Wander project Neighbors!

We often had events around the holidays with our neighbors (next door). We loved hanging out with them; Their big event was an annual Halloween party. We usually hosted a couple of swim parties a year. A few times we also got together a couple of times between Christmas and New Years. Such an event is what I captured with the photos shared today. Our neighbors were about the same age as we were, but their kids were older than ours. Their oldest was engaged at the time of this event. It wasn’t a marriage that was to last, they were divorced in three years, but at that time they were happily engaged and preparing for a life together.

The reality of marriage is that it is work. That evening we played a couple of games with the adults, the kids all went upstairs to play video games. Back then we only had two game areas in the house. Funny how that has changed. Now there are seven distinct game areas depending on the game system you are interested in playing. Then we only had two, the twins room and the living room, So with the adults using the living room for conversation and the game of Mafia we were playing, the kids went upstairs. We would later add more capabilities in the basement, including a computer gaming system and later a Xbox, but at that time we had not done that yet.

It, hanging out with our neighbors, was one of the things we enjoyed. It was nice to have really good neighbors. Some of the people in the neighborhood were not as nice, nor did they believe in managing their children. But the people on our cul-du-sac looked out for each other and made sure everyone in our section of the neighborhood was ok. That is what neighbors do. Over the years lots changed in our little Cul-Du-Sac. First, the neighbors in these pictures moved. That was hard for us, while the twins got a new friend when a young man around their age moved in, we, my wife and I, lost easy access to our good friends. Then the wife of the neighbor on the other side died, and finally, we moved away.


what once was

Wander project Greenwood…

In our last house in Cincinnati we had added a pool our first summer in the house (and what turned out to be the only summer in the house). We enjoyed the experience of having a backyard pool so the first spring in our new house, we added a pool. By July 2001, the pool was operational, and we had guests over. There are a couple of other non-pool events as well in this collection. This comes from a picture disk of a “waterproof” camera that I got. I use quotes because the camera was only rated to be 3 feet or less underwater. Enough so that my daughter could have fun with underwater pictures, so she did. Over the years I would say 80% of the underwater pictures I have, were taken by my daughter.

Pictures 5-9 are really interesting pictures. The first ones are of the play yard we had for the kids, then out towards the pond. You can see in the far right corner of the pond picture the railroad trestle. The tracks were still in use, the Indianapolis Power and Light company used them to move coal from the Jasper Indiana area (very far south of Indianapolis) to the IPS power plant on the south side of Indianapolis That power plant provided power for a lot of southern Indianapolis and Greenwood Indiana. I drove by it often when I was working with customers in Downtown Indianapolis. There were a few customers sins downtown Indy I got to work with over the years.

The 6th picture is of something, but I couldn’t tell you what it is or was.05_05

The last two pictures turned out very well. One was of an rainbow racing across the sky after a storm. The last one was of the setting sun looking over our pond. I get to say it was our pond. If you lived in a house on the water area, the HOA charged you an extra fee to live there. That extra fee was used to maintain the pond. Mostly that meant treating the water once a year to reduce the algae growth. But it also meant it was my pond! Well ½ my wife’s so I guess our pond. Oh yeah and our neighbors, they owned a piece of the pond as well, they paid the same fee we did. Mowing by our pond, however, was my job. My wife stayed away from the area where the snakes were.


family historian

Wander project Greenwood IN.

Snow, the particles, no not particles, the frozen water falling from the sky. Enough falling then, to cover the ground. I have run to warm pictures for the past few days, but now all is lost. This morning awakening to 2 degrees. Temperatures that can be measured on one d are uncomfortable. Today I am embracing snow (well I am not going outside and hugging the snow currently in the yard, rather I am embracing and accepting the concept of snow.).

This snow is from 2004 in Greenwood Indiana. There was a time when I traveled all over the world, that snow was a huge obstacle. In part because I had to shovel the driveway before I could get the car out of the garage. Then I had to drive to the airport. Many days I was the only person on the road, arriving on time, only to find my flight delayed two, three or four hours. One bad weather day, we spent 5 hours on the plane on the Tarmac. It was due to thunderstorms, but you get the idea.

