Category Archives: Learning

FOCUS – a photo challenge

It’s Saturday morning and the past week has passed quickly, much too quickly. Honestly, the past nine days have been a blur. Summertime is usually my blogging time, school’s out and I am on vacation, sort of. While the past week or so has been a blur of days, I have been focused.

Wednesday afternoon’s rain total – the rain gauge is OUT of focus

This past week I am doing what many educators do over summer break – professional development. I am taking a class on teaching science using the modelling science methodology. The class is certainly keeping me on my toes and I am taking notes and making sure I don’t miss anything. Trying to stay focused on why I am in class in the first place – to use the science modelling framework in my science classroom.

Big Red and me – my signature selfie and a possible future blog post

Last summer, similar class – Modelling Biology but, this summer I am taking Physics: Mechanics. The instructor was my son, W’s, physics teacher and W enjoyed having him – but the class pushed him as a student, just as my own physics class and teacher did when I was in high school. I am having flashbacks to Mrs. Matney’s 3rd hour physics class from 1979-80. The class content is definitely keeping me on my toes and I need to remind myself to stay focused. Coincidentally, Mrs. Matney is STILL teaching high school physics. I made a brief visit to my old high school in April when I was visiting my mom. I asked to see Mrs. Matney, she was out of school at a high school science competition. The year I had Mr. Matney she was selected as the high school’s teacher of the year. I learned a lot that year in science, but I learned more about myself and grew up, sort of. I sent Mrs. Matney a thank you e-mail over a decade ago and she responded that she was still teaching science. I am thankful for her dedication to teaching and especially her patience understanding with me when I was her student. Continue reading FOCUS – a photo challenge

Evanescent – a photo challenge

It’s the Sunday morning on the three-day Memorial Day weekend. The weather forecast for today called for rain, but it appears the rain bands have shifted north and we’ll be rain-free today and, possibly, tomorrow. I walked the backyard this morning in search of peony blooms for this post. The air was thick with humidity, yesterday’s sunny and clear day replaced by low grey clouds. Weather is evanescent, ‘tending to vanish like vapor’ according to Meriam and Webster.

coral is the color – it’s in the front yard and it blooms early

Admittedly, I’d never heard the word, I had heard of effervescent, but not evanescent. I had to look it up in the dictionary. I discovered it is the root of a word that IS part of my vocabulary – vanish.

We’ve had a warm wet spring. I checked the weather page in the Chicago Tribune to confirm what I had suspected – we’ve had almost twice the rain compared to normal. It shows in the blooms. The peonies are about to bloom and coincidentally, I have written about peonies before – two years to the day: Peonies and Time. Continue reading Evanescent – a photo challenge

heritage – a photo challenge

The interesting thing about our heritage is that we don’t get to choose it, it’s been selected for us and we have to wear and share it forward, or it ends.

Today, May 20 would’ve been my dad’s 84th birthday. I was looking for a photo to post on Facebook and I found a flash drive loaded with photos I had scanned on a visit home in August ‘11. I found family photos ranging from before I was born until my early twenties. It brought back memories. I remember that trip home as if it was the other day. Where have I been? – August ‘11.

my parent’s wedding day photo – left to right back row – my mother’s mother, her father’s mother, her father, my father’s mother and father. Front row – my mother’s sister – Joy, my mother and father, and my mother’s sister’s boyfriend – Frank

One of the photos I found was my parent’s wedding photo. They were married September 1, 1960. It was the same date as my mother’s parents wedding date 33 years before. Continue reading heritage – a photo challenge

Thanks, mom

I’d be nothing without my mom.

I live almost a thousand miles from mom and I don’t get to see her as often as I’d prefer, but we talk and I occasionally write a letter or note. She responds and I love reading those letters and notes.

