The Circus

I teach 8th grade and sometimes I feel like I am the ringleader in a circus.

“There’s a sucker born every minute.” P. T. Barnum

In January, when the I first heard the news that the Ringing Brothers and Barnum Bailey Circus would be ceasing operations in May, I did a quick search to find out where the circus would be before it ended it’s 146-year run. I discovered it was in Cincinnati, Ohio – a short five-hour drive away. 317 miles, give or take. I did a quick search of tickets and found they were available. I mentioned it to B and we remembered the summer we met and when went to the circus with a large group. We laughed about the memory and then, I forgot about it and the idea shifted to the bottom of the pile.

Last weekend the memory came back and Monday night and I sent O a short text, ‘Circus?’ and another six minutes later, Circus?’ No response.

The next morning, I mentioned the circus before I left for school and left it that. No response.

Wednesday I got my reply in a text, ‘I will go with you to the circus.’ Continue reading The Circus

Road Taken – a photo challenge

It’s late Saturday evening and the day is almost done. The sun set hours ago, and it’s dark now. The moon is visible in the clear western sky. Last night it lightly snowed and this morning when the sun rose its warmth melted the fresh layer of new snow. Spring, at least official Spring, is a little more than a fortnight away, but all indications are that Spring is here.

the road taken – this morning and most Sunday mornings to church

I woke early, made coffee and began work before the sun rose this morning. I was driving to church when I snapped the photo. It’s the road I take to church or downtown or whenever I visit the Northside of town. This morning was the monthly men’s group gathering and I joined this year. Most of the time I am the youngest member of the group. It was my turn to get donuts. Continue reading Road Taken – a photo challenge

A Time for Everything

I’ve been blogging for almost seven years and writing for even longer. It doesn’t seem possible, but I’ve written more than 500 posts and when I click ‘Publish’ it will be 525. Over that time, I’ve written mostly for me and I have developed a small modest following. I am grateful to the friendships and e-relationships I’ve developed. My mom reads and occasionally comments when we talk, but doesn’t leave public comments. But, the original focus was to develop as a writer and maybe, just maybe, write for a broader audience.

the first crocus of 2017

In early January, I noticed an advert in our church bulletin looking for writers for the Lenten Devotional. The advert in the bulletin asked for a scripture reference and I tore off the slip and dropped it in the office message box. A week or so later, I got an e-mail and it read:

Hi Clay,

Thank you for registering to contribute to the Lenten E-devotional. I have you on the list for this scripture passages: Ecclesiastes 3.  Please submit your devotional to this email address by February 10. I look forward to reading it.

Blessings,

So, I sat down and wrote a draft and came back to it a few days later. When I was finished, I called a work colleague asked for editing advice and she told me I had nailed it and offered only a couple of revision and stylistic edits and I submitted the piece.

Yesterday morning, my FIRST piece of public writing landed in my e-mail box, promptly at 5AM. I had no hint of when my devotional would be selected, but it was first. I beamed. I forwarded the e-mail to my mom, my brothers, and my colleague. It felt good. Then, I went about my day.

Before I left the house for school, I received an e-mail from a friend with the message – ‘Enjoyed your devotion. Great Job!’

Below is the Lenten Devotional I wrote.

A Time for Everything

Seasons. That is what I love most about living in the Midwest. I grew up in Southeastern Texas along the Gulf Coast. Most of my family still lives there and my mom still lives in the house where I grew up. Southeastern Texas has two season – HOT and mild, with an occasional dip into cold.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:” Ecclesiastes 1:1

Continue reading A Time for Everything

President’s weekend – 2017

It’s Monday morning and I am looking out at the lake when I look up and to the left. It’s been beautiful this weekend and we’ve gotten to rest and relax – something all of us needed, including Ivy.

