Thanksgiving visit to Tallahassee FL (2004ish)…


We went to see Barb’s parents and her brother in Tallahassee Florida in 2004. That’s Jay with one of the boys on his tractor. Jay and his wife (barb’s brother and sister-in-law) have a horse farm in Florida. It is a very cool place that they have built. I learned a couple of things this week.

1. Pigs like Marshmallows. Why I learned that is a story for another day. That fact that it makes me laugh explains more about me than anything. Labradors also like Marshmallows so I wonder if there is a correlation.

2. Time passes but family is always family.

3. I learned this morning that I cannot spell Tallahassee and I cannot spell Marshmallow. My inability to spell is however, not an unknown issue.


Barb’s parents lived in Bloomington Indiana for many years. They moved to Hot Springs Arkansas after retiring. When I met Barb they had lived in Hot Springs for a few years already. They moved to Tallahassee Florida for a number of reasons in the 2002 time period.They later moved to Franklyn Indiana. Barb’s brother Jay lived in Bloomington Indiana and then moved to Alabama and then Florida. Its interesting when you consider family patterns of moving. Barb and I, like the rest of her family have moved as well. Us first to Cincinnati and then to Maryland. I guess families are bound by interesting details. My sisters have stayed pretty close to Bloomington Indiana but they both moved considerably when they were young (Lynne was born in Chicago). Both of them moved to Thailand and back with the rest of us. That desire to move and see the world changes in you over time.


Jay and Elizabeth had a wonderful Thanksgiving meal prepared for us. The horse farm was actually being built, so they were still giving in the town of Tallahassee. They moved out to the farm early the next year (I think).  Jay has a daughter (Reed) who is a little younger than Jakki. Family is very important. You have to remember and honor your family. Yesterday (Memorial Day) is a day we’ve set aside to remember those who served and gave their lives in the defense of our freedoms. It is also a day to remember those who served, and those who built our nation. Families sometimes need to just stop and remember the parts of the family that made what was and what is to be. Families are a piece of us, a treasured set of memories we cannot let slip away. Every picture we take is a piece of us. Every picture we store is a part of us. But every picture we share with others is a memory.


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Why do Turkey’s run, and why did their running get a state park in Indiana?


Turkey Run State Park, Indiana. Here is the Bean. She’s had many names over the years. She joined us in November 1992. I can’t imagine the world without her smile, her laugh and her understanding. She is a dog whisperer. There were, as Barb and I were remembering yesterday also color phases. Jakki only wore purple one year. She wore only yellow another year. There were proper colors and of course she remains one of the 5 pickiest eaters the world has ever seen. Funny how a tiny child enters your life and becomes a huge force. You don’t think about the impact of a baby being huge other than the lost time. But the impact of a child goes far beyond the time you spend. The impact of a child is something you treasure. It can be painful when they wander off the path you think they should be on. But it isn’t your job to keep them on the path it is your job to release them into the wild!


Children bring a sense of wonder to your life. But they also bring fear. We almost lost Nick when he was born. Not right away but he was very sick shortly after being born. Jakki was also very sick when she was 2 in both cases we were wrecked. I can’t imagine or even remember how we made it through those two times. I remember sitting in the hospital room with Jakki as they gave her medicine at two in the morning. Those of us who know Jakki know the needle rule (as in keep that damn needle away from me). So it was traumatic. For Nick we split up. Barb stayed at the hospital so he was not alone and I watched Luke, Jakki and Becca. It was the toughest time. Visiting the hospital took coordination and the other two weren’t allowed in for the four days Nick was back in the NICU. It was hard to tell Jakki she couldn’t go in. She was already attached to both of them.


Last Luke, born 10 minutes ahead of Nick. The two of them are amazing. Of course they had an amazing big sister. I see so much of Jakki in the two of them. She was always there for them. From a very early age she told them what to do and they did it. Luke is the more talkative of the two. He has a keen mind and sees the world as an opportunity. He is very good, excellent even in converting thoughts to words when talking. Funny that Nick is better at writing thoughts than Luke. Luke is better at speaking thoughts than Nick. They compliment each other and yet are completely different people. All these pictures taken at Turkey Run State Park in the early 2002 range. Actually probably closer to 2000 or 2001 as the boys are not a lot more than 2 or 3 years old in these pictures. Barb stayed at home while they were little. It was hard on her to be home, but we agreed it was what the kids needed. She gave up so much to help the kids get started. Its why mother’s day is such a big deal in our house.


