Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Princess Katie does Walktober with the Queen

Katie here. Things have been kind of boring in my world lately – as you may have noticed I haven’t gone on any adventures in forever. So this year’s Walktober seemed the perfect opportunity for me to kick it up a notch. Or ten.

The moms put us up here ’cause some really big dogs were coming. And because we are cute.

So I instructed mama to invite my friend Queen Abby (and her mom) to accompany me on my Walktober adventure. Abby was pretty excited about going on an adventure too. We think alike, Abby and me, mostly by ignoring each other. It works for us.

“Hey Katie, let’s not look at them when they take pictures of us, OK?”

Anyway, we met at Hudson Mills Metro Park down in Dexter which is near Ann Arbor Michigan. That way neither or our servants moms had to drive too far.

Queen Abby refused to smile, stating she was too regal to stoop to the paparazzi’s level.

It was a pretty day, though it started out foggy. But I don’t mind that, foggy means cool, and cool is, well cool to us shelties. We wait all year for the temperatures to drop so we can show off our beautiful but heavy coats for everyone to see

OK, maybe a little smile.

But I digress. I’m here to show you all the fall color, right? Hmmmm….down here in lower Michigan there’s isn’t that much color quite yet.

Mama says the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is at peak color right now. She’s not up there. I think she’s sad about that, but she sure wasn’t sad about going on an adventure with me!

A little bit of color against a beautiful blue sky.

Abby and I even put up with all the photos the moms wanted to take. As long as they didn’t want us to sit too close together we were willing.

Not going to look at you, mama.

And we managed to find some color under a couple of trees so that the moms felt like this walk qualified for a Walktober.

We paused to rest at this spot that was right next to a disc golf tee, so we got to see lots of guys throwing stuff. I thought that was facinating.

We had a wonderful time. The moms were very careful to let us rest as much as we wanted. After all, both I and the Queen are seniors now.

We sat in this pavilion, the concrete was nice and cold.

But we walked a good long way too, just real slow. The better to appreciate our adventure, you know.

Seriously Katie, does your mom always take so many pictures?”

I think Queen Abby was glad she granted me the playdate so we could go on on a Walktober together.

All hail the Queen!

And I was really glad to share my adventure with her too. But, eventually, we had to leave. We each went back to our waiting carriages.

I was disgruntled because my treats had not been placed in my private compartment as requested.

I don’t think Abby was quite ready to leave. I didn’t want to say goodbye either.

See you later sweet Abby-girl!

But I was ready for a nap, and slept most of the way home. Except when mama stopped to take pictures of barns. But I forbade her from showing those on my Walktober post!

Geeze mother!

I swear, that woman has no boundries! But I’ll forgive her, cause I had a stupendously fun day!

Talk later, your adventuring girl Princess Katie.

PS: Thank you to Miss Robin for hosting the Walktober again this year! It got mama to take me to a park, so I owe you!!

Come along with me, there’s another adventure just over here!


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Practice makes perfect

Our community band headed back to rehearsal this week. Tuesday night was the first time we’ve played together since March of 2020. Though we normally start up again in September after the summer break, this year we delayed starting so that the school system could decide what the protocol for our playing in their buildings would be.

We are required to where a split mask while we play, and our instrament bells must be covered as well. It’s kind of crazy, because, at least for woodwinds, air blows out through all the keyholes too which remain uncovered.

Several people protested that playing band instruments while wearing a mask was ridiculous. I suppose it is. I’m on the board and we decided early on to send out a survey, telling our musicians what the requirements would be and asking if they would be playing this season. About 50% decided they weren’t comfortable and opted out.

I understand, I waffled myself.

But in the end, for me, the chance to play overrode lingering fear of contrating covid again. Though I have to tell you, playing while wearing a mask is not easy. Playing while wearing a mask when you haven’t played more than a handful of times in the past 18 months is really hard. Playing while wearing a mask when you haven’t played much in the past 18 months and while wearing glasses that fog up is really really hard.

We’re practicing Christmas music; our first concert will be in December, and Santa will be there, so we’re motivated. I’ll be practicing this week while wearing a mask so I can figure out how to breath without fogging up. And so I can blow for longer than one measure without getting winded.

Santa from another concert, another year, another lifetime ago.

Yep, I have a lot of work to do. But we’re playing music again, a sure sign that the world is beginning to right itself. And that makes me smile. I hope you have found reasons to smile this week too. Even if you’re wearing a mask and fogging up your glasses.

Change is hard.


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Northern Lights

No, I’ve never seen them in person. Well. I might have seen a tiny bit of some once, but I’m not sure.

