wander project Blue Herons…


I promised pictures of the Heron from Indiana. When we lived in Indiana, we were right on one of the four neighborhood retention ponds.  The reality of building homes where it once was farmland, is you create a water problem. Renting ponds are built to remove that specific issue. The pond butted up to the back of our yard. The Heron used to fish the shore, starting in the shallow area at one end of our yard and moving across our back yard and our neighbor’s back yard. The interesting part of this picture shows the Heron waiting. He or She is not fishing at this particular time; They were waiting! Feel free to add fun captions for the pictures in the comments!

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I spent many hours taking pictures of the Herons over the years. They are magical creatures. First off, they are patient. They walk slowly so as not to disturb the water and the mud. Slowly. Our back yard had roughly 70 yards or 210 feet of water footage. The Heron would start at the sandbar on one end, and it would take them most of the day to make it to where the pictures were taken that I am sharing. The time they spent going across the yard slowly, step two, three, and four times before actually putting their foot in the water. They would often be started and would fly off for 20 minutes or so during that period, and would start over sometimes.

Sometimes they just resumed where they had been. We would see them catch fish because of their patience. These are called “Great Blue Herons” and are native to the Midwestern United Stations (Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and a few others). Herons fish by slowly walking into the water, and when little minnows swim by, they quickly reach down and grab them. They are often called in water fishers. There are many other birds they fish by dive-bombing. Flying above the water and then plugging down to catch fish. Or there are animals like Geese and Ducks that swim on the surface and then submerge into the theater for prey and food. But herons fish like humans on the bank of the water!

.doc

wander project smiles…


There are times when the people around you transition. They evolve and change from where they were to where they will later be. When the people around you are children, sometimes those evolutions are more noticeable than they are with adults. Adults make subtle and often imperceptible changes because we don’t always notice those things. If you have a friend that you don’t see often, then you notice the changes. But with a child, the changes are dual. Personalities grow, bodies grow, and everything except their eyes changes. The eyes stay the same; that is the one constant. But the child evolves, becoming different right before your eyes.

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As I look today at the smiles, they are not the smiles we see today. The openness of a small child is that life hasn’t impacted them as much. Although with the twins that aren’t true. They were born early. Seven weeks early. Getting to week 32 of pregnancy is critical. At week 32, the lungs are viable—the chances of survival increase with every day past the 32nd week. My wife spends weeks 32 and then to 33 in the hospital. She was on enforced bed rest. I rushed around Cincinnati, Ohio, picking up children and then heading to the hospital each day. My life a hectic running from point to point. There was little time to stop and breathe, and no time to be scared.

I had to be strong for my wife for my daughter. It was a tough time. But the smiles are worth it. Even if, looking now at the smiles in the pictures, they are not the smiles I see now. The smiles then have become drying and quieter. They do not now come as often as they did then. Life brings sadness, time brings change, and the kids, like my wife and I, have experienced change and time. The memories of where they were, though, those I hold tight. Each picture of them as they were a gentle reminder of the change. A gentle reminder of the price paid than for the value now. Clutch those memories tight, for they are what was. What was will never be again. So clutch them tight and never let them go!

.doc

wander project Bionicle Zoo….


I talked yesterday about the transition when at first, I put together the Bionicle’s, and then the twins took over. Later on, as you’ll see in the pictures today, the twins started moving beyond the intended creation and began creating their own. I suspect that is the amazing reality of Legos. I was able to create something from what you have. There are several types of Legos overall. One of the things that I often do when giving talks to students about technology uses Littlebits products. Littlebits is a great company that allows you to build and create devices. From video cameras systems to creating fun lighting and another internet of things devices (called IoT).

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There is a huge explosion of these types of fun kits. When the twins were building the creatures in their zoo you see in the pictures, the only system you could get for creating devices, was the Lego NXT.  There are a number of those kits now. Some systems allow you to take an idea, from the napkin to the 3d printer. I would have loved to have had that when the kids were little. It is one of those things you think about after the fact.  Sometimes memories can take us to new places. The animals in the pictures were created only using Bionicle pieces. Bionicle pieces could be interchanged with Lego pieces as well. Those came much later, but in these pictures, you can see one of them.

