Category Archives: education

Fall: The Best and Worst of Times

I have a love/hate relationship with the fall season. It is my favorite season in Minnesota because of the changing colors and scenery. Harvest times are special watching the farmers gathering their crops and gardeners, the produce from their gardens. Apple trees full of apples begging to picked and made into cider, pies, and apple crisp. I love how certain flowers in my garden are most beautiful in the fall like my Hydrangea.

I love the cool crisp mornings and the fresh air. I am energized by the aisles of school supplies. I always loved the start of the school season especially when I graduated college and started teaching school.  Setting up my classroom with a theme for the fall and for open house was always a highlight. I loved meeting my new students and watching them wander around the classroom to see what there was to look at and finding their desk for the first day of school.

While I love the changing colors of the trees, hillsides and flowers it only reminds me all too soon of the shorter days and the colder temperatures to come. All too soon I will be leaving for work in the dark and returning home from work in the dark. The shorter days seem to take my energy with them.

We live by a lake and it is always a sad thing to remove the dock, boat lift, and boat from the lake each fall. Each year we help my Dad take his sailboat out of the lake as well. Too many summers we have helped put his boat in the lake in the spring without ever taking the time to go for a ride before it is time to take it out in the fall.

I love sleeping with the windows open listening to the frogs in the nearby pond or the waves lapping against the shore and the call of the loons as I drift off to sleep. Fall nights turn too cold too soon and it is time to close the windows at night and close out my favorite sounds as well.

It’s been four years since I quit teaching. The workshop days at school and teachers talking about preparing their classrooms make me long for my classroom and bright smiling faces of the students entering the classroom eager to learn.

This fall is different than past 25 years. No students in my home, no classroom for teaching and no students to watch grow over the course of a year.

I could always go stock up on school supplies for old times sake.


Posted by on August 30, 2011 in education, Life Happens, Nature, Uncategorized


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Repetition: Disdain or Delight

Two weeks ago I made a trip to our local library to pick up some books to read to my grandson. We exhausted the books at home I was looking forward to some new reading material. I brought home ten books that were all new to me.

In the mix of books was Cock-A-Doodle-Moo by Bernard Most. It has become my grandson’s favorite. When I come home from work he greets me at the door with the book and walks over to the recliner and starts patting it for me to sit. He backs himself up to the chair for me to pick him up to read the book to him.

In the morning he searches for my library book bag for the book. When I ask him if I should read him the book he squeals with delight and follows the same routine as the evening. When I finish reading it to him he says “More”. I don’t know how many times I’ve read the book to him but there are parts in the book when I tell him to help read the book he says “Moo” where he should for the story.

As an adult I am often bored by predictable behavior. When did that change? As a teenager I would listen to songs on my record player over and over again until I knew all the words. In high school I worked hard at memorizing my parts for Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Arsenic and Old Lace. It required lots of repetition but it was okay because it was for a reason.

Everyday my mind craves new information. I want to learn and am easily frustrated with hearing the same old thing. Oh that I could find delight in hearing and seeing the same old thing as my grandson does when I read him the same book day after day even when there are many other choices.


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Abundance: Present and Future

This past weekend marked the beginning of the graduation party season in our small town. Graduation was held on Saturday of Memorial Day with my hubby(chairman of the school board) reading names of the graduates at the ceremony. Afterwards, someone told him he was being too serious when he read the names. He said he thought that graduation was supposed to be a solemn event.

We attended our first of many graduation parties for the graduates on Sunday. Each party is usually an Open House with family, friends and neighbors in attendance. The food is abundant and unique to each family usually with the graduates helping choose the menu.

My oldest son wanted a pig roast for his party, my second son was more interested in going racing right after his party was finished that he wasn’t too concerned about what was on the menu. My daughter had her favorite requests like Hot roast beef sandwiches, BBQ meatballs, fresh fruit and lots of salads. My youngest daughter had pretty much the same menu as her older sister but wanted to make sure I made my chicken salad for the party.

