Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


31 Comments

A little water therapy

We had some bad weather Saturday night, with rain blowing sideways for a time. I was sure that my tent, up in the backyard, would be flooded but it wasn’t. There was, however, a tornado that touched down not many miles from us during the storm, and a tree across the street from us split, falling across the road and into our yard.

None of that made me smile.

What did make me smile was a couple hours of paddling on a lake with one of my college roommates. We don’t see each other very often, but it’s always a good time when we do.

We caught up with each other’s lives, her kids, my dog.

And we enjoyed a sweet after the storm breeze, bright blue skies and sunshine as we floated across the water.

You just can’t beat being on the water for giving yourself a pick-me-up.

So that’s my smile for this week. What made you smile?


47 Comments

The Princess and the pea

Katie here! HEY! Whatcha doing, whatcha doing, whatcha doing?

HEY!

As you can see I am feeling a lot better. Whatcha doing? Oh…excuse me, sometimes I get distracted. I don’t suppose you happen to have a treat for me? No? Did you check your back pocket? Oh. Well anyway.

Ahem….

So mama and daddy are trying to get me to eat this KD food stuff. I’m back to eating regular dog food, kibble and wet food, and I’m pretty excited about it. Food used to be one of my mostest wonderful, bestest favorite stuff in the whole world.

And then I got sick and food wasn’t so good anymore and everybody got worried. But this past month I’ve eaten more and now, just in the past week I’m back to asking for more food, more treats, more everything!

On my way home from the vet.

But just to keep things interesting sometimes I don’t eat all my supper. I was never like that, I never left even one smidgen of food in my bowl in case someone else came along and stole it, you know.

Now when they give me wet food I might eat some of it, generally with not much gusto, but mama and daddy have figured something out. If they put a fresh pea, pressed into the food, I gobble it up!

Gormet

Seriously, a pea.

Sometimes they add several peas to my meal, sometimes it’s just one pea. Either way, it always works and I clean my bowl right up. And then I lick the bowl to make sure it’s super clean.

Nom nom nom…

If that’s not proof I’m a Princess I don’t know what is.

See you later, your Princess and her pea, Katie-girl.

Hurry up with that dinner, mama!


40 Comments

Smiling on a hot summer evening

The county fair is back. The fairground is in my tiny town, a little over a mile from the house. When Katie and I camp in the backyard during fair week we can hear the monster trucks, the announcer, the fireworks, the roar of the crowd.

What do you think is the best part about a fair…the food? Or the rides?

The noise doesn’t bother me, it’s only for one week and it’s the epitome of summer in the midwest. I have so many memories of the county fair, not this one, but the one we used to go to when we were kids.

Food? Or rides?

Which pretty much is exactly like the one I wandered this week. Big barns full of rabbits, goats, chickens, cows, and sheep waiting with their young person for their turn in the ring to be judged. Another barn full of sewing, knitting, canning, flower arrangements, and artwork, each a project of some young person, some with ribbons already attached.

Maybe the best thing is the games, though nobody really wins anything. Do they?

I was a 4-H kid in the 60s. I knit, mostly because I hated sewing which seemed to be my other option. Each year I entered a misshappen sweater at the fair. I think sometimes I won a ribbon, but I don’t remember.

The excitment that only the young can experience on these things.

I also don’t remember riding the midway rides, though I’m sure we did. We probably had some number of rides budgeted. We sure didn’t have free reign to ride as many and as often as we wanted.

I bet their hearts were beating fast while they swung in the darkness.

This year I noticed that there were bracelets available that let you into everything at the fair. All the rides, the shows, and who knows what else. They were $25.00 each.

How many funnel cakes can you buy with $25?

I don’t think I’d be able to ride enough to make that purchase worthwhile. Not without throwing up at least once. And there’s no way my folks would have sprung for a wrist band, even if there had been such a thing back then, for all four of us kids.

The Sizzler sizzled into the night.

Nope, I’m sure we could pick out one ride that we wanted to do and that was probably it.

Maybe the best part of a fair is just spending time with your friends.

But I do remember a booth where you could drop paint onto a spinning canvas, then you got to take your creation home. I had that painting for years. That was probably 50 years ago and it’s the most vivid memory I have of the county fair growing up. It still makes me smile.

