Category Archives: Life in General

Summer’s exit and Fall’s arrival

Autumn officially arrives on Thursday at 8:03 CDT. The sun will rise at 6:40 AM and set twelve hours and nine minutes later at 6:49 PM. We experienced our last 7 PM sunset this past Thursday and its bittersweet.

I am enjoying the morning outside at my summer office. The day began cloudy, but the clouds have been replaced by a clear blue sky with a light breeze that gently tickles the wind chime the tree branches above me.

a poppa cardinal and sparrow partake at the feeders Sunday morning

The forecast for the week begins with high temperatures in the low 80s and finishes the month with temperatures in the low 70s. It will warm enough by day, but cooler overnight lows dipping ten degrees to the mid 50s by the end of the month.

Fall Hiking
Last fall, I accepted the forest preserve’s challenge to Take a Hike in collaboration with Edwards-Elmhurst Health. Each week I get a reminder email on Thursday get out and move. I enjoyed last year’s challenge, but I have gotten out and hiked this season. Continue reading Summer’s exit and Fall’s arrival

greetings from our garden

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.

hydrangeas on the south side of the house

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

W^2 – mailbox

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.

our mailbox in the apex of summer, Wheaton, IL July 19, 2022 8:03 AM

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.

How is the weather on your slice of the globe? Continue reading W^2 – mailbox

at rest, in peace

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.

PNC Park and the Pittsburgh Skyline, the yellow bridge is the Roberto Clemente Bridge dedicated after his death in 1973.

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 with me on the left and my Warren on the right. 1964, Bay City, Texas

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.

It’s funny the things you remember from your childhood and growing up. Continue reading at rest, in peace

learning

Yesterday, I went for a hike at my favorite hiking spot, Herrick Lake Forest Preserve. It’s a short drive from house and it makes a huge difference in my hike compared to my neighborhood. I’ve posted photos from previous hikes at the forest preserve. The preserve has woods, a prairie, and a marsh and the main crushed limestone hiking trail winds through it all.

the access road I take to get to the trail

It was a beautiful day and I had initially planned to hike first in the morning, but I decided to hike later in the day. I knew it would be relaxing and restorative.

When I had arrived home from the lake Monday afternoon, I discovered a house with no internet. I tried to resolve the issue, but a solution was beyond my capabilities. I called for support and learned the earliest a service technician appointment was available, was Thursday morning with an 8-12 service window.

The main reason I had come home from the lake was that I had enrolled in a graduate level class to learn more about assessing students in my science classes. Assessment or grades have been a HOT TOPIC in public education over the past couple of years and I wanted to learn more. The class was virtual with two internet ZOOM meetings.

I could use my phone as an internet hot spot, but the prospect of ZOOMING using my phone concerned so I decided to use the local public library for my heavy internet usage. It worked out well and I was patient and waited for the service tech to arrive Thursday morning.

When the tech arrived, I was outside working at my ‘summer office’ on the deck using my phone as my internet connection. I invited him, but he told me he wanted to start outside the house where the line enters the house. That’s where he found the problem, somewhere down the line there was a broken connection. A couple of years ago we had an outage and it caused by mice chewing on the wires in the junction box in the backyard. We talked about it, and he told me that it was a common problem and he laughed saying animals gave him job security.

He told me that he couldn’t make the repair, but another service tech was needed to find the break and make the repair. He told me I didn’t need to be home for the repair, so I used the opportunity to take off and hike. Continue reading learning

moving purposefully

Yesterday morning, I went for a hike at a new location, St. James Farm Forest Preserve in Warrenville, Illinois. It’s less than five miles from my house, about a ten-minute drive, and I had been there a couple of times, but I had never hiked. The parking lot was largely wide open when I arrived. Wednesday was s hot and humid, unseasonably warm HOT for mid-June which explained the parking lot.

the sun and a solid oak at St. James Farm Forest Preserve

St. James Farm and the adjacent Cantigny Park could be called an American “Downton Abbey.” Continue reading moving purposefully

W^2 – me

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, June 15, 2022

This is me and this week’s W^2 post.

me, and the lake on a beautiful late spring morning. Lake Margrethe, Grayling, MI June 13, 2022 8:27 AM

I snapped this photo Monday morning before I left the lake for a week at home.

