Sometimes the past lifts us up and reminds us of how things once were….

DSCN0070Luke coming out the end of the slide that used to be at our house in Eagle Trace. We put the swing set in the first spring we owned the house along with the pool. Later on we added a trampoline. I don’t miss the days when the boys were younger. They were sick a lot of the time (twins sometimes are) and pass colds back and forth until it would get me. I was also traveling a lot then. I would be gone for a week at a time. I had a cellular phone so I could call home and talk to each of them frequently. So I didn’t miss out on the connection pieces, just on the being there piece.

They were simpler days but I like where the kids are now. I love having discussions with them about the world and the impact of things around us.


This picture has two pieces of significance. The first is that it is of Joan Ralston. Joan was my mother-in-law and an amazing person. She was a really good photographer. She was also a great sounding board for how to manage people. She managed the communications system of Bloomington Hospital for many years.

This was taken in the kitchen eating area in Eagle Trace. The other significance of this picture is the timing. This picture was taken in September 2000. A year later the world changed forever. Selfishly it made a lot harder than it used to be. What once took an hour now takes two or more. The world isn’t as innocent. Where once the airlines watched for the one in a million DB Coopers, now everyone can be DB Cooper. Joan left us in 2005. I miss her a lot. I would love to hear her thoughts on the current presidential race.


On the left is Joan again and on the right is Les Ralstin. He was a veteran of WWII. He served as a communications officer on an Landing Craft. Loud noises would startle him, memories of jump or die from when he was in the Navy.

Les was a phenomenal person. Quiet and reflective, he would often make quiet scarcastic comments while other people were talking. I got him in trouble once becusae I heard them and I laughed. It really hadn’t been noticed before (that he was making the comments) so Joan was a little more careful after that when talking. Just in case Les was going to make a quiet comment.

Les left us after Joan and I miss him as well. You couldn’t ask for better in laws than the two of them. They were caring, giving and wonderful people.



From last to first. Each an impact on my life that I will treasure forever.


To be blessed. To receive a gift that you can never repay. The thing about that gift is there in the end is no expectation for you to repay that gift. It keeps giving and changing. What was the gift 10 years ago has changed into so much more now.

Hourly hugs turn into weekly head nods. Sure turns into “You are picking on me make someone else do it.” But conversations grow, from da to dad and then “can you take us driving?” Each passing moment is a treasure. Each picture, each memory is a moment that will never be again but can’t be taken away. It is a gift a blessing that each day unfolds. There is a joy that comes from each day, each argument and from the moment they suddenly on their own create new thoughts that make you stop and realize that they are thinking creative human beings.


Some burst on the scene right before Thanksgiving and for the next well it hasn’t stopped yet, announce their presence with authority. Each milestone another wonder and joy. Those blue eyes, that were SUPPOSED TO TURN BROWN but never did lighting up the room they enter. The bean. Surely there is no greater joy on earth than holding your child and walking around a hospital. Except there are greater joys. The little smile as she walked by in her graduation gown, a nod and a smile. Or sitting behind the wheel of a car, nervously trying to figure out what everything does. Moments that drift away but are never forgotten. She burst on the scene and ruined Thanksgiving plans. But in the end they weren’t ruined they were made so much better.


First can be last sometimes. When in reverse order of course first is always last. First here with 2nd (dog) and 2nd (child). First was a transition that occurred quickly. I went from teaching kids and then sending them home to, having a child at home. I would love to say it was perfect and the transition was simple and effective but it was a learning experience for both of us. It still is. It probably always will be. Distance sometimes makes it hard to move forward. Time doesn’t always forget. But memories last forever. There are so many wonderful memories of Becca. I think my favorite was the look of sheer joy on her face when she was accepted into the Cincinnati Ohio School for Creative and Preforming arts. I had nothing to do what her talent but I was and am very proud of her always. The first may be last only because of the pictures order, but will always be first. The first lost tooth. The first tears. The first to graduate. There is pride in each one. I cannot express the pride, love and honor I feel for each of Becca’s Firsts. Each of the four kids is Unique, special and loved.

