Wander project The quilts of my mother!

My mother loves to say “It’s your memory.” The other phrase she loves to say other than turkey buzzard (that one is normally applied to another person or driver with you are an in front of it) is My pen, Rai. I suspect I’ve spelled it incorrectly as it is a phrase in Thai. It means loosely “it doesn’t matter.” That is the reality of memories. Those that are shared or common and the perception of what happened, my pen rai. They don’t matter now that they are in the past. What matters is truly the now. Memories not written down all those years ago, are suspect no matter who you are. No matter your recollection of the events, it is suspect. If there isn’t a video and there isn’t a picture, your memory is colored by time and bias.

That said, the pictures shared today are of some of my mother’s quilts. If you love quilts, you can find a number of the quilts my mother and her partners sell here. I would say I don’t sleep without one, but you would expect that. As I strive ever to be a dutiful son, it is important to support your parents. I will, however, share a different story about quilts. First off, don’t ask my mother to make a quilt you can change the oil of your car on. Having asked that question, she doesn’t like that. So I do not have a quilt to put on the ground for when I am changing the oil in my car. Of course, the other side of that argument is I haven’t changed the oil in my car in many many years.

My children sleep with the quilts. I remember there was a time when we would take them with us on vacation. Every driving event that was longer than two hours, the kids had one of Grandma’s quilts in the car with them. When my wife finished her master’s degree, my mother made her a specifically quilt (with a handwritten message on the back)! Each child got a quilt they started as youngsters when they graduated high school. Each quilt is magical. I have three quilts that are decorative hanging in the house that was made just for me. One is made of the this worn by the grandfather and father and includes their pictures. It hangs in the master bedroom of our house. The other two are sports-themed; one is a map of Indiana with Bloomington (home of IU!) pointed out. The other is Cubs quilt. Mom made that one for me after they won the world series in 2017. But I treasure every quilt mom has made. Those three just stand out as very special for me!


Family Historian

Wander project my cell phone memory!

The last few pictures I’ve taken. A couple are of the Keecker (had a hardware issue they fixed). The last couple is ones I’ve used in the 365-day challenge. I find myself focusing on having a picture every day for the challenge. I don’t always go back as often as I should and make sure the pictures I share in the challenge get moved to the various other picture shares. Part of the family history project was to share pictures that hadn’t been shared. At this point, because of size limits here on Virily, and the sheer volume of images we have, for 2017 we were at 1100 pictures shared and 2800 pictures taken. At that rate of publication, I will end up having to do the family history project for well, ever.

In fairness, as part of the family history project, I make copies of the pictures for my mother and sisters. Effectively I am sharing many more pictures than I am taking.

Some of the pictures I can’t share yet. Not that they are bad, rather some of the memories are still too painful. I will eventually get to the point where I can share those. It took me eight years after my grandfather died to watch for the hour-long tape my wife took of me asking him questions in my parents living room. We wanted to have a living history project at the time. My grandfather passed away two months after we took that video. I couldn’t watch it for many years. I can watch it now, but it still makes me sad.

All of this is part of the process for the family history imaging. My wife found some photo albums from her mother. We need to scan those pictures and add them to the Ralstin collection.

The 365-day photo challenge reminds me every day that it is important to share the images you take. I read posts on Virily and the web, and am amazed at the sheer quality of pictures and memories shared. It is amazing when you think about the number of pictures people share. I find I am always wondering what someone was thinking, and in reading their post, amazed at not only the thoughts but the images.

To the community of artists, photographers, and bloggers that I am a part of, thank you! All of you inspire me to share more!


Family Historian

Wander project International Hobbit Day (oh yeah and the hole in the yard!)

The hole.

A hole in the ground.

