Tag Archives: hard work

W^2 – huge oak

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, September 29, 2021

the huge oak, Blackwell Forest Preserve, Warrenville, IL September 12, 2021, 9:24 AM

I often joke, “I put the late, in Clayton.” This week’s photograph is from three weeks ago when Fern and I took an ambitious morning hike at a new forest preserve to us. I’d been there plenty of times but never taken Fern for a hike. It was a steamy morning and we turned and headed home before finishing the planned distance. It was a good hike but both of us were spent. I had for too much to accomplish on the 15th and again on the 22nd, so on the 29th here is the huge oak, it’s a tree not a street. It looks like it’s been where it is for a while, and I anticipate it’ll be there long after me, even if I am on time. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, sometimes a delay and sometimes on time.

What is your timing, are you punctual or late?

Sunday and resilience


It’s Sunday morning and I am sitting at my summer office, knowing full well ‘summer’ is another nine months away. The days are numbered on the summer office with a few more days left in August. Soon it will be too cold, too wet, or both to sit outside and work. But,

I’ll make hay while the sun shines. Farmer’s wisdom

The birds are flocking to the feeders, and I watched three hummingbirds hash it out over at the hummingbird feeder. Sorry, no photo, those birds are just too quick.

School restarted Thursday with students sitting in my classroom albeit masked (all of us were masked) but sitting in my classroom; AND, happy to be there. Last fall, I created a menagerie of ‘students’ to keep me company while I taught using a camera and microphone. This year, ALL of my students are in the room. I am keeping those five students to remind me of our resilience and persistence.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” Viktor E. Frankl Austrian neurologist, Holocaust survivor

There has been a lot of talk in the media about learning loss. The pundits love to point out deficiencies in public education because it’s easy to point out what’s wrong. It’s much more challenging to find what is good and that is what Making the Days COUNT dot org is all about. Always has been. There is far more good in the world than the media is apt to share. So, that’s why I have tuned it out. The loudest sound in the room isn’t always right, it’s just loud.

Getting back to school was easy. Continue reading Sunday and resilience

Days of Summer: Week 9 and crickets

It’s Wednesday and Day 64. The past week has been my last full week of summer break. The school year restarts for me this coming Monday and Thursday for our students. I am excited and a little sad as I am every summer when school restarts.

“The crickets felt it was their duty to warn everybody that summertime cannot last forever. Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year – the days when summer is changing into autumn – the crickets spread the rumor of sadness and change.”
― E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web

The past couple of nights we’ve had severe weather pass through the area. It’s that time of the year when thick humid unstable air masses cause thunderstorms to develop late in the day. Monday’s weather spawned six tornadoes which touched down to the west of us in mostly rural areas causing damage trees and minor damage to structures. We got very little rain from the storm.

Last night’s storms rolled through the area bringing more rain, but no tornadoes.

stopped at a stop sign looking east with storm advancing from behind me – rain and wind, but no tornadoes

Yesterday, our school hosted an event for our incoming sixth graders. Even though school hasn’t started I went in to help and be a welcoming face, answer questions, and help supervise. I met many of my new students who likely will remember me more than I will them, there were a lot new students wandering the hallways. Continue reading Days of Summer: Week 9 and crickets

Big Rocks and summer

It’s fortieth day of summer break and there are twenty-eight days or four weeks until summer break is finished for this year and school restarts. It’s been a pleasant time for rest, relaxation, projects, and a bit of renewal.

This fall marks the beginning of my twenty-third year as a teacher. It’ll be the twelfth year of blogging. I’ve written almost 700 posts in that time and there have been a few repeats, today will be a repeat of sorts.

If there is one thing I have learned in my time as a blogger, sometimes it’s good to go back before going forward. Abraham Lincoln once said or wrote or both,

 “The past is the cause of the present, and the present will be the cause of the future.”

I know it’s probably not advisable to spend too much time dwelling on the past, for there is little to gain as the past cannot be changed. We can only learn from our past and endeavor be better and do better. Recently, I read a blog post and responded with reference to a quote attributed to Muhammad Ali,

“……. if you are the same person you were thirty years ago you have wasted thirty years.”

What Ali said is,

“The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.”

But I digress.

Big Rocks. This morning I took a purposeful walk at the Morton Arboretum. I was there a couple of days ago, on Friday, to take in the new exhibit Human-Nature. I thought I had a photo of the Big Rock, but I couldn’t find one, so I this morning I hiked to the Big Rock and back retrieving the photo below.

this boulder weighs 12 to 14 tons and hasn’t moved since the glacier deposited it here over twelve thousand years ago

It’s a big rock all right. Geologists believe the rock was deposited by a glacier in the last ice age some 13,000 years ago. Much of the upper Midwest was shaped and formed by the ice age.

