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!.
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!
A life that used to be, but according to Welcome Back Kotter’s Arnold Horshack, could be again. The pool in the backyard of our house circa September 2001. We usually closed the pool later in the month of September or the first week of October each year. This year was different, but we would know that until the middle of the month. That boat was a huge hit with the kids. They would tow each other around in the pool trying to know the other one out, so they could get into the raft. There were many pool parties yet to be, this was just the second summer of the pool. Back then the kids would get in the pool the minute we would press the button for the automatic cover. Now, they don’t do pools.
Fran was ever vigilant when the kids were in the pool. She got in a few times over the years, but for the most part she didn’t get wet. Fran had horrible ear infection problems so staying dry was critical. She, without our prodding or training decided not to get wet. She would stand on the top step of the pool and watch the kids play in the pool, making sure they were ok. It was such a huge part of our lives for many years, the pool. Sometimes you forget how much time and effort you invest in something. Then wandering through old pictures you recall and remember the time, the effort of what you did, once. I will never own a pool again. I remember the time spent keeping the thing operating. Gwen was more worried that Fran was getting treats when she was outside with the kids, than the kids being in the pool.
Another pool party, as I said earlier, we had many of those. This one with Matthew and Megan Misner, my sisters children. I suspect somewhere off camera is my brother-in-law and my sister. It was a bigger deal to take pictures of the kids swimming. Those are the ones you remember. The kids in the pool. The kids on the diving board. The kids on the slide. In and out of the pool 1 million times. Trekking from the backdoor of the hosue to the basement refrigerator for a drink. Ah yes, I remember it well! In fact as if it were yesterday even though these pictures are more than 16 years old in most cases!
Wander project – Christmas 2011. We packed our family up and moved to Maryland in August 2011. So Christmas that year was a long trip back to Indiana. We had just settled in our house in Gaithersburg. Probably 1/2 our stuff was unpacked by the December trip back to Indiana. It is a long drive (about 10 hours) but for the most part it was traffic free. In the world of DC you love traffic free driving. Started out on our journey back home leaving Maryland, hitting West Virginia, Pennsylvania and then Ohio before crossing the Indiana State line near Richmond Indiana. The journey gets flat (because of glacial activity) around the Ohio – West Virginia border. The hills pick up again once we turn South at Indianapolis. We do, for those of you keeping track, cross a minor mountain range. a couple of rivers and someday there may also be snow. We do however, not use a horse that knows the way. Normally because of meals and occasion gas and other stops use a GPS that knows the way to Grandma’s house.
Fran came with us on this first trip. She loved car-car rides. We started out just before six in the morning and with stops and meanderings got to Mom and Dad’s house around 6 am. Fran was the only one that didn’t mind the early morning car ride. The kids had the journey planned based on the number of movies they were going to watch. We ended up renting a mini-van for the trip. We did that a few times when we first moved to Maryland for long trips and beach trips. We had traded our mini-van for a mini-cooper. That was our, the kids are older downsizing cars experiment. It lasted all of two years and then we got a new mini-van. SUV’s are great, particularly in the snow, but not as good as a mini-van when you are hauling a bunch of people, dogs and crap. Eventually we won’t need a mini-van but for now we still need one. The early morning part of the journey was punctuated by frequent stops for coffee (and therefore more stops to get rid of the coffee).
I guess it doesn’t matter where you are as long as you have your Game Boy and your charger. Plus you don’t need to talk to people then. We ended up eating lunch on the West Virginia side of the river. We stopped just outside Wheeling West Virginia. We’ve made this trip back to Indiana a few times and we always end up stopping at the same Wendy’s in Wheeling. We also hit the same Starbucks in Columbus Ohio every time. I guess we are creatures of habit. It is funny how the same things happen sometimes over and over. Even when the thing you are doing is different, you end up finding a pattern in the difference. I guess that is what makes us humans! My favorite part of this trip is West Virginia. I love driving through the history of the mountains. I pretend I am Daniel Boone looking for an easy way to move West. Or that I am someone who, following Daniel Boone is moving their family to the West. Even though I ended up moving my family East. I guess sometimes the path you take is bound to the path you are on.
