a big girl on her own in NYC

I want to write about Keaton getting older, growing up, but I don’t have a good start, so there it was.

Seventeen, driving, about to enter her senior year. This summer she’ll be spending four weeks away from us, on her own, in the heart of New York City. Living in a dorm and studying theater. I’m bubbling with vicarious excitement for her, but also feel some pretty strong pangs of sadness when I think about (1) her being gone for four weeks and (2) the confrontation of reality the time away represents: she’s not going to be here forever.

I want her to have the greatest time, the best experience, to grow strong as she steps out into independence. I’ve decided I’m going to write here a short note that I’ll send with her, telling her how proud of her I am and recommending some things she do and try while she’s a “big girl on her own in NYC.”

It blows my mind that we’re here already. It goes so fast. I wonder if the post-kids space feels just as fast, or slower? It must slow down a little bit as you get older?

Going to miss her a lot. Going to worry about her and want to talk to her and text her and hear about all the fun she’s having. And then she’s back for one more year of high school and who knows what after that. Cohen also feels that milestone nearing – tells me he doesn’t want Keaton to leave; he’ll be bored, he’ll be sad.

Me too buddy, me too.

twenty days

I live about six miles from work, and as long as I’ve been working here I’ve thought about the idea of riding my bike into the office instead of driving.

Being Florida, there are plenty of reasons this is perhaps not as feasible as it would be in a less tropical locale… but still the idea would nag me. So, while the car was in the shop last month I decided to first map out the route online – just to see how much of it would be road riding (less desirable) vs. trail-riding. After doing a virtual ride on Google Street View and noting that the majority of the ride (~75%) would be trails vs. roads… I convinced myself to give it a go.

I loved it. I’m still doing it, five weeks later, and I’m still loving it.

I get to wave to and say “hello” and “good morning” to so many strangers. I get to be outside. I get to listen to more music. And the bonus, like hiding a dog’s worm pill in a chunk of cheese, all those things smush around and hide from me the fact that it’s exercise and it’s good for me. Not only that, but it’s brought a whole new set of routines into my life, and you know how I love optimizing and living in good routines.

I have a little backpack. I pack it every morning with my work clothes and unpack it every afternoon. I shower in the gym at work. I jump in the pool after getting home to stifle the sweat and cool down and give my riding clothes a rinse until the next day. I got a small microfiber towel I use after my post-ride shower. I properly launder everything each weekend. So, many, routines! So much efficiency and repetition and predictability to be enjoyed.

In my life I’ve only ever managed to make exercise “stick” when I was either (1) not doing it because it’s exercise or (2) doing it as penance. Hopefully this bike riding will continue to fall into bucket #1 and I’ll keep doing it because I’m enjoying it.

So far so good.

wait a minute

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.

going backwards

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.

built an outdoor shower

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.

let’s squash it

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.