It was a cool late spring morning, yes, it is still spring for another few days, and the temperature was in the mid-50s and sunny. I always enjoy my time by the lake, it’s restful, relaxing, and it puts a smile on my face, even when I have say goodbye.

By the time I had reached home it was in low 90s and thick clouds hung in the air. Severe storms passed through the area in the late afternoon and early evening, but I didn’t feel a drop of rain, but I could feel the energy in the air.

A heat wave is rolling through the Midwest and bringing excessive heat warnings and the possibility of severe weather this evening. I am going to lay low and keep my head down, a smile on my face, and dedicate time to those things I can do.

Today is going to be going to be a great day. I know it and I can feel it, so I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, a smile on face, a song in my heart, and skip in my step.

What is going to make you smile today?

what I am planning for summer break 2022

It’s summer, day 9 to be precise. I am a counter. I count the days and I try to make the time count, too. Sometimes I do, sometimes I come up short, but I am reminded that

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens…. Ecclesiastes 3:1

It reminds me to do better and to be present.

I am at the lake for a short trip, and I am headed home early Monday morning to do some of the things I said I’d do when summer came and so far, it’s a work in progress. This morning I awoke to a silent lake and fog lifting off the surface and hanging over the lake. It happens when warmer water interacts with cooler air – it’s science in action and I love how it looks in the early morning light.

morning fog, Lake Margrethe, Grayling, MI June 11, 2022 at 6:29 EDT

I re-read last year’s summer post Three things for a mid-June Sunday morning and I did well in 2021. I wrote when I could, and I enjoyed the backyard birds and even branched out to birding by the lake. I re-centered myself last summer and I think last school year was my best year as an educator, yet there is still room for growth, there always is.

Today’s post will be the first post of my 13th year of blogging. Oh, how far I have come and yet I have never left where I began. Continue reading what I am planning for summer break 2022

W^2 –moon, calm

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, May 18, 2022

sunset on the lake, waxing moon, calm. Lake Margrethe, Grayling, MI Saturday, May 14, 2022 8:59 PM EDT

This week for my W^2 post, the calm after the storm.

This past weekend I asked my wife I made a quick trip to the lake and back. Up late Friday afternoon and home late Sunday night.

We had chores to do, and I was looking for a bit of calm as the school year winds (and grinds) to a finish. As in my previous post, W^2 – beauty and the beast, weather intervened. The skies opened and a thunderstorm rolled across the lake bringing hail and almost an inch and half of rain in about thirty minutes.

Once the storm passes, the skies cleared and there was calm. Calm enough to sit at the end of the dock and admire the sunset or flip the other way and admire the moon rise.

It was an excellent weekend, and I got a taste of summer, early. We also got the calm we needed and craved.

It is Wednesday, the middle of the week and there are as I sit and type ten more days of school this year and then it is summer. Today and I going to try and convince my 6th graders that there is a lot of space in the atmosphere for air particles (aka atoms and molecules) to move and I hope it provides the calm they need to weather the final days of the year. I know it is going to be going to be a great day. I know it and I can feel it, so I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, making the most of every day and trying to compress learning just like air particles can be compressed.

What brings you a little calm these days?

W^2 – beauty and the beast

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, May 4, 2022

This week for my W^2 post, I have more more from mother nature – beauty and the beast.

Beauty, tulips in the mall, after the first storm (and tornado to the south) – Oakbrook, IL. Saturday, April 30, 2022 6:08 PM

This past weekend I asked my wife if she wanted to go shopping. It’s often the other way around. But I needed new glasses and frames. So off we went. I did get the frames and much more.

Spring weather in the Midwest can run the range of faux spring (as in my last W^2 post) to real spring and mild to violent. Saturday, we got the latter – two bouts of it in the span of a late April afternoon.  Our shopping was interrupted by two waves of severe weather including a tornado that set off severe weather alerts.

That was Saturday and today is Wednesday and it is going to be an amazing day!

It is spring, again and the birds are singing, the sun is shining after a couple of days of rain. And this morning, my kiddos are going to melt and vaporize menthol. I am excited. It is going to be a great day. I know it and I can feel it, so I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, making the most of every day and squeezing in a little learning when you least expect it.

How are doing this lovely May day?

Eerie storm clouds, the second wave passing our neighborhood to the south – Wheaton, IL Saturday, April 30, 2022 7:43 PM