Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Paddle away the blues

Sometimes being here at the house my parents built without them gets a little sad. Though it’s beautiful here it’s also filled with lots of memories.

Savoring the stillness.

Everywhere.

So the other evening, feeling a bit melancholy, I took a little paddle upstream. The evening was warm and still.

Mountains of clouds.

I spent a little time just sitting near the green trees, floating in the water, the clouds reflected all around me. It was just what I needed to fix my blues.

Green reflected in green.

Being a weekday it was quiet, all the weekend lake lovers had to go back to their jobs and city lives. But as I was paddling back to the house a big pontoon boat slid by me creating large waves that gently rocked my kayak. I waved at them. They waved back at me.

Rocking in warm waters.

Southern living. It’s a good thing.

The day’s clouds produced no rain for us. This time.

I headed home to wait for the evening’s sunset.

Perfect.

Pretty in pink.


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Lake dogs

Katie here. I thought I should share an observation I’ve made while living down here in Alabama at the lake.

Dogs around here don’t seem to be bothered by getting their feet wet!

Jet ski dog

Huh.

Why just yesterday I saw several dogs out on the water. I guess they are not all princesses like me.

Kayak dog

As close as I want to get to the water is along the lake shore or maybe on the dock. Yesterday I did run along the shore for awhile, cause my mama and her sister and brother were swimming and I wanted to keep an eye on them.

Paddle board dog

And while they were swimming I barked and chased the waves that dared to splash on my rocks, then I ran to the neighbor’s boat ramp and barked some more; I even got my feet wet there!! Accidentally of course…that one stupid wave was bigger than I thought.

Pontoon boat dog. I think this might work best for a princess like me.

Anyway, yesterday was Saturday and lots of dogs were out on the lake with their people. I guess they were enjoying the water. So I figured I should maybe give it a try. So I asked and my people said I could come along on a boat ride they were planning.

This is the way to travel!

You may remember that I’ve been in a boat over at my Uncle’s place two times before. But that was back when it was a lot cooler outside, and not on a weekend when there were hundreds of thousands of boats out there making waves!

It was a beautiful day so I guess I can’t blame all those boats for being out there.

OK. Maybe I exaggerate a little bit. There were probably only a couple hundred boats out there, and it’s a big lake. Still…it was really bumpy.

I can look adorable even in a bumpy boat!

I was pretty much OK. Sometimes I sat up near the front between my dad and Uncle. A bunch of the time I sat next to my mom or my Aunt. But it was really windy back there.

This is not a good look mama!

If I felt nervous I’d just lean up against mama or my Aunt’s knee and they’d pet me, and then I felt pretty safe.

Sometimes a hand is all a doggie needs to feel a lot safer.

It was nice to be out there…

The fire tower has a flag on it now!

…but as soon as we pulled back into my part of the lake I knew I was almost home and I went to stand up near my Uncle and dad…

A little to the port side Captain!

…to help guide the boat back into the boat lift you know.

I’m pretty sure they were glad they had me along, but to be honest, I was happy to be back with all four of my paws dry and firmly on the ground.

I’m not sure exactly what all those other dogs see in the spray and the waves and the wet! But I guess I’m happiest when I’m next to my people. And if that means I’m in a boat, well, that’s just fine with me.

Signing off for now, First Mate Katie-girl. Boat dog extraordinaire.

Me and my mama chilling out on the boat.


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Living on the lake – summer storm

Once upon a time (this afternoon) Katie and I were sitting on the back porch just watching the lake. Not reading a book, not napping, not looking at a phone or a computer screen.

Just watching the lake

It was a beautiful sunny day when suddenly…

A cool thing about being on a lake is that it’s always changing. From moment to moment the light changes, the wind ruffles the surface, a fish jumps, a bird swoops, clouds gather, thunder threatens.

Wait a minute. Thunder threatens? Why yes, almost every afternoon in this magical place a thunderstorm pops up.

…it turned into a dark and stormy afternoon!

Today we heard it way off to the north, but getting closer. And across the way dark clouds gathering high above a house.

I left Katie on the porch and went down to the lake to get a better look. She was not happy to see me approaching danger. But she stayed up on the porch and worried.

I’ll wait up here mama, but I don’t like it.

It got darker and darker. The wind picked up from the northwest.

It’s blowing hard up here!

