Anna’s Canyon Cafe

We parked on the historic route 66 in Williams Arizona and found cold and clean air a refreshing change for the morning.

Walking just around the block, we stopped in at Anna’s Canyon Cafe for breakfast. It was still early, and the only patrons in there were a couple members of the Sheriffs department and an elderly couple.

The decor was simple and antique Western just as you’d expect. Gilded mirrors and western photos adorned the walls. The old wood floor and bar, with a green chair rail all around, and swinging double doors to the backroom, made it feel like a saloon.

Sourdough toast is always a hit with our little SOE Agent (not really an SOE agent, we just like to pretend she is)

I had the veggie omelette, Tiffany ordered the sausage, biscuit and gravy, Katarina ate from both of our plates we all three enjoyed our food. If you like a quiet place for a hot comforting breakfast (crispy and oily hash browns were in both our dishes) check out Anna’s Canyon Cafe. They’ve taken care to save some of that old wild west feel.

Simplify Your Life

That was the message of what might, or might not, have been the very first class lecture in my time at veterinary school. It’s possible there were other lectures before it, but that was the most memorable lecture of the early days.

Like most other lectures, this one began with a PowerPoint show, unlike other lectures it was a quick succession of pictures. Dr. Jim said he would share with us the secret to success at veterinary school.

First picture up was of Fabio, in all his extravagance, and Dr. Jim said “if this is your boyfriend, break up with him”.

Then a picture of a Black Lab, “if this is your pet, get rid of it’.

A picture of a nice suburban home, “if this is your home, sell it”.

Finally he put up a picture similar to the following.

“This is what your life should look like. If any of your classmates around you recognized immediately what that picture is, beware of them, that is a prison cell. And that is exactly what your life outside of veterinary school should look like. Nothing extra.”

So many times we are distracted and not focused. We are trying to do many things at once, and not doing any of them as well as we want. If that’s the case, maybe we should take Dr. Jim’s advice and trim out the fatty things holding us back.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us


Hebrews 12:1 ESV

Shared Stories

James Bond stories are so much fun. I’ve never read the books, but I enjoy the films. However, it seems the more I think about them, the more I think that they aren’t really anything special.

Let us briefly consider, from an exegetical standpoint, the films Tomorrow Never Dies and Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. A man well trained, in both social and martial arts, faces off with a very wealthy villian bent on world domination. Hostages are taken. Ruses and double crosses abound. The villain is at the very brink of acquiring the coveted resources, but at the last moment our hero defeats the malefactor in hand-to-hand combat and the world is saved. These two stories (and inumerable others to boot) fundamentally share a common structure, but they take place in very different environments.

With James Bond, we have a British MI6 agent that gets romantically involved with every woman in reach. China and Russia are major players. Advanced digital technology is the coveted resource. Naval and air warfare are backdrop for the conflict, and our hero has all manner of gadgets at his disposal.

In Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, we see a man who gets into a lifelong romantic relationship (against his mentor’s advice). The Confederates States of America and the Union are the teams. Silver is what everyone wants. Steam engines and horse-drawn carriages are popular, and we have an ax that turns into a shotgun.

So all this makes me wonder how many other stories are simply re-cloaking of the same ideas and fundamental struggles? The protagonist could be faithful and good-natured, Lincoln, and a part of us longs to be like that. Or the protaganist could be reckless and a playboy like James Bond, and we are fascinated by his response.

The Crumble

Many relationships have ended with a crumble rather than a fire. Not romantic relationships, but friendships. People I shared meals and classes and events with. Our connection often just faded out.

Weeks apart turn into years without talking, and then so much has happened in both lives that it is hard to find that shared common ground we once had. No animosity, no malice, no ill will…just a changing of the times and a divergence of life paths.

In the multitude of varied riffles and eddies in life’s current, be like the sea otter and hang on tightly to those you don’t want to lose.

Joe Robertson. Wikimedia Commons.

Is it really helpful?