We have been to graduation parties with taco in a bag, pig roasts, picnic style foods,  smoked turkeys and some with very ethnic foods. One thing is constant at all the parties and that is the inclusion of plenty of sweets usually in the form of bars(lots of varieties) and cake.

At the first graduation party we went to this year there was an abundance of food as expected and then I found the unexpected in this photo which speaks of future abundance in the form of grapes.

I leave you with this quote today..

Doing what you love is the cornerstone of having abundance in your life.
by Wayne Dyer

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People Can Be So Cruel

Tonight my husband treated me to a movie to ward off those Sunday Night Blues. He took me to see the movie The King’s Speech.

I loved the movie but came away feeling unsettled. I wondered after hearing the story of the king if I have inflicted pain on another’s life that has affected them already in their life or will continue to affect them in a harmful way.

It made me search myself for words or actions directed at others than may have caused them the kind of pain the king dealt with his entire life.

As a wife, mother, daughter,sister, teacher and friend the opportunities have been many to say or do the wrong thing or been interpreted in the wrong way. I hope that hasn’t been the case. I’ve tried to be kind and consider the weight of my words and actions.

When my kids were in school and would come home telling stories of cruel acts of others to others I couldn’t help but repeat the same words over and over to them. Be kind! Be kind! Be kind!

As adults my kids still relate stories to me of cruel acts that happened while in school. As a teacher I had parents talk to me about their child being teased or picked on at school or on the playground.

All I could do was to talk to students and their parents in hopes of things becoming better but often all it did was make things worse and they became more creative in their acts.

My husband as chairman of the school board has received phone calls from parents and grandparents over the past couple of years about teasing and bullying of students. Times haven’t changed much but with Facebook, texting and cellphones it seems things travel faster and farther than ever before.

If only all would heed the words…Be kind to all, the world would be a better place.


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Upsala Off to the State Boys BB Tournament


Upsala High School Boys BasketballSection 5A Champions!
BBB 5A Champions
The Upsala Boys Basketball Team won the Section game 

against McGregor in Crosby Friday night 92-54. 

It’s an exciting week in our small town of 400. Our boys basketball team won the section game on Friday evening which will send our team to the Minnesota High School Basketball State Tournament in the Twin Cities on Thursday, March 24, 2011 for the first time ever in boys basketball for our school.

I’ve taught a lot of the boys on the team in my nine years of  teaching in Upsala. Some of the boys I had as kindergarten students.  It’s so fun to see the fine young men that they have grown into since those early days in school.

There is nothing that swells the hearts with pride in a small town than to have one of our teams or students succeed beyond the boundaries of our local area. We love our kids here!

If your drive through our little town this week you will see the business windows painted with well wishes for the team and the coaches. The busses will be decorated for their departure to the tournaments and the filled with special treats for the team. Cars traveling to the tournaments will be decorated with well wishes too.

An action shot from an earlier game

There will be no school on Thursday so they can use the school busses to carry the fans from the area to the tournaments, it’s a two hour drive to the Twin Cities. The big game will be at 5 pm on Thursday. The joke in town is whoever is the last to leave to the tournaments don’t forget to turn the lights out.

Good Luck Upsala Boys Basketball Team and Coach Capelle at State!


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Horology 101: IIII vs IV


 Back when I was in elementary school I could never understand why we needed to know roman numerals, afterall, we didn’t live in Rome and probably never would.

I wondered why if we were talking about numbers, were we mixing letters up with numbers. I learned what I needed to know at the time about Roman Numerals and forgot what I didn’t need to know.

This past Christmas my kids gave me this clock for our new family room. My daughters decided that it would fit with the decor and their budget. 

When I opened the clock and looked at it something just didn’t look right to me.  I started to go over the roman numerals in my head…I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII,IX, X, XI, XII. 