Family Historian

(I couldn’t resist here is one more with all of the kids)


We went to a festival only to find it was infested with twins (joke- kidding).


In 1999 we traversed Ohio to a town called Twinsburg. It was founded surprisingly by a set of Twins. I would guess that someday the boys might go again but the one time was enough for the rest of us. If you think one set of twins is scary, try being in a parade with more than 4000 sets of twins, triplets and multiples. The town has the festival every single year. Again once was enough for the boys, but we still have the picture. We ended up leading a section of the parade. We wandered through the town of Twinsburg Ohio. Twinsburg is just South of Cleveland. We ended up moving out of Cincinnati Ohio later that fall (in October). The festival is usually around the first week of August, and last year (2015) was actually the 40th anniversary.


I have to say over the years that Barb has gotten quite adept at managing two children at once. (I hope I have but who knows). She was always prepared when we went on trips like the one in the Twinsburg pictures here. She had wipes, diapers and changes of clothing. When Jakki was little, she would get car sick on the way to Indiana. So she always arrived in a new outfit. I have to say now that maybe she was just wanting a new outfit and forced herself to get sick. (kidding Jakki). By the time the boys were this age we were rolling along. We were ready for twins. We collected two of everything. Now they are very different people and it is very funny to me how much difference there is. But then it was about being prepared.


Long days back then became long naps. I miss the quiet of those long naps. Actually I really, for the most part, enjoy the kids more now that they are older. There is something to talk about, to converse about and the conversations are more alive. I miss hugs from the bubbies where they were little. Or falling asleep on the couch to be awakened by a twin on top of me, having jumped on me off the back of the couch. Teaches you not to fall asleep, to be ever vigilant. Now we have things we can discuss and sometimes we have things to debate. We don’t always agree but arguing and defending your position is an important part of growing up. If you can’t defend your position in a non-emotional argument, your position needs work. Everyone should be able to argue points without emotion. So I try to teach the boys that every day (Jakki as well). Argue the idea presented. Argue the thoughts. Never argue the person.


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Memories of Twinsburg Ohio

Family trip to Racine Wisconsin 2001….


Images from our 2001 family vacation.The image is from Lake Michigan. We went up to Racine to see my Grandmother Andersen. The entire clan wandered our way out of Indiana and into Wisconsin. We were there in June or July. It was right around the time that I was just beginning to travel for work. I had my first international business trip in 2000 (Amsterdam) and had just started flying all over the Central Region of the US. This was the last time we would see my Grandmother Andersen. Mom and dad went up several more times, but this was our last family trip to see her. Grandma A lived 20 more years than Grandpa Ole did, but she was much younger than he was when they married.


Here is a chunk of the family I won’t do all the names. Grandma was in her 90’s at this point. She was still living on her own the first trip we took up to Wisconsin when Jakki was little. That would have been 1993. She was living with my great Aunt Martha at that time. Later in a retirement and care facility. My memories of my grandmother Andersen are different. I remember her not cooking, so when Lynne and I were old enough to cook, and visiting her, we would cook. She always had dogs, I remember the dogs. I love dogs so I would talk tot hem. She lived with Great Aunt Mart for many years after Grandpa died. She also lived in 1/2 a Duplex that was shared with my Aunt Dorothy and my cousins Kristin and Ricky.


I’ve blogged about this day before. The event that occurred this particular day that remains stuck in my mind. In fact to this day it is true. Back then you had to ask Nick to hug people goodbye. He would by nature stand back and not participate in goodbyes. But when he said goodbye to his great-grandmother he gave her a hug and then a kiss on the cheek. He never kissed people on the cheek and it was amazing. As if at 3 years old he knew this was somebody really important. I think that everyone stopped for a second all of us knew Nick kiss people often. It was one of those moments you stop and pause and know that you are with family and all is right with the world.


Family Historian

French Lick Indiana 2004


Oh geez Dad is off on another of his stories. Hey dad, we’ve heard this one before. Nick and Luke, French Lick Indiana 2004. The resort (and now there is also a casino) at French Lick is one of my favorite weekend get always. First off because once upon a time it was the place all the Chicago Mobsters went. The water near French Lick has healing powers or so the legend goes. They also have an amazing train museum and an actual working train you can ride along tracks no longer used commercially.  When I was younger I thought about being a chef. I applied for an was accepted to the West Baden Indiana branch of the CIA. (Culinary Institute of America) West Baden is located right next to French Lick and is where the other hotel (Long abandoned) sits.


