Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Bird stories

Who knew that one partial day of bird photography could turn into three blog posts? Well. To be honest, I know I take way too many pictures, and then I have no place to share them but here. So you are once again subjected to my interpretation of bird life.

I’m sure the birds don’t mind me sharing their inner most private thoughts.

“No I will not stand still so you can get your focus right.”

As I was leaving the nature center, fingers and toes frozen but happy that I saw the eagle and all the other birds, I noticed a flury of activity centered on a stairway railing.

“Hurry up, we’re calling this meeting to order in a minute!”

Someone had left a pile of seed on a post and the blue jays decided to share the spoiles. Most unusual as they aren’t usually known for sharing anything.

“As Chairman of the Board I reserve the right to the peanut.”

No one else was invited to the feast. They seemed to be an exclusive club, and were definitely showing their true colors.

“This is ours!”

There was much flapping and jeering and jostling for position among them. But when another bird tried to join in, they became a united front. Only jays allowed.

“We can vote on it, but historically resolutions to allow chickadees into our group has never been approved.”

Beautiful bullies, those jays.

And then I was driving home, wishing the eagle had stayed a bit longer, but happy with what I had. And out of the corner of my eye, as I crossed the last bridge before the park exit, I saw this:

Looks like Swan Lake to me.

So I turned around and parked at a lot above the river and walked back down. Because who can resist swans and blue water on a beautiful winter day?

I spent a lot of time watching them come and go, and then I walked over to the other side of the bridge and saw this lovig couple.

“This salad bar is boring, I’ll just freshen up over here.”

Well, actually, he was busy eating and she was thinking that a bit of grooming was in order. Typical. But then he puffed all up.

“Looking bigger and more beautiful, I’ll keep my girl all to myself.”

Was he just showing off for his lovely partner? Or was there a something more suspicious?

“I wouldn’t go down there if I were you, looks like this part of the river is already occupied.”

A flock of swans flies overhead. Could that mean danger? Would he have to defend his sweetheart?

“This looks like a fine place to take a break, plus there’s a cute girl over there!”

Oh no! A brave interloper lands! He must be dealt with swiftly!

“Let me introduce myself. I am the supreme ruler of this part of the river, and you are trespassing!”

With no time to spare the original swan was on the case.

“Not on my watch, buddy!”

The offending swan, uttering his apologies, immediately moved on.

“Sorry, man, I’m outta here!”

Life got back to normal on this little part of the river, and the two love birds lived happily ever after.

“Well, OK then. The nerve of some swans.”

The end.

When I got back to the car a lone bluejay greated me hopefully.

“Thanks for visiting our park, lady! You got anything to eat?”

And I smiled at him, shook my head and waved goodbye for now. I’ll be back. I know they’ll be waiting for me.

“Well. If you don’t have anything to share I’m outta here too.”


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Eagle search part 2

Before we were so beautifully interrupted by the cardinal seige, I was conteplating the continuation of an eagle search. I’d already been to the Great Lakes National Cemetary where I’d seen, from far away, the resident eagle and his nest. But it was still early and a beautiful day, maybe another eagle was waiting to be discovered at my favorite park.

What is this, you ask?

Should I go look for it? Well of course I should.

So after some more mental arguing about other things I could be doing, mostly involving housework, I jumped back in the car and headed south to Kensington where eagles had been sighted at the heron rookery.

“Don’t bug me lady, some nice people left me some lunch and I’m hungry!”

Not that I thought I’d be so lucky to find one there in the early afternoon. But it’s my favorite park and how could I go wrong, I knew I’d find something!

“I don’t know why you people get so excited over an eagle. I’ve got much better colors.”

I took my time driving through the park, pulled up leisurely in a parking spot at the nature center. Even sat there awhile and looked at the eagle pictures I already had in my camera.

Then I looked up and spotted a big bump in the top of a tree. And me quite a ways away, with the wrong lens on the camera. Talk about unprepared.