Part of the wander project is wandering the past places we’ve been. The other part is sharing the past events we had at or in those places. This, Halloween 2006 so ten years
ago. The boys were 8 year old Ninja’s in this picture. I dressed up for Halloween until I was about 13 and then only a couple of times for parties after that. I don’t know why I love the magic of Halloween, but then the kids came along. I was always amazing, starting with the first year back in 1991 at the amazing costumes the kids came up with. We never did a costume with all 4 because frankly the age difference was far too great. My vote would have been Lord of the Rings costumes. I am sure that would have been voted down by the other folks but having the kids go as the characters from the books would have been a lot of fun!
Jakki, her friends and the boys ready to go out trick or treating. It gets dark quick the end of October. We make the switch from Daylight savings time to standard time and it pulls sunset an hour earlier. Add to that the overall reduced amount of sunshine because of the tilt of the earth’s axis and you get shorter days and longer nights. This was taken in the foyer of our house in Eagle Trace, Greenwood Indiana. Jakki had grown out of making faces at the camera by then. The boys had entered that phase full on. They still do it, in fact. The grandfather clock on the left side of the picture was a long time argument between Barb and I. I loved grandfather clocks. She hated it. We did end up not moving it to Maryland. So I guess I lost that argument in the end.
In 2006 Jakki had a Halloween party for her pals. This is Fran being concerned about the amount of food being consumed without anyone even considering just how hungry the dog is. Fran’s favorite thing on earth was to love her girl. That also meant when she could, she would shun her girl. Parties were something she (Fran) struggled with. She loved having all the people, but with her leg injury she wasn’t as engaged and in the middle of the party as she was a younger dog. Fran tore the ACL in her left leg. It never really fully recovered. In part because we didn’t take forced marches every day with the dogs. I regret not walking Fran enough. She was a great dog that made our house better. In this picture you see her full on in alert mode watching for food violations. Over the years Fran turned her girl in many times for food violations. They (Fran and Jakki) had more of a mother daughter relationship than a do owner relationship. If you asked Jakki, she would have said she was the mother in the relationship. If you asked Fran she would have just smiled, as Labs do, and said something like “of course dear.” But in the end Fran was clearly in charge.
Francine Marshmutt Andersen, a wonderful family member. She joined our family as a tiny puppy. I suspect based on where we are in life now, potentially our last dog as a puppy. Francine was a yellow lab. She joined our family at the same time as our older dog, Gwen. Gwen had moved with us from Cincinnati Ohio to Indiana. She (Gwen) was pretty mean to Fran in the beginning. Fran was a sweetheart and let Gwen be bossy and snippy until Fran realized she was a lot bigger than Gwen. That ended the snippy and bossy phase of their relationship. It is funny, some dogs are meant to be part of a family. To have people and, to be part of that family. Fran was one of those. She was most definitely Jakki’s dog, but she loved everyone in the family and was always in the middle of family events. It is why we’ve continued to have Labs. Fran was the first Lab, you could say she was a lab experiment. Since then we have moved away from puppies (only getting Lab rescues). So the Lab experiment was a success.
I shared this picture from 1999 when there was no pool, and this one from 2000 when we had added the pool. This from the back deck out towards the pond. The pond was actually full of fish, geese, turtles and muskrats. For one two years period we have beavers also. To the left of the picture there is a creek that flowed into the retention pond. If you went up the creek a ways (I did several times) there was another Beaver home about a 1/2 mile up the creek. Our beavers sadly, were killed crossing the road. It was nice to sit on the deck and watch the sunrise in the morning with a cup of coffee. In the rough beginnings of this blog I actually wrote a couple of blogs out on the deck. I started this blog as a once a month blog. Then moved it to a weekly blog and then a daily blog. That initial once a month period was hard. Like my once a month podcasts, there were months with two posts and month’s with no posts. It is sometimes hard to remember a once a month thing.
