Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Walktober in the trees

We began our adventure under a dark and ominous sky.


There’s a new park, located about an hour north of here, billed as a walk in a tree canopy. Intriguing. Plus it seemed perfect for a Walktober.

So this week we went.

Come on! Let’s go explore!

We thought if we went during the week crowds would be less. And maybe they were; if you want to go on a weekend you have to purchase your tickets in advance so the crowds must be pretty thick on Saturday or Sunday.

The ramp circles up from below, so the walk is accessible to anyone using a walker or a wheelchair.

But even on a Friday afternoon, and though the sky was dark and the wind was brisk, plenty of people had ventured forth to explore the new park.

A busy day at the park.

Walking between the pods.

Along the elevated pathway were two pods made of curved wood. The docent said they were designed to represent curled queen anne lace flower buds.

The Docent likes bugs. (That’s a pin on her hat, it’s not real.)

One of them was connected to the main path by a net which had people lined up to cross.

Looks fun.

And out on the end of one of the walks was a play area filled with similar netting for people, kids and adults alike to rest or roll around, depending on your mood.

Lots of fun.

It was pretty up there, I think it would have been even nicer very early in the morning on a sunny day with the light playing down through the trees.

Not really in the canopy, but still fun.

Down below the structure are paths, some paved, some softened with fallen leaves and pine needles, through the forest.

More my style.

There were fewer people there, and immediately I felt more at home. Walking among the treetops was fun. Walking between the trees was comforting.

Viewing those still up top who were enjoying the view.

There wasn’t a lot of color yet, most of it was on the ground in the form of fallen maples leaves.

Even on a rainy afternoon the color was nice.

Truly beautiful.

It wasn’t really raining much, just damp.

It did seem odd to see umbrellas out on a walk through the trees. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone walk through the woods under an umbrella.

But it made for some fun photography.

Not exactly what I was going for, but I sort of like their blur.

We had a really good time walking in and around the trees.

Fun times.

If you’re ever near Midland Michigan check it out. The elevated part isn’t that long, but it’s interesting. And if you have children they’ll have a blast.

Subtle colors enjoyed by people who bring their own colors along too.

But make sure you also take time to wander the woods that surrounds the structure. That’s where the real magic lives.

Walking the ropes.

PS: Look around, I bet you have somewhere pretty or interesting or both near you. Take a walk. Take a couple of pictures. Post it and link it to Robin’s Walktober post (or any of her posts). We’d all love to come along on your Walktobers!

PPS: Our park in Whiting Forest is located right next to Dow Gardens, and our $5 ticket gained us entrance to both. I was going to include that walk in this post, but I think it deserves it’s own. So stay tuned. Here’s a hint:

Where does this curving path go?


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Katie does Walktober

Katie here. Am I first? Huh? Huh? Am I? Huh? I bet I am! If so I deserve a treat and if not it’s mama’s fault and I should get a treat anyway. I am, after all, a princess.

I think this pumpkin looks a lot like a Walktober gourd, don’t you?

So I told mama that I wanted to do my own Walktober and she said I couldn’t go out and do it all alone. She said she had to go with me. I don’t think that’s fair, she goes for walks by herself all the time. I think she’s just trying to horn in on my walk, but since I don’t have my driver’s license, and I wanted to do a Walktober somewhere besides my own backyard, I had to let her take me.

Here I am in front of a great smelling restaurant.

At first I thought she pulled an epic failure. She didn’t take me to a park! She took me to a town! When she got me out of the car I was shaking cause I knew it wasn’t any of my parks and I thought maybe we were going to the vet or the groomer or maybe even camp!

Mama’s been known to be sneaky that way.

But no, she took me to this little town that always dresses up with pretty fall arrangements. Including a huge pumpkin.

Isn’t this just the coolest pumpkin? It compliments my colors too!

Mama likes to take my picture with it, and this year I even stood on a little bale of hay for her. I don’t usually like standing on top of little things, so she was real impressed with me. I got double treats for that. Score!

Mama thought these were pretty. I thought they were boring.

Then we walked down the street to see what else was pretty. That’s where the Walktober comes in. It’s a real nice downtown, with lots of cute stores.

A lot of the stores had their doors open and I tried to go into every single one of them. I don’t know what the heck was wrong with mama, she kept saying “No baby, you can’t go in there.” She didn’t even try to get me inside and some of them smelled real good! Mama is a loser.

When we turned around I figured that was it for my Walktober and I was quite disappointed to say the least. I gave mama the stink eye in several of the photos she tried to get.