I recognize now that I have uncaringly offered “assistance” many times in my life experience. People didn’t always need my help, they didn’t always want my help, and sometimes my help wasn’t truly helpful. It was actually a way for me to get my way. At the deeper level, my help was making the situation go faster and therefore getting those things done my way for the outcome I wanted, I think true genuine help could be about helping them achieve the good outcome they desire.

Maybe I wanted so bad to plant some rows of sweet corn, when all along….they were looking for a cabbage patch.

4 Years

I was in the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine class of 2016. I spent four years in those ivory walls, studying and training day after day. From August of 2012 till May of 2016, I was dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge.

But this post isn’t about veterinary medicine, or the four years I spent there…this post is about the Davidson family. About these last four years of our lives.

On June 27 2015, Tiffany Marie Fritz married me. She even changed her name to Tiffany Marie Davidson. Now we’ve passed four years since that date.

I’m astonished at how much has happened, in our lives, in that time. Baby, new friends, jobs, a home, and pains too. Unexpected deaths of old friends and also our miscarriage.

I don’t know what the next 4 years brings, but I know Father will lead us all the way, and I’m glad to be going into those years with my lovely wife.

Changing tides

The low tide rolls in right now, wave upon wave, breaking over the rocks and offering up white foam on each instance. The crashing of water on stone is relentless and predictable.

The changing tide doesn’t even seem possible. How could it? Those waves are incredibly powerful and I can’t see any difference between this one and the last. The next one will also look just the same as this one.

And yet the entire ocean/land interface will have moved by more than a few feet in a short handful of hours from now. The tides will change. The ground we have now will be buried in a short while. We can’t stop the changing of the tides, but we can decide where we will stand when the higher waters come calling.

Happiness?

It seems more prevalent today to be unashamed about living for yourself. Something recently on my social media feed said the following.

Happinesses is a simple thing. If what you’re doing doesn’t make you happy, do something else.

Where does that leave pain, and suffering, in this life?

What about the friend going through chemotherapy right now? They are sick, hurting, and taking small doses of poison week after week. Fighting their hardest to try and kill the cancer inside them before it completely consumes their flesh.

What about the single mother, working two jobs just to stay afloat? Exhausted, drained, and giving everything she can give for the good of her children. Then getting up the next morning and doing it again.

I think of women and men of renown, those that left legacies of hope and good, and I don’t often think of them as epitomes of happinesses. In fact, it seems they are often branded by suffering.

Happinesses just seems too shallow a target to aim for in this life.

Why I’ve Been Away

I generally spend a few minutes writing these posts, a few minutes editing them and finally only a child minutes to publish them. All in all, it averages around thirty minutes for me to blog.

Thirty minutes isn’t enough time to write a eulogy for Dr. Thomas Bitterwolf. Every few months we’d email back and forth (Doc called them love notes – told all his students to send him love notes), I’d send him pictures of our family, and he’d give me some life advice. Doc always said we could come stay at the Bitterwolf Inn (he and his wife’s home now that their children had fledged) if we were ever visiting Idaho. Two years ago, I tried to make that connection happen when we went to Idaho for a wedding.

We never got to meet up with him on that trip. I didn’t understand why he didn’t return my calls, but later learned that he was ill and in treatment at that time. Even though our visit didn’t work out, we still emailed every once and a while. Until two months ago when I heard that he had passed on.

This side of eternity, we will never again have the chance for long conversations.

My grandma Elaine went to heaven soon after that, and it’s all the same thing there.

How can I describe her life?

How can I write anything that even gives a glimpse of the life she lived and the storms that she endured? No blog post can tell the story of ones life. Oh I look forward to Heaven. To see her again and talk for a good long time.

Tiffany, Katarina and I have suffered too. And even then, love has been poured out on us.

Best Friends

I visited two clients today and after finding and checking the last heifer, I was tired from several hours of work, and I slogged through more mud as I headed back to my truck. I was at an open lot heifer ranch that, like the rest of the central valley, was pretty muddy from the recent rains.

