Yesterday was the Fourth of July. Independence Day. We spent our day as we usually do – parade, lake, dinner, then fireworks.
My wife reminded me to fly the flag the evening before, but I didn’t put the flag up until the yesterday morning.
flying the flag…
and a smaller version posted in the mail box
It was a beautiful summer day. I got to ride in the boat and watch my daughter enjoy tubing. My daughter towed me to and from the boat on her tube. But, no water for me, other than a shower until I get the green light in a couple of weeks to swim and get in the lake. I’ll have to wait until later in the summer when my incision is fully healed.
My weekly challenge was to remember my favorite song from five years ago and listen to it. I have no idea what I was listening to five years ago but it certainly was not on the top 100 from July 2013. I had an idea, a better idea, and I went back 40 years to when I was 16; the summer between my sophomore and junior years in high school. That was the summer of all sorts of memories.
This past Sunday afternoon, we drove north. I had a driver for the first hour and the last hour. My daughter O is working on her driving hours and loves driving. It gave me time to go back in time – 40 years – to the summer of ’78. I checked the top 40 from July ’78. I recognized most of the top 10 but my memory took a jolt when I read #14 – Miss You by the Rolling Stones. That song took me back and brought back all sorts of memories and I found my song…. But first… how I got there.
I turned 16 in November ’77, but I couldn’t get my driver’s license I hadn’t completed the required behind the wheel driving training. Instead of taking driver’s ed during the summer, like all of my peers, I had been visiting by dad in England for five weeks. I took the driver’s training during winter break of my sophomore year and was ready to get my license in January of ‘78. January in Houston, Texas is cold, but not nearly as cold as January where I now live – there is no comparison.
I am the oldest in my family, so I was the first of the kids to get my license and the first child to teach my mom all sorts of lessons she and her sister probably did not teach their parents when they were growing up in the fifties.
When my parents divorced, my dad moved to Saudi Arabia and a year later he and my step-mom moved to London, England. Whatever he had, he took with him or put in storage except for the 1969 blue Volkswagen Beetle. It was stored in the garage. I had my name on it. Or rather, I had put my name on it.
For a 16-year-old boy in 1978, having your driver’s license is cool, having a car a car is even cooler. Once I got my license, I began to drive the ‘blue bug.’ I could drive to work and back and had to ask permission beyond that. The little blue bug had air conditioning, but it didn’t work and the radio had AM only. I had a job and made minimum wage as a busboy and dishwasher at my next-door neighbor’s Italian restaurant. By March, I had scrimped and saved enough money to purchase an in dash 8-track cassette player and FM\AM radio and a couple of speakers for the blue bug. I had barely enough money leftover to buy two 8-track tapes – I picked Van Halen’s debut album and Jackson Browne’s Running on Empty. I listened to those constantly.
The blue bug was nothing brag about. Beside the AC not working, there was a hole in the passenger side floorboards caused by battery acid spillage. A friend of my mom’s helped with a fix and the radio and speakers were an improvement. To make up for the lack of AC the blue bug had side windows which could tilt inward and force air into the car. But driving it in the hot Texas spring and summer was pretty uncomfortable and perspiring was the norm. Continue reading Day 29 – Miss You→
It’s Monday and I am writing my first ‘summer’ post. The definition of summer is, well, open to interpretation, but for me it’s summer and has been for seven days. I am not a meteorologist who define summer as June 1 and the summer solstice, which this year is Thursday, June 21 at 5:07 AM. I am school teacher and I define summer as the state of not having students in class from June to August. This year I have 72 days of summer break and I am going to make each one them count.
The week prior to school ending, I asked my students how they were going to make the summer break count and I passed out cards numbered 1-80. I’ve done this before and the results always surprise me. My students travel and travel far – Dubai, India, and China as well as our border states of Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, and Missouri. They look forward to summer camp, horseback riding, and being with friends. Their off to high school in August and their 80 days disappear as quickly as my 72 days do.
Now that doesn’t mean that I am going to sleep away my summer, far from it. In the seven days since summer began, I’ve been back in my classroom three days to work on a project and I am still not finished with it… I’ve been to the health club three times, though it should have been five times. I skipped yesterday and opted to watch the Astros play baseball.
I’ve been blogging for eight years now. That’s a long time and much has happened in my life since I sat down to write that very first post the Saturday morning after school let loose in 2010. That happens to all of us.
