel like I’m just getting started on life – like I’m at the trailhead of my path.

But I’m not just getting started anymore. If this were football, I am well into the second quarter. If I were hiking, I’m closer to the halfway point than to where I started.

This is not the end. Not just yet. There’s still some time left for you and me.

Let’s take this time we have and use it. Spend it. Make every minute worth it.

Going Live

Seth Godin is often encouraging entrepreneurs to show up and do their best vulnerable work, day after day after day, show up.

Tomorrow is one of those days where the little seed I have been tending leaves it’s safe little pot and is planted out in the garden. I have been looking at this opportunity for several months now. It might fall flat, or be so painful to use that it gets scrapped. If I’m evaluating this impartially, odds are it will just be ignored and will not live up to the ideas and possibilities I have in mind for it.

But maybe, just maybe, this little thing will be the basis for something much bigger. I really don’t know how big of a tree this seed might grow. If I never give it a chance to get out into the world, I’ll never know what could have been. You can bet this seed won’t grow very large at all if I keep it all safe in its little pot.

Giving and Gifts

They aren’t always the same. The verb can take on a meaning of supplying something to someone, but the noun happens with a very special form of giving. A gift happens when the giving is pure.

I believe there are some qualities of pure giving that are all together forgotten in most of our “giving” today.

  • Pure giving is marked by cheerfulness
  • It happens even when feel the receiver actually owes you
  • It does not demand payment
  • It does not seek any recognition
  • It does not wait for a return of any favor.
  • Pure giving does not ask “what’s in it for me”

In essence, pure giving is all about the receiver. You’re secondary to the whole situation if you’re giving purely. Pure giving is loving.

Love suffers long and is kind;
love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;
does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;
does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;
bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

I Corinthians 13:4‭-‬7 NKJV

Some examples of modern gifts that I don’t believe are really gifts.

  • Holiday gift exchanges
  • Cleaning the house for your spouse, so they make time for sex
  • Bringing treats to clients, in order for them to feel better about you
  • Buying someone a wedding present because it is socially expected

However… I don’t think any of those things are wrong either! I think those can be good things.

I think it’s completely fine to participate in exchanges. I think it’s ok to give someone a token of appreciation for their business, hoping that they continue their business with you.

I think we just need to be explicit in, our own minds, about what we are doing when we give something.

When giving a gift, do it right. Make it about them. Make them being at their very best, your biggest desire. Lose yourself.

When giving for anything at all in return, a behavior change on their part, recognition from them, continued business etc., don’t call it a gift. Call it what it is. Call it a transaction.

And finally, for what it is worth, beware of creating implicit social contracts, they can lead to fear and resentment.

Bathroom Tap Pt. 4

Final leg of Saturday’s plumbing work (see Bathroom Tap Pt. 3 for the events leading up to this).

I now had the PEX through the floor and attached to the supply. I went back up to the bathroom to install the new PEX to pipe thread straight quarter-turn valves, and the new extension lines. When I removed the old 90° quarter-turn valves and extension lines, I found a major source of the low water pressure.

The old valves and lines were severly plugged. I tried blowing air through the lines, and there was strong resistance to even that.

Where did all of that detritus come from? I suppose many years of buildup in the old galvanized lines. If this is any indication of the future, I expect to have the chance to replace more line over the next couple years.

Now that the new valves were in place, I opened the main valve on the whole-house water supply. This way Tiffany could have water in the kitchen and garage as she needed. I headed back into the house to make sure my new pipes weren’t leaking and at the front door I heard a roaring of a water jet.

Uh-oh! I sprinted back to the meter and shut the water off as fast as I could. Then Tiffany asked me “should the tub be running full blast?”. Well that was a relief. I had only forgotten to close the tub tap from when I had drained the pressure earlier. So I shut the tub off and turned the main water back on.

At this point, I thought I was only a few minutes away from the end of it all, when I realized the extension line felt funny as it connected to the old faucet…

Uh oh.

The hot water supply within the faucet itself (a 1/8 inch copper line) was corkscrewed and wouldn’t be letting much water through anyway. There’s a good chance it was already this way, because I found evidence of a previous leak and someone had wrapped one of the joints apparently to try and stop it, so maybe they overtightened the hot supply at that time…There’s an even better chance that I did this to the supply when I attached the extensions.