The very first animal in the zoo (they called the images their Bionicle Zoo) is one that mixes Lego traditional and Bionicle pieces. The second one odes as well. The 3rd and 4th are traditional Bionicle pieces only. The creativity that the sets allowed the twins was always fun as a parent. Although I do have to say that no one prompted them to create these, the animals in their zoo and the idea for the zoo came from the twins. I didn’t, nor did my wife have any part of the creation of the ideation that occurred before the creatures were made. In fairness, their sister may have had some involvement, but that is not something I know or sure either way. Enjoy the Bionicle Zoo!

.doc

wander project stepping on Legos…


When the twins were little, I put all their Bionicle’s together. When they got to be 7, they said to me, and we can do it! As a parent, that is the greatest feeling when the child is able not only to do the activity on their own but also that they can actually do what you had done for them. That is why, at a very early age, I taught the kids to cook. No one should have to rely solely on others for food. But, as a “male” in the world, I am always worried about the impact of sexism. I wish the world were a little easier for my daughter. I saw the struggles of my mother, my mother-in-law, and my wife up close and personally. So I taught all the kids to cook.

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The Bionicle’s later became a creative outpouring for the twins. They made their zoo animals with the parts. But that would come later, The first few were the first ones made by the twins, and they were proud of them. I guess looking back as a parent, and I was proud as well. The interesting sidebar to this story is that in Indiana, and Maryland my office was always in the basement. I guess my inability to keep my mess contained doesn’t allow me to have an upper floor office. Anyway, we had a game table (air hockey) in the basement room by my office. We used that (hence the read lines and white surface) to photograph the twin’s creations.

The same was try for the initial Lego sets, but around 7, they took over building the Lego sets as well. We spent a lot of time on Lego creations. The reason this came up today is that my wife’s work received a huge donation of Legos. I was watching her clean them (they are played with by sick children, and have to be clean before they are offered to the child). The site of all those Legos took me back to the day when we had Legos all over the house.

Late at night, when walking around the house, stepping on Legos is painful!

Bionicle’s are very interesting creatures.

They are also painful to step on in the darkness.

.doc

wander project Geese


Many years ago, when I was 10 to well I never really stopped, I used to go to my grandparent’s house. As I got older, it was for less time. But when I was 10, it was often for a month. My grandparents lived on a Lake in Wisconsin. One year when I was about 12 or so, I saw a Canadian Goose (in the pictures) for the first time. I had seen them in the air before, but this was geese actually on the ground. They were, or they had landed on the beach area my grandfather had built for people that stayed in the cottages behind my grandparent’s house. I remember the mistake I made, I suspect in retrospect, and now being a parent myself that I lost before I opened my mouth.

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“wow, that is a beautiful bird,” I said.

My grandfather looked at me, “Then you won’t mind cleaning up after them?”

I said, “sure.”

I mind! There were little greenish piles of leftovers all over the yard and the beach. Every morning that summer, I had to go and clean up the area of the yard where the geese were. They were, within two days, not as beautiful as they were when I first saw them. I remember going to the bird feeder and taking all the bird feeders out of the feeder (I am very sorry, Carol, I was a young person when I transgressed!). I reduced the pleasant nature of the yard by mowing that area twice a week. By the end of the 2nd week, the geese were gone. The next year I showed them away. But that first year, I learned a valuable lesson about just how messy Geese are.

Oh yeah, I also learned not to poke my grandfather. Or as he always said: when you are in a cage with a sleeping bear, DON’T POKE THE BEAR with a stick to see if it is awake.” I still love to see Geese, but now I prefer to see them at a distance!

.doc

wander project a tribute to my wife


There are many things that I have talked about over the years. One thing I haven’t talked about in the early days of the girlfriend, finance, relationship with the person that is now my wife. Both of us had been married before, and both had ended those marriages in Divorce. Our relationship started with long walks that we still do to this day. But the thing that brought us together was the dreams. Both of us were trying to move forward with our lives. We spent hours on walks talking about moments and dreams. We got on our bikes, stopped at Boxman’s Chicken, and headed down to the YMCA sports fields and watched soccer, baseball, and other sporting events with kids running around.

