Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Haehnle Bird Sancuary

This week I decided to explore a new (to me) bird sancuary over near Jackson Michigan. I’d heard vague things about it over the years, that it was filled with migrating birds, particularly sandhill cranes.

This path leads down to a space where lectures are held.

Every year I meant to get there, either in the spring when the birds were coming back or the fall when they were heading out. Every year time gets away from me.

The day was beautiful, with sunshine and a breeze kicking leaves out of their trees.

So this year I was determined and I did some research before I drove over there. Seems the migration period would be late September to the end of October. I was cutting it pretty close.

Heading away from the wetlands and into the woods.

The website also told me to be there at sunrise or sunset when the birds were moving from or back to their perches for the night. So I had a plan.

But you know how it goes with plans. I got a later start in the morning than I had planned, and it was later in October than optimal too. On the hour and a bit drive I did see a huge flock of sandhills in a field, about 2 miles from my house, but I didn’t stop for pictures because I was going to a bird sanctuary.

A few trees were hanging on to their color.

When I got to Haehnle the parking lot was a muddy mess. Leaves covered everything but it was obvious there were huge muddy holes that you wouldn’t want to drive through. I turned around and backed into a spot up next to a fence where I had a straight shot getting out.

As I left my car to begin exploring I did hear some cranes flying, but it was already almost 9:30, really long past sunrise. There was one flock of geese that flew over, but nothing really special.

In a meadow the sun glinted off the dried weeds.

So I decided to just walk the 1.5 mile trail and not worry about finding birds.

It was a pretty trail, that started out skirting the wetlands where I could imagine thousands of cranes visiting. Then it turned left into the woods.

Walking on all those leaves was fun.

There were still very beautiful colors in a few of the towering trees. The trail meandered through a meadow and then back into the woods. I didn’t see another person until I was almost back to the car. This mother and her two children were enjoying the sunshine and the crisp autumn air.

Taking a walk.

All in all this was quite a disapointment, but I think I will try again in the spring, maybe go at the right time of year and earlier in the day. I figure most of the disappointment was my own making.

The details were beautiful, I just had to look for them.

And the drive over there was often spectacular, roads through golden tree tunnels. You’ll have to imagine those as there was nowhere to safely stop.

This place could be interesting at the right time of year.

Regardless of the lack of birds, I can’t complain about a pretty walk in the woods. And on the way home I found a couple barns.

At the exit where I stopped to get gas.

Because what’s an adventure without a barn?

Not sure what a barn sanctuary is. Maybe I should have explored there.

Why, no adventure at all!

I don’t know what this was, but it was cool.


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Cee’s black & white photo challenge: patterns in nature

Yesterday was sunny, so I went over to a bird sanctuary I’ve been curious about. I was kind of disappointed, but that’s anther post. I did have one shot I immediately thought of when I read Cee’s challenge – patterns in nature.

There was a huge leaf on the trail, wet from the rain the night before, and the veining was so beautiful I took a picture destined for my post about the sactuary.

But I think it looks pretty cool in black and white too.


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Still painting smiles

I started painting little postcards when this pandemic began, thinking I’d paint one a day and mail it out while we were all social distancing at home. Silly me, I figured I’d be painting for a couple months.

It seems like so long ago that I did these.

Well, we all know how that turned out.

I sent out 100 of them over the summer, figuring I was mailing smiles. But then I sort of petered out. Not only did I run out of people to mail them to, I sort of ran out of ideas too.

I started experimenting more.

Oh there was the occasional sympathy card. A birthday here and there. But I haven’t done generic cards that just magically appeared in unsuspecting people’s mailboxes in a long time.

I loved all of these, though I didn’t hear back from the person I sent the Maine lighthouse to.

And now I realize that I didn’t share with you the last few batches that went out, so that’s what this post is about…showing you what got mailed up until…well…today.

More experimenting.

I had to go dig through my file to see how many that is. The last time I posted about this was July 28. Looks like I’ve painted quite a few since then.

More favorites.

So many of these were fun to do. Quite a lot of them were really challenging.

I especially like doing birds.

I’ve learned a lot, working on this project. The most important thing I’ve learned is to try, even when it seems like an idea is beyond my talent.

This was a thank you card.

Sure, during almost every painting I reached a point where I was sure I had ruined it. And every painting has something I wished I could change. But they all make me smile.

A sympathy and a birthday card.

