Category Archives: jobs

Monday morning awakening

It’s cool this morning outside on the deck. The sun is slowly creeping across the yard toward my ‘office,’ the birds are singing, and the wind is gently rustling the leaves above me. It’s quiet and peaceful outside.

Ivy rests at my feet, always with eye open, always
Ivy rests at my feet, always with eye open, always

W's location Monday morning - the crew will be kayaking room island to island until Friday.Yesterday morning, W took off on an adventure of a lifetime – kayaking the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior with his Boy Scout Troop. Saturday night was a late one for all of us packing and final details for his kayaking trip after dropping him off and waving goodbye, we went home and back to sleep.

I felt mildly guilty waking when I did, but feeling much more refreshed than I would have been had I stayed awake. We spent the afternoon talking, planning, and laundry – doing, folding, and putting away. B wanted to get outside to her garden and I suggested we wait until the evening, when it was cooler.

It was much cooler and the beds where we were working were shaded. Ivy joined us but spent most of her time scanning for bunnies and squirrels. B needed me to help plant and spread mulch, but it was a wonderful way to decompress from a busy hectic weekend and plan for the week ahead. I am not usually a good gardening partner, but I can tell a weed from a plant – most of the time – and I am quite handy with a shovel and a wheelbarrow. I am the strong back in the operation and B’s the strong mind. It’s a good partnership. Continue reading Monday morning awakening

Dear Mom,

Dear Mom,

It was good to talk with you this past Sunday and great to hear your voice. I am glad you got the letter I wrote in Michigan.

I gonna sit right down and right myself a letter....
I gonna sit right down and right myself a letter….

I write a lot about growing up on my blog. I reflect and write how growing up made me who I am, why I do what I do, and why I think the way I think. I have never taken an accounting of the balance on my blog posts between you and dad. If I had to guess at a ratio, it would be mostly dad, about 70 – 30. Abraham Lincoln said it best, or maybe wrote it:

“The past is the cause of the present, and the present will be the cause of the future.”

The complete quote is, “There are no accidents in my philosophy. Every effect must have its cause. The past is the cause of the present, and the present will be the cause of the future. All these are links in the endless chain stretching from the finite to the infinite.”  From the Lincoln Nobody Knows by Richard M. Current (1958).

But, it really should be 50-50, after all I am a product of the two of you.

Every once in a while I’ll call to thank you for something or to apologize for all of the headaches and heartaches I put you through growing up, especially that period between 13 to 25. I don’t know how you did it considering since that period of time was magnified three-fold and lasted until we all grew up.

Growing up is a process and I continue to grow and mature, even at my age. When I stop learning and growing, it’ll be time.

Thank you for all that you shared with me that shaped me into who I am.

I love to cook because you love to cook. You taught me that it was okay to fail, as long as I learned from it and moved on. Your maxim of no comments until after dinner is good advice for a cook. You taught me to be open to new foods and even though we were young, we all remember Julia Child’s kidney recipe as well as Boeuf Bourguignon, Coq au Vin, S.O.S. – dad’s recipe from the Marine Corps – and so many other foods and dishes. Continue reading Dear Mom,

My brain hurts

My brain hurts AND that is a good thing; it’s a very good thing.

School has been out for sixteen days and today is the Day 17. When I first started blogging in 2010, I numbered all of the posts – Day 1, Day 2 and so on. In 2010, Day 17 was in France and the first full day of my trip to Paris and take my dad back home. Looking back to 2010, Day 17 was June 14th and this year it falls on June 26th – the days do not line up because every summer is different. Some summers begin early and others start late, some summers are influenced by the weather and others are not. This summer is no different, we had bitter cold this winter and it cost us three days; it really cost five days when the last day of school was moved from a Thursday to Tuesday and enveloped a weekend –swallowing two additional days of summer break. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it’s too cold to go to school, too snowy, or too wet, or even too hot – we’ve had bad weather days almost every year I’ve been a teacher. It happens. This summer is no different, we’ve been on the rainy end of a wet and stormy weather pattern for almost two weeks and the area has had over 6 inches of rain in June – well over the average of 4.5 inches for the month.

The Pope issued an encyclical on climate change last week, it got a lot of coverage in the press, and then it disappeared off the radar. But, is shouldn’t have, the issue of climate and climate change should be on all of our radars. That’s one reason my brain hurts, I am thinking and wondering, but there are other reasons.