It was then clear that we needed yet one more trip to Home Depot. Tiffany quickly got Katarina ready, and we all three went to pick out a new faucet.

While in Home Depot, my dad video-called us and I couldn’t hear him very well, so I told him I would call back. When we got back home, I was tired and wanted to finish the job rather than talk on the phone. I called him back anyway.

As I installed the new faucet and drain, and took the chance to clean years worth of sludge out of the trap, he talked with me and told me some of his stories of fixing these kinds of things.

It was a beautiful moment.

Bathroom Tap Pt. 3

I had finished all the prep work, and I was prepared to install the new water lines to my bathroom faucet (check out Pt. 2 if you missed it).

Throughout this project, I had many more trips in and out of the crawlspace than I am expressing. Also I took more trips to Home Depot than are written. I was so new to all of this, that I was taking one single step at a time (e.g. crawl down and take a measurement, come back up and check it, crawl back down and drill…) rather than compiling my steps into efficient groups.

Anyway, for my first time cutting the PEX, I used a utility knife with a new blade, and rolled the pipe as I made the cut. It worked decently well, but I did freshen the edges to get a nice smooth line sans burs.

Crimping was more challenging than cutting. Mainly because the crimping tool was bulky and the copper rings, that fit the half inch pipe, are quite small. However, in only a couple minutes, I had a proper length of PEX with an appropriately affixed brass adapter to connect to the water supply.

It wasn’t too long till I had both lines connected and up through the floor.

I thought I was home free at this point. I had all the hardware I needed to plug into the old faucet; two straight pipe to PEX valves, two new extension lines, even flanges to spruce up the holes for the PEX entering the bottom of the vanity. Just a few more minutes and I would be finished….

I’ll write the last bit of the story tomorrow.

Bathroom Tap Pt. 2

I started by drilling a pilot hole, through the bottom of the vanity (just off center under the wash basin) and continuing right through the floor. I fed some wire through the hole so I could find it easier from the crawlspace under the house. I wanted to make sure I was knew, when I was below the house, which pipes supplied the faucet (since there is a shower, bath, and commode all within a few feet of each other).

Next I went crawling into this hole from our backyard, which got me under the house. This gave me a look at the plumbing leading to the bathroom, and thanks the wire it didn’t take long to figure out what was what from underneath.

Once under the house, it was quite dark down there, so I took my Solar LED Lantern that my dad had bought me for my birthday. It was so light, ad bright enough, that it worked very well for me getting into position, then I dragged a corded work light in, because I was going to be in and out all day long.

I only had 18 – 24″ of total vertical space, from the terribly dusty old dry dirt underneath me, to the bottom of the floor joists above me. So much of my crawling was with my chest flat to the ground. I wore an N95 mask and full coveralls, but still got filthy and I coughed up dust later.

I made some determinations about which galvanized pipes I needed to cut. I was going to replace just the last couple feet of both the hot, and the cold, supply lines with PEX.

I headed to Home Depot with a plan to get the PEX and necessary adapters.

The gentleman who assisted me steered me away from any kind of compression fitting, or other work-around fitting, into the galvanized. He said even if I had to replace 30 feet of the galvanized, I’d be much better off by finding the closest threaded end and attaching the PEX there. He also told me to try PB Blaster on the old fittings, since I had seen they were pretty rusty. I grabbed two 14-inch pipe wrenches (one aluminum and one steel) and went back home.

I filled a bucket with water, in case we would need the toilet twice before I had the water back on, and then I shut off water to the house and opened the taps on the tub to bleed the lines.

Back under the house, I used a cutting blade on my angle grinder to sever the sections of galvanized line I was removing. There was still a decent amount of water in the lines, and some ran down on my grinder, which I didn’t like mixing electric and water. Maybe I should have found a way to bleed the lines better than just opening the tub faucet? But hey, silver lining was that the pipe didn’t get hot (hate to have any kind of fire risk under an old wood floor) while I made the cut because it was water-cooled.

