The boys were born in 1998, the boys changed our family quickly. The first year is still a blur after their arrival. Between building a new house and feeding the boys every four hours that summer was lost, so was that spring. We moved in the summer of 1998 to our new house on Willowcove in Mt. Airy Cincinnati Ohio. That move was tough, with two tiny boys, a house being built and me working. It stretched us really thin. Luckily Barb wasn’t working and that have been the one thing that saved us. Well that and Jakki actually feeding both boys! I have a great picture of her with both of them propped next to her on the couch, managing their bottles. It was during that first year that we made a decision to move back to Indiana to be closer to family. Barb’s folks, Barb’s Brother and my family all came and helped but when you are hours away it is hard to come and stay, or to pop in for a quick visit. So even though we had just finished the house in Willowcove and added a pool, we decided to move back to Indianapolis.
The transition back to Indiana was hard for everyone. We had friends, activities and things to do in Cincinnati. We weren’t moving back to the city we both (Barb and I) grew up in. That was Bloomington, and another 45 miles south of where we ended up moving to Greenwood. After two houses (one we built) in Cincinnati we knew what we wanted in a house. We were looking for a house with a large open area on the main level. We found it! We’ve actually had a house with a large open area on the main level ever since. I guess it is our signature house thing now. Again if Barb hadn’t been home and able to manage the transition to Indiana I think things would have been crazy. As it is moving companies came and moved us twice in less than a year. Once between neighborhoods in Cincinnati and the second time back to Greenwood Indiana. It was nice however, being less than two blocks from my sisters house.
Life is a journey. From where you start to where you end up. In finding your own path you will come to many intersections where others join you for a time. The essence of family is being able to stay connected even when you are on a completely different road. The simple act of reaching out, helping and connecting makes a family. Be it so simple as a birthday card every year, or a Christmas gift each year that connection is part of family. That is what we moved back to Indiana to not only give to the boys and girls but also to make sure we had some connection as well. It was a journey that presented many changes. But it is a journey I would take in a heartbeat. The choices we made were what in the end got us where we are. Happiness is knowing you did your best.
Harry Chapin wrote a number of amazing songs. There are two that I hear and resonate with. One was from his Album Living Room Suite and is the story of a little boy who saw all the colors, but the teacher told him that flowers are only red. So the boy stopped seeing flowers in every color and became like every other student. The other is his song The Cat’s in the Cradle. The song starts out with the line a child arrived, just the other day, he came to the world in the usual way. They didn’t, the two, in our living room last night. They came on a tough path. We thought we would lose both of them for a time. Then one of them. But either way it was not a usual entrance into this grand world. They are not perfect but I am so proud of them. Last night was senior prom. It hardly seems like yesterday but it has been a 19 year journey that started in Cincinnati Ohio. My discovery of what was coming next happened in Toronto Canada, but we will get to that in just a bit. For now, we return to Western Hills, a suburb of Cincinnati Ohio and the year is 1997.
The first time we decided to expand our family was Jakki. Born in 1992, Jakki was an amazing baby. She slept through the night. Barb was working a job that was about 100 hours a week at times as a video producer and due to an event that happened at my parents house (Jakki hurt her knee and ran past my mother, my two-sisters and my wife, to me for comfort) Barb left her video production job and came home to be with the kids. Since there was only one kid at that time, Barb started dropping hints about adding a third child to the mix (Becca, Jakki and a baby). We decided in early 1997 to start trying for an addition to our family. We though three was a nice round number. It was the same number of kids that my parents had. It was one more than Barb’s parents had with her and her brother so to us it seemed perfect.
A group of the parents got together for safety and rented a party bus for the kids. It seemed safer than sending them out in cars and hoping nothing bad happened. As we milled around with the parents, there were a lot of parents there, sending our children off to prom it felt like than that. It felt like we were letting go of our children and they would return as adults. Perhaps the transition has, had already begun and we did not see it. Oh I know it happened already, that they stopped being little boys that arrived in Cincinnati Ohio. Or the little boys that went to their first day of school in Indiana. The tears shed as they drove off in the party bus were from their mother. Just as the tears of joy when they were born were from their mother. The tears shed as they wandered off to school that first day, also shed by their mother. She wasn’t only the only teary parent there last night as we bid them adieu.
