All posts by Clay

W^2 – farming

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, July 17, 2024

It is Wednesday morning, and I have returned to the lake after a quick trip to Houston and back. The lilies are still blooming, and Fern and Ivy are enjoying their time here, just as we do.

soybean field along highway US 61 near Holland, Mississippi. Sunday, July 14, 2024 12:29 PM

I flew to Houston last Thursday morning and drove back over the weekend stopping Saturday night at my favorite bed and breakfast in Vicksburg, Mississippi. I had gone home to collect a cedar chest which had belonged to my paternal grandparents and had been sitting in storage since we had cleared my stepmother’s apartment this past January.

I arrived in the wake of Hurricane Beryl to find Houston reeling in power outages, downed trees, and sweltering heat and humidity.  Though the latter is normal for summer in southeast Texas, the lack of power and air conditioning made conditions in the city much more unpleasant.

My trip was successful, and I was able to visit with my brothers and nephew, clear out the storage locker, collect the chest, and take in two baseball games at Minute Maid Park as well as collect more material, aka stories, to share through MakingtheDaysCOUNT.org.

I left after breakfast Saturday morning, and I took the long way home stopping in Vicksburg Saturday night. I had planned a side trip to Oxford to take one final look at Juliana’s home which sold in February ‘23 before finishing the drive home on Sunday.

In all there were three planned stops, at least 1,265 miles, and over 19 hours of driving. Continue reading W^2 – farming

W^2 – day lily

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Grandma’s summer day lily. Lake Margrethe Grayling, Michigan Monday July 8, 2024, 10:48 AM

It’s been thirty years this summer that the cottage my kids and I know has been here. For my wife and her siblings, it goes back to their childhoods.

When we were first married, I visited the ‘old cottage’ a few times. It was a cozy two-bedroom log cabin with an open kitchen, dining, and gathering area with a large window gazing upon the lake. in the summer of ’93 my wife’s parents made the difficult decision to re-build with an eye on the future and the cottage I know was constructed in 1993-94. Since my first trip to move in and setup in July ’94, I’ve been here countless times. First without kids then one, and the other.  Our kids learned to fish and ski , both water and snow, and they’ve found lifelong friends and we’ve been here in every season: summer, fall, winter, and spring.

When I see the lilies blooming in summer, I think of my mother-in-law and her passion for the summer day lilies. We planted and gardened those first few summers planting day lilies along the front facing the lake. One spring, fifteen years ago, she arrived to discover the deer had dug up the lilies and eaten them. We spent the summer of 2009 replacing them. While the deer still roam when we aren’t here (and even when we are), the lilies have remained undisturbed since.

these two young bucks were waiting in the front yard when my wife arrived in June

It’s astonishing how our brains are wired to recall past events and how seemingly disconnected things are connected. Today is going be a great day. So, I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the Days Count, one day at a time making time, remembering how I got here.

What does a day lily, or any flower, remind you of?

Tuesday’s Tune – O Canada

O my, I am dropping the ‘h’! and it is Tuesday and time for a Tuesday’s Tune, Canada style. I am in Toronto for my 29th baseball stadium. It’s been an adventure.

Yesterday morning, I woke up early and drove from northern Michigan to Toronto, Ontario. It was a six-and-a-half-hour drive, and it was smooth driving, even when I got close to Toronto.

When Major League baseball released the 2024 schedule way back in July of ’23, I began looking ahead. At that time, I had my ’23 trips planned – Colorado, Baltimore, Tampa Bay, Miami, and Arizona, which left two teams: the Toronto Blue Jays and the Boston Red Sox. When I planned my baseball trips for this season, I was looking for games when the Houston Astros played the Toronto Blue Jays and the Boston Red Sox to complete my bucket list of all 30 teams. For the Blue Jays, the schedule read four games: Monday July 1 to Thursday July 4. I didn’t realize the significance of the date of the July 1st game, I knew the significance of Thursday’s game – July 4th, but not Monday’s game.

July First in Canada is Canada Day and it’s a BIG DEAL.