“Geeze lady, an experienced photographer pays better attention to the details!”

I hustled over there, stopped at the first bench on the boardwalk and switched my lens, hoping he’d stick around long enough for me to get a shot, even if it wasn’t optimum.

“Ahem. Were you looking for ME?”

He did. And he watched me the whole time too.

“You do realize your camera is focused on the branches, not me…right?”

And apparently, when I took too long, he decided he’d had enough and he flew away…

“I’m outta here.”

…way over to a dead tree on the other side of the lake. With his back to those of us still photographing from the boardwalk.

“There’s more privacy over here and the light is better anyway.”

I stayed and talked with another photographer while we waited to see where he’d go next. We hoped he’d come back to the rookery, but he decided to take a trip over to the back side of the lake where he was a tiny spot in the sky, lazily circling, checking out lunch prospects.

Hey lady! Pay attention! I’m being especially adorable down here!”

So I walked a bit on the trails, but they were covered in slippery ice and I was wearing old sneakers, so I didn’t stay long. I did manage to get some shots of some other, very cute, birds while I was there, and I’m sharing most of them here.

“People overlook us doves all the time, their loss, I always say.”

But..wait…did I show you the blue jays? Or the swans? No? Well, you have to see those. I guess another birdy type post is in order.

You can’t see too many birds…right?

Right.

“I did my head feathers special for this photo shoot too…darn people always want to take pictures of the big birds…”


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Descent of the cardinals (and their friends).

I interrupt my eagle search to bring you this morning’s craziness right here at home. We’re getting a light snow. It’s cold. Katie and I were napping as the early morning light began to invade our dreams.

“Come on over, there’s plenty for everybody!”

I glanced outside and was both amazed and guilty as I saw birds all over the empty feeders, searching frantically for something, anything, to eat.

“Hey! Can we get a little water over here?”

Stuffing my naked feet into an old pair of sneakers, and throwing on a sweatshirt, not slowing for a coat, gloves or boots, I ran outside. Katie waited in the comfort of her palace, watching me intently.

“I think this lady serves the best oilers in town.”

My freezing fingers fumbled with the seed bin lid. The birds stayed close, not flying to their usual safe places, sitting on the deck, in the honeysuckle bush, the beech tree, hovering around my head.

They were too hungry to be afraid.

“Don’t judge me, I’m having a bad hair day.”

I filled the thistle feeder, the oiler feeders, the suet cage and then spread seed along the railing so that all of them could eat without having to wait their turns.

“I think I’ll head over to the quieter thistle feeder. These cardinals are crazy”

And they did. And in return they let me take their pictures.

“Yep, she puts on a great spread. She was a little late today, but it was worth the wait.”

I’d say it was a even exchange.

“I heard there was a ‘one shot, one treat’ rule around here. I already gave you my one shot.”


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Seeking an Eagle

Today, while much of the rest of the United States was under various weather advisories, we had sun. It was cold, but the wind of the past few days has blasted off toward the east coast. Nineteen degrees farhrenheit (-7.22 C) and blue skies just begged for a photography adventure.

And I knew just the place.

Maybe this is the eagle!

Not far from me is a National Cemetary; I’ve taken you there before. But lately I’ve been hearing about an eagle hanging around the acres and acres of gleaming white headstones. I’ve been out there a couple times hoping to find him, but couldn’t find the nest and never saw the magnificent bird.

Since it’s so close to home, and it was a pretty day, I figured I wouldn’t be disappointed if I failed again. And you know me, I’ll always find something to take a picture of!

What about those globby shapes over in those trees?

Right near the entrance I saw a bird in the top of a dead tree. Could that be the eagle? Naw…just a big crow.

Then toward the back of the cemetary I saw a bunch of blobs high up in the trees, could those be eagles? Naw..just some clumps of leaves, maybe squirrel nests.

I wandered around some more, but saw nothing else that looked promising. Still, I wasn’t sad, it was such a pretty day…

The sun makes everything beautiful.