But the big rocks I am referring to are the important things in my life. During summer break, I always make more time to focus on renewal than I can during the school year. I can focus on it because there is more time, I am not planning lessons, grading papers, or teaching students. I have the time to do what is important, but when school resumes, as it always does, I slowly fall back into the same pattern of behaviors focusing on what is urgent and pressing instead of my relationships, my health and fitness, and our home. It’s a delicate balance. Continue reading Big Rocks and summer

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?

remembering mom

Every time I roast a chicken, I think of my mom. Every time single time.

and after…

Friday night, I cooked dinner. Roasted chicken with rosemary and thyme, green beans, and a salad. It was just me, and Fern.

We are at the lake for the weekend, and it was just the two of us. I cut open the package and pulled the chicken out of the plastic wrapping, placing it in the sink and removing the neck and the giblets from inside the bird. I rinsed the bird and carefully patted it dry. My mom taught me that a crispy skin is because it’s skin is dry and light coated with olive oil. I placed the neck and giblets in a small saucepan, covered them with water, and placed them on the stove. Exactly like my mom taught me. I turned the burner to low and allowed the pan to slowly cook the contents – this part of the bird was for Fern.

I patted the chicken’s skin dry a final time before I placed it in a cast iron skillet lightly coating it with olive oil and then sprinkling it with black pepper and dried thyme and rosemary on the back, the breast, and legs of the bird pressing spices onto the skin. Then I placed it in the oven at 425˚F and waited.

Within a few minutes the aroma of a roasting chicken filled the cottage.

While it cooked, I fed Fern sprinkling some of the broth from her part of the bird and its some meat gleaned from the neck. Mom taught me that a whole chicken could feed a family and a dog. Every time I cook a whole chicken, I feed the dogs, too.

It took almost an hour in the oven and while it roasted, I busied myself with other chores and then prepared the salad and the green beans. I pulled the roasted bird out of the oven, checked the temperature, and then let it rest a few moments before carving off a thigh and a drumstick and plating it with green beans and a generous portion of the salad.

While I ate, I thought of mom and all she taught me to do and to be. Continue reading remembering mom

W^2 – Irma and time

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, March 31, 2021

demolition is almost complete on this piece of ocean frontage. Key Colony Beach, Florida March 28, 2021 12:49 PM

a black and white version of the same photo, Key Colony Beach, Florida March 28, 2021 12:49 PM

Hurricane Irma came ashore on just east of this location on September 10, 2017. Irma was a category 4 hurricane with winds in over 100 mph and a storm surge of 6 to 10 feet. She left behind damaged homes, buildings, and this condominium complex in her wake. Most were able to rebuild, but for some the damage was too great to rebuild. Sometimes, it’s easier just to start over. Making the Days Count, even when I must press the reset button and begin again.

When was the last time you pressed re-set?*

*Full disclosure, I went back to ”play’ with Adobe Photoshop and decided to add a black and white version of the photo.

W^2 – shenanigans  

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, March 24, 2021

a whimsical monument to school by one of my 6th graders. Naperville, IL March 9, 2021 12:49 PM

+ Add New Category

We started with a few students coming back to school. The change was immediate. The change happened because our building became a school again where children’s laughter filled the halls and the classrooms. School isn’t school without a little bit of shenanigans and tom foolery, now and then. Making the Days Count recognizing that a little tom foolery and shenanigans boost the soul from time to time.

When was your last shenanigan? What did you do?

W^2 – ice

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, February 3, 2021 on Thursday. Ooops.

Ice covered topiary. Wheaton, IL February2, 2021 5:16 PM

We have had several inches of snow fall over the past week and we are expecting another few inches today. Fresh snow is pretty, but when it melts and refreezes it’s another kind of beauty. Making the Days COUNT, one day at a time, looking for beauty anywhere I can find it, beauty in the world makes my day count.

Where have you found beauty lately? Are you looking? Or does it just happen?

W^2 – herd

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, December 16, 2020

A herd of deer grazing peacefully, Spring Brook Prairie Forest Preserve, Naperville, IL. Sunday, December 13, 2020 3:42 PM

We all would like to gather this holiday season, but we are keeping our distance. Making the Days Count, one day at a time while remembering to look, listen and be cautious, always.

What good news have you heard recently?