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

Weekly Photo Challenge – Nighttime

There was a time in my life when I was a nighttime creature. Thirty years ago this past summer, I met a girl and I was attending summer school full-time, working full-time, spending the weekend nights with her and her friends – up all night, and sleeping part-time. I could do it then, but not now.

the end of game discussion - the South end of the field

the end of game discussion – the South end of the field

Thirty years later, that girl is my wife and next week – in seven days – we will celebrate 23 years of marriage.

Thirty years later, my eyelids are heavier than they once were and I can’t hang out too late, but on Friday nights in the fall – there is Friday Night Lights. I have been a high school football fan for a long time and I enjoy watching the games. It’s even more fun because W is out there this year – hanging on the sidelines. He has yet to play Friday night, but he’s there for film, weights, conditioning, and practice working and waiting for the moment when the Tigers will need him. Every Tiger player was there once, too. It’s the way things are. Continue reading

Big Rocks

Big Rock, Illinois – it is not far from my here. It’s a small town just west of Wheaton, a tiny farming community on US 30 West. If you blink, you could miss it. And, even though it’s a small town, I notice it every time I drive west. A smile comes across my face when I see the sign for the Big Rock Schools and their buses.

Big Rocks. I’ve been busy – it’s been more than two weeks since my last post. Fall began a couple of days ago and where I live – 42 N we’ve lost eight minutes of daylight since Tuesday and our daylight will be a hair under 12 hours – 11H 59M. I forget what I wore for my school pictures but I’ll know soon enough when I get my new school ID next week. I think it was a blue shirt, but I am not certain about the tie. It’s not important it’s a pebble.

Lately, I’ve been overwhelmed by Big Rocks. I filled my jar of life full of smaller rocks and have had a difficult time fitting all of what I need to do, have to do, and want to do into the jar. So, a couple of weeks ago I started all over, hence my absence. Continue reading

Picture Day

 

8th grade - 1975
8th grade – 1975

Tomorrow is picture day. School picture day. I get my picture taken every year. I’ll be in line early and looking my best for this year’s school picture. Last year, I wore a pink shirt with a blue tie and the year before, a blue shirt and a pink tie; beyond the last two years I cannot remember which year is which. It will be my school ID photo for the next year; and it will be in the yearbook. So, when my students look back on middle school, there I’ll be along with the rest of my colleagues.

We got an e-mail from the principal reminding us, but I knew picture day tomorrow.

Earlier this week I heard about a story about Dale Irby, a teacher from Dallas, Texas who wore the same outfit for all forty of his school pictures. In the beginning, it was by accident; then, he made a conscious effort to wear the same sweater every year. I looked back at my school photos, at least those I could find – and for the most part, I was like Dale Irby. I stuck to the tried and true blue shirt and sensible tie. There were a few ties that weren’t so sensible or more likely it was ‘what was I thinking?’ or ‘did get dressed in the dark?’ I am not sure. The portraits will have to speak for me.

Nevertheless, I didn’t stop there. I went back further and found pictures from elementary school, middle school, high school, and college. When I finished college the first time and started working, I stopped having an annual photo taken so there is a gap from 1982 to 1999. It was fun going back in time and refreshing my memory of what I looked like then and now. About the only thing that is different from all of the school pictures is that for the past couple of years, my hair is longer than it was in middle school OR high school.

Tomorrow is school picture day and I’ll be ready. Blue shirt, sensible tie, and a great smile. Thirty-nine years ago, I smiled an eighth grade smile and had my photo taken. Today was a great day and tomorrow will be a million and six times better. Making the Days Count, one day a time, one school photo, one lasting memory at a time.

When was the last time you went back in time and took a peak at your school photos?

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Weekly Photo Challenge – Adventure

I am a city boy, a suburbanite. B is a country girl. Sometimes we clash, but most of the time we don’t. I met her 30 years ago this past summer. It seems like the other day and I suppose it was.

the open road, a barn, and an endless blue sky
ADVENTURE – the open road, a barn, and an endless blue sky

It sounds sort of harsh – suburbanite conjures up visions of “Real Housewives of ……” or some other recent popular television show. Several years ago, I read a book, Death By Suburb: How to Keep the Suburbs from Killing Your Soul, a writer’s view of living in the suburbs and the author poked fun at suburban culture and offered advice. Regardless, I am a suburbanite.

