Category Archives: Weekly Photo Challenges

resilient – a photo challenge

This morning, on the way home from dropping W off at work, I glanced left and took in the magnificent morning as the bright sunlight brought the prairie grasses back to light and life. We had a hard freeze last night and much of the world was covered in a heavy frost. It was 19 F or -7 C, depending on your scale, whichever you choose – it was cold.

Danada Forest Preserve – 1/1/17

The prairie grasses were frosted and golden in the light. The sun had been up above the horizon for less than an hour and it was low on the horizon and the entire prairie was brightly lit and slowly warming.

By now, a few hours later, most of the morning’s frost is gone and the prairie grass is no longer coated with frost. It’ll be a while, several months with the arrival of spring, before the grass completely returns to life and the cycle continues.

Danada Forest Preserve – 1/1/17

Continue reading resilient – a photo challenge

path: a photo challenge

Thursday – December 29, 2016. Counting today, there are three more days in 2016. Then a new year, of sorts. Last year, I had three hundred sixty-six to count, the coming year brings three hundred sixty-five. For educators, like myself, the year is defined by the school calendar mid-August to June or early May with a break in June, July and early August. Which means new year marks the beginning of second half and new birth of sorts for my eighth graders.

Christmas dessert – B’s homemade old-fashioned creampie

At the moment, I am on winter break – Day 7. I wish I could report I had accomplished more than catching up on sleep, but I can’t. I prepared an amazing Christmas Dinner – roasted bone-in prime rib, au gratin potatoes, and Brussel sprouts with bacon. Ivy got the bones. B made the old-fashioned cream pie for dessert.

Today marks the beginning of a new path – thank you notes, cleaning off my office desk, a workout (this would be three days in a row), and maybe some school work –  maybe.

We had snow in early December, the first Sunday of the month. The storm left several inches of snow covering the ground. A week later, we had another storm blanketing the area with a fresh layer if snow. The following week, we had bitter cold and last weekend we had rain and the most of the snow melted. The Monday after Christmas, I was outside raking leaves from the deck and cleaning up the yard a bit. Except for a few patches where the sun doesn’t shine, the snow is gone, it’s history. This afternoon’s forecast calls for a dusting of snow, but at the moment it is clear and sunny – a bonus for this time of the year.

Same path, different days….

Continue reading path: a photo challenge

new horizons: a photo challenge

Sunday morning. It’s cold outside and we’re between snows – yesterday afternoon it began to gently snow as we were finishing our outdoor Christmas decorations. This morning when I woke the eastern sky was cloudy and grey and the sun’s light struggled to dimly awaken the world to a new day.

my first peek outside – the window beside my bed…

We’re 14 days from Christmas morning and 21 days from New Year’s morning. A new horizon and a new year. Somehow, the past 345 days have been a blur. Continue reading new horizons: a photo challenge

magic – a photo challenge

It’s Wednesday afternoon. It’s been an amazing day and there is still a little magic left.

We’re UP NORTH where magic abounds. I suppose if I looked, I could find it at home, but I am here. We drove up after school yesterday and stopped halfway to deliver a Christmas wreath to a good friend. We arrived late and the stars were twinkling magically as we unloaded the car.

This morning B nudged me and said, “we’d better get going and rake the yard before the snow hits.”

I grumbled, but got moving. It began to spit snow as we finished.

there is magic in the air...
there is magic in the air…

Then it was a trip to the grocery for what we needed for Thanksgiving dinner. That’s tomorrow and I am thankful

I’ve been dreaming of being here since my last visit in early October. It’s magic here, even when it is cold and snowing. Continue reading magic – a photo challenge

shine/sunshine: a photo challenge

Sunday was a beautiful day in the Midwest. Actually, Saturday was a beautiful day, too and I am not referring to the Chicago Cubs.

