greetings from our garden

I love our garden and our backyard. I enjoy sitting at the patio table outside and working. We’ve lived in our home almost 31 years and it has evolved and grown.

The backyard is peaceful and calming unless a lawn crew next door or across the street. But lawn crews are here briefly, except for Saturday morning, but I am usually out of the house volunteering at the food pantry. The birds nor the flowers seem to mind.

hydrangeas on the south side of the house

This morning Fern and I woke before six and we spent our morning routine outside on the deck. The birds chirped, mostly house sparrows and cardinals, but I have seen American robins, black capped chickadees, house finches, and an occasional American goldfinch at the feeders. And the hummingbirds, occasionally I’ll hear a buzz to my left and look up to watch a hummingbird move in for a drink. Continue reading greetings from our garden

Tuesday’s Tune – The Lion Sleeps Tonight

As a kid I never gave thought to what teachers did over summer break. I was free. I could sleep late, stay up late, and read what and when I wanted.

I am finishing my twenty-third summer break as a teacher. That first summer, 1999, really wasn’t a break at all. It was spent applying for jobs, and interviews, and finally landing a teaching job in the middle of July.

photo courtesy of the Express – click to read the article – King of the jungle: Dramatic moment ferocious lion kills wildebeest in just 60 SECONDS

I remember that interview well, it was more a conversation than an interview. I remember walking out of the principal’s office and seeing the eleven o’clock interviewee waiting and thinking that I had nailed the interview. Actually, we both did. Both of us were hired that year and will still teach at the same school, today.

Now twenty-three year later, I know teachers are busy but I can still do those things I did as a kid. But school is coming and it’s like a lion.

In the jungle, the mighty jungle
The lion sleeps tonight
In the jungle the quiet jungle
The lion sleeps tonight

The end of summer is like the lion, it sleeps and then roars. School begins next week, and I’ve spent summer doing those things I said I’d do when school was out, and I had more time. I’ve also spent time thinking and re-thinking how I am going to approach this year. I took a class, and I taught a class and though it all, I am ready to get back to school next Monday.

Last week, I taught a class. It was a one-day teacher’s camp, and it was optional for all of us – teachers and learners, though only teachers came. The class I taught was titled, Lions and Wildebeest – using Puzzles to Engage 21st Century Learners.

The class was based on a lesson that I taught last spring. It was a Monday lesson before spring break. My science classes had finished a major unit the previous Friday and taken the test. We had five days before spring break with three days of state-mandated testing set for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Experience taught me not much beyond testing would be done that week and I needed a lesson to encourage my students to be curious and full of wonder and be ready for the fourth quarter which would begin the Monday after break.

at my summer office… the tools needed to solve the puzzle

So, I introduced Lions and Wildebeest. It’s a riddle. The riddle challenges students to think and collaborate. Exactly what was needed for our students. The premise is simple, Continue reading Tuesday’s Tune – The Lion Sleeps Tonight

summer learning

The sound of rain woke me this morning at 5:35 AM and the thought I’d forgotten to roll up my windows got me out of bed. Any other summer morning, I might have gotten up, gone to the bathroom, and crawled back beneath the covers, but not this morning. I pulled on a pair of shorts, grabbed my car keys, and walked out to my car to confirm that I had forgotten to roll up my windows.

me and the bridge, right out of the car

I not sure the term ‘roll up the windows’ applies any longer. The last car I had that had manual windows was the 1971 VW Beetle or it could have been the 1985 Jetta, but it has been a long time since I have rolled up the window with a hand crank. I did remember to bring the key and I had to start the car before I could get the windows closed. I am glad I woke when I did, it continues to gently rain as I begin to write a couple of hours later.

Maybe next time, I’ll remember to close my windows or at least check them, when I know rain is in the forecast. After all, last night we covered the boats, closed the shack door, and put away summer things in anticipation of the rain this morning. It is something we learned under grandpa years ago. It’s summer learning, but it could be said that ‘some’re learning’ which is how ‘some are learning’ sounds if you aren’t listening to the context.

School restarts for me, a week from tomorrow. I am excited to get back to school and try somethings I learned this summer and continue to practice what I’ve learned about teaching kids in the past twenty-three years. The first three days of school are filled with meetings, time to plan, and time to get the room ready for the kids who join us on Thursday, August 18.

