Yesterday was the Fourth of July. Independence Day. We spent our day as we usually do – parade, lake, dinner, then fireworks.
My wife reminded me to fly the flag the evening before, but I didn’t put the flag up until the yesterday morning.
flying the flag…
and a smaller version posted in the mail box
It was a beautiful summer day. I got to ride in the boat and watch my daughter enjoy tubing. My daughter towed me to and from the boat on her tube. But, no water for me, other than a shower until I get the green light in a couple of weeks to swim and get in the lake. I’ll have to wait until later in the summer when my incision is fully healed.
My weekly challenge was to remember my favorite song from five years ago and listen to it. I have no idea what I was listening to five years ago but it certainly was not on the top 100 from July 2013. I had an idea, a better idea, and I went back 40 years to when I was 16; the summer between my sophomore and junior years in high school. That was the summer of all sorts of memories.
This past Sunday afternoon, we drove north. I had a driver for the first hour and the last hour. My daughter O is working on her driving hours and loves driving. It gave me time to go back in time – 40 years – to the summer of ’78. I checked the top 40 from July ’78. I recognized most of the top 10 but my memory took a jolt when I read #14 – Miss You by the Rolling Stones. That song took me back and brought back all sorts of memories and I found my song…. But first… how I got there.
I turned 16 in November ’77, but I couldn’t get my driver’s license I hadn’t completed the required behind the wheel driving training. Instead of taking driver’s ed during the summer, like all of my peers, I had been visiting by dad in England for five weeks. I took the driver’s training during winter break of my sophomore year and was ready to get my license in January of ‘78. January in Houston, Texas is cold, but not nearly as cold as January where I now live – there is no comparison.
I am the oldest in my family, so I was the first of the kids to get my license and the first child to teach my mom all sorts of lessons she and her sister probably did not teach their parents when they were growing up in the fifties.
When my parents divorced, my dad moved to Saudi Arabia and a year later he and my step-mom moved to London, England. Whatever he had, he took with him or put in storage except for the 1969 blue Volkswagen Beetle. It was stored in the garage. I had my name on it. Or rather, I had put my name on it.
For a 16-year-old boy in 1978, having your driver’s license is cool, having a car a car is even cooler. Once I got my license, I began to drive the ‘blue bug.’ I could drive to work and back and had to ask permission beyond that. The little blue bug had air conditioning, but it didn’t work and the radio had AM only. I had a job and made minimum wage as a busboy and dishwasher at my next-door neighbor’s Italian restaurant. By March, I had scrimped and saved enough money to purchase an in dash 8-track cassette player and FM\AM radio and a couple of speakers for the blue bug. I had barely enough money leftover to buy two 8-track tapes – I picked Van Halen’s debut album and Jackson Browne’s Running on Empty. I listened to those constantly.
The blue bug was nothing brag about. Beside the AC not working, there was a hole in the passenger side floorboards caused by battery acid spillage. A friend of my mom’s helped with a fix and the radio and speakers were an improvement. To make up for the lack of AC the blue bug had side windows which could tilt inward and force air into the car. But driving it in the hot Texas spring and summer was pretty uncomfortable and perspiring was the norm. Continue reading Day 29 – Miss You→
Saturday, the last day of June. July begins tomorrow. It’s the 26th day of summer and the 19th day since my right knee replacement.
I began writing a post Wednesday morning and never finished writing. I re-read what I wrote this morning and decided it’s easier to re-start from scratch rather than try to re-phrase what I had already written. Delete.
When I began blogging in the summer of 2010, every post began with the number of the day of summer break and a title. Hardly anyone read those posts, but I kept going and writing.
Yesterday, I read a post from Susie at Susie Lindau’s Wild Ride. I’ve been following Susie’s blog for a while and I always enjoy what she has to share. It made me re-think why I blog and what I get out of it.
Since, I my writing has improved and I’ve gained confidence as a writer. Practice helps. There have been some good posts and some not so good posts.
This summer has been a journey, much like that first summer. I had total knee replacement surgery almost three weeks ago. I am walking without pain and though I am still sore, I am getting stronger every day. Before the surgery, I had no idea what to expect and I was a little anxious. I’ve been diligent about my rehabilitation and am re-learning how to walk. Because my knees have been so bad for so long, I’d developed a way to compensate for the knee pain. With one good knee, the old way to walk has to go the way of the old knee. After the surgery, I am already looking ahead to TKR#2 – the left knee.