…and the moon was setting. I always enjoy a late setting moon.

Moon over Michigan.

And then, just as I gave up and turned the car around to go, I saw this out of the corner of my eye. Could it be?

If that’s another squirrel nest, it belongs to a really big squirrel.

I put that car in park fast and was out of it, moving as quickly as I could across the lawn, then creeping into the woods. I had to pass two signs that warned me not to trespass, hoping to get a shot before someone arrested me.

Taking a break from this year’s remodel project.

And I did. But the eagle knew exactly where I was too, walking on all that crunchy snow I sounded like a herd of elephants making my way through the woods. I only got a couple shots before he took off.

He flew in a big wide circle, and then vanished into the trees.

“Tourists! A guy can’t catch a break around here.”

I didn’t have any stellar shots…but I got to see an eagle fly.

“See ya later, lady!”

On the way home I took a different back road, and realized almost right away that it wound along the back of the cemetary. And guess what?

Well, duh. The view, with the morning sun is way better over here.

There’s a much better view of the eagle’s nest from back there!

And on the way I got to see a barn.

Red barn, white snow, blue sky. Perfect.

When I got home I was still excited about seeing the eagle and having such a good time with the camera on such a pretty day. And I’ve heard there’s an eagle out at Kensington, my favorite park.

That’s not so far away either. The sun is still shining.

Too pretty a day to spend inside.

Should I head out there? What are the odds that I’ll find an eagle just sitting around waiting for me to discover him?

What are the odds?

Guess you’ll have to wait and see.

Eagle or no eagle, always good to stop by this place.


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Barn music

I’m having trouble with my clarinet. Some of it is me having to play through a mask. But most of the problem revolves around sticky pads. For several notes when I move my fingers there’s a delay in the movement of keys.

This farm was the reason I got off the freeway.

In normal times that might not be a huge problem, as I’d be one of twelve or so clarinets. But at Tuesday night’s rehearsal we only had two clarinets so I could hear myself, and it wasn’t good.

These two caught my eye right away.

Wednesday I drove my clarinet to a music store about an hour away. Of course nothing was sticking when the technician checked it out. I told him the problem only becomes noticible when the instrument is warm, after I’ve been playing for half an hour or more.

Snow and red barn.

He nodded and took it into the back room, I guess to give it a stern talking to.

I loved the little dormer.

In a few minutes he brought it back, saying the pads were dirty and he cleaned them. Of course, until I try to play it for awhile I won’t know whether the issue is fixed.

I guess I should get to practicing.

I turned around to get this image.

So where do the barns fit in? Well, I drove through farm country to get to the music store, and had my camera with me. I got off the freeway and wandered around those snowy fields for a little bit before hustling home.

Sitting alone on a corner.

I figured that way I wasn’t wasting all that gas just to get a couple key pads cleaned.

Right?

Right.


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Reading in times of covid

I thought I had lost my love of reading somewhere in the middle of this past year of covid testing and isolation. But Goodreads says I entered the year not enjoying my very first book, Writing in Flow, Keys to Enhanced Creativity by Susan Perry.

“I just couldn’t get into it. I’ll try again.”

I didn’t try again.

And the last book I reviewed, Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout didn’t fare any better.

“I love her writing but I’m glad this one is done.”

There are other reviews for the thirty-four books I read in 2021, but I don’t have the patience to go read the reviews I wrote to find out how many I actually enjoyed. And when I puruse the list I can’t remember the plot to any of them.

In October when I finished the Strout book I had no idea that I wouldn’t read or review another one the rest of the year.

Not reading is troubling. I have always loved to read. I miss reading. You’d think in times of stress that reading would give me an escape, that I’ve be buried in books.

And, in fact, I have plenty of books to read. I’ve started several. There are books about my camera that I need to read, books I’ve seen on daytime television that I’ve purchased impulsively, a book my aunt lent me sits on the table next to my chair.

