free time

I feel like I must either be (1) more discriminating in deciding how I allocate & spend my time than most, or perhaps just (2) more anxious/guarded about over commitment.

Making a new commitment, particularly ones which entail a recurring commitment of time & energy, is not a small thing to me; not a decision I can make in the moment or on the spot. I mean I have to really evaluate it, consider the tradeoffs.

Maybe I’m just generally more booked than others?; have less free time for allocation and thus am more jealous of any further slices I “give away?”

Or maybe I’m lazy, making myself feel better by ascribing too high a value to my free time & imagining I’m allocating a precious limited resource when I really just desire ample time to loaf?

Or maybe it’s some in-between. Whatever I do I like to do it well, so maybe I’m tempering my overall commitment to keep me level of engagement high quality?

Or maybe I’m selfish.

Regardless, I am judicious about allocating my time, and some of the allocations I enjoy most are the simplest: spending time at home with my family watching baseball and cooking or reading or working in the yard. Those things bring me consistent and abundant joy.

Yeah maybe I’m selfish.


One of my three goals for 2024 was to return to more regular pleasure reading. I’m doing pretty well, although putting that into words makes me fear jinxing it. It helps that the books I’ve read thus far, and am currently reading, are really resonating; hitting me at the right place and time with ideas that land. A good example:

Meanwhile, it can be stated with some validity that for all of the clamorings and phobias that it generates, money barely exists. An abstraction, a symbol, an act of faith, an IOU backed only by a banker’s word, money is first and foremost a substitute. The funny part is that it’s a substitute for things that often do not exist.

So, even for those of us who can’t personally witness Salome’s dance, the fifth veil surely will fall. It will fall at the moment of our death. As we lie there, helpless, beyond distraction, electricity stealing out of our brains like a con man stealing out of a sucker’s neighborhood, it will occur to many of us that everything we ever did, we did for money. And at that instant, right before the stars blink off, we will, according to what else we may have learned in life, burn with an unendurable regret—or have us a good silent laugh at our own expense.

I read this around 6am Monday morning and it felt personal. Not because I feel like I’m going to be surprised with a huge pit of regret when the described realization occurs to me, but instead because I’m already working towards not being in that space and it felt like a prescient reminder that it’s worth it. Yes, I think about money a lot, fret and worry occasionally, even.

We’ve done a good job, I feel, prioritizing people-things over money. Especially in the past several years, making decisions which I’m sure look fiscally foolish (and likely could accurately be described as such) because we felt some other factor was more important.

For me, then, maybe that deathbed realization won’t be about squandering my focus on money. Doesn’t mean I don’t have things to work on… plenty of deathbed realizations which could still haunt me. OK enough talk about deathbeds. Peace.

i’m being serious

As a parent, you know to look forward to, or at least think ahead of time about, certain changes, transitions, your kids will go through, and the implications for the rest of the family, particularly budgetary implications. Yeah I know that’s a long comma-filled thought, but I think it’s grammatically correct enough.

To some degree, and maybe this is because I’m a heavy-duty planner, I thought about things like the cost of school lunches and clubs and back-to-school clothes and whatnot. I even thought (a little) about weddings and college educations. Maybe that’s better than most, I don’t know.

I didn’t think much about the whole car situation. We hadn’t really planned on buying our kids their first cars, we didn’t encourage them to create any car-focused savings. We didn’t have a plan at all, really. And, honestly maybe that’s fine. I’m not pushing the notion that parents should be responsible for supplying their children with vehicles (or paying for their weddings or college educations or school lunches, for that matter). I’m just saying we had zero plan.

What happened then, at least with Keaton (our first driver) is that she basically assumed primary drivership of my vehicle when I started cycling to work. I mean it makes sense, my car was sitting idle in the garage and someone may as well use it. That’s been the case now for about a year. I rarely drive my car, and I’m used to not having a vehicle here on-demand even when I’m not at work.

And, really, it really hasn’t even been a thing. I don’t miss driving (I still drive, just way less), nor have I wound-up in a bunch of frustrating situations where I’m stranded without a vehicle. When Sharaun and I need separate vehicles, we give Keaton advanced notice and work out how we’re going to make things work. It’s been a non-issue.

So to the point of my post: I have proposed to Sharaun, and she’s agreed, that when Keaton heads to school, wherever that may be, we’re going to “gift” her my car (which is basically already her car) and attempt to not replace it with a second car for the family (minus Keaton). We’re going to give being a one-car family a shot, see how it works for us.

I know there will be some instances where it’ll be inconvenient and frustrating. But the tens of thousands we’d save not buying a 2nd car could buy a ton of public transportation or rideshare rides before we’d break even. Heck if a longer-term need arises maybe even renting a vehicle for a week or so.

I’m eager to see how it works. I think it’ll be a good exercise in humility and good humor for me, since Sharaun will be the one with all-time access to a vehicle and I’m the one volunteering to go without. My bike gets me to work and back, and with coordination and patience I think we can handle the rest.

I’ll let you know how it goes. Hugs.