The first dog we had, wasn’t  a good fit for the family. I am not sure that Gwen was a great fit either. She was a dog meant to be free with a large yard and run around and terrorize the world. She ended up in a small yard”ed” house in Cincinnati Ohio. Gwen moved with us to Willow Cove and then to Greenwood. She was never a great dog, but she was our dog.



Family history project Phase II is now done–we are resting before we attack our last mountain (phase III really old Andersen family pictures).

Phase II of the family history project is now complete. We scanned 38 albums, 200 sheets of pictures in Album pages (loose) and roughly 8000 loose pictures that have been in a tub that we have dutifully moved from Western Hills Cincinnati to Mount Airy Cincinnati. Then we moved it again from Mont Airy to Indianapolis (Greenwood.) Then Greenwood to Gaithersburg. Finally we moved it to Germantown from Gaithersburg. We made a decision in Greenwood that we would never live in a city that didn’t start with a G again (joke by the way).

The combined Barb and Scott Andersen and Ralstin Family pictures 11,919 pictures scanned taking up just around 36 gigabytes of disk space. That is the entirety of phase II of the project.

The combined Hans O Andersen and Henry O Andersen Slide collection totals 14,032 and 83 gigabytes of disk space. That is the entirety of phase I of the project.

25951 overall pictures, slides and digital images copied, scanned and moved into a set of folders. Counting the five copies I have locally currently plus the 3 copies given to my mother and sisters it is 952 gigabytes of disk space. That by the way in the days of Bernoulli drives would have cost me well past 1000 dollars just for the storage.

We are starting Phase III next week. Phase III has the pictures taken by my parents from when I was  really little kid. I suspect it is probably somewhere around 10,000 pictures all told.  I am making disks for Becca and for my brother-in-law Jay Ralstin as well.

This project was originally my father’s idea. He gave me Grandpa Henry’s slides about 5 years ago. I puttered around with them over the time period and managed to get about 100 scanned on my own. The real work was done by Barb and my kids. Jakki organized the slides and pictures. The boys did the bulk of the scanning over the course of the last 8 months.

We started full bore scanning the end of August 2014. My father passed away in June and we went to get all the boxes and boxes of slides in July 2014. We then setup a scanner for slides originally. That wasn’t the optimal product and in the end didn’t do a good job. II t broke so we returned it to the vendor and got the Epson scanner. From there we have just been scanning away. A huge thank you, we couldn’t have gotten to Phase III without the best scanning crew on earth. Da bean and da boys!

Or as Barb used to call art projects she did with the boys “Double Trouble productions.” The bean was always easier to excite about art projects.

History on the screen in front of you. Creating a digital version of the past. Many of the later images in Phase II were of people and events I didn’t know. They came from the Ralstin family picture collection. Many of the slides my father took over the years I have never seen. Some of them I don’t think anyone other than my father ever saw. He would dutifully create carousel’s of slides to share with us. We didn’t get to see the ones that were not picked.

We start phase III next week.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

Remembering Les and Joan Ralstin…


Leslie Otto Ralstin US Navy World War II

My grandfather Henry Andersen was in the cavalry in WWI. My father-in-law Les Ralstin was in the Navy during WWII. He served as a communications officer on a landing craft. He served the last two years of the war in the Pacific theater.

He never talked much about being in the Navy. Barb always told the story of him jumping when he heard loud noises. She and her brother would make them just to see their father jump. Like I said he didn’t talk about it much. Occasionally when playing golf a story would come up but not very often.

All of us face times in our lives when life and death are there in the room with us. Hero’s are the ones who rush towards something knowing that death isn’t in the room but sitting right next to them. If you told Les Ralstin he was a hero he would have smiled at you, shook his head and quietly walked away. To him he was doing what he had to do.

He was a grand man. Full of mirth and wonder. The only sad story I have about Les Ralstin is that when he moved to Hot Springs Arkansas he became an Arkansas Razorback fan. Other than that he was a great human being. We played golf many times when we would visit them there in Hot Springs.


Joan Ralstin loved photography. At every family event she was the one with the camera taking pictures of all of us. At Barb and my wedding she was taking family photos. Every time we came to Hot Sprigs we took a family photo. She really had an amazing eye.