Jakki in 2004. She is a unique kid. Not afraid of the world and not afraid to tell you that you are wrong. I am really proud of her. Jakki is a person that has many talents (like her mother) and sometimes based on that she struggles. When you can do a lot of things, picking one is hard. But when she is determined to get something done it happens.This image from French Lick still our vacation that spring was a trip down to French Lick. We used to, as I have said over and over (according to Nick’s face above) we used to take small weekend trips to the many state parks around Indiana. Or as I have already said Barb and my favorite, French Lick. Now we focus on Beach Vacations. I guess you go where you can where you are.


The majestic hotel in West Baden Indiana was once a marvel. It has the most amazing history as well. From failed renovations to hosting car shows, the hotel has seen a lot. It was abandoned for many years, after a failed renovation stripped the hotel of all its interior finery. Recently brought back to life, it is once again open but we haven’t been. Perhaps someday, but as I said (I know Nick, I will stop boring you by repeating) we are focused on beaches and water now for vacations. Its funny the evolution of your children from can we go somewhere with you? To what, you want us to go somewhere with you and be seen in public with you? That is cruelty. Why are you torturing us?


Family Historian

2000 a vacation with no cell phones. It was tough then, I wonder if I could do it now…


There is a get away lake in the middle of “northern” Indiana called Wasatch. It has limited cellular connectivity no landlines and no technology. Fishing cabins are located on one side of a lake (man made). We spent a weekend there with the whole family. It was in 2000 and the fall. The place is beautiful and everyone got to relax. We had three of the cabins for our growing families. It was difficult to disconnect then, it is much harder now. When you have the world at your finger tips, letting the world go can be a huge ask. 16 years ago the boys were tiny (2 years old) the world of connectivity was just stretching its legs. Technology would expand and explode in just a couple of years after that vacation. But for that weekend, we were able to disconnect. To remove ourselves from the world of connection and for a time just be people.


Spontaneous humor, hear, see, say no evil. All of them sitting on a bench as we rowed by. The only powerboats on the lake were for the owners. I guess they didn’t like to row. I don’t mind rowing or paddling. You get there which is the goal of any trip right, to get there. It isn’t about the speed but the destination. Unless, sadly, you spend all the time you have on the journey and have nothing left to enjoy before you have to turn around and head back home again. Or back to the short. Or back to anywhere because the journey is over. Sometimes though, when the moment is right the journey is the goal. The path to the destination is as much a goal as the journey. Picking the right path, finding the right way as much the answer as the steps taken or the water rowed (or paddled). To be where you were meant to be.


This is of my father and my nephew. Starting/tending a fire. We took the kids fishing on that trip. No one really caught anything but it was an introduction. I learned to fish at Lake Ripley. Fishing is a personal sport, one of patience and quiet. I am looking forward to fishing in the Chesapeake Bay. Not for the challenge, but for the relaxation that happens when I go fishing. I also love fires outdoors. The smell of burning wood is relaxing. We have a fire pit on our patio and there are times into he spring when it is cold that we use the fire pit instead of the grill to cook dinner. Or roast marshmallows. Labradors love marshmallows, roasted or raw they actually don’t care. Actually I think Labs love being included in the pack. Part of the pack process is sharing. The alpha making sure that all the pack members get some food. Or its that they look for the biggest soft touch. Either way our Labs are usually clustered around me at meal times.


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The 100 acre woods and lamenting neighborhood rules…


The IMA (Indiana Museum of Art) was given a large plot of land when it was founded. For many years that land sat unused. In the mid 2005 range they began a project they called the 100 acre woods. Fitting for an art museum to embark on a project from a beloved children’s book. To create a woods like the woods of Winnie the Pooh. Now in fairness I love Pooh but my favorite bear stories were those of Paddington Bear. I always like saying deepest , darkest, Lima Peru. Our first house in Cincinnati had a Paddington Bear room, it became Jakki’s room.  I used to read the Paddington Bear stories to my little sister. It was as much fun for me as it was for her. I had an to read the books, and she got someone to read to her. I am not as good about strictly reading books about fire cats however, as I wandered a little away from the story of Pickles the Fire Cat when it read that to Jakki years later.