Some of my favorite moments are silent moments alone in my darkened house just before sunrise.

I’ve written about it several times before so it feels a bit redundant, but there’s something comforting about the way the lack of sound and light feels like a blanket, a cocoon.

In those moments I tend to feel a swelling of gratitude for our abode. A small protective castle just for us where we’re sheltered from wind and cold and heat and rain and bugs and bluster. I look around with a Christmas morning contentedness, feeling in love with the cozy clutter and soft blankets. At complete and welcomed odds with the small frustrations I feel noticing all the small imperfections in the critical light of daytime.

Yeah I’ve written about this before.

The sun rises over the lake in pinks and oranges, and the fog over the water seems to be running away like a vampire. Means I have to put down my book and fold up my blanket and make another cup of coffee and wake my family for church and get in the shower.

Until later then.

too much of a good thing

When we moved to Florida and settled after our year on the road, I decided that I wanted to become a regular blood donor as a way to honor my parents. Both mom and dad both died of blood cancer (MDS), and both received regular transfusions in the years prior to passing, so I saw firsthand how important blood can be to someone’s quality of life.

I donated every eight weeks, which is as often as allowed, for several years.

A little less than a year ago, my regular labs from a routine doctor’s appointment came back showing a little anemia. When I told my physician I had donated blood the day before my labs, she said that it was probably just bad timing and that my iron was depleted from the donation the day before. We decided to check it again in a few months.

At the next bloodwork, the anemia was more pronounced – iron, hemoglobin, and hematocrit all notably low. I had a moment of panic, not having heard those last two words since the days of monitoring dad and mom’s status as their MDS progressed. My doctor referred me to a hematologist, asked me to not donate blood anymore, and put me on oral iron supplements.

Two weeks later I went to the oncology center to give more blood and had a small emotional breakdown in the lobby, recalling my visits with dad. Seeing the sick people packed into this cancer Costco really brought back those memories. The oncologist said my numbers had improved in the two weeks since I’d started supplemental iron, but were still too low. They asked me to schedule a colonoscopy to check for internal bleeding and told me to continue taking iron.

Months later (the American healthcare system is anything but swift) I got a clean bill of health from gastroenterology and went back to oncology for more bloodwork. All numbers back in-range, no internal bleeding.

The verdict? Too frequent blood donation had depleted my iron. My body needed time and supplemental help to rebound. Stop donating blood so frequently, they said. Maybe honor your folks by doing it on their birthdays twice a year instead.

An anxious several months and I’m disappointed because donating really did make me feel like I was doing something good for the world.

post-sister christmas

The week before Christmas, a conversation with Cohen:

Dripping with glee and restless anticipation, “Dad, I am so excited about Christmas. Every year Keaton let’s me sleep in her room and we stay up and talk and snuggle and we’re so excited we can’t go to sleep and and…” trailing-off into exuberant gibberish with the biggest smile.

Then with a visible pause, smile fading, head cocked in that something-just-came-to-me thoughtful posture, he looks at me and says, “Dad, will Keaton even be hear next Christmas?”

Oh, I see where we’re going. “Well buddy, regardless of what Keaton chooses to do after highschool, most kids come home to spend Christmas with their families, so I would say ‘yes’ she’ll be here.”

“But, it won’t be her room anymore really…” a little sad.

Seeing he’s still processing, I don’t offer a response… just waiting…

With a slowly spreading smile, “Well, I will invite her to spend the night in my room.”


stretch, read, cook

I like to say I “don’t really do new year resolutions,” but in truth I effectively do.

In the typically slower couple of weeks around the time when you take one calendar down and put up another, I tend to think about habits. Habits I formed in the elapsing year and habits I’d like to form in the coming one.

Looking back (and not having to turn my head all that much) to 2023, I am most proud of my new commuting routine of cycling to work. Come March 2024 I’ll have been riding to work for a full year, missing only a handful of days here and there due to weather or midday commitments requiring a combustion engine. One hour of elevated heart-rate each weekday, twelve miles round-trip.

As accomplished as my new cycling habit makes me feel, it was not a habit I set out to establish at the end of 2022. In fact, I only really consciously took two goals for the now-rearview year, as documented in my January 2023 post here. What’s more, I was 100% successful on both. I managed all our vehicle oil changes as well as last year’s taxes.

So cycling was a bonus. It wasn’t the only one, I also made conscious efforts to cook more, to share our performance-to-budget with the family at least 3x/year, and to have at least one date-night with Sharaun each month. While not grand goals in any sense, I’m happy that I was successful establishing those habits as well.

This year, then, I am aiming similarly low (read: achievable), writing down three smaller habits I hope to develop for the year:

  • Stretch for at least 5min at least 3 days/week, focusing on hips/core
  • Get back to regularly reading for fun, with a goal to finish minimum 6 books
  • Cook dinner for the family at least 3 days/month

I expect the last two bullets to come fairly easily, but the first one will be tough. Tough for all the reasons I’ve written about why exercise/physical habits are hard for me here before.

But, gotta try.