Wander project Dogs and Thunder


Gwen (the Shepard in the pictures) was a talker. Some dogs talk. Our current dogs, Raven and Dylan both talk at times. For example, Raven is known to announce on occasion by whooping when people are not doing what she wants to be done fast enough. She lifts her head and lets loose with the woo, and it makes me laugh every single time. Except when she does it to me, then it doesn’t make me laugh. Gwen, on the other hand, really tried to communicate with humans. A lot. Gwen would talk about virtually everything. Dylan talks to my wife and me when he is displeased with the current state of various activities. Or when things are not progressing probably.

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Raven complains when the twins (or me or my wife) aren’t moving fast enough to complete her assigned tasks. Gwen, on the other hand, talked about everything. She talked about food. She talked about what the kids were doing. She talked about everything, except thunder. When the thunder started, Gwen was gone —hiding in the master closet. I suspect she would have invited us to join her, by talking, if space was large enough. I doubt she would have. Gwen wasn’t always a big fan of humans. Plus we used to gather, for tornado warnings in a lower section of the house. We tried hiding in the master bedroom closet, but it didn’t have a structural wall next to it.

The bathroom and closet in the basement had two concrete walls that made it even safer. Plus the basement closet was against the stone wall that was cut into dirt. We only had to be in there five times in the 11 years we lived in Indiana. The first two times, we hid with Gwen in the master bedroom. In our house now we have a bedroom that doesn’t have windows that we have space for the Dogs to hide in when thunderstorms happen. Neither of our two labs likes Thunder much. They aren’t as destructive as Marley was in the book Marley and Me. They are just scared.  They have a nice comfortable Thunder Room in the basement with a bed and less sound of thunder!

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I used to help my dad, who was part of the Volunteer Fire department of Kirksville, Indiana. One of the people that were part of the department was a local farmer. He no longer farmed when I met him, he ran the nudist camp — the largest of such camps in Southern Indiana. One day we were putting up tables after a bake sale/food event. He told me the following story about a bullfrog. It is a story I remember to this day. It also fits, with the pictures today loosely. But mostly the story was sparked by Lado’s Green post of a green Frog! Let me set the stage, as I stated we were cleaning up tables. The person telling the story was the provider of a flatbed truck we stacked the tables on.

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We were folding tables and putting them on the truck when the food crew came over with leftovers for us to have for lunch. We sat down on the benches at the edge of the gym. The old farmer, now Nudist Camp owner, began talking about when he was younger. By the time of the story, he was probably in his 70s. The last time I had hung out with that crew, he was the person that told me one of my all-time favorite lines. “When I started late, I got there late.” That line remains one that I have applied to my life but also have thought about and considered for many years. It is true after all when you start late you will always arrive late unless you find a way to save time!

Anyway, on this particular day, it was the story that riveted me. I will paraphrase the story, and it was more than a half-hour in its original format. I will use quotes to show the story, but it is not his words. Those are lost to history. “When I was young we had just built the old farmhouse. My dad and I spent the summer building the farmhouse. It was on the hill at the farm, at the bottom of the hill was a pond. My window, it was the summer, was open and faced the hill and the pond. Every night a bullfrog kept me awake. Finally, after what must have been two weeks of not being able to sleep, I decided to do something. That night as that bullfrog began to croak, I took my .22 out and mid crock, shot him dead.”

No thoughts on the veracity of the story, although knowing the person it probably wasn’t true and knowing the old farmhouse location and the pond in question that would have been a 500 yard shot in the dark with a .22. To say I doubt it is probably an understatement.

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wander project wandering…


If we consider the past, the moments captured by a camera they are gone. The image of an instant, a split second captured.  The Wander project is about the text about the things I remember when I look at the pictures. It isn’t about the pictures. They are simply the process by which I can remember, the vehicle that helps me remember. That said the pictures are also important, just different. These were of the kids when they were little. The faces they used to make years ago. It is the mess that was feeding time at the family zoo at least at our house.  If it is a variable I understand, we consider each of the pictures presented today they each have their own story.

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Each one, creating a flow of words.

The pictures of yesterday of a moment now long gone are both joyous and wistful. Joyous in that they capture a moment. They capture something that happened all those years ago. In some cases, 10, 15, and even 20 years ago. I have a monitor next to my computer. The monitor is connected to a computer that plays a slide show of pictures on the hard drive of the computer. I realized yesterday that sometimes the reality of the images I see isn’t the conversation I share in the actual text. That I see the pictures on the screen in front o me, and write to those pictures rather than the pictures I share with the post here on Virily. Or, when I shared in other places there as well.

It isn’t an intent to mislead. It simply the reality of the pictures that I see. But it is also the emotions, and the feeling that seeing the kids when they are young bring back. I know the text wanders away from the pictures often. I would say, comment on the pictures, comment on the text either works, and both are good.

We are all prisoners of memories. But we are also freed by the very memories that hold us tight. That tug of war happens for me every single time I look at the pictures that were, the moments that were captured once and now stored and recalled. I apologize for the digression, the reality that the text and the pictures often do not match.

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Wander project away from home…


What does 1 million miles flown mean, it means you were away from home a lot. The pictures today from one of the many business trips I took. I like traveling with my family a lot more. Not that I resented work or felt that work was imposing on me. It was that I was away from home sometimes for two weeks. Although in fairness, my father also traveled for work. But he was gone for 2-3 months at a time when he traveled.