I think I could ride this one.

We don’t go to the county fair every year these days, even though it is right in our town. And of course last year there was no fair.

Or maybe not.

So it’s been a long time since I’ve gone. But this year it seemed like a celebration of the return of something fundamental, and I looked forward to going back for a walk around.

There’s no calories in cotten candy. Right?

Wednesday evening turned out to be the moment, and I arrived just as the sun was going down on a hot afternoon.

This ride might be safe for me.

Most of the families with little kids looked exhausted. Many of them were leaving, but the young people were just arriving. I was there to mess around with the camera once it got dark and the midway lit up.

At least you could get your vegetables.

It’s not a big fair, it takes only minutes to see everything. But with each round I made I saw different images. I should have had a tripod, but I didn’t want to haul anything extra.

Ride this one before you eat any of the fair food.

All of these shots were handheld, most of the time letting the camera choose the ISO. Sometimes I delibertaly made the exposure longer to blur the lights. That was the most fun, just to see what came through.

Add the moon and it was a pretty special night.

Mostly I was there to have some fun, just like all the rest of the folks standing in lines for rides and food. It’s just my idea of fun involves more about the camera and less hanging upside down from a midway attraction.

Round and around they go.

But if I was 50 years younger I might just have tried those flying swings. I think even my stomach could have handled that.

Best view at the fair.


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What’s the difference?

You all know my dad was killed in a preventable truck crash December 23, 2004, and that ever since then I’ve been a volunteer for the Truck Safety Coalition. Our mission is to provide compassionate support to victims and their families, and to educate people and policymakers about changes that should be implemented to make our roads safer for everyone.

And, you all know that change is slow and hard.

Many of you have expressed frustration in support of me and our organization’s effort, and here’s an easy way that you can help.

The Senate is taking up S. 2016, the Surface Transportation Investment Act (you have heard it referred to as the Infrastructure Bill) this week. They’ll probably debate into next week. Inside that bill is a weak attempt at getting automatic emergency braking systems (AEB) on trucks.

Due to pressure from the trucking industry, the bill only calls for this lifesaving technology to be mandated on new Class 7 and 8 trucks. Those are the biggest trucks out there, and yes it will be very good to have mandated AEB on the new trucks that size. But what about all the medium and small commercial trucks running around in our neighborhoods?

Last year there was a bill that mandated AEB on all vehicles. Doesn’t that make more sense? Car manufacturers have agreed to have AEB on all their new vehicles in the next few years. Truck cab manufacturers already offer it, but it’s not mandated and companies, looking to save some money, often order new cabs without it.

In case you’re interested, the cost of adding AEB to a new truck will run about $270 to $290. For perspective, the cost of a new Class 6 truck can be $90,000 or more. Seems a small price to pay for safety, don’t you think?

Based on new truck sales data there are about 500,000 new Class 3-6 trucks sold every year. New sales of these medium and small trucks has increased by 16% in the past 5 years alone. And many thousands of these trucks are running through our neighborhoods daily, delivering all the stuff we buy online these days.

Kids playing, people walking or biking, or just driving home through their neighborhoods are exposed to all the delivery trucks, all days of the week, early in the morning and late into the evening. Why would we not want these trucks equipped with available and inexpensive safety technology?

One last statistic. Small and medium trucks are responsible for 27% of all fatalities in commercial truck crashes. In 2019 there were almost 5,000 people killed in truck related crashes. So approximately 1350 people were killed in crashes with small and medium trucks. I don’t know how many of those were crashes, like my dad’s, where the victims were waiting in traffic and were struck from behind. But even if it’s only a few, are those lives not as valuable as the lives lost to crashes with huge trucks?

It should be a simple decision to mandate Automatic Emergency Braking on all vehicles, all cars, all trucks, no matter the size. That way, no matter the reason for the inattention of a vehicle driver, be it a medical event, distraction, or sleepiness, the vehicle can sense when something is up ahead and slow or stop before the crash happens.

If you were sitting in that car, stuck in traffic with nowhere to go, while another vehicle, car or truck, was bearing down on you, wouldn’t you be hoping they had AEB? I think about it all the time, maybe you will too, now that you’re heard about an easy solution.

