W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, February 8, 2023
It is Wednesday and I have written or posted in a very long while.
Birds have been visiting the feeder this winter and I looked out the kitchen window a couple of weeks ago to see a pair of cardinals feeding – a couple a male and a female. The male with his bright red plumage caught my eye and I took photos of both. I am saving the rest for a future post.
Today is going to be a great day, an amazing day, in fact. 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, enjoying the longer days and the sunshine we’ve had of late.
What do you see when you look out your kitchen window?
I am not one for New Year’s resolutions, I reserve life changing promises for the new year which begins at the end of school, when teachers and students have an entire summer to reflect and reset for a new year. Sometimes these promises work and sometimes, they don’t.
The beginning of 2023 is no different. I’ve been reading posts on the blogosphere and social media disparaging the recently completed year, 2022. I suppose for some 2022 wasn’t the year for them. I read support for the recently completed year, as well.
On the whole, 2022 was, at least for me, an improvement on the previous year. It wasn’t perfect, but most years aren’t.
Early this morning, I discovered a new word – annus mirabilis, or a remarkable or notable year. I found it checking the meaning of another word with my Merriam-Webster app.
I’ve been blogging since the end of the school year in 2010. Blogging was a resolution then, but really it was more of a reaction to an annus horribilis. This post will mark my 728th post that I have published across fourteen consecutive years. That one resolution has changed my life in so many ways.
W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, December 7, 2022
The past few weekends my wife and I have spent the afternoons cleaning leaves and adding Christmas lights to our yard.
We finished this past weekend, and I was at the right place at the right time to capture the lights and the sunset before they were gone for another day.
I enjoy looking out in the evening and seeing the illumination of the yard and I am reminded there is light in the world.
Sunny days in December are rare. This morning there is dense fog, tomorrow rain. But, I know there is light amid the darkness and I am going to find it and let it shine. Today is going to be an amazing 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, leaving my mark.
How is your Wednesday going (or any day for that matter)?
It has been a long while since I sat down to write a blog post. And sadly, the busyness has sidelined some of my blog reading, too. Embarrassingly it’s been more than a month since my last post. In the interim my unread email has ballooned considerably, so what have I been up to?
The end of September marked three weekends in row where I was away from home, the first in southern California, then two weekends at our lake house in Michigan.
BASEBALL At the end of September, I took a baseball trip to Southern California. I was able to find a weekend when both the LA Dodgers and the LA Angels were in town for home games. The trip added two more stadiums to my list of baseball stadiums where I have watched a major league baseball game. I have ten more stadiums before I have seen a baseball game in every MLB city, but I’ll have to include three teams whose stadiums have changed since I watched a game in their city – Texas Rangers, San Francisco Giants, and the Atlanta Braves.
The trip to the Los Angeles area was a great trip, and there were two bonuses. First was the Elton John bubblehead at Dodger Stadium on Friday night and second the choice of a hike along the beach or in the mountains or the beach on Saturday afternoon. I chose the beach and thoroughly enjoyed listening to the pounding surf while I walked in the soft sand of the Pacific Ocean beach.
Saturday, October 1 – Texas Rangers vs. Los Angeles Angels
That was the final weekend of baseball’s regular season, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Four weeks later and there are at least three games remaining in the season, and possible five.
Angels Stadium of Anaheim
It’s the World Series and my team, the Houston Astros, is playing the Philadelphia Phillies. Last night the Astros tied the series 1-1 and the two team square off Monday night beginning three consecutive games in Philadelphia. I visited Philadelphia this summer as part of my epic seven-day, seven-game, six-city baseball trip and it was a fun park to watch baseball in but on Monday night the park will be full, loud, and unfriendly place for the Astros.
FALL LEAVES Yes, it is that time again. Fall and leaf clean up. My wife and I spent the first weekend in Michigan at our lake house to do fall clean up there. Fall begins earlier in Michigan than it does at home in northern Illinois. We also had a weekend football game with our daughter at Michigan State. It was fun to be on campus, but the Spartan football team was not a match for the Ohio State Buckeye football team losing 49-20.
