Today is the day

It’s Thursday morning and I am the only soul awake. Even Ivy sleeps. She woke when I did, went outside, and came back to the screen door and I let her inside. She is curled up in a ball on the footstool, grandma’s footstool. It’s Ivy’s perch, so to speak. The footstool comes with grandma’s chair, it’s grandma’s morning perch when she is here, too. There’s a marked depression where she lays and it’s now part of the cottage. Last summer, when grandma was up north, Ivy came over to the footstool, put her head on grandma’s leg and looked up, pleading. Grandma held her ground and Ivy retreated to her pad by the door. This morning Ivy jumped up on the stool without asking, though sometimes she does ask but this morning she didn’t.  I did not protest, as I often do, or almost always, she warmed my legs while I sipped my coffee and gazed out across the lake as early morning slipped into day and the lake slowly returned to light.

Ivy and the footstool
Ivy and the footstool

Yesterday was windy and it wasn’t a good day for boating, Tuesday was windy, as well, and taking the kayak out was a struggle, but I did it anyway. Today looks like it will windy and the lake will be choppy for another day. Nevertheless, I have other tasks to do; there is always something to do, to keep busy, some important task that needs to be accomplished. Continue reading Today is the day

Tuesday’s Tune: MtDC Playlist

Like most people, music has always been an important part of my life. I tried out for chorus in third grade and didn’t make it, I couldn’t carry a tune, I still can’t but it doesn’t stop me from singing. I played trombone in middle school and gave it up, like scouting and sports and so many other activities I quit in that awkward middle adolescent period between 13 to 16. Music was an important part of growing up – listening to the radio and learning the popular rock and roll songs of the 70’s. I worked in a music store in high school. In 1979, a music store sold records and tapes, the kind of music that was on vinyl.

Pink Floyd's The Wall was released in November 1979 - my senior year
Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” was released in November 1979 – my senior year in high school

At 17, I knew it all. I knew everything. Continue reading Tuesday’s Tune: MtDC Playlist

Close Up

a coneflower and a bee - photo by O
a coneflower and a bee – photo by O

We are on the downside of summer break. We’re past the busy part of summer. We’ve been focused on the world up close and when I reflect on what we’ve done

  • I’ve finished two professional development classes. CHECK
  • O’s softball season is complete. CHECK
  • W is finished with summer football. CHECK
  • O is home from church camp. CHECK
  • W’s Eagle project is completed. CHECK
  • W is off to Philmont and hiking in the Sange de Christo Mountains of northeastern New Mexico. CHECK

The busy part of summer ended Wednesday afternoon when the train pulled out of the station; actually it ended when I finished loading the cars and pointed the car east, then north early Thursday afternoon. I could feel the muscles in my neck loosen and relax with each mile away from home.

Sure, we have work to do, there is always something to keep us busy, to keep us on our toes – we have two kids, a house, and a dog and that’s more than plenty.

B has plenty of gardening work and I have to begin thinking of the coming school year. Up close, the work is easy, it’s when I look at what I have to do from afar that it seems monumental and overwhelming. One step at a time. Continue reading Close Up

Why I blog… Blogging 201

I started blogging five years ago, it had been an awful school year and I had been out of my comfort zone the entire year. The previous summer I had lost my dad, in fact today is the sixth anniversary of his passing. That summer, the summer of ’10, lay ahead as an open wound with questions about my past, present, and future. Towards the end of the school year, I had experienced a few successes and school ended on a high point for me as an educator and human being.