Sunday evening’s sunset with Venus a bright light in the sky

Normally on a Monday morning, I’d be at school getting ready for the day, but’ it’s President’s Weekend and a three-day weekend for O and I. We’ve had this weekend circled on our calendars since early January. We’ve spent many President’s Day weekends up at the lake. The kids have skied and I’ve relaxed. It’s that time in the school year when we all of us can see the end of the year. We passed Hundred’s Day – an important milestone for elementary kids – a couple of weeks ago, and as of tomorrow, Tuesday 2/21, there are 63 days of school remaining.

Oh my, how time flies. Continue reading President’s weekend – 2017

shadow

It’s Sunday morning and I am Up North. I’ve found my solitude for the moment, but I don’t have to be here to find it, solitude is wherever I can find a moment to reflect and restore. This week it’s the lake. Last week, it was getting caught up and looking ahead.

last Sunday’s shadow cast over the front yard and sidewalk

Before church last week, I snapped the photos below. It was a beautiful sunny day. The skies were clear and it was absolutely beautiful. I uploaded the two photos and planned to write a short post for the weekly photo challenge. Then life happened, before I knew it Sunday was over, then Monday sped past, and Tuesday and the entire week passed before my eyes. Life happens. Continue reading shadow

Solitude – a photo challenge

It’s Saturday and I find myself searching for solitude. It’s been a peaceful day, so far: Men’s group at church, a Saturday morning webinar on Tinker vs. Des Moines, a bit of school work, and a power nap. Earlier, I found a bit of solitude at my desk after the webinar and I’m back after the nap. At the moment, I have the sounds of “Still Wild” by La Mar playing. It has a pleasant beat and it’s peaceful and calming.

Tomorrow is the Super Bowl and an unofficial national holiday. I don’t have a preference who win, I only hope it’s a good game. In previous years, I have made my predictions known, not this year. Tomorrow will be a busy day getting ready for the coming week.

I read the WordPress e-mail and post WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Solitude yesterday after school. I pondered the topic this morning; I was stumped. Finally, it came to me this afternoon.

The lake: magic – a photo challenge.

Saturday afternoon’s view the sun shines

We were up at the lake last for Thanksgiving. We had a good time and celebrated Thanksgiving and enjoyed the peace and solitude of being Up North. We invited our neighbor, Mr. Bill over for Thanksgiving dinner, he’s retired and a full-time resident along the lake. He’s also a diehard Detroit Lions fan and they had won the Thanksgiving Day game with a field goal as time expired. I always look forward to seeing him. When we talk, it was always about family, friends, and the peace and solitude along the lake. Especially, the lake.

At school, my science classes Continue reading Solitude – a photo challenge

A dog’s purpose

This past Friday night we went to watch the movie, A Dog’s Purpose. I cried and O noticed, and she pointed it out to B, who admitted she cried, too. O was perplexed, why did we think the movie was sad? O didn’t like the movie and had spent the entire movie trying to figure out why the movie didn’t follow the book. The critics didn’t like it either. O read the book and was disappointed, I reminded her that the book is almost always better.

I enjoyed the movie, not because it was a wonderfully crafted story, but because it made me thankful for the unconditional love of our dog, Ivy.

The movie made me wonder what really is the purpose of many things. I think the purpose of dogs is to remind us to be better people; and some days I don’t measure up.

Ivy joined our family almost seven years ago, in April 2010. The day before Easter, how we got Ivy is a strange story in itself. In the time, she’s been with us, she’s done all the things a dog should do:

  • She’s caught a bunny
  • She’s caught a squirrel
  • She’s been blasted by a skunk – more than once
  • She’s run away – well, not really run away, more of gotten loose and taken off
  • She’s destroyed every one of her stuffed animals
  • And, she’s made a place in our hearts
  • and, i am sure I am missing something.. O or W will remind me, or even B.

When we got Ivy, O and W both promised they’d feed her and pick up the poop. They promised they’d walk her and take care of her. They promised they’d brush her and take care of her. Sometimes they actually do those things, but most of the time I feed her in the morning and let her out when I get up in the morning.

