Weekly Photo Challenge: Angular

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Angular.”

store fronts, brickwork, and intricate moldings - a new look on an old angle
store fronts, brickwork, and intricate moldings – a new look on an old angle

On the way home from school yesterday I stopped at a local independent bookstore in downtown Naperville. Downtown was bustling with activity and I waited patiently in line to purchase my books – Truce, Shooting at the Stars, and The white House is Burning: August 24, 1814 as well as to get B’s wristband for the author visit Monday, 41‘s author will be speaking and signing books and B had purchased two copies to be signed. Very cool.

Downtown Naperville is a busy place. It has local merchants as well as the big guys – Barnes and Noble, Williams Sonoma, and Starbucks all nestled in mostly older buildings with new construction and updated storefronts along city streets just wide enough for street parking and two lanes of traffic. The sidewalks are usually crowded with shoppers and yesterday was no different.

love the old roof lines - a wonderful look at an old angle
love the old roof lines – a wonderful look at an old angle

As I left, I looked around – up and down and stopped to notice the buildings and there intricate moldings and brickwork along their roof lines. Such lovely structures dating back to the early twentieth century. It was a lovely day and the blue sky and bright sun finished the scene.

It felt wonderful to be outside and breathe the cool late fall air, even though it felt more like the dead of winter. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving here in America and the holiday shopping season begins the following day. Tuesday afternoon the shoppers weren’t waiting, they were making their days count – early and often. I have much for which to be thankful, Thank you for following along, reading, commenting, liking, and helping me Make the Days Count.

Making the Days Count is my angle, what’s yours?

a lovely old sign to let folks know where to stop
a lovely old sign to let folks know where to stop

Weekly Photo Challenge: Achievement

Achievement – something that has been done or achieved through effort; a result of hard work (Merriam and Webster)

Last weekend our high school football season ended. The Tigers were one of eight teams left in their class – one of sixty-four left. When the siren sounded last Saturday afternoon, there were sixteen teams still standing – two teams for each of Illinois’ eight classes from 1A to 8A. The Tigers have been there before and it was the team goal at the beginning of the year. It’s the goal every year. It’s the ultimate Achievement.

High school football season. It was a long season and long journey. It began the day after school let out in June with summer practices and weekend summer 7 on 7 tournaments. There was a three-week break between summer workouts and the beginning of August practices. The break was long enough for W to break away to the cottage and a squeeze in a 50-mile canoe trip to the Boundary Waters in northern Minnesota.

The Tigers played twelve games. They lost the first two games, won the third and then, lost the next two games to reach mid-season 1-4. In early October, the playoffs looked unreachable. However, through hard work, determination, and a little good fortune – I am not calling it luck, they won their next four games and qualified for the playoffs and were seeded 13th of 16 teams in one side of the 7A bracket. Continue reading

What do Tigers eat for breakfast?

I don’t know what wild tigers eat or if they have breakfast, but I do know what our Tigers eat for breakfast.

They eat egg casseroles, scrambled eggs, ham, fruit, cheese and finish it with water, orange juice, and Gatorade. All of it provided by our parents.

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Our Tigers are playing their third playoff game this afternoon on the road and in their house. We play the number one seed – Providence Catholic. We are the number thirteen seed and made the playoffs after a 1-4 start.

We won our first playoff game on the road and in the snow. Last week, we won our second playoff game at home. It’s been a magical season and the Tigers have really come together.

The game starts at one, we left at 11. The stadium is decorated with a few of our banners. It looks great.

It’s gonna be a great day – it’s gonna be the Tiger’s day. I know it and I can feel it. So, I’d better jump up, jump up, and seize the day. Making the Days Count, one playoff game at a time.

Go Tigers follow me at @MakingDaysCount

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Remembrance

It is Veterans Day.

Ninety-six years ago, the Great War, World War I, or the war to end all wars, ended. Before the war ended, millions of young men lay dead, wounded, or maimed for life. For France, England, and Germany the sacrifice was immense – a lost generation. We Yanks were late coming to the conflict and lost over a hundred thousand young men – slightly less than the population of Naperville, the city where I teach. War is awful.

One of over two thousand crosses at Aisne-Marne American Cemetery
One of over two thousand crosses at Aisne-Marne American Cemetery

Continue reading

The Can Crush

It’s been over two weeks since I wrote a post. It’s not because I haven’t had ideas. I’ve had loads of ideas and I even started a post last Sunday morning, but I ran out of time. That post died on the vine, it’s no longer relevant.