It is the day Canada celebrates as it’s ‘birthday.’ But that is an oversimplification. It’s the day when Canada (Quebec and Ontario), New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia became a country under the Dominion of Canada within the United Kingdom. It happened in 1867, two years after the ending of the American Civil War and two years before the founding of the first professional baseball league. Canada would add the remaining provinces to become the nation I know as Canada. But they are still part of the Commonwealth of Nations under the British crown. Continue reading Tuesday’s Tune – O Canada

Day 24: Creativity

It’s Thursday and it has been too long since I have posted anything on MtDC. Since summer began three weeks ago, I have been posting daily or almost daily on Instagram and if you follow along there, you’ll see the progress of my summer break. If you are curious, there is a sidebar of the blog – it’s a three by three graphic on the right-side.

Since my last post from 36,000 feet, I have been to Ohio and back, logged two more baseball games, served others at the food pantry, mowed the yard, spread mulch, cleaned up after a wild storm (which I slept through), collected the ends of branches the cicadas have snipped off, and much more.

When MtDC was in its infancy, I was posting almost daily. I don’t have the energy or creativity to keep up that pace today, though I do follow a couple of bloggers who do. If you are reading, you know who you are. It also seems the blogging community I connected with more than a decade ago has dropped off and their blogs are shutdown or static. At some point that will happen at MtDC, but for now I am simply too stubborn to let happen or stop. Continue reading Day 24: Creativity

that California trip …

It’s Thursday and I am sitting at the gate waiting for push back. After five baseball games and two days driving along the coast, I am headed home.

I am trying something new with this post. I am going to write directly into WordPress using my iPad and the plane’s WiFi as I fly home to Chicago. I have never posted from my iPad or typed directly into WordPress, so I’ll see how this goes.

the view from my seat over Colorado….

I was able to piece together the video below from Monday’s drive north along the Pacific Coast Highway. I uploaded the video to YouTube this morning and added the pictures at the airport before boarding.


It is Day Ten of summer break. This summer’s break is 76 days and like every summer before, I am going to Make the Days Count.

Yesterday, was a day game and a chance to spend an afternoon with my friend, Tonette. She and I worked together in the late 80’s until early 1990 when I lived in the Bay Area working in the restaurant business for Vie de France. All these years, we’ve kept in touch via cards, birthday wishes, Christmas cards, and Facebook ever since. The last time we saw one another was in 1995 when I was in Southern California opening a restaurant for Vie de France.

Won’t you get hip to this timely tip:
When you make that California trip
Get your kicks on Route sixty-six

Three baseball games in San Francisco, the first two were night games before yesterday’s day game.

San Francisco is not a new ‘baseball city for me, it was the third baseball city for me back in 1987. I moved to the Bay Area in June of 1987 when I worked for Vie de France. Monday’s baseball game was my first game in San Francisco since the World Series earthquake game was played on October 27, 1989; ten days after the devastating earthquake. Continue reading that California trip …

Monday, Monday

I am in California, along the Pacific coast in Aptos. I’ve been dreaming about this trip for over a month; now, I am here. It’s Day 7 of summer break and I am busy Making the Days Count.

I arrived Friday morning and have been to two baseball games, hiked in the coastal hills in Orange County, driven along the Pacific Coast highway, through a mountain pass, and up the Central Coast Valley before watching the sunset at Seacliff State Beach last night.

Both baseball games were fun to watch, and I even ran into a couple of Astros fans I met last summer in Denver. It is a small world. Continue reading Monday, Monday

W2 – glassware

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Clean glassware drying on the drying rack. Naperville, IL Monday, June 3, 2024, 12:54 PM

It’s summer again, this year it’ll be my 25th summer break as a teacher. I have four more summer breaks after this one, then it’ll be permanent summer break.

This summer, and for the past twenty-four, I’ve simply been auditioning. Continue reading W2 – glassware

W^2 – baseball is back

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, May 8, 2024

NOTE: This post was originally titled “Baseball”, but after reflecting overnight, I changed it to “baseball is back.” Enjoy

Tuesday night baseball at Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois. Tuesday April 23, 2024, 7:09 PM

It’s baseball season, again. Baseball season begins at the end of March and lasts until the final out in late October. Every team will play 162 games, the good ones will play more, and the best teams could play 173 or more. It all depends, because baseball is a funny game.

“The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game — it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and it could be again.”

