What a great week! I am back to school for a twenty-fourth year of teaching. It was a great week for so many reasons, but I am going to share three BIG IDEAS – eight, hike, and inspirational. It was so good I think I am going to go back on Monday for another week.
A few weeks ago, I read a blog post by Beth at I Didn’t Have My Glasses On. Her post was a clip of an article about a decree by the president of Turkmenistan concerning the cycle of life. According to the decree, life comes in cycles of 12 years and the cycles are:
Childhood (birth – 13 years)
Adolescence (13-25 years)
Youth (25 to 37 years)
Maturity (37 to 49 years)
Prophesy (49 to 61 years)
inspirational (61 to 73 years)
Wisdom (73 to 85 years)
Old Age (85 to 97 years)
I find myself on the cusp of prophecy and inspirational. However, when I look in the mirror, I can see all of the cycles, but I can identify with childhood and adolescence. I believe my kiddos see me where I am on the cusp of being prophetic and inspirational. For the next ten months that is where I will spend most of my weekdays working with kids teaching and learning, but mostly learning, bouncing between cycles.
Yesterday was my twenty-fourth first day of school, well, not completely. I was with teachers and administrators for meetings and new school year information, but kids will arrive Thursday. I am excited and I am sure the kids are, too..
I have one more day of meeting and a FULL day to work in my classroom and prepare for Thursday’s real first day of school with kids.
It’s Sunday and I am sitting at my summer office and listening to the gentle whirrrrr of the hummingbird at the feeder to my upper left. It’s Sunday morning quiet and except for the occasional car, truck, or airplane I can hear the birds singing in the trees. Fern and Ivy laying nearby enjoying the time outside.
Friday evening, I noticed it seemed darker than normal at 8:15 PM. Early Saturday morning, I read the morning New York Times email which confirmed Friday evening’s observation, summer is waning.
Sunset in NYC on Wednesday is at 8:00pm. The sun won’t set later than 8:00pm in NYC again until May 9th, 2023.
Confirmation of my observation piqued my curiosity so, I researched. As it turned out, Wednesday August 9th was also the final 8 PM sunset for this summer where I live. The next 8 PM sunset won’t occur for another 274 days or until May 9th. Being curious, I researched further, here are some lasts and nexts, in case you are wondering:
the last 7 PM sunset 9/15/2022, the next 7PM sunset, 3/17/2023
the last 6 PM sunset 10/22/2022, the next 6PM sunset, 3/12/2023
change in daylight savings time occurs 3/11/2023
the last 5 PM sunset 11/5/2022 at 5:41 PM but the shift away from daylight savings time makes the sunset on 11/6/2022 – 4:40 PM, the next 5PM sunset, 1/27/2023
the earliest sunset occurs at 4:21 PM between 12/3 to 12/14/2022
If you are curious, you can research your location using the Time and Date sun calculator. There is a plethora of information: sunrise, sunset, sun angle, and more.
I love our garden and our backyard. I enjoy sitting at the patio table outside and working. We’ve lived in our home almost 31 years and it has evolved and grown.
The backyard is peaceful and calming unless a lawn crew next door or across the street. But lawn crews are here briefly, except for Saturday morning, but I am usually out of the house volunteering at the food pantry. The birds nor the flowers seem to mind.
This morning Fern and I woke before six and we spent our morning routine outside on the deck. The birds chirped, mostly house sparrows and cardinals, but I have seen American robins, black capped chickadees, house finches, and an occasional American goldfinch at the feeders. And the hummingbirds, occasionally I’ll hear a buzz to my left and look up to watch a hummingbird move in for a drink. Continue reading greetings from our garden→
As a kid I never gave thought to what teachers did over summer break. I was free. I could sleep late, stay up late, and read what and when I wanted.
I am finishing my twenty-third summer break as a teacher. That first summer, 1999, really wasn’t a break at all. It was spent applying for jobs, and interviews, and finally landing a teaching job in the middle of July.
I remember that interview well, it was more a conversation than an interview. I remember walking out of the principal’s office and seeing the eleven o’clock interviewee waiting and thinking that I had nailed the interview. Actually, we both did. Both of us were hired that year and will still teach at the same school, today.
Now twenty-three year later, I know teachers are busy but I can still do those things I did as a kid. But school is coming and it’s like a lion.
In the jungle, the mighty jungle
The lion sleeps tonight
In the jungle the quiet jungle
The lion sleeps tonight
The end of summer is like the lion, it sleeps and then roars. School begins next week, and I’ve spent summer doing those things I said I’d do when school was out, and I had more time. I’ve also spent time thinking and re-thinking how I am going to approach this year. I took a class, and I taught a class and though it all, I am ready to get back to school next Monday.
Last week, I taught a class. It was a one-day teacher’s camp, and it was optional for all of us – teachers and learners, though only teachers came. The class I taught was titled, Lions and Wildebeest – using Puzzles to Engage 21st Century Learners.