Really mother? THIS is a ‘walk?’

And I did my best never to look at her while she waved her hand around and called my name. That usually makes her give up and take me home. I was sort of glad when the photo shoot was over and I took a nap in my car on the way home.

But imagine how surprised I was when she opened the door and we were at one of my favorite parks! I secretly think she felt bad about me not having a good time in town. All those people walking by and noisy trucks and cars on the roads made me nervous. So I guess she figured she owed me.

Hey! It’s one of my parks!

She was right.

I even got to run around off leash because nobody else was out there! Boy oh boy it felt so good to run, especially since we got cold weather that day!

This feels so GOOD!

It was my kind of day at the park, cold and windy. Perfect!

A cool breeze, perfect for a Walktober!

I didn’t even mind posing for her on the sledding hill that was all green and beautiful. I got lots of treats and the wind in my fur. We walked for a long time.

This is the toboggan run. It looks beautiful in winter too.

It was all good. Well, mostly all good. There was this one time when I was sitting on the sledding hill and the sun came out and mama said the tips of my furs lit up like a halo and she was trying to get the shot and the stupid memory card was full. That wasn’t such a great moment.

Oh and I guess since this is a Walktober I should at least show you that we have a little bit of fall color. Not a whole lot, but we found some to share with you.

See? We found a little color for you!

All in all I had a pretty good day with mama, going on my very own Walktober. I want to thank Miss Robin for hosting the walk, and mama for taking me and providing bribes treats.

And my advice to all of you that are planning your own Walktobers? Make sure your memory card has a whole lot of memory left. Cause you’re going to need it to capture the pretty places you’ll be sharing with us!

I think we should come back next week mama!

We can’t wait to see what you all come up with. Mama says she’s going to do one by herself, but I don’t see how it could top this one unless she’s going to run down a hill too, but that would be copying.

Try to think outside the box mama.

Talk later, your park guide Katie-girl.


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Still trying to veg out

I get tired of trying new recipes looking for that great vegan meal. Some weeks go by that I don’t try any. Still, I believe that a plant based diet is healthy and know I need to try harder.

The finished dish.

My poor husband has endured a couple years of experiments; I know it’s been this long because my Facebook memories show vegan attempts from at least two years ago. Sometimes Facebook is useful because I’ll see a recipe that was good from way back then that I’d forgotten all about it.

This week I was flipping through the Forks over Knives cookbook and thought the “Quick and Easy Thai Vegetable Stew” looked good. I added a few things to my grocery list for the week, notably coconut extract and Thai red curry paste. I had everything else in the house so I put it on this week’s dinner agenda.

Tonight I made it.

First of all, I don’t know what about this is quick and easy when you have to chop up the onion, the vegetables, the cilantro, mint and garlic. You also have to grate fresh ginger and zest and juice a lime.

Lots of stuff to prepare prior to making this dish.

I guess after you get all that done the actual cooking is fast and easy. But that’s the problem I have with most vegan cooking. Prep just takes awhile.

So how did it turn out? It’s supposed to be a main dish, and it’s suppose to serve four. Maybe this is why vegans are skinny. I put it over rice to make it more substantial, and it basically served three even that way.

Onion, ginger, garlic, lime and Thai red curry paste.

My husband ate leftover chicken enchiladas from the other night and used this dish as a side. It certainly looked like a side.

It tasted fine…except for that darn cilantro. I try to like cilantro but I just don’t. The recipe wanted 1/2 a cup of chopped cilantro, I (luckily) only had a little bit, and that’s all I used. Still, it was pervasive in the final taste. I need to remember that I don’t like it and not let it mess up an otherwise OK recipe. I guess I don’t know if I should just leave it out entirely or use parsley as a substitute.

And for the mixed vegetables I used what I had in the house, broccoli and carrots. Next time I’d use equally dense vegetables because the broccoli cooked through way before the carrots did and got sort of mushy. And I think I’d like it with water chestnuts, snow peas and maybe fresh green beans. Maybe some sliced fresh mushrooms thrown in near the end. Or peas. Maybe all of that.

Almost done.

So I’d say it was a sort of win. I’ll make it again some day, just differently. Guess that would make it a totally different dish!

Flexibility. Yep that’s what makes a vegan diet work. And persistence, lots and lots of persistence.

Mint and cilantro.


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Stormy weather

It was a dark and stormy afternoon.


Up here in Michigan it’s been unseasonably warm. I’m loving it. In the 80s today, tomorrow’s high will be in the 50s. I guess all good things must end.

