Weekly Photo Challenge: Monument

Posted by Clay on April 18, 2014
Challenges, Family, history, Life in General, postaday, Writing / 6 Comments

I am a little late on this week’s photo challenge, by now it’s last week’s photo challenge. I’ve been overwhelmed with many things since my last post, but mostly family, for the past week, or rather the past couple of months.

School and my students have kept me hopping, too. The kids have been wonderful. There is another story in this, it’s just waiting to be written or for time to sit down and write, actually there are several stories.

It’s been a tough time in our home. My sister-in-law last week passed away last week. I think her passing was hardest on my wife, she is, after all the little sister. It was hard on all of us, but I think B took it especially hard. She’s been helping and has been there for her sister since she became ill in mid-February. In a way, I’ve been there, too even though I’ve been here, and there and seemingly everywhere.

It seems that as a family we gather only now for big occasions – we are scattered across the land. There are the holidays, but they seem so rushed and then there are funerals. So far there have been two in B’s family – separated by over a decade. We gather somberly almost on cue. The kids and I drove home last Saturday afternoon and evening. The wake was last Sunday and the funeral and burial followed on Monday. We had a gathering afterwards, it was lovely and a perfect ending for a sad day. The two days could not have been more different – Sunday was clear bright and sunny and Monday the exact opposite – sad, gloomy, grey with overcast and rain.

It was good to see the family, even on such a gloomy occasion. it was best for the cousins – there are my two, B’s other sister’s two boys and her brother’s children – two boys and a girl. All of the cousins are out of college and working, except one who is in college. But they all visited, W trying to be older and O, being O. I think B’s sister would have been glad we gathered, shared, and laughed. It was good for all of us to remember, and perhaps forget – even for a moment – some of the pressing issues weighing on us all.

Afterwards, W and I packed the car, loaded Ivy, and drove home. We both had school the following day. O stayed behind with mom and her aunt and grandma.  W and I stopped at the cemetery on our way out of town.  I took in all of the markers, the monuments to lives gone before me.


Greenlawn Cemetery – Versailles, Ohio

It’s Friday morning, four full days have passed since we laid my sister-in-law to rest. It’s Good Friday, a perfect day to reflect on those who have passed before us. There is no school today. W and I will be loading the car and driving back to Ohio this morning. It’s gonna be a great day, but I can’t sit and wait for it to happen. Making the day Count, one day at a time, thinking and remembering.

What is on your mind this Good Friday?


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Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold

Posted by Clay on April 07, 2014
Challenges, Weather, Writing / 9 Comments

A threshold is a point of entering; that point just before a new beginning — that split-second moment in time, full of anticipation. All the hard work is over; relief is palpable.

It has been a challenging winter here and across the Midwest. We have had over 80 inches of snow and normal or average snow is 35 inches. We have experienced  extreme cold weather – below zero multiple times and school was cancelled for four days due to excessive wind chills (in the -15-40F range). By all accounts, it was brutal. But times are a changin’ and we are on the threshold of something new, great and wonderful. Spring blooms, spring flowers, and green gardens.

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I came across this lovely idea by following Mary and A Wilderness of Words. If you’re interested in the Weekly Photo Challenge, you can check it out here.

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some things take time…

Posted by Clay on April 05, 2014
adventure, Family, Life in General, Reading, Weather, Writing / 5 Comments

The sun is shining and I saw a robin in the backyard as I poured coffee into my mug earlier this morning. It’s chilly now, but it’ll warm up this afternoon. It’s the last bit of Spring Break, today, tomorrow, then school resumes. It is always the best part of the year for me; not because the year is almost over and summer is on the horizon, but because what I’ve taught my students begins to blossom like a field of daffodils bursting with color on a bright spring afternoon.

Spring break this year was what it needed to be – a break. B and I decided to divide and conquer. Continue reading…

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The equinox and Spring, bring it on….

