Category Archives: Reading

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: 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 The partial drought of late spring has been replaced by more seasonal rain pattern and unseasonable coolness.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?

Late June Sunday morning

It’s Sunday morning and the sun is shining, for now, and it’s the last Sunday in June.

We’ve had rain the last couple of days and the lawn, and the garden are rebounding.

my Sunday morning companion

Yesterday morning I watched the fog lifting and walked outside to take a photo from the end of the dock – yesterday’s days of summer Instagram post and I discovered a couple of spider webs which had been spun overnight. It reminded me of the story of Charlotte in E.B. White’s classic story, Charlotte’s Web.

Earlier this morning Fern and I stepped outside between showers, and I discovered an exceptionally large spider.

I’ve been watching the birds – especially the blue jays – as they visit the feeders. I’ll see a flash or shadow and look up to see a blue jay the deck either railing, the ledge, or the arm of one of the deck chairs before it hops to the seed feeder. Continue reading Late June Sunday morning

Three things for a rainy Saturday morning

It’s been a long since I sat at my desk and wrote a blogpost on a Saturday morning. Saturday morning was once my ‘go to’ day to write. But things change and as I believe all have learned, and experienced, this past year is that if there is one constant in our lives it is change.

As I do from time to time, I looked back at the blog. Over the past year or so, most of my posts have been on Wednesday – those Wordless Wednesdays with a few words or more, so the posts aren’t truly wordless, but wordless at least for me. The second most frequent day I have posted has been Sunday.

I remembered every post and picture; I suppose that it’s your experience when you look back at your own blog.

Oddly, the last time I wrote a Saturday morning post it was a ‘three things’ post and it was raining. So for this week here are my ‘three things’ – hope, spring, and change. Continue reading Three things for a rainy Saturday morning

Light Mode

It is Friday, Good Friday, and our spring break is winding down. Last year for spring break we were in Michigan and we watched the lake ice melt. I spent the remainder of last school year – April and May – teaching from our cottage in Michigan. This year, we are in the keys of Florida and it has been very relaxing. We’ve been safe or as safe as one can be in the world of COVID19, social distancing, and mask mandates.

Monday evening’s sunset from Sunset park, Key Colony Beach, Florida

This year spring break has a different outcome. Last year I was returning from break to remote learning – something I had never done – posting assignments by 8AM and monitoring student progress, using ZOOM to connect with my students and using email and comments on assignments to provide feedback. This year I am returning to having most students in class four days each week and the remainder joining class remotely via ZOOM.

Much has changed since last year and I am thankful, very thankful. This year there is hope, while last year there was fear and uncertainty. Even with hope, there is still some fear and uncertainty, but I have found that when I focus on what I can control and for the rest what I am unable to control, I rely on my faith and pray that hope rises above fear.

Sunday morning’s sunrise. Key Colony Beach, Florida

A week ago, Monday, I opened my email and found that my Lenten Journal had been published. I smiled and shared it with a few folks, and now I share it with you.

I had written the reflection in mid-January as we were preparing to begin hybrid teaching and learning. Hybrid teaching is having some students in class and the remainder remotely on ZOOM. In January, we had divided the students who wanted to be in school into two groups an A group – last names A-L and a B group – last names M-Z. The A group attended Tuesday and Wednesday and the B group attended Thursday and Friday. In all, I had a little more than a third of my students in class for at least two days of instruction and those students who were not in class attended class remotely via ZOOM. It took a bit of learning on my part and my student’s part but we figured it out. We made it work.

Below is my Lenten reflection.

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light. (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)..” Ephesians 5:8-9

I teach 6th grade science and recently added an iPad as an extra screen to help manage my classroom with students in class and those following along at home. It helps me to create a single classroom and bring together the students who are in the room with those who are at home on Zoom. The iPad suggested I try ‘dark mode’ to help me better see the screen and improve the battery life of my device. But I soon discovered that it made reading more difficult for me and following along in class, dark mode became a burden and I turned off ‘dark mode.’ Continue reading Light Mode

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