Monday morning coffee

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I desperately needed my coffee this morning. I am glad I remembered to setup the coffeemaker before I went to bed last night, and even then, it was a challenge to get moving.

I spent the first hour of the morning with my feet up on the hassock sipping a cup of coffee, looking out the front window at the lake, reading the news, sifting through e-mails, and in general allowing the time to slip through my fingers and then, I got busy replying to posted comments and reading blog posts.

Over two hours have passed since I crawled out of bed this morning and I begin to write. My mind is all a jumble of thoughts going every which way. B is awake, I can hear the printer upstairs spitting out a sheet, or two. At first, I thought it was J – B’s sister, or O getting up and coming downstairs. But, the sound changed and I realized it was B printing from her iPad in our room. She woke and came out thirty minutes or so ago and asked me why I had set my alarm for 6 AM, after all, we are on vacation and I relied that I wanted to be up early, before everyone else. Satisfied she had an answer, she went back into the bedroom closing the door behind her. I suppose my alarm woke her up and she hadn’t been able to get back to sleep.

Coffee has never tasted so good, as it did this morning. Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge – Summer Lovin’

Summer means so many things – it means sunny warm days, cool nights, road trips, family, swimming, boating, sleeping late, staying up long after dark, gentle rain showers, and campfires beside the lake wrapped in a beach towel to keep my back warm…. It also means keeping it short and sweet like a melted marshmallow with a chunk of chocolate on a graham cracker… I can even taste it….

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Making the Days Count, one day at a time, one summer memory at a time….

What summer memories do you have?

Today’s post is in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge – prompt – at Word Press.  The week’s prompt is “Summer Lovin’.” This week, share a photo that says summer lovin’ to you. It might be a favorite pair of sandals you can’t bear to part with, the homemade salsa you made with veggies from your garden, the flowers you planted, or your family frolicking on the beach. If summer is on the way in your hemisphere, show us something hot hot hot: your homemade sriracha sauce, some friends shuckin’ and jivin’ on the dance floor, or even the furnace or boiler that heats your home.

License plates and sunshine

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our route – I think I could do it with my eyes closed….

We are all back up north – B, W, O, Ivy, and me. If I could, I’d stay up here forever, but there is something called money, and a job, that keeps me from doing just that. And, perhaps being up north might lose it’s luster if it weren’t an occasional treat like ice cream or chocolate. This is the place that grandpa built – it’s the place for family and more memories than I can write about for now. B’s sister will be joining us later this evening for a short visit and grandma will be coming up next week. It’ll be a good time.

We came up Sunday afternoon. We had planned to come up Sunday morning, but we just needed to take our time. I’d been at Beauty and Charm all week and W came home from football Saturday afternoon and wouldn’t move – he was so tired. He needed to pack for his scouting trip next week to the boundary waters trip in northern Minnesota, but he just lied there on his bed, so we let him sleep. He slept from 6PM until 8AM Sunday morning, he must’ve been tired, because when we got here Sunday night, he slept another ten hours into Monday morning. We drove both of the cars because W has to go back Friday for his trip and one of us has to drive him.

O, Ivy, and I left first in my car and B and W followed hers with W driving. Driving 359 miles can be a drain. O was watching a movie on the iPad beside me and I was driving, paying attention to traffic, and listening to a Market Place podcast when I had a brilliant idea, why not count the number of different state license plates we saw along our way? I nudged O and explained my idea. I asked her how many she thought we might see and she replied 24. She was in. We had rules for our game – only cars and pickup trucks, no buses, and commercial vehicles like tractor-trailer rigs or delivery trucks. And, only US states, no Canada plates. She quickly called out our first license plate – Illinois. We quickly had ten or so – Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, and Minnesota and we had fourteen when B called to check in and I told her about our game. She took it as a challenge and it was game on. Driving along the interstates made it easier: I-80, I-90, I-94, and I-196 are heavily trafficked but once we were north of Grand Rapids, we didn’t see another new license plate.

We finished with 24 and B and W beat us Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge – Containers

the Standard Model
the Standard Model

I blinked this week, and I missed it. On Tuesday, my summer reached its halfway point. I’ve been busy and distracted and I’ve been working to make the days count – helping my wife, running errands, gardening, driving my kids to activities, or driving to and from Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin. I’ve had some time to rest, relax, and rejuvenate, but I wish I had a container to bottle up summer and hold it for a time when I really could use it, but I don’t.

I’ve been busy this past week at Beauty and Charm and I’ve been busy all day. It’s made my brain hurt and that’s been a good thing – it’s made me think about what I’ll be teaching next year and ways I can teach it so that kids get it, understand it, and enjoy it because next year is going to be a challenge for me. I am switching content areas and grade levels. Since I began teaching fifteen years ago, I’ve taught Language Arts or Geography as my concentration and all but one of those years has been spent teaching seventh grade. It’s tricky to explain, but at the middle school level social studies is typically a shared subject. Teachers are organized into teams of three or four teachers; each teacher teaches one subject – math, science, reading, and English and each teacher teaches one class period of social studies. It’s not a perfect system but it works because at the middle level, education is more focused on developing the student’s skills in reading, writing, math, thinking, and organization. So much is developing between sixth and eighth grade socially, emotionally, and physically that academic or intellectual development is miniscule in comparison. Next year I’ll be teaching science to eighth graders. I am excited, but at the same time, it’ll be my first time to teach science. Ever. So, I know it’ll be fun, but it’s also going to be a challenge.