Night and Day 2002 - courtesy of sunthingspecial.com

Night and Day 2002 – courtesy of sunthingspecial.com

The year is three quarters finished or at least it is for me. I am a teacher. A seventh grade language arts teacher and the third quarter finished Friday. We have one week before Spring Break begins and then the long march through April and May to finish the year. This year, we’ll be marching, probably more like stumbling, into the first full week of June.

Spring arrived this week on Thursday at 11:57 AM CDT local time. My students have been measuring sunrise, sunset, and the amount of daylight for locations across the globe – ranging from Tromso, Norway at 70°N to Stanley, Falkland Islands at 52°S and places in between. We began measuring last September on the occasion of the autumnal equinox and have been checking every month on the 22nd ever since. The students have gathered a lot of data. However, the lesson they learned was that Earth’s tilt is changing constantly and Thursday they realized that no matter where a person was on Earth Thursday the sun shone a tad bit more than twelve hours – the variance among the 32 locations we checked was ten minutes: from 12 hours and 16 minutes at the northern and southern extremes to 12 hours and 6 minutes nearest the equator. WOW. Spring is here, finally. Continue reading…

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How the global banana industry is killing the world’s favorite fruit

from Quart Blog By Gwynn Guilford @sinoceros March 3, 2014


It’s that time of the year when my geography class gets to study Latin America. I say GET TO study, because learning should be fun, eye opening, and an opportunity to see things for the first time or see something from a different point of view. My students would have you believe they HAVE TO study Latin America, but really they GET TO. To add to the fun of learning about a place they have never seen, I ask my students to collect banana stickers . We sort them by country, brand, and organic vs. traditional. When were finished collecting, I ask them to think about what our sticker collection tells us about bananas. With the shift to Common Core – it is a good thing, trust me – I am asking my students to think deeper, to make connections to the world around them and to wonder where the food we eat comes from, and if it a good thing, or not. Living in the middle of Illinois farm country where corn, soy beans, and wheat are grown as well as cattle, pigs, and poultry are raised my kids, my students – suburban children of middle class Americans think little of where the food they eat comes from or how it gets here.

I’ve tried to re-blog the article and it seems the process is stuck….. so I am re-posting the link here it is….

How the global banana industry is killing the world’s favorite fruit

I heard about this article while listening to Market Place on NPR Thursday evening on my way home. I knew about the situation and had read the book mentioned in the article, but I was looking for something I could share with my seventh graders. Rather than refer to the article with an embedded link, I felt it was better to reblog it. I’ll be writing more later, but give it a read, it’s worthwhile. Thanks for stopping by,  Making the Days Count, one day at a time, and one banana a day, too.


I missed writing last weekend. Truly. We went away for the weekend – we went north to the cottage. I had a lot to say, or so I thought. Somehow, time got away from me and I didn’t write. In fact, I didn’t even open my laptop. I existed solely on my iPad and phone; and did precious little on them. It was time to restore – a time to rest and relax.

It was our last long weekend of winter and we wanted to head up north for one last snowy weekend. The kids could ski, snowboard, and play in the snow. I know we had a lot of snow here, but it is different up north. B and I could relax and just breathe. We did all that, but the kids didn’t ski or snowboard: they did play in the snow and had fun outside, even Ivy got into the mix playing in the snow. We had a fire Saturday night and I cooked. Just as dinner was ready, we sat down to play cards. Then, some of our lake friends joined us; and we played a very spirited card game. The rules are somewhat confusing, but it is a favorite of our friends and we’ve enjoyed playing it at their cottage. I am not sure what it is called, it probably has several names, but it is a lot of fun. The card game involves a separate deck for each player but there is a place to play on everyone’s hand. Each player plays on their hand but the goal is to get rid of your cards and play them in the middle on the group’s cards. You get points for playing in the middle and the winner is declared when they have cleared their own cards. The game moves quickly and players have to be paying attention. Regardless, it was a lot of fun and when it was over, and we had a winner, we sat down to dinner and the Winter Olympics.

Sunday night's sunset - it was warm enough to sit on the deck in the sunshine, but we had to be wrapped up!

