All posts by Clay

wondering and wandering – it’s shiny!

I am easily distracted, so much so I need to be away from distractions. When I first read Andrea Badgley’s weekly photo challenge, I identified.

Wrigley Field, and me…

I am in the basement, outside it’s rainy, or was raining, and it’s wet. Whether it’s raining or not, sitting on the deck and writing would be a bad idea this morning. The basement is dry, thankfully. The family is sleeping, reaching for that last bit of sleeping in late.

Lately, I’ve been distracted by just about everything. Sunday afternoon, I was writing a letter to my mom – more on that later – and I could not keep my mind on what I was writing and my pen, a fountain pen, would dry and I’d need to constantly re-wet it. I finally finished the letter Tuesday and put it in the mail with four thank you notes. I have another letter I need to write – this one to a former student and I’ve been dragging my feet, or rather allowing myself to get distracted.

It’s the ‘shiny’ stuff that gets me off topic and wandering and wondering.

Last week, I took in two baseball games one by myself, and the other with my favorite daughter, O. I root for the Astros. She roots for the Reds, and the Cubs, but the Reds are first. She’s been wanting to go to a Reds game and this week they’ve been in Chicago. She mentioned it last week and reminded me yesterday.

O is off to high school next week and freshman orientation was Tuesday afternoon with a parent orientation Tuesday evening. Continue reading wondering and wandering – it’s shiny!

hydrogen and helium: elemental

It’s Sunday morning by the lake. Yesterday was Saturday and tomorrow, is Monday. It’s how the week rolls, it’s elemental.

When I woke Saturday morning, it was cool and overcast. By midday, it had warmed and the sun was out. I had to install a part on the boat lift in the lake. I gathered my tools, my camera, and waded into the lake. Ivy came with me paddling and O followed. The install took only a few minutes, I took photos of the new part, then I took photos of the lake.

earth, water, and air – the ancient elements

I have taken hundreds, maybe thousands, of photos of the lake, but most of the photos I have taken are from shore or from a boat.

I focused on South Bay where a rain cell raced across the lake.

I was able to capture several of the elements of life by the lake – the lake, the hills, and the clouds at once. Of course, there are the sunsets, but that’s for another time. Continue reading hydrogen and helium: elemental

Thankful Thursday

It’s mid-afternoon Thursday and I am thankful. I am thankful other days too, however this was a planned post, or at least the topic/subject was planned. In full disclosure, I started writing earlier this morning but I wasn’t able to finish the post, proofread, edit, and publish before an appointment, so I had to finish this afternoon.

At the beginning of the calendar year I began a quest. The quest, really a task or goal, was to write a handwritten thank you note and post it in the mail to someone, somewhere, each day. I was inspired by a book I had read several years before about being thankful by John Kralik. He had written the book about writing thank you notes to people he knew and encountered and how in doing so his life changed for the better. The book, A Simple Act of Gratitude: How Learning to Say Thank You Changed My Life was published in 2010 and I first learned of the book in early 2011. I bought the book and read it and passed it on to a couple of people…but that was several years ago.

This past December I was writing thank you notes to my students for their thoughtfulness and generosity with their Christmas gifts. Writing thank you notes is not new, I have always written thank you notes at Christmas and at the end of the year – even before I read the book. However, this year I could identify with Kohn Kralik. The past several years have been incredibly difficult – personally and professionally.  If you’ve followed me for a while, you may know or remember posts about the passing of my in-laws and my sister-in-law in the brief period of 18 months. When it rains, it pours. You may also recall, I my teaching assignment shifted from teaching English Language Arts to teaching science and moved from one grade to another. The transition has not been easy – in fact it’s been incredibly difficult. However, I have persevered, been resilient, and learned from my (many) mistakes and have continued to move forward. It’s been important to remind myself – I am passionate about social studies. In 7th grade it was geography and I loved it, in 8th grade it’s U.S. History and making social studies fun and relevant for kids is my passion. But above all, I teach kids, not a subject or a content area. Continue reading Thankful Thursday

Marvelous Monday

It’s Monday morning and I am in my summer Saturday morning writing spot, the deck overlooking the path and the back yard and garden. The lawn crews don’t work our neighborhood on Monday, so it will be peaceful. Ivy joined me earlier, but decided she wanted to go back to sleep, plaintively whining beside the backdoor, so I let her back in. She went inside and laid down curling up on her pad. Later, when I went inside to refill my coffee cup, I asked her if she wanted to come back outside, she lifted her head, and sighed as if to say,

“It’s Monday morning, let me sleep, please.”