More a trench than a true hole. The trench dug because of a Lab. Raven, in particular. She is the great Chipmunk hunter. The equalizer or eliminator of Chipmunk domination. Without Raven’s intervention, there would be Chipmunks everywhere. Instead, they hide in our backyard. Apparently, for many years they, the Chipmunk nation had free reign of the drainpipe. Until Raven,  then they no longer had free reign. Plus, we no longer had a drainpipe. Every time it rained, the water was pouring off the roof, right into the footer of our house (bad). So the twins and I dug a trench there in the yard. The trench you’ll notice goes to the edge of the drain pipe. There was also a pipe (plastic) that stretched from the drain to the yard. We ended up burying the pipe. We connected it to the edge of the drainpipe from the roof and sealed it with dirt. I hope that is enough; you can see from the picture (the very first one) that we spent a lot of time digging the trench. We also didn’t spend a lot of time putting things back together and dumped grass seed on the spot we created.

The rest of the pictures are from the boat, but talking about the hole was more critical today. Plus hole’s and boats aren’t a good combination. You never want an unplugged hole in a boat. Plugged holes are often in powerboats (when they are going full speed water doesn’t come in the seacocks so having them open isn’t an issue).

Not, a hobbit hole. Just a hole on international Hobbit Day!

I should have done this three years ago. I didn’t. We shall see if this is enough to stop Raven. She can be a little stubborn.

A hole.

Not in the boat.

Just a hole in the ground.

Not, a hobbit hole just a hole hole.


LOTR Fanboy

Wander project Mushrooms :-)

Two different kinds of mushrooms. My wife asked how you knew which ones you could eat. I said take a bite. She hit me on the arm. I guess that wasn’t the answer she was looking for. I suspect she was looking for a different answer that taste tester. I wonder what it was that she wanted me to say. We will never know as that moment is now long past. Perhaps with the fickle fates of Facebook, she will comment upon this missive and provide us with a better sense of what she was looking for with the question. The impact of Florence was huge, mostly the storm surge which made it all the way up the Bay but also the amount of rain both from Florence but also from the other storms that have vexed us since July. The creed is high.

I suspect in the boating world we worry about things people don’t normally worry about. For example, stepping up to your boat from a dock is good, if your boat has an infrastructure and you get on it in the middle area. When your boat has a swim platform, and you have to step up from the dock to get on the swim platform that is a big thing. IT means the water is higher than normal!  We were doing maintenance and repairs yesterday. The wind was pretty brisk, and we didn’t feel like fighting all the waves. Instead, we focused on collecting electronics that needed to be charged, checking out the electronics of the boat overall and making sure everything was ship shape.

Then we relaxed and had a wonderful lunch.

As we were leaving, I took pictures of some mushrooms that were now sprouting on the hill that is at the end of the dock. There are three main buildings for the Marina. One is where the catering company and canvas company are located. The other is the bathhouse and office space. There are some sheds and a pool house area, but those aren’t buildings. The last building is the actual fuel dock and marina office, and it is located just on the other side of our slip.  I wonder if the mushrooms paid for their slip at the Marina?


family historian

Wander project Bloomington IN!

My Uncle, Aunt, and cousins came for the wedding, so the day after my mother hosted a brunch for everyone. My Uncle and Aunt were driving back to Wisconsin. My cousins were driving to Indy to catch planes back to Minnesota and Colorado. My wife and I were going to drive back to Maryland. My sister and her husband were driving back to Chicago. The bride and groom were getting ready to fly to California (the next day). My mother was staying put. My sister (mother of the bride) and brother-in-law were taking the truck full of all the furniture and stuff the bridge and groom would need in California (the groom is stationed in California). But the brunch was awesome.

I won’t spend a lot of time on the food, it was amazing. Thick cut bacon, grits with smoked sausage and many other traditional brunch foods. Brunch is always a fun meal. Many years ago, when, I was working in the restaurant world (and at that time thinking seriously about becoming a chef), I used to be the head cook for the best brunch in Bloomington (as voted on or selected by the Herald-Telephone, the local paper). We, the restaurant where I worked, did not serve a buffet brunch. Everything was made to order. Normally that means I spent Saturday afternoon preparing for the Next’s day’s serving. We would serve Quiche Lorraine and some other dishes.

