Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Never stop

Day one of our Sorrow to Strength conference was a success, but oh so emotional as the 30+ families each shared the reasons they were attending. Survivors relived their crashes, tears often streaking down their faces. Families of those lost did the same. No one was judgemental. No one was impatient as we let those emotions flow.

And at the end, when our large, sad and somewhat soggy family was all talked out, one of the volunteers passed out bracelets she had made. One for each person, placed into hands still holding damp tissue.

She chose the hummingbird, she said, because they never stop.

Just like us.


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Sobering

At the last conference, with good friends who’s son was killed.


I’m gearing up for this weekend’s conference here in D.C., just got the roster of attendees along with a synopsis of the truck crashes that changed their lives forever. There are thirty-five families coming, eleven of them are groups or individuals I’ve never met. Of those attending, the most recent crash was this past January when a 30 year old was struck and killed while working alongside a road.

Not quite six months ago.

Imagine.

Would you be strong enough to attend a conference about safety issues if your son had been killed just six months ago? It shows the level of love and resilience these people have that they’re willing to be hurt again as they tell the story, as they tell it repeatedly over the next five days.

I doubt any of us realized how strong we really were when we began this journey. And it’s my goal this weekend to show them how strong they are. And to cushion the pain just a bit as they join us in the fight.

Wish me luck.

Change is hard here in D.C.


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In the heat of the moment – Washington DC

A press conference a couple years ago.

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We’re headed to Washington DC today, to attend over the weekend and into next week, the 8th Sorrow to Strength conference. Many of you know that I’m a volunteer for the Truck Safety Coalition, that I’ve been working with them on truck safety issues ever since my dad was killed by a tired trucker in December of 2004.

Every other year a lot of families, all whose lives have been forever changed by truck crashes, meet in DC to provide support to each other and to lobby for safer truck regulation.

Tami, a good friend now, lost multiple members of her family in a truck crash and resulting fire.

It’s hard.

But it’s good too, to reconnect with people we’ve come to know and to meet the new families, fresh in their grief.

At another press conference, fighting double 33 foot trailers.

I’ll let you know more about it next week, if I have time to post, or after we get home if I don’t.

Safety is no accident.


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And the lighthouses

On top of the world.


Many of you have followed our adventures for several years, and might remember all the lighthouses we saw in Maine in July of 2014.

We love lighthouses, so we were excited to be able to climb two while we were in Norway. Turns out they’re pretty much exactly the same as those we have here in the States.

The first one we visited was out on the flat coast not so far from where we were staying. This is the Lista Lighthouse, just up the road from the alpaca farm I showed you in the last Norway post.

Clouds added to the drama of the site.

Long ago there used to be three lighthouses here, and you can see where they were when you’re standing up top of the one remaining.

You can see where the other two lighthouses once stood, all 3 close together.

The view from the top, in every direction, was pretty stunning.

Looking inland toward farm country.

And, as usual, I didn’t want to go back down.

The view along the coast.

But on the ground were interesting things too, particular those things left over from World War Two. There were a couple bunkers with views of the ocean, and a display discussing the damage plastics are causing in our oceans.

A bunker window looks out over the ocean and the display built out of plastics pulled from the sea.

And there was this thing.

We suppose someone sat in the seat and signaled ships with this.

We spent a good amount of time examining this, with it’s tractor like seat and apparatus complete with a mirror-type thing hanging overhead. We tried to imagine how it had been used. And marveled that it was still there after all these years.

Husband’s picture shows the inverted image of the lighthouse in the glass.

It was a good trip to see a great lighthouse. But we weren’t done.

On another day we took a road trip to the furthest south lighthouse in Norway, at Lindesnes. The terraine there is entirely different than up at Lista.

Kids and adults scramble around on the rocks.

This lighthouse is shorter than Lista, but it sits higher above the sea on a rocky point.

Not so many steps inside to get to the top, but lots of steps just to get to the base of the structure.

There was plenty to see there too, though it was really windy. On the ground there was a circle carved into the stone, with arrows pointing to places around the world, including New York City. You could stand there and face the country you were from. Of course I did.

The sun was headed down for the day by the time we got to the top.

We didn’t have a lot of time there, but we enjoyed it so much. By the time we came down we were hungry, so we stopped along the way home at a wonderful restaurant that served Thai food.

Yummy food.

I had to use Google Translate to figure out the menu, written in Norwegian describing Thai dishes. Luckily what I finally picked was excellent!

We saw so much on these road trips, so much more than what I’ve shown you. And I haven’t even taken you to the churches we visited or out in the boat

We saw beautiful churches, but that’s for another post.

Time is getting short, as I’m preparing for my next trip…but maybe, just maybe I’ll at least get those churches posted before I leave.

You just never know.

Can’t stop looking at that view.


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The upside of weeding

We interrupt our Norway travelog to tell you a sweet story from this afternoon.

