Bump in the road, moving forward

It’s Saturday morning and it’s quiet. Ivy was excited to see me this morning when I came downstairs. We we sat together outside for a few moments while I sipped my coffee and listened to the world. She followed me in when it was time to begin the day. It’s always quiet Saturday mornings, before the kids awake and move on to their activities.

Sicily-Rome Amereican Cemetery photo courtesy of of http://www.abmc.gov
Sicily-Rome Amereican Cemetery photo courtesy of of http://www.abmc.gov

Several weeks ago, I alluded to working on a BIG project and handing it in.

from : Quiet Saturday Mornings (9/5) ……. I reached a milestone, too, I finished a big project and I turned it in yesterday afternoon. I got the confirmation this morning. It’s too soon to write about, but I’ll report back when I receive news – keep your fingers crossed for me. Thanks.

Thank you for good wishes. I received the news yesterday morning, and I wasn’t selected. Continue reading Bump in the road, moving forward

Tuesday’s Tune: “Back on the Chain Gang”

learningtocrawlTuesday, it’s almost over. But, there’s enough time remaining on the clock for a Tuesday’s Tune post.

It’s been a full day. I’ve been pushing my kids at school in history and science. In history, we’re covering the period immediately before the Declaration of Independence and the American Revolution. In my science class, I tossed six pop cans in a bin of water and asked students to explain why some float and some sink. They’re vexed. I stayed late to work on grading and arrived home long enough to take the trash out before heading off to a scout meeting.

one Coca-Cola can floats, the other sinks, why?
one Coca-Cola can floats, the other sinks, why?

This past weekend heavy thunderstorms rolled through the area Friday afternoon. Friday night is football night, at least for the next five weeks. The rain wasn’t enough to stop W’s football game, but the lightning was and it pushed W’s game from Friday night to Saturday night.

W’s football team was playing a school from my school district and I knew, or had taught, several of the players, when they were in middle school.

I signed up to work the chain gang – the group of men who work the yard markers during the game. I worked the ‘chain gang’ the first home football game of the season – the game we won and it was fun. It’s an interesting perspective being on the sideline during a football game, especially on the visiting team’s side.

my view from the sidelines - the chain gang is up close
my view from the sidelines – the chain gang is up close

There are four of us on the chain gang. One person manages the down marker that also doubles as the line of scrimmage marker – from where the ball snapped and put into play. Two others manage the ‘chain’ two markers linked with a ten-yard chain – the distance needed for a first down. Then, there was me, I ran the clip, or the marker, that would be used if the game officials needed to measure for a first down. My job was to move the clip every time the chain was moved for a first down or change of possession. And, of course watch the game without with rooting for the Tigers. Continue reading Tuesday’s Tune: “Back on the Chain Gang”

Tuesday’s Tune: Guest Post Susie Lindau

Today’s Tuesday’s Tune is a guest post from Susie Lindau of Susie Lindau’s Wild Ride. I’ve been following and reading her blog for a while; I have followed her wild adventures from the mountain tops of the Rockies and to Europe and back. I admire her get up and go attitude and never letting anything hold her back; she’s more than a survivor, she’s a THRIVER and she’s been an inspiration to me. I’ll let Susie share her musical inspiration…

The first time I bought a record, they were vinyl and department stores carried them. I remember being in the 7th grade and had started babysitting for fifty cents an hour. I had some cold hard cash to spend. Okay. They were most likely coins.

My mother drove me to Gimbel’s. While she headed to women’s clothing, I took the escalator to the second floor. The music section was situated to the right. There were tables full of LP’s. I passed Carol King’s Tapestry, Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers, and The Who’s Who’s Next. Instead I sauntered over to the affordable 45’s. They had a recording of one song on each side. The A-side contained the hit and B-side had the lesser known tune.


What did I buy? Judy Collins, Both Sides Now. I recognized her hit tune from a couple years before. Looking back, it’s pretty ironic.

Both Sides Now

Years later, while working as a medical illustrator at the VA Hospital in Madison, I met Judy’s brother. He was a speech pathologist. Like most doctors who worked at the VA, he also covered the UW Hospital since they are physically connected.

According to her book, Singing Lessons: A Memoir of Love, Loss, Hope, and Healing, her brother developed an interest in speech from a stutter he endured as a child. He had her big blue eyes. I drew a larynx for him.


Their father was a blind disk jockey, another auditory connection, but I never met him.

All these years I thought, Leaving on a Jet Plane was on the b-side and she did sing a cover of that song, but Who Knows Where the Time Goes is on the flip side.

She was the first singer I admired from afar. There have been many since. Ironically, after writing this blast from the past, I asked myself that same question. “Who knows where the time goes?”

Judy Collins Both Sides Now” by Source (WP:NFCC#4). Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia

Hope and good deeds – 9/11

Yesterday was 9/11. We will never forget. Ever.

For my students it was 9/11, they do not know. Most of them were not alive when the day unfolded and our world changed, forever.