I was in class last week – material science class. It was amazing and I walked away with many ideas of how to incorporate what I learned in science class this coming year. I melted metals, bent glass, made pottery, played with polymers, and all sorts of materials. My brain hurt all week trying to soak up new ideas and meld them with old ideas to form a composite.

This week, I am in class again. This week’s topic has been water. Clean water, storm water, sewage water, stream water, ground water – all kinds of water. The class began with a trip to the Jardine Water Filtration Plant in Chicago where the water I use to drink, cook, clean, and flush begins its journey to my house. The plant processes about 400 million gallons of water a day and provides water for Chicago and several suburbs with a population of almost 4 million people served.

the quarry - not even close to being full
the quarry – not even close to being full

We visiting a large storm water facility that is an old quarry and it can hold a lot of water – something like 2.7 billion gallons of water. Which if you do the math is like letting faucet run from the Jardine plant straight to the quarry for a little less than a week. That is a lot of water and part of why my brain hurts.

Continue reading My brain hurts

Day 3: The Transition

It’s Friday morning. It’s quiet, it’s gently raining, and I’m listening to “Stormy Weather” and going back in time. I went back a year ago and skimmed posts from last summer while I was doing research for an upcoming post and new page.

mydesk

Summer so far has been feeling like a LONG weekend, so far. I wrote the Superstition post before moving on to other tasks Wednesday and helped B and O pack for Ohio Thursday. They left yesterday and will be gone all weekend long. That leaves W and I to our own devices for a couple of days. W has been up and out of the house before 6 AM all week long – since Tuesday. He has wrestling camp followed by football camp until noon. Then, he’ll come home and sleep. He’s busy all weekend with scout event this evening and more football on Saturday.

A  teacher’s summer isn’t what many folks think. It’s full. The first couple of days are always like recovering from a hangover or a hard workout – rest, relaxation, and recovery. I hardly drink any longer, so it’s been a while since a hangover and I haven’t exercised that strenuously for a while, either. But, I remember how it feels. The transition to summer is like changing jobs – I’ve only changed twice, but I remember the awkwardness of feeling change. One day, I’ll step into retirement and permanent summer. I had better have a plan. Continue reading Day 3: The Transition

Forever in Blue Jeans

It’s Sunday, the day before Memorial Day, and the Indy 500 starts in less than a half hour. The pre-race is on and I wish I could watch it with my science students. It’s speed, physics, material science, and adrenaline all wrapped into 500 miles. I’ve been to the race track many times before, but this year I’ll be watching from the family room with B, W, and O. We’ll be thinking of B’s dad who was our ticket to the track. JD passed away last year after a long life of service to his country, community, and his family. He’s always in our thoughts.

JD Weaver (1926-2014), B, and my nephew - JD's grandson
JD Weaver (1926-2014), B, and my nephew – JD’s grandson

In my last post, I honored my dad, whom also is never far from my thoughts, either.

 There is irony in my last post because my dad’s birthday – 5/20/1933 – is also another birthday, of sorts: blue jeans were born, or rather patented by Levi and Strauss. Irony. I shared this with my classes and reminded them that education was the key to not wearing blue jeans as my dad believed deep in his core. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with hard, physical work – it needs to be done – but, most folks don’t aspire to it. Continue reading Forever in Blue Jeans

Weekly Photo Challenge – Containers

the Standard Model
the Standard Model

I blinked this week, and I missed it. On Tuesday, my summer reached its halfway point. I’ve been busy and distracted and I’ve been working to make the days count – helping my wife, running errands, gardening, driving my kids to activities, or driving to and from Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin. I’ve had some time to rest, relax, and rejuvenate, but I wish I had a container to bottle up summer and hold it for a time when I really could use it, but I don’t.

I’ve been busy this past week at Beauty and Charm and I’ve been busy all day. It’s made my brain hurt and that’s been a good thing – it’s made me think about what I’ll be teaching next year and ways I can teach it so that kids get it, understand it, and enjoy it because next year is going to be a challenge for me. I am switching content areas and grade levels. Since I began teaching fifteen years ago, I’ve taught Language Arts or Geography as my concentration and all but one of those years has been spent teaching seventh grade. It’s tricky to explain, but at the middle school level social studies is typically a shared subject. Teachers are organized into teams of three or four teachers; each teacher teaches one subject – math, science, reading, and English and each teacher teaches one class period of social studies. It’s not a perfect system but it works because at the middle level, education is more focused on developing the student’s skills in reading, writing, math, thinking, and organization. So much is developing between sixth and eighth grade socially, emotionally, and physically that academic or intellectual development is miniscule in comparison. Next year I’ll be teaching science to eighth graders. I am excited, but at the same time, it’ll be my first time to teach science. Ever. So, I know it’ll be fun, but it’s also going to be a challenge.

