Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


A musical weekend

I’ve been lucky, not just because we have a new little puppy chewing our feet, but because my sister has been here for the past couple of weeks, and because we got to experience 3 different concerts over the weekend.

On Friday night my community band performed our concert, “Spring Potpourri,” directed by a guest conductor and featuring several of our members as soloists on assorted pieces.

We’ve grown a lot over the years, both in numbers and musicality, and it was fun to play together, under the lights on a stage with a pretty decent sized crowd applauding our efforts.

I’ve said it before, and it’s still true, as adults there are few opportunities to receive applause. No one claps when we make supper or do the laundry or go off to work or mow the lawn.

Most people have never had the thrill of accepting applause for anything.

Applause is one of the many rewards for playing in a community band. Friendships are another. And the joy of playing music is the best reward of all.

Saturday evening my sister, husband and I went down to hear the Ann Arbor Symphony play Debussy, Prokofiev and Dvorak. This concert was played at the historic Michigan Theater, built in 1927.

It’s a beautiful building and we had fun, prior to the concert, taking pictures of the ornate architecture. I liked the Dvorak piece, Symphony No. 7 in D minor, but my favorite was Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, with the beautiful flute in the beginning and woven throughout.

The principal flutist talked prior to the concert about what a responsibility she had playing this piece, the work is so famous and the expectations are so high. Of course she played it absolutely beautifully. My sister plays flute, so it was special to listen to this work on Saturday night.

Then on Sunday afternoon she and I drove about 45 miles to Imlay City to listen to the Belle Valley Community Band play their spring concert, which was filled with Irish and Scottish music, and featured the Alma College Pipe Band.

You don’t get to hear a pipe band every day, and since my sister also plays bagpipes this was a very special concert as well. The community band was so fun to listen to and when you add in bagpipes, well, it was spectacular!

I was thinking as I looked at the crowd almost filling the gym bleachers and seated in rows of folding chairs down on the gym floor, that it was pretty cool to see a community come out in such numbers to support their local musicians.

And I wished that every community band or orchestra, every community theater group, every group of artists putting together a show would have such support. It’s a win/win for the artists and their communities. Everyone leaves smiling, no matter the venue, no matter what type of art.

Please go google the words community band, or community orchestra or community theater in your town. Odds are you have one near by. They’ll have a website and you can probably find their spring concert or their spring production, or their spring art installation.

Mark your calendar and then show up. You’d be amazed at the talent all around you.

And they’ll be thrilled to have more people there, enjoying their work and applauding.

Don’t see how you could go wrong.


Wordless Wednesday lost

Mom says we missed Wordless Wednesday. She says it’s Thursday now and I need to move on, but seriously, I think Wednesdays are perfect days to showcase me, especially during my cute puppy days.

Cause everybody knows that puppyhood doesn’t last forever.

Mom called my name, so I turned right around.

So I have tasked mom with making sure she posts a picture of me, her Adventure Girl, every Wednesday.

I figured I better speed it up, in case there were treats.

And, because she messed up already, I am requiring additional photos today. Sort of an advance on future Wednesdays, just in case she loses track of time again.

Just the THOUGHT of treats made me leap for joy!

I’ve only lived with mom and daddy a month and I can already tell I’m going to have to keep them in line. They mumble something about being retired but that’s not going to fly with a puppy in the house!

I’m coming, mom!

I’ve got so much to tell you, but for now, over and out,

Really mom? One piece of kibble for all that?

Your feisty chewing whirlwind Adventure Girl, signing out!

Play hard, sleep hard, that’s my motto.


Other things…

Lest you think our days are completely filled with puppy, let me tell you about my Saturday afternoon spent learning CPR. I’ve always thought I should learn it, I’ve always meant to learn it, and this year, when I saw it offered by our local fire department I decided to just do it.

Of course I registered for the class weeks ago, long before I knew there would be a Penny in my life. It was hard to leave her but she was in good hands with my husband and sister who is visiting. So I drove off into the snow to see what there was to learn.

There were 7 students total, 4 women, three men, all of us past middle age, with assorted creaking knees and backs, though one of us (not me!) was a long time yoga instructor and she was much more nimble than me getting up off the floor, and stronger doing the compressions too.

She made me want to try yoga again.