I can empathize, the past couple of days have been a blur.

photo by O – a Black-eyed Susan is a rest stop for a moth

It’s a new week and it’s going to be a great day, a marvelous Monday.

Thursday, I laid low and took a day to relax and rejuvenate and of course, to make a salad. Continue reading Marvelous Monday

eat this: texture

August’s First Friday, with three more Fridays on the calendar for August. When the fourth Friday lands, school will be back in session and my free-range Fridays will be at an end, for a while.

love at first bite, do we really eat with our eyes first?

It’s been a great summer; and if you listen to Johnny Cash, I’ve been everywhere, sort of. O and I returned from Michigan Monday morning and O made band camp, B and Ivy followed us home Tuesday. We’re all home, for now. We have one more final adventure Up North next weekend before school begins. After then our adventures will have to be local.

sunflowers at Dutch Farm Market

On our way home Monday, O and I stopped at our favorite farmer’s market. MM 26 on I-196 between Benton Harbor and Holland if you’re headed north and reversed if you are headed south. Dutch Farm Market is open 7 days a week from mid-May until late October, though we only stop in the summer on our way. Sometimes, like I did, we stop on the way home.  We rarely stop on our way home, it’s either too late and they’re closed, or we’re loaded, have no room, and we want to get home.

Dutch Farm Market is nestled along the fruit coast of western Michigan where the climate is perfect for blueberries and fruit trees – peaches, apples, cherries, you name it – it grows and it grows well. Farmer Ed, who owns Dutch Farm Market, has 500 acres of fruit trees and opens his orchards to the public for U-Pick. Continue reading eat this: texture

Tuesday’s Tune – ‘Roam’

Flashback to 1989, I was younger and living in the San Francisco Bay Area. I had roamed west in ’87 away from south Texas – yearning to make it on my own.

Roam if you want to
Roam around the world
Roam if you want to
Without wings, without wheels

Summers are for exploring and roaming. I am fortunate to have a profession where I have summers off and time to rest, relax, restore, and explore. Many folks think all teachers do over summer break is play, but that’s not the case most teachers are busy with learning or rethinking ways to be a better teacher. But that’s not what today’s Tuesday’s Tune is about.

A Farmer’s Market in Good hart, MI

Flashback to 1989, Continue reading Tuesday’s Tune – ‘Roam’

satisfaction: bottled sunshine

It’s late July, and it’s that time of the year. Back to school. O and I were out shopping today and stores are in full swing with their back to school shopping sales. I read Jen H.’s Weekly Photo Challenge post and I certainly identify with her, I love school supplies and office supplies. School is around the corner; 24 days and counting for my colleagues and I.

Monday’s sunset – getting in position….

Summer break has been satisfying, though I feel my bathroom scale is lying to me. Perhaps, summer has been too satisfying. O and I returned Tuesday morning for marching band camp. B and Ivy remained Up North by the lake. B’s awaiting her sister and her son – our nephew – who arrives later today. O and I will be back for the weekend. We’re both excited to see them and have fun at the lake. This weekend is race weekend and there will be fun by and on the lake, then fun as spectators watching the canoe race. And who knows what else we will find to do. It will be a great weekend.