A couple of weeks ago, I took off to see my mom. It was a quick trip down and back in about two days. Mom still lives in the house where we all grew up. When I was home, I got to sleep in my old bedroom for the first time in a couple of years. On the morning I was to leave, I texted her that I was excited to come and visit,

Can’t believe I am going to go to sleep in the house where I grew up – can’t wait to see you. Love Clay

and she responded with,

The corner room you and Robert painted ORANGE. It’s still showing on the screen.

Yeah, she let me paint my bedroom orange. I don’t know what I was thinking or why I thought orange was a good color for my bedroom, but she let me paint the walls orange. It stayed orange until a few years later when I left for college, and when I came back it wasn’t orange anymore.

April 2017 – mom and her three sons…

My mom let me do all sorts of things that taught me lessons that her words or my ears would not allow.

She let me make the mistakes that she knew would hurt, but the experience would help me grow.

When I pulled into the driveway at 1:45 in the morning, she was up waiting. It was wonderful to see her. I gave her a big hug and we sat down to talk. An hour later, I had to excuse myself and go to bed, but if I could’ve stayed awake, we would’ve talked until the sun rose.

My brother took the photo above Saturday morning. It was great to see her and to see my two brothers. We celebrated her birthday Friday night and on Saturday morning my brothers came over and we all went for coffee before David had to go to work- that’s when the photo was snapped. Warren and I spent the rest of the day together and I gave my mom a BIG hug before I left Saturday afternoon. Continue reading Thanks, mom

He is risen, indeed.

It’s Easter Sunday morning and I am thinking of Betty Fulton. Every Easter I remember her and her reminder that the proper Easter greeting is NOT,

“Happy Easter,”

but, “He is risen.”

She drilled it in to me and every one of her Sunday school students, as well as the proper Easter response,

“He is risen, indeed.”
Easter eggs from 2012….

I last saw Mrs. Fulton at my youngest brother’s wedding some 30 years ago. She was not only my Sunday school teacher, but a friend of my mother’s and larger than life. I am not certain which came first – Sunday school teacher or family friend. She and her husband Bill, would come to visit on the weekends, they lived close and sometimes we would go to their home, but mostly they would visit and talk at the table in the kitchen laughing and telling stories. Continue reading He is risen, indeed.

The Great War

Tuesday after school I was talking with a colleague, we were discussing what we were doing in our classes. He teaches music and is our band leader. I mentioned that I loved seeing his “I am marching for…” photos and explanations on the walls of my school before AND after Memorial Day in a blog post in 2014 and I asked if he planned to assign the project again this year. He replied,

“Absolutely.”

I mentioned to him that I was the person who did the “Today in History” slides for our school’s morning announcements. He told me he enjoyed them and always shared them with his first period class, but noted that the “Today in History” slide for the day, Tuesday April 4 was rather somber. I agreed – Dr. King is assassinated. I mentioned that Tuesday was the 49th anniversary of the shooting and that I had planned out several memorable ‘Today in History’ slides, for the remainder of the school year – namely today’s slide – U.S. Enters World War 1.

“What a dumb war,” he said immediately.

Yes, what a dumb war, indeed. I agreed. I couldn’t agree with him more. It was a dumb war, most wars are.

Today is the 100-year anniversary of the United States Congress’s Declaration of War on Germany. Only Congress can declare war, but the president must request the Congress to declare war before a joint session of both the Senate and the House of Representatives. President Wilson had come before Congress only days before and asked Congress to declare war on April 2 and four days later the United States House of Representatives voted 373-50 in favor and the United States Senate followed with a vote of 82-6. And, then the United States joined the Allies against Germany. Continue reading The Great War

The Dash: sunrise to sunset

Every morning the sun rises and every evening the sun sets. It happens every day, everywhere. Sometimes the time in between the sunrise and sunset is longer, sometimes, it’s shorter, but on average it rounds out to about twelve hours of daylight. Yesterday the sun rose here at 7:18 AM and set at 7:38 PM. We had twelve hours and twenty minutes of daylight in between sunrise and sunset, of course there was a bit more light in the dawn and dusk periods.