Since we drove in, we weren’t asked to provide anything, so I didn’t have to make quiche for brunch. We probably should have made some but oh well. It was nice to relax, catch up and see people we don’t get to see often. The last time I had seen my son’s was nearly ten years before. I think that was also the last time I saw my Aunt and Uncle. My father’s sister (the last one remaining from that family) was not able to make the wedding. It would have been nice to see them as well. Texas to Indiana is a long drive. Still, it was a wonderful chance to see my cousins and my Aunt and Uncle. My sister looked relaxed as did my brother in law having survived the wedding. The bride and groom looked happy, but exhausted. Their lives beginning the next day with their trip to California.


family historian

Wander project the reception!

There was a lag between the wedding and the reception, as is a tradition. The new bride and new groom need to have some post-ceremony pictures. My sister had planned some activities, but sadly reality and rain interceded. We were trapped in the wonderfully decorated barn for the 45 or so minutes between the ceremony and the start of the reception. There was food available and a candy bar for the children. Candy and children isn’t often a good combination. They, the kids, were zooming shortly after the candy bar opened. It is, as a parent, fun to watch someone else’s kids zoom. You, as the non-parent, don’t have to do anything other than watch and smile!

The coolest part of the reception for me was the shoe game. The bride and groom sit back to back in chairs. The MC asks questions, and each one holds up the shoe of the person they believe answers that question. Who is a better driver (they both held up their shoes)? Who is the better cook (they both held up the groom’s shoes)? A fun wedding game that got everyone involved both the wedding party and the crowd. Enjoyed the game, and after that, it was time for food. My sister made all the food as I mentioned before, and it was amazing! Her pulled pork was dreamy. I am a huge fan of pulled pork anyway, and had it with and without BBQ sauce, delightful!

It was also wonderful to hang out with family and my bestie. It is something we don’t get to do as often as we would like, the two of us hanging out as the two of us. We are often, mom and dad, or exhausted working professionals trying to make it home at night. Sometimes you just have to be who you were. The nice thing about this particular event was that it was in Bloomington. We both grew up in, met in and left Bloomington. We ran into each other many times before finally realizing we were meant to be. We got to go to our favorite restaurant (where my wife worked when we were first dating) and just be a couple for a day (or three). Our only argument in the course of the three days was the one we’ve had for 27 years now, what plays on the car radio!


Family Historian

Wander project Bloomington IN

The wedding itself, finally after a few days of sharing various pre- and almost moments we get to the ceremony and the reception. Well, part of the reception. I have to say; my sister made the food for the wedding event? The food was amazing. Her pulled pork was divine! The mashed potato bar was a huge hit! The Iced Tea and lemonade were flowing like water. A lot of folks were doing the famous Arnold Palmer drink (a mix to the taste of Lemonade and Iced Tea). The ceremony was wonderful and helped all of us forget the rain falling. Or perhaps the rain created the rhythm for the event. The sound of raindrops making the cadence for the event.

A question that was asked on a previous wedding post reminded me of what it is we remember. What do I recall from the moments leading up to the actual ceremony? The first thing was the procession. The entire concept of a bridal procession is always interesting. The bridesmaids and the groomsmen all wander down the aisle. The procession itself is awe-inspiring, and then the bridge comes down the aisle. It is for a moment, breathtaking. The moment before the bridge was the flower girls. They were just the cutest. The ring bearer as well coming down the aisle. But as I said, the bride was the show stealer. The two of them standing there in front of the minister looked relieved. The long journey nearly complete.

The next moment I remember was one that tells of marriage itself. They, the bride and groom, we’re going to light a unity candle. First, they would see each light the candle that represented themselves, using those candles to light the candle that represented their union. The unity candle is a wonderful addition to any marriage ceremony it represents the joining of two, to create a third. The wind was so brisk that neither of the individual candles would stay lit. Without hesitation, the bride and groom simply took the lighters and lit the unity together. It was lit for a moment, the groom shielding it from the wind so the audience could see it burning brightly. Then the wind snuffed it out. But the moment representing the value of a couple. Sometimes, the most important thing for a couple is how you work together.


Family Historian