This morning, I went downstairs and she stayed upstairs asleep. I was pouring my first cup of coffee when I heard her come down the stairs, clip, clop, clip. She came into the kitchen, then walked over the back door and looked at me, as if to say, ‘hurry up, I gotta go.’ I opened the backdoor and she pawed at the screen door and sat down. It’s her routine and I let her out. She walked across the deck to the first patch of ivy, which is how she got her name, and did her thing. Then she patrolled the yard for several minutes before she came to the back door, barked to let me know she was ready to come inside. Once inside, she checked her dish, then sat down beside the couch, placed her head on the seat cushion, as if to ask, ‘may, I please join you?’ Then she jumped up and lay beside me and went back to sleep.

 

Ivy’s purpose – sleeping in the sunshine on a sunny winter afternoon, she always seems to find the sunshine

Continue reading A dog’s purpose

Preserve, protect, and defend

It’s Sunday morning and tomorrow is Monday, yesterday was Saturday. That’s how it rolls every week. Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day and we were able to tackle the Christmas decorations. Usually, we take down the decorations in February or March when the snow melts, but the snow has been gone since Christmas day and yesterday’s temperatures were more like spring than winter and we both worked in our shirt sleeves.

Ivy’s job is to preserve, protect, and defend… but mostly she sleeps

Friday was the inauguration of the new president. It happens every four years or every four years and a day, if the January 20 falls on a Sunday. It was a day of anticipation for many people across the United States of America. A day of anticipation because we are a nation divided. Continue reading Preserve, protect, and defend

names – a photo challenge

It is Sunday afternoon and the sun is shining. It’s Martin Luther King Jr. weekend which means a three-day weekend for me and O, W is out of school until next week when his college goes back into session.

Winter Break finished last week. I was back at school this past Monday and it was a whirlwind of a week; each day I came home from school promising myself I’d put together a post in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge – Names and I never did. Friday night, I fell asleep on the couch and yesterday I was laid low by the flu and took a day off, of sorts.

I spent the last week of Winter Break in Northern Mississippi visiting my step-mother, Juliana or simply J. It was intended to be a wellness check visit, she lives by herself and I worry. She has friends, but friends aren’t family. So, I worry,and my brothers worry, and we visit when we can.

Vicksburg National Cemetery – of the 18,244 interred, 12,954 are unknown – unnamed

I had asked J before I arrived if she would want to take a road trip to Vicksburg with me. I planned  to see the Vicksburg National Military Park and possibly pay a visit to Jansen Schmidt, a blogger friend at the Baer House, J agreed. So, on Wednesday – January 4 we took off on a road trip. Oxford, Mississippi is almost two hundred miles from Vicksburg. The weather was great – it was cool in the mid-forties but dry. Perfect for driving into unfamiliar territory.

Wednesday morning got off to a slow start – I distracted myself with a technical issue that I discovered was a worthless endeavor. J was hesitant getting started, but once we were on the road we made good time and arrived at the park close to 2 PM. We were all in. Continue reading names – a photo challenge

resilient – a photo challenge

This morning, on the way home from dropping W off at work, I glanced left and took in the magnificent morning as the bright sunlight brought the prairie grasses back to light and life. We had a hard freeze last night and much of the world was covered in a heavy frost. It was 19 F or -7 C, depending on your scale, whichever you choose – it was cold.

Danada Forest Preserve – 1/1/17

The prairie grasses were frosted and golden in the light. The sun had been up above the horizon for less than an hour and it was low on the horizon and the entire prairie was brightly lit and slowly warming.

By now, a few hours later, most of the morning’s frost is gone and the prairie grass is no longer coated with frost. It’ll be a while, several months with the arrival of spring, before the grass completely returns to life and the cycle continues.

Danada Forest Preserve – 1/1/17

Continue reading resilient – a photo challenge