A couple of friends joined us this past Wednesday and as always, we enjoyed their visit. They are the same couple who we vacationed with this past spring in the Keys. They are also the same couple we drove home with after BOTH of our flights home were cancelled on Saturday, April 2. All four of us sharing driving time through Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and southeastern Indiana where their son was able to meet them and take them to their home in southwestern Ohio.

Thursday morning, we decided on a visit to Mackinac. It’s pronounced – mack-in-naw and it is Ojibwa word for ‘turtle’ and refers to the island which dominates the strait between the upper and lower peninsula.

the mighty Mack

We could not have chosen a better day for our trip; clear blue skies with puffy clouds drifting across the horizon and comfortable temperatures.

We arrived at Colonial Michilimackinac Historic State Park and it was good to stretch our legs even after the short drive of 85 miles; nothing like our journey in April when we stopped only to switch drivers, refuel, and….. Continue reading summer learning

the race

It’s race weekend in the town near the lake where we spend much of our summer. Actually, as I am about to press, PUBLISH, the race is complete. If you watch the video, winners are the third canoe to pass and while the canoe in the lead finishes in second place. It’s a long race.

The race creates excitement for Grayling. And for us, too.

Yesterday was busy. Our kids, led by W, decided they were going to scuba dive in the lake. Both are scuba certified but that didn’t make my wife, or I feel any better about diving in the lake off the pontoon boat. But they did and they had a wonderful time.

Afterwards, they spent time on the lake, and we gathered at the table for dinner – ribs, beans, and salads (not pictured, but delicious).

Then it was off to watch the start of the race, the AuSable River Canoe Marathon. Town is only minutes from the lake and the river source is in the highlands north of the lake. Two other rivers have their sources in the highlands around us and all three are known for their trout fishing and canoeing. Continue reading the race

W^2 – torn

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, July 27, 2022

The present – rain on the window, Lake Margrethe, Grayling, MI July 27, 2022, 8:45 AM

I was torn for this post. I haven’t taken many photos over the past week. It rained quite a lot this weekend at home, almost three inches over two days: an early Saturday morning thunderstorm and gentler rain overnight Saturday into Sunday morning. The vegetation is thriving at home.

I arrived yesterday afternoon at the lake, for the annual family gathering for the canoe race. It’s a family tradition when we gather to watch the canoe teams begin paddling the AuSable River overnight eastward toward Lake Huron. But this morning, we had gentle rain to moisten the lawn, the forest, the front window. Today there only three of us – me, my wife, and our daughter. Our son and his wife will be joining us late Thursday night and our weekend party will be complete, including four dogs.

In the meantime, there are prospects for an improvement in the day’s weather as the storm passes through. The forecast for the weekend is warm sunny days.

As I mentioned I was torn between two photos: the one above and the one below. The Echinacea hybrid was taken at Ball Horticultural Company’s demonstration garden not far from our home.

The past – Echinacea hybrid Sombrero Lemon Yellow, Ball Horticultural Company, West Chicago, IL July 22, 2022, 12:26 PM

Today is going to be a great day. So, I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the days Count one day at a time, trying to choose between the present and the past.

Which do you prefer? the present or the past?

W^2 – mailbox

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, July 20, 2022.

WOW, three months ago today our yard and mailbox had a very different look. Summer is in full swing here; it has been warm and humid but not the oppressive heat other places around the globe have been experiencing. We are blessed. The flowers and trees and birds are flourishing.

our mailbox in the apex of summer, Wheaton, IL July 19, 2022 8:03 AM

In April I woke to discover my wife’s mailbox in a state of winter – W^2 cruel and yesterday it was in a state of summer. Ninety-one days separate the posts and ninety-two, the pictures.

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller

Summer is moving quickly and in a few scant weeks, I’ll be back at school, teaching kids and learning all sorts of new things.

In the meantime, I am going to make my summer days count. Four weeks from tomorrow I’ll have a classroom full of excited and anxious sixth graders. It’s going to be a great year, but I have the present to focus on, So I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the days Count one day at a time, focusing on the present and learning from the past.

How is the weather on your slice of the globe? Continue reading W^2 – mailbox

at rest, in peace

I began writing this post two weeks ago in Cincinnati, Ohio and didn’t finish in the time I had. I started writing after the Reds game Friday night and worked on polishing it in the coffee shop Saturday morning. But I couldn’t quite find the right words or flow. It was the last full day of my epic baseball trip and I wanted to make it on time to Cleveland, so I stopped and crafted a different post.

