wander project Kabul Afghanistan

There are many places that I have been to in my life that changed how I saw the world. I lived in Thailand, we moved there, and I saw the world differently. We went to several countries on that trip, and my world view expanded. But I can say now that only one of those trips made me see things differently in a massive way. We, on the way home from Thailand, went to spend a week with family friends in Afghanistan. There are many things I have read about the country, and since visiting, it has undergone even more change. But Afghanistan after Bangkok was jarring. I don’t mean that the people were mean, or that the food caused problems.

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It was jarring from the sense of going from a lush tropical country to the gray of Afghanistan. We landed in Kabul at the International Airport and went to our friend’s house. Our friend had been in Kabul since shortly after we had gone to Bangkok.  But I quickly learned that the land was amazing. Kabul was high in the mountains near the famous Khyber Pass. The Khyber is the land route through the mountains and has been the site of many historical battles. It was the primary land passage for that part of Russia to make it to India. It was the pass used by Russian troops as they invaded Afghanistan some five or six years after we visited the country.

The other thing I remember about Afghanistan was the views. The countryside was fun to view. The fact that many people still used camels to traverse the mountains was a little shocking. I also remember being told not to touch or get too near the camels. But seeing the camels loaded with goods walking along the side of the road was cool. The other thing was the decorated buses and trucks. In the US, trucks, and buses are normally plan. In Afghanistan, they decorated the buses. Coming from New Delhi, and Bangkok, we were used to people being crammed onto a bus. But the decorations of the trucks were the coolest thing to see. I will never forget the land, the people and the views!


Wander project Volcanoes

One of our authors, Alex S., is experiencing the ash side of a volcano in the Philippines. I would share my father’s pictures of Mauna Loa and Kilauea in Hawaii. The two sit in the middle of the Volcano National Park, parts of which were destroyed by the eruption of Kilauea in 2018. My father was a professor of science education, and his love was science. He was a biologist (he studied frogs) by training. His initial love of biology came from the great Wisconsin Biologist Aldo Leopold (his book on Door County, Wisconsin is considered the seminal look at the biology of that part of Wisconsin/ My grandfather loved Aldo Leopold!) as a child dad used to take me to the Indiana University School of Geology. We would also stop at the seismograph in the lobby of the building.

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More about Aldo Leopold (https://www.aldoleopold.org/about/aldo-leopold/)

Volcanoes are something not to be messed with. I went to see the aftermath of Mt. St. Helens eruption in upstate Washington on a trip to Seattle for one week. I was there nearly 14 years after the eruption, and much of the volcano peak had not grown back. At the time of the explosion and eruption, some trees went up the side of the volcano. Those had not returned. These pictures first are both at night and during the day. The observatory for eruptions at Volcano national park well away forms the two bubbling holes. When you go to the park (Volcano national park), you literally can walk around the hole in the ground that is where the area of the volcano.

Steam rises into the air. There are vents all around the edge of the hole, that water seeps into and then comes back out as steam. Lava, which is magma, from below the earth’s crust, is very hot (it is liquid rock). It produces light and heat. You can see the night pictures taken at a distance of more than a mile, but the light is shining. The picture taken during the day shows a more passive view with steam rising and some lava flowing away from the volcano. I would not get as close as these pictures were taken from. I much prefer viewing this from a greater distance. I remember dad and I wandering to the Geology building and watching the seismograph. It remains one of my fondest memories.


Stop by and wish Alex S. Best wishes, as he is getting pelted with volcanic ash!


wander project Thailand

The last picture today reminded me of my kids. They, the kids, used to make faces at the camera. I used to be frustrated, but then I gave up. Looking back at an old picture of me from Thailand, I know where my kids got that. I guess face making is a genetic component carried in one of the 23 shared pairs. I wonder if you can modify that. Probably not in my case. My wife was involved in theater, and when she makes faces, she makes BIG faces. The second picture is the one I want to focus on today. Not that the 3rd and 4th pictures aren’t worthy of words. They are truly wonderful pictures of my family and our housekeeper’s daughter (Mao), who came with us (she was my sister’s dearest friend in Thailand).

