Category Archives: Reading

Sunday morning, November 8th

If you had told me that I would be sitting outside writing a blog post on the second Sunday morning in November, I am not sure if I would have believed you.

But I am. The sun has shifted in the sky from where it is in the summer. I can feel the sun on my temple, and I can see my shadow in the laptop screen in front of me. Like many summer mornings when I have written a blog post outdoors on the deck at home or by the lake, I am wearing a pair of shorts and a sweatshirt. The temperature is 67F or almost 20C , there is a gentle breeze, and the sun is shining. It is a beautiful morning.

Yesterday morning, the puppies and I, sat outside and I enjoyed my morning coffee instead of inside on the couch. They sat side by side staring into the backyard, seemingly on watch for the critters they long to catch. The two puppies are really dogs, but they behave like puppies do full of curiosity and eagerness to run, jump, and play. Ivy, the older one, will be 11 years old in a few months and Fern, the younger one, is a little more than a year and a half.

 

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looking for squirrels and I am watching the leaves fall – yesterday the deck was clear… #fallleaves #raking #fallchores

A post shared by Clay Watkins (@makingthedayscount) on

We are repeating yesterday morning’s unusual opportunity – sitting outside in early November. Continue reading Sunday morning, November 8th

Day 42: bears and puzzles

Actually, it’s only one bear and one puzzle. I’ve been toying with a puzzle for a while and I finally mastered it. It’s two bent nails seemingly locked together. But the two nails do come apart.

it’s been cloudy most of the day, threatening rain

The twisted nail puzzle is one puzzle in a boxed set of puzzles I received as a Christmas gift from my daughter a few years ago. I decided to leave them here, at the lake, with her permission. This past week I re-discovered the twisted nails and I have been playing with them as a diversion – off and on. Twisting the two nails back and forth was a wonderful way to pass time and focus on something besides the future – COVID19 and the approaching school year.

Continue reading Day 42: bears and puzzles

Father’s Day – 2020

It’s Father’s Day and I am in northern Mississippi visiting with my stepmother. Last year on Father’s Day, I was on my way home from visiting her.

My father died 11 years ago this summer after a fall and a brief illness, and I began writing a year later.

My stepmother had been living independently in Mississippi since he died. Neither my father nor my stepmother is native to Mississippi, but they decided to relocate here after my father retired in 1998. It’s a beautiful town and they have a lovely home.

However, this past winter that independence came to an end after a fall and brief hospitalization. I am grateful that my brothers and I were successful in moving her into an assisted living facility before the COVID19 lockdown shutdown the country.

But life is full of next steps, our next step is convincing her that living in northern Mississippi 621 miles from me in Illinois, 621 miles from one of my Texas brothers, and 630 miles from my other Texas brother is no longer sustainable, especially in the time of COVID19.

visiting on her porch – social distancing and being safe.

Tough conversations. Much like the conversations my dad and I had years ago.

Life is full of twists and turns; it’s full of beginnings and endings where one ending is a new beginning. Continue reading Father’s Day – 2020

Asynchronous

I love complex words. I am teacher and a learner or a learner and a teacher. The two go hand in hand. Learning never ends.

I began blogging at MakingtheDaysCount dot org almost ten years ago when I was teaching 7th grade English Language Arts. Really 7th grade ELA was my teaching assignment and I was really teaching kids. Teaching 7th grade ELA sharpened my curiosity and honed my knowledge of words and word parts……

chron means time, -ous means full of, syn- means with or together, a means without or not

asynchronous – without any particular time or timing or as Merriam and Webster defines it, not simultaneous or concurrent in time

A few years after my first blog post, I was reassigned and moved to science and a new grade level. I embraced the change because that’s who I am – curious, positive, passionate, resilient, flexible, and determined.

 

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Yesterday’s walk in the woods – fresh air and sunshine – good for the heart and mind #makeitaGREATday

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Last week I learned I was moving again, this time to 6th grade. I’ll will be teaching science (and social studies) but most importantly I’ll be teaching kids. Continue reading Asynchronous

The ice is melting

The sun is shining brightly today. It was cold this morning, but the sun melted the early morning frost and has warmed the open spaces.