I washed my boots off at the water hose, and then washed them a second time on my tailgate because they got so muddy getting back from the water hose.

My drive out of the ranch took me by their office, and I saw the wired haired butterscotch mutt, who had been hanging with me while I worked the heifers.

He too was tired.

I rolled down my window to take a picture of this odd couple, and one of the employees told me they are best friends.

Don’t worry if your best friend doesn’t look like you, just enjoy their presence 🙂

Holiday Puzzle

Puzzles are fantastic family games. Today we spent a couple hours on a thousand piece holiday scene, and I felt good about working on it together.

There are no complicated rules to puzzles.

You don’t need to have any previous experience.

You can’t really lose when you put together a puzzle, and you definitely don’t have to beat someone else to “win”.

I want to make puzzles a more regular part of my holiday tradition.

Extended Breakfast

We went to Newt’s Place, in Navarre Ohio, this morning for a 09:00 breakfast. Well we had scheduled it for 09:00, but we didn’t all actually arrive till half past the hour.

Four generations sat around the table for two hours and shared a little bit of life. Coffees all around, and the table was covered with plates of eggs, bacon, sausage gravy, home fries, and toast in various renditions.

There’s no substitute for spending time with our families. It doesn’t have to be in a restaurant. It certainly doesn’t have to be fancy or pretty, but it must be at the cost of giving something else up. To open our schedule, to make time, means to sacrifice something.

We have to give up some other activity of value, for this one that is even more valuable.

Right Time

I packed a bag full of dice for our trip to Ohio without a clear plan for them. I figured using them for a game could be a decent way to pass some time in the layovers. That didn’t work because we were exhausted during our layovers.

Last night they came to mind at the right time. We met up with a good friend to have a nightcap at the hotel bar, and a nearby gentleman struck up conversation and we learned his daughter is interviewing at the Ohio State College of Veterinary Mebdicine right now.

A pick up game of liar’s dice, using only our hands to cup our throws, ended up being a terrific diversion and made for a lot of laughs all around.

New Year’s Allowance

In 2019, I am going to allow myself to write much shorter blog posts.

I’ve drafted many posts and never shared them because I didn’t feel like they were good enough, or because I wanted to flesh them out more.

Moving into the next year I am going to allow myself to share smaller, or even partial thoughts. Perhaps some my posts will be even just a single sentence. Trying to write more, and longer posts, hasn’t been working for me.

It’s time to be consistent, so whether its good, ok, or seemingly sloppy…I’ll be sharing here every day.

Christmas Eve

“Starting System Fault” – that was what flashed across my dashboard this morning.

It wasn’t difficult for us to understand that there was a problem in the starting system of my F250. We turned the key and the engine didn’t turn over.

We left the truck parked for a couple hours, and then it started beautifully without any intervention.

This happened once before to my truck. A similar thing has happened to one of our other work trucks multiple times. So far not to strange.

What makes it a head scratcher is that there events have been exclusively at one dairy. How does that happen?

Could it be because we often park on a slight hillside angled toward the passenger side?

Could it be because this herd is on a Monday-morning schedule and the trucks have sat idle for the weekend?

Could the herdsman (who is our driver while there) be starting the truck is such a way as to throw it off?

We may never know the answer, because the problem occurs so rarely and it is difficult to isolate and test variables when you have an interlude between problems of a couple months, but it’s a fun guessing game.

It reminds me of seizure investigation in neurology, or syncopal symptoms in cardiology.

Here?

I used to watch for the maple flowers when I walked, or pedaled, to the UI campus in early spring. I spent many late nights at the arboretum, walking among the evergreens, listening to the songs from the many creatures of the night.

Now I hurry from project to project. I’m always playing catch up on the laundry list of work items, and yet many times feeling like I haven’t made real progress.

Where are the wild things?

Some part of my soul cries out to hear the sweet summer song of a whippoorwill, to smell the must of rotting leaves in early spring, to see the full moon silhouetting a thousand barren and cold oak, hickory and ash branches on a cold November night.