I’ve been watching all the great Northern Light images popping up on Facebook. Many are being shot in northern Michigan, often very near where I used to live a lifetime ago. Sometimes I can tell exactly where the photographer was standing because I’ve stood there myself.

Creating pollution, light and otherwise while waiting for the Northern Lights.

Now days I live far away from the northern reaches of the Upper Peninsulia which would be my first choice of viewing locations. It’s just not practical to jump in the car when conditions are right and drive ten hours on the off chance the dancing lights appear.

It was a crazy night.

But I’m sure, sooner or later, I’ll be in the right place at the right time. In fact I was, kind of, a couple years ago.

I never saw this fist cloud that night, only when I reviewed images later.


These are photos from 2019 when we were in the UP in the fall and northern lights were predicted. Not only predicted among local northern light buffs, but also on national news networks. Everyone knew there should be lights that night.

Is there some green light over there?

Which is why we found ourselves on a beach looking out at Lake Superior along with a few thousand of our closest friends, all of whom were enjoying bonfires producing smoke obscuring the sky.

Bad composition, but the Milky Way is there.

Yep. That’s the closest I ever got to seeing the Northern Lights.

They’re out there somewhere. I never did figure out what that red spot was in the water.

It was a crazy night, and though I was facinated by the others on the beach, mostly Michigan Tech students, we couldn’t see much of anything out over the water. I didn’t even look at these images when we finally made it home from our adventures. We’d seen so many other wonderful things that trip I never thought about these shots at all.

But I have to say…maybe, just maybe I did see some Northern Lights that night. In spite of myself.

There were people and bonfires as far down the beach as we could see. In both directions.

Note: These aren’t great images, but to see them at all you’ll probably need to be in a dark room and looking at something larger than your phone.


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Brown sugar

I think about Aunt Vi nearly every morning. Some of you will remember she was my husband’s aunt who lived to be 102.5 years old.

She liked to use that extra .5, because at her age, every month counted. Kind of like a little girl who might answer the question about her age with “4 and a half!” eager to head to kindergarten when she turned five.

Back in her younger days

Anyway, I think about her most days as I make my morning oatmeal. During her last year of life she lived in a nursing home, where the only meal she would eat was her breakfast oatmeal. And the only thing that made that meal edible was the brown sugar she kept in a baggie in her nightstand drawer.

At her 100th birthday party.

She showed me that bag on one of my visits, a worn out baggie, opened and closed numerous times. The kind where you have to line up the two sides correctly to get the bag to seal.

At 101, still at home with her bird Charlie

It it wasn’t completely sealed, the tiny bits of brown sugar hardened at the bottom of the bag.

And I think about it now. Sprinkling that brown sugar on her oatmeal (which she said was often cold by the time it got to her) was the highlight of her day. Those bits of sweetness were like gold might be to someone else.

And it never occured to me to offer to bring her more. I could have shown up one visit with a fresh bag of brown sugar, sugar that was still soft, but more abundant. Sugar she wouldn’t have to ration so tightly.

Her 102nd birthday.

Every morning when I make my oatmeal, when I sprinkle it with brown sugar I think of her.

And I send up a silent apology that I was so blind.

“What are you doing?” she asked me when I took this with my phone


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Can’t ignore me, mama!

Katie here.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that mama has been gallivanting all over the state again. You might have also noticed I was not invited.

Just napping, it’s so boring around here.

Well I certainly noticed. When I got sick, way back last spring, mama promised me she’d never leave me again. Apparently she is not to be trusted.

But, since I am a sheltie and since I love my mama so much I have decided to forgive her, because she feels bad enough that I wouldn’t eat my kibble while she was gone. Daddy had to feed me chicken and rice again.

These are my flowers, over near my driveway. I think pink is my color.

I suppose, in the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that mama made the chicken and rice for me before she left, just in case daddy felt like he needed it to make me happy.

This dead tree fell into my yard while mama was off camping.

So I guess she was thinking about me even though she was off having fun without me.

The pictures in this post were taken at my house and in my yard. Mama took me on a walk around the yard as soon as she got home. She thinks that makes up for leaving me.

This is where we’d be camping in my backyard if mama hadn’t been off having fun. I guess I should be thankful she and her tent weren’t home, ey?

I might let her believe that, ’cause it makes her happy. And don’t tell her, but whatever makes mama happy makes me happy.

Signing off, your girl Katie.