This morning Ivy and I enjoyed sitting outside. I sipped my coffee and Ivy alertly surveyed the yard. It was an unseasonably warm humid morning, but there was a gentle breeze to move the air. Ivy and I enjoyed being out of doors. The leaves gently rustled in the breeze, birds chirped, and I looked up to see a momma cardinal and a poppa cardinal partaking from the bird feeder. I frequently see robins and other birds and I can hear the cardinals with their distinctive call, but rarely do I see them so close. I am not a birder, but I am interested and curious. This summer I began reading a book Where the Poppies Grow by British author John Lewis-Stempel. I discovered the book while reading post on Margaret’s blog, From Pyrenees to Pennines in April and ordered the book. I saved the book for my summer convalescence. It’s the story of English soldiers and their interest in nature as they served along the Western Front in the Great War. The first several chapters describe the soldier’s birding habits. Lewis-Stempel uses excerpts from soldier’s journals and it’s quite interesting to read the descriptions of their observations of the birds, nests, and eggs. They certainly knew their birds.
It’s the 18th day of summer break and it’s 11 days post-op. I am doing well, very well. I’ve been up walking, with support, since the first day. Hours after the operation, I was up with a walker and an assistant and I made my first steps on my new knee. Those first steps were tentative at best. Each day is better and each day I get a little stronger and more flexible. I am thankful.
Going in to the operation I was excited and anxious – I wasn’t sure what to expect and I tried to envision what it might feel like, but I had no idea what lay ahead. I had talked to folks who had had their knees replaced; each told me that once they had completed the physical therapy, they were surprised how normal their knee felt. Normal meaning pain-free. They encouraged me to do the exercises and do the physical therapy – with integrity.
My surgery over a week ago this past Monday and I was home the next day late int eh afternoon. Before I came home, I had a visit from a physical therapist to see how far I could walk and if I could manage stairs. I passed and got my walking papers. Since, I’ve been up and down stairs – carefully – one step at time and I’ve been faithful in my physical therapy, I listened.
My first physical therapy appointment was Wednesday morning and I’ve had two more sessions on Thursday and Friday. Then the weekend arrived, I did my exercises, moved, and made time to ice my knee. I’ve also been careful with my meds and with managing my pain. I came home with some pretty serious stuff and I’ve been able to forgo the meds (for the most part) and manage the pain with Tylenol for arthritis
I listened. I’ve been doing heel-slides, calf-presses, leg lifts, side leg lifts, marches, standing side leg swings, leg curls, and calf raises to name exercises I can name. All of the exercises are basic, simple, easy to perform, and designed to re-build my right leg’s strength, range of motion, and endurance. Each day gets better. Continue reading Day 18 – trolls→
It’s Monday and I am writing my first ‘summer’ post. The definition of summer is, well, open to interpretation, but for me it’s summer and has been for seven days. I am not a meteorologist who define summer as June 1 and the summer solstice, which this year is Thursday, June 21 at 5:07 AM. I am school teacher and I define summer as the state of not having students in class from June to August. This year I have 72 days of summer break and I am going to make each one them count.
The week prior to school ending, I asked my students how they were going to make the summer break count and I passed out cards numbered 1-80. I’ve done this before and the results always surprise me. My students travel and travel far – Dubai, India, and China as well as our border states of Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, and Missouri. They look forward to summer camp, horseback riding, and being with friends. Their off to high school in August and their 80 days disappear as quickly as my 72 days do.
Now that doesn’t mean that I am going to sleep away my summer, far from it. In the seven days since summer began, I’ve been back in my classroom three days to work on a project and I am still not finished with it… I’ve been to the health club three times, though it should have been five times. I skipped yesterday and opted to watch the Astros play baseball.
I’ve been blogging for eight years now. That’s a long time and much has happened in my life since I sat down to write that very first post the Saturday morning after school let loose in 2010. That happens to all of us.
I’ve been inactive on the blogosphere for quite a while. 64 days… my longest stint of inactivity, ever. I had attempted several Weekly Photo Challenges and I started writing a couple of other posts, but didn’t finish them and when I had time to complete them, they were no longer relevant or the original idea had escaped me. The photo below was a for a post which did not make it……by the way, I love clouds.
A couple of weeks ago I had lunch with a couple of high school classmates and they asked me about my absence and I explained I had just been busy, very busy. Family, school, and me. Sometimes in a different order. They urged me to write again and I said I would.
So, I was surprised to read that this week’s photo challenge is the last.
Yesterday morning I poured over previous weekly photo challenges going back to the very first post in April 2014. I remember that first photo challenge post well and I recall writing many of the posts and can recall where I was sitting while I worked. Memory is a remarkable gift. Along the way, I’ve met some remarkable bloggers and I began following many new folks seeing new things and new places. I’ll miss that……. Continue reading All-time Favorites… a photo challenge.→
Watching the sunset is one of my favorite things to do at the end of the day. At home I don’t get the opportunity as the sunset is obscured by homes and trees. Though sometimes I can catch the sunset while I drive home after school, it’s rare especially in the springtime after the time changes and the sun sets after 7 in the evening.
