wander project wander to funny

Today’s pictures are of the backyard, part of it, that we had when we lived in Indiana. The pictures of the pond today are part of the story, although not when the pond was frozen. I used to wonder, frequently, what the geese were doing standing on the frozen pond. Didn’t their feet get cold? The pond didn’t always freeze over during the early winter months. Or for that matter it didn’t often freeze over in the later winter months either. There was a couple of storm drain outlets one in the area in front of our yard, and one in our neighbor’s area. That storm drains carried melted water and that water was normally warmer than the pond water was, so the pond didn’t freeze.


It did freeze all the way a couple of years. So I sat in the warm inside and watched the geese standing on the ice outside.

Sadly today’s story has nothing to do with winter.

It has nothing to do with ICE.

It does have something to do with the pond.

Back in the first year we lived in the house I mowed. I never really pushed the kids to mow the area by the pond. I did have my daughter mow some of the front yards but the area by the pond was a little tricky. We had a steep incline that led from part of our yard to the pond itself. The ground was a little tricky, and I mowed that area. I shared the funny story about the 2nd time I went into the pond.

This is the funny story about the first time I went into the pond.

The difference between the two stories is that, as I was mowing the yard, I slipped off the edge of the area by the pond.  It cost me a lawn mower repair visit (mowers don’t like water). It could have been a lot worse. The mower was one of the auto cut off if you let go of the handle, which I did as the mower went into the pond. That would have been embarrassing and expensive. But sadly after the mower I ended up in the pond feet first. I didn’t lose my balance, but it took me five minutes to get out of the muck, and silt at the bottom of the pond. Then it took another five minutes to wrestle the mower out of the pond. Not one of my better days!


wander project wandering to smiles

Well, are you sure?

I am continuing Ghostwriters happy/funny story challenge. When the twins were little, and when my daughter was little, we used to bake together. They didn’t know it was an educational opportunity (both cooking and measuring)! We learned about cakes, breakfast and many other cooking experiences. It so happened that my wife bought a cake mix for the twins and me to make. I was exhausted, literally having to flow from Singapore to Chicago and then to Indianapolis. I was running on 4 hours of sleep for two days. But, everyone was excited about making the case, so I got up, made coffee and got ready to bake! Remember the most important part of the story so far is that I was exhausted.


It was a chocolate cake. I won’t do the song I used to do, and I don’t sing it anymore. We got the oil, eggs, and milk. We carefully measured the various parts. The easy thing was dumping the bag of mix into the mixing bowl. Then we put the splash shield on the mixer and got ready. First we slowly poured the milk in and let the blades turn slowly to mix the two. Oil and eggs were then added. Two things that happened next were the tradition. The first thing was washing the twin’s hands for them (they were 3, if we let them wash their hands they would wave at the water and not even get their hands wet)! That took a couple o minutes. The next thing my wife hated.

I am letting the twins butter the cake pan. That was always a mess! More on the twins than in the pan.

We put the cake in the oven and set the timer.

The timer dinged. I went into the kitchen and realized we hadn’t turned the oven on. I took the cake out, preheated the oven and then put the cake back in.

I set the timer.

Went into when the timer went off and I took the cake out of the oven.

We let it cool.

Then we let the twins attack the cake with frosting (also funny, also a mess).

After dinner, we served the cake.

Remember, I was exhausted.

The first piece was cut, but I hit something in the cake.

The scarping spoon we had used was baked in our cake. I hadn’t noticed the twins dropping it into the pan!

My wife said, “I always wanted to try spoon cake.”


wander project wrong side of the pond surface…

The pictures today are of the pond. The story is also of the pond but sadly from a different angle. They are looking, as they say, up. We had purchased a Kayak and a Canoe after selling our boat. We were going to do more canoeing. Plus, living on the pond, I wanted to see the other side, up close and personal. In part, I wanted to see where the beavers had built their dam by then three years before.


I got into the Kayak to try it out first.