In fact I get attached to each one, making it hard to mail them off. But I try to keep in mind that they’re going to their new homes where I hope they will make someone smile, and that’s the whole point.

Reminiscing about a fun paddle friends and I took earlier this summer.

During these months, and maybe years, of the pandemic it’s becoming more and more important that we take the time to make someone smile.

Happy birthday to a friend.

I don’t know if I can keep painting little cards, I’m starting to think I want to try something larger, though that also feels a bit intimidating.

Mailed today to my Congreswoman who adopted a rescue beagle this summer.

I mean, even if I paint something successfully…what in the world would I do with it? It’s not like I can just randomly mail 8x10s to unsuspecting recipients.

Can I?

Birthday cards are fun to do.


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Death of a woodpecker

You all know how much I love birds. Any birds, really, but especially the birds at my feeder. I like to think they love me too, they certainly are all waiting in the trees above our deck every morning as I put out seed.

One of my favorite visitors.

One of my favorites is the red bellied woodpecker. He lords over the feeder, picks a favorite seed and flies up into the trees to eat it.

Then he’s right back.

So you can imagine my horror yesterday afternoon when I saw him dead on the deck. He’d obviously hit the window, hopefully was killed instantly before he knew anything.

My heart broke.

I was so upset I took Katie to a park for a long walk among the fall foliage, but that’s another blog post. When I got home I buried my beautiful woodpecker boy under a rosebush in my garden.

Final resting place.

I was sad all night, and this morning considered not putting out any seed. I felt like my woodpecker’s death was my fault, for enticing him to my deck in the first place.

So you can imagine my delight when this showed up.

“Got anything to eat lady?”

At first when I saw that red head I was afraid this would be my guy’s widow. I was still filled with remorse. But this one is a male too, and instantly began lording over the seed.

“I stopped by to make you smile!”

I caught my breath as he grabbed a seed and flew up into the trees. Fly that way, little buddy, fly away from the house.

Thanks for stopping by, stay safe!

You are healing my broken heart.

I’m thankful for the morning visit.


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Two looks, one princess

Katie here. Mama said I could hijack her blog again, even though you’ve heard from me a lot lately, cause since she and daddy got sick she hasn’t had a whole lot to talk about.

Hey everybody! This is one of my parks!

Me? I’m a sheltie. I always have something to talk about.

So anyway, mama scheduled an appointment for me to go to the groomer. It’s been a gazillion months (2) since I was there, and she said she was tired of trimming my foot furs.

I have so much fun when we walk here!

But she didn’t tell me that right away. Instead she took me to one of my parks, one where I can walk and run around without being on a leash so much, cause no one ever goes there. Plus it’s the right size walk for me, a trail between two picnic areas, it winds through a beautiful woods.

Mama says she never gets tired of watching me run through the leaves.

Mama says it’s just beautiful, no matter what season, but I say it’s the most beautiful in the fall when the trees compliment my coloring.

I picked out this spot myself, just ran up on this little ridge and sat down. Mama said it was a good choice.

Don’t you agree?

Mama says she figures if she’s going to pay a lot of money to get me all nice and clean and white, well, we should probably go muck around in the woods the day before my bath.

Did you say BATH?

You’d think I’d figure this out by now, it’s mama’s normal mode of operation. Take me somewhere really messy and fun, and then drop me off for a bath. Yep. I should have known that was her plan

But instead I just spent a couple hours having the best time running through the leaves.

I picked these two red maple leaves just for you mama!

And since mama remembered to bring treats I was pretty patient when she asked me to sit in all those leaves. She said she needed photos for our 2021 calendar. Did I ever tell you I’m a calendar girl? Yep. Mama makes a calendar for her and daddy and my Aunt Beth every year from the Katie-girl photos the year before.

Coming in for a treat, mama!

I think she’s silly. After all these photos look just like the ones she took of me last year. But mama says she can look at each photo and remember where we were and what the woods smelled like and whether she was cold or hot or got rained on.

I look good in red, too, don’t you think?

She says every photo makes her smile, and I can understand that. These little adventures make me smile pretty big too.

Then after the park we drove back through a little town that always has a giant pumpkin on display.

What’s over there?

And every year mama asks me to sit next to it for a photo. It’s hard for me because it’s right downtown and people are walking by and worse, cars and trucks are going by too! Every year the people on the sidewalk stop and watch my photo shoot. They know a celebrity when they see one!

Posing pretty for all my admirers.

