Category Archives: Learning

Sunday and resilience


It’s Sunday morning and I am sitting at my summer office, knowing full well ‘summer’ is another nine months away. The days are numbered on the summer office with a few more days left in August. Soon it will be too cold, too wet, or both to sit outside and work. But,

I’ll make hay while the sun shines. Farmer’s wisdom

The birds are flocking to the feeders, and I watched three hummingbirds hash it out over at the hummingbird feeder. Sorry, no photo, those birds are just too quick.

School restarted Thursday with students sitting in my classroom albeit masked (all of us were masked) but sitting in my classroom; AND, happy to be there. Last fall, I created a menagerie of ‘students’ to keep me company while I taught using a camera and microphone. This year, ALL of my students are in the room. I am keeping those five students to remind me of our resilience and persistence.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” Viktor E. Frankl Austrian neurologist, Holocaust survivor

There has been a lot of talk in the media about learning loss. The pundits love to point out deficiencies in public education because it’s easy to point out what’s wrong. It’s much more challenging to find what is good and that is what Making the Days COUNT dot org is all about. Always has been. There is far more good in the world than the media is apt to share. So, that’s why I have tuned it out. The loudest sound in the room isn’t always right, it’s just loud.

Getting back to school was easy. Continue reading Sunday and resilience

Summer Days: Week 8

It’s Day 57 and I have a dozen days remaining in my summer break. I slept late this morning. Sleeping late is a luxury of summer or anytime when the following day comes without a schedule or place to be early in the morning. Sleeping late is a direct consequence of living without a schedule or maybe staying up late to watch the stars shine brightly in the summer sky, or return home from a family.

“Summer was our best season – everything good to eat, a thousand colors in a parched landscape.” ― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Last night all three of us went to a concert by the band Chicago. B and I listened to them in our youth and the songs were part of the soundtracks of us growing up. O got a glimpse of the music her parents listened to as they figured out how to be adults. It was a fun concert, and the band finished their performance with one of their best-known songs, “25 or 6 to 4”, for their encore.

It was a late night and we got home well past midnight.

Continue reading Summer Days: Week 8

Days of Summer: a ‘sciencey’ Week 7

It’s Day 50, not sure how I got here so fast, but I am here.

“I could never in a hundred summers get tired of this.” – Susan Branch

I am back in school in 19 days, I am under 20 days to a regular schedule, a regular waking time and probably a much earlier going to bedtime, too.

a third summer office – on the deck in full view of the lake, the birds, and the world. Thanks to John at LVPhotoblog for the tip on iPhone photos

Up here at the lake the sunsets much later in the day than at home. We are almost 3 degrees further north and our position relative to the time zone line has a significant impact. Here at the lake, we are in the far western part of the US Eastern Time Zone, it is GMT – 4; and at home we are in the far eastern part of the US Central Time Zone where we are GMT – 5. The east west difference is a little more than 3 degrees longitude.

Today’s sunset will be at 9:08 PM or 21:08 EDT at 298˚ NW by the lake. And, at home it will be 8:14 PM or 20:14 CDT or 296˚ NW. That is a difference of six minutes, adjusting for the time zone change.

Yes, I am aware I went ‘sciencey’ there, but with nineteen days before school begins, I need to start thinking about teaching and making things interesting and relevant for 11–12-year-old. Full disclosure is that I had a science ZOOM call yesterday and we discussed teaching science for almost a full hour. Continue reading Days of Summer: a ‘sciencey’ Week 7

Friday morning birding on Saturday

We are up at the lake for the race, the famous canoe race. Canoe race weekend is an important time for us as a family and I have written about this weekend in past years. The canoe race is always the last full weekend of July.

The canoe race is begins in town and ends 120 miles down the Au Sable River in Oscoda, Michigan where the river empties into Lake Huron. For many, the race defines this town, but Grayling is much more.

the view from my perch at the table… I can see the lake and both feeders.. and Saturday morning’s gentle rain

The rivers have been important where trapping along the three rivers – Au Sable, Manistee, and Muskegon – which begin here in the Michigan Highlands was the first industry when Europeans arrived in the seventeenth and eighteenth century. Grayling, the town, was established as a logging town when it was settled in the late nineteenth century. Logging, forestry, and wood products are still key industries in town, but tourism – hunting, fishing, and recreation – is the industry that sustains this little town near the headwaters of the Au Sable River.