Our trees are starting to change into their fall fashions.

The changing weather created an interesting sky and I ran over to a local park to watch.

A tree stands alone.

Our weather is, however, nothing at all compared to what’s happening in Florida, Georgia and Alabama right now.

It’s a beautiful park.

Hurricane Michael, roaring up from the Gulf is going to go right over the top of most of my siblings. They live many miles from the coast, but this storm isn’t slowing down even now that it’s reached land.

This is the museum and banquet center.

They’re hunkered down and I’m sure all will be well.

But all of that weather sure makes me appreciate my relatively calm Michigan skies up here.


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Getting lost in the Grand Canyon

Taken through the windshield of my stopped car. Because it was so pretty and so was the music.

This morning I went to a town several miles up the road to buy some birdseed. We have lots of feeders and my finches have been eating me out of house and home.

When I got back in the car after loading 60 pounds of assorted seed into the back the radio was playing something that sounded familiar. I glanced down at the screen and smiled.

The Grand Canyon Suite was playing, and though I couldn’t remember much of it, I knew it was something I had enjoyed years ago when I was a kid.

As it was playing I was trying to remember if it sounded familiar because I had played it with my high school band. Still…I didn’t think that was it.

And then the movement with the mules and donkeys clip clopping down into the canyon came on and I had a sudden image of a green and white portable record player and I remembered. I’d had this piece on vinyl years ago and I’d loved it.

I turned the radio up and took the back roads home. By the time the piece ended I had no idea where I was, but it sure had been a beautiful drive.

Wonder where that record ended up.

The light was beautiful this morning.


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This is a test, this is only a test.

Rain made all the colors seem more intense.


Robin over at Breezes at dawn coordinates a walk each October called Walktober. People from all over the blogasphere participate by taking a walk, by themselves or with others, and then posting about the walk with or without pictures, linking back to Robin’s original Walktober post. Then at the end of October (or whenever she can find the time after that) she puts out a post with links to everyone’s Walktober posts and we get to visit and read all about them.

It’s so much fun to read about people taking walks in areas so different (and sometimes so similar) to our own places. I always look forward to October and one of the reasons is because I love doing Robin’s Walktober!

Lots of color out there if you look for it.

Of course right now I can’t find her post with this year’s dates, but you can read more about the idea of a Walktober at this post she did in 2014. This year the dates will be slightly different, and I’m sure she’ll let me know what they are. Then I’ll fix this blog and tell all of you!

EDIT: Robin says her Walktober dates are October 14 through the 28th. But if you want to walk sooner, go for it, and just wait to write that blog and link it to her when she posts on October 14th. And if you need to go later, let her know, she’s flexible and will wait (within reason) for your walk!

Even though water was dripping everywhere it was a pretty day for a walk.

So anyway, Saturday was a rainy sort of day. Lots of downpours in the morning, and then sprinkles through the rest of the day. I couldn’t stand being inside, so I took myself to my favorite park after the worst of the rain had stopped.

Walking around under the dripping trees I was glad I wore my raincoat. I kept my camera under the coat most of the time. Oh who am I kidding. I was shooting pictures most of the time.

The trees haven’t really taken on their fall colors yet, but in the wetlands there was quite a bit of color. The bright reds and oranges showed off in the dim grey light of a rainy afternoon.

The boggy areas of the forest were just beautiful.

I had a pocket full of sunflower oilers too, to share with any birds that might be hungry. At first I didn’t hear any, but eventually, as I was taking pictures of some soggy berries I heard the familiar flutter of wings near my head.

I got really wet trying to get this image.

I’ve posted pictures of the birds in my hand before, so this time I’m sharing those that were either just landing, or just taking off. Though these images aren’t as clear as some, I find the energy in them interesting. I figured you would too.

Come get something little one!

It was mostly chickadees and titmice that showed up. They’re the bravest of the little birds out there in the woods. Other times I’ve had woodpeckers and nuthatches land on my hand too.

Incoming! Or maybe Outgoing!

These little guys were pretty soggy from the rainy day, and there was another batch of thunderstorms coming in so I didn’t stay there very long. In fact I had dropped my handful of seed on the path and moved on, taking pictures of the storm clouds moving fast across the horizon when I heard more fluttering near my ear.

Time to run for the car.

I looked up and this little titmouse was standing on a railing near me. I told him there was a bunch of seed just down the path, but he wanted something directly from me.

Hey lady! You’re keeping the good stuff in your pocket aren’t you!