How did I get here? Living within a thousand artificial machinations, and it all feeling rather drab compared to a single forgotten forest ravine.

Letting Go

My recent life experiences have shown me plainly the need to say no, the need to prune my life, the need to say goodbye and move on.

Frozen’s iconic song has taken on a new meaning for me. It stood for forgiveness, for rejecting someone else’s expectations on your life, and ceasing to wear a mask – at least that was my take on Elsa’s performance the first time I heard it.

It means more than that to me now. I am face to face with the fact that you must “give up to go up” as John Maxwell says. I have to let go of ok things, even things that were good at one time, to grab hold of the best things.

It’s painful to say goodbye to sunk costs. It’s humbling to walk away from a bad investment. It’s scary to cut something off from our life.

Jesus told us, as written in John 15, “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”

Bear more fruit. Yes spiritually, and also at work.

Isn’t that what I truly desire?

Pruning must be a regular part of my life for me to bear more fruit. I don’t look forward to the pruning, but I rejoice in what it will bring forth through me.

Go ahead and leave it behind.

My news feed has overflowed recently with discussion on the “banning” of the song Baby, It’s Cold Outside.

Many of my friends are raising a ruckus and complaining that people are too sensitive today, and that it is a shame that the song is not being played in their cherished Christmas radio routines.

It’s ok if the radio stations don’t play your favorite song.

The radio stations aren’t obliged to respect your traditions. You are welcome to play the song yourself, if you believe that playing that song is a good thing to do.

In the words of Elsa’s song “let it go, let it go!”. Don’t let it offend you when people protest your traditions, take the chance to learn from them, and in doing so you might gain a new point of view, our even better yet a new true friend “from the other side”.

Maybe after it’s all said and done, you’ll decide to keep your traditions anyway.

2018-12-01

The last month already.

We are barely beyond the wonderful experience of Thanksgiving, and close living conditions for several days, with family.

I took off work early yesterday afternoon, packed my bags, picked up Princess Katarina from daycare and got ready for our trip. Tiffany got off work a little early too, and she had prepared ahead of time, so we left Tulare around 6pm and headed for LAX.

Tiffany drove all the way, I slept a decent portion of the drive, and Kat passed out only a half a mile from our home and slept soundly.

After some thick and crowded SoCal traffic, we made it to the airport at 9:30 and picked up my mother-in-law. Soon after we checked into our hotel and Katarina woke up. We fed, changed, and played with her a while.

Around eleven we went to dinner at Casa Gamino, a small nearby Mexican joint. Even though we were tired, we shared many laughs and ate some excellent, camarones, carnitas, arroz y frijoles.

We got back to hotel at after midnight and soon passed out. Susan was very kind to feed and change Kat in the night, and to rock her back to sleep. Around five thirty this morning, the lovely girl woke up and wanted to play. So naturally we were all awake.

I got up sometime after six and took her for a walk in the hotel, in my pajamas. The lobby had quite a few people already who were waiting for breakfast. Kat was just a star in their eyes :).

We met the lovely night manager, Andre, whom Katarina was delighted with and smiling at. Andre told me to enjoy these moments and be grateful, and he told me about his 14 month old granddaughter.

We video-chatted with Uncle Caleb and took a walk in the flower garden.

After a warm bottle of milk, Kat went back to sleep and I am the lobby having breakfast and reading Musashi.

11-28-18

No coffee this morning.

I broke our cute 4-cup carafe yesterday morning, and I haven’t yet ordered a replacement. I went to Mr. Coffee’s website last night and I wasn’t easily able to order, they wanted me to contact them during their business hours (eastern time hours).

I worked behind cows for a couple hours and I missed that rush that comes from morning caffeine. It’s a beautiful flow of energy and focus, and all very jittery.

I felt instead that I was underwater as I worked. My arms were slightly delayed when I reached for a cow’s tail, or a piece of chalk. My legs didn’t move forward like I expected them when I stepped. Even the sounds around me seemed a little dull.

