Monday morning awakening

It’s cool this morning outside on the deck. The sun is slowly creeping across the yard toward my ‘office,’ the birds are singing, and the wind is gently rustling the leaves above me. It’s quiet and peaceful outside.

Ivy rests at my feet, always with eye open, always
Ivy rests at my feet, always with eye open, always

W's location Monday morning - the crew will be kayaking room island to island until Friday.Yesterday morning, W took off on an adventure of a lifetime – kayaking the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior with his Boy Scout Troop. Saturday night was a late one for all of us packing and final details for his kayaking trip after dropping him off and waving goodbye, we went home and back to sleep.

I felt mildly guilty waking when I did, but feeling much more refreshed than I would have been had I stayed awake. We spent the afternoon talking, planning, and laundry – doing, folding, and putting away. B wanted to get outside to her garden and I suggested we wait until the evening, when it was cooler.

It was much cooler and the beds where we were working were shaded. Ivy joined us but spent most of her time scanning for bunnies and squirrels. B needed me to help plant and spread mulch, but it was a wonderful way to decompress from a busy hectic weekend and plan for the week ahead. I am not usually a good gardening partner, but I can tell a weed from a plant – most of the time – and I am quite handy with a shovel and a wheelbarrow. I am the strong back in the operation and B’s the strong mind. It’s a good partnership. Continue reading Monday morning awakening

Partners – a photo challenge

Yesterday was our 32nd anniversary. Actually, it was 32 plus 1, but after eleven thousand six hundred eighty-eight days, what is another day? It all depends on how you count it. I mentioned it to B and I got a smile, I think.

B and I at the Morton Arboretum April 2016
B and I at the Morton Arboretum April 2016
I’ve known my wife a few more days longer than 11,688 days, but yesterday was the anniversary of our first date. We went to the zoo and it was a blazing hot day as most days in Houston, Texas are in June, or late May, July, and August. The night before we had gone out with a group and had fun dancing, listening to music, and talking and sharing a beer or two, it’s what twenty somethings do. At the end of the night we exchanged phone numbers and the rest is history, of sorts. Continue reading Partners – a photo challenge

Three for Thursday

It’s Thursday morning and it is the twenty-seventh day of summer break, almost two-thirds remain. There is a myth which persists that teachers don’t work a full year. It’s not true, it is nowhere close to being true and the myth misrepresents what educators do to be ready for the coming year.

Class starts in an hour.

that's y foot and W's old parking spot
that’s my foot and W’s old parking spot

This summer I am taking a professional development class, in fact the last several summers I have taken PD classes. Classes are taught by fellow educators and are filled with rich curricula and new methods to help students grow and learn.  This summer I am taking a two-week long class at the local high school. The class is offered through Fermilab Education and W’s freshman biology teacher is the instructor, he was also one of W’s wrestling coaches. It has been an interesting eight days of being transported back to being fifteen again, and then morphing back to my real age. It’s been forty years since that high school freshman year, I’d mostly forgotten that very awkward time.

Continue reading Three for Thursday

Curve – a photo challenge

this morning's lily curving and reaching for the sun
this morning’s lily curving and reaching for the sun

Another Saturday morning and I am enjoying my summer office. If it weren’t for the lawn crew next door, I’d be able to hear birds chirping, the splashes of birds in the bird bath, or the wind gently rustling the trees around me. Ivy is at my feet and we are both enjoying our summer morning. My lawn crew is upstairs, still sleeping or at the keyboard writing.

“There are no straight lines or sharp corners in nature, therefore buildings must have no sharp corners or straight lines.” Antoni Gaudi

Many summers ago we carved a stone path from the front yard through to the backyard. I remember B reminding me of Gaudi’s mantra. That summer I hauled several tons of limestone gravel and New York bluestone and I spent many days kneeling and fitting the stones together. There are no straight lines. What lines there are were created in nature some are curved and some are jagged, but between the lines weeds grow and flourish.

Since, the backyard garden has grown in around the path and I can’t remember what the backyard looked like before the of our work was complete. We’ve added plants, removed a couple trees and added Ivy, my faithful companion, and the path remains. Continue reading Curve – a photo challenge

Pure: a photo challenge

I love my kids.

We have two: a boy, really a young man, and girl. They are W and O, respectively. Both are determined and focused, when it’s their time. Both play sports and both are good students, but more importantly good, solid people.

It’s summer and school’s out – for both me, and the kids. It’s also softball playoff season. O plays softball and has talent, pure raw talent. I’ve watched her grow as an athlete, and as a softball player. This year, she has really developed as a hitter and fielder, as well as positive leader on the field and in the dugout.

pure concentration, pure focus, pure desire
pure concentration, pure focus, pure desire

Continue reading Pure: a photo challenge

The Greatest

courtesy @FearlessMotivation
courtesy @FearlessMotivation
I was young, very young when Cassius Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali. And, I remember kids calling me Cassius, but I didn’t understand until later that it should have been taken as a compliment, even if that wasn’t the intent. Kids.