W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, September 21, 2022
A couple of weeks ago, I was mowing our lawn on a Wednesday evening after school, when I looked up to discover this young boy and his mom investigating the handprints in our sidewalk. His mother was patient as the young boy placed his hands in each of the handprints and repeated the process.
The first was the handprint made by our daughter who was four almost five years old and the other, our son who was eight years old at the time. Beneath each handprint, my wife had scratched their initials and the date. The year was 2007.
Our kids are grown. Our son is married, our daughter in college, and one day this young boy will be making his way after leaving his mark somewhere along the way.
We all leave a mark, sometimes it’s visible and sometimes it’s not. It’s in the things we do, the way we made people feel, thew tings we say and write, and the contribution we made along the way.
Today is going to be an amazing 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, leaving my mark.
Twenty-one years ago, this morning, I was welcoming my seventh graders into my geography classroom. It was early in the year in the year, and we were building routines and learning. I was learning their names and faces and the lesson for the day was the water cycle.
I don’t remember the first two classes, but I do remember when a counselor came into the classroom towards the end of the second class, about 9:20 AM or so. She waited until the class ended, the third period class had entered, and settled and until after the bell had rung and then she made the announcement that earlier in the morning America had been attacked. Her message was scripted and every classroom in our school go the same message at the same time.
I don’t remember the exact text of the message, but I can close my eyes and go back to room B111 on September 11, 2001 and picture the layout of the room on that morning.
On nine-eleven two thousand one, I was 39 and my students were 12.
This past spring, I began volunteering regularly at Loaves and Fishes on Thursday after school. I had been volunteering on Saturdays since early 2020, but I decided to add a new day. Soon, I had been asked to be the lead volunteer for my part of the operation on Thursday afternoon. Loaves and Fishes is a wonderful place, and I am thankful to be part of an organization that helps people in need, especially when the cost of groceries and gasoline have increased significantly. I have also discovered a community of people who care about others, and I have met several parents of former students who volunteer for the organization. It’s a small world.
It was the last day of school and summer had begun when I walked into the market at Loaves and Fishes for my Thursday afternoon shift.
I saw Michelle and we greeted each other, and she shared a story with me. It went something like this:
Michelle – you teach at Scullen, right? Me – yes, I do. Michelle – Do remember Judy? She was the nurse. Me – Yes, I remember Judy and I remember having her son Joey in class. It’s been a log time. Michelle – I was at a going away party last weekend for Judy. She’s retired and moving to Wisconsin, and I mentioned I had me you at Loaves and Fishes. She remembered you and we were talking, and Allison overheard us and joined our conversation, do remember her? Me – yes, I do. I do remember that name – it was our first year at the school and we were all new. Michelle – well, she remembers you. Me – WOW. Really? I remember her, too. I hadn’t thought about that name since she was in my class. That’s a long time ago. Michelle – yes, it was and she does. She told the two of us that every year on 9/11, she remembers being in your class and being scared and that you were calm and reassured her and the class that everything would be okay. Me – WOW (and at this point I am beginning to tear up) Michelle – Ally’s married and has two kids and lives in the area. Me – We all grow up, thank you for telling me this.
That’s how I remember our conversation and it’s stuck with me since.
This summer I started my baseball trip in New York City. The first game was Sunday at Yankee Stadium and after the game I drove to Washington, D. C. for another game. I returned Tuesday for third game and the possibility of visiting the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum. Unfortunately, the museum was closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at the time I was in New York City. But I figured I could at least visit the Memorial before I left for my Philadelphia and game four.
Tuesday night I set alarm for early Wednesday morning, before sunrise. My plan was to walk to the memorial which was less than a mile away from my hotel. It was early morning twilight, and I was surrounded by tall buildings blocking much of the light. New York City was beginning to waken, even though I suspect the city never sleeps, it’s always moving. Cars, buses, and trucks were beginning start the day and few people were walking with me. Some going to work and other heading home.
Yesterday was my twenty-fourth first day of school, well, not completely. I was with teachers and administrators for meetings and new school year information, but kids will arrive Thursday. I am excited and I am sure the kids are, too..
