Category Archives: Writing

No travel Saturday

It’s a beautiful Saturday morning on the deck. The birds are singing, there is a gentle breeze rustling through the trees, and the sun is shining brightly. AND, I’ve decided to stay home and not fly to Seattle.

my office view this morning..

Continue reading No travel Saturday

Father’s Day

Being a father is not easy, becoming a father is…. well, not the point of this post.

Today is my twentieth Father’s Day as a dad, my fifty-fifth as a son, and eighth Father’s Day without my dad. My dad passed away July 20, 2009 after a brief illness and my brothers and I took his cremains to France in June 2010 and he remains at rest and peace with the world.

The three of us, dad, and Julie May 1980, from a scanned slide
7:41 AM Somewhere in the middle of the paragraph above my brother, David, called and we talked… when were finished talking, I got back to writing – 8:11 AM.

I don’t believe there has been a day since, when I haven’t thought of my dad; just think of him, no judgement one way or another. There are days, like today, when he is constantly on my mind. On these days, I call my brothers and check in, or they call me and check in, either way we talk. Sometimes, we talk about dad, or we talk about our kids, or we talk about growing up; mostly we talk about the thread that holds us together – mom and dad and being brothers.

It hasn’t always been easy being brothers or sons or fathers. There is no instruction manual, only a guide. Continue reading Father’s Day

FOCUS – a photo challenge

It’s Saturday morning and the past week has passed quickly, much too quickly. Honestly, the past nine days have been a blur. Summertime is usually my blogging time, school’s out and I am on vacation, sort of. While the past week or so has been a blur of days, I have been focused.

Wednesday afternoon’s rain total – the rain gauge is OUT of focus

This past week I am doing what many educators do over summer break – professional development. I am taking a class on teaching science using the modelling science methodology. The class is certainly keeping me on my toes and I am taking notes and making sure I don’t miss anything. Trying to stay focused on why I am in class in the first place – to use the science modelling framework in my science classroom.

Big Red and me – my signature selfie and a possible future blog post

Last summer, similar class – Modelling Biology but, this summer I am taking Physics: Mechanics. The instructor was my son, W’s, physics teacher and W enjoyed having him – but the class pushed him as a student, just as my own physics class and teacher did when I was in high school. I am having flashbacks to Mrs. Matney’s 3rd hour physics class from 1979-80. The class content is definitely keeping me on my toes and I need to remind myself to stay focused. Coincidentally, Mrs. Matney is STILL teaching high school physics. I made a brief visit to my old high school in April when I was visiting my mom. I asked to see Mrs. Matney, she was out of school at a high school science competition. The year I had Mr. Matney she was selected as the high school’s teacher of the year. I learned a lot that year in science, but I learned more about myself and grew up, sort of. I sent Mrs. Matney a thank you e-mail over a decade ago and she responded that she was still teaching science. I am thankful for her dedication to teaching and especially her patience understanding with me when I was her student. Continue reading FOCUS – a photo challenge

order – a photo challenge

Summer would not be summer without red geraniums blooming on the deck overlooking the lake. Today is summer vacation day three with many more on the horizon. This morning I am Up North on the shores of Lake Margrethe. It’s relaxing coming here, but it comes with a price set up and maintenance. This is the setup visit and maybe I’ll be able to squeeze in some relaxation time into the order of business.

There is order to our work. The dock and lifts must go in first, then the boats, then of course a bit of fun, then yard work.

Thursday morning view of the lake

Yesterday we got the dock and lifts in and one of the boats – the Sea-Doo. The Sea-Doo is the easiest of the boats to get in the water, and according to O, the boat with the most fun potential. Continue reading order – a photo challenge

Memorial Day 2017

It is Memorial Day and I am reminded of the sacrifice of America’s soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines.

poppies

I had planned to write a fitting post to commemorate the occasion, but words failed me.

Yesterday we watched the Indy 500 (on television) and I remembered the many trips to Indy and back with my father-in-law, then watching him march in the town Memorial Day parade the following day. I remembered the drive to Aisne-Marne American Cemetery with my dad in May ’97, attending the Memorial Day ceremony at Suresnes American Cemetery in Paris in May of ’97. I remember the trip back to France in 2010 with my brothers, step-mother, and my dad’s cremains.

I searched for words to put together and failed, seeking inspiration I opened and e-mail from the American Battle Monument Commission and found the two videos below.

Today is also the anniversary of my first post: Day 1 – What am I doing? I still wonder what I am doing and there are a lot of words between then and now. I am still humbled by the sacrifice of America’s men and women in arms.

The peonies opened up in yesterday’s sunshine and today promises to be another glorious day, weather fitting for a parade and Memorial Day ceremony. It’s gonna 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, it’s all that I can do.

What’s on your plate for Memorial Day?

Evanescent – a photo challenge

It’s the Sunday morning on the three-day Memorial Day weekend. The weather forecast for today called for rain, but it appears the rain bands have shifted north and we’ll be rain-free today and, possibly, tomorrow. I walked the backyard this morning in search of peony blooms for this post. The air was thick with humidity, yesterday’s sunny and clear day replaced by low grey clouds. Weather is evanescent, ‘tending to vanish like vapor’ according to Meriam and Webster.

coral is the color – it’s in the front yard and it blooms early

Admittedly, I’d never heard the word, I had heard of effervescent, but not evanescent. I had to look it up in the dictionary. I discovered it is the root of a word that IS part of my vocabulary – vanish.