I began using the quote, “Don’t count the days, make the days count” long before I began blogging and even longer before I knew it is attributed to Muhammad Ali.  It is likely that Ali is not the origin of the saying either, but Muhammad Ali is the one gets the credit. It doesn’t matter who, or when, or how, he was the Greatest.

I can imagine how he said it, though. It was days before a big fight, could’ve been Frazier, or Foreman, or a lesser known fighter and Ali was asked by a reporter if he was ready for the fight with only days away. His response was classic Ali,

“Only a fool counts days. I am the Greatest, I don’t count the days, I make the days count. And when I step into the ring the only countin’ that’s gonna be goin’ on is the referee counting to ten when I knock that sucker on his back. I am the Greatest.” Muhammad Ali

That’s how I’d like to believe that Muhammad Ali said that he made the days count. Continue reading The Greatest

Impromptu – day 7

Summer is full of surprises. Always. Some surprises are good, others aren’t. Wednesday morning B, my wife, asked me if I wanted to go north for a couple of days. I had several things on my calendar and task list, but it wasn’t a request. Michigan. The lake, the boat, summer.

We loaded the car, or cars, and headed north to the cottage. We arrived late and the early summer night sky was ablaze with stars. At home we don’t see the stars as well because of the light pollution, but here it’s amazing.

Thursday evening's sunset
Thursday evening’s sunset
Continue reading Impromptu – day 7

Day 4: three days in

It’s officially the fourth day of my summer. It’s the last day of spring – if you’re a meteorologist, and I am headed back to school for the day.

the local VFW post carries the colors
the local VFW post presents the colors

The first three days of summer vacation – the weekend – flew past, as weekends tend to do, especially summer vacation weekends.

Saturday, W graduated and received his high school diploma.

Sunday all four of us, B, W, O, and I attended the Indy 500 – a family tradition on B’s side. It was our first race since 2012 and the 21st race I had seen. For W, it was # 9, O, – # 2, and for B – I don’t know the count but it is likely close to mine. B’s dad introduced the race to me when I moved to the Midwest in 1991. It was a good race and the winner went down to the wire – and ran out of fuel after the race was finished. It was a great day and we remembered B’s dad who, I am certain, was looking down on us and watching the race, too.

Monday was Memorial Day and O was in the parade. Actually, O is in the band that was in the parade, but that is a small distinction.

After the parade the kids – W and O went to the pool and B and I trimmed Ivy, then gave her a bath. She did not like the bath. It was clear by her howls, but she is clean and trimmed, for now. Continue reading Day 4: three days in

First day, again…

It’s the first day of summer, again. I’ve been looking forward to this day, I always do. This year is different, this day has been marked on the calendar for four years, maybe even longer.

my 'decades' selfie - living the fabulous Fifties for a day!
my ‘decades’ selfie – living the fabulous Fifties for a day!

Today, W graduates from high school. He’ll cross the stage and think this is it. Yet, it is only the beginning of a long journey.

Summer is like that. It marks an end, and a beginning. They, the ends and beginnings, tend to blur and meld over time. It’s a reboot, of sorts.

Each year, I have my own reboot. A time to reflect on what I’ve learned and where I’ve been, adjust my bearings, and chart a new course. And, for the last six years I’ve gone back and re-read what I blogged the year before at Making the Days Count dot org.

It had been six years since I began the journey at MtDC.org.

First Day Posts

And my first ever post – precisely one day short of six years ago.

I re-read those posts this morning and as I usually do when I read an old post, I edited a couple of them correcting misspellings, updating bad links, and a finding a new video to replace one which had gone private and was no longer viewable; and I remembered writing the words with uncanny clarity. Continue reading First day, again…

the face of determination

I am a week behind. Today’s post is inspired by last week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Face.

the doughboy's face says it all - determination
the doughboy’s face says it all – determination

Last Saturday I was at Cantigny, the former estate of Robert McCormick Chicago industrialist and publisher of the Chicago Tribune. The estate is now open to the public and houses the First Division Museum, the McCormick Museum, and has many open gardens. McCormick was a colonel in the army during World War I and led troops in the First Division. After the war, he renamed his estate Cantigny after the town in northern France that his division had liberated in their first action. He served through the end of the war and returned to run the Chicago Tribune until his death in 1955.

I was at Cantigny for a professional development class, FDR’s “Forgotten Man” vs. Hoover’s “Rugged Individual.” The forum was offered through the Teaching American History organization. It was an amazing discussion and it gave me the energy for the final days of teaching American history to my eighth grade students. Last weekend there were nine days left in the school, now there are four days – two of which are celebration days and a final promotion event with awards and then, off to high school. Continue reading the face of determination