So here’s what you can do. Call or email your two Senators and tell them that you want Senate Bill S. 2016 to require the DOT (Department of Transportation) to mandate Automatic Emergency Braking systems on all vehicles, not just Class 7 and 8 trucks. Tell them every life that can be saved should be saved, regardless of the size of the vehicles involved.

You can find the phone number and/or the websites of your Senators by going to this link. You put in your state and it will bring up your two Senators. You can click on them and go directly to their email contact form. Their phone numbers are there too, so if you’d rather call, you can. Just tell the person that answers the phone what your concern is. Don’t be nervous. It’s their job to listen to you.

We don’t know if we will be able to get all vehicles into this bill. But for darn sure it won’t happen if we don’t try.

Your voice is important, and I’m grateful, as always, for your support. Next time you see that delivery van zipping around your neighborhood wonder, like I do, if it has Automatic Emergency Braking. And look forward to the day, sometime in the future, when you won’t have to wonder about that anymore.

Thanks, dad, for being the inspiration for my work. You never gave up. We won’t either.


36 Comments

Mom musings

I’ve been missing my mom the past week or so even more than usual. Those of us with moms who are gone miss them every day, but sometimes the ache is just more profound.

A little poppy from our wildflower bed, in early morning light.

I’ve found myself wanting to give her a call. To ask her how she did so much with all of us when some days I don’t seem to get anything done at all.

I wonder how she kept her gardens up. I don’t have any memories of her weeding, though she had gardens in our house in Adrian, and again in Howell, and then in Alabama. I can’t keep up with the gardens we have, and I don’t have nearly the responsibilities she did when we were growing up.

The coreopsis lifts it’s face to the sun.

And meals. I know I’ve talked about this before, but how in the world did she manage to get a meal (or two) on the table for six of us every single day? I know we took it for granted and often asked her what was for dinner. I don’t remember ever reacting negatively to her reply, but just the question alone placed all the responsibility on her and she must have felt that weight.

Mama? I’ll wait right here while you take those pictures and think about your Mom.

When we were older, did we ever make a meal for the family? Sometimes on Sunday we’d make the coffee cake for evening supper. Wow, what a relief she must have felt, ey? One meal during the week where we made something, though I imagine she was there to supervise. I don’t remember ever working in the kitchen that she wasn’t there too.

The zinnia stands up straight and tall.

And let’s not even start talking about laundry. Though I remember knowing how to do laundry at an early age, I also remember mom sitting on the sofa with six growing piles of folded underwear surrounding her as she tried to match all the socks. It seemed to be never ending.

Just beginning to emerge.

I know we had Saturday chores, the vaccuuming and cleaning the bathrooms and probably a whole lot more that I can’t remember. I know the list on Saturday of things we had to get done before we could go off and do whatever kids did back then seemed long.

But I doubt it was that lengthy, and nowhere near the list she handled every day. Stuff we took for granted. Stuff we took for granted her entire life.

Red lantana can brighten anybody’s day.

I remember her finally coming down to the family room in the evening after she finished whatever chore she had attacked at the end of the day. We’d all be down there watching the big bulky television and she’d settle on the sofa between a couple kids, or next to dad.

And she’d instantly fall asleep, in what I realize now, was sheer exhaustion.

Light folds into the lilly blossoms.

She’d wake up at the commercials, because, as some of you may recall, they’d be louder than the television show they sponsored. She used to say all she ever saw on television were the commercials.

Once upon a time I thought she and dad were too old to up and move across the country when they were fifty, leaving everything they knew behind. Now I’m fifteen years older than they were then and I don’t think it’s odd at all to contemplate and even accomplish such an adventure.

So much glorious color at this time of the year makes me smile.

Mom and dad had plenty of adventures, both when we were kids, and after we had left home. But I think of those early years with all four of us and dad to take care of and I don’t know how she did it.

There are smiles everywhere you look.

I hope she knows that I recognize her work now and wish I had expressed that to her all those years ago.

I guess today is Mother’s Day in my heart.

It’s OK, mama. I think she knew.