I’ve been inactive on the blogosphere for quite a while. 64 days… my longest stint of inactivity, ever. I had attempted several Weekly Photo Challenges and I started writing a couple of other posts, but didn’t finish them and when I had time to complete them, they were no longer relevant or the original idea had escaped me. The photo below was a for a post which did not make it……by the way, I love clouds.
A couple of weeks ago I had lunch with a couple of high school classmates and they asked me about my absence and I explained I had just been busy, very busy. Family, school, and me. Sometimes in a different order. They urged me to write again and I said I would.
So, I was surprised to read that this week’s photo challenge is the last.
Yesterday morning I poured over previous weekly photo challenges going back to the very first post in April 2014. I remember that first photo challenge post well and I recall writing many of the posts and can recall where I was sitting while I worked. Memory is a remarkable gift. Along the way, I’ve met some remarkable bloggers and I began following many new folks seeing new things and new places. I’ll miss that……. Continue reading All-time Favorites… a photo challenge.→
Watching the sunset is one of my favorite things to do at the end of the day. At home I don’t get the opportunity as the sunset is obscured by homes and trees. Though sometimes I can catch the sunset while I drive home after school, it’s rare especially in the springtime after the time changes and the sun sets after 7 in the evening.
When we are up north at the lake, we usually have a clear view of the sunset. When we are here in the Keys we make time to see the sunset, timing our dinner for the time before the sunset or after the sunset or sometimes selecting a place to enjoy dinner where we can watch the sunset. We need to plan and choose the right spot, but we can usually find a place to watch the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico that’s within fifteen minutes of where we are staying. After all, we are on an island or a series of islands.
Today is Friday, Good Friday, it’s the last full day of Spring Break and March. Tomorrow we pack and clean the condo and begin our journey home and back to school. So far, we’ve been able to see several sunsets and had one ‘epic fail’ trying to see the sun slide beneath the ocean’s horizon. Continue reading rise and set – bookends→
It is Sunday morning and it’s that time of the year when we leap forward. I went to bed at a reasonable time last night, but I woke up early, earlier than I normally do on a Sunday morning. I would have preferred to stay under the covers for another hour or so of sleep, but I didn’t.
It was still dark and I looked out my bedroom window at the crescent moon rising in the eastern sky. Friday morning, I was up at the same time, though being up was a conscious choice, the sky was clear and I could see Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter ibn line with the moon. It was impressive.
It’s been over a month since I’ve posted. The late winter and early spring is always a grind. School is busy and home life is busy, too. It’s also the time in my school life when I see the hard work that my students and I have put it begin to blossom.
Several weeks ago, I was greeted with the quote below during my morning routine of the Five Minute Journal.
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Anais Nin (1903-1977) Cuban-American author
It was Presidents Day (2/19) and I planned to write that day – it was a holiday and I was off from school. But, I didn’t finish the post or really start beyond typing the quote and saving the file on my laptop.
Sunday morning. It was cold out -11 if you use the metric system, or 12 if you use the English system. Whichever scale you use, it’s still cold. It was much warmer Wednesday and Thursday with rain and all the snow melted, but on Friday, January’s cold returned.
I shouldn’t be surprised, it is January and I do live in the Midwest where January temperatures are often below freezing. Often, well below freezing.
Freezing temperatures create problems for us here, they harden the ground and create potholes in the roads making travel sometimes hazardous. The freeze and thaw season comes later in winter when the sun’s rises higher in the sky and temperatures rise above freezing during the day and plunge back below freezing at night. That’s when the real weathering begins – freeze and thaw – and it wreaks havoc on roads and anything manmade, or even natural. Rocks break down into smaller rocks, then pebbles, and even smaller. It’s a vicious cycle, yet it’s an essential part of our world. Nothing is really permanent, everything is in transit – from somewhere to someplace.
It’s Monday morning and it’s -7, 18F or so, it’s actually warmed up, so to speak. It began snowing Sunday evening and the ground which was bare this morning, is coated with a fresh layer of white snow. The world is a much brighter place this morning.
It’s Thanksgiving break and I am thankful. I was thankful Thursday morning and I am especially thankful as the break winds to close. It’s Saturday morning, I’ve been on break since Wednesday, really Tuesday night. Three days have passed seemingly in the blink of an eye, or rather two eyes.
I’ve been taking advantage of the break to a couple of nights of good rest. Wednesday and Thursday morning, I was up before the sun rose. Friday morning, I slept late and the sun was up and Ivy was gone. This morning, I was awakening as the sun was rising and Ivy was still nestled up against my leg.