We’ve had a run of beautiful days. Warm sunny afternoons followed by cool nights. Tonight, the sky was clear again when I took Ivy outside. Since she and Mr. Skunk met in August, she gets an escort out in the evening. I looked up and I could see several stars. Living so close to a major city, my stargazing is limited by the light pollution. I am thankful for the stars that shine bright enough for me to see.

ivy leaves shine a brilliant red-orange
ivy leaves shine a brilliant red-orange

I spent most of my day hunkered down in the basement working on school and other things. I popped out of my cave to enjoy a slice of O’s birthday cake. It was O’s birthday and W was over to help celebrate.

It was that time in the afternoon when the sun’s angle illuminates and shines across the landscape in a special way. It makes the grass greener and the fall leaves redder, oranger, and yellower than they are in the midday sun or morning sun.

the leaves of the maple tree peak through the other trees lit by the sun
the leaves of the maple tree peak through the other trees lit by the sun

The backside of our home faces west and is surrounded by mature maple trees and a lonely ash tree. Among the maples is a maple tree that turns the brightest orange-yellow in early fall. It is so bright it appears to be afire. The other maple trees turn a pale yellow and drop almost simultaneously after the first heavy frost in mid-November. One of the maple trees has a vine that climbs the trunk and had turned a brilliant red-orange. Continue reading shine/sunshine: a photo challenge

“All politics is local.”

“All politics is local.”

We (we Americans) are in the midst of a contentious presidential election. I’ve been blogging since 2010 and, so far, I’ve successfully avoided talking politics. AND, I am not going to break with tradition, I’ll keep my opinion on the presidential election to myself.

But, “all politics is local,” former Congressman and Speaker of the House Tip O’Neil is credited with the phrase, bit it’s a moot point.

I vote, or should vote, for the candidate that most closely aligns with my political, and economic, interests. That is what makes the election for a national leader local.

I teach 8th graders US History (and science) and my students are itching to know who I am voting for or planning to vote for this year. I am not telling them who I am planning to vote for, either.

pink pencils and the 'freedom rock'
pink pencils and the ‘freedom rock’

Continue reading “All politics is local.”

water – a photo challenge

I’ve had this weekend circled on my calendar since Labor Day. It’s been awhile since we’ve been up here, by the lake, in the early fall. The past few years, we’ve been able to come up only after football season was finished and even then it was for a short two-day weekend, not the longer three-day weekend that Columbus Day brings.

the sun lights up South Bay, the wind whips the lake, and we're here... by the lake, Up North.
the sun lights up South Bay, the wind whips the lake, and we’re here… by the lake, Up North.

Last year, it was W, O, Ivy, and I for fall cleanup, the year before in ’14 we all of us left on early Saturday afternoon (after football practice) and only had Sunday to work, and in 13’ I came by myself.

I’ve been searching back in my memory and the cottage guest book and it’s been a long time since we’ve been Up North at this time in the year.

B and I reminisced on our way out of town Friday evening as the sunset in the rearview mirror about our trip in ’96. It was BK – before kids – her parents met us and we had a great time. We drove through the countryside looking at the fall color and we did some yard work, but I remember the deep breaths I was able take by the lake. It does that for me, the lake helps me relax and refocus. Continue reading water – a photo challenge

Nostalgia – a photo challenge

Sunday morning, October 2 – it’s fall. Fall means cooler nights, shorter days, pumpkins, apples, Halloween, and Friday Night Lights – high school football.

Olivia and William root on their Tigers! State Championship game 2009
Olivia and William root on their Tigers! State Championship game 2009

B and I have been going to high school football games since we were kids. We started taking W when he was young, then O came along. B and I would watch from the end zone along the fence and the kids would watch until they were old enough to hang out with their friends, then we ‘graduated’ to the stands when W reached high school. In ’14 and ’15, W was on the sidelines. He’d getting his playing time on Saturday, but he hung in there for four years as a high school football player. I admire him and have great respect for his stick-it-to-ed-ness. W graduated in May and is off testing his wings at the next step at the local community college, but we still go Friday night to watch and root on the Tigers.
Friday night, we were in the stands. It was the final home game of the season, and it was Homecoming. Tigers were winless in five starts. It’s been a tough couple of years for the Tigers – last year ended 2-7 after making it to the quarter-finals of the state playoffs in ’14.

