As Keaton has gotten older, transforming into the young adult she is today, the nature of our interaction has changed. Gone are the days of imaginative play. Our interactions are, on the average, shorter, less-frequent, and I’d guess less “required” from her point of view. While that may sound sad, it doesn’t really strike me that way… instead it just feels inevitable and part of life moving forward.
I do worry, however, that the maturing nature of Keaton’s needs may unfairly impact the way I interact with Cohen, who is five years her junior. See, Cohen is most definitely not at as mature as Keaton – and the style/type of interaction he needs from me hasn’t changed nearly as much as with Keaton. Given the difference in their needs, a “one size fits all” parent/child “interaction model” isn’t very functional or fair.
Specifically, I have to remind myself that Cohen does not want, or perhaps need, and is certainly not OK with, as much alone-time as is Keaton. He wants our presence, he wants to interact, for him imaginative play is still very much in-bounds. But I catch myself forgetting these things, letting the way I interact with Keaton influence my interactions with him.
I guess this is probably a normal “not the first kid” kind of thing that other parents have also dealt with? At least I hope it’s not just a unique personal failing of mine.
Even though I know it for false, I sometimes catch myself thinking that the work we’ve done over the last four years to “simplify” is sort of “going backwards.”
I suspect this is may be rooted in the pervasive materialism that’s pushed to us as success, fulfillment, etc. I swear I’m not trying to sound holier than thou; if you have a yacht and three houses and summer in France that’s great I’m happy for you. I mean I made the choice to walk away from money, so these occasional doubts could possibly even me questioning the rightness of that decision. Who knows.
in 2023 I’ve set out to change two small things that sort of relate to this. First, I’m going to do our own oil changes in the vehicles. Second, I’m going to do our taxes myself. I used to do both of these things, and then at some point made the (correct, in my mind) decision that my time was more important than the money saved. And while saving money is worthwhile, I’m pretty sure my decision was motivated more by a desire for self-sufficiency and a sense of ownership.
I know it seems like a right-turn, but it’s what came to my head next: See, I sometimes wonder what people who knew us when we had a bigger, nicer house in manicured subdivision think when they come visit us in our smaller, not-as-nice house. I love our now-house, just like I loved our then-house, and let’s be honest the fact that we can compare the various houses we’ve owned sort of ruins this whole though exercise in simplicity or frugality.
Resisting the urge to make this more readable than it is and leaving it here. Goodnight.
In the tail end of the Florida summer (which is probably solidly Fall most other places) I finally finished building, installing, and plumbing the outdoor shower I’ve been dreaming of.
Based loosely on some images I found Googling, it has corrugated aluminum paneling for its two walls, concrete pavers for a floor, and a drainage system that disperses runoff into the never-not-thirsty central Florida sandy soil.
Since many Florida homes, including ours, have all their plumbing routed through the attic (a retrofit that had to be done when we learned polybutylene is no good), I was even able to tap-into our master shower lines to route hot and cold water over-to and down-through the soffit.
It actually came out quite nice and functional, for something built by someone who’s not so good at building things.
Showering outside is so enjoyable to me. I don’t know why I think this. When we first moved to Florida and lived in our RV in my brother-in-law’s yard while house hunting, I’d use their poolside outdoor shower in the mornings, and I think that’s what got me hooked.
But, truly, something about watching steam rise into the atmosphere… smelling the scent of outdoors… baring yourself to the surroundings… to me it’s a much more enjoyable experience than showering inside.
We’ll see how the experience holds up when it’s 90° in the mornings come summer, but for now I’m all-in on the outdoor shower.
I recently built an outdoor shower on the side of our house here in Florida.
Not only was I proud of the work I put into the thing, and the finished product being functional (it’s plumbed with both hot & cold water & drains well) as well as pleasing to the eye (the corrugated metal siding I used for walls looks nice), I am entirely besotted with the notion of the outdoor shower.
What is it about showering under the open sky? On cold mornings, the steam billows into the tree limbs above, like clouds of smoke from a fire. I can look at the lake while I lather-up, can listen to the birds, can feel the breeze.
Since I finished the thing a couple months ago I think I’ve only taken two showers indoors. It is seriously such a better start to my day.
I sometimes find myself sad when I think about that fact that I don’t write regularly anymore. So I tell myself, “Self, let’s write again.” And then I keep not-writing. A cycle.
I suppose the thing to do is not to try and catch-up, but instead just to start again. Because lots has happened… like… we live entirely across the country, we chose to make less money and live smaller, our kids are so much older and people we loved are already gone. But that’s catch-up so let’s squash it.
To start: Life is good.
The decision we made to move here & change was a good one. It’s paying. It has not been without its moments of madness and anxiety, still is not without them.
Is that how you start? Re-start? K. Whatever. I think I can take it from here.
We were in a cabin together, in the mountains. Our family, also some friends I think. It looked like the Rockies or Sierras. In fact maybe it’s the mental image I have of the cabin and hills we’re going to in Spring with friends from church. But it was on the rocky hills, granite and dirt and level-upon-level rising out the back windows towards the sky.
At first it was steam in the distance. Then rumbling. We went to explore and found a hole in the ground filled with angry water. I think this part of the dream comes from an amazing drone-shot video I saw yesterday of an open pit-mine somewhere in Arizona. Eventually the water fountained into a geyser, exploding out of the ground with heat and force. I guess we ran because the dream picked up elsewhere, as much as I can remember.
I think maybe I knew, in the dream that is, what was coming. Cut to Keaton and I, we’re down the hill in the city proper. I’m pretty sure it’s a street scene from the city I grew up in in Central Florida, near the bowling alley and Arby’s where I briefly worked. We were walking, but with haste. It was dark now. And then in the distance it happened, a volcanic eruption. In an example of solid dream physics, we saw the pyrotechnics before we heard and felt the blast.
Debris began to rain around us and I knew we should take shelter under one of the cars lining the streets, but my feet were rooted to the earth in some fear-driven refusal to move. I shouted at Keaton to get under a car.
That’s all I remember.
I need community, and at present I lack it.
Although we’ve been in our new southern surrounds for two years now, I am not shocked that we’ve struggled to establish our new community. Moving into a new state, changing our lifestyle, quarantining through a pandemic… all legitimate and material headwinds.
Yes we have, will always have, our California community – and thank God for it because staying in-touch with them has been a bit of manna in this desert. We also have our family here in Florida, one of our primary motivations for being here, those connections buoying us greatly.
But, for me, at least, there is still “more” that I’ve yet to establish. The diversity and number of human outlets we had prior to the move is a gap in my current sense of community. Worse, this dearth has led me to become overly-reliant on what geographically-proximal relationships I do have, tapping them for more than they can be expected to give.
Being over-reliant on a very narrow set of personal relationships then causes me to be extra sensitive to normal relationship ebb-and-flow. With a multitude of outlets, temporary quiescence of any one is seamlessly absorbed by load-balancing into the remainder. Said another way, the bigger the community the more outlets available to “pick up slack” or “handle surge.” Just like an electric circuit has a load rating… perhaps so does any given person/person relationship. Pushing everything through the same channel is bound to burn it out.
Maybe this is part of getting older… an expected waning of community, at least in terms of pure numbers? I sort of imagine that’s so. Dunno, but I’m taking some concrete actions to “get involved,” to establish some additional outlets… new circuits…
With apologies to those I’m currently overloading, then… peace out.