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Our housekeeper is a misnomer. Patana was the one constant after we arrived in Thailand. She made lunch for us every day. I would come home from school right before noon, and Patana was always there, ready to make lunch. She, Patana, came to visit us in the US a few years later. Her husband was a player in the Thai National Symphony (he played the Trombone). But the second picture is of the Sunday market. I miss the Sunday market. There are farmers’ markets in Maryland, and we go to them occasionally. They are not the same as the Sunday market in Bangkok. First, farmers markets in the US are small, at least the ones in Maryland are very small.

The Sunday market was huge. It sat on a field, and tents were raised Saturday afternoon. Table after table of the most amazing things was then laid out. For the Arlo Guthrie fans in the audience, it, the Sunday Market, was like Alice’s Restaurant. “You can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant (except Alice).” There was table after table of toys. Table after table of foods you never see in the US. Rambutan, Durian, Pineapple, and so much more. I remember dad buying a Durian. Patana yelled at him when she came to the house on Monday. We, dad, and I opened the Durian in the kitchen. The apartment smelled of death or whatever scent you assign to Durian. She pointed to the back porch off the kitchen. “you open Durian there,” she said.

I miss the Sunday markets!


wander project Thailand

I am wandering Thailand again pictures by my dad. There are around 900 pictures of the time we spent in Thailand. Today, we take many more digital pictures than we did back then. It cost a lot more money to take pictures in the days of film than it does today in the age of digital images. I suspect people forget that once upon a time, the 1000 or so pictures my father took in Thailand probably cost, on average, 14 cents or more per picture. Even factoring in the cost o fa digital camera, the average digital picture quickly gets to less than 2 cents a picture. I have two digital cameras, and with them have taken more than 15000 pictures over the last four years. The cost per picture continues to drop.

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But this isn’t a why did film cost so much blog. Nor is it specific to the pictures I am sharing from 40 plus years ago. Rather this is a blog about my mother. Mom was the stabilization for us when we first moved to Thailand. My dad was a great teacher, and when he was home, he helped all of us. But he was often at work when we first moved to Thailand. We were for the first month put up in a hotel by the IPST (Thai Government Group that the UNESCO educators worked with). My parents researched the schools before we arrived. The school they choose didn’t have an opening for my sister, but they did for me. So I got up early in the morning and wandered off to school.

Mom picked up teaching my sister for a semester at home. I went off to Bangkok Patana School. My youngest sister was not school age then. But mom taught my sister, and then when I came home from school, she helped me with homework. She watched my little sister as well. I would get up very early (5 am) as my school started early in the morning (helping us stay cooler by starting in the morning). BPS was a long bus ride from the Hotel and a long bus ride from our apartment (that we moved to after a month or so). But when we were in the hotel, I would go down to the hotel restaurant and have breakfast every morning before heading off to school. I felt like a big kid because most mornings, I was there with the other kids heading to school. Mom stayed upstairs.

Mom remains my hero to this day! I am not sure I say thank you to Mom for all the things she did for us for all those years!


wander project dads pictures

I’ve been on both sides of the family conversation – the photographer and the photographed. The pictures today were all taken by my father in the early 1970s. Some of the images are less than perfect. I don’t edit or clean up the pictures my father left me. That is more personal than anything else. To me, he gave them, and they ere scanned; from there, I can’t edit them now. I know that I will someday clean up the pictures and fix some of the yellowing, but for now, they are as they were the last time my father touched them. In some cases, the pictures or the slides were not touched for 30 or more years when I was little dad used to have us all come into the living room.

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He would bring out the old Kodiak projector and the slide carousels, and he would show us some of the pictures of the world. All of us had traveled with dad to Thailand but traveled on his own after that. When we were older and moved out of the house, mom would sometimes go with dad as he wandered the world. But back then, the slides were our connection to the world beyond where we were. We, after returning from Thailand (and we, I mean mom and dad, we the kids were along for the ride) sponsored and helped many Thai students that came to Indiana University. I will never forget many of those students. They came from the land I loved and spent time with us in Indiana.

