muse

It is morning Up North. O, Ivy, and I loaded the car and left home yesterday and after a couple of stops, we were on the open road headed east, then north. We pulled into the cottage driveway a little after sunset, but the lake was bathed in blue with a crisp orange and red northwestern shoreline. Venus and Saturn provided bright white punctuation marks in the evening sky. B and W followed in another car a few hours later.

the first sunset of summer - at least for us at the cottage
the first sunset of summer – at least for us at the cottage

It’s sleepy and peaceful this morning Ivy sleeps on the footstool in the front room while O watches a video on the iPad on the couch. B and W are still sleeping and I am here struggling with the right words to match the photos. Continue reading muse

My brain hurts

My brain hurts AND that is a good thing; it’s a very good thing.

School has been out for sixteen days and today is the Day 17. When I first started blogging in 2010, I numbered all of the posts – Day 1, Day 2 and so on. In 2010, Day 17 was in France and the first full day of my trip to Paris and take my dad back home. Looking back to 2010, Day 17 was June 14th and this year it falls on June 26th – the days do not line up because every summer is different. Some summers begin early and others start late, some summers are influenced by the weather and others are not. This summer is no different, we had bitter cold this winter and it cost us three days; it really cost five days when the last day of school was moved from a Thursday to Tuesday and enveloped a weekend –swallowing two additional days of summer break. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it’s too cold to go to school, too snowy, or too wet, or even too hot – we’ve had bad weather days almost every year I’ve been a teacher. It happens. This summer is no different, we’ve been on the rainy end of a wet and stormy weather pattern for almost two weeks and the area has had over 6 inches of rain in June – well over the average of 4.5 inches for the month.

The Pope issued an encyclical on climate change last week, it got a lot of coverage in the press, and then it disappeared off the radar. But, is shouldn’t have, the issue of climate and climate change should be on all of our radars. That’s one reason my brain hurts, I am thinking and wondering, but there are other reasons.

I was in class last week – material science class. It was amazing and I walked away with many ideas of how to incorporate what I learned in science class this coming year. I melted metals, bent glass, made pottery, played with polymers, and all sorts of materials. My brain hurt all week trying to soak up new ideas and meld them with old ideas to form a composite.

This week, I am in class again. This week’s topic has been water. Clean water, storm water, sewage water, stream water, ground water – all kinds of water. The class began with a trip to the Jardine Water Filtration Plant in Chicago where the water I use to drink, cook, clean, and flush begins its journey to my house. The plant processes about 400 million gallons of water a day and provides water for Chicago and several suburbs with a population of almost 4 million people served.

the quarry - not even close to being full
the quarry – not even close to being full

We visiting a large storm water facility that is an old quarry and it can hold a lot of water – something like 2.7 billion gallons of water. Which if you do the math is like letting faucet run from the Jardine plant straight to the quarry for a little less than a week. That is a lot of water and part of why my brain hurts.

Continue reading My brain hurts

Learning Never Ends: It’s a Fair Trade

This week I am taking a professional development class at a local college. It’s a week-long seminar and I am blessed to be a part of it. The class, or camp, is sponsored by the American Society of Metals and the organization promotes awareness of the use of materials and careers in material science. I vaguely remember taking Material Science at Texas A&M, but yesterday I had a flashback to thermal expansion problems and coefficients of thermal expansion.  That’s about as ‘sciency’ as I’ll get this morning. But, one of the more interesting activities we did was to melt tin, cast a tin bar, and do splatter tests for tin. It was very fun and I am looking for ways to do it with my own students in the coming year – they would have a blast. Watch as a tin pellet melts before your eyes.

Also, summer is in full bloom and I can read and write more than I am able during the school year. Woohoo. I was asked by Eli over at Coach Daddy blog to write a guest post, so I did. Our paths like many bloggers he found me and I found him and despite a distance of 500 miles we follow each other and live parallel lives. Eli is a blogger and has kids about my kid’s age. We are both football fans and enjoy sport and the life lessons sport teaches us about hard work, toughness, perseverance, and teamwork. I am proud to call him one of my friends. Take a look at the Coach Daddy blog – read today’s post about how Learning Never Ends and poke around a bit while you are there.

 

Continue reading Learning Never Ends: It’s a Fair Trade

Off-Season

“It’s not the will to win that matters—everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.” Paul “Bear” Bryant

The first game in 2015 high school football season is 75 days away. The first official practice is a 56 days away. School is out for the summer and summer football camp started last Wednesday. The 2015 Tiger football team began preparing, for W it will (likely) be his last football season as a player. He has learned a lot and grown a lot as an athlete and as a person. Being part of a team has helped hone his sense of responsibility and preparation as well as his sense of service. He is a team player – that’s what it takes for a team to be successful – players willing to put the team before themselves.

NIU_tigertalk
Coach Muhitch addresses the team – the good, the bad, and the ugly – that’s why he is 103-24 with 3 state championships and 2 runners up – preparation

It’s during the off-season that the players come together and learn to work and play as a team. It’s the off-season when the coaches develop players and teach. There is a lot that will happen between now and the first game – a lot of growing – mentally and physically.

Continue reading Off-Season

Day 3: The Transition

It’s Friday morning. It’s quiet, it’s gently raining, and I’m listening to “Stormy Weather” and going back in time. I went back a year ago and skimmed posts from last summer while I was doing research for an upcoming post and new page.

mydesk

Summer so far has been feeling like a LONG weekend, so far. I wrote the Superstition post before moving on to other tasks Wednesday and helped B and O pack for Ohio Thursday. They left yesterday and will be gone all weekend long. That leaves W and I to our own devices for a couple of days. W has been up and out of the house before 6 AM all week long – since Tuesday. He has wrestling camp followed by football camp until noon. Then, he’ll come home and sleep. He’s busy all weekend with scout event this evening and more football on Saturday.