9/11/2001 was my son W’s first day of pre-school – he was three. He remembers momma standing in front of the television crying and asking her what was wrong.

Momma replied, “Bad news.”

To him, and all of us, 9/11 is the day of the ‘Bad News.’

Yet, it doesn’t have to be the day of the Bad News.

At school, we were looking for a way to mark the day and remember. The flag flew at half-staff, we observed a moment of silence, and the above ‘Today in History’ slide  appeared in the daily announcements. Then, our school went about our day – learning, guiding, leading, assessing, re-teaching, and so many other verbs. We do it every day.

After the announcements were finished, I showed the video below. Please take a moment to watch it – the video is 2 minutes and 19 seconds long. It will be time well spent, I promise.

Continue reading Hope and good deeds – 9/11

Picture Day, again

1unocardThis post originally appeared last year, 52 weeks ago. But , TODAY IS PICTURE DAY! 

Forty years ago the picture below was taken, a lot has happened since then. I’ve grown up and I continue to learn and grow everyday.

I’ll be ready for the photographer and hopefully I’ll get a good photo this year.  I wasn’t pleased with last year’s photo and have used a #1 Uno card to cover up my ID photo since last spring. Yesterday, the weather turned and it was cool enough to sleep with the windows last night. I could feel the cool air all night. It was a good sleeping night. It’s going to be a great day, even with a repeat on MtDC.

8th grade - 1975
8th grade – 1975

Picture Day    ORIGINALLY POSTED – 9/11/2014….

Tomorrow is picture day. School picture day. I get my picture taken every year. I’ll be in line early and looking my best for this year’s school picture. Last year, I wore a pink shirt with a blue tie and the year before, a blue shirt and a pink tie; beyond the last two years I cannot remember which year is which. It will be my school ID photo for the next year; and it will be in the yearbook. So, when my students look back on middle school, there I’ll be along with the rest of my colleagues. Continue reading Picture Day, again


It’ has been almost a month since I responded to a Word Press weekly photo challenge. I’ve been doing the photo challenges off and on since Mary from Wilderness of Words introduced me to them. Thank you, Mary.

The photo challenges have me connected with a different way of sharing how I make the days count, every day. This week’s challenge is connected. The verb “connect” is among the most versatile ones in contemporary usage. We turn to it to describe an emotional click with another person, but also to talk about the status of our (ever-proliferating) gadgets. The word has it’s origins in Latin

con + nectre

which in Latin translates ‘to bind with’ using the word formula

con means with and nectre means to bind, 

word meaning = suffix meaning + root meaning + prefix meaning

Once upon a time, I taught English Language Arts and we studied word parts and word part meanings. Continue reading Connected

quiet Saturday mornings….

I love Saturday mornings. I usually get up early and it’s quiet. I brew coffee, bond with Ivy, read the newspaper, or scan e-mails, and say a quick prayer for the day.

my messy desk - needs a makeover and I need to do it.
my messy desk – needs a makeover and I need to do it.

Instead, this morning I slept late, I needed to sleep late. It was a late night and the outcome of this week’s football game was not good. We were on the road. We had a couple of injuries and the Tigers didn’t play well, coming up on the short side of the score, 13-17. It’s a long season and we have seven more games, at least. W and the players who didn’t get in last night, will play this morning at home.

It was a good week at school. I know 97% of my students on sight Continue reading quiet Saturday mornings….

Failure is expected….

The 2015 high school football season started this weekend. It’s W’s last season of high school football and perhaps ever as a player. Friday night the Wheaton Warrenville South Tigers began the season against their cross-town rival, Wheaton North. I watched from the North sidelines as part of the chain gang. I kept my mouth shut and my enthusiasm to myself. I kept my eye on the field and moved with the ball.

my shadow cast upon the sidelines
my shadow cast upon the sidelines

It was a good game and the Tigers came out on top, barely.

The game was scoreless at the half. 0-0.

The third quarter began and The Falcons quickly scored a touchdown to lead by seven. The Tigers answered with a touchdown of their own and the game was tied at seven all. It stayed tied until the end. Then, the game moved to overtime.

Overtime rules are different. Each team gets the ball on the ten yard line and gets four downs (plays\tries) to score. The team that scores the most points wins. Simple.

Both teams failed to score in the first overtime and the teams switched ends and started over. In the second overtime, the Tigers failed to score on three downs, then, kicked a field goal to lead for the first time in the game. Then it was the Falcons turn. They ran three plays and failed to score, then lined up for a field goal, too. Continue reading Failure is expected….

Tuesday’s Tune: Reelin’ in the Years

I’d like to introduce my first ever – guest blogger – Chris White. I’ve known Chris for a over forty years, he was my backdoor neighbor growing up and the leader of all things fun in the neighborhood. There were a lot of boys our age in the neighborhood growing up and only a couple of girls in our age bracket. Chris was a few years older than me, but I never felt that way – we played tackle football in the side yard,  baseball in the vacant lot, and when I got older, he became my boss at Tempo Records and Tapes.  I moved away from Texas in ’87 and he moved, too. We lost touch, but I never forgot growing up in the neighborhood. We got back in touch a few years ago on Facebook and we’ve messaged back and forth a several times catching up. His whimsical sense of humor was inspiration and I vividly remember many of the laughs we shared, many of which are not fit to print. Despite our moves, both of us still root for Houston sports teams. Which, if you know the history of most of Houston’s sports teams, is funny. Very funny.