Snow is the enemy of productivity. It calls to you, its siren song of let’s play. Let’s sled, let’s be eight years old again. The problem is the last time I went sledding my back hurt for a month afterward.

I wonder if snow is the universe’s answer to the question what can go wrong will. Snow being the what did go wrong, the worst case scenario. Yes, it lies in beauty on the ground. Covering the scars of the world that were there before. But it is not a peaceful beauty. It is a loud beauty that ever changes all around.

Author’s Note: There has to be a compromise position here. It is beautiful to watch the snow fall. It is a pain to get it off the driveway after it has fallen. Perhaps we could design snow that doesn’t fall on the driveway?


I love snow falling, not snow shoveling

wander project greenwood IN

OK, I acknowledge I am cold. The beauty of the Family History project is I get to focus on other things. Like not being cold. You know, like when I was in the pool with the kids, or sitting on the side watching Gwen make sure she wasn’t hunting Chipmunks. I cannot honestly tell you how stupid Chipmunks are. They would be in the same places time after time. Gwen, you find them, and because I guess she had a particular set of skills kill them.

The path to warm lies in staying indoors and lighting a fire. Or, perhaps I should print all the pool pictures I have (more than 1500 overall) and dive into the warm water of the pool. We would open the pool every year in mid-may. We used the pool (it had a heater) until the middle of October. Roughly three months shorter than boating season is. We also spent a lot of time cleaning the pool. I cannot tell you how many dead frogs were pulled from the pool.

Or how many pounds of leaves. We had an automatic cover, so the pool was not open, but there were always leaves in the pool. My memories of the pool are the moments spent cleaning the pool. I know the kids have different memories, mine are of the cleaning process. For a couple of years, we did have an automatic pool cleaner. It would wander the bottom of the pool and keep it clean. But the company that built our pool didn’t do the hoses right, and there was never enough pressure to make the automatic cleaner powerful enough that it removed enough.


seeking warmth through pictures…

Wander project warm project (Greenwood).

It is so cold that icicles were trying to get into the house to warm up. It was so cold yesterday that the air was chattering. I could go on, but instead I am going to take the high road, or in this case the summer road and go on a pool day. I’ve mentioned before that we built our first pool in Cincinnati. It was a small pool that fit into the corner of our backyard. We didn’t have much of a yard that was flat. The majority of that yard was a hill. We had enough flat space for a play yard for the kids and a pool.

We built a larger pool in Indiana. With wonderful terracing so that you could easily relax in the pool area or wander over to the play yard while leaving the dogs a place to run around. Gwen, who was the only dog with us when we moved to Greenwood, loved to run around. She also loved to hunt and kill chipmunks. We had to keep an eye on her when she was outside, or we would have dead chipmunks all over the backyard.

The pool was the center point of our backyard and our summer festivities for the ten years we lived in the house (with a pool). We’ve lived in two neighborhoods in Maryland both that have a community pool, but we just don’t go that often now. Funny but I guess just part of aging. The kids have other things that are critical to them now. Then, however, the pool was everything. Fran used to stand in the shallow end of the pool watching the kids make sure everything was ok.

Wander project dogs, places and greetings…



There was a recent movie, A Dog’s Life, that I didn’t go see in the theaters. Not that I didn’t want to see the movie, but just watching the commercials made me cry and I couldn’t go to a theater and cry for two hours. Those are the movies I need to watch at home so I can watch or read something really funny right after finishing the movie. I learned that after reading the book “Marley and me” while traveling. Also, with the journey’s we’ve taken as a family with the dogs around us. I remember every single dog I have ever been around. From Mac the collie, Anna Banana the Dachshund to Frosty and Duo the Great Pyrenees or Phoebe the Newfoundland. Every dog that lived with us changed the course of our journey. Phoebe was a second mother, always watching us and waiting to be with the family. MacGregor was a beautiful collie. He loved us but he was dad’s dog. He lived literally to see and be around dad.