Waves developed and Katie just couldn’t stay on the porch any longer. She rushed down to the shore to bark at the bad waves! She was so fast that I couldn’t get a clear shot of her.

Stand back mama! I’ll get these waves out of here!

She ran out onto the dock to bark even harder at those waves posing a threat to her mama.

These waves haven’t heard the last from me!

And the winds slowed, and the waves leveled out and Katie was a happy girl.

Mission accomplished mama!

And then the rains came and we ran for the house. We watched the storm blow from the comfort of our living room and picture window. Katie continued to bark at all the thunder overhead.

I guess that storm wasn’t quite over, was it mama?!

And soon the storm blew away, and the sky began to lighten.

Just a summer shower now.

And the sun came out and made the world bright again.

Dripping sunlight.

And Katie said…

You can count on me!

… “I told you I’d handle it mama.”

The end.

Wednesday’s storm.


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A day at the lake

One early morning duck enjoys the quiet.


After two and a half days of driving Katie and I were content to spend Sunday just watching the lake. There was so much going on in our little corner of the world.

I think the birds are used to having the yard and water to themselves and they went about their busy schedules as if we weren’t watching. We stayed still up by the house and just observed.

The swallow gourds out in the water had huge spiderwebs spun the night before and filled with fishflies. A male bluebird liked to sit up on top and survey his kingdom, and a female bluebird was busy taking fresh bugs into the top left gourd.

The morning sun lit up one of the bird apartments.

When the wind picked up, huge parts of the fly filled spider web fell into the water and fish leaped out of the water to grab the gourmet treat. It was quite a spectacle and one I wish I had captured. You’ll have to imagine it.

Later large blackbirds flew at the remaining webs, grabbing some of the stuck flies for themselves, in between being bombarded by the bluebird couple who apparently thought the bigger birds were attacking their nest. No pictures of that either.

After the bird epic slowed down I decided to kayak up the creek. At the end of our slough is a cyprus forest. It was a quiet paddle, still early morning.

Paddling toward my favorite trees.

I love these trees, and this morning the light was pretty, playing across the texture of their trunks.

The sun on the trunk made pretty patterns.

The water is high here, there has been so much rain, and I could have explored further up the creek. But I thought about snakes hiding up in the trees and turned around.

Kind of spooky back there.

It was good timing anyway, as I was pulling back into our dock the sound of boat engines and people laughing slipped up over the hills. The lake was waking up. I smiled and headed back inside to my girl who was napping happily in the air conditioning.

Time for fun in the sun.

Later in the day the clouds settled in, and the wind picked up. Quickly Katie and I gathered up lawn chairs and dragged the kayak into the boat garage.

Clouding up. But still beautiful!

And then the rains hit.

Rain slams across the lake.

And just as quickly the rain blew away and the evening settled down quietly as did Katie and I.

After the rain the lake settles into evening.

Just a typical day on the lake in Alabama. Wonder what tomorrow will bring?

Summer greens.


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The road leads to many barns

Poppies at one of many rest stops we visited today.


If you’ve been following us on Facebook you’ll know that Katie and I are headed South. Today we completed day 2 of our 3 day adventure. We spent last night in Indianapolis Indiana, and tonight we’re in Huntsville Alabama. It’s supposed to be a 6 hour trip between the two but of course Katie and I stop at every rest stop along the way.

Plus we were driving through barn country.

This was probably pretty once.

Katie enjoys her rest stops and I enjoy my barns. What can I say except that she’s a very patient sheltie-girl. And I try not to get off course for very long or very often. In fact I only allowed myself to get off the freeway twice today when I saw lovely barns dotting the countryside. And I only traveled 3 or 4 miles out of the way each time.

I saw so many beautiful barns that were not in a spot easily found once I exited the freeway, but I always found something else that was (almost) as photogenic as what enticed me off course in the first place.

Saw this one from the freeway and actually found it after we got on the back roads.

It’s hot in the South right now. The car said it was 97 out there this afternoon. Katie, in her crate in the back seat, slept a lot and I tried to keep the car cool for her.

Cow rests in the shade.

But as the day wore on, and about two hours away from our hotel, I noticed the air conditioning was almost negligible. I’m sure she felt nothing cool in the back seat. She seemed lethargic and I began to panic. I rolled the windows down and hoped that the breeze made up for the lack of cool. I began to talk to her loudly and often. I told her we were going to get her dinner soon. She perked up.