Many years ago in the time period that the original American Colonies existed, people made quilts. They would have what were called quilting bees, gathering together in a social group to put together the many squares of a quilt. My mother started making quilts many years ago now, it was her hobby. It became a family obsession. My childhood memory is of boating on Lake Ripley. It is of standing on the dock and fishing, or taking the boat out into the lake to catch fish. It is of golfing with my grandfather or playing Jeopardy with my grandmother. I have items from that long ago past that are treasures for me. My children, my nieces and nephews have treasures from their their grandparents as well. Gaining love of knowledge and quilts! There was a time we could not travel even the shortest distance without one of Grandma’s quilts!
So pictures of the people and places of the long ago past. My grandfather and his father built the houses and cabins on the property that sat on Sleepy Hollow Rd. The house that Grandpa and Grandma lived in sat on the actual road, with a long yard that flowed down to the lake. That flowing was a great hill for sledding. There were many houses that didn’t have wide panoramic views of the lake, they were built very close to the lake. But Grandpa, and Great-Grandpa built both houses on the top of the hill. The house that was always a cabin when I was a child, was originally my great-grandfather’s house. The old black and white images from 50 years ago have held up nicely. It seems funny now, that 50 years has passed. That time has washed away the beach we used to play at. We vacationed at Lake Ripley one summer, after Jakki was born. After my grandmother had passed away probably 1993. We drove from Cincinnati to Indiana to meet the rest of the family and then we all caravanned to Cambridge!
Wisconsin was a huge part of my childhood. From visiting the Dells (in the northern/middle part of the state) to visiting the lake. To later visiting Racine the trips were there. The memories are fuzzy though. There are many pictures of me sitting on my grandfather Andersen’s lap, but I have so few memories of him now. He passed away in 1972. My mother’s parents Grandpa and Grandma Johnston I have so many memories of from the years past. I spent a lot of summers there on Lake Ripley. It is, a huge part of my childhood and I remember it fondly. It was and remains a huge part of what I was and who I am. Wisconsin was an impact on me! From Summer Sausage to Salami Cheese, golf, lake Ripley, Lake Michigan and the Wisconsin River (at the Dells) the state holds so many memories and recollections!
In downtown Washington DC is a place called the Mall of America. The mall has many wonderful places to wander and see. From the Vietnam War Memorial, the Korean War Memorial and the WWII memorial, the Lincoln Monument, Washington Monument and Jefferson monument are all within walking distance. You can see the US Capital and the Whitehouse, plus many historic buildings that house government agencies and some even have tours. All of this available just off the Metro Central station, a short walk. On one side of the mall of America sits the Smithsonian Museums. There are many museums in the Smithsonian System. From Natural history to modern art, it is both an extensive collection of buildings, and an extensive presentation of the many wonders of our world.
Without a doubt, not even a question, my favorite of all the places there on the mall of America is the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum. I first went when I was around 10 years old. I have been many times since then to both museums (they have a larger one at Dulles International Airport. In that one they have larger planes). Both of the Air and Space museums are amazing places to stop and wander. The Smithsonian’s offer free admission. Both air and space museums are open, the larger one near Dulles Airport being literally a hanger of the past used to store airplanes then, and to display airplanes now! The one right off the mall of America is a beautiful building.
The museum houses spacecraft that have left the surly bonds of earth and returned safely. It also has airplanes that were the first (the first to fly across the Atlantic the Spirit of St. Louis) to do something. It has the fastest airplane ever built (The SR-71 built by Lockheed Martin). I love wandering the Air and Space museum, it is a connection with my father. He loved NASA, long before I was born he was engaged and interested in what lies beyond. Sometimes when I wander museums I know dad is still with me. I can hear him telling me to read the historical markers.