Reassured that I could still remember them I looked again at my clock and decided that Better Homes and Gardens had it wrong when they made my clock. Everyone knows from elementary school that four in roman numerals is represented by IV. On my clock it is IIII.  I knew it looked wrong, but was it? Is there some special rule for clocks? I had to know.

I did some investigating about clock dials although not very thorough and found one story for the reason that they use IIII rather than IV on a clock dial. It goes like this according to W.I. Milham “”There is a story that a famous clockmaker had constructed a clock for Louis XIV, king of France. The clockmaker had naturally used IV for four. When the clock was shown to the king, he remarked that IIII should have been used instead of IV. When it was explained to him that IV was correct, he still insisted, so that there was nothing to do but change the clock dial. This introduced the custom of using IIII for four.”  I thought it’s possible, afterall, who would want to mess with a king’s wishes.

Another theory was provided by Joerg Haus who said that in the German watch magazine “Uhrenmagazin” the widely accepted argument is the following: “Imagine a watch face with roman numerals, and look at the numerals opposite to each other – all of them are in perfect balance, except for the ‘heavy’ VIII and the ‘light’ IV; optical balance is re-established by printing an also ‘heavy’ IIII.”

He also said ” This may sound rather silly, but for a similar reason you’ll see many watches/clocks displayed on photographs with their hands showing 10:09; it’s simply the most friendly’ clock.”  I like the idea of a friendly clock but that’s just me.  Most of the time when I look at the clock when the alarm is going off it doesn’t look  friendly.  An alarm time of  10:09 am looks better to me than 5:45am any day.

The next reason for the use of Four I’s instead of IV for the “four” was put forth by Ray Mialki.  He said that the reason was due to the casting process.  “Since some numerals were cast out of metal, or carved out of wood or bone, you need 20 I’s, 4 V’s, and 4 X’s, even numbers of each, if you use four I’s for “four”. The molds would produce a long centre rod, with 10 I’s, 2 V’s, and 2 X’s on each side.”  The practical side of me like that there would be a reason purely for efficiency.

Probably one of the more interesting ideas came from Tom Frank who stated according to his high school Latin teacher “the reason clocks use IIII vice IV is out of respect for the Roman God Jupiter, whose name, in Latin, begins IV (the V being the U we now use, the I the J; sort of an abbreviation).”  On this same note Jeffrey A. Harvey put it this way ” This is apparently because “IV” is an abbreviation for “Jupiter” in Roman times. So they decided to use “IIII” so that their public clocks didn’t have “1 2 3 GOD 5…” written on them.”   I must have been sleeping through this part of class because I don’t remember an abbreviation for the Roman God Jupiter but there is a lot of things that I once knew but no longer do.

My idea for the reason of IIII vs IV is plain and simple. Someone made a mistake on a clock face and tried to use all the previous reasons to justify their mistake no matter how reasonable it may have sounded just so they wouldn’t have to do it over again. Have you ever seen clothes that have the stitching on the outside instead of the inside? I think someone had a warehouse of clothes that were sewn incorrectly and had to come up with a marketing idea to cover their mistake and potential losses. 

That’s just my thoughts on horology this morning.  Probably something you never had any real desire to know but are now like me and know just enough to be dangerous.


Posted by on February 8, 2011 in education, Photography, Reflections


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The “New Normal”

This morning I don’t have much to say because I am exhausted after a very late night.  My husband and I attended an evening lecture at the Minnesota School Board Association gathering in Minneapolis,  Minnesota.  He is the chairman of our local school board.  He and I have different ideas about what actually qualifies as a “date night”.   

The two-hour lecture we attended was titled “Minnesota and The New Normal”.  It was a joint presentation by the state demographer, Tom Gillaspy and state economist, Tom Stinson.  I’m neither a demographer or an economist but I know that both have changed dramatically in Minnesota in the past ten years.  We attended a similar lecture about 5 years ago and much of what they had to say then describes where we are now.