That school year ended on a Friday – May 28, 2010 – and I came home from school to an empty house. B and the kids had left for the weekend to visit her mom and dad in Ohio. I had stayed home because I had a cough and we didn’t want to get my in-laws sick. I had a lot of time on my hands and thoughts running through my head. The combination is never good and the blog happened somewhere between Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. I bought the url – MakingtheDaysCount.com, and dot org, dot net, and dot info. I had wanted MaketheDaysCount.com, but it was taken, already in use. I bought a hosting package and jumped in the blogging water.

theoldcourse2015
The goal initially was to share how I made every day count, in some way and to write about it. Continue reading Why I blog… Blogging 201

Half and half

There is another half of summer yet come, waiting. Or, summer is more than half-complete, finished; depending on your perspective. According to my summer calendar, 29 days remain. For O she has 31 days, W has 22, and B has 31 days left of summer. It’s cruel how fast summer moves.

halfandhalf
the team gathers for the final time this summer, as a storm clouds gather on the horizon

The past several days our weather has been interesting. Monday it was warm and muggy.  Tuesday the weather changed and it was cool enough to open windows and rely on nature to cool the house, and Wednesday evening was cool and getting out of the pool after my swim was a chilly experience. Thursday was overcast and rainy, and then Friday arrived. Friday arrived with excessive heat warnings and afternoon thunderstorms. O and I tried to make it to the pool, but the lightning and thunder closed the pool. Instead, we watched nature’s light show and decided to try again Saturday. Continue reading Half and half

Dear Mom,

Dear Mom,

It was good to talk with you this past Sunday and great to hear your voice. I am glad you got the letter I wrote in Michigan.

I gonna sit right down and right myself a letter....
I gonna sit right down and right myself a letter….

I write a lot about growing up on my blog. I reflect and write how growing up made me who I am, why I do what I do, and why I think the way I think. I have never taken an accounting of the balance on my blog posts between you and dad. If I had to guess at a ratio, it would be mostly dad, about 70 – 30. Abraham Lincoln said it best, or maybe wrote it:

“The past is the cause of the present, and the present will be the cause of the future.”

The complete quote is, “There are no accidents in my philosophy. Every effect must have its cause. The past is the cause of the present, and the present will be the cause of the future. All these are links in the endless chain stretching from the finite to the infinite.”  From the Lincoln Nobody Knows by Richard M. Current (1958).

But, it really should be 50-50, after all I am a product of the two of you.

Every once in a while I’ll call to thank you for something or to apologize for all of the headaches and heartaches I put you through growing up, especially that period between 13 to 25. I don’t know how you did it considering since that period of time was magnified three-fold and lasted until we all grew up.

Growing up is a process and I continue to grow and mature, even at my age. When I stop learning and growing, it’ll be time.

Thank you for all that you shared with me that shaped me into who I am.

I love to cook because you love to cook. You taught me that it was okay to fail, as long as I learned from it and moved on. Your maxim of no comments until after dinner is good advice for a cook. You taught me to be open to new foods and even though we were young, we all remember Julia Child’s kidney recipe as well as Boeuf Bourguignon, Coq au Vin, S.O.S. – dad’s recipe from the Marine Corps – and so many other foods and dishes. Continue reading Dear Mom,

Paint and Storms

paintsignIt’s Tuesday morning and I have paint all over my hands. It’s white latex paint and I have speckles and splashes all over my fingers, fingernails, and ingrained in the lines of the heel of my right hand. I scrubbed in the sink and again, in the shower before falling asleep last night. No worries, I’ll have more paint on my hands this afternoon and maybe even tomorrow.

I’ve been painting the music room at W and O’s elementary school. We spent ten years in elementary school as a family. Our time at Wiesbrook School began in 2003 when W started kindergarten and ended in 2014 when O moved up to middle school in’14. My how time flies.

September 2004 - first a Tiger, then a Wolf, then Bear, and on to Webelo as a Cub Scout
September 2004 – first a Tiger, then a Wolf, then Bear, and on to Webelo as a Cub Scout

Actually, it’s we, not me, that’s doing the painting in the music room.

We’re back to paint the music room for W’s Eagle Scout Project. I remember the first Cub Scout meeting at the school when W joined as a first grader. He was so excited being a Cub Scout. My how he’s grown.

last Thursday at the doctor's office for his annual school physical - I saw this book and laughed!
last Thursday at the doctor’s office for his annual school physical – I saw this book and laughed!