I am the stranger sometimes,
I am the lost fragment
of the one stone
that pieced back together
makes the puzzle whole.
You know me.
Standing in a corner by myself,
my hat pulled low
you can see my eyes
from the shadows of my hat
but little else.
Do you remember me?
I was there
standing but no one saw.
I am not the whispers
the quiet desperation
“he was there, over there, I saw him.”
That fear belongs to another shape
another cupped hand.
I am the memory of the echoing hellos.
I am the cupped hand you never see.
if you look closely in the mirror.
The Boggs brother balloon company.
I am the eye of the hurricane
listen and you hear
it is unnerving. I am
the presence of one hand clapping.
the sound of waiting
there should be more
the whistle of a tea kettle
and a book laid gently on a table.
I am the eye of the hurricane
and in me no sound escapes.
knock on my door
no one will hear.
I am the wind within the vacuum.
I am the grain of sand
hidden on the beach.
I am the silence
I am the center.
Swirling around me,
louder and louder
yet silent and eerie
I am the eye of the hurricane.
I cannot be caught.
Yet I am trapped
We moved to a house in Maryland first that we rented. It was in a community called the Kentland’s. The first part of the journey was getting from Indiana to Maryland. That was a major effort. Barb was finishing up her Masters at IUPUI, and the only thing she had left was a practicum, that was supposed to be a year. She actually managed to find, and land the require internship in Maryland otherwise she was going to have to rent an apartment and stay in Indiana for a year to finis that internship. Then we had the process of actually moving the entire house. We had done that three times before by that point. Moving from Bloomington Indiana to Cincinnati Ohio in June 1991. Then moving within Cincinnati a few times the last to our house in Willowcove.
We then moved from Cincinnati back to Indiana (Greenwood) to be closer to family. I was then traveling for work, and moving to Greenwood got Barb support from my family, and later from her family as they moved back to Indiana as well. We then packed our bags and head off to Maryland. The last was actually the hardest because after 18 years of owning a home (and fixing everything) we decided we were going to lease the house for a couple of years. Little did we know the nightmare we would soon encounter. There are good leasing companies all around. There are also bad ones. We ended up renting in a very nice neighborhood from a company that seemed professional and caring. They were neither, but that was our first lesson. It had been nearly 20 years by then since we had rented/leased and we had forgotten many things.
The best part, the thing that captured our eyes when we looked at the house in the Kentland’s was the open living room area. It seemed huge (it was) and had enough open space for our bookshelves, our pool table and our couch and TV. It became the center of the house. That was where we gathered in the evening. If only, after months of begging, the leasing company had ever actually fixed something we might have stayed there. Around the corner from the house was a small park. Maryland likes to have what they call Greenways (green areas between and amongst hosue to remind people that the world was green, first). In the greenway near the hosue was an old stone quarry. Jakki and I spent a day snapping pictures of the quarry. Why? I don’t know, we just decided to do that!
Wanderer and historian…
Wave jumping, Oak Island North Carolina. There is something about the ocean, maybe it is the salt water. Maybe it is the sheer size of the ocean. Maybe it is the waves. I am sure there are a thousand reasons why the beach is amazing. Even on an overcast day in August 2014. A lot happened that year, the worst year I have experienced as a person. In rapid order three events happened that changed not only how I faced each day, but what I did every day. How that day started, how things were done all changed in the span of March to June 2014. We needed this vacation. To get away from the reality of where we were. We returned to the beaches of North Carolina. To relax on the beach for a week and collect a measure of control again. We found out that our water dog, that had joined us just two months before, Raven (formerly known as Raleigh) didn’t like water. We had, over the course of the 4 months she had been with us become aware of a dislike of running water, it applied we found to the Ocean as well.
She did eventually by the middle of the week warm up to the Ocean. But at first she wasn’t going to go into that water! I had gotten a new digital camera and I am sharing the pinkish hue I created pictures with before I realized my error. No, I do not view the world through rose colored glasses, although based on the pictures taken and shared today that is a fair assessment of my current state. There are a number of pictures of the kids cajoling Raven to try the water. Dylan walked right in, didn’t both him at all. It did bother him later when mom made me stand outside our rented apartment and get his feet sprayed off. Then he didn’t like water.