The two Tom’s showered us with 13 pages of power point slides of forecasts, outlooks, demographics, population growth rates, total US wages, world labor force growth and so much more.  Then they went on to interpret where they thought we are headed.  Their predictions included the following:

The “New Normal” Probably Means:

  • higher interest rates
  • slower economic growth
  • increasing numbers of retirees
  • less consumption; more saving
  • a more diverse population
  • more uncertainty about the future

One of the interesting points that they made was “At what point in time did we know that we would have an aging population?”  We all know how to do math.  Just take the birth dates of the largest birth years and add 62 or 65 years to it and you know when you will have large older population and retirees.  What have we done to prepare for this change in our demographics as a nation?  Not much.  We haven’t cut back our spending in anticipation of less revenues coming in due to fewer workers.  Couple this with more families having fewer children and you wonder who will be doing the work in our nation.

They pointed out that this is not just a Minnesota problem or US problem.  The world labor force is changing as well.  Countries all over the world are expected to have declining numbers of working age populations.  This is good for the person looking for a job because if they have chosen the right profession, their  services will be in great demand, however instead of the ratio of 5:1 workers supporting retirees the ratio will be only 3 workers to every retiree and there will be an increased demand for their care.   In 2008 Minnesota saw a jump of 30 percent of workers turning 62. 

I haven’t decided if the lecture was supposed to be just informative or a pep talk of sorts yet.  They did talk about people will go through the five steps of grieving for the “Old Normal”:  Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.  They talked about not fearing the “New Normal”  because it plays to Minnesota’s strengths: productivity and education.

They cited 6 R’s of Opportunity

  • restructure government costs
  • replace retiring government workers wisely
  • re-engage the growing retiree population
  • restructure government revenues
  • research to solve problems-ie improved graduation rates
  • restore entrepreneurship, initiative, invention in the private and public sectors

They talked about a lot of things last evening but I still don’t think they truly addressed how we will handle the increase in the aging population and the declining revenue stream because of it but they did let us know it’s here.  I always get a little nervous when they talk about restructuring government spending and revenues because usually there is some “creative accounting” in the mix.

They ended with two quotes last evening:

The first was from Herbert Stein, Chair President Nixon’s Council of Economic Advisors

 “If something can’t go on forever, it will stop.”

The second quote was from Wayne Gretzky, Famous Canadian Philosopher, when asked how it was that he managed to be so successful in playing hockey. 

 “I skate to where the puck will be, not to where it has been.”

Okay, so I lied when I said I didn’t have much to say this morning.  Really, they are not my words but I’m just parroting what I heard last evening and trying to digest it all and what it means for us.


Posted by on January 13, 2011 in Business Matters, education, Uncategorized


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New Shoes: Will I be able to run faster, Jump higher, Leap tall buildings in a single bound…We’ll see…

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10 Lessons Learned in 2010

1.  Sleep is necessary…I used to be able to stay up late at night and get up early running on 5 hours of sleep night after night but not any more.  I function better with a good night’s sleep.

2. Stuff is overrated…This past year I have worked on downsizing, thinking about each purchase before I make it and analyzing its importance and necessity.  I have purchased less stuff by asking myself  “What do I really want?”  Definitely less stuff!

3.  Overeating doesn’t make me feel any better..I’m up about 10 lbs in the past two years.  It’s not where I want to be but after working a long day and coming home late, I’m hungry.  I’ve overeaten instead of taking the time to eat healthier.  I definitely don’t feel better for eating the way I have in the past couple of years.  Time for change.

4.  Quiet is EssentialMy home is busy with two grown children and a grandson.  The TV is on almost from the time everyone gets up until the last one goes to bed.  The only way I can keep my sanity is to get up early before everyone else for some quiet or retreat to my bedroom for some quiet.

5. Laughing is good…My  job is crazy and can be really stressful some days but if I take time to laugh about things that I find funny I can make my day and others better. I’ve learned to laugh at myself.