Jackpot! A whole bunch of barns in one shot!

I stopped for a minute to give her a long drink of water and feel her tummy. She didn’t feel too warm. Yet. I drove faster and skipped the last rest stop at the Alabama line. I figured we were only 30 minutes from an air conditioned room, and stopping would do nothing but heat us both up even more.

Barn on the back road.

So I sang to her, talked to her, and she watched me, thinking something good was coming. It was. Air conditioning! I even planned on filling the tub with cool water if I had to cool her down. Or looking for a vet if I thought she was in heat stroke.

Working the fields on this hot afternoon.

But she bounced out of the car when we got to the hotel and pulled me, prancing all the way, into the lobby. And then she wanted to play. And eat her supper. And drink a big long drink. And go outside for a walk. And play some more. And go back outside. And get a treat. Or two.

The colors in the barn go so nicely with the colors in the field.

So I guess all my worrying was for nothing.

But tomorrow we’ll be getting up early to drive the last 4 hours to the lake before the afternoon heats up. And next week we’ll be taking the car to a dealer to see what’s up with the air.

It’s always something.

Air conditioning is good mama!


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The canals of Detroit

Kayaks waiting for us to begin our adventure.


Did you even know that Detroit has canals? Me either, and I live only an hour north of the city. But I saw an advertisement months ago on Facebook for kayak tours of the canals and I thought it looked interesting.

I know, I know. An advertisement on Facebook? But a friend of mine, someone I haven’t seen in a lot of years, agreed in a comment that it looked fun, and she made all the calls to get us a reservation.

Safer to do this while still on land than once we were on the water.

So Sunday was the day and of course there were thunderstorms predicted. Our early morning 3 hour tour was delayed until afternoon, and in the end that worked out just fine.

We arrived at the marina located just off the Detroit River slightly before scheduled takeoff. We got our life vests fitted and our safety lecture, and then we were in the water.

A quick meeting with one of our guides…

We started the tour by paddling around an island, originally built out of swamp land in the 1920s for wealthy people to live in big houses away from the city. Now it’s mostly filled with homes built in the 1990s.

…and we’re off!

But there are still a few of the original homes left. Like this 30,000 sq foot 2 bedroom mansion built for the Fishers, part of the General Motors team way back when…

The Fisher mansion is in disrepair but seems to be under renovation.

…and some smaller homes, also built in the 20s. Most of the homes built during that period burned in a big fire in the early 70s because the bridge to the island hadn’t been built large enough to carry Detroit city fire engines.

A couple of the smaller original homes.

After we circled the island we headed out to the Detroit River.

Headed into some serious paddling now.

The river is a busy shipping channel, connecting the Great Lakes and lets ships get, eventually, to the Atlantic Ocean. We were told to stick together, not go too far out into the river, but stay away from the wall along the shore, where waves would be slapping and bouncing back at us.

Almost immediately we saw a huge freighter coming our way. We were in no danger, but the size differential between it and us was hard to ignore.

That’s one mighty big ship.

And right behind that ship was another, bigger, deeper more foreboding ship. I knew they’d both be kicking up some serious wake and I was eager to turn off the river back into the safety of a canal.

Another huge ship coming our way.

There was already some serious chop going on and I didn’t really want to ride out any huge waves in my little orange kayak. Soon enough we turned away from the big water and into the relative calm of another canal.

This is much more relaxing!

Turning the next corner we found ourselves in a small community of river homes complete with boat houses. Most of them looked like they’d been around a long time.

Those boathouses might need a little work.

But other boat houses seemed in better repair. And some even held beautiful vintage wooden boats.

High tech garages for beautiful old boats.

We paddled through more older waterfront homes…

Pretending we’re gliding through Venice.

…and then had something of a traffic jam under a bridge.

Some confusion about who has the right of way.

Out the other side of the bridge, around another corner and past more boat houses we headed back toward the big river.

The locals tell us the water is very high this spring.

The sun was beginning to break through the clouds as we entered the Detroit River again. To the east of us the skies were still dark…

Let’s not go toward the storm.

…but to the west of us the sun was shining and the water sparkling.

Even the water got more vibrant when the sun came out.

But the wind had picked up and the water was even more choppy than before. There was little time for taking pictures. I had to try, though, because the Detroit skyline was right there and just stunning with big puffy white clouds overhead.