Of all the cities and stadiums, I visited on my trip, Pittsburgh was my favorite. I felt connected from the moment I arrived, I felt welcome, I felt home.

PNC Park and the Pittsburgh Skyline, the yellow bridge is the Roberto Clemente Bridge dedicated after his death in 1973.

Before I left Pittsburgh, I visited my paternal grandparents. They are buried in a beautiful cemetery to the south of the city center. I had intended to visit them before the game, but I was late leaving Philadelphia. The cemetery where they lay at rest, in eternal peace, was in the general direction I was traveling. So, it was a win-win. I could visit them and get closer to Friday’s destination, Cincinnati.

my grandfather with me on the left and my Warren on the right. 1964, Bay City, Texas

My grandfather died in 1971 at the age of fifty-two. I was nine years old and remember the summer evening we learned of his death. He died peacefully on July 17, 1971.

It’s funny the things you remember from your childhood and growing up. Continue reading at rest, in peace

learning

Yesterday, I went for a hike at my favorite hiking spot, Herrick Lake Forest Preserve. It’s a short drive from house and it makes a huge difference in my hike compared to my neighborhood. I’ve posted photos from previous hikes at the forest preserve. The preserve has woods, a prairie, and a marsh and the main crushed limestone hiking trail winds through it all.

the access road I take to get to the trail

It was a beautiful day and I had initially planned to hike first in the morning, but I decided to hike later in the day. I knew it would be relaxing and restorative.

When I had arrived home from the lake Monday afternoon, I discovered a house with no internet. I tried to resolve the issue, but a solution was beyond my capabilities. I called for support and learned the earliest a service technician appointment was available, was Thursday morning with an 8-12 service window.

The main reason I had come home from the lake was that I had enrolled in a graduate level class to learn more about assessing students in my science classes. Assessment or grades have been a HOT TOPIC in public education over the past couple of years and I wanted to learn more. The class was virtual with two internet ZOOM meetings.

I could use my phone as an internet hot spot, but the prospect of ZOOMING using my phone concerned so I decided to use the local public library for my heavy internet usage. It worked out well and I was patient and waited for the service tech to arrive Thursday morning.

When the tech arrived, I was outside working at my ‘summer office’ on the deck using my phone as my internet connection. I invited him, but he told me he wanted to start outside the house where the line enters the house. That’s where he found the problem, somewhere down the line there was a broken connection. A couple of years ago we had an outage and it caused by mice chewing on the wires in the junction box in the backyard. We talked about it, and he told me that it was a common problem and he laughed saying animals gave him job security.

He told me that he couldn’t make the repair, but another service tech was needed to find the break and make the repair. He told me I didn’t need to be home for the repair, so I used the opportunity to take off and hike. Continue reading learning

W^2 – no hurry

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday July 13, 2022

Deer crossing Margrethe Boulevard, Grayling Michigan July 8, 2022, 1:54 PM

Fortunately, I saw this at 25 mph and not 60 mph. I stopped to give this doe and her fawns time to cross the road from one forest to another. These three were in no hurry and slowly crossed the road.

It’s Wednesday and the middle of the week. I have a list of to dos and it seems I am in the one who isn’t in a hurry, but I should be.

“Wherever you are, be all there” Jim Elliot

Today is gonna be a great day and tomorrow could possibly be a million and six times better. But I am sticking to the present and going to pay attention to what is ahead. So, I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the days Count one day at a time, moving from one thing to the next.

What are you in a hurry to get done today?

Tipping point

It is Sunday morning and my last day at the lake for this trip. I’ll be heading home tomorrow morning to focus on my summer to dos. I enjoy my time by the lake, and it serves its purpose: I am rested, relaxed, and getting closer to the restoration that I need after a year of teaching.

I was up well before the rest of the house. It was a beautiful Michigan July summer morning; temperatures in the upper 40s, fog hanging close to the still mirror-like lake, and clear blue skies. The past few days began the same with highs in the low 80s. It promises to be a beautiful day.

Friday afternoon on the lake under the sun

Today is also Day 38 of summer break with thirty-six days remaining. I keep track of the days only to remind myself that summer is finite. Yesterday was the tipping point of summer. It was the point at which the first part moves into the second part or the first half changes to the second half. Summer is an arc, either way it means that I am on the downward side of the arc. Continue reading Tipping point