6.  Learning something new makes you smarter…I am stating the obvious here but if you to learn something new you are smarter and you may just learn something new about yourself in the process.

7.  I am not a better person for watching TV…We have DirectTV with over a hundred channels.  Most evenings after work I find very little interesting to watch on tv.  Spending my time reading a new book , time spent writing or diving into a DIY project around the house makes me feel better or at least more productive.

8.  Less is definitely more…The less stuff I have the more room I have to be creative.  When my kids were little their favorite place to play was the room I had just finished cleaning and decluttering.  They would play for hours in a clean room.

9.  Hard work makes me feel better…I love the feeling of a completed project or finishing something that just required putting one foot in front of the other and sticking with it to completion.

10.  Life with a toddler is always full of surprises…My grandson lives with me and it is always a daily adventure with him.   There are times when all you can do is laugh like when the toilet was plugged 10 minutes before Thanksgiving dinner and you find what plugged it was his pacifier he flushed.


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Can You Divide and Conquer Your To-Do List?

Today was one of those days with a long to-do list.  My husband and I have been working long hours this past month, evenings and weekends included.  We took the day off from work to try to get some things done around home.  This past weekend we started loading up things that needed to go to the landfill and recycling center.  We are desperately trying to downsize the amount of stuff we have in our home and garage.

We finished loading up our grandson and the truck.  We took a slow ride making sure nothing blew out of or off the truck.  When we arrived at the landfill we worked to put the recyclable in their proper bins and sort the non recyclable into their containers.  It felt great to get that job done.  It’s something we have talked about for months but finally got to it today.

When we got home it was on to the next things on our to-do list.  Our daughter brought home her broken laptop for her dad to fix.  While he was dismantling her laptop so he could resolder a portion and order a new part,  my grandson and I headed outside to work on picking up all the branches that blew down in the winds the past few days. 

While I was outside picking up branches I thought about how blessed I am to have the husband I do.  Over the years he has taught me how to do many things that has made both of our lives easier.  I went to college to become a teacher but there are days when I think he is the better teacher.  He is careful not to be critical when he his teaching me something new and always complimentary when I have done a job for him that has allowed him to use his time for other tasks.

Tonight was one of those evenings that we were able to divide and conquer our to-do list.  Our plans had been to drive to our son’s home this evening and pick him up and drive to the race shop that he works at part-time to pick up a TIG welder and shelving that his friend gave him because he is relocating his shop to another town.  As our afternoon progressed it was becoming increasing ly apparent that the evening plans would have to be moved to another day because things were stacking up at the shop that needed to be taken care of by my husband.

Our daughter’s laptop still remained in multiple pieces on my kitchen table although my husband had finished with the soldering but still needed to put the computer back together so our daughter could head back to college this evening.  We had a car customer that wanted to do the paperwork for buying a car this evening and a customer’s truck with a bad motor that needed a plan for the repair.

We decided that the only way to get everything done on our list was to set off in our separate directions to accomplish the many things on our list.  He finished things that needed to be done at our business and then came home and reassembled our daughter’s  laptop and I took the F-650 to the Cities to help my son load up the welder and shelving and deliver them to his home.

It was almost 11:15 when I finally arrived back at the shop to put the truck away when I noticed my husband had taken the time before he went home to move my car close to the truck garage so I wouldn’t have to walk behind the shop to get it when I got home. 

Over the 27 years that we have been married we have tried to make a peaceful home.  Not too critical, helpful and respectful of each other and our children.  We try to work together whenever possible to lighten each others loads.  I used to be critical of how a job was done by another implying that no one could do it as well as I do it.  I now see the benefits of teaching others and allowing them to do a job their way and not to my specifications.  They can feel good about accomplishing something and I have a task completed,  just as I feel good about being able to complete something for my husband or he for me.


Posted by on October 29, 2010 in education, Reflections, Unfinished Projects


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