It turned into a beautiful day!

And then, just as everyone was getting tired paddling into the wind we turned one last time into the safety of the canals.

Back where we started, all too soon.

We had a wonderful time. We saw some really interesting houses and boats. We were challenged on the river. And the sun came out at the last minute to make it all look brilliant.

A pop of color on the beautiful water.

I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. I guess you can’t always dismiss those ads on Facebook. Sometimes they turn out to be pretty darn cool.

This one sure did.

Fun stuff.


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Park season

Let’s get going mama!

Katie here.

Hey! I bet you figured out that when mama and daddy went to Washington DC I didn’t get to go. Nope. I got left at ‘camp’ and I think I got gypped. Mama and daddy got to eat out at fancy restaurants and got to see the monuments and got to go to the zoo and I got to….well…I got to eat my dinner on time every night. I didn’t even have to bug anyone to get it! Not like here at home where I have to remind mama loudly and persistently every single day that it’s almost supper time!

Anyway…

Mama said it was too hot in DC for me, she told me I wouldn’t like it, but I think she was just telling stories to get me to feel better. On the other hand, it’s been really hot here too, way too hot for me to have any adventures at all.

But yesterday it rained real hard and I had to bark at the ceiling for a long time. After I made the rain go away it was a lot nicer outside. Mama and I even slept in our tent in the back yard! I love to sleep outside and I didn’t get mama up until 5:00 a.m. She was pleased cause usually I’m getting her up somewhere between 3:30 and 4:00. Every day.

And this morning mama was cold! That hasn’t happened in a couple of weeks. She said it was a good morning for a walk at my park! Did I want to go?

Come on mama!! It’s a great morning at my park!

Did I! Of course I did.

I cried at the front door until she hurried up and got herself together and off we went. We even got to go in daddy’s truck! I used to be afraid of his truck because it makes a different kind of noise, but I’m a big girl now and I love to ride up front with mama. She doesn’t let me do that very often cause she says I’m not safe up there, but once in awhile I get lucky and there isn’t any gas in my chariot.

We got to my park while the grass was still damp, early in the morning, and so we were surprised to see a Little League tournament going on. Tiny little kids in cute little uniforms filled all four softball fields. So we went to the other end of the park and walked the other way around.

Sigh. I had to stand on this bench. Again. She makes me do this almost every time we come here.

Mama was sort of worried about me because I was walking really slow. But she let me have as much water as I wanted, and let me walk without being on a leash and I just wandered at my speed. At one point she asked me if I wanted to go back, maybe I didn’t want to go all the way around the park.

I told her she was crazy, I wasn’t going to turn around now that I was finally out there! I just needed to go slow as befit my advanced age. I’ll be twelve in December you know, so that makes me eleven and a half. Almost as old as her.

Nothing interesting back here mama!

Besides, going slow I got to sniff everything. Some of it twice. Mama said that was OK, it had been a long time since I’d been there, and who knew when it would be cool enough to come back. She said she didn’t have anywhere to be, so she let me take as long as I wanted.

Of course, in return I had to pose for the typical photos. But she gave me a treat for each pose, so I was good with it.

The pond is looking good today mama.

It took us over an hour to go a little less than a mile. Mama says we’re not going to win any races and I had to remind her she’s not training for any races anyway. Sometimes mama forgets she’s not a young pup herself.

Besides, the delay wasn’t all my fault. Mama sneezed at one point and I had to take several minutes to bark at her. After all it’s my responsibility to make sure she’s OK after she sneezes like that.

Bad mama! No sneezing allowed!

When we finally got back to the front of the park I sat on a hill and watched the little kids play ball. I have always loved to do that, even back when I was little too. I like to see the kids run around the bases and sometimes there’s a treat or two or ten lost in the grass that I can snitch.

You think they’ve got any treats over there?

I wanted to get closer to the action but mama said no. I thought she was being mean, but then I realized I was getting sort of tired and needed to take a nap, so we headed back to the car.

Come on mama, time to go home!

Mama says we’re going on a big adventure pretty soon. I don’t know what she’s talking about but it better not include being left at ‘camp’ again. I’m staying vigilant, but if any of you guys know what’s up please let me know.

A girl’s got to have an escape plan ready.

Katie here, signing off for now….zzzzzzzz….

Shhhhhhh…don’t wake the sheltie.