This image is now 25 years old and is of a Goldfinch. Captured with patience and waiting. Joan has quite a few pictures like this.

Joan Ralstin ne Johnson was born a twin. The fun riddle I have always told people is. Barb and I have twins. Barb’s mom was a twin. But twin’s don’t run in Barb’s family.

She was also an ardent collector of pictures past and present. We now have a collection of Andersen family images that we are working on from the 1950’s to modern day and Ralstin images from the 1940’s to modern day. A digital legacy for our children to cherish the outcome of the family history project.


When Les and Joan moved to Hot Springs Arkansas and the Hot Springs Village they quickly found that the many retirees that were living there had a lot of varying medical needs. Joan quickly got involved with the Desoto Nursing association. That is here the far person sitting on the left side at a DNA board meeting.

The first time we went to visit them in December 1990 they actually weren’t home. Barb was upset her mom was never late or not where she was supposed to be. Joan and Les were off installing a Lifeline system for a person that was living alone. Lifeline was a great way to make sure that if you fell alone, you didn’t end up stuck there forever. That was the first time I met Les and Joan.

Barb and I had been dating for less than 2 full months at that point. We had gotten engaged about 15 days after we met. I think that made both sets of parents nervous in the end. I can honestly say I was never nervous

about meeting Les and Joan. Even though we were 600 miles away from Bloomington Indiana.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

The family history project, to remember forward…

I got a great question from a long time reader. It had two parts and with that person’s permission I am going to share the two questions without her name but just the two questions.

First question: Do you have pictures of anyone famous you’ve uncovered in your family history project.

The answer to that question is yes. I have discovered pictures of great parents, grandparents and images from the past that while remembered weren’t currently directly linked. I come from an exceptional family just like many other people do. A family that lives, loves and fights. There were many days in my past that I am sure my parents wanted to send me off into space. Famous in the Hollywood, paparazzi following them around no. But there are people all around the world that my father touched and I’ve heard from so many of them since his passing. We are famous within our family. We may not be famous outside our family as much but we are inside our family.

The family history project isn’t about fame and fortune. It is in the end about stringing together the collected memories of the past, of putting words to paper and finding a way to link that to the images that were once a moment in time. I believe there is fame in those moments. They were important important enough to be captured once, they are important enough to be famous now.

In the end to answer the question – no photo bombs of John Kennedy or Bill Clinton peeking out behind my father as he lectured. No appearances of Barney in one of the boys photos. No George Carlin or Ringo Starr as Mr. Conductor peeking out behind my daughter as she smiles. Famous people in my heart forever though that much I can say.

Second question: What caused you and why did you start the family history project?

My father had given me my grandfather’s slides some 4 or so years ago. I had scanned a few of them (maybe 100) in that 5 year period. In June 2014 my dad passed away. I can’t say how much that has changed the world around me. First off and probably the biggest driver for me is there are no more new memories of my father. I have to reach back to the slides and pictures he took over the years to find the tender moments and remember him. I also want to link it forward. So that someday when my children have children and they are heading into the twilight years of their lives they can pass on the 100,000 plus images (perhaps closer to a 500,000 images by then) to their children. A legacy that each of them will be able to share with their children.

So the why is to remember forward. To not just remember back to the days of my father’s jokes and his many sayings. To remember Ned Criddle and the one image I have of him. Ned my friend in Cincinnati Ohio that passed away many years ago. Gone from this earth but never gone from our hearts (or my friend Andrew Ehrensen also gone from this earth). For Les and Joan Ralstin who touched my life in so many ways and Joan an avid photographer like my father was left us 1000’s of pictures. To share moments that were captured and take them forward into the world.

That in the end is the family history project. It is easy? No. We began the project in July 2014. Now in March 2015 we have scanned more than 17,000 images and we have many more to go. I have now in that nearly 8 months I have also posted more than 200 picture blogs of places I’ve been, images left behind by Hans O Andersen and Joan Ralstin and pictures taken of the people around me.

It was started to remember forward.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

They grow up so fast. Do you remember those day’s in September?

