heritage – a photo challenge

The interesting thing about our heritage is that we don’t get to choose it, it’s been selected for us and we have to wear and share it forward, or it ends.

Today, May 20 would’ve been my dad’s 84th birthday. I was looking for a photo to post on Facebook and I found a flash drive loaded with photos I had scanned on a visit home in August ‘11. I found family photos ranging from before I was born until my early twenties. It brought back memories. I remember that trip home as if it was the other day. Where have I been? – August ‘11.

my parent’s wedding day photo – left to right back row – my mother’s mother, her father’s mother, her father, my father’s mother and father. Front row – my mother’s sister – Joy, my mother and father, and my mother’s sister’s boyfriend – Frank

One of the photos I found was my parent’s wedding photo. They were married September 1, 1960. It was the same date as my mother’s parents wedding date 33 years before. Continue reading heritage – a photo challenge

Thanks, mom

I’d be nothing without my mom.

I live almost a thousand miles from mom and I don’t get to see her as often as I’d prefer, but we talk and I occasionally write a letter or note. She responds and I love reading those letters and notes.

A couple of weeks ago, I took off to see my mom. It was a quick trip down and back in about two days. Mom still lives in the house where we all grew up. When I was home, I got to sleep in my old bedroom for the first time in a couple of years. On the morning I was to leave, I texted her that I was excited to come and visit,

Can’t believe I am going to go to sleep in the house where I grew up – can’t wait to see you. Love Clay

and she responded with,

The corner room you and Robert painted ORANGE. It’s still showing on the screen.

Yeah, she let me paint my bedroom orange. I don’t know what I was thinking or why I thought orange was a good color for my bedroom, but she let me paint the walls orange. It stayed orange until a few years later when I left for college, and when I came back it wasn’t orange anymore.

April 2017 – mom and her three sons…

My mom let me do all sorts of things that taught me lessons that her words or my ears would not allow.

She let me make the mistakes that she knew would hurt, but the experience would help me grow.

When I pulled into the driveway at 1:45 in the morning, she was up waiting. It was wonderful to see her. I gave her a big hug and we sat down to talk. An hour later, I had to excuse myself and go to bed, but if I could’ve stayed awake, we would’ve talked until the sun rose.

My brother took the photo above Saturday morning. It was great to see her and to see my two brothers. We celebrated her birthday Friday night and on Saturday morning my brothers came over and we all went for coffee before David had to go to work- that’s when the photo was snapped. Warren and I spent the rest of the day together and I gave my mom a BIG hug before I left Saturday afternoon. Continue reading Thanks, mom

#FinishSTRONG

It’s that time of the year. It’s the end of the school year. As of this moment, there are 19 days remaining in the school year, that is if I count school days only. Sandwiched in between those final four weeks are three weekends and one of them is a three-day weekend. The kids know it, the teachers know it, there is no good way to hide it. So, I don’t try to hide the fact that the days are slipping away towards summer break.

Memorial Park – Sunday, April 23 – today was just as sunny, but the tulips weren’t as vibrant.

Right now, it’s the middle of spring. The flowers and trees are blooming and today is a beautiful sunny spring afternoon. The sky is so blue, I can almost taste it. Last night, we had a frost warning, but I didn’t see any frost on the yard or on the rooftops when I looked out across the yard this morning. It was cool, but evidently, not cold enough.

But warmer days will soon be here, then summer, summer break, and before I realize it, I’ll be back in school again. It’s a cycle, the always repeating cycle of life and the seasons.

A couple of weeks ago I got the email below from a student. Continue reading #FinishSTRONG

He is risen, indeed.

It’s Easter Sunday morning and I am thinking of Betty Fulton. Every Easter I remember her and her reminder that the proper Easter greeting is NOT,

“Happy Easter,”

but, “He is risen.”

She drilled it in to me and every one of her Sunday school students, as well as the proper Easter response,

“He is risen, indeed.”
Easter eggs from 2012….

I last saw Mrs. Fulton at my youngest brother’s wedding some 30 years ago. She was not only my Sunday school teacher, but a friend of my mother’s and larger than life. I am not certain which came first – Sunday school teacher or family friend. She and her husband Bill, would come to visit on the weekends, they lived close and sometimes we would go to their home, but mostly they would visit and talk at the table in the kitchen laughing and telling stories. Continue reading He is risen, indeed.

Surprise: a photo challenge

It’s Good Friday and I am out of school. It’s called a local holiday on the calendar, but it’s really Good Friday.

I am always surprised by the beauty of each daffodil….

Several weeks ago, I wrote about the arrival of Spring in a Time for Everything. At the time the crocus were beginning to break through the soil and return color to the world. Since then, more color has arrived. The grass is greener, the trees are beginning to bud, and the daffodils are in full bloom.

I took a peak at the Daffodil Glade at the Morton Arboretum this morning. And I found the glade ready for our annual visit for Easter photos. It was a surprise. Even though I know every year the daffodils bloom, it’s always a surprise.

yellow on white daffodils are bunched together

Continue reading Surprise: a photo challenge

The Great War

Tuesday after school I was talking with a colleague, we were discussing what we were doing in our classes. He teaches music and is our band leader. I mentioned that I loved seeing his “I am marching for…” photos and explanations on the walls of my school before AND after Memorial Day in a blog post in 2014 and I asked if he planned to assign the project again this year. He replied,

“Absolutely.”