They opened the new outdoor art gallery right before (the summer before in fact) we left Indianapolis. So we spent a warm summer day there in 2010. We had a blast. The exhibits (outdoor) were tremendous. Parking was a bear. I’ve written about this day before so not a lot more to share other than we had a great time. I love going to art museums. I find each one is a unique journey. I love to try and grasp the message of the painter’s work. Or, and often I miss the actual message, I love to create my own. Playing games with the faces to borrow from Paul Simon. Art is an appreciation, a connection that you create with someone that someone else created. I enjoy great music, and great music can be of any variety. I enjoy great art works. Sculpture, painting, mosaics, all are unique and all are something I enjoy viewing. I am not good at physical art, myself. I love look at it and enjoy trying to figure out the message. But I am not good at creating physical art.


One of the worst decisions I ever made. For several years we had a trampoline in the back yard. We spent as much time policing the trampoline (not from our kids) as we did enjoying it. Our rule was one kid on at a time. We had a few neighborhood boys whose philosophy was, rules aren’t real. So we spent a lot of time policing the trampoline. There was one young man I wish we had banned, but his parents wouldn’t have cared if we had. Sad I guess in the end. One of the nice things about our new house is we have a tall wooden privacy fence. I wish we had that in Indiana. It wasn’t allowed by the HOA, I think that was a mistake. It would have kept the yards much quieter than they ended up being. It is probably a good thing I never sat on the HOA board. I would have changed that rule pretty quickly.


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Fleeting memoires and one’s I wish I had…

Aunt Dorothy, Uncle Rick and Karl (the dog)

Image taken by my grandfather Andersen along the Wisconsin River in 1968. My first memories of the Dells are fuzzy and I am never quite sure which is a memory and which is a memory addition. Over time you combine memories and add things you wish happened to the original memory creating the memory addition. I remember a huge house, but I know having gone back to see the house many years later it wasn’t that big. I was small. So my memories early of Wisconsin Dells are of a big house with a porch and the basement. In the basement there were pictures (one of them exists today and is in Nick’s room of my grandfather in the Infantry around the time of WWI).  I think there was a saddle and saddle bags. I know the saddle bags existed I have those. I may have added the saddle. Truly I have very fleeting memories of a man that the family history project revealed was around and in my life considerably when I was little. There are 50 pictures of my grandfather Andersen and I together but I have so few memories. I have a warm feeling when I see his picture. A joy knowing that he was there but now a sadness because I have no framework around that.


My father’s oldest sister, Barbara, taught my father and my grandfather about photography. Dad loved taking pictures because of his sister (yes we have many generations of Barbara in our family.) I think now, thinking about it, mom shared with me that my Aunt Barbara taught dad and grandpa, its they both loved photos so much. They loved Barbara. She was taken from us far too young. My only memory fragment of her is sick in bed, later I would connect the dots and realize that she died very soon after my memory fragment. I can’t her life with her death because I didn’t know her that well. But father loved his sister. He had three sisters. My Aunt Dorothy, who dad really didn’t get along with for many years. My Aunt Patty, who was and is a dear part of my life. She is incredibly funny and helped me out when I was starting out as a school teacher. Finally my Aunt Barbara. I know from the memory fragment that I met her at least once. But that’s is all I have on that one.


My all time favorite picture was taken by my grandfather Andersen. It is a picture near in fact this very beach on the Wisconsin River in the Dells. Near this very sand. Just in fact a little to right of this picture. It is picture of me as a small child and my father. It was taken with love. It shows the love of a father for a son. Of a son for a father. Perhaps it even explains my great love of water. It was a moment when my grandfather andersen was around. But I have no memories of that photo. Other than seeing it and knowing it was taken by my grandfather of me and my father. Three generation of Andersen males one taking two standing. All of us bound by the middle initial O in our names (Oliver, Oliver, O for me). My middle initial is O, my name is not Oliver so we shall leave it at that. I remember the slip and slide we had in the front yard at Sycamore Knolls. Sliding down the front yard for hours until dad came home and saw we were ruining his grass and made us put it away. It was only allowed out occasionally after that to avoid permanent lawn damage. I remember my room and spilling paint all over the floor. I remember making spaghetti with mom. A mess all over the kitchen. I remember fighting with dad about the stupidest things. But I cannot remember the man who was there, clearly there in so many pictures, other than fragments. Tiny memories of someone who matters to me.

It isn’t enough.

All these pictures and I have many more, were taken by Henry Oliver Andersen. Mason, Veteran, Father, Grandfather, Cobbler.


