Category Archives: Challenges

don’t forget kindness

I am back in school and my windows are limited to the classroom, the car windshield, and the kitchen window I look out in the morning. Of course, there are other windows in my world – our bedroom window which we can finally crack now that cooler fall weather has arrived. This morning, I awoke to a nip in the air as the temperatures had dropped into the upper 40s (10C) overnight.

 

My classroom has two windows – one facing the sidewalk and the other facing the outdoor classroom and the entrance onto the parking lot from the street. Occasionally, there is a class in the outdoor classroom and the students are more interested in what is happening outside. Mostly, the views are uninspiring, but my students do peer out and get lost in the outside world, oblivious to the learning within the four walls. I understand. There are days when I feel constrained, too.

I was reading a blog post by Margaret, From Pyrenees to Pennines, this morning and I was inspired. Thank you, Margaret. It is during the summer, or a long weekend trip, when I can gaze through the windows at the lake. I can get lost, like my students, looking out at the lake.

This past summer I took a trip to Raleigh, North Carolina. It was a business trip, of sorts. I had a great time and I learned some new ways to design social studies curriculum. I was indoors during the days – all three days, but in the evening, I was able to explore. Continue reading don’t forget kindness

people are like onions

This morning when I opened the Five Minute Journal, I was met with the week’s weekly challenge.

Yes, I am challenged to smile at myself in the mirror for ten seconds. I smiled when I read the challenge and took a screen shot. Not a difficult challenge at all, nothing like the weekly challenge from a few week’s back when the Five Minute Journal challenged me to start a conversation with a stranger.

It made me think of a time when I did have to smile in the mirror.

It also made me think of this week’s photo challenge – layers. It made me think of the following conversation from the movie Shrek.

Shrek: For your information, there’s a lot more to ogres than people think.
Donkey: Example?
Shrek: Example… uh… ogres are like onions!
[holds up an onion, which Donkey sniffs]
Donkey: They stink?
Shrek: Yes… No!
Donkey: Oh, they make you cry?
Shrek: No!
Donkey: Oh, you leave ’em out in the sun, they get all brown, start sproutin’ little white hairs…
Shrek: [peels an onion] NO! Layers. Onions have layers. Ogres have layers… You get it? We both have layers.
[Shrek walks off]
Donkey: Oh, you both have LAYERS. Oh. You know, not everybody like onions.

Shrek is right – ogres AND people are like onions, we have layers. Continue reading people are like onions

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

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

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

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

bridge – a photo challenge

It’s Saturday morning and I’m home, on the deck. I’ll be back at the lake later this evening, but for the moment I am home. I drove home Friday. I left in the morning hoping to avoid the weekend traffic and it almost worked.

I was able to catch up with W, run a couple of errands, workout, and eat dinner before calling it a day. I have an appointment later this morning, then I am returning to the lake.

This morning I woke, made the coffee, and enjoying my morning on the deck. It was peaceful and calm, until the neighbor’s yard crew arrived. My yard crew (W) is still sleeping, he mowed yesterday and the yard looks grand. Continue reading bridge – a photo challenge

delta – a photo challenge

Moments in time – early morning, last day of June, or Friday.

“Nothing is really work unless you would rather do something else.” Sir James Barrie

I am stuck for more – beginnings and endings, the edge of something new or the end of a month a week, or even – night and day.

dew drops cling to the lily buds in the early morning light

This week’s weather has been typical early summer. It was cool and dry at the beginning of the week and it has transitioned to warm and humid. This morning when I ventured out into the garden to capture my ‘delta’ photos the lawn was covered in the morning dew. Last night’s air was saturated with water vapor and overnight in condensed and settled across the landscape.

lilies in all states of being – flower and bud – all blossoming with color in the garden

Continue reading delta – a photo challenge