I have one more day of meeting and a FULL day to work in my classroom and prepare for Thursday’s real first day of school with kids.
It’s Sunday and I am sitting at my summer office and listening to the gentle whirrrrr of the hummingbird at the feeder to my upper left. It’s Sunday morning quiet and except for the occasional car, truck, or airplane I can hear the birds singing in the trees. Fern and Ivy laying nearby enjoying the time outside.
Friday evening, I noticed it seemed darker than normal at 8:15 PM. Early Saturday morning, I read the morning New York Times email which confirmed Friday evening’s observation, summer is waning.
Sunset in NYC on Wednesday is at 8:00pm. The sun won’t set later than 8:00pm in NYC again until May 9th, 2023.
Confirmation of my observation piqued my curiosity so, I researched. As it turned out, Wednesday August 9th was also the final 8 PM sunset for this summer where I live. The next 8 PM sunset won’t occur for another 274 days or until May 9th. Being curious, I researched further, here are some lasts and nexts, in case you are wondering:
the last 7 PM sunset 9/15/2022, the next 7PM sunset, 3/17/2023
the last 6 PM sunset 10/22/2022, the next 6PM sunset, 3/12/2023
change in daylight savings time occurs 3/11/2023
the last 5 PM sunset 11/5/2022 at 5:41 PM but the shift away from daylight savings time makes the sunset on 11/6/2022 – 4:40 PM, the next 5PM sunset, 1/27/2023
the earliest sunset occurs at 4:21 PM between 12/3 to 12/14/2022
If you are curious, you can research your location using the Time and Date sun calculator. There is a plethora of information: sunrise, sunset, sun angle, and more.
As a kid I never gave thought to what teachers did over summer break. I was free. I could sleep late, stay up late, and read what and when I wanted.
I am finishing my twenty-third summer break as a teacher. That first summer, 1999, really wasn’t a break at all. It was spent applying for jobs, and interviews, and finally landing a teaching job in the middle of July.
I remember that interview well, it was more a conversation than an interview. I remember walking out of the principal’s office and seeing the eleven o’clock interviewee waiting and thinking that I had nailed the interview. Actually, we both did. Both of us were hired that year and will still teach at the same school, today.
Now twenty-three year later, I know teachers are busy but I can still do those things I did as a kid. But school is coming and it’s like a lion.
In the jungle, the mighty jungle
The lion sleeps tonight
In the jungle the quiet jungle
The lion sleeps tonight
The end of summer is like the lion, it sleeps and then roars. School begins next week, and I’ve spent summer doing those things I said I’d do when school was out, and I had more time. I’ve also spent time thinking and re-thinking how I am going to approach this year. I took a class, and I taught a class and though it all, I am ready to get back to school next Monday.
Last week, I taught a class. It was a one-day teacher’s camp, and it was optional for all of us – teachers and learners, though only teachers came. The class I taught was titled, Lions and Wildebeest – using Puzzles to Engage 21st Century Learners.
The class was based on a lesson that I taught last spring. It was a Monday lesson before spring break. My science classes had finished a major unit the previous Friday and taken the test. We had five days before spring break with three days of state-mandated testing set for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Experience taught me not much beyond testing would be done that week and I needed a lesson to encourage my students to be curious and full of wonder and be ready for the fourth quarter which would begin the Monday after break.
It is Sunday morning and my last day at the lake for this trip. I’ll be heading home tomorrow morning to focus on my summer to dos. I enjoy my time by the lake, and it serves its purpose: I am rested, relaxed, and getting closer to the restoration that I need after a year of teaching.
I was up well before the rest of the house. It was a beautiful Michigan July summer morning; temperatures in the upper 40s, fog hanging close to the still mirror-like lake, and clear blue skies. The past few days began the same with highs in the low 80s. It promises to be a beautiful day.
Today is also Day 38 of summer break with thirty-six days remaining. I keep track of the days only to remind myself that summer is finite. Yesterday was the tipping point of summer. It was the point at which the first part moves into the second part or the first half changes to the second half. Summer is an arc, either way it means that I am on the downward side of the arc. Continue reading Tipping point→