Sunday night’s sunset – it was warm enough to sit on the deck in the sunshine, but we had to be wrapped up!

I have enjoyed watching the Winter Olympics. I have always enjoyed the Olympics. Continue reading…

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Things Have Changed

Posted by Clay on February 08, 2014
adventure, Family, Life in General, Reading, teaching, Weather, Writing / 8 Comments

It’s Saturday morning again, it happens every week. I look forward to the day and the day following, but they disappear before I know it. It’s eleven degrees and snowing. It’s still winter, we had snow Tuesday evening into Wednesday morning, bitter cold followed. But, we were at school; Thursday and Friday morning were cold, but sunny, which make a world of difference. I had outdoor bus duty, greeting the buses as they pulled into the parking lot and unloading. I did my best to brighten the student’s day with a hearty, ‘Goooooood Morning, welcome to a new day at in middle school…’ a la Robin Williams from “Good Morning Vietnam.” I don’t know if it makes a difference to them, but it gives me a boost and keeps me warm.

this morning's window on the world

this morning’s window on the world

Continue reading…

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The Snow, the Hype, and the Big Game

Posted by Clay on February 02, 2014
adventure, Family, Reading, sports, teaching, Teaching and Learning, Weather / 6 Comments

xlviiiIt’s Super Bowl Sunday. The sun is shining and it appears that we will have school Monday, for the first time since December. I think we will have to have an orientation about what to do on a Monday.

It snowed yesterday coating the yard (and everything else) with a fresh coat of white powder. It is beautiful. I looked back in time and last year we hardly had any snow, less than 5 inches had fallen for the 2012-13 season. So far, we have 52 inches and the forecast calls for snow Tuesday and again, Saturday. I think it has all fallen here. I was talking to another teacher after school Friday and we both got to laughing about a joke letter that we had seen years ago. My mother in law sent it to me when we bought the house and I had to learn to shovel snow. I don’t remember how much snow fell that winter, but I do remember feeling a love-hate relationship with snow when March rolled around. I have since lost the original, it was grainy from being copied repeatedly, but thanks to the internet most things worthwhile (appropriate and inappropriate) can be found with relative ease. Here it is, Diary of a Snow Shoveler.

My Super Bowl predictions haven’t been so super and I have losing streak running back to 2009 Continue reading…

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Another summer day, sort of

Posted by Clay on January 27, 2014
adventure, Family, geography, Life in General, pets, Reading, teaching, Weather, Writing / 12 Comments

It’s another cold winter day. It has been over a month since my students have been at school on a Monday morning. It is our third bad weather day this year, and it means summer vacation will start three days later, maybe four if the schools call off tomorrow, which is highly likely. I think moms are at their whit’s end. I am, too. Last week it was cold, though not as cold or windy as it is today, or will be today. I had morning bus duty last week and it was cold. A few kids climbed off the buses wearing shorts, or a light jacket. I have no idea how they got out of the house dressed like that, but they did. It was cold. But, today is even colder and the temperatures are going to drop even more throughout the day.


last Friday’s sunrise, on my way to school (and bus duty)

Today is W’s birthday, he’s 16 today, and actually, he’ll be officially 16 sometime around 10:30 PM. I remember the day well, though B probably remembers it differently. It seems like the other day, and some days it seems a million years ago. Saturday we watched him wrestle and take second place in the conference for his weight class. He has come a long way, we all have. Continue reading…

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Plat du Jour

It is Monday morning. Saturday has passed, Sunday, too. It’s Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday weekend and there is no school. On a normal Monday morning, I’d be up to my eyebrows in teaching ELA, but today and last Monday, and the Monday before last – school has been out. I enjoy the three- day weekends, but I get lazy and don’t accomplish what I should. However, last weekend was a three-day weekend for my students, it was not for me, the teachers had a workday and I got a lot done. Full Disclosure, though it felt like a three-day weekend.

Saturday morning's sunrise....

Saturday morning’s sunrise….

The weather has been typical Midwest January – cold. Continue reading…

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