bubblechamber
this 15 foot tall bubble chamber contained 8,000 gallons of liquid helium – it was designed to help Fermilab physicists see the bubble trails of sub-atomic particles

That is how I ended up at Beauty and Charm. Continue reading Weekly Photo Challenge – Containers

Throwback Thursday

1994. Twenty years ago, we moved in to the new cottage. B and I had been married for just two years; though, we’d known each other for ten. But, that’s another story.

moving day - B and I arrive
moving day – B and I arrive

Continue reading Throwback Thursday

Day 4: Friday the Thirteenth

 

thirteen

I am enjoying a lovely morning on the deck; the wind gently rustles the leaves above me, the birds chirp and flit about.  It is a bit on the cool side, 56°F, but it will warm up, eventually. I am the eternal optimist, besides I have coffee to keep me warm. The wind chime emits an occasional ‘ding.’

It’s quiet this morning. Ivy is beside me, at my feet, or was until she heard something and stalked off to investigate. B is in Ohio with her mom and dad. W is at off-season sports camp, and O is sleeping. I hope that she’ll sleep for a couple of hours and get the rest she needs. We were supposed to follow this afternoon, but we will not. We’ll need to figure another time to head over and visit. We need to.

It’s Friday the thirteenth, the first and only one of the year. Continue reading Day 4: Friday the Thirteenth

Weekly Photo Challenge: Room

up north, June 2010
up north, June 2010

There is always room. Whether it’s a home, shelter, or an eave. There is room.

“After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die.” 
― E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web

I am Up North for a couple of days. Jobs that needed to be done. I wanted to come up in May and couldn’t. Last weekend, fell through with much to do and too little time. Next weekend is filled, and the weekend after that… well, you get the picture. Room has more than one meaning.

Today’s post is in response to the prompt at the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge at Word Press.  ‘This week’s prompt is “Room.”  From the four walls that currently surround you to the infinite potential of space, this week we’d like you to show us your take on room, rooms, or a room.’

I have four walls; but others like the dear spider use two walls and imagines the other two. We are all constrained by nature and defined by it as well. There’s always room. I think Charlotte said it best….”what’s a life anyway…” It’s what is in between those two events that is important. It’s the way we leave our mark. It’s our service to our family, friends, and community. It’s how we leave our room.

I came up to work, not blog and I have a list a mile long, maybe even longer. School finished for my students yesterday and I could hear Alice Cooper wailing away in the background. I don’t have papers to grade, but I have chores to do and I have room on my schedule. Making the Days Count, one day at a time.

What’s in your room?

First day of June and perseverance

photo courtesy of PBS.org
photo courtesy of PBS.org

Today is the first day of June. It’s a new month, a new season, and it’s full of possibilities. Summer vacation begins Friday for my students. They are so excited, I can hardly keep a lid on them; four of them have already left early for their summer vacation, and the rest are busy learning and working. I aim to keep it that way through Wednesday afternoon, mainly for my own sanity and mental well-being. Thursday, then Friday will be here before I know it and I’ll be signing yearbooks and asking my students what they plan to do with their 79 days of summer vacation.

“Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense.” Winston Churchill

It’s a new month, a new season, and it’s full of possibilities. Nevertheless, before I begin to think about what summer will be like, I need to go back and think about the year. The year was a challenge – full of triumphs and pitfalls in and out of the classroom. In the classroom, I had a new ELA curricula, based on the Common Core standards. I cringe when I say Common Core because it is sort of vilified these days. Folks in and out of education have turned Common Core into education’s current piñata – people just love beating on it. Unfortunately, it has not yet yielded any candy. It will be several years before educators know for sure if it is effective. But, I can tell you with absolute certainty there is a difference between my student’s learning from last year and my current students. This year’s students have developed into readers with a purpose, deeper thinkers, and stronger writers who can support their ideas with evidence from the text and their learning. However, they did not start that way. It was rough at the beginning of the year, but they have adapted and grown academically. They’ve also grown as people, too. They are ready for the next step, eighth grade.

Lately, it seems, everywhere I look I see perseverance. I see adversity. Continue reading First day of June and perseverance