Anyway, I was kind of nervous, hoping I would catch on, and I did, but let me tell you, it’s harder than I imagined it would be to do compressions. 30 compressions, two breaths on adults, then 30 more compressions, two breaths and continue like that until trained help arrives. You can skip the breaths if you don’t have a mask and are uncomfortable, but the patient has the best chance if you can do both. The compressions are the most important, though, so don’t stop for more than 10 seconds.

It’s not easy.

We practiced on the dummies, down on the floor and I had a hard time getting the two green lights, located in the dummy’s shoulder to stay lit. Yellow was too fast, red was too slow, no lights meant you weren’t compressing far enough into the chest. I bounced around between yellow, red and green.

I’m pretty sure my dummy would have died.

After we practiced we watched some more videos about heart attacks and cardiac arrests, and how to use the AED if one is available. Then we broke up into 2 groups and role played an actual event. I was up first and with the aid of another student counting, I was able to do 2 sets of 30 compressions, another student simulated the breaths in between, and a third student simulated putting on the pads from the AED.

It felt good to keep those green lights glowing in that dummy’s shoulder, but it was really hard work, and I don’t know how long I’d be able to keep it going while waiting for the paramedics and EMTs to arrive.

I guess, when it comes down to it I’d just do the best I could.

That was the take-away from the class, other than the factual information and practice, that doing something is better than doing nothing and waiting for help to arrive. Imperfect CPR is better than no CPR, and people have the best chance of surviving if someone steps in and begins CPR right away.

If you have a CPR certification class near you I encourage you to step outside your comfort zone and enroll. You’re going to learn a lot. You’re going to feel better about your abilities to help in an emergency, even outside a cardiac event. And you’re going to meet some of your neighbors.

Can’t see how you could go wrong.

Here’s a puppy picture just because she demands the attention. Can’t go wrong with her either.


Learning to puppy

It’s been a long, long time since we lived with a puppy. Some thing had to be relearned immediately. Some things are lifestyle changes that we can grow into even as she grows.

When you have a new puppy you have to look in all directions before you move your feet. She could be anywhere and most of the time she’s behind your feet, between your feet, next to your feet or chewing your feet.

When you have a new puppy you must never ignore sounds no matter how faint. She’s almost always doing something and sounds are your first hint of it all going wrong.

Tearing sounds, gnawing sounds, throw up sounds, peeing sounds, the sounds of toenails racing in places she shouldn’t be, clanging sounds of food bowls being overturned, the sounds of shoes being dropped in other rooms…the possibilities are endless.

When you have a new puppy you must give up cleaning, unless it’s cleaning up poo or pee. There’s no time to do anything but follow your adorable little puppy around, ensuring there’s less poo and pee to clean.

When you have a new puppy you give up your luxurious long morning snoozes. Little puppies have little bladders and need to go OUTSIDE RIGHT NOW! It’s OK, because being an older new puppy parent you probably need to GO RIGHT NOW too. Hopefully not outside though.

And speaking of snoozes, when you have a new puppy you learn to nap when she naps. Which, if you’re perfectly honest, is quite often. And you’re probably sleepy (see early morning observations above) so take that nap!

When you have a new puppy your vocabulary is reduced to “Awwwww” and “NO!”

When you have a new puppy you must remember she’s not the dog you had before and will probably react differently to things like opening the oven door or blowing your nose or using tinfoil. Or she might react exactly the same, crazy way.

When you have a new puppy you have to learn to manage the leash with a twirling, dancing whirlwind on the other end.

When you have a new puppy you spend more time down on the floor than you have in years, playing ball, tossing chicken toys, tickling tummies, and laughing.

When you have a new puppy you need to stop wearing earrings because little squirming puppy kisses turn to chewing on hair, noses, chins and ears. And earrings are irresistible.

When you have a new puppy that has fallen into a happy, exhausted puddle of puppy nap right in the middle of the living room floor, you tiptoe around her and settle in a nearby chair to watch her sleep.

Because she’s so cute. And because everyone knows to let a sleeping dog lie.

Happy 3 month birthday, little Penny. Welcome home sweetheart.


A glimmer of possibility

Wednesday afternoon the sun came out and temperatures rose into the 50s F (10s C). The snow began to melt, birds were singing, and spring felt within reach.

“Can we please go outside, mom?”

Little Penny, experiencing her first spring day, was ecstatic. And, because she wanted to be outside exploring her yard, she began to ask to go outside.

Our first picture together.

And just like that a corner has been rounded in our potty training effort.

Wednesday afternoon she began going to the back door and whining softly. Once, when I didn’t move fast enough to suit her, she pawed at the door.