When the pandemic began last year, the cottage along the lake was my hideaway. I spent the last two months of the 2019-20 school year teaching remotely from our place on the lake up here. I felt safer away from our densely populated home region. In many ways we were safer here – there are significantly less people in the county and the reported COVID cases were significantly lower here than our suburban county.

And because there are less people wildlife thrives and is more abundant in the absence of people.

During this time by the lake shore, the beginning of the pandemic, change, real lasting deep change, began for me and my family.

We spent more time paying attention to nature and spent more time walking. I walked more last year with my wife and kids than I remember. I also stopped listening to music, podcasts, or audio books when I walked and I started listening to the birds, the trees, and nature around me.

And, I have paid more attention to nature.

For Father’s Day, my wife gave me a couple for bird feeders and shepherd’s double crook to hang the feeders for our lake house. I placed it just off the deck where we can see it when we are sitting in the front room or on the deck. Continue reading Friday morning birding on Saturday

Big Rocks and summer

It’s fortieth day of summer break and there are twenty-eight days or four weeks until summer break is finished for this year and school restarts. It’s been a pleasant time for rest, relaxation, projects, and a bit of renewal.

This fall marks the beginning of my twenty-third year as a teacher. It’ll be the twelfth year of blogging. I’ve written almost 700 posts in that time and there have been a few repeats, today will be a repeat of sorts.

If there is one thing I have learned in my time as a blogger, sometimes it’s good to go back before going forward. Abraham Lincoln once said or wrote or both,

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

I know it’s probably not advisable to spend too much time dwelling on the past, for there is little to gain as the past cannot be changed. We can only learn from our past and endeavor be better and do better. Recently, I read a blog post and responded with reference to a quote attributed to Muhammad Ali,

“……. if you are the same person you were thirty years ago you have wasted thirty years.”

What Ali said is,

“The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.”

But I digress.

Big Rocks. This morning I took a purposeful walk at the Morton Arboretum. I was there a couple of days ago, on Friday, to take in the new exhibit Human-Nature. I thought I had a photo of the Big Rock, but I couldn’t find one, so I this morning I hiked to the Big Rock and back retrieving the photo below.

this boulder weighs 12 to 14 tons and hasn’t moved since the glacier deposited it here over twelve thousand years ago

It’s a big rock all right. Geologists believe the rock was deposited by a glacier in the last ice age some 13,000 years ago. Much of the upper Midwest was shaped and formed by the ice age.

But the big rocks I am referring to are the important things in my life. During summer break, I always make more time to focus on renewal than I can during the school year. I can focus on it because there is more time, I am not planning lessons, grading papers, or teaching students. I have the time to do what is important, but when school resumes, as it always does, I slowly fall back into the same pattern of behaviors focusing on what is urgent and pressing instead of my relationships, my health and fitness, and our home. It’s a delicate balance. Continue reading Big Rocks and summer

Days of Summer: Home for Week 5

We’ve been home for the week, and it’s been glorious. The partial drought of late spring has been replaced by more seasonal rain pattern and unseasonable coolness.

We returned home late Wednesday evening wrapping up details at the lake house and driving home while it rained much of the way home, traffic was light, and we made good time on the road.

Day 30 and Thursday was time to catch up on our home. The yard had grown wild and mowed the grass twice once at the highest setting allowed and then lowering the mower one setting and gathered the clippings – two full of grass clippings. I mowed it again yesterday, Day 35, catching the grass and have one bin full of grass clippings for my effort.

It’s that time in summer when nature thrives in the warm sunlight and abundant rainfall. We are blessed.

“And summer isn’t a time. It’s a place as well. Summer is a moving creature and likes to go south for the winter.” ― Terry Pratchett, Feet of Clay

Continue reading Days of Summer: Home for Week 5

Summer Days: Week 4 and Paradise

It’s Day 29 of summer break and it’s July. If July were a color, I think it would be yellow. July is the caution light of summer for me. It’s the reminder that school is closer than it was in June, but there are plenty of days remaining to keep making count.

This past two weeks we have entertained guests at the lake, two separate guests – this first guests were O’s classmates who celebrated the transition from high school to college – all three are heading off to school in August in Michigan. This past week we entertained friends from wife’s hometown – her buddy and high school classmate and his wife. They’ve joined us before, and we always have a great time together.

