I Found You!

Parenthood has forever changed me, kind of like marriage did.

Back when I was a single man, I had so much time alone. Evening after evening, if I didn’t have plans with friends, I went to sleep in silence. I often ate my supper alone. I watched the television program that I wanted to, or listened to the music that I wanted to (I must have played Emotionalism a couple hundred times). My bathroom cabinet was stocked only with products that I used. The blankets and sheets on my bed were the blankets and sheets that I chose. Yes I was limited by budget and location, but other than that I had full autonomy. I could get anything I wanted from the local Salvation Army, and decorate my apartment in the best way I saw fit.

After marrying, I found a forever date. Dinner out – now always for two. I get to consider someone else in every decision.

Now that we have a baby, the dynamic has changed again.

It’s a whole new level of taking another into consideration.

Even when my wife and I step out on the porch for a few minutes of coffee and contemplation, and our little one is happily playing with her cousin and auntie Emily, she will find us. She is not easily dissuaded.

Are you OK being with yourself?

I am always with myself by necessity, but I am learning that I can also choose to be with myself.

In the same way that I can be, physically present, with my family, and at other times I can choose to be present emotionally and cognitively.

A family member once told me they were in between jobs and had been asked by a friend to care for their friend’s home over several weeks one winter. This home was a small mansion that sat on a lake in Minnesota, and my family member’s responsibility would be watching over the home and taking the family Golden Retriever out for regular exercise, and they would be paid to boot. I was starstruck at the thought of that. What a glorious winter that would be. No deadlines. No expecations. Just the chance to be present, in a luxury home, in the glorious Minnesota winter.

I pictured lots of hot tea and cider, beautiful snow all the time, a warm fire and good books. Oh what a dream. My family member said they didn’t know if they would take the opportunity because “I don’t know if I like myself enough to be with alone with myself that long”. He went on to say that he didn’t think it would be as much of an issue for me, but that it was a real struggle for him. That comment made me think deeply.

It’s been a decade since that conversation, and as each day passes, I am learning more about present with myself and being OK about that. I am not the same man I was yesterday, and tomorrow will be a new day again, but the beautiful gift and the only place I can ever be, is right here, today.

You are not a mistake. You are loved more than you’ll ever know. It’s only life, enjoy the ride.

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.

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.

How To Leave Well?

When is the best time to leave?

How do you say goodbye?

When you’re having a wonderful time, but you must end it soon, how do you do so graciously?

On a couple of occasions, I have quietly gone without saying any goodbyes, and I avoided the immediate pain that way. There is an absolutely beautiful wedding arc in the BBC production of Sherlock, and Holmes himself leaves that way.

That made it much easier for me. My uncle Gordon was known for that, he never said goodbyes, just slipped away. For a while I had planned to make that my life routine. In the summer of 2010 I worked on a Resort Ranch with my dear friend Audra. She teared up when I told her I planned leave that way, and she said would really hurt her if I did that.

The last twelve days we spent in Ohio, and it was a flurry of visits to so many people we dearly miss and don’t get to see enough. We said goodbyes dozens of times over and it was no fun.

There is something beautiful in a goodbye. They hurt. That very pain reminds us that we are still connected to them. That we care about them. I don’t ever want to be happy about saying goodbye to old friends or family. Yes I want to be happy for them, and for the better places they are heading, but not happy about our paths diverging.

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.

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.

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.