Trying to engage the puppy in the reflection.

I’m pretty ecstatic too.

We’ve gone a whole day without a potty accident in the house. She’s napping at the moment, exhausted by all the tours of the yard, the grasses pulled, the gardens explored.

“Hey mom! This grass smells great!”

I’m grinning as I type, because I can tell she’s going to be an awesome dog.

Oh, I still miss my Katie-girl. I will always miss her, and Bonnie before her, and Daisy before Bonnie. As I walk around the yard, little Penny dancing on the end of her leash I talk to Katie.

She sits when she’s interested in something. We didn’t train her to do this. I spent years trying to get Katie to sit when a car drove by.

“See your little sister, baby-girl? See how she’s running and grinning and having the best time in your yard? Isn’t she cute? She’s got so many adventures in front of her, doesn’t she, sweetie. You keep watch over us, Katie-girl, and thanks for guiding us to this little one. She’s going to be special, just like you.”

I think this piece of grass needs to be pulled up, mom. Don’t worry, I’ll handle it.

Yep, this one’s a fire cracker, all bundled up energy, bursting into zoomies at the slightest instigation, never complaining, always happy, and definitely smart.

“Can we please go out again, mom?”

There’s going to be some stories to tell, no doubt about it. I can’t wait to get started. I think she’s pretty amped up too.

We had a really good day today, didn’t we mom!”


I’m a lucky Penny

Hellooooo Everybody!

Penny here.

You may have been wondering when I’d get on my mom’s blog and introduce myself. You probably thought I was shy, after all that’s a sheltie trait, being shy until we get comfortable with stuff.

What’s that over there?

Well. That’s not me.

Let me get something straight right from the start. I’m not shy about anything. And I’m not afraid of anything either.

My first day at my forever home.

I am a very confident and smart sheltie-girl. My mom said my sister Daisy (who lived until age 10 and died in 1990) was the sweet girl, and my sister Bonnie (who lived almost 15 years and died in 2006) was the good girl, and my sister Katie (who you all knew and loved) was the pretty girl, but I’m the smart girl.

I think I’m going to grow up to be an excellent shredder.

I’m also a very busy little girl, I want to know what’s going on all the time. I’m supposed to be a cuddle bug but frankly I’m far too busy to be cuddling on the sofa. Maybe later after I get this house and my folks in shape I’ll have time to cuddle. Right now I need things to be just the way I like them, and frankly my folks have been slacking.

I expect more adventures and I’m going to make sure I get them!

I absolutely love retrieving my ball!

Mom says we’re staying in right now cause I don’t have all my shots yet. She says we’re going to visit the vet soon and get some more shots taken care of. I don’t know. Katie told me sometimes the folks take us places that are not adventures and try to pass them off as fun.

Ahem. Let me remind them, I’m the smart girl.

I love chewing on stuff too.

I can tell you right now that they won’t get away with that! No siree! I can smell a con a mile away. Though Katie told me that the vet is really nice, and helped her feel lots better for a long time. So maybe the vet “adventure” will be fine. I’ll reserve judgement.

Sometimes I get a little excited.

Anyway, I’m settling in here with mom and dad. I’ve been here almost two weeks. Yesterday I sat on my sister’s rug and watched the birds, and mom smiled when I put the first nose prints on the sliding door. And she got kind of teary when I found a stick on the deck and broke it up into tiny pieces. I guess I remind her of someone.

How come you get teary eyed, mom?

I’m a happy, talkative little girl who’s not shy about telling my folks off if they don’t attend to my needs fast enough. I love my mom and dad, my toys, my (numerous) beds, my Mama S (my breeder mom) and my supper.

Not necessarily in that order.

I tell my folks off regularly.

And I like going outside to pee, preferably every 30 minutes. And today I didn’t have one single accident in the house! Mom says she’s very proud of me. I’m sort of proud of me too.

I like to sleep with my duck, cause sometimes I miss my sisters.

That reminds me, I need to go tell mom I need to go out. I don’t really need to go out, I just like watching her put on her shoes and coat and stuff. And I like to be carried outside, cause I get to kiss her and get kisses back while we’re walking down the deck stairs.

Kisses and eating snow are the best parts about going outside.

It’s exhausting being me.

Yep, time to go outside.

Talk later everybody, your Lucky Penny.