I did however see the larger picture of the dairy more readily. The individual
pieces were hidden from me, but the overall experience came clearer.

I think I will play with this some more, titrate my caffeine and sleep and see how it influences my work.

11-27-18

Last night were the good-byes. After a wonderful full week of family staying with us on Auburn St, it was painful to see them drive off. We had a week together of old stories and new memories, of conflict and resolution, of honesty and surprises, of mirth and tears.

Katarina went to sleep. Tiffany was still at work, and the house was now unbelievably quiet, and a little chilly. I made some lemon herbal tea and put on a fluffy flannel blanket to warm up. I turned on classical instrumental Christmas music and a fireplace on my TV and read from Musashi.

It was very relaxing.

Tiff smiled when she got home and as she was taking care of Katarina, I told her I was living like a 70 year old and I hoped she was ok with that.

She is ok with that. We are both old souls.

11-20-18

I’m a fan of vaccines, a real big fan of them. They’ve helped our dairy cows for decades and saved millions of human lives. But this post isn’t about vaccines.

These thoughts post are about a lesson I am learning today of the risk to an entire herd by extension of it’s most at-risk member.

YOPI – Young, Old, Pregnant, Immunocompromised. This is the term we use when we are discussing populations at highest risk for contracting an infectious disease. My baby girl Katarina is very young and that means we have a YOPI in our home.

Anyway, our dear little YOPI contracted scabies (sarcoptic mange) sometime in the last couple weeks, and she exposed her herdmates (mom and dad) to it.

Thankfully the spiteful little mites are easy to be rid of. As obligate parasites, they can’t live for more than a couple days when away from their human hosts. They cause a raging itchy rash, but they are sensitive to permethrin, and a single treatment is curative.

We took the oily white paste (texture of sunscreen with a metallic smell) and rubbed it all over our bodies. Between every toe and finger and including every other place where the skin folds over itself.

My awesome wife attacked the environment with vigor and washed all expoed surfaces in our home as well as about a dozen loads of laundry in a couple days.

No more mites. The herd survived, and our little YOPI is ok.

11-16-18

I had a perfect plan this past Wednesday.

My schedule was empty for part of the afternoon, and I was going to be extremely productive during those three hours and catch up on my backlog of papers and reports.

Woohoo! It was going to be a great feeling to be rid of those nagging reminders, and to have those deadlines out of my mind.

Then an emergency calving came. I didn’t feel defeated and it would yet be ok… because the emergency took only an hour. I still had an hour and a half of the precious free time (after factoring in the driving to-and-from the dairy).

I was feeling good as I sat down at the computer and made my first phone call. That shiny feeling left me when I heard my name called only 5 minutes later. There was now an emergency prolapae holding at the same dairy I had just left.

The adrenaline started to flow, and I felt more like fight than flight. I went and took care of the prolapse and was hoping I could find some more time to get my work done. I called the office and heard a loud crunch as I was turning and backing out.

The passenger side quarter panel met a strong iron stake, and the thin panel didn’t fare well.

I spent the next two hours, back at the clinic, bending the panel back out so that I could open and close the passenger door.

Time was all gone.

2018-11-10

Today we went shopping as family.

Princess Katarina enjoyed the many colors of food we put in the basket with her. She must have countless neurons forming, connecting, and reconnecting in a marvelous myriad of intricate webs and networks.

It was only 40 degrees this morning and refreshingly cool.

Now it is 2:30 and it feels hot in the afternoon sun. The sky is thick with the haze of California wildfires, as ten thousands of acres burn.

Am I Enough?

A question that drives so many of us.

This past weekend was the annual Radiant Man Camp at Hartland Camp. Over a hundred fellows living in close proximity for a couple days. We had plenty of time in the chapel, competitive games outside, and food in the mess hall.

That was all good, but it wasn’t the best part of the weekend. We were invited to take off our masks. That was powerful. Until this weekend, I hadn’t considered how often our souls mentioned in the book of Psalms.