I’ve always lived in a city or near a city – in the suburbs. The jobs I had out of college meant I had to live in or near a city. When I went back to school to learn how to teach, I dreamt of moving to the country, we dreamed together. Nevertheless, we never did. Instead, we became more firmly entrenched in the suburban life. We had kids, our kids grew, went to school, played sports, joined clubs, and the dream of moving to the country faded. But, I still dream of moving to a place where a five-mile commute includes driving through fields of corn, soybeans, wheat and pastures. Where a drive to the grocery store is a once a week adventure to the city or a snowstorm means we stay home inside and I plow the driveway with my truck or better, a tractor.

Dreams are what keeps us moving. Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge – Dialogue

I’ll admit it, I enjoy high school football. I grew up watching high school football in Texas on Friday Nights. Friday Night Lights is a true story in just about every community across America. I never missed a home game and when I was a high school senior, I attended all ten games – home and away. B grew up much the same – except on a smaller scale and was in the marching band throughout high school. It was the same high school where her dad and her older brother played football, too. And a couple of decades later, our nephew.

Then I went to college – Texas A&M – never missed a home game and was part of the 12th Man. Never sat down as an Aggie, unless the opposing band was marching.

I played football, but I wasn’t very good. I didn’t have much talent, and didn’t work hard enough at it. I played a couple of years, but quit playing. It’s the story of my early life and it’s one of my life’s regrets – not finishing, not playing through. That’s why I admire W, my son. He’s not any more talented than me, but he’s far more persistent. He’s tenacious and he works his rear end off. It’s not just sports but scouting and school, too and just about all he does. He pushes himself to better at just about everything he does. I admire him, because I would have given up when I was his age, in fact I did.

Then adulthood set in, we went off to college, got jobs, got married, had kids, and began spending Friday nights watching the local high school – the Wheaton Warrenville South High School Tigers. At first, we took W in a stroller and then, when he could walk; we’d stand along the fence in the end zone and watch. Then O came along, same story. Time passed, W grew, and O grew, too. W played youth football for a few years and took a couple of years off in middle school to focus on scouting and run cross-country. Something I never did, I admire him. Then it was time for high school and joined the football team, and wrestled and played lacrosse – three seasons – three sports. We stayed along the fence watching until last year when we moved to the grandstand.  As a sophomore, his team played at 5:00 PM Friday afternoon then the varsity would play at 7:30 – under the lights. We’d stay and watch. This year, he’s on the varsity and he’s on the team. We’ll watch we’ll be in the stands. Most juniors do not play, seniors play and juniors watch, honing their skills waiting for their senior year and their chance to play Friday night. Juniors get their chance to play the next morning. Then on Monday after school, they’ll be back practicing, working hard, focusing on getting better, stronger, and faster – waiting for the next year.

But, there is more to life than football, more to life than sports. Continue reading

Let’s Go!

It’s not about what you’ve done
It’s about what you doing
It’s all about where you going
No matter where you’ve been
Let’s go!

The first day has come and gone. I now have four days as an eighth grade science teacher under my belt. The first four days of school were amazing and I have 116 energetic eighth graders who are excited about learning, or at least they seem so. I’ve a lot of work ahead of me and I need to work on remembering ALL of their names, because after four days, I can get about only 60% of their names correct on sight – in the hallways, at lunch, or just sitting in class.

I also have a three-day weekend to sort through the coming days and weeks. I’ve got a lot to learn and a lot to do.

I am past my first day jitters. It rained that first day and the next – we got close to 6” of rain in two days. Last weekend was wet and muggy and then the August warmth rolled in just in time for the first day of school.

I love the first day of school. It’s a chance to learn, grow, and make the difference in a new set of adolescents. That’s WHY I became a teacher. Because, it’s not how much you know that matters to kids, it’s how much you care. That is why I do it, that’s why when I drive to school; I drive to school, and not to work. Yeah, there are days when it feels like work, but most of the time it feels like learning and learning NEVER ENDS.

the first day, first morning, new principal address the student body - 'make difference in our school... make it better... make it happen'
the first day, first morning, new principal address the student body – ‘make a difference in our school… make it better… make it happen’

The week before last when O was getting ready for school, she and I took some time together and distracted ourselves. We had all sorts of diversions – movies, airplane watching, and just plain ignoring the fact that school was about to begin. Continue reading