He traveled over the years to Saudi Arabia, Papua New Guinea, Australia, and Pakistan. In all cases, we had similar missions in the sense that we were there to make something better. He landed and spent time in countries, helping them become better prepared to teach science to students. I landed and helped customers better prepare for the new digital age of computers.  Dad’s was far nobler than mine was.

But for either of us, it was travel. Travel isn’t easy when you are alone. It is easier to travel alone than with a family because you only have to worry about one person. With a family, you worry about everyone. But you don’t worry about who is sitting next to you on the airplane. You already know who that person is.

I would not trade my travels for anything. I wish my family had been able to come with me! Pictures are from a trip to Hawaii in 2008).

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wander project Amsterdam!


It was cool by the time we got to the line for the Anne Frank house. The day before, when we had arrived, the line was halfway down the block and seemed to wind around three or four times. When we got to the area on the 2nd day, it ended in the middle of the building next to the Anne Frank house. My daughter wanted to see the house. So, we stood in line. We got there about two hours before it opened. As I said, it was cool. The funny thing about cool is when you are walking cool is awesome. When you are standing, still cool gets to be a bit much. We ended up getting hot coffee (and hot cocoa) while we were waiting and we huddled together to try to stay warm.

The emotional impact of the Anne Frank house is tremendous. First, because of my wife’s family history. But also simply because of the loss that Anne Frank’s death represents. Her diary is one of the classic books from the early 20th century. I have been to the house three times and walked away crying all three times. It had the same impact on my wife and daughter. The twins didn’t have the visceral emotional response, but it did make them sad.  It was a wonderful experience and one I highly recommend if you are ever in Amsterdam. We headed back to the hotel after completing the tour. After spending all day standing and climbing stairs, our daughter’s knee was in pain.

The last day in Amsterdam, our daughter couldn’t walk well. She decided to stay in the hotel and rest her knee. My wife wanted to see the Dutch Resistance museum before our late afternoon flight. We were flying back to Copenhagen, late afternoon and then the next day heading back to the US. The Dutch resistance museum talked about the Student rebellion against the Nazi invasion. It talked about the Indonesian rebellion against the Japanese invasion. We got to walk through a wonderful neighborhood to get to the museum. We also got to watch a bridge get raised on one of the canals that fed into the Grand Canal. They were moving building materials through the canal.

It was sad to leave Amsterdam.

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wander project Amsterdam Day 2


Our goal for our second day in Amsterdam was ambitious. We were already holding tickets for the Van Gogh museum at I think 9 am when it opened. We were then going to rush over to the Anne Frank house to stand in line. As I said, it was early and ambitious! But the Anne Frank house was my daughter’s number one thing she had to do in Amsterdam. Other than simply being in the city, my wife’s number one thing was the Van Gogh museum.  They were must do for the two of them! We got on the subway early. You can see how sleepy we were sitting in the subway station. Well, everyone but the photographer. He tends to get up earlier than the rest of the crew anyway.

I used to make fun of my dad, who went to bed early and got up early. Now that is what I do! The hotel we were staying at was right around the corner from the above-ground train station. We walked over and then headed down to the city. We were not going all the way into the city, and we stopped a couple of stops before Grand Central. We would be grabbing a bus. The system is effective in Amsterdam, although we did have a small disagreement about where we were. Well, where we were in relation to the map and the Van Gogh museum. We arrived near the museum, we were early, so we walked across the area between the museums.

There was a soccer tournament that blocked off the streets from cars. We were able to walk through — kind of fun to see the food area for soccer games.  We arrived at the museum roughly 20 minutes before our time. So we waited outside. It was cool, but not raining/  The Van Gogh museum was amazing. The only painting of his I wanted to see that is not there, I have seen previously (it is in the Louver), and that is Starry Night. We wandered the museum for a good two hours (that was about 1:59:00 longer than the twins wanted to). The museum is arranged by the various periods in the life of Vincent Van Gogh. From his early days to the later days.

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Wander project Amsterdam


By the time we got to Amsterdam, we had collected several things that were coming home with us. The number of things was, in fact, greater than the originally projected additions and we were short at least one bag. We wandered, after walking by the long line for the Anne Frank house and deciding to do that the next day, to the mall. The mall was fun, and there was an art store in the mall. My wife and daughter got ceramic elephants to decorate (they sadly are still in the boxes, in my wife’s office, but the intent was there). Perhaps they will be painted someday! We wandered around the very interesting mall and found a suitcase and luggage store. They had a rolling computer bag that was perfect for the amount of stuff.

Plus, we also added cheese in the Dutch cheese shop.  But we were barely able to squeeze everything in, once we added the additional bag. There were hats, statues, and of course, Captain Lars and his friends. But that was for a time, two in the future. We also wandered down to the drug store at the bottom of the building. There we got some cream for my ribs. That made all the difference, and I was able to fly home, walk, and not feel any pain. That cream was a lifesaver. It also didn’t have the horrible odor of Icy Hot, although I would not have minded the odor at that point. Pain relief was the goal of the cream. Sometimes when you are in pain, it doesn’t matter that you smell like a locker room!

That pretty much, other than going to the grasshopper was the agenda for day 1. The Grasshopper Restaurant is an Argentinian steak house in Holland. Right at the very edge of the Red Light District. I had eaten there many years before, and it was amazing food. I have been to the Grasshopper every time I’ve been to Amsterdam. So, dinner it was. The biggest carnivore in the family produced the food good and the steak perfect. (my daughter). We had a fun conversation before the meal, and one of the twins tried a local beer. There are evenings you have that you remember forever. This was one of those evenings. A great conversation, a great meal, and family all together!

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