The next day after my park/pumpkin adventure I found myself at the groomer. Not fair. But mama has found a groomer that takes me right in at the appointment time and I get done in an hour and then I’m safe back in my princess chariot.

This is how I looked when I got home. Mama says she thinks I look like a boy. But most people think I look cute, so mama just needs to get over it.

I’m not sure about this, but I’m glad to be home.

Then this morning mama said might be our last sunny day for awhile, so she took me up the street for a mini photo shoot in a neighbor’s yard.

The morning light was sure pretty today!

She says she guesses my fur cut turned out OK, cause I look pretty spectacular today.

I have to say I agree. Otherwise I wouldn’t allow her to show you photos of me. A princess only shows the good stuff, you know what I mean?

Yea, I got a treat for this one too.

Of course you know.

Signing off, your princess-girl Katie.

Off to have mama polish my tiara.

Always something.

I’m a happy girl.


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Desperately seeking smiles

We’ve had it rough around here for a few weeks. Though the trees are bursting with color and we had a series of beautiful sunny and above average warm days, no one here was enjoying it.

Katie under the ginko tree with leaves falling in the early morning light.

That’s because husband, brother-in-law who was staying with us, and I all tested positive for Covid a little over two weeks ago.

Yep, no matter that we’d been careful, limited our travel to only necessary trips, washed our hands incessently, wore masks everywhere.

A young cardinal stops for breakfast.

We still ended up with the virus.

And worse, my brother-in-law didn’t survive. So on top of feeling tired with achey muscles and never ending coughs we had to work our way through grief and funeral arrangements.

That early morning light makes her glow.

Now that I’m feeling better, I am recognizing that there were a lot of moments, in amongst the heartache and chaos, that made me smile.

Neighbors and family leapt to help us, doing our grocery shopping, picking up Katie’s perscription from her vet, dropping off cases of water and snacks and flowers and fruit and fully cooked meals.

Red Bellied woodpecker enjoys a snack on the go.

And did I mention soup? We got lots of chicken noodle soup; it’s true that chicken noodle soup is good for the soul. We are proof of that.

Everybody gets into the breakfast act.

Even now that things are settling down we are getting numerous messages and texts, calls and emails from concerned family and friends.

The katsura tree dropped all her leaves at once too.

Covid is a scary, dangerous and unpredictable thing. But it’s possible to smile even in the midst of it if you’re as lucky as we are to have wonderful people surrounding you in love.

Are you pointing that lens at me, lady?

Images are from our backyard these past few days. Lots of smiling there too.

Even our first frost made me smile.


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What is true

I know that science is true.
I know that Covid 19 is everywhere.
I know that washing hands and staying away from crowds will slow the spread.
I know that wearing masks when you do go out will protect others.

I know that spending extended months away from friends and family is hard.
I know we’re all experiencing Covid fatigue.
I know we’re feeling constrained, our personal rights being trampled.
I know we’re feeling sad and overwhelmed and frustrated and tired of it all.

And I know we want it to just go away like the President has promised it will.
But that’s not the truth.
We haven’t turned a corner, we aren’t out of the woods, it’s not going away.
There isn’t a magical cure available for anyone to use.

I know there is no end in sight, that the numbers of cases and deaths will continue to rise.
I know that unless people begin to care for each other and respect the science we are stuck with no hope but a vaccine that might come next year.
I know the vaccine, even when it’s ready, won’t be easy to administer to every American.
I know that some people won’t want to take a vaccine pushed through the approval process.

I know that 218,000 people have died of Covid related illness in the US alone.
I know that because one of those people was a family member of mine.
I know that hundreds of thousands of families are strugling with those deaths.
I know that spouses and children and grandchildren and friends are all experiencing deep grief.

And I know it didn’t have to be this way.
I know that I will always place blame on the leaders of our country for not putting together a national plan, for dismantling the process that was already in place, for lying and offering false hope.
I know that blaming doesn’t fix the problem and blaming doesn’t make the pain go away.
But I know that those 218,000 people who lost their lives deserve to be honored, and the countless hundreds of thousands of people left with dilbaitating illness after suffering the disease will need help.

I know that our country is up to the task.
I know that we can look beyond ourselves and do what has to be done.
I know that we can see family in zoom meetings, send virtual hugs for as long as it takes.
I know that we can wear the darn mask.

Because this is the America I know. The strong yet empathetic country that can accomplish anything.
The country I know can come back from the brink of destruction.
I know we can turn this around.
I know this is true.