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We wanted to build a life together, a partnership. Not always an easy process. Sometimes when you choose to share your life with someone else, you run into the many bumps and bruises. You find your path blocked by many things. But if you work together, things move forward. Things become part of the process, and you build on that. There was a bakery in Bloomington Indiana called the Red Chair bakery. They had the best Chocolate Chip cookies. We would walk from my house on 6th street or her house then on Madison to the bakery. Roughly 2 miles one way to the bakery. We would get cookies and continue walking towards campus (Indiana University) and talk.

Those conversations built a partnership, something both of us hadn’t had before, and both wanted. It is funny now looking back because a good chocolate chip cookie will take us both back to those early days. Fried chicken, Boxman’s was originally a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise but became simply Boxman will also send us back. When we were first together with my then, France worked at a restaurant in Bloomington, Indiana called the Trojan Horse. It has been now almost 30 years since we moved away from Bloomington, Indiana. But the first thing we do when we hit the town, is going to the Trojan Horse. It, the Horse, is an iconic component of the life we have now, and the memories that bring it all together.

One happy day – a tribute to my wife!

/doc

wander project in the heart of the wanderers


The pictures are on the trip my wife, and I took to Paris. There are many things and many places that we have been over the year. But the original wanderers for the wander project were my parents. Certainly, my grandparents on both sides traveled. My father’s father, often hopping on a bus to visit us in Iowa, Indiana, and Chicago. My mother’s parents would pack up, first in a 5th wheel, and drive down to Florida during the winter months. We in the US call those snowbirds. Some snowbirds spend the winter in Florida from as far away from Florida as Canada. A snowbird heads south when it snows and spends the cold months in the warmer climate of Florida.

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So the original wanderers were not my wife and me. She did, on many occasions, take on the same role my mother hand took on. I was coming along on work trips to see parts of the world. She came with me to Mexico City on a work trip, and we ended up having my parents watch the kids for the weekend coming home early Monday morning. She, my wife, also got to go with me on a work trip to Paris.  As I said, the pictures today are of Paris and the trip we took. Mexico City, I also have pictures. We were in the city at the time of the Mexico City Marathon. The race started right across the street from our hotel, so we sat and watched the start of that race. Fun to see!

My parents also traveled the globe. Often my dad has to go someplace for work (Thailand in the later years). They would pack up and head off for an adventure. My mother taught a bunch of Thai Friends how to quilt. To wander to the origin of the wander project, we go back to the slides left to me by my father, but the actual wandering we got back to the people that have been guiding for me. My grandparents traveled as often as they could. My parents often wandered. It is a part of our family legacy that we wander. I traveled for work for 12 years, and in that time, I learned one valuable lesson. If you take some of your family with you, the trip is not as bad!

.doc

wander project on the way to propose…


One of the things I have a lot of is versions of the last two pictures, someone taking a picture and me taking a picture of them. It is something my father did, and I continue that tradition. This is another of my wife’s family reunions. This particular one was also in Martinsville, Indiana. I have pictures of the family get-togethers in Wisconsin that I will share eventually. This one was at a restaurant for my wife’s Aunt. She was turning 80, but I am not 100% sure. I do remember the event being for her. When I first met my wife’s family now, 30 years ago, she was one of the first to make me feel at home. There is something about people with that gift, to be able to make people feel at home!

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My in-laws both had that gift. My wife and I freaked out our families a little (ok a lot) when we started dating.  For me, I had been dating a person that my parents knew her parents. We, the girl I was dating, and I broke up with a mutual we were better off as friends. It happens. My wife and I started dating, and I’ve shared that story of our first date. Our second date was going to a bunch of one-act plays. We, my wife, and I went to lunch with my mother. She thought I was bringing the person she knew of. Instead, I brought my future wife. My mom was a little taken aback. Not as much as I suspect she would be later, but then she was taken aback a little.