The journey we take and the ones that dogs take with us really is pretty incredible. First of all, there are those who love more than anything to hang out with cats as well. They see cats the same way that I see dogs. Which is wonderful. They are companions on the road of life! Anyway today’s journey is about the changes dogs make to your family. They, the dogs, have changed as have cats. From their natural and traditional habitats and lifestyle to living with humans. They are the prowlers at night that wander your house and make sure everything is safe. You don’t often hear about guard cats, but guard dogs are not mythical. They are real additions to your home or business. Wandering around at night making sure that everything is where it is and that is where it should be. Sometimes the best part of having a dog or cat living with you, is the greeting when you get home!





Now, when they get to come with us, in their eyes, that is much better. You see then they can make sure we don’t get into trouble or cause mischief. Raven is always nervous when her boys are out and she isn’t supervising them. Much as Fran used to want to be supervising Jakki, all the time. Dylan has given up trying to train me, other than making sure I don’t yell at the TV while watching sports. Then he nips my feet to remind me to be quiet. We have had dogs living with us now in every house we have ever had. Duo lived with us in our rental house in Bloomington before we moved to Cincinnati. Blackie joined us in Fairfield Ohio and lived with us until we moved to Western Hills. Gwen joined us in Western Hills, Mt. Airy and Greenwood. Fran lived with us in Greenwood and Maryland. Dylan joined us while in Maryland living in Gaithersburg and moved with us to Germantown. Raven joined us in Germantown, three years ago now. Dogs are wonderful additions to our life!.


dog lover

Another day trip and another day…


Barb with her parents Les and Joan Ralstin. Picture is from our driveway of our house in Indiana. Timing is somewhere between 1999 and 2001. The only reason I have small of a range is the size of the young man hiding next to Barb . Most likely the boy is between 2 and 3 at the most. So that gives us a good time range (moved to house in Indiana in October 1999, boys turned 4 in March 2002). You can still see a little bit of the military picture taking in Les. He served in the US Navy (in the Pacific) during World War II. He was a signal officer on a landing craft. It is also a funny stair step, Joan was a lot shorter than Barb and Les. She would always proclaim that she was 5 foot 1/4 inch and never less. If you argued that point, she would just ignore you. The next time she was asked how tall she was she would say 5 foot 1/4 inch. Joan is one half a set of twins as a by the by.  That said, she and Les welcomed me into their family December 1990. We drove to Hot Springs that December to visit them. They had never met me. But they welcomed me into their home and into their lives, site unseen. Boy did they come to regret that decision Smile.


That picture above and a few others were in a folder labeled Connor Prairie. For a long time I would shoot pictures until I remembered to empty the memory card. Based on that I would label a folder the last event completed and put all the pictures into that folder. This folder was from a trip to Connor Prairie. Connor Prairie as you can decipher from the name is a Prairie just north of Indianapolis. Connor was the name of the family that settled in that area in the 1800’s. It is now an interactive history museum where you can go and see life lived as it would have been more than 150 years ago. We went there many times over the years, personally I took 5 different classes of school kids to the facility. It is a wonderful experience of pioneer Indiana. I loved touring the Connor mansion on the property. It was a huge house for the time, but looks small now.


The first of our digital video cameras (its huge). The Sony took both stills and video. Pretty good video overall but far from HD (back in the SD video days). The still images were also ok, nothing to write about in terms of quality. It weighed quite a bit as well. I don’t mind carrying my DSLR at times, the quality is so much better than anything else, but I also like carrying the smaller camera at times also. Cell phones just don’t capture everything. Its nice to have a small digital camera that takes better stills than the old Sony did, as well as taking higher quality video.

Over the next couple of weeks I have a lot of early am work meetings so my apologies if I miss a couple of blogs. I’ve gone 368 days since the last time I missed a blog so we are due a couple of misses.


Family Historian