I let Chris tell you the rest of the story…… 

I first discovered musical idols the day my older sister brought home “Meet the Beatles.” Not yet ready myself to idolize anyone not wearing a cape and tights, I watched fascinated as my sister melted into a puddle while the moptops went about changing popular music forever.

Flash forward a few years, leaping over a Herman’s Hermits infatuation that’s better left unexamined, to my freshman year in high school, when I first discovered that athletic skill wasn’t necessarily a prerequisite for attracting the opposite sex. I began to gravitate toward those girls who’d never heard of Johnny Bench but who could have described Led Zep’s Robert Plant in sufficient detail to satisfy a police sketch artist. It was around that time I discovered the first musical idol I could latch onto and call my own: Keith Emerson, the genius behind Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Keith was a giant of progressive rock, a colossus among multi-keyboardists — it was decades later that I learned he was (and still is, presumably) all of 5’4”. Regardless, Keith seemed larger than life at the time.

Since my family owned a Hammond organ, I began to teach myself how to play, taking baby steps at first. Wrangling a couple of friends who shared a remarkably similar complete lack of musical talent, I formed a band. Or more accurately, a “band.” Clay, the proprietor of this blog (thanks for the guest spot, Clay!), whose boyhood home was right behind my own house at the time, can attest to the fact that no amount of volume can make up for a dearth of musical skill. The amazing thing about lack of ability, though, is that it’s often accompanied by a simultaneous lack of awareness. Not realizing how bad we were, my bandmates and I continued hacking away on our respective instruments until a miracle occurred. Lo and behold, we gradually became mediocre. Eventually we progressed through “adequate” and “not terrible” and by the time we were seniors in high school, ended up somewhere around “pretty damned good,” complete with a record (recorded in an actual honest-to-God music studio) that got a few spins on KLOL, the dominant FM rock station in Houston at the time.

Chris White on flaming guitar with Rex meredith on vocals and Curtis Peet on guitar

It was on a road trip in 1976 to play a spring break gig in Corpus Christi that I was introduced to the musical idols who would keep all others at bay for the next forty years. One of my bandmates brought along a supposedly high-fidelity 8-track tape of Steely Dan’s “The Royal Scam” album, which we listened to over and over and over in my dad’s Olds Delta 88. By the time I was back in Houston a few days later, the trajectory of my life had been irreversibly altered. No longer would I be quite as satisfied with the bombast glam of Queen or the overwrought noodlings of Kansas. I had discovered complex chord changes, jazz harmonies, guitar solos wicked enough to send the swiftest-fingered rockers back to the practice room, all set to rock songs with lyrics that were literate without being pretentious. A shimmering, gorgeous surface hid the musical complexity underneath, and the lyrics only gave the faintest of brush strokes to the sordid tales they painted, forcing the listener to fill in the details using his own imagination. That some people didn’t “get” Steely Dan, taking them as a light-rock band with glossy songs, only made it that much better. I was in that select group who understood how deep their music actually was. Genesis? Yes? Rush? Don’t get me started with those prog-rock posers, Steely Dan were real musicians playing music that was challenging in a way nothing else I’d ever heard on rock radio was. Continue reading Tuesday’s Tune: Reelin’ in the Years

Tuesday’s Tune: Anticipation

After two days of meetings this week on Monday and Tuesday, full of reminders, staff get-togethers, and new curriculum; I get a full day to work in my classroom today. O and I were there last Thursday and I was back Friday afternoon. I am excited.

The seventh graders read a book in ELA, The Giver by Lois Lowry. It’s a new classic dystopian novel for kids it was published in 1993 and it was made into a movie and released in August 2013; read the book, it’s better. Trust me. In the first chapter, Jonas a twelve year-old boy and the main character, describes his feelings about the upcoming Ceremony of Twelve in December as he rides his bike home. At first, he describes his feelings as being frightened, but realizes the word doesn’t describe how he feels about the changes which lie ahead for him. When he reaches home, he realizes he isn’t frightened, but apprehensive.

I’ve been back and forth to school several times in the past week. My rides to and from school have had similar thoughts – making lists, thinking, worry, apprehension, fright (sort of), and I decided I am full of anticipation and even perhaps, like Jonas a little apprehension.

I remember a song from my youth about anticipation, Heinz used it in its ketchup commercials to highlight how thick its ketchup was – it was so think, it took a while to begin flowing out of the bottle. As a scientist, I know it’s because t’s a non-Newtonian fluid that exhibits characteristics of both a sold and a liquid.  But’s that’s another story.

Continue reading Tuesday’s Tune: Anticipation