I remember as a child, the ice on Lake Ripley in Cambridge Wisconsin being thick enough that not only could you walk on it, but my grandfather could drive a tractor (small) on it pulling a Tobago behind him. Or you could pelt down the hill full bore on a sled with metal runners and flying off the bank hit the ice without it even cracking. People, after Christmas in the dead of winter would drive cars across the lake. The Ice was that thick. I don’t think the ice of our old pond ever got that thick. Here is one of the reasons. There was a drain in our cul-du-sac that pushed water out, right to the far right of the unfrozen part of the pond. There was warm street water always flowing into the pond in two places. That flow of warm water prevented the pond from ever really freezing over. It was fun however, to watch the ice begin to crawl across the water. It did often freeze all the way over, but there was always a warm spot that was clearly a lot less ice. I did walk across the creek part to the far left a few times, but the water in that case was 2 inches or less in depth so there wasn’t a lot of risk. Not that the pond was horribly deep – maybe 4 to 6 feet at its deepest point. But the mud was a good 2-3 feet beyond that.
Traveling all the time has one huge perk. You can go anywhere in the world for vacation. This is our vacation we took to Mexico. I love the country and the food! We went to a Marriott resort in Nueva Puerto and spent a week. Again the one big perk of traveling is free vacations. The downside of that is you have to travel for your vacation. By the 12th year of traveling I was done with it. I missed a lot of things during that time that I will never get back. I got to be part of many things remotely and I did get to see a lot of the world. So the tradeoff was mine to make, and I made it.
This is the day, four years ago that Dylan joined our family. He came to us via Richmond Virginia and Lab Rescue. Shelters are important and saving dogs from shelters is a noble cause. But rescue organizations spend their own time, their own money and open their own homes to take care of the dogs that are rescued. I admire people that work hard to stop kill shelters and people that work hard to get animals to good shelters. But people that give of themselves and foster rescued dogs are beyond amazing.
The four years since Dylan joined our family have seen many changes. We lost our older Labrador to cancer (Francine) in 2014. April that year was a tough month. Fran never really shared that she was sick (as Labs often do). I was laid off from my job at the end of March so that spring didn’t start well at all.
In June of 2014 (early June) we lost dad. It seems strange now that two years have passed. Nobody answers mom’s phone “Joe’s Bar and Grill” anymore. 2014 was a tough year. Losing dad brought all of it to a painful critical mass. I come not to bury Caesar instead I come to praise him. As a teacher dad impacted and influenced so many people. He also was a great parent. I miss calling him and asking him advice about situations. I still call mom and get the same awesome advice I always have, but I miss asking how are you and always getting “I’m wonderful.”
My father was born on March 30th. A day that he would later share with the boys. They were born on his birthday. Dad celebrated many achievements in his life. If you asked him though, if he sat down and quietly thought for a moment about what was the greatest thing he ever did, he would probably answer marrying mom. They were a team the two of them to the last day. They were impossible to crack and drive a wedged between (NOT THAT I EVER TRIED). Dad loved mom. I suspect if you gave him time he would recall the many students that he helped over the years as decent achievements. I can tell you that the many students felt it was more than a minor achievement. Many of them remembering dad many years after his support. Dad was one of the most remembered professors from a poll taken of IU graduates one year. He was on a list with Doc Councilman and Robert Montgomery Knight. Even thought the two great coaches impact was on every student. and dad taught far fewer in a year. He was remembered by his students. He is remember by his children as well. I don’t often since two years ago delve into my feelings for dad. It still hurts the edges of my heart. He still brings tears to my eyes. You see if you asked dad what other important things he did he would answer his children. He would answer his grandchildren one and all. His legacy is more than Apple Trees left at every house he ever lived in and sold. It is more than students and NSTA remembering him. His legacy walks the earth as grandchildren seeking to change the world. His legacy is his children. His legacy is the memories of him.
My father was a grand man. Quick always with a joke (some of them were good but not many). My memories of who I am are bound to the person my father tried to help me become. I don’t know why this morning brought memories to the forefront. Images of a vacation in Mexico remind me of the white sands of the many beaches we visited in Thailand.
Thanks dad. Thanks for all the hours of educational TV you forced us to watch on Saturday. I wish it had been National Geographic specials and not professional wrestling but you can’t have everything. Thanks dad for taking me fishing. Thanks for buying me my first camera. Thanks for protecting us and guiding us.
My apologies to my readers. I did not intend for this to be a maudlin blog. 2014 was a really tough year. Our family has had many tough years and many great years. The great far out number the tough, but 2014 was not one to waltz past. So again my apologies for struggling through feelings and emotions still raw from a bad year.
in loving memory