Color in a drab world

A week ago yesterday the sun finally came out. We’d had weeks on end, it seemed, of nothing but cloudy skies, cold wind, and sleeting rain.

A pretty day for a run. Or a walk if you’re not a runner.

It is, after all, Michigan in February.

This week’s artsy-fartsy image.

But when the sun broke through all the grey I couldn’t help but want to get out and see if I could find any color.

There was still ice back in the wetlands.

I went to my local Metropark, Indian Springs, because it’s close to home and the bike trail meanders through wetlands, hills and woods. Perfect for testing my spring thesis.

Red twigged dogwood

What spring thesis you ask? Well…I think about February around here Spring starts flexing her muscles and if you look and listen carefully you’ll know she’s right around the corner, just waiting to burst through the last bits of winter.

Light shone through last year’s beech leaves

My husband saw a red-winged blackbird this week, though we haven’t heard them yet. If they’re here, than it’s officially spring, no matter what the skies drop on us.

Flying free in the sun.

Oh, to be sure, I know this winter has not slunk off into history yet. There will be more snow. More cold. More windy sleet. But on that Saturday, just eight days ago the sky was a brilliant blue, and it was warm enough take pictures without wearing gloves.

You can’t beat sunshine and woods to lift the winter doldrums.

I thought you’d want to know, especially those of you even further north than me, that it won’t be long now. Nope, check your gardens, especially those near your house. You might find some hope poking up, reaching for the sun, ready to put a smile on your face.

Skunk cabbage poking up, a first sign of spring around here.

And if not, go for a walk in woods near you and keep a sharp eye out for hints that we’re almost out of the deep freeze.

I know, I know. Every year, every single year, I go on and on about spring being near, that we’ve almost outrun the cold, and then we get slammed with a blizzard.

Last year’s teasel.

I know I’m being foolish (again) by believing that this year will be different.

These leaf buds are bound to pop soon!

This year we won’t have those last winter storms, when buds are opening and fruit trees are vulnerable. This year we’ll head straight into warm summer afternoons, we’ll bypass the last salt trucks and snow plows.

That blue sky just has to be a hopeful sign!

Yep. This is the year we jump straight into spring. I’m sure of it.

Aren’t you?

Head on out for a walk, you never know what you’ll see!


Don’t forget the pelicans!

This is a post I thought I’d have up a long ago. But exciting things interrupted the flow (and she probably always will).

I interrupt this blog to announce my intention to control everything my mom does for the foreseeable future.

A week ago, long before we knew we’d be sheltie parents by the weekend, I went out looking for barns and failing at that decided to check out Midland’s Overlook Park to see if the pelicans I’d heard about would be there.

Saw some barns along the way.

I saw lots of other stuff, but no pelicans for the first couple hours. The sun started going down and it got colder. I hung out, hoping. But how long should I wait?

I’d just about given up, had started texting someone about something or other, my mind moving on from the cold parking lot in the growing dusk, when suddenly, out of the corner of my eye I saw a flash of white, right up near the edge of the pond directly in front of me…and behind the chain-link fence which is covered with vines.

Hard to focus through a fence!

A squadron of pelicans had landed! I squealed even though I couldn’t get a clear shot of them.

Next to me in the parking lot was another photographer, also with a long lens, also frustrated that the big white birds were swimming up and down along the edge of the pond, obscured by the fence.

At first all we got were pelican behinds.

But we waited, hoping. And eventually the six of them edged out just a bit into water unobscured by the fence. It was very, very, very cool.

The initial six.

And as the dusk intensified four more pelicans arrived to join the pod. Most of the time we couldn’t really see them…they’d swim out toward the middle a little bit and then all of the sudden they’d all flock back to the edge as if something startled them.

Much more obviously pelicans from the side.

But I’ve been reading how scoops of pelicans can work together to herd fish into more shallow water for easier fishing. It’s possible that’s what they were doing.

Maybe they’re fishing.

Groups of pelicans are called several things, according to articles I’ve found. “A group of pelicans has many collective nouns, including a “brief”, “pod”, “pouch”, “scoop”, and “squadron” of pelicans.” You can google it too….they’re called different things depending on what they’re doing at the time. I don’t think I used the right terms, but it was fun to read about.

Reflecting on his evening plans.

Regardless of what they’re called, they were magical to watch, and I’m really glad I stuck around, and I’m doubly glad they decided to show up, right in front of where I was parked!

See you next time, you guys!

And now you’ve seen them too!