A  teacher’s summer isn’t what many folks think. It’s full. The first couple of days are always like recovering from a hangover or a hard workout – rest, relaxation, and recovery. I hardly drink any longer, so it’s been a while since a hangover and I haven’t exercised that strenuously for a while, either. But, I remember how it feels. The transition to summer is like changing jobs – I’ve only changed twice, but I remember the awkwardness of feeling change. One day, I’ll step into retirement and permanent summer. I had better have a plan. Continue reading Day 3: The Transition

Superstition

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my view – US Cellular Field – 6/7/2015 – Tigers 6, White Sox 4 FINAL

I love sports. Football is my favorite sport, followed closely by baseball and auto racing, though auto racing does not get my interest as much it once did. The truth is that I enjoy just about any kind of competition.

Last week, I was invited to go to the White Sox game and tailgate with a group of men. I knew one of the men, Mark a teacher at my school; the other two were teachers in my district from other schools I didn’t know. The four men go to a White Sox game at least once a year and tailgate; they even travel to see an NFL game together. I joined because, Kip, one of the men, was sick, he has ALS and couldn’t attend. We had a good time, but for the entire trip, I was Kip. The trip was a ritual of sorts – getting ready, driving downtown, the seats in the van – I sat in Kip’s seat, parking in the same spot, setting up, cooking, eating, picking up, even to playing a game of beanbag toss. I had a good time, but the Sox lost.

it started as dreary rainy morning  and ended a bright sunny day
it started as dreary rainy morning and ended a bright sunny day

On the way out of the ballpark one of the guys remarked,

“You know, every time we come, they lose. Maybe we shouldn’t come as a group!”

“Nah, that’s not it, the Sox suck. The pitcher gave it away today.”

Continue reading Superstition

Vivid: memories, colors, and flowers

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the poppy is a brilliant, vivid orange and yes, that is my foot

It’s Saturday morning and I am finishing a few school tasks before heading out to do some yard work. There is one more day, really two – but only one with kids. It’s been a good year and I had my end of year meeting with my principal Wednesday afternoon, sort of an exit interview – but I’m not leaving. He was new this year and his approach is different from previous administrators. He asked the questions you want to hear, but do not want to answer – but I did anyway. He asked what was good, bad, and ugly. I have many vivid memories of all of them – the whole gamut. In the coming weeks, I’ll be reminded that the good outweighs the bad and the ugly. It was a tough year full of learning and growing for me, and my students. I am not certain who learned more; regardless it’s always a fair trade.

Last week, I posted photos of the peonies along the fence in our backyard. We had rain last weekend and the peonies that had bloomed are beginning to fade and shred. They continue to bloom and provide glimpses of vivid brilliant color from the kitchen window and almost everywhere in the backyard. Earlier this week, the poppies began to bloom. The poppies bright orange bloom is in sharp contrast to the pink and white peony blooms. Continue reading Vivid: memories, colors, and flowers

Peonies and time

It is Thursday, May 28th and it is a beautiful Thursday afternoon. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and everything is right with the world. Well, almost right with the world. B’s out of town helping her mother (BTW, my favorite mother-in-law) transition back home. And, it’s somewhat quiet here – a lonely kind of quiet.

one of B's many peonies - childhood memories
one of B’s many peonies – childhood memories

This morning I noticed B’s peonies had begun to open up and bloom. I made a note to myself to take a few photos and send them to her. Peonies are some of her favorite flowers, her mother’s, too. I did better; posted them to Facebook and then it dawned on me to share them even farther: here. I hope it cheers B and her mother up. It put a smile on my face.   Continue reading Peonies and time

Forever in Blue Jeans

It’s Sunday, the day before Memorial Day, and the Indy 500 starts in less than a half hour. The pre-race is on and I wish I could watch it with my science students. It’s speed, physics, material science, and adrenaline all wrapped into 500 miles. I’ve been to the race track many times before, but this year I’ll be watching from the family room with B, W, and O. We’ll be thinking of B’s dad who was our ticket to the track. JD passed away last year after a long life of service to his country, community, and his family. He’s always in our thoughts.

JD Weaver (1926-2014), B, and my nephew - JD's grandson
JD Weaver (1926-2014), B, and my nephew – JD’s grandson

In my last post, I honored my dad, whom also is never far from my thoughts, either.

 There is irony in my last post because my dad’s birthday – 5/20/1933 – is also another birthday, of sorts: blue jeans were born, or rather patented by Levi and Strauss. Irony. I shared this with my classes and reminded them that education was the key to not wearing blue jeans as my dad believed deep in his core. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with hard, physical work – it needs to be done – but, most folks don’t aspire to it. Continue reading Forever in Blue Jeans

Taurus: The Bull

My dad was a Taurus. Today would have been his 82nd birthday. He passed away after a brief illness on July 20, 2009. He was 76, too young. His passing took me by surprise, though if I had been paying attention I would have known, or at the least been more prepared, more ready.

My dad and his mom - one year old - May 1934
My dad and his mom – one year old – May 1934

It seems like just the other day, but it was almost six years ago. It was at the end of the school year and I remember the entire event unfolding in slow motion in my memory, as if it were yesterday.

A year after my dad passed away, my brothers and I escorted his cremains to France and spread his ashes where he wanted to spend eternity in the countryside of northern France. Since that summer, I’ve been on a quest to recapture and gather my history, my story – who I am, where I have been, and where I am headed. In a way, MakingtheDaysCount.org has been my journal and my travelogue. Continue reading Taurus: The Bull