Since my last post, O has been to her first middle school social. The social was the day after her birthday and she had a wonderful time and could not stop talking about on our way to W’s final regular season football game. We arrived with a minute left in the second quarter to watch the Tigers score a touchdown and take 14-9 lead to the locker room. They needed to win the game to make the playoffs. This is how they did it.

Since then, W’s football team has ripped off two more wins and next weekend play in the state playoff quarterfinals. The team’s first playoff win was in the blinding snow and howling winds on Halloween night with a last minute field goal to tie and a touchdown to win in overtime. The second win was yesterday afternoon – it was a beautiful fall afternoon, perfect for a high school football game. Continue reading

It’s a Girl! Throwback Thursday Edition

It snuck up on me, I don’t know how it did, but it did. Today is O’s birthday. She’s 12 and it doesn’t seem possible. I remember the morning we went to the hospital. The delivery was scheduled and B’s parents were here from Ohio to keep an eye on W and help where they could. When we came home with O – she didn’t have an official name, yet – we would decide between two choices: O and Hannah. We stuck with O and I’m glad.

October 23, 2002 - "It's a Girl" fly from the mailbox and leaves litter the ground. It's fall.
October 23, 2002 – “It’s a Girl” fly from the mailbox and leaves litter the ground. It’s fall.

So much has happened between then and now – O’s growing up and is now in sixth grade. Sometimes, she’s sassy, but most of the time she’s my O.

Today’s her birthday; and there will be more birthdays to come. There will be more growing and probably a lot more sass, definitely a lot more sass; but she’ll still be my O, and B’s too, but I write this blog, so she’s mine for now.

Last night we looked through the photos of her first day and we snuggled, laughed, and cried. It was a special day twelve years ago and I captured it with our first digital camera. The photos look grainy but we don’t have similar photos of W – he’s pre-digital and I didn’t think to bring a camera into the delivery room when he was born.

O and I - less than an hour old all swaddled and warm...
O and I – she’s less than an hour old and all swaddled and warm…

Since that first camera, we’ve had five more – including the two we are using now. And, we have loads of photos, more than I can process. I am not including our phones, which happen to have better cameras than that first digital camera from 2002.

O came into the world about 8:35 AM on a Wednesday morning. I had a sub in my classroom and my students were researching in the library. I don’t have a sub this morning, but I’ll share the photo and a memory. Later this morning, my science students will be researching in the library – just twelve years later; my how some things change and some things simply stay the same.

B's parents welcome O - grandpa passed away this summer - we miss him dearly - glad we had the memories of his laugh and the twinkle in his eye...
B’s parents welcome O – grandpa passed away this past summer – we miss him dearly – glad we had the memories of his laugh and the twinkle in his eye…

Tonight, will have dinner and a cake – a delicious Italian Cream Cake. It’s our birthday cake, homemade with real buttermilk and frosted with cream cheese frosting. You can’t beat it. A birthday in our home isn’t the same without it. But for now, I’d better get moving. It’s gonna be a great day. I know it and I can feel it, so I had better jump up, jump in and seize the day. Making the days Count, one day at a time, one memory, and one birthday at a time.

Have you ever come close to forgetting a birthday? Or, let one sneak up on you?

My Memories of “The Day the Series Stopped”

I love baseball, I always have. This past season, I was able to get to the ballpark twice. Once in Detroit and once in Chicago and both were good games.

Baseball is in the post-season and the San Francisco Giants will face the Kansas City Royals in the World Series starting next Tuesday. I got home tonight in time to watch the bottom of the ninth and three run walk off homer that propelled the Giants into their third World Series in five years. Tonette, my friend from San Francisco, is going wild in San Francisco. I can’t say I blame her.

I’ve been thinking about San Francisco lately. I enjoyed living there and I will never forget the three years I lived and worked in Bay Area.