My initial mistake hand my daughter a camera.

I did well and made it easily around the pond in a large loop. Sadly the doing well part was short-lived. As I came back towards our yard, I forgot one critical part of ponds and in particular our pond, and there was a sand bar/debris bar. The creek that fed the pond was right where our yard was, so the silt and other stuff that came down the creek was in the sand bar.

I hit that bar, and in the pictures, you can see me slowly begin to tip, and then slowly being to fall. Finally, you can see me emerging from the pond. Anyplace that doesn’t have chorine, and doesn’t have water filters tends to be nasty. I slogged my way through the mud back to the sand bar. Emptied the Kayak of water and climbed the small hill to our yard.

Three kids laughing my daughter kept saying I got it all.

Luckily the dog was worried about me.


wander project passing out candy…

Today’s pictures are of Halloween 1998. Our first and last Halloween in the house we built in Cincinnati Ohio. It was after the twin’s bedtime, so they are not engaged. They would be a little later when they found they got candy. My wife loves to dress up for Halloween. This particular year she decided to dress as the Cat-in-the-hat from Dr. Seuss fame. That meant of course, that the twins had to be Thing 1 and Thing 1a. It isn’t Thing 2, because neither Thing thinks they are one or A. My job was to stay home and pass out candy to the neighborhood kids. The pictures are in the front vestibule of the house. Ok, it wasn’t a vestibule it just sounds better when you say it that way.


The Blues Clues outfit was of Blue Herself. My daughter loved that show. She had moved on from Barney at that point. The transition from Barney and Shining Time Station to Blue Clues had been about two years before that particular Halloween, but this was the year my daughter asked my mother to make her a Blue costume.

One of the things that always got us; this was the fourth place we had lived in Cincinnati was how much candy to buy. The goal was not to have a huge amount of candy leftover. The kids, with my wife walked around the neighborhood collecting loot. The end game was planning to be at zero or if we got lucky to use a little of the kids loot to pass out at the end of the evening.

Halloween in Cincinnati back in the day was in a much smaller neighborhood. We had lived in an older house first, and on Halloween, a lot of people came to our house. This time it was a much smaller neighborhood. We figured we would have enough candy and bought less. We were right, but we ended up only have thirty kids, far less than expected.

Of course, Gwen barked at every single kid that came to the house. I couldn’t put her outside, because the fence in the backyard allowed her to see the front yard and she would bark. I made her sit by the front door and do the one thing all dogs hate more than anything. I was giving food away to people without the opportunity for the dog to beg!


The day the pool won.
When we lived in Indiana we had a pool in our backyard. My job was to take the skimmer and clean the surface of the pool water.  I was also responsible for pulling the vacuum off the bottom of the pool and cleaning the bag full of stuff. We had a pool cover (bright blue that you could see from space I am sure) Starting in 2000 and going all the way until the July we moved to Maryland I l cleaned the pool.

It so happened in July 2006 I had been on the road all week. We were having a neighborhood July 4th party. So, on that Saturday early in the morning, I had to go clean the pool. First I skimmed the vacuum and emptied the stuff into our small compost area. Then I went and got the skimmer. What it was, honestly was a long pole with a net on the end of it. The next was made of fiberglass mesh so that it could move easily through the water. We had a pool cover, so that wasn’t much. I decided to clean the steps first (there were steps in the shallow end of the pool for the twins. They were little when we added the pool to the house).  What happened next is one of the most embarrassing things I’ve ever done.
I moved around the middle of the pool and continued skimming. My phone rang. I reached into my belt case to grab the phone, and the latch of the phone holster was stuck. I tugged the case, and the phone flew out of the holster and right into the pool. Right in the middle of the pool on the bottom was my phone. I wonder what the person on the other side heard, perhaps a plaintive help me I’m melting.
Well to go from bad to worse, I intelligent decided that the best course of action was to reach down with the skimmer and get my phone. I spent a good five minutes maneuvering the phone so that it was on the skimmer.
My pager went off.
I reached down to see what was on the pager.
My arms were outstretched.
My pager was vibrating.
Needless to say, my balance was off.
Pager, person, phone, and skimmer all went into the pool.
As I came up for air after going under the water, I realized my wife had just come onto the deck. I realized because she was bent over laughing and pointing.
I lost the phone. I lost the pager and lost my dignity.
My wife told that story to anyone that would listen.
It is with great sadness that I announce the scorecard for that morning final score of this endeavor pool 1, Doc 0.


wander project new style..