“Ohhhhhhhh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.”
Terrance Mann in Field of Dreams

I made it to my first game of the 2024 season two weeks ago and I am just now making time to write about it. I’ve been to Wrigley Field more times than I can remember. My first game was in 1993. Wrigley Field opened with its first baseball game one hundred ten years ago in 1914. It’s the second oldest ballpark in the major leagues and there is something magic about watching a game there. Continue reading W^2 – baseball is back

MtDC…

It’s April and we are at the lake for a short weekend getaway. My wife picked me up Friday after school and we drove up as day turned to night arriving before midnight. We will leave later this afternoon. Instead of chores I am writing a post, which was supposed to be a quick post.

yesterday evening’s sunset… they are never the same… created with Adobe Express

It all started in 2010 and it is difficult to believe I am still writing (and posting) at MtDC after all these years, but I am.

Last year, before school let out for the summer, I signed up for a professional development class hosted by Adobe for their new dynamic content creation software, Adobe Express. I’ve been using it to edit and create since; almost entirely on my phone where I take all my photos. There are desktop and mobile versions of the software, but they weren’t the same and frankly I preferred the mobile app for its convenience, but that changed Friday morning.

Sometimes, learning is difficult.

It’s been a couple of days of figuring things out. I’ve tinkered a little and used it to create a couple of images learning as I go.

When I started writing and posting, I wanted a logo that fit what I was doing. I created my first logo in 2010 and it stuck around until 2014. I changed it again in 2016 and it has been the site icon since.

Earlier this month I was tinkering with Adobe Express and created a new logo, the above logo. A couple of weeks ago I added it to WordPress as my site icon and planned to write a post but didn’t. This morning, I changed all my social media to the icon.

created 2024

So, here’s the post, a debut of sorts. Continue reading MtDC…

W^2 – history

WARNING: it’s Wednesday so I titled the post W^2, but it’s hardly wordless.

It’s spring break and we’ve escaped then blustery chill of a midwestern early spring for the Florida Keys and sun, wind, and sand. Mostly sun.

I remember my first visit to the Keys with my in-laws in 2002. Our son had recently turned four and my wife was pregnant with our daughter. We arrived in Miami and were picked up by my in-laws at the airport.

Until then, my only experience with Florida had been passing through the airport on the way to somewhere else: Venezuela or England to spend the summer or Christmas with my dad and stepmother.

With my father-in-law at the wheel we wove our way through Miami traffic to Homestead and US1. US1 is the only road from the Florida mainland at the tip of the Florida peninsula to the Keys where it terminates at Key West.

US1 travels along the path of the defunct Miami to Key West extension of the Florida East Coast Railway. Construction of the railroad began in 1903 and was completed in 1913. The railway operated until 1935 when the Labor Day hurricane washed out the rail bed in Islamorada and the railroad abandoned the railroad. Two years later the Florida Highway Commission purchased the right of way and began construction of a highway to Key West. They used the old railroad bridges constructing roadbeds atop the concrete viaducts and bridges built by the railroad. Over the years, the highway has replaced the original railway bridges with wider end more modern concrete bridges.

The view from the bridge to the Atlantic Ocean

The first several miles of the two lane road travel along the path of the old railway. First through the thick mangrove swamps and across Lake Surprise before reaching Key Largo where the highway opens up to the Atlantic Ocean on the left and Florida Bay to the right.

As the highway bridges were replaced, the original railroad bridges were left in place. Most have been repurposed as fishing platforms or observation decks and others have been left to decay and breakdown in the elements. The Seven Mile Bridge has a two mile extension from Knight’s Key Key to Pigeon Key open to walkers and bicycles with breathtaking sunset views.

Anyway, Tuesday afternoon my buddy and I (we are here with another couple) took off on an adventure stopping at the western approach to the Bahia Honda Bridge.

The original railroad bridge on the left and the new highway bridge on the right. Looking west from Bahia Honda State Park – photo from 3/28/2017

The old bridge has been abandoned since the present bridge was completed in 1977. The original railroad bridge is an iron trestle bridge which was only wide enough for a single railroad track and the passage of a single train. The highway engineers decided to construct a two lane road atop the railroad trestle to connect the two keys, or islands.

Continue reading W^2 – history