W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, August 30, 2023
It is Wednesday and I am feeling ducky. I am five days into my twenty-fifth year of teaching and feeling like a duck on dry land, or perhaps skewered on a car antenna.
I spied these rubber duckies on a car antennae a couple of Saturday’s ago while volunteering at Loaves and Fishes. The car’s owner is a regular and she lifts us up with the joy she shares with the world through her personality and her sticker adorned car.
I noticed the rubber duckies were a new addition and I talked to her on her way out. She shared her story of how the week before she’d been on a trip with her family and collected more than a dozen rubber duckies playing a game and decided to skewer them on her car’s antenna.
A new school year is full of joy and excitement. It’s also change from the carefree life of summer break and audition for retirement. I inched a little closer this year to retirement this school year as I began my twenty-fifth year of teaching. Interestingly, this year also marks the fiftieth anniversary of my own year as a sixth grader, time marches on.
This morning I am more than just ducky; I am filled with joy and passion and excitement for learning. Today is going to be an amazing day, it just might be a million and six times better than yesterday. I get to teach kids and share my passion and curiosity. So, I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the days Count, one day at a time, exploring, learning, and being curious.
It’s been five years since my mom, our mom, died. I miss her dearly. Especially on Mother’s Day and her birthday.
When I started blogging, she became my reader and my critic. I miss those conversations and so much more. She taught me how to be who I am today. She taught me to be curious, to ask questions, and so much more.
Last year her sister, and our aunt, died. Those two sisters taught us more than I realized, and I miss them both.
Today, we are non-sequential, 61-60, and 58. In October, we we’ll be in order again until I mess it up and turn 62 a month later in November.
It’s because of mom that I keep working at Making the Days Count. Each day, in some way, I work at it. I am thankful and full of gratitude for her patience and kindness when what I really, I needed (and deserved) was a kick in the pants and tough love.
It’s Mother’s Day and I’d better get going on it and jump in, jump out, and seize the day. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, looking back, looking forward, but always remembering.
I began writing this post two weeks ago in Cincinnati, Ohio and didn’t finish in the time I had. I started writing after the Reds game Friday night and worked on polishing it in the coffee shop Saturday morning. But I couldn’t quite find the right words or flow. It was the last full day of my epic baseball trip and I wanted to make it on time to Cleveland, so I stopped and crafted a different post.
Of all the cities and stadiums, I visited on my trip, Pittsburgh was my favorite. I felt connected from the moment I arrived, I felt welcome, I felt home.
Before I left Pittsburgh, I visited my paternal grandparents. They are buried in a beautiful cemetery to the south of the city center. I had intended to visit them before the game, but I was late leaving Philadelphia. The cemetery where they lay at rest, in eternal peace, was in the general direction I was traveling. So, it was a win-win. I could visit them and get closer to Friday’s destination, Cincinnati.
My grandfather died in 1971 at the age of fifty-two. I was nine years old and remember the summer evening we learned of his death. He died peacefully on July 17, 1971.
Last night, I was in Pittsburgh to see the Pirates play the Brewers. It was the BEST venue yet. Hands down.
I am not sure why, but everything clicked last night from getting to the ballpark to getting back to my hotel room and everything in between. Including an eraser on the pencil provided with the scorecard.
My dad loved baseball. He had two favorite teams; I believe. He loved the Cleveland Indians and the Pittsburgh Pirates. I think. I’ll have to go with what I think because I don’t have anyone to ask, anymore. Continue reading Roberto Clemente and the Pirates→
W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, January 5, 2022
I spent the entire week, last week, in northern Mississippi with my brother and his wife sorting through my stepmother’s home and her belongings. It was a tough week.
I drove south over the Cairo Bridge on Sunday, the day after Christmas, and returned New Year’s Eve. Its over 600 miles to her home. The Cairo Bridge marks 382 of those miles from my home in northern Illinois. The trip took through me five states – Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Mississippi. I crossed the mighty Mississippi River four times on my trip, and I had a lot to think about on the way south and even more on the return.