The lake ice is melting and the open space between the shoreline and the ice has more than doubled since Sunday. Soon the ice will be gone, a distant memory, until next fall when it reclaims the lake for another winter. Once the ice melts, the lake will be open for summer.

Fern, our Brittany puppy…. contemplates the lake, should I or shouldn’t I she seems to be thinking. She did, twice. The water is cold.

Our Brittany puppy, Fern, tested the waters wading into the lake along the shore up to her chest earlier. She discovered how cold the water was and was quickly back ashore. The earliest I’ve been in the water is late May and there is a chill even then. The lake is at its warmest in early August and the docks and lifts come out Labor Day weekend.

It’s been a great day and it there is more in the day to come.

Making the days Count, especially when the sun shines and the lake is melting for the season.

Where are you today?

Last night’s sunset – the sky cleared and sun shone

Today’s post is inspired by the daily prompt at WordPress’ Inspiration – Open. In these days of lockdowns, closures, and physical distancing, what does Open mean to you?

 

Abundance

It has been a strange week, rather it’s been a challenging year or so.

A week ago, I was in Mississippi helping my elderly stepmother transition from her home to an assisted living facility. I spent almost half of February in Mississippi. My last two posts were from or about my trips to encourage and assist my stepmother.

Even further back, one year ago I was mourning my mother who passed away after a brief illness on March 2, 2019. I wrote about it last year in my post, Where do I start?

However, my church or rather my faith has inspired this morning’s post. My mother was a woman of faith – she had to be. Raising three boys single-handedly – all born within three years of each other and getting all three of to adulthood could be considered a miracle. But she had help, her faith. For the past several years, my church has asked parishioners to write a Lenten reflection to be shared daily. This past Tuesday morning, this year’s post landed in my In box and I re-read my Lenten reflection. It is my second piece of published writing. My first piece was published in 2017 – you can read (or re-read) it here.

I wrote the reflection while sitting in my stepmother’s hospital room glancing out the window at the vase of yellow daffodils. It seems as if the theme of yellow has been in my life subtly for several years. Below is my Lenten Refection.

God will provide

Last spring when our mom passed away, my brothers and I gathered to plan our mom’s memorial service. The church provided a funeral service planning document with the order of the service with suggested Bible passages and hymns. We had so many questions, what would mom want? What were her favorite hymns and Bible passages? What was mom’s favorite color? What kind of flowers would she want? And so on. We had no idea. It was overwhelming. Continue reading Abundance

Where do I start?

Really, where do I start?

March has been brutal, in like a lion, out like a lamb. It’s an old saying to describe the March’s weather and while it’s true in the upper Midwest that’s not the reference I am making.

It’s been a while since I started a post, even longer since I finished and published one. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to write, it’s that I’ve been distracted and not sure what to say and write.

a lone tree overlooking the Atlantic Ocean

I’ve been thinking about what ‘making the days count’ really means the past few months going back to this this past summer. I’ve been a in writing drought of sorts. Four posts in six months.

A friend of mine recently shared with me that he thought I was ‘one of the most positive people’ he knew. The compliment buoyed my spirits at a time when I needed a boost.

It’s spring break and I am, or rather, we are in the Florida Keys for a week of rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation. I know I am need of all three.

Four weeks ago, tomorrow morning, I opened my Five Minute Journal and was greeted by,

“Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday.”  Ann Brashares.

It was the day I knew, we all knew, was ahead of us. Continue reading Where do I start?

In the beginning…

Merry Christmas.

I was 7 years old when the photo above was taken. Every time I see it, I remember listening to the Apollo 8 astronauts reading the first ten verses of Genesis as their space capsule orbited the moon. I can remember sitting in front of the black and white television in my pajamas with my two brothers. I was in first grade and enamored with the American space program.

50 years later, I am still amazed by what lies beyond Earth. The past few weeks, I have awakened early in the morning to see Venus brightly illuminating the pre-dawn sky. The sun brightly illuminating the sky. This morning, it was a reminder of what lies beyond.