Watching the game brought back memories from when the kids were younger. I remembered back to ’09. W was in sixth grade, his first year at middle school, and O was in first grade. The Tigers had made the playoffs and the first game was Friday, October 31 – Halloween. Continue reading Nostalgia – a photo challenge

mirror: a photo challenge

Labor Day weekend – 2016. I’ve been looking forward to this weekend for three weeks. We’re up north at the lake for the last weekend of summer; and while it makes me happy to be here, it does make me bit sad.

the lake, the fog, and Shamu - the Seadoo - standing where the dock was....
the lake, the fog, and Shamu – the Seadoo – standing where the dock was….

I awoke this morning to a fog shrouded lake. It was still and cool outside and the temperatures were in the forties. In late summer, the lake is still warm, or relatively warm and the cool nights cause the fog. Before long the cool nights will chill the lake. This morning surface was like glass, almost a mirror, and the quietness of the lake made my morning coffee special as I remembered the mornings sipping coffee with grandma talking and gazing out over the lake.

I have many memories of being up North for Labor Day weekend. I was scanning the guest book and came across grandma’s handwriting about the time W and I came up to help grandpa and grandma in 2003. B stayed home with O because she didn’t want to deal with a baby in the car and the awful Labor Day weekend traffic. She remembered W and I sailed through and made the trip without traffic jams. And then there are Labor Day weekends like this year when traffic was snarled and we crawled out of Chicago before breaking out of the traffic when we got past Lake Michigan’s eastern shore near Holland.

The year is a cycle – summer – fall – winter – spring and over and over again. Each year brings us new ends and new beginnings and it seems sometimes, as if I am peering into a mirror reflecting on the past. Continue reading mirror: a photo challenge

rare: a photo challenge

It is Sunday evening. It rained most of Saturday, so my Saturday chores – mowing the lawn and caring for the yard were postponed until today.

Yesterday’s rain brought with it cooler weather, and it was welcome. It was nice to be able to sleep with the windows open overnight, sleeping with windows open at night is usually a Late-September early fall treat. Mowing the lawn was much more comfortable than the typical late August Midwestern summer afternoon. It’s rare for August, but very welcome.

I was sitting outside contemplating all that I had left to do when I caught the sun streaming through the trees at exactly the right moment.

catching the sun at the right moment, rare
catching the sun at the right moment, rare

Sunsets at home are enjoyable, but not nearly as spectacular as they are at the lake. So when I can catch the sun in a rare moment, I do.

Even Ivy recognizes the rare moment and has been stalking some critter under the deck. Ivy has been obsessed by some critter that has burrowed under the deck. It could be rabbits or worse, skunks. She’s been skunked twice.

Ivy begs for more 'outside' time..."Please, can I stay outside?", the expression on her face seems to say
Ivy begs for more ‘outside’ time…”Please, can I stay outside?”, the expression on her face seems to say

Sunday’s the quickest day of the week, especially Sunday’s during the school year, and it always comes before Monday, the first day of the school week. Tomorrow is the last day for me to prepare before my students start school Tuesday. I spent most of last week preparing my classroom for the coming year and I have a few final touches before it is ready and I spent part of yesterday working on school tasks.

Today has been a great day and tomorrow could be a million and six times better. So, I’d better put a wrap up today and get a good night’s rest before the first full week of school. I am counting on making it count. Making the Days Count, one rare moment at a time.

What rare moment did you catch today?

Today’s post is inspired by last week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Rare. For this week’s challenge, share a photo of something rare: a family heirloom. A cloudy day in a normally sunny desert. A sad frown on a cheerful kid’s face. Or anything else you think of as scarce and singular. I can’t wait to see what “rare” means to you!