So of course I offered him a little bit.

And this nuthatch showed up after I had emptied my pocket onto the ground. But he got his fair share even though he was late to the party.

Hey! I heard there was free food around here!

It was a lovely, if damp, walk but it wasn’t my Walktober. Oh no. It was just a warmup, a good place to walk out my frustrations about things outside the woods. And I figured you’d enjoy coming along with me, even if it wasn’t an official walk.

Katie was quite put out that she didn’t go, so this morning I took her out to two of her own parks. She says every time I take myself for a walk without her I have to compensate her with walks in two parks.

I guess I better not leave her home very often. She’s debating whether she’ll do the official Walktober. Last year she did. She got hers in way before I got around to mine, but she’s like that. She says if you’re not early you’re late. Little stinker.

Anyway….I hope you all will consider going for a walk and sharing it with us this month! I’ll let you know the dates as soon as I hear from Robin. It’s a lot of fun and we all are looking forward to seeing something from your part of the world!

And if you live near me…well….I’ll meet you in the woods!

Dripping still.


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Washington recap

Some of you have been wondering exactly what we do when we go to DC to work on truck safety issues. And now that I’ve brought that up I suppose there are some of you newbies to the blog that wonder what truck safety issues I’m talking about. So here’s the short version of the story.

We had dinner along the river at sunset our last night in DC.

My dad was killed almost fourteen years ago by a tired trucker. He was stopped in traffic on a freeway in Georgia, headed to the Atlanta airport, when a semitruck, being driven by a relatively new driver hit him from behind going 65 miles per hour. He died, they say, instantly.

The driver said he had fallen asleep.

The driver was over the number of hours he should have been driving, had been driving all night. The crash happened around 6 in the morning on a straight piece of highway. Police, ambulances and firetrucks were already there, working on a previous crash. Everyone had slowed down and stopped as they worked their way around the existing crash.

The semi driver didn’t see any of that.

After dinner we went for a walk.

Once we got over our initial shock and began to learn the truth we found that the problem was much bigger than just our crash. In the fourteen years since I’ve met dozens of people who have either survived such a crash, being hit from behind by a truck driven by tired or distracted drivers, or have lost loved ones in crashes that sound exactly like my dad’s.

And that’s why I go to Washington regularly.

We talk to the staff of Representatives and Senators. We ask for legislation to fix some of the loopholes. We ask for support of legislation that is already pending that will make the roads safer for all of us in passenger cars and for the drivers of big trucks too.

A new building, made of green glass. I thought it was stunning.

We talk to agencies in the Department of Transportation; to staff and management of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, to the people at the National Transportation Safety Board, to different departments within the DOT, all of whom are responsible for different aspects of road and vehicle safety.

Sometimes we talk to truck manufacturers and trailer manufacturers. Some of them are moving forward with safety technology even though the government is all wrapped up in studying stuff and not willing to mandate safety.

We spent a long time watching this fountain as it changed colors.

This past week we had a meeting with the FMCSA Administrator. He is new this year and is facing an uphill battle to get much of anything done. What else is new in Washington, right? He said a lot of the right things, but the reality is that very little will change.

Maybe nothing will change.

I’m not sure they’re even studying much of anything now. I looked at those (mostly) men, sitting in their expensive suites and wondered how much money they made to get absolutely nothing done. They talked a lot about what they were doing and why things were hung up.

We talked a lot about how frustrating it is to work on issues for decades without seeing movement. They mostly didn’t look us in the eyes.

There were lots of pretty lights.

And while we were there we met with a few Senators and Representatives’ staffs. They aren’t doing much either, but they listened politely.

Studying our notes before meeting with Minority Leader Pelosi’s staff.

It’s not enough. I’m tired of getting symbolically patted on the head and told they’re sorry for my loss. I’m way beyond needing to make them cry. Unless it’s to cry when their boss loses their next election.

Time to vote people. Vote your heart. Vote for people who might be willing to work on the hard issues, and maybe even be willing to work with people from other political leanings.

This bridge was beautiful too in a sort of patriotic way.

It’s the only way we’re going to start making a difference.

While we were in the FMCSA meeting on Wednesday the 2017 truck related deaths and injury numbers came out. Four thousand seven hundred and sixty-one people died. That’s up 9% from 2016.

That’s staggering. And it’s why I continue to go to DC.

So now you’re up to date. Pictures were taken on our last evening in the city, using my cell phone. Not quality pics, but they do give you a glimpse of the pretty side to the city.

Working hard to save lives.