With the PB blaster in place on the fittings, it was quick work to remove the pieces of galvanized. This was a great moment, because I knew I was now past the blockage that caused me to do all this in the first place. These lines were connected to taps that had good pressure, which meant I could run new lines to my bathroom sink and have good pressure there as well!

More to come.

A Simple Joy

We’re excited to share breakfast with some friends early tomorrow morning. If the Lord wills, there will be poached eggs, sauteed onions and mushrooms, breakfast sausage, bacon, and plenty of milk and hot coffee available at 7:30 tomorrow morning.

It isn’t much, and it isn’t a very big thing, but it is something we are looking forward to. There are wonderful memories made around a shared meal.

If you’re in town, come and break bread with us.

602 Auburn St.

Just Like Momma

I am continually amazed at how much Katarina wants to be like her mother.

I heard a neurologist say, on an interview, that the three ways children learn from their parents are; example, example, and example.

Many times I have seen Katarina enthralled by what her momma is doing, and this is just another example. Katarina watches every move Tiffany makes, and is very excited to imitate her mother.

It is sobering how much the little human is watching and learning.

In The Neighbourhood

We traveled from Bladensburg to Gallipolis Ohio today. I have made that trek dozens of times before, but I went a different way today.

On one of our windy country roads, we saw signs for Ravenwood Castle only a few miles away. It brought back memories for my wife and I.

Four years ago we visited this charming location.

Just before proposing to my girlfriend, we stopped in at the castle and I tried to subtly inquire about Ravenwood as a venue for “events”. My thinly veiled attempt was thoroughly pierced by the receptionist, who quickly asked “Like a wedding? Are you two getting married? Congratulations!”…. I am still trying to play it cool, when she says “oh we are having a wedding reception right now, try some of the cake!”.

Today we laughed about that trip, and about how awkward Tiffany felt at that time as we were not yet betrothed. We decided to visit again and look around.

Coming here with our daughter is unbelievably different, and we want to bring her here when she is a little older, when she can all dress up like royalty, and Katarina can feel like a Princess in her castle.

What’s In A Snickerdoodle?

When I ask myself, “what’s in that cookie”? My mind replies with the tangible components, that we would physically put into the mixing bowl, when preparing the cookie in question.

Flour, sugar, butter, salt, cinnamon and all those other precious things, commonly quantified by their calories, which our bodies will use for fuel and structure. Made of proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids, on a molecular level, we will burn them and/or rearrange them into the building blocks of our cells.

This morning I got to visit my grandma-in-law for a morning cup of coffee. We stayed over an hour and that seemed still too short a time. Princess Katarina snuggled into her great grandmothers lap and contentedly fell asleep within minutes of arriving.


Thinking again of the cookie, grandma told me those cookies were the recipe from her mother Babetksi, who made cookies that way when she lived in Poland around the start of the 20th century.

She left the old world shortly after World War I and was fortunate enough to catch a ride on a steamer to North America. This refugee lady left much of her family and set out for a better life. It’s lost to history when, or from whom, Ms. Babetksi learned to make these cookies, but over a hundred years later her grand-daughter Julie carries on the tradition.

I never thought a cookie contained so much history, so many meta properties, until today.

Travel Aroundabout

We left Tulare before 10 pm last night. We expected to be in Columbus Ohio within 9 or 10 hours, arriving at 10:30 am eastern time.

We left earlier than we thought we would need too, and in the end we were grateful to have that time margin.

First off, the Fresno airport was busier at 11:30 pm New Year’s Day than I had ever seen it before. After waiting twenty five or thirty minutes just to check a single bag, we went off to security and were turned away because Katarina was not indicated on our boarding passes. We were both using mobile passes and I wonder if that is why her name did not show up.

I quickly returned to the bag check line, and ended up waiting another fifteen or twenty minutes to speak with the agent. The agent quickly printed passes for us and Katarina was good to go. I returned to security and we made it through with only a couple minutes before our first flight began boarding.

Little did we know.

This was just the start of the January 2019 Great Ohio Adventure. Our next flight was cancelled, so rather than landing in Columbus at 1030 am, we left Dallas around that time bound for Charlottesville North Carolina. I think we spent nearly 8 hours in flight today.

Tiffany and Katarina were real champs. In the end we all made it.