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this 15 foot tall bubble chamber contained 8,000 gallons of liquid helium – it was designed to help Fermilab physicists see the bubble trails of sub-atomic particles

That is how I ended up at Beauty and Charm. Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge – Relic

reidcropLast April, for Spring Break, we came to visit my mother-in-law and father-in-law. In fact, that’s where I found myself yesterday morning, in Ohio. We arrived Saturday night in time to watch the Reds score five runs in the fifth inning with my mother-in-law, then watch the Pirates tie it in the ninth, and win it in the eleventh inning with home runs by the same batter. The reds lost, but, I digress. I usually do, apologies.

It was an odd spring break, while most of our contemporaries were enjoying time away with their kids, B and I were dealing with end of life issues with her older sister and her father, my father-in-law. We still are. B’s sister passed away in April, and her dad passed away in June. We are reeling. While B has been driving back and forth to Ohio, I’ve had the kids. It’s easier for us because of our flexibility during the summer. I am relatively free.

I couldn’t have been more fortunate to have found the family I did – my in-laws are like second parents, like friends. Several years ago, I began joking with my mother-in-law that she was my favorite mother-in-law and she retorted that I was her favorite son-in-law. Every now and then I’ll start a conversation with, “you know, you are my favorite mother-in-law….” And she will respond in kind. We’ll howl and sip our coffee and talk about the day or what is happening, or just talk baseball. She’s a big Reds fan and part of the reason I pull for the Reds. As for the ‘favorite’ business – it is a no contest, as she and I are the only ones of each kind. I suppose it would be a tight contest if my brother-in-laws were still around. I lost one to divorce in ‘92 and I lost another when he passed away unexpectedly in ‘03 at the age of 52. Both were great men and treated me like a younger brother. I certainly could’ve used their support this spring and summer.

For Spring Break, we divided and conquered – B went to Ohio and I went to Michigan with the kids and the dog. We, the kids and I, went to Michigan to ski and relax while she went home to her parents to help her sister and her dad, as well as her mom. It’s a complicated story.

Regardless, her mom is still in her home and doing well. Her dad was dealing with dementia and steady decline in his physical capacities – he’d lost a lot of weight and was struggling to walk and get around, as well as dealing with balance issues. His decline began a few years ago in 2011 or 2012 and he began requiring daily assisted living care in the summer of 2012. It was difficult for all of us because until then, he’d lived a fairly vigorous life – gardening, working, playing, fishing, and just plain, living. My kids have many wonderful memories of grandpa up at the cottage or at Christmases or other visits. Continue reading

The driver’s license

illinois plateYesterday W earned his driver’s license. Congratulations, W. He has been looking forward to the day when he could drive the car by himself. He had a countdown to the day he could take the test and earn his license.
We have been doing a lot of driving lately – long distance to Ohio and Michigan and he’s gotten a lot of practice on the road. He drove the entire way home from Michigan on Monday all 360 plus miles with two stops – one for gas and coffee and the other for dinner at Chipotle a couple of miles from home.

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ten years ago at the cottage, W delivering firewood for the night’s campfire… I miss that totem pole, it was cool

I picked up the mail at the post office Tuesday morning and there was a letter in the mail for W – from the Secretary of State’s office. Continue reading

Parades – A Photo Essay

There is nothing like a parade, especially on the Fourth of July. We took in two – the parade in town at 11 AM and the boat parade on the lake at 3PM.

all of us - O, me, W, and B
all of us – O, me, W, and B

July always seems like a busy month, I suppose all of the months are busy, but it’s July and I am in the moment. I’ve been flashing back and forth from past to present and present to past lately, some of it triggered by where I am and some where I’ve been. I needed something in between.

July means Independence Day, Continue reading

Freedom Friday

Friday, July 4th. Independence Day. It’s America’s birthday and it’s a three day weekend. America will celebrate it’s independence from Britain. There will be parades, families will get together, there’ll be cookouts and fireworks. There’ll be all sorts of merrymaking – most of which I won’t partake. I’ll settle for the parade, a little boating, hamburgers and hot dogs, and fireworks. It’ll be great day.

It’s bittersweet for us, grandma and grandpa were always here for the Fourth. Always. The past couple of years they’ve been unable to make it up together. Last year grandma was here, but it was different. Regardless, I am always thoughtful of this day as well as our other national holidays – Memorial Day and Veterans Day – and how and why they are important to our culture and who we are as a people.

the Fourth of July parade with grandma, grandpa, and the kids - W and O. 2006
the Fourth of July parade with grandma, grandpa, and the kids – W and O. 2006

I am ever so grateful for the courageous men and women who went before me – Jefferson, Franklin, Adams, and many more who debated and wrote the Declaration of Independence and set forth the ideas freedoms of Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge: Contrasts

Last Wednesday, I drove through a heavy storm. As we drove west then north, the clouds became thicker and darker. The clouds opened up. I could hardly see through the windshield. I slowed to 40mph, and many cars pulled over to weather the storm. O and I, with Ivy along, were driving pick up W from wrestling camp in Wisconsin a day early. It’s been stormy – hot, humid, and muggy in the Midwest since late last week. Thursday morning we were on our way to Ohio driving through a cloudy morning on our way to a different kind of storm – the passing of a loved one.

before the rain began, shot 2
before the rain began, shot 2

My father-in-law, B’s dad, passed away after a long life filled with love for family, country, and hard work. We will miss him. The visitation was Thursday and the service was Friday. He will be in our memory forever. Continue reading