The Eiffel Tower, although not the one in France. This is the one in Maineville Ohio. What, you may ask is in Maineville Ohio that would support a replica of the Eiffel Tower? It is the amusement park Kings Island. Over the years we are living in Ohio and before that, and after that Indiana, we went many times. I suspect we went to kings island (after we were together as a couple) more than 40 times for the years in Indiana, Ohio, Indiana again. We loved going, and it was a park we knew very well. We have not been in many years now as a 10-hour drive for an amusement park isn’t that high the list. There are many amusement parks within a two-hour drive of our house now.


The next couple of pictures are of the swing set my parents had in their back yard. When the kids were little, they would arrive at their grandparent’s house, and rush out to swing. Later, the twins were more active and swinging no longer cut the mustard. That was when they started climbing, all over the swing set. I will see if I can find some pictures of that. Anyway, the second two pictures are of the swing set in the back yard of my parent’s house. I would also note that based on the yard you see, this is pre-bamboo. My father planted bamboo and it took over the entire back yard. It was the back yard, by the ten an Indiana Natural resource designated bird haven.

So we have been to Maineville Ohio and Bloomington Indiana in the first few pictures. The last two are of our daughters birthday many years ago now, at our house in Cincinnati. We moved from Maineville (near Kings Island) to Western Hills about three months after our daughter was born. We lived in that house, in Western Hills for five years. We then moved to Mount Airy (just north of Western Hills), and the last two pictures are of that house. We lived in that house for a year before moving back to Indiana. I guess my wife and I were yo-yo Hoosiers although I suspect that in moving to Maryland the yo-yo may now be stuck and we won’t yo or yo again!


wander project the new style wander…

It was said we needed to shake things up a bit here on Virily,  So I am changing up the family history project that I’ve been doing a little.  Change is never easy but here goes. The first part is the pictures will now all have captions. I may change the number of pictures as well. I am also changing in that from now on the story is focused on the pictures more.


The first couple of pictures are of our dog, Gwen. Gwen was a Shepard blue tick healer mix. She joined us in Cincinnati Ohio. She lived with us in the first house we bought in Cincinnati in Western Hills. Gwen was a dog that loved to run. When she was young, and well with young children in the house this happened far more that I would like to remember, she would get out. The only way we could get Gwen to return home was to get in the car and take her on a car-car ride. Gwen was terrified of thunderstorms. She lived with us for 14 years and moved with us from Ohio to Indiana. I still miss her talking to me from time to time. I don’t miss her talking back to me when I told her to do something.

The next pictures are of a sad gingerbread cake. One of the things that my wife and I both held to is that kids have to do things without parents making it perfect. It was hard at first, but we stuck to our guns. We did reinforce the gingerbread house on the inside with a little extra frosting as there was a break in the construction process that well showed that it was going to lean.

The classroom picture was of a group of 2nd graders that invited me to their classroom to talk about Barney. Not the TV show, although inspired by the show. Rather the interactive Barney doll that Microsoft has released. I went to talk to the kids about robotics, computers and what the future of software might look like (and what the future of Barney might be as well).