I mentioned to him that I was the person who did the “Today in History” slides for our school’s morning announcements. He told me he enjoyed them and always shared them with his first period class, but noted that the “Today in History” slide for the day, Tuesday April 4 was rather somber. I agreed – Dr. King is assassinated. I mentioned that Tuesday was the 49th anniversary of the shooting and that I had planned out several memorable ‘Today in History’ slides, for the remainder of the school year – namely today’s slide – U.S. Enters World War 1.

“What a dumb war,” he said immediately.

Yes, what a dumb war, indeed. I agreed. I couldn’t agree with him more. It was a dumb war, most wars are.

Today is the 100-year anniversary of the United States Congress’s Declaration of War on Germany. Only Congress can declare war, but the president must request the Congress to declare war before a joint session of both the Senate and the House of Representatives. President Wilson had come before Congress only days before and asked Congress to declare war on April 2 and four days later the United States House of Representatives voted 373-50 in favor and the United States Senate followed with a vote of 82-6. And, then the United States joined the Allies against Germany. Continue reading The Great War

April Fool

It’s our last day of spring vacation and I awoke early to watch the sun rise over the ocean, one last time, or at least until next Spring Break. At home, I can always wake to see the sunrise, but it doesn’t have the majesty of the sun rising on the horizon over the ocean, though the very act of the sun rising bring a new day and a new opportunity to make the day count is something special.

Saturday morning’s last ocean sunset, for me at least

I’ll get to see the sunset one last time before we take off and head home. Here 77F (25C) and home 32F (0C), Spring is just around the corner I keep reminding myself. Seemingly, April’s April Fool prank on me – April Fool.

Fort Jefferson in Dry Tortuga National Park – from our trip Thursday

Continue reading April Fool

The Dash: sunrise to sunset

Every morning the sun rises and every evening the sun sets. It happens every day, everywhere. Sometimes the time in between the sunrise and sunset is longer, sometimes, it’s shorter, but on average it rounds out to about twelve hours of daylight. Yesterday the sun rose here at 7:18 AM and set at 7:38 PM. We had twelve hours and twenty minutes of daylight in between sunrise and sunset, of course there was a bit more light in the dawn and dusk periods.

​The dash. It’s what happens in between which matter most. I remember reading an article about the poem, “The Dash” by Linda Ellis. The poem is about a eulogy and what is most important in our lives, what happens in the time between when we are born and when we die. It’s a wonderful, and deep, concept to consider. However, it’s more important to live life rather than think about it.

I read of a man who stood to speak
at the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on the tombstone
from the beginning…to the end

Yesterday morning I was up early for the sunrise. I made my coffee and watched patiently as the sun rose above the horizon. Slowly sipping my coffee, I snapped 85 photos in the 43 minutes from first to last photo. That is a short dash, but much happened in between, the sun’s rays were visible well before the sun broke the horizon and finally appeared above the cloudbank in the east.

Yesterday afternoon we took a trip to one of our favorite beaches, Bahia Honda State Park. We visit the beach every time we are here.

Much has happened in between that first visit, and now. In all of our lives – my life, my wife’s life, W and O’s lives, as well as the life of our family. It’s shaped who we are and how we look at the world.

For that dash represents all the time
that they spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved them
know what that little line is worth.

We had a wonderful time at the beach. We arrived late in the day and the beach was mostly ours. It was low tide and the beach was wide. We staked our space and settled in. O and I built a sand castle.  B watched as we constructed, then walked the beach searching for seashells, then we all took an ocean dip. It was a wonderful time. O was reluctant to leave as she was having such a good time in the surf.

The tide had begun to rise and by the time we packed our things and readied to return home the water’s edge was a few feet from our spot. I had scribbled Making the Days Count dot org in the sand earlier and when we left the tide had erased my mark.

Continue reading The Dash: sunrise to sunset

it IS easy being green

It’s Spring Break: the annual time in the year when people in the northern parts of the United States flock to warmer climates ahead of the warming temperatures where we live. I’ll admit it was ‘spring-like’ when we left Friday afternoon with temperatures soaring to the low 80s (mid to upper 20sC) but today the temperatures are back to normal – highs in the 40s (8-9C) and lows close to freezing overnight.

white sand, green seas, and blue skies…

We’re in south Florida – the Keys – where we spent break last year and have been several times before. Here it’s green year-round and the temperature variance is quite small for this time of the year. During the day, the highs reach the low 80s and overnight it cools to the low 70s, It’s pleasant. Continue reading it IS easy being green

The Circus

I teach 8th grade and sometimes I feel like I am the ringleader in a circus.

“There’s a sucker born every minute.” P. T. Barnum

In January, when the I first heard the news that the Ringing Brothers and Barnum Bailey Circus would be ceasing operations in May, I did a quick search to find out where the circus would be before it ended it’s 146-year run. I discovered it was in Cincinnati, Ohio – a short five-hour drive away. 317 miles, give or take. I did a quick search of tickets and found they were available. I mentioned it to B and we remembered the summer we met and when went to the circus with a large group. We laughed about the memory and then, I forgot about it and the idea shifted to the bottom of the pile.

Last weekend the memory came back and Monday night and I sent O a short text, ‘Circus?’ and another six minutes later, Circus?’ No response.

The next morning, I mentioned the circus before I left for school and left it that. No response.

Wednesday I got my reply in a text, ‘I will go with you to the circus.’ Continue reading The Circus