The river keeps moving and I suppose that is good advice.
Today is gonna be an awesome day, I know it and I can feel it, so I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, crossing bridges all the time.
W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, December 8, 2021
It’s been almost two years since my stepmother has lived in her home in Oxford, Mississippi and we are (finally) beginning the process of emptying the home, saving the special things, discarding those things that aren’t and finding new homes for many of the things we can’t keep. It’s a process and there’s a lot to go through, but we are making headway.
She and my dad lived in Reading, England for several years in the late 70s and early 80s. I remember visiting several times and spending Christmas and New Year of 1978 with them. There are lots of memories in this cup.
Like so many things in life, there more to this story. A connection from the late 70s to the present day and possibly well into the future. It’s gonna be a great day, but first I must press publish and get to school. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, digging up the past and illuminating the present.
What is something that you pulled out that brought back a strong memory? Please share.
W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, September 1, 2021
Saturday morning, we loaded our car and took off to take our youngest daughter off to college. It was a hot day and we got everything into her un-air-conditioned dorm room. We helped her unpack and put things away and then drove home. The drive home seemed so much longer than the drive there. Same distance, different circumstances, lighter load and for the first time in twenty-three and half years we are on our own again. Life begins anew. I remember my first week or so away from home and off to college, but I never thought how hard it was on my mom. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, beginning a new journey all over again.
Every time I roast a chicken, I think of my mom. Every time single time.
Friday night, I cooked dinner. Roasted chicken with rosemary and thyme, green beans, and a salad. It was just me, and Fern.
We are at the lake for the weekend, and it was just the two of us. I cut open the package and pulled the chicken out of the plastic wrapping, placing it in the sink and removing the neck and the giblets from inside the bird. I rinsed the bird and carefully patted it dry. My mom taught me that a crispy skin is because it’s skin is dry and light coated with olive oil. I placed the neck and giblets in a small saucepan, covered them with water, and placed them on the stove. Exactly like my mom taught me. I turned the burner to low and allowed the pan to slowly cook the contents – this part of the bird was for Fern.
I patted the chicken’s skin dry a final time before I placed it in a cast iron skillet lightly coating it with olive oil and then sprinkling it with black pepper and dried thyme and rosemary on the back, the breast, and legs of the bird pressing spices onto the skin. Then I placed it in the oven at 425˚F and waited.
Within a few minutes the aroma of a roasting chicken filled the cottage.
While it cooked, I fed Fern sprinkling some of the broth from her part of the bird and its some meat gleaned from the neck. Mom taught me that a whole chicken could feed a family and a dog. Every time I cook a whole chicken, I feed the dogs, too.
It took almost an hour in the oven and while it roasted, I busied myself with other chores and then prepared the salad and the green beans. I pulled the roasted bird out of the oven, checked the temperature, and then let it rest a few moments before carving off a thigh and a drumstick and plating it with green beans and a generous portion of the salad.
It’s Father’s Day and I am in northern Mississippi visiting with my stepmother. Last year on Father’s Day, I was on my way home from visiting her.
My father died 11 years ago this summer after a fall and a brief illness, and I began writing a year later.
My stepmother had been living independently in Mississippi since he died. Neither my father nor my stepmother is native to Mississippi, but they decided to relocate here after my father retired in 1998. It’s a beautiful town and they have a lovely home.
However, this past winter that independence came to an end after a fall and brief hospitalization. I am grateful that my brothers and I were successful in moving her into an assisted living facility before the COVID19 lockdown shutdown the country.
But life is full of next steps, our next step is convincing her that living in northern Mississippi 621 miles from me in Illinois, 621 miles from one of my Texas brothers, and 630 miles from my other Texas brother is no longer sustainable, especially in the time of COVID19.
Tough conversations. Much like the conversations my dad and I had years ago.