I was bent over weeding under our redbud tree, moving slowly because I’d been weeding for awhile and standing up was getting more and more difficult.

I heard a ruckus above me, a sort of chirping chattering noise that continued for quite awhile. I figured it was a squirrel unhappy with me being under his tree.

Whatever it was kept it up to the point that I sort of looked back and up over my shoulder, trying to find the annoying perpetrator.

And, instead of a noisy little red squirrel I saw a downy woodpecker, standing on the main truck about three feet from my head. “Well hello there,” I said, wondering if the birdfeeder was empty and this little guy (or girl) was trying to tell me something. We locked eyes and I slowly stood up. The bird just moved down the trunk, getting even closer to me.

And then I realized the noise wasn’t coming from this bird, but another downy, almost the same size, sitting out at the end of a branch just a few feet further from me.

The bird on the tree trunk began to move up and down, looking, then picked out something special and flew to the bird at the end of the branch who opened his mouth obligingly for the snack. Then mama (or daddy) flew back to the truck to look for more.

The teenage bird was fed two more times with me standing right there and then the adult flew off and the youngster followed.

I loved that the two of them weren’t bothered by me being there, and I had to share it with you. I don’t have pictures, but you can imagine it. The images here are from our gardens, taken today.

I didn’t take any pictures of the weeds.


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Visiting rural Norway

The red barn in all that green caught my eye.


The flowers were similar to what we have here in Michigan, but that’s just about all that was. We took several day trips exploring the Southern end of Norway, all of it pretty rural.

I especially enjoyed a car trip where our host graciously stopped whenever I asked so that I could pop out and take photos.

I thought this was an abandoned house along the coast, but it’s a new build, just meant to look old.

I’m sure by the end of the day he was quite ready to park the car at home! But just look what beautiful places we saw!

Boat garages near a boat ramp.

The coastline was rocky but far more level than further inland. There were a lot of farms, complete with beautiful little (and sometimes large) barns and rolled bales of hay that looked like large marshmallows dotting the countryside.

Another seaside village just begging to be photographed.

Another day trip took us to this scenic seaside village full of white houses, so cute I could hardly stand it.

White houses, red roofs, the town shone even without the sun that day.

I especially liked this little boat garage.

Stormy skies didn’t diminish the color here.

And then there was our walking tour of Farsund, a larger town quite near where we were staying.

We had a pretty day to walk the town.

With it’s steep roads and even more steeply pitched roofs, it reminded me of towns in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Farsund is a sea port.

I enjoyed getting a closeup look at this place. So many pretty things to notice.

No air conditioning required in Norway.

I haven’t shown you nearly enough…

An alpaca farm near the coast.

…there’s so much to see.

The village of Faed, tucked up against the mountains was where my husband’s grandmother was baptized.

I haven’t even shown you the lighthouses, the churches or the mountaintop. I don’t think I can share it all.

Color reflected.

I hope, if you get a chance to go you don’t hesitate to grab the opportunity to see this beautiful country.

The only sunset I saw, but it was spectacular.

Meanwhile in the next post I’ll show you lighthouses. Or churches. Maybe a little of both.

We’ll see.

The Lista lighthouse.


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Flowering Norway

A swath of lupine.

We traveled back across the Atlantic on Tuesday, crashing into a deep sleep Tuesday night. Wednesday was devoted to Katie, picking her up from camp, exploring the yard, neighborhood and house with her, as she confirmed everything was as it should be.

And now, finally, I have time to show you some more of Norway.

The sound of bees feasting was everywhere.

I took over 2800 pictures. Not all are great, but a whole lot of them were pretty good. It’s hard to take a bad picture in scenic Norway, and I ended up with 675 images of our time there that we put on thumb drive for the family.

Just like at home, daisies flourished.

Still, I can’t share 675 images with you here, I think WordPress would implode under the weight of it all.

So. How to give you a glimpse of Norway’s beauty? What to focus on? I guess I will have to break it up in multiple posts; today I will focus on plants.

A buttercup looks away during an evening walk.

We arrived in late spring and noticed that quite a lot of what was blooming there was blooming at home too. Lupine and buttercups, daisies and peonies, roses and foxglove were all thriving. When we left hydrangea was beginning to open and sweet smelling honeysuckle climbed the mountainsides.

So many beautiful roses graced homes in every village.

We took long walks on back country roads, along fjords and up mountains. Everything was very very green, moss cloaked old rock fences and ferns clustered against huge boulders.

Cool green envelops aged stone walls.

Much of the time it was damp, though I got to wear shorts a couple of days, and we made it out in the boat once between wind and rain storms.

I don’t know what this is, but it was everywhere along the roads.

But that’s for another post.

Foxglove glows against the rocky mountainside.

For now I hope you enjoyed the foliage of Norway.

Hydrangea just starting to show it’s colors.

Soon I’ll post more about sites along the coast, hoping to show you quintessential rural Norway.

Stay tuned.

Lots of thistle too.