I have considered feelings to have a pretty low importance to our life overall. I considered feelings to be like the sprinkles, on the icing, on the cake. Kind of nice, but not important.

Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
Psalms 86:4 ESV

But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.
Psalms 131:2 ESV

Today I spoke with someone facing crisis in their business. In their long meeting with the bankers, they decided to liquidate some of their assets (even as the liquidation price costs them heavily, being below their investment). Much like a boat taking on water, they are throwing valuable supplies overboard just to float a little while longer and hope the storm stops.

This fellow told me he didn’t care much for the business anymore, because margins have been too tight for too long now, and stresses have been high. He would be ok to sell it all and move on now.

But the question of his worth hurt him deep. Not the worth of the business or the assets. No it was the question of his worth as a person. His grandparents started this operation and his parents passed it on, and kept it going for nearly a hundred years. Now he wonders if he has to bear the memory of being the generation to let it go. Now he wonders if he is worthy to bear his family name.

We all face this at some point in our lives. The end of ourselves and the end of our pride. When we get there, we have the opportunity to turn to the One who loved us and accepted us from the start.

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'”
John 7:37‭-‬38 ESV

Slow Down

This evening, my daughter was upset in her car seat during a drive back to our house from our friends who had watched her for the day.

She wasn’t yelling (like she was last night when we all went to the local polling location – turns out her daddy had left a pair of hemostats in her car seat and she was sitting on them)…but she was crying tonight.

I turned on the song “Slow Down” by Mike Mains & The Branches and she stopped her cries and just listened. This has already happened, with this very same song, once or twice before.

It made me cry to go through this, because I’m going to tell her about this very thing someday when she’s much older and ready to leave home.

Here’s the chorus;
What about all our memories
When you would dance and sing for me
Slow down, slow down
What happened to my baby girl
Who used to sit on top the world
Slow down

I’m blessed beyond measure to get to hold her, protect her, and help her find her way in this world. But I won’t always be there for her. Someday will be the last day.

There is only One who stands timeless, and He will always be with her.

Embracing the Routine

I have had a life long fight against the mundane.

I dreaded those parts of my life that seem routine and monotonous. I always looked for the novel things.

Brushing my teeth, mowing the lawn, practicing scales on the piano – much less fun than cutting a new path through brush and briars, or turning the book to play a new song.

I’m 30 now, and that is still young, but I feel different than I did 10 years ago. I am learning to embrace the routines. Even though they aren’t as exciting, there is something attractive in the familiarity of them.

Old tricks

Had a fantastic time car shopping last weekend!

Over the last couple months, my wife has been to several dealerships, looked at many cars, and talked with as many salesman. One gentleman in specific has stayed in contact with her and has continued to let her know when he thinks he has a car just for her (incidentally they have all been out of our stated price range).

Two weeks ago, this fellow said he has a surprise vehicle for her and we needed to come see it.

Ok. I’ll play along.

Harmless as a dove, yes. However, the salesman was NOT expecting me to be wise as a serpent.

Thanks to Jordan Harbinger and Alex Kouts – I have been intentionally practicing my negotiating skills, and stretching the social fabric isn’t nearly as uncomfortable as it used to be for me.

Mr. Salesman used so many techniques on us!

He matched our postures, he excessively doted on our daughter, he made nonthreatening physical contact to press points home (taps on my shoulder), he gave us gifts (made a sort of display of getting us coffees), he told us he thought of us and our situation everyday, he answered the phone and told them he would call back (he then told us it was a very loyal and valuable customer and that he would make them wait for us).

When I told him we would never buy new, he asked if I was a bandit, and then he had us test drive a lovely brand new car. He asked again, and again, what I thought of it.

I praised the car and told him I would look for a used one. He told me I would never find one in our price range, so I pulled up Google and showed him one advertised – in our price range and local.

I can remember leaving the mattress store feeling flustered 2 years ago. But I didn’t have that feeling car shopping this time! I left in good spirits.

The haunted house wasn’t scary once I saw the actor behind the mask.