Each time I see the moon, I marvel at the achievements of America’s space program – despite what a professional basketball player recently denied, men did reach the moon and return safely.

But today, I marvel at the photo and the possibilities that exist for our world. As Bill Anders, one of the three Apollo 8 astronauts, remarked,

“We came to explore the moon and what we discovered was the Earth,”

Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders
Continue reading In the beginning…

Letter No. 8

It’s Sunday morning and it’s quiet for now. I enjoy the weekend mornings because I can sleep a little later than I normally do during the week and there isn’t the urgency to get up, move, and be someplace. Though sometimes that isn’t always the case.

I let the group walk ahead…..

Last weekend I took a bird walk and had to be out of the house by 7:30 AM Saturday morning. It was an organized bird walk with a trained naturalist at the Morton Arboretum. I signed up in August when I was excited about learning about birds. I still am excited about learning more about birds but the time to learn and watch birds is fleeting with school back in session. The bird walk, added a bit of urgency to last Saturday morning’s get up and go, but it was worth the time. I enjoyed the walk with a group of folks walking the paths and trails and seeing things I don’t normally see. It helped me model the science homework I assign my students daily – be curious and full of wonder. I shared last weekend’s adventures with them last Monday when they asked how my weekend was – a few were interested and pressed for more questions and others were the typical 8th grader. I shared that my newfound curiosity was inspired by a book I had started to read – 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. I make the headway with my students anyway I can and I am still reading the book.

This weekend is a little different. O and her marching band have a band competition, but she didn’t need to be at school early Saturday morning as she has in the past couple of weekends. This week’s competition was across town and her band won top honors in its class. So far, this marching season, they’ve had three competitions and I’ve seen them all. Next week they are on the road and we will be, too.

The weather turned for the weekend and there is a fall-ish chill in the air. The skies are clear and it is cool. Yesterday at the band competition the stands faced the afternoon sun and it was in our eyes, but when the sun dipped beneath the horizon it cooled down and there was a definite nip in the air. My body is not quite use to the cooler air, but by November and December my body will be ready for the cold which lies ahead. 

It’s that time of the year when keeping up the blog is a challenge. School is taking time and other activities – parenting, being husband, and taking care of the home and myself take precedence over writing a blog post. This past summer, I didn’t write as frequently as I had in previous summers. But, I had many things going on with a new knee and my son leaving for marine boot camp. In place of blogging, I’ve been writing him letters. So far, I am up to No. 8. I penned it yesterday morning and I’ll pen another this afternoon or evening.

Friday Night’s Lights – the sky was orange (our colors) before the game, but turned red (their colors) to finish the sunset – the Tigers came up short 41-20 but it was never close.
Continue reading Letter No. 8

Day 36: halfway

We’ve been by the lake for a little more than a week. It feels good to relax and take it easy, even if I can’t get into the water, yet. I know my day will come. Today marks five weeks and a day since my last day of school and my summer break has been full of surprises. It also means summer break is at its halfway point.

It’s also been four weeks and a day since my knee surgery and the incision is healing well and it looks good, but I am erring on the side of caution before venturing into the lake or submerging or exposing my new knee to any sort of water beyond a shower. Yesterday, I checked with my physical therapist and she told me to wait, so I will. A few more days out of the water are a small price to pay.

We’ve been spending our summers along this lake since we were married and I recall my first visit in the July of ’92. Each summer has a been a bit different, there were the years before we had kids, the years of infancy and the toddler years – twice, the years with the in-laws and now without them, and now the teenage years and post teenage years, for one. Our kids are growing and so are we. This place is full of memories for me and our kids and there is a constancy in our place by the lake.

Last Friday marked a first, at least for me. I was sitting on the deck reading when I looked up to see a float plane landing on the far side lake. I am certain there have float planes which have landed and taken off on the lake before, but I had never seen one or seen pictures of a float plane on our lake.

Friday, taxiing to the small bay

I grabbed the good camera and took photos. I watched as the plane taxied along the shoreline and anchored in the bay not far from our cottage. I wasn’t alone, almost all of the folks along the lake watched as the plane moved down the lake to the bay. Continue reading Day 36: halfway