Finally the last pictures are of a trip to Kings Island. KI is an amusement park in Cincinnati Ohio.


wander project declining birds

The first pictures today are a few pictures from my parent’s old house in Bloomington Indiana around ten years ago. The interesting pictures are at the end. The reason I shared these was because of the subject of the pictures. My parents had a screen porch off the back of their kitchen/dining room. Max was their cat. They got max and mac’s brother when they moved to the house. The brother ran away within a week of moving in and was never seen again. Max stayed; his job was to catch mice. He wasn’t very good at his job. In fact, in all the years I was around Max I am not sure he ever caught a mouse. But, I realized watching CarolDM’s posts, that Max, like her cats, watched birds.


Sitting in the screen porch trying to convince the birds that nothing bad would happen if they came in the dog door and joined him in the screen porch. My dad had created a sanctuary for birds and wildlife in the back yard. It was a recognized Indiana habitat, and he had a plague on the front and side door of the house. The reason for the plague was to notify anyone coming to the house that they could not spray pesticides. The loss of habitat is a huge contributor to the loss of birds over the last 40 years. It is, not the fake news that wind turbines are killing birds. The studies released over the past two weeks show in fact since 1970, North America has lost 3 billion birds.

That staggering number is scary. For some reason, the US Government is telling people that wind turbines are the primary killer of birds. Sadly, based on the issues around the world, wind turbines are not even in the top five. In fact, there are two human activities that are far worse.

What is killing North American Birds:

Climate change

Encroachment on habitats

Domestic Cats

Wild or Feral cats

HUMANS (cars, windows, and hunting)

The reality is 3 billion birds are gone. To put that in perspective, that represents 25% of the total bird population in North America.


Wander project a drift…

Time is an interesting paradigm. It is something that all of us chase. It is something that we sit at our desks and ponder. It is the one thing we never have enough of, that we always want more of, but is also fleeting and quickly passing. Still, we stop, from time to time, and ponder. We ponder the pam tree gently moving in the breeze. As the wind gently moves the palm fronds we watch them. Each frond has independent motion. In the moment of watching, we are mesmerized by the palms. We watch them moving and stop all the pursuits.


That is time after all. The recognition that we are missing something. The reality of seeking that missing and watching the palm frond. I know in each piece, in each moment, in each second of standing their other things are piling up, other things are appearing for me to consider and do. But watching the palm trees, I cannot stop.

The problems of today wash away with the wind. Like the beach and footprints that we lose with the arrival of the high tide, each problem is slowly erased, not from the world nor us, just from that part of us that is a conscious thought.

I love those moments when things seem to always and ever flow away from me. To push my thoughts to the edge of what and where.  I wonder if the wind gently blowing the palm fronds knows that it is changing things around it?


wander project penguins are not cute…

I shared these pictures many years ago, but in a different order and honestly, these are n response to the Penguin Pictures shared by Pam. These are not cute wild penguins. They are wooden penguins in a front yard. Designed to annoy and frustrate. Designed to make someone regret going outside. My mother and my wife did this to me, more than once. Thirty-five black balloons delivered to my place of work when I turned 35. A singing gorilla, that arrived at my place of work when I turned 36. And these, 40 penguins gathered around a sign wondering poetically, who was now 40. The poem, words phrase whatever it is rings loudly on many lawns, in many countries.


Lordy, Lordy look who is 40. Or sadly as in the case of the sign my mother and wife picked “oh no say it ain’t so, Scooter is the big 40.”

No, one, not in my entire life ever called me scooter. Not even the two people that put the sign in the front yard, my mother and my wife!

Our we  can do the same for all the milestone birthdays. 40 was a tough one for me, mostly because of the Penguins. It is hard to see that as you pull into the driveway. I should have been suspicious, my wife wanted to go shopping before we were meeting my family for dinner on my Birthday and my Parents Wedding anniversary. I should have known there was a game afoot. We wandered to the mall so that the penguins had time to get settled into the snow. Then we met my parents and sisters for dinner. Coming home, the sun was down, and the headlights shared those annoying birds in the driveway. I suspect given how I remember it now, and I wasn’t happy then.

Now that I think of it, I still haven’t gotten payback for this.

Now, the game is truly afoot!