We’ve had a warm wet spring. I checked the weather page in the Chicago Tribune to confirm what I had suspected – we’ve had almost twice the rain compared to normal. It shows in the blooms. The peonies are about to bloom and coincidentally, I have written about peonies before – two years to the day: Peonies and Time. Continue reading Evanescent – a photo challenge

Thanks, mom

I’d be nothing without my mom.

I live almost a thousand miles from mom and I don’t get to see her as often as I’d prefer, but we talk and I occasionally write a letter or note. She responds and I love reading those letters and notes.

A couple of weeks ago, I took off to see my mom. It was a quick trip down and back in about two days. Mom still lives in the house where we all grew up. When I was home, I got to sleep in my old bedroom for the first time in a couple of years. On the morning I was to leave, I texted her that I was excited to come and visit,

Can’t believe I am going to go to sleep in the house where I grew up – can’t wait to see you. Love Clay

and she responded with,

The corner room you and Robert painted ORANGE. It’s still showing on the screen.

Yeah, she let me paint my bedroom orange. I don’t know what I was thinking or why I thought orange was a good color for my bedroom, but she let me paint the walls orange. It stayed orange until a few years later when I left for college, and when I came back it wasn’t orange anymore.

April 2017 – mom and her three sons…

My mom let me do all sorts of things that taught me lessons that her words or my ears would not allow.

She let me make the mistakes that she knew would hurt, but the experience would help me grow.

When I pulled into the driveway at 1:45 in the morning, she was up waiting. It was wonderful to see her. I gave her a big hug and we sat down to talk. An hour later, I had to excuse myself and go to bed, but if I could’ve stayed awake, we would’ve talked until the sun rose.

My brother took the photo above Saturday morning. It was great to see her and to see my two brothers. We celebrated her birthday Friday night and on Saturday morning my brothers came over and we all went for coffee before David had to go to work- that’s when the photo was snapped. Warren and I spent the rest of the day together and I gave my mom a BIG hug before I left Saturday afternoon. Continue reading Thanks, mom

He is risen, indeed.

It’s Easter Sunday morning and I am thinking of Betty Fulton. Every Easter I remember her and her reminder that the proper Easter greeting is NOT,

“Happy Easter,”

but, “He is risen.”

She drilled it in to me and every one of her Sunday school students, as well as the proper Easter response,

“He is risen, indeed.”
Easter eggs from 2012….

I last saw Mrs. Fulton at my youngest brother’s wedding some 30 years ago. She was not only my Sunday school teacher, but a friend of my mother’s and larger than life. I am not certain which came first – Sunday school teacher or family friend. She and her husband Bill, would come to visit on the weekends, they lived close and sometimes we would go to their home, but mostly they would visit and talk at the table in the kitchen laughing and telling stories. Continue reading He is risen, indeed.

Surprise: a photo challenge

It’s Good Friday and I am out of school. It’s called a local holiday on the calendar, but it’s really Good Friday.

I am always surprised by the beauty of each daffodil….

Several weeks ago, I wrote about the arrival of Spring in a Time for Everything. At the time the crocus were beginning to break through the soil and return color to the world. Since then, more color has arrived. The grass is greener, the trees are beginning to bud, and the daffodils are in full bloom.

I took a peak at the Daffodil Glade at the Morton Arboretum this morning. And I found the glade ready for our annual visit for Easter photos. It was a surprise. Even though I know every year the daffodils bloom, it’s always a surprise.

yellow on white daffodils are bunched together

Continue reading Surprise: a photo challenge

The Great War

Tuesday after school I was talking with a colleague, we were discussing what we were doing in our classes. He teaches music and is our band leader. I mentioned that I loved seeing his “I am marching for…” photos and explanations on the walls of my school before AND after Memorial Day in a blog post in 2014 and I asked if he planned to assign the project again this year. He replied,

“Absolutely.”

I mentioned to him that I was the person who did the “Today in History” slides for our school’s morning announcements. He told me he enjoyed them and always shared them with his first period class, but noted that the “Today in History” slide for the day, Tuesday April 4 was rather somber. I agreed – Dr. King is assassinated. I mentioned that Tuesday was the 49th anniversary of the shooting and that I had planned out several memorable ‘Today in History’ slides, for the remainder of the school year – namely today’s slide – U.S. Enters World War 1.

“What a dumb war,” he said immediately.

Yes, what a dumb war, indeed. I agreed. I couldn’t agree with him more. It was a dumb war, most wars are.

Today is the 100-year anniversary of the United States Congress’s Declaration of War on Germany. Only Congress can declare war, but the president must request the Congress to declare war before a joint session of both the Senate and the House of Representatives. President Wilson had come before Congress only days before and asked Congress to declare war on April 2 and four days later the United States House of Representatives voted 373-50 in favor and the United States Senate followed with a vote of 82-6. And, then the United States joined the Allies against Germany. Continue reading The Great War