The good news is these images can be fixed. My ego not so much. I knew better than not checking the pictures but I didn’t check anyway. I realized when we got home and I dumped the pictures over to a computer that they were all infected with Pink hue! Rose Colored Oak Island North Carolina. Now, all said and done, based on the rules of the family history project set arbitrarily by me, I had to share them. There are so many pictures that live in the world unseen. At least some of them have to be ok!
As a child my parents took my sisters and I to Mount Vernon. Know as the long time home of George Washington, the first President of the United States, the person most often called the “Father” of our country. Shortly after we moved to the DC area I took the kids to Mount Vernon. We explored the entire facility. First of all I learned, which I probably knew from my first journey but is not what I remember about Mount Vernon then. George Washington was an agricultural innovator. When people talk about the founding fathers of our country usually it is Thomas Jefferson that is said to be the innovator. Washington actually was very interested in how to improve agriculture on his farm as well as for the entire nation!
He tried many different garden styles and combinations on his estate. That reminded me of my father. My dad tried many different styles of gardens over the years. He would visit a country and return with a new idea for the garden. Washington only visited Europe, but he read ideas put forth by other people about improving the process and concepts of agriculture in America! The gardens at Mount Vernon are laid out as close to the way Washington left them as is possible.
I had a blast wandering the grounds and seeing Mt. Vernon. It was without a doubt an amazing day for me. If you ask the kids they would probably tell you the best part of the day was stopping at the 5 guys on the way home for burgers (grilled chasse for Jakki she doesn’t like burgers) and a swing at the new fangled soda machine that was fun to watch the kids figure out. I think we actually saw the majority of the estate that day. We wandered to the lower gardens, we wandered inside the amazing mansion (you have to have a set time for your tour, there are so many people that want to crowd in) and we saw the flower gardens.
One of the most remarkable things about taking a family vacation to someplace far from home is the fact that you feel rested and relaxed until you have to leave. Then you need a couple of days to get back into the concept of working. The transition from family only time to work and family time is exhausting. Getting back from Hawaii was an 11 hour flight for us. It was less air time for the rest of the family but their flights had stops, so they took nearly as long or longer. Except for the Seattle bound person that had a direct Alaska Air flight! Delays on flights is what used to get me back when I was flying every week. One delay cascaded into an hour, two hours or more. It always bothered me on the way home, when a flight was missed or a delay caused me to sit and wait in an airport far from home. Our flight from Hawaii back to the mainland was delayed coming, and delayed going home. That didn’t bother me as much, my family was with me!
In 2008 when just the two of us went to Hawaii for our first trip there together, we were on one of the islands we didn’t visit during on 2015 family expedition. The island of Lanai, that was once owned by Dole and was called Pineapple island. We actually, in 2015, spent a day at the Dole Pineapple plantation (I have the baseball cap to prove it). It was an enjoyable afternoon. Hawaii is a wonderful get away for the family! Horseback riding on Lanai is still one of the all time favorite vacation moments. I did love the Dole Pineapple plantation as well that was fun. Going to the Macadamia nut farm was also an amazing experience. We enjoyed the Macadamia nuts we brought home for several weeks. I really liked the chocolate covered ones, Plus the garlic flavored (we got garlic flavored in two varieties) were beyond amazing.
We also got to see Kool and the Gang live in 2008! They played a private concert just for all the folks there on the island It was a company award get away). There are a number of events that I recall form the first trip Barb and I took. I think my favorite was heading across to Oahu via ferry and having a wonderful dinner just the two of us. We sat on the roof of a restaurant and got to enjoy the setting sun and wonderful company. Those are the family memories that make flight delays easier. Otherwise, the delayed flights are painful. Sometimes you just have to grin and bear it, so having memories of places you have been while you are delayed on the way home, or the way to someplace new makes it a little easier!