This year we took a road trip to the Upper Peninsula and had a blast. We were there the entire day and well into the night. We passed through Paradise three times on our journey!

photo taken at Whitefish Point with camera pointed due North, coordinates 46 46’21″N and 84 57’33” W – the waves from the lake were crashing ashore weathering the rocks. It was an amazing day.

It was my first time to visit Lake Superior and the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point where we spent most of our time walking the beach looking for agates – rocks formed inside volcanic and metamorphic rocks. We visited on July 1st and Canada Day, and we could see Canadian hills in the distance. We decided to forego the museum for lunch at Tahquamenon State Park which I had learned about from my blogging friend Dawn at Change is Hard. The falls did not disappoint we visited the lower falls first, enjoyed lunch, and took in the upper falls before we left. We finished our day with a trip to an International Dark Sky Park at Wilderness State Park before heading home. It was a fun trip, but we pulled into the lake house drive well after midnight.

“Summer is for surrendering; winter is for wondering.” ― Debasish Mridha

Continue reading Summer Days: Week 4 and Paradise

Summer Days: Week 3

“One benefit of summer was that each day we had more light to read by.” ― Jeannette Walls, The Glass Castle

The summer days are gliding past, it is hard to believe it is Day 22. I’ve enjoyed the first twenty-one days and made them count and the past seven days of summer have been filled with up, downs, ins, outs, and a lot of rain at home as well as by the lake shore.

O and I returned home late Sunday afternoon for a quick visit home to grab a couple of things we needed before returning this morning for the Independence Day weekend.

Monday morning, Fern and I awakened to a very moist garden and yard. It had rained most of the previous week and W (our lawn service) had not been able to mow the lawn. The mid-June flowers were blooming and there was a closeness that only can be felt in the summer. It’s the point where you can feel the moistness of the air. It rained and was cloudy, but Fern and I ventured out for a walk and we both came home exhausted and thirsty.

And as the song’s chorus reminds me,

This could possibility be the best day ever!
(This could possibility be the best day ever,)
And the forecast says that tomorrow will likely be a million and six times better.
So, make every minute count, jump up, jump in, and seize the day,
And let’s make sure that in every single possible way,
Today is gonna be a great day!

Making the Days Count, one day at a time, especially when it rains.

What was one of your ups (or downs) this past week?

Three things for a mid-June Sunday morning

It’s day five of my summer break. I am sitting in my ‘summer office’ enjoying the start of a Sunday morning. My summer officially began Tuesday around noon with my wife’s comment to me and all within earshot as I walked in through the garage door into our home,

“You’re home so soon?” she said.

And so began 68 days of summer break.

My student’s final day was Friday, June 4th and they left the building at one and I left a couple of hours later at three. I had grades to finalize and things to put away and I knew that the coming weekend (last weekend) would be busy preparing for our daughter’s high school graduation celebration on Saturday afternoon, so I stayed and worked.

The end of the school year is packed with memories of the school year and previous final days.  This year was my 22nd as an educator and I was listening a “Today is going to be a great day” by Bowling for Soup. In a normal year, I would have spent time with my students signing yearbooks, but we all know the fifteen months have not been normal, instead I repeatedly listened to the chorus of the song,

This could possibility be the best day ever!
(This could possibility be the best day ever,)
And the forecast says that tomorrow will likely be a million and six times better.
So make every minute count, jump up, jump in, and seize the day,
And let’s make sure that in every single possible way,
Today is gonna be a great day!

I drifted back in time to the end of school year eleven and the beginning of Making the Days Count dot org. That was when I began blogging. The goal was to write daily, and I came close but missed a few days here and there. In reflection I should missed a few more!

Sunday morning, after the party.

This summer, I don’t plan to write daily, I don’t have the time, or I am not willing to set aside the time to write daily. I am not sure which describes my situation, but that’s where I am. I have blogger friends who blog daily and some who blog who once a week like clockwork.  I enjoy reading their posts and finding out what’s going on in their lives and when I can, I leave a comment. Continue reading Three things for a mid-June Sunday morning

W^2 – bird of the year

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, May 5, 2021

I have been looking for one these woodpeckers for over two years. Last fall I saw one, but by the time I had trained my camera it was gone. Two weeks ago, at the lake I spied one along the lane picking through a log on the ground and then saw another on a tree. I didn’t have my camera, but I was able to capture both with my phone camera. The following Sunday I recorded the video below as a pair of them worked the forest in search of food. it is the ABA Bird of the Year for 2021!

It made my weekend and I keep Making the Days Count, one day at a time.

What made your weekend?