I won’t name names, but there were so many. We would have delightful Thai food and wonderful parties. Dad would trot out the Kodak Carousel projector, and we would discuss the places he had been. I remember those evenings. I don’t think at the time I was the best audience, but looking back now, it is easy to let the bias flow away from me, I miss them. My grandfather used to show old home movies on his projector. My father showed slides of places in the world he had been. I miss both of those, sharing places and things captured on a camera. Yesterday launched onto a screen hung in the living room or the family room by the fireplace. I miss the moments shared and shown.


wander project another Dog…

When we returned from Thailand, we decided to add a second dog to our family. We had the wonderful Newfoundland, Phoebe Kuma, and wanted another big dog. We finally decide on getting a Great Pyrenees. Prys are white, Newfs are black. We figured that was a great contrast for the back yard. The first couple of pictures today are of Frosty. I want to say that Frosty joining our family was always good. It was tough. Frosty, came from a place in Wisconsin. We went to pick her up, and we had to pick up dad at O’Hare airport. Dad had been out of the country, and we were going to pick Frosty up, drive into Chicago beltway, and then pick dad up.

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Frosty laid in the back window of the Sedan we had then. She also threw up mud. Well, she threw up, it was mostly dirt and dirt in a dogs stomach becomes mud.  Frosty wasn’t always the most stable dog. Later in life, she would no longer accept fences… But at the time, she was our cute puppy. Early on in her joining our family, she started carrying the bone around like a cigar. We often said she was smoking the bone. She literally would walk around the back yard with the bone in her mouth.  She and Phoebe got along well. But Phoebe was a mellow dog. She would, on occasion, break my mothers’ rules, but not very often. Frosty, on the other hand, was very high strung.

The 3rd picture is of my much younger sister and Frosty. The last picture is of the Continental divide. The Continental Divide is an imaginary line drawn in the US Rocky Mountains. All water that falls on the eastern half flows towards the Mississippi River. All the water that falls on the western side heads to the Pacific Ocean. The picture has me, my mother, and both my sisters posed for the sign. I suspect dad would be taken a picture of just the sign and been happy. My mother was usually the one that asked him to add the kids to the pictures. I know how dad felt; my wife often makes me include humans in sign pictures. That picture is a great one though, for the family memories!


wander project the dogs

Start back in Cincinnati, Ohio (our Aussie Shepard Gwen) we’ve had a dog in the house. Before Gwen, we had Blackie. Blackie was a welsh corgi terrier mix, and he ended up nipping our daughter when she was small. Blackie went off to live on a farm. I suspect he was a lot happier there. Gwen joined us shortly after Blackie left. Gwen was always an interesting dog. She was very athletic and could pluck popcorn out of the air. She was also very territorial and made sure nobody ran in her back yard. She was also terrified of thunderstorms. Gwen was also the first and last dog that I wasn’t involved in the selection of and finding. Dogs are family members.


You must take the time to find the right dog, not for one person but the family. Yes, dogs often find one person in the house that is their special person. But they interact, talk to, and play with everyone in the family. Gwen didn’t do well with everyone. When we left, Cincinnati Gwen came with us. She lived in our first and our 2nd house in Cincinnati, as well as our house in Greenwood, Indiana. Gwen was a very independent dog. She wasn’t happy when we decided to add Fran to our family. Fran was the outcome of my daughter, and I did a lot of research. We got so much input from people that weren’t going to be involved with taking care of the dog.

We feel in love with a Great Dane (a really hard breed of dog). But, talking to some people online, it had a perfect personality, but they only lived eight or fewer years at best. That felt too short to my daughter and I. We decided on a Lab. After that decision, my daughter decided that it had to be a yellow lab. I started looking for Lab puppies, but yellow labs go quick. I finally found a breeder, and she emailed me a picture of the five-week-old litter. I sent her a check as a deposit, and we waited what seemed like the longest time ever. Or we waited for five weeks, but we finally went and picked up Fran.

Fran moved with us from Indiana to Maryland and, like Gwen, lived with us in 3 different houses.

After a year or so, we added Dylan. Fran had a bad leg and couldn’t walk. I needed someone to walk with me.

After Fran passed, Dylan was lonely, so we added Raven.

The dogs of our lives!