When we are up north at the lake, we usually have a clear view of the sunset. When we are here in the Keys we make time to see the sunset, timing our dinner for the time before the sunset or after the sunset or sometimes selecting a place to enjoy dinner where we can watch the sunset. We need to plan and choose the right spot, but we can usually find a place to watch the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico that’s within fifteen minutes of where we are staying. After all, we are on an island or a series of islands.
Today is Friday, Good Friday, it’s the last full day of Spring Break and March. Tomorrow we pack and clean the condo and begin our journey home and back to school. So far, we’ve been able to see several sunsets and had one ‘epic fail’ trying to see the sun slide beneath the ocean’s horizon. Continue reading rise and set – bookends→
It’s spring break and we are in Florida. Specifically, the Keys. It’s a favorite place of ours for spring break. Summer, of course, is a different matter.
As a teacher I get Spring Break and fortunately, for me, our children’s spring break is the same as mine.
The past three spring breaks, we’ve come here – Key Colony Beach – in the middle Keys. We’ve been here several other times as well going back to our first visit in 2002. My wife’s memories date back to her childhood. It’s where my son earned his scuba certification before his summer Boy Scout high adventure trip to the Florida Sea Base a little further east from where we are currently staying.
We booked our trip well before school started and we’ve been looking forward to coming back since last year’s trip. We were worried that the adventure would be a little different this year due to Hurricane Irma’s visit in September ’17 – six and half months ago.
Where we staying appears to be back to normal. However, there are signs everywhere that there is a new normal. The landscaping where we are staying is all new and many of the properties around us are still being repaired. Several properties have not re-opened and we discovered yesterday Bahia Honda State Park, our favorite Florida State Park, is still being restored, or at least our favorite spot – the beach along the Atlantic Ocean. Continue reading my favorite place – a photo challenge→
It is Sunday morning and it’s that time of the year when we leap forward. I went to bed at a reasonable time last night, but I woke up early, earlier than I normally do on a Sunday morning. I would have preferred to stay under the covers for another hour or so of sleep, but I didn’t.
It was still dark and I looked out my bedroom window at the crescent moon rising in the eastern sky. Friday morning, I was up at the same time, though being up was a conscious choice, the sky was clear and I could see Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter ibn line with the moon. It was impressive.
It’s been over a month since I’ve posted. The late winter and early spring is always a grind. School is busy and home life is busy, too. It’s also the time in my school life when I see the hard work that my students and I have put it begin to blossom.
Several weeks ago, I was greeted with the quote below during my morning routine of the Five Minute Journal.
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Anais Nin (1903-1977) Cuban-American author
It was Presidents Day (2/19) and I planned to write that day – it was a holiday and I was off from school. But, I didn’t finish the post or really start beyond typing the quote and saving the file on my laptop.
It’s a snow day today. I am in my basement office chair listening to a new favorite band – the Avett Brothers. It’s peaceful and calm and using the morning to catch up on stuff that needs catching up on. I have a stack of papers in my school backpack that I plan to get to, but for now, at this moment, I can be present and reflect on the week behind and the week ahead.
The SNOW DAY Yesterday the buzz in the hallways and classrooms was all about the impending snow day. There was a lot of energy flowing- the kids, the teachers, everybody. I told my students that what we started Thursday was due Monday, regardless. So far, I have four ‘My Life as a Water Molecule’ stories handed in. Pretty good considering they’ve got three more days to do it.
I was on my way home when I got the call, or rather the tweet. First my daughter’s school district and a second later my school district tweeted – no school Friday.
I’d stopped at the grocery store on the way home for food and supplies my wife had asked me to get. She’d been shopping earlier and our fridge is full. She was working on a pot of chili when it began to snow. There is no good reason to leave the house today, except to clean the driveway or play in the snow.
It’s supposed to snow all day today and snow more tomorrow and Sunday. Then, next week rain is forecast for Thursday. February in the Midwest. Spring will be here before we know it.
SPRING is on the way…. My students and I have been tracking weather and sunshine data for 37 locations across the globe ranging from Tromso, Norway to Stanley, Falkland Islands since December and 35 more locations in between. Last week, we crossed the ten hours of sunlight threshold and we are headed for equal daylight and night on the equinox March 21st. Today we have 10 Hours and 23 Minutes, even though it’s cloudy and snowing. After the snow storm, the sun will shine brightly and the sky will be clear blue. Continue reading Snow day – three things for Friday→