Family Historian

On pools and big cities, moving away from Bloomington Indiana


I have to say the one great thing about our neighborhood is that we have a great neighborhood pool. Great because I don’t have to spend the last three weekends of may getting the pool ready for the years. We built two pools (I know didn’t learn the first time). Our first pool was smaller in Cincinnati Ohio. We then went a little bigger after we moved to Greenwood. Since moving to Maryland we’ve lived in neighborhoods with pools and it makes all the difference. Unlike Indiana though, few neighborhoods here have basketball courts. They all have tennis courts and pools but no basketball courts. Even the sport complex (The Soccer Plex) that is a massive sports facility with 20 soccer fields (Cricket, a water park, and indoor tennis and indoor/outdoor swimming) doesn’t have basketball courts. I find that such a change from Indiana where every barn had a hoop (or so it felt like to me).


These two pictures slightly different including the new fountain we tried in 2010. I think over the years we tried 4 different ones. Each of them was interesting but effectiveness was always the problem. Like I said I do not miss pool maintenance. Having a large backyard I don’t miss either. Someone has to mow it. Our yard is small and with the new patio there isn’t much yard left, just enough for the dogs to run around in. It is a very different world in the ‘burbs of a big city. When you live near a medium to large city things are much different overall. I remember complaining about traffic that delayed me an hour. It felt like forever when that happened driving around Indianapolis. Now there are days I wish it were only an hour. I guess as you move around your perspective and expectations change.


My crew. I am so proud of all of them. On the far left my dog walking superstar Jakki. Then we have the amazing Lucas! Next to Lucas is the equally amazing Nick! And finally, the now fully licensed Maryland Social Worker, and my partner for the last 25 years Barb. This image taken on our family vacation to Indiana Dunes in 2010. Barb loves beaches so we have often vacationed near the water (now we get to vacation on the water). This trip ended up being our last summer vacation in Indiana. The next summer time we spent in Indiana wasn’t vacation. Both Barb and I grew up in Bloomington Indiana. We both loved growing up in that wonderful little university town, but we both longed to be somewhere else. Barb left Bloomington (she was born there) when she was 19 and moved to Arizona for a year. I was born in Chicago and missed being near a big city the entire time I was in Bloomington. I didn’t realize I missed the hustle and bustle of the city until we moved to Cincinnati Ohio. Bloomington is a unique experience. I love going back to see my sister and mother who still live there. But it is now going back. I was born in a big city. To me its where I belong.


City boy…

A visit to King’s Island and memories of happy and sad events…


This crew loves amusement parks. I have to be honest when I was thinner I loved them, when I was heavier not as much. So this summer we will have to see which camp I end up in. The roller coasters kill my back so I think my favorite ride now is the park bench in front waiting for the rest of the crew. This from outside King’s Island in 2009. We went back 10 years after leaving Cincinnati for a family outing. We used to go to King’s Island 4 or 5 times a year when we live in Cincinnati. Barb is a roller coaster addict. I think she has ridden about every major roller coaster in the Midwest. This spring is a number of anniversaries that are coming (a couple have already passed). The first is the anniversary of Fran’s passing (our Lab) The three big ones coming up are June 1, the day 25 years ago that Barb and I moved away from our Childhood’s and haven’t looked back as we moved to Cincinnati Ohio. The next one is a lot harder and is the passing of my father in early June. Finally June 15 is the anniversary of 25 years of marriage.


I don’t mean to sound wistful and sad. Its just that over time you collect a number of good and bad memories about time periods. Memories that stay with you until you wrap them up and make them part of who you are. You can’t move past anger without accepting that no matter how angry you are  about something it wasn’t the other person’s fault. You are partially responsible and need to be accountable. The same is true for the sad memories that float around you. You have to own them. To stop on the anniversary of the sad memory and recall happy things about that event or person. My father taught me how to read. My dad taught me how to throw a baseball. My grandfather taught me about boats and how to golf. Fran was there protecting her girl when I couldn’t be there. She protected the whole family when I couldn’t be there.


Nick and I climbed to the top of the Eiffel Tower at King’s Island an.took pictures from up on top.





We lived off in that not to far distance at our last apartment in Cincinnati Ohio. We (Barb and I) started out with Becca in a Townhouse in Fairfield. When Jakki was on the way we moved to a two bedroom apartment in Maineville Ohio (just South of King’s Island) and then after Jakki arrived, Becca, Jakki, Barb and I moved to our hosue on Shafer Avenue. in Western Hills. My grandfather came and spent a week with us at that house. Our last house in Cincinnati Ohio was WillowCove, which was in Mt. Airy. The last move in Cincinnati was the first entire family move with Barb, Becca, Jakki, Nick, Luke and Gwen all moving at once. Seems like only yesterday that all of us were together.


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