The class was based on a lesson that I taught last spring. It was a Monday lesson before spring break. My science classes had finished a major unit the previous Friday and taken the test. We had five days before spring break with three days of state-mandated testing set for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Experience taught me not much beyond testing would be done that week and I needed a lesson to encourage my students to be curious and full of wonder and be ready for the fourth quarter which would begin the Monday after break.
The sound of rain woke me this morning at 5:35 AM and the thought I’d forgotten to roll up my windows got me out of bed. Any other summer morning, I might have gotten up, gone to the bathroom, and crawled back beneath the covers, but not this morning. I pulled on a pair of shorts, grabbed my car keys, and walked out to my car to confirm that I had forgotten to roll up my windows.
I not sure the term ‘roll up the windows’ applies any longer. The last car I had that had manual windows was the 1971 VW Beetle or it could have been the 1985 Jetta, but it has been a long time since I have rolled up the window with a hand crank. I did remember to bring the key and I had to start the car before I could get the windows closed. I am glad I woke when I did, it continues to gently rain as I begin to write a couple of hours later.
Maybe next time, I’ll remember to close my windows or at least check them, when I know rain is in the forecast. After all, last night we covered the boats, closed the shack door, and put away summer things in anticipation of the rain this morning. It is something we learned under grandpa years ago. It’s summer learning, but it could be said that ‘some’re learning’ which is how ‘some are learning’ sounds if you aren’t listening to the context.
School restarts for me, a week from tomorrow. I am excited to get back to school and try somethings I learned this summer and continue to practice what I’ve learned about teaching kids in the past twenty-three years. The first three days of school are filled with meetings, time to plan, and time to get the room ready for the kids who join us on Thursday, August 18.
A couple of friends joined us this past Wednesday and as always, we enjoyed their visit. They are the same couple who we vacationed with this past spring in the Keys. They are also the same couple we drove home with after BOTH of our flights home were cancelled on Saturday, April 2. All four of us sharing driving time through Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and southeastern Indiana where their son was able to meet them and take them to their home in southwestern Ohio.
Thursday morning, we decided on a visit to Mackinac. It’s pronounced – mack-in-naw and it is Ojibwa word for ‘turtle’ and refers to the island which dominates the strait between the upper and lower peninsula.
We could not have chosen a better day for our trip; clear blue skies with puffy clouds drifting across the horizon and comfortable temperatures.
It’s race weekend in the town near the lake where we spend much of our summer. Actually, as I am about to press, PUBLISH, the race is complete. If you watch the video, winners are the third canoe to pass and while the canoe in the lead finishes in second place. It’s a long race.
The race creates excitement for Grayling. And for us, too.
Yesterday was busy. Our kids, led by W, decided they were going to scuba dive in the lake. Both are scuba certified but that didn’t make my wife, or I feel any better about diving in the lake off the pontoon boat. But they did and they had a wonderful time.
our kids, on the surface
Afterwards, they spent time on the lake, and we gathered at the table for dinner – ribs, beans, and salads (not pictured, but delicious).
Then it was off to watch the start of the race, the AuSable River Canoe Marathon. Town is only minutes from the lake and the river source is in the highlands north of the lake. Two other rivers have their sources in the highlands around us and all three are known for their trout fishing and canoeing. Continue reading the race→
W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, July 27, 2022
I was torn for this post. I haven’t taken many photos over the past week. It rained quite a lot this weekend at home, almost three inches over two days: an early Saturday morning thunderstorm and gentler rain overnight Saturday into Sunday morning. The vegetation is thriving at home.
I arrived yesterday afternoon at the lake, for the annual family gathering for the canoe race. It’s a family tradition when we gather to watch the canoe teams begin paddling the AuSable River overnight eastward toward Lake Huron. But this morning, we had gentle rain to moisten the lawn, the forest, the front window. Today there only three of us – me, my wife, and our daughter. Our son and his wife will be joining us late Thursday night and our weekend party will be complete, including four dogs.
In the meantime, there are prospects for an improvement in the day’s weather as the storm passes through. The forecast for the weekend is warm sunny days.
As I mentioned I was torn between two photos: the one above and the one below. The Echinacea hybrid was taken at Ball Horticultural Company’s demonstration garden not far from our home.
Today is going to be a great day. So, I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the days Count one day at a time, trying to choose between the present and the past.
W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, July 20, 2022.
WOW, three months ago today our yard and mailbox had a very different look. Summer is in full swing here; it has been warm and humid but not the oppressive heat other places around the globe have been experiencing. We are blessed. The flowers and trees and birds are flourishing.
In April I woke to discover my wife’s mailbox in a state of winter – W^2 cruel and yesterday it was in a state of summer. Ninety-one days separate the posts and ninety-two, the pictures.
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller
Summer is moving quickly and in a few scant weeks, I’ll be back at school, teaching kids and learning all sorts of new things.
In the meantime, I am going to make my summer days count. Four weeks from tomorrow I’ll have a classroom full of excited and anxious sixth graders. It’s going to be a great year, but I have the present to focus on, So I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the days Count one day at a time, focusing on the present and learning from the past.
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.