ESPN is showing the 30 for 30 film – “The Day the Series Stopped.” The sports network produced the film about the Lomo Prieta earthquake and the World Series and it does a fine job capturing what I remember of that day and the weeks that followed. The film debuted Tuesday evening and I’ve watched it three times, each time I take away something different. It’s well put together and the message is how sport transcends life. Oakland A’s manager Tony La Russa explained it best –

I messaged my friend Tonette and asked her if she’d watch the film and she politely told me it brings back too many bad memories. I can understand. Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge – Dreamy

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the two maples work in concert to brighten our front yard – dreamy

Trees are ablaze around us. It’s fall. We have two trees, which appear as if they are afire; yesterday the sun’s light reflected into the bedroom and illuminated it in an orange glow. Soon the leaves will be falling to the ground and covering the lawn. Soon, my weekend activities will shift from dreaming to working on the lawn clearing leaves. That’s okay, that’s is what happens at this time of the year; the days get shorter and the dreams become stronger.

The dream of the lake, the pull of the lake.

I long to see the sun rise over the lake and watch the sun’s rays slowly bring the hills and trees to life. It’s quiet at the lake at this time of the year only a few people visit in the late fall. I’ll be there soon enough, I have a few chores to do before winter sets in. Last year I went alone, this year it’ll be a family affair and all of us will venture north for a short weekend of working the yard and getting the cottage ready for winter. It’ll be all hands on deck and then we’ll get to rest and relax Saturday night and dream.

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the lake on early summer morning, mist rising off the still lake and the sun slowly bringing the hills to life on the opposite shore – dreamy

In the meantime, my dream is to finish grading lab reports and articles of the week today. It’s going to be a great day, the weather is cool, misty and the forecast calls for rain. Perfect weather for sitting down and working. My dreams will have to sustain for another day. Making the days Count, one day at a time, one trip back in time, one dream to keep me going.

What dreamy place gives you a ‘gentle push’ when you need it?

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campfire and the moon when the sun sets – dreamy

Today’s post is in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge – prompt – at Word Press.  The week’s prompt is “Dreamy.” This week, we’d like to see an image that looks dreamy to you. A photo of a place you often visit in dreams. A snapshot of your dreamy boy- or girlfriend. A scene that looks a bit out-of-this world. Take us on a flight of fancy!

Think PINK – Freedom Rock

I have been to two funerals as a teacher. I do not want to go to another funeral again. Ever.

Both funerals I attended were in my first two years as a teacher. Actually, the first funeral was in the summer of between my first and second years of teaching. It was awful. The second was less than a year later. It was just as awful. I have not been to another funeral since though one of students lost their dad last spring. The teachers were not invited and I wanted to go, but I couldn’t; I had my own family funeral to attend to last spring.

one of my favorite teacher gifts ever. Cherished.
one of my favorite teacher gifts ever. Cherished.

At the time, there were not words in my vocabulary to express the feeling of awfulness I had when I looked into the eyes of my twelve year-old student and told him and her that I was sorry that their mother had passed away. I think I fumbled with some words like “I am so sorry for your loss.” Or maybe I said, “I have been praying for you and your family, please let me know what I can do to help you.” No matter what I said, it didn’t take away the pain of losing their mother. Or the uncertainty of what the future held for them. Those kids – Melinda and Jeremiah – are now in their twenties and out of college and have jobs like me. Occasionally, I get to visit the high school and I ran into Melinda on my way in one time, we had a nice conversation and then we parted. I had Jeremiah’s sister two years after their mom passed away and she wrote an amazing essay about how her mother’s passing was an important event in her life. I remember the essay well, it was good, thoughtful, well written; it was head and shoulders above her peer’s papers. I followed them along in high school occasionally asking high school teachers or counselors whom I knew how they were doing and then they graduated high school and I lost touch. They’re grown now, or as grown as someone is when they are in the second half of their twenties.

Fourteen years later, I still don’t believe I have the right words. Continue reading

Death of a Tree – the FINAL CHAPTER

I did not feel well yesterday, and when a teacher does not feel well, that’s not good. I came home and went to bed. I took two Motrin, crawled under the covers, and fell fast asleep. I could have slept much longer had it not been for the stump grinder coming to finish off the tree. We lost that tree this past June, a week after the arborists came for that tree, B’s dad passed away. He was a sturdy as a tree and he’s been on my mind ever since. The stump grinder coming to finish it off was just another step in the circle of life.

the remains of our tree..
the remains of our tree..

I have been thinking about that tree and all of the trees we’ve lost to Emerald Ash Borer. But, I’ve had more on my mind that just trees, I’ve been thinking of the poem, “Trees,” and its poet – Joyce Kilmer. Sgt. Kilmer was killed in the Second Battle of the Marne on July 30, 1918 and is buried at Oise-Aisne American Cemetery in northern France. Continue reading