I have no “number of books read” goal for 2022. Rather, I think, my goal this year will be to find again the pleasure of reading. I should probably start soon. January is almost half over. Who has a recomendation for something light, happy, hopeful or heartwarming?

I could sure use a librarian about now.

My anti-reading dog.


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All hail Queen Abby!

Katie here. Mama and I received very sad news last night. Our friend, the regal Queen Abby crossed the rainbow bridge yesterday. I was heartbroken when mama told me.

Queen Abby.

You might remember that I first met Abby a few years ago in Ann Arbor when we walked in the Arboretum together. We were both younger then, and we walked a long way!

This is fun!

Abby and I had so much fun! I noticed that though she was a little younger than me she carried herself with such grace, and looked so regal. I immediately decided she was a Queen. I’m sure you agree.

She was definitely royalty.

Then the moms got us together again, in a little park on an island in the Huron River. We had a beautiful day to explore, though we didn’t walk as much as we had before, we were getting older you know.

We were always willing to pose for our moms.

I so enjoyed my time with Abby. She was the perfect park explorer companion. We liked to walk together down paths and across fields.

Abby was a happy girl.

And we loved to sit together in the shade too.

Can you believe the moms want more pictures?

Abby was such a classy Queen. She never sniffed my private parts, and she never snapped at me, even when I was sniffing hers.

How you doing, girlfriend?

We got along like we’d always known each other. If we’d lived closer to each other I know we’d have turned out to be best friends.

The Queen surveying her park.

I think Abby was an old soul, you know? She was a wise, sweet girl who liked to go on adventures in a sedate sort of way. As befits royalty.

A Queen and her chariot.

And just like me, she was happy, no matter where she was, as long as she was hanging out with her mom. A wise girl indeed.

They loved each other so much.

We met again, our last walk together, just this past fall in another park. We hardly walked at all, but the moms found shady spots for us to sit and talk. We had a good time even though Abby couldn’t see very well anymore.

The Queen resting for a bit.

I’m kind of glad I didn’t know back then that it was my last visit with the Queen. I’d have been so sad, just like I’m sad now.

Content to sit near her mom.

I wish I could go on one more walk with her, but I know that when I cross the rainbow bridge Queen Abby will be there to welcome me and show me around. She’ll have her sight back, and we’ll both be able to hear again. And we’ll be able to run and bark and explore together forever!

We had a great view of the park from up here!

So, Queen Abby, please know how much I treasured our friendship. I know you have lots of friends and siblings at the bridge, but I hope you remember to keep an eye out for me. When I get there we’ll go on our royal walks once again, and everyone will be in awe of our combined beauty, just like they were when we were together down here.

Our last picture of the Queen.

Mama says she will always remember you too, and that little white patch on your behind. It makes her smile, she says, to remember you. Mama and I are keeping your folks in our heart. We know they will miss you forever.

The royal team and their shadows.

Run free, sweet Queen Abby. We sure will miss you Your Highness.

See you later sweet Abby.


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Sharpie

I’m washing dishes this early morning, pots and pans left from last night’s dinner. Katie observes me and, deciding I’m going to be there awhile, settles down on her rug in the breakfast room, in front of the door to her deck. She loves to survey her yard from that vantage point, but this morning she’s sleepy, tummy full of breakfast.

Her mind wants to keep an eye on the birds, keep watch for squirrels, but her body is determined to take a nap. I watch her eyes slowly close, then blink open, then close again. Her head starts to bob.

I stop washing dishes and stand there memorizing her.

As if she feels me watching, her eyes pop open and she gives me a side-eyed glance, checking to see if I noticed her dereliction of duty. I stay motionless. She relaxes and her eyes slide closed again, head still held high.

I tiptoe away, back to the living room to get the camera. Taking the lens cap off and turning back to the kitchen I am surprised by a little fuzzy girl standing right behind me, head tilted, watching.

“Whatcha doing mama?”

Sharp as a tack, this one.

My old girl.