OH!! I almost forgot! Miss Robin is going to do Walktober again this year! That means we all should go for a walk, sometime between October 11th and the 25th, and then blog about it and link back to Miss Robin’s blog. (Mama says the link above is to an old post, but it explains how Walktober works. Miss Robin will have a new post about it soon.) Mama says she’s thinking about where I can go now that I’m a senior and walk so slow. She says she’ll figure it out. I can’t wait! You should check it out too. Just tell Miss Robin that Katie sent you. 🙂

Meanwhile, I’ll stay vigilant on squirrel patrol.


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UP dreams

The Upper Peninsula is mostly rural. Though there are small towns everywhere, and a few larger more urban areas, much of it is woods and water. That’s why I like it so much.

Someone cared enough to paint the trim.

But as I travel around I always notice the old homesteads. The places where people once lived but have abandoned. Nature is gradually taking back what was always hers.

Somehow the goldenrod made this one seem a bit friendly.

I think about the people that used to live here. I wonder what happened to make them leave. I wonder what dreams they had when they first built, moved in, worked the land or at the neighborhood store. I wonder when and why they gave up on their dreams.

Sometimes, in cold climates, bright colors help to make the winter more tolerable.

Maybe they haven’t left at all, maybe they’re around the next corner, maybe they just built a bigger, stronger house somewhere.

This one was already quite large. Love the virginia creeper taking over the porch.

But it doesn’t usually feel that way.


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Remembering covid victims

A friend alerted us to a project happening now in Washington DC, where thousands of white flags are being planted near the Washington Monument, one flag for each victim of covid.

Getty image, found on NPR website

The installation will be there only until October 3rd, so we won’t get to see it in person, but you can see pictures at the project website.

You can also submit information for your loved one lost to covid at that site, through September 30th, so that they can be part of this event. We have submitted information about my brother-in-law, Denny Morgan.

It’s a beautiful way to keep their memories alive for all of us.

I encourage you to visit the physical site if you’re in the DC area, or online if you can’t get there. There are more images on the NPR site.

Denny

Edit: Go to the project website above, and scroll down to the Covid Lost Loved Ones map. You can click on any of the hearts on the map and see the story of the individual. Click on a few. You will see how this virus doesn’t discriminate. The loss is heartbreaking.


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Both ends of the road

While camping midway on M-77 in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula last week I decided to explore both ends of that road.

The colors are changing on M-77 north of M-28 in the UP!

I’d been up at the northern end, which terminates at Grand Marais along the coast of Lake Superior, in June, but it’s such a pretty spot I thought I’d go see what the lake was up to again.

I always love the color of the water against the purple grey clouds during a fall storm on this lake.

As seems to be usual when I visit, it was a stormy day on Lake Superior. Heavy dark clouds made the sky facinating, but made me dash to the car several times as bands of cold rain swept in.

Good thing I brought my raincoat.

That didn’t deter the rock pickers and there were even a few beach walkers out there even during the worst of it.

This guy was riding the waves and wind, while a flock of sandhill cranes in the distance fly against the wind.

But amazingly, the sun won the weather battle and the sky began to brighten. More people instantly appeared to revel in the beauty that is a beach walk in Grand Marais.

Nothing like a brisk walk along the beach once the rain lets up.

I always enjoy my time on the shores of Lake Superior, and this time I didn’t pick up one single rock! Though that might have been due to the weather and not my willpower.

The next morning I headed south on M-77 down to where it ends at M-2, then a bit west to Manistique. My goal was to visit a spring my husband and a friend had both told me I had to see. But first there was this pretty lighthouse off the shore of Lake Michigan.

Reminds me of us, decades ago.

Who can resist, right? It was still windy and cold, but this family out there on the rocks was having lots of fun. Four little kids, they reminded me of my family when we were all that young.

But I was really there to see Kitch-iti-kipi.

This deep, photogenic spring resides within a state park.

What is that, you ask? And how do you pronounce it? Well, maybe I better let you read about it first.

It’s a deep, beautiful spring that maintains a 45 F temperature all year around, even in the cold upper Michigan winters. There’s a barge like flotation that runs on a cable out over the top of the spring.

The colors really are this intense. Especially when the sun shines.

The barge is moved by turning a wheel near the back. Anyone on the barge can turn the wheel and be captain for awhile.

Pull hard to the starboard side!

The center of the barge was open so you could see straight down into the water.

Some big fish down there!

The water was so beautiful, it was mesmerizing. Everywhere I looked people were smiling and happy and chatting and exclaiming over how beautiful it all was.

Such amazing colors!

So, that’s what there is to see at the north and south ends of M-77 in the UP. Since you can’t all get there this fall, I figured you wouldn’t mind if I shared.

Hope you’re smiling now too!

Note: You really should look at these images on something bigger than a phone. You’ll smile wider I promise.