At this point during summer break, I begin to panic. Usually, it’s where did summer go? Not this summer, it’s been largely a summer full of satisfaction. I read the week’s photo challenge and as always, it’s wide open. I checked the meaning of satisfaction and Merriam and Webster define satisfaction as:

2a: fulfillment of a need or want
2b: the quality or state of being satisfied: CONTENTMENT
2c: a source or means of enjoyment: GRATIFICATION

Summer break comes along at the perfect time in the school year for kids and adults. The learning and growing and teaching that happens requires a great deal of mental energy and by year’s end we’re both exhausted. This summer has had the right amount of contentment, perhaps according to my scale, a tad more contentment. Continue reading satisfaction: bottled sunshine

unusual: a photo challenge

It’s summer break and I’ve been on the road, that’s not unusual. Summer is travelling season for me and the family. Wednesday morning, I was in North Carolina – really, no Raleigh, Wednesday night I was back home in Chicagoland, and Thursday evening I was in northern Michigan. I rejoined my family after a professional conference – it was good and I realized I have much to do and learn. I am here for the weekend and then we return home Monday or Tuesday.

an unusual sight – a wind turbine blade

Driving to Michigan is sometimes a gamble, sometimes I can make it in 6 hours, sometimes quicker, but most of the time the drive stretches to almost 7 hours. The time depends on weather, accidents, or construction or a combination of all three.

Thursday afternoon had elements of all three and I arrived before the sunset and our guests from Ohio.

the sign says it all….

Along the way, I stopped at the Michigan Welcome Center near New Buffalo so I could take a selfie with the Welcome to Michigan sign to go with my Welcome to North Carolina selfie from my last post. When I pulled off the highway into the rest stop, I saw something unusual – wind turbine blades on the move or rather, off the road waiting for a better time to move. Several years ago, we watched a trainload of wind turbine blades travelling through Chicago. I went back in time – it was long time ago, and yes it was unusual to see wind turbine blades on a train or a truck. Continue reading unusual: a photo challenge

Tuesday’s Tune: Wonderful World

It’s is a wonderful world, indeed. When I first heard Sam Cooke croon,

Don’t know much about history
Don’t know much biology
Don’t know much about a science book
Don’t know much about the French I took

I was watching Animal House with John Belushi and laughing as only a teenager can. I’ve grown up, it’s been almost 40 years since I watched Animal House. I was in high school and dreaming of college, and I didn’t know much about history, or the French I took. I knew everything, or thought I did.

It was the start of my junior year in high school and it was the year which changed my life. Seriously, no kidding.

the photo says it all….really, no Raleigh.

Fast forward and I am much older, more experienced, and I still don’t know much about history and every day I am reminded of how much I still don’t know, and yet I still yearn to learn more and grow each day – to make every day count.

It’s why I am in Raleigh, North Carolina for a social studies conference. I realize I don’t know everything and I want to learn and be a better teacher. Continue reading Tuesday’s Tune: Wonderful World

collage – a photo challenge

It’s Saturday morning and I’m home, on the deck, again. It’s a lovely morning it’s cool and calm and the birds are chirping up a storm, or perhaps it is because I can hear the birds and everything else with much better clarity. Ivy sits perched at the edge of the deck surveying the yard and the garden beds beyond.

I wanted to write this post yesterday, but life got in the way. It was Bastille Day, France’s national celebration of independence. It was also Pandemonium Day, really, I am not making this up. Today is either tapioca Pudding Day, Gummi Worm Day, Orange Chicken Day, or Pet Safety Day.

We returned from the lake, and the duck butts, Thursday evening. I had a couple of appointments yesterday and I leave for a three-day social studies conference in Raleigh, North Carolina tomorrow morning. I was born in Raleigh and I have not been back since I was a baby when my mom and dad moved, or returned (as I learned) to Decatur, Alabama. I image much has changed in Raleigh since – the population in 1960 was 93,000 and today it is close to 450,000.

I was enjoying yesterday’s early morning on the back deck, that time of day is the best time to enjoy the deck. The sun rises and brightens the front of the house and the entire backyard is in full shade, the deck remains in the shade until late morning when the sunrises higher in the sky. I was the only one up, except Ivy when my mom called – it was wonderful to hear her voice. Continue reading collage – a photo challenge