​The dash. It’s what happens in between which matter most. I remember reading an article about the poem, “The Dash” by Linda Ellis. The poem is about a eulogy and what is most important in our lives, what happens in the time between when we are born and when we die. It’s a wonderful, and deep, concept to consider. However, it’s more important to live life rather than think about it.

I read of a man who stood to speak
at the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on the tombstone
from the beginning…to the end

Yesterday morning I was up early for the sunrise. I made my coffee and watched patiently as the sun rose above the horizon. Slowly sipping my coffee, I snapped 85 photos in the 43 minutes from first to last photo. That is a short dash, but much happened in between, the sun’s rays were visible well before the sun broke the horizon and finally appeared above the cloudbank in the east.

Yesterday afternoon we took a trip to one of our favorite beaches, Bahia Honda State Park. We visit the beach every time we are here.

Much has happened in between that first visit, and now. In all of our lives – my life, my wife’s life, W and O’s lives, as well as the life of our family. It’s shaped who we are and how we look at the world.

For that dash represents all the time
that they spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved them
know what that little line is worth.

We had a wonderful time at the beach. We arrived late in the day and the beach was mostly ours. It was low tide and the beach was wide. We staked our space and settled in. O and I built a sand castle.  B watched as we constructed, then walked the beach searching for seashells, then we all took an ocean dip. It was a wonderful time. O was reluctant to leave as she was having such a good time in the surf.

The tide had begun to rise and by the time we packed our things and readied to return home the water’s edge was a few feet from our spot. I had scribbled Making the Days Count dot org in the sand earlier and when we left the tide had erased my mark.

Continue reading The Dash: sunrise to sunset

it IS easy being green

It’s Spring Break: the annual time in the year when people in the northern parts of the United States flock to warmer climates ahead of the warming temperatures where we live. I’ll admit it was ‘spring-like’ when we left Friday afternoon with temperatures soaring to the low 80s (mid to upper 20sC) but today the temperatures are back to normal – highs in the 40s (8-9C) and lows close to freezing overnight.

white sand, green seas, and blue skies…

We’re in south Florida – the Keys – where we spent break last year and have been several times before. Here it’s green year-round and the temperature variance is quite small for this time of the year. During the day, the highs reach the low 80s and overnight it cools to the low 70s, It’s pleasant. Continue reading it IS easy being green

The Circus

I teach 8th grade and sometimes I feel like I am the ringleader in a circus.

“There’s a sucker born every minute.” P. T. Barnum

In January, when the I first heard the news that the Ringing Brothers and Barnum Bailey Circus would be ceasing operations in May, I did a quick search to find out where the circus would be before it ended it’s 146-year run. I discovered it was in Cincinnati, Ohio – a short five-hour drive away. 317 miles, give or take. I did a quick search of tickets and found they were available. I mentioned it to B and we remembered the summer we met and when went to the circus with a large group. We laughed about the memory and then, I forgot about it and the idea shifted to the bottom of the pile.

Last weekend the memory came back and Monday night and I sent O a short text, ‘Circus?’ and another six minutes later, Circus?’ No response.

The next morning, I mentioned the circus before I left for school and left it that. No response.

Wednesday I got my reply in a text, ‘I will go with you to the circus.’ Continue reading The Circus

Road Taken – a photo challenge

It’s late Saturday evening and the day is almost done. The sun set hours ago, and it’s dark now. The moon is visible in the clear western sky. Last night it lightly snowed and this morning when the sun rose its warmth melted the fresh layer of new snow. Spring, at least official Spring, is a little more than a fortnight away, but all indications are that Spring is here.

the road taken – this morning and most Sunday mornings to church

I woke early, made coffee and began work before the sun rose this morning. I was driving to church when I snapped the photo. It’s the road I take to church or downtown or whenever I visit the Northside of town. This morning was the monthly men’s group gathering and I joined this year. Most of the time I am the youngest member of the group. It was my turn to get donuts. Continue reading Road Taken – a photo challenge