Continue reading Paint and Storms

What I CAN see

Yesterday afternoon, I went for my annual eye exam. I was six months late, so it was actually an eighteen month checkup. As I suspected, my eyesight had gotten worse since my last exam in December 2013 and I needed a new prescription. This spring, I began to notice when I wore my sunglasses that the horizon was a bit out of focus, not significant, but enough to be annoying.

a pale yellow lily yearns for the sun
a pale yellow lily yearns for the sun

I started wearing eyeglasses in seventh grade. My vision was off just enough to warrant a visit to the eye doctor and I learned my eyes needed help – just a little. I’ve been wearing glasses since. When I passed forty several years ago, I began to notice that I needed reading glasses for reading (and see) up close. It’s the rule of forty, when you reach forty years of age, there needs to be at least forty inches between your eyes, and what you are trying to read or see up close. Gradually, I came to grips with the ideas that my arms were not long enough and my eyes needed more help. I made the transition to progressive lenses and I haven’t regretted it, in fact, considering the amount of reading I do, as a teacher, blogger, reader, and writer AND how much time I spend looking at a screen – phone and computer, my eyes needed the extra boost. Continue reading What I CAN see

40 years ago, today – part 2: Camels in the Night

I had seen a car crashes and crushed cars, but I had never seen a car tossed to the side of the road and left behind destroyed after hitting a camel. I will always remember the drive from Dhahran to Riyadh across the Saudi Arabian desert in the middle of a hot July night with my dad, my new stepmother, and Warren and David, my two brothers. I was thirteen and it was 1975. It was the summer between my seventh and eighth grade. It was my summer vacation, it was our summer vacation, and we were driving across the desert to spend the summer with my dad in Riyadh. When my parents divorced, the divorce agreement gave him forty-five days of summer visitation and monthly visits, which were impossible because we lived in Sugar Land and he lived eight thousand miles away in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. When I first learned, I was going to spend the summer in Riyadh with my two brothers, a summer in Saudi Arabia sounded exotic and exciting, but soon the feeling of leaving and leaving my friends, my home, and fun things in our neighborhood made me resent my dad and the trip.

my passport - issued in 1973
my passport – issued in 1973

Our summer vacation had begun normally. School let out and we were able to see our friends and have fun in the neighborhood. However, I knew, really and the three of us knew we would be leaving for at least a month to see my dad in Saudi Arabia. To get ready for our trip we had to get new passports and have our immunizations updated. We had our pictures taken and went to the health department in downtown Houston to have our cholera shot. The shot didn’t hurt, though the hustle and bustle of getting ready made getting ready for a trip I didn’t want to go on even more difficult. We also had to pack and make sure we had the things we needed especially, the medicines I needed and the shots for my asthma and allergies that my mom gave each week. It is hard to remember everything you need, until you need it. Finally, my dad came over to pick us up and fly with us. As glad as I was to see my dad, I knew his arrival meant we were really going and that made me sad. Continue reading 40 years ago, today – part 2: Camels in the Night

40 years ago, today

My parents divorced in 1975. I was in seventh grade and twelve years old. After the divorce, my dad moved to Saudi Arabia, remarried, and started over. My dad had visitation rights each weekend and half the summer – 45 days. The weekends were a moot point – a weekend commute of almost 8,000 miles one-way was not practical. Especially in 1975. My communication with dad was limited: letters took weeks to traverse back and forth with a reply. I have most of the letters saved in a box in the basement. Phone calls were too expensive and the connection was shaky, too.

sugarland_saudi_)map

Forty years later a much has changed, but a weekly commute still is not practical. There is the internet with e-mail, blogs, Skype, and more. Even a phone call is made easier, too.

summer75_before
the four of us – Warren, dad, me, David – taken before the trip in front of the garage

That first summer, my dad got us for 45 days, the summer of ’75. I think it was more my mom sent us to dad. All three of us, at the same time. I have memories, my passport, getting shots, a few slide pictures from the trip, but not much else. Memories come back in bits and pieces, jogged by an anniversary or a probing conversation with my brothers or mom. Sometimes those conversations are painful and the memories are not there and have been lost. Continue reading 40 years ago, today