At the end of that week, two things happened. My parents invited us out to their house for dinner. My then-girlfriend of a week and I spent Friday even going you to dinner. I was going to take my then-girlfriend to what I thought was the most romantic location in Bloomington, Indiana. The Carrollton tower, the bells, had always been a favorite of mine. I was, after only a week, going to ask her to marry me. I just knew. I guess the reason I knew, 30 years ago, was that she knew as well. As I made the first of 5 turns to get to the tower, my then-girlfriend said, “We should get married. I never got to use the proposal I wrote to ask her to marry me, but the end game was the same.

I know that the October announcement that we were engaged after only a week of dating freaked both sets of parents out!

.doc

wander project family reunion…


My wife’s family is much larger than my family is. There are two distinct groups. Her mother’s family is from Wisconsin, and her dad was from Southern Indiana. My wife was adopted, and the wonderful people that adopted her had these magical families. We attended family reunions in Wisconsin that had more than 40 people at the event. The other family in southern Indiana also got together, and we would have 40 people at the events as well. The pictures today are from a part just outside of Martinsville, Indiana. Martinsville sits between Bloomington and Indianapolis and is famous as the birthplace of College Basketball coaching legend John Wooden.

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The part was perfect for a reunion, and the family took over one of the shelters. I was outside watching the kids. My wife had to make the rounds to see all the family members and say hi. I did the same later, but to start somebody had to watch the twins. The pictures are of the kids playing on the playground equipment. The other fun thing bout this particular park was that one end of the park was at the bottom of a huge hill. The other end of the park was at the top of that huge hill. We climbed the hill twice during the event, and the twins went to sleep the minute we got into the car to head home. Sometimes with twins, that is the best way to spend a day!

The hill was the remains of the last Ice age. 10,000 or so years ago, a giant block of ice flowed down from Canada.  The glaciers dug out the basin for the Great Lakes and pushed the soil, rock, and debris through Indiana until stopped by temperature.  The resulting melting Ice created what is called a Marriage. That is, the debris pushed all the way across Indiana and left as debris. The hill in part was glacial till. Indiana is split, and Martinsville is the line. On the north side of Martinsville, Indiana is pretty flat. On the south side, there are hills and valleys created by the rushing water from melting glaciers. I learned that when I was six years old. It was repeated every time we drove north during my childhood!

.doc

wander project Redmond!


Before my knee gave out, I used to run a lot — today, pictures of one of my favorite running trails in Redmond, Washington.  I shared pictures from another running/walking trail yesterday. These pictures are actually from the trail that ran alongside the river in Redmon Washington. Redmond was a place I was often in for nearly 15 years. I spent a lot of time running along this very trail. I could go about three and a ½ miles along the river seeing Otter, Beavers, and very few human beings. I had my earphones in and listening to Audiobooks. I would run until I was tired and then walk back to the hotel. I had long before then stopped running a specific distance.

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This trail was fun in that on the left was nature on the right was the human world. One was built and bustling; the other was quiet and reflective. It let me separate the two parts of myself. The further away from Redmond you got, the less and less large buildings. There were houses as far along the trail as I ever walked or ran — a fun trail no matter what. I did see the otters playing often. That was fun. I read all the signs and followed the rules, staying away from the Otters. I got to see Beavers as well; they built their dams alongside the river. The did not try to dam the river, simply coexisting along the banks, I also when walking back to the hotel, always picked up trash.

It made me sad to see such a pristine place littered with snicker bar wrappers and leftover cups form the burger joint down the road. So I picked them up and put them in the small bag I carried when running. In that bag, I had my Zune for audiobooks and room for trash. Sometimes I ended up carrying trash because there was more than fit in the pocket of my bag. The last time I ran or walked this trail was in 2010. I am sure it has been built over, and the otters and beavers are gone. Or perhaps because Seattle/Redmond is more open around conversation, they have kept this place. I hope it is still there that others can walk the trail and find the peace of nature.

.doc