On Thanksgiving Day, the turkey is my job. It’s a pretty simple job, though I have leared that some people make a mess of it. I follow a simple plan.
I remove the turkey from the refrigerator and allow to rest in the sink for an hour
Preheat the oven to 400F.
Unwrap the turkey, rinse, and pat dry.
Place the turkey in the roasting pan
Pour 1 quart of cold water in the roasting pan
Season with salt, pepper, and fresh thyme.
Insert the oven probe in the thigh, making sure not to hit the bone
Place the turkey in the oven
Set the oven temperature down to 325F and the probe temperature to 175F.
That’s what I do. I use a meat thermometer to check the temperature of the turkey when the oven probe reaches 175 – just as a backup. This year, I added another 5F to finish the turkey and removed the turkey from the oven and covered it with foil until we were ready to eat.
When we were ready with all the fixings – mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes with coconut topping, Brussels sprouts, dressing, and gravy, I carved the turkey and re-heated to make sure it was hot. Then we sat down for Thanksgiving Dinner. It was delicious, but it tasted better because the family was together.
After Thanksgiving dinner, W cleaned up. An hour or so later, I finished the job and got down to the business of transforming the turkey into turkey vegetable soup.
I removed all of the meat from the turkey and broke the carcass into smaller bits that fit in the stock pot. I cover the bones with cold water and placed the pot on the stove over medium-low heat. The stock then slowly simmers uncovered and it takes several hours to render the turkey stock. Before I went to bed Thursday night, I turned off the heat and covered the stock pot.
It’s Sunday morning and I am slowly getting a start to the new week. I am on my second cup of coffee and Ivy has been outside on patrol and she’s back inside. She’s curled up at my feet beneath the desk where I do much of my thinking and writing.
Friday was my birthday. It was also the coldest day of school year so far. I checked the temperature and it was 16°F. I smiled and thought back to when I was 16 years old. I’ve grown up, but in many ways, I am still that kid who at the age of 16 was looking ahead at the future and wondering and dreaming. It’s been 40 years since that birthday. You can do the math, but I don’t feel like a 56 year-old, however a 56 year old should feel.
Age is a number and it’s temporary. I am constantly learning and growing, or I should be.
Yesterday, I slept late. It was nice to sleep past my normal weekday wake up time of 4:30 AM.
It’s Fall and the cold weather has zapped the trees and the fallen leaves have covered the lawn like a thick blanket with leaves sticking in the beds along the foundation and fences, wherever there might be a stopping point from the wind.
The leaves are temporary. They sprout in the Spring and last until the Fall. The cycle is lasts a little less than 200 days from mid-April to early November, sometimes longer, sometimes shorter depending on the year. We have a couple of trees that are now leafless and several trees which are relentlessly holding on to their leaves. By the end of the month, the trees will release their grip and the leaves will fall to the ground. Continue reading temporary: birthdays and fall leaves→
It’s been raining since early this morning. The rain is welcome as late August, all of September, and the first week of October have been dry, very dry. I awoke this morning to Ivy wanting to climb into bed with me, rather than lie at my feet as she usually does. This morning she was up by my head, then my chest, leaping off the bed and running downstairs, then racing back up, before I finally relented and got out of bed and began my Saturday morning. Long before the sun rose.
The rain has been heavy with thunder and lightning, which is what spooks Ivy.
I had a few appointments in the morning before I was able to get back to writing and thinking or thinking and writing. It’s been a couple of weeks since my last post. Last weekend was a three-day weekend and I started writing a post, but didn’t finish, so it’ll be one of those blogpost topics which flickered, but didn’t light. I haven’t forgotten kindness, but just been focused on school and home, and of course the long season.
The long season is winding down. The Astros, my team, have made it to the postseason and they’ve advanced to the American League Championship Series, they need 2 more wins to advance to the World Series. I am watching and rooting, though sometimes it’s easier just to listen or learn the score after the game, but that takes the fun out of the game.
It’s all about balance, because sometimes the forces of life are beyond my control.
Last week my science students were beginning their study of forces, motion, and energy. Our focus in class has been to wonder and be curious about how things move. I’ve introduced my students to the magnetic cannon and Newton’s Cradle and last week I balanced two forks with a toothpick on the edge of glass beaker. It’s easier than you think, it’s all about finding the right balance and then trusting that apparatus (the forks with the toothpick) will balance and realizing that if they fall, I can try it again, and again until it balances. Continue reading It’s not magic, it’s science→