The boys were into technology at a very early age. Here they are checking out the video camera. unsorted011They learned quickly that if you are behind the camera then no one can take pictures of you.

Not sure the location but I suspect it was a family gathering at a restaurant.

Over the years the boys have become quite adept at using and building on their knowledge of technology. It is amazing to see them try fun new things and look at the world through different lenses. The other side of that reality is they have no interest in either cameras of photography. It seems like in our family that gene isn’t passed to everyone. Or perhaps it is the loud pushy photographer gene that causes everyone else to stop.

I will never forget Jay Ralstin, Barb Andersen (nee Ralstin) tormenting Joan Ralstin on the day of Barb and my wedding rehearsal. She was trying to take a photo of all of us and Jay and I did exactly what she asked us to do. Sometimes the literal meaning drives a photographer nuts. So we did.


On the beach in Mexico (Xcarte). What a wonderful experience that was for everyone. We didn’t enjoy the cruise ship as much the second time but we did love the stop at Cancun. We spent a magical day in the ecological park that maintained the wonderful rule – the people are the visitors not the animals.

This is on the sandy white beach that faced into the Caribbean.  As I said we as a family did not enjoy the cruise as much as we did the first cruise but we loved the ports of call. Are you allowed to pluralize port of call? Anyway the ecological park Xcarte is simply an amazing place. Wonderful creatures safely in their environment. Humans are no allowed to wear sun screen or anything else that might cause the animals discomfort. We frolicked on the beach and wandered around the park all day. We have been to Mexico a few times, this was the first time for the boys and Jakki so that was a lot of fun!


When the boys were little Barb insisted we didn’t need a dining room, we needed a large playroom for the boys. So in our house on Willowcove we ended up not having a living room, we had the kids tv (behind Barb) where the Sega Dreamcast was, and the boys toys. There was no dining table (we kept that in storage until we moved to Indiana) and the boys had room to roam.

We did have child gates on both ends of the room. We learned that from Dangerous Dan who was caught several times trying to get her walked up the stairs in Cincinnati. (Dangerous Dan was another nickname of Jakki and was given to her when she was doing things that were at best dangerous). Eventually when we moved to Indiana the dining room returned and the boys moved up to their room. They had the bonus room above the garage then that was huge and didn’t need a larger playroom. Seems funny but in less than 80 days those two little guys in these pictures will be 17 years old.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

There are many moments in the past, this post is of three. (ok actually one that is identified)…

unsorted006Less of a photo and more of the end result of a science experiment. The Epson scanner we procured for the Family History project also has a slide and negative attachment to be used. This is what happens when you scan a negative (two in fact) without using the negative scanner. In the end it makes for a very interesting image.

We have scanned a little more than 2000 pictures so far. Add that to the 10,400 scanned slides and we are bringing the past digital at a pretty good clip.

Of course I kept a few images like this one so in effect we have a few less done than stated above. But this one is interesting – not sure what it really is but it makes me smile.


Some of the images of the past have writing on the back (Joan was good about that). This one did not. I have no idea who the two kids are in the picture.

It is however a fantastic picture.

Not, composition but subject.

Someday facial recognition software will work on all these images and having them will make it easier to figure out the what, why and ultimately who of the pictures.

For now, it is simply a fun picture to consider.

How smart would you have to be to be that young and graduating from High School?

I certainly am not that smart.


I believe this Gem to be of mother and daughter. The mother was Joan Ralstin. The daughter our families own June Bug. She (our families June Bug) doesn’t much like the name June Bug. Anyway this classic Gem is a wonderful image of a mother and her child.

There is a feeling you have when you hold that child that is joining both your family and your life. A moment when you realize both the joy and wonder and the dread of what happens. For the next time period, who knows in the end how long that will be you are responsible for helping that person grow into what they may become. The next Mozart or the cure for cancer may be in your arms. Hold on to that and love that child. The gift they bring is greater than anything anyone ever gave you.

Although. I would ask you not to say that to my kids yet. For now I want them to think they are more on the pain side than the wonder side. Later, when they start reading my blog regularly they will find these nuggets and hopefully smile at them.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.