Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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The struggle is real

No, not that kind of struggle…the struggle to capture the night sky image I have in my head. Sometimes I think I should just get another head.

See that shadow hump in the foreground? That’s me hunkered down behind the camera, due to my neighbors GIGANTIC light hanging over her garage. Sigh. And the lights on the right are from my house.

This week we finally had a clear night. I swear, we hadn’t seen the sun in weeks here in Michigan, but one day this week the sun graced us with her presence and I excitedly watched the weather guy to see if we were going to keep those clear skies overnight.

Well…sort of…but it was the best we’d had in forever, so I figured I’d run over to a local park where I thought the skies would be darker than Katie’s park here in town. I was going to go over around 9 p.m., figuring it would be true dark by then. But I’m older now and was already yawning at 8. And it looked pretty darn dark to me even that early.

I moved, so it’s somewhat better. And you can see a couple stars if you look carefully, so it’s all good.

So off I went, camera on the tripod, settings already entered. Remote shutter thingy attached. Extra batteries in my pocket. Handwarmer in there too. It was 17F out there.

As I drove the few miles to the park I didn’t see another car. Good. I don’t really want anyone to know I’m at the park after dark. I just want to grab a few practice shots and get out of there and back to my nice warm house.

But just as I got to the park entrance, beginning my turn in off a narrow country road, a car came up over the hill from the other direction, bright lights glaring. We both stopped for a moment, and then I continued on, not wanting them to see me pull into the park. I drove about half a mile away, turned around at the next road and went back.

WordPress always shows images darker than I’ve edited them. Lots of light over there. Plus some clouds moving in.

All was still. I texted my husband that I was there, and was reaching for my camera when a car, possibly the same car, pulled into the parking lot and parked at the other end.

Well. I’m not getting out of my car. In fact I locked the doors and waited a few minutes. I’m pretty sure they were doing the same thing. I couldn’t think of one good reason for anyone to be out there long after dark unless, of course, they too wanted to shoot the stars. And what were the odds of that?

So I backed up, shot out of the parking lot, and went home. I think I was gone all of 20 minutes. I was so frustrated I decided to at least take a picture of the tree in our yard, still decked out in lights. I figured the camera was on the tripod, might as well get something.

When I walked into the house husband said something like ‘That didn’t take long.” and I explained the story, and he said he’d go back out with me in a little bit.

Lots of light looking behind me too.

So we did. I felt much happier sitting out on the pier knowing he was in the car just behind me. I got a few images…but there was lots more light out there than I anticipated in a Bortle 4, I think I was shooting over the next small town. I need to go further away.

Still it was fun trying to remember all the things I needed to do to get the stars. I struggled with my tripod a whole lot too. Good things to practice before the Milky Way is back up. I really want that shot that’s in my head

There were a LOT of planes that night.

Today I tried stacking a series of 10 images from that night. That’s supposed to take things that aren’t consistent between the images out and improve the noise level in the results. I think I need to figure something out, because this is what I got.

9 images of the airplane at 8 seconds each. Sigh. And another little one down near the horizon too.

Ah well, my classmates will help me with that…and meanwhile I had a midwinter adventure close to home and have another story to tell!

PS: I think you need to be looking at these images when you’re sitting in a dark room with no glare. 🙂


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Meanwhile, back at the feeders…

The European Starlings descended on our feeders one afternoon this week.

Hmmmm, this suet seems to be a bit stale.

I only see these birds in the winter, though I read they are year round residents.

But not so stale that I’ve got it to myself.

All I know for sure is that they are pigs and will empty a feeder and eat a whole block of suet in a day. Many people don’t like them because they are invasive.

I guess we can get along and share it.

But, when the sun shines on them just right they are beautiful.

I think the prettiest bird should have first dibs on the food.

On this day the skies were dull and there was little light. But I’ve seen them in sunlight on other winter days and been mesmerized.

I think you’ve got a big head, that’s what I think.

This week I first noticed them fighting each other over the suet feeder. But soon enough they were on the peanut feeder too, a favorite with our Red Bellied woodpeckers.

Hey! Back off, the peanuts are MINE!

The woodpecker stood his ground, telling the starlings off and eventually winning the right to eat in peace.

Geeze…what’s the world coming to I ask you?

In fact, after that little run-in all the starlings moved to the ground in the backyard and then on to greener pastures.

No need to mess with that woodpecker, plenty of seed down here for us.

But they’ll be back.

What you talkin about?

Guaranteed.


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Looking for art on a grey day

I wasn’t ready to go home after I visited the Veterans’ Cemetery, so I headed over to a park I don’t get to very often.

I thought maybe I’d wander the trails a bit and see what was there. But when I arrived I was drawn, as usual, to the pier that runs out into the small lake.

It was a cold day, still grey, but I was having fun using the wide angle lens, and that kept me from noticing the cold for awhile.

I took several wide shots of the scenery, but noticed a lot of smaller stuff I thought was interesting, so once I got the big picture out of the way I went back to the car to warm up and change the lens.

Mostly I was interested in the weed and grass reflections in the still, frozen water alongside the pier.

I particularly liked this clump of grass.

And these curves had me too.

I spent a long time out there on the pier, so I didn’t get to the trails. That’s my excuse anyway.

You see, Katie and I used to come here once in awhile and walk the trails…and as I looked toward the woods where we had explored I knew I wasn’t ready to go back without her.

She would have loved the cold, and would fit right in with all the reddish browns I saw that day.

Sure do miss my girl.


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Eagle-ease

Yesterday was foggy and damp, just like so many days we’ve had this year. Flat grey skies, a hint of snow in the air, it was a typical January day.

Sounds like a perfect day to grab the camera and head out looking for something inspirational. Right?

As I was driving I thought about the eagles that have been seen out at the Veterans’ Cemetery. There’s some huge, dead trees that make perfect eagle roosts. What are the odds those eagles were sitting out there in the fog waiting for me?

Since I didn’t have any other great ideas, I headed over there, knowing they wouldn’t be there, just like they haven’t been there on multiple trips where I’ve tried to get a glimpse of them before.

As I pulled into the cemetery I saw two bumps on the trees, way across a field. I got as close as I could,, pulled up, rolled down the window and got one shot off…

….before one of the eagles flew down into the swamp. My settings weren’t right but there was no time to experiment. The second eagle was looking around, seeming to be upset to be left behind. I knew he (or she) wouldn’t stay long.

And after a bit of looking around the second eagle lifted off…

…and followed it’s partner down to the swamp.

I didn’t get great shots of the eagles. But I can’t stop smiling.

My artsy-fartsy ‘the eagle has landed’ shot.

Because I got to see them.


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The continuing saga of my hungry birds

It’s winter here, with storm fronts headed our way.

Birds know when it’s going to get rough and they stock up just like humans do.

All the birds have been hungry, emptying feeders daily.

We even put out suet to help them fuel up.

In return they’ve allowed me to grab a few images from my warm living room.

I love my birds. They’re not aware of the one shot one treat rule.

So far anyway.


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A Man called Ove

I read the book in the summer of 2016. It remains one of my favorite books, though now in 2022 I remember the feelings I had reading it more than the details of the story itself.

Just this week, while noting the buzz about the new Tom Hanks movie, I learned there had been a movie made in Sweden based on the book, back in 2016, and that that version is available through Amazon Prime right now.

We have Amazon Prime.

But before I get ahead of myself, here’s the review I wrote after reading this lovely book six years ago:

I loved it. Every bit of it, and especially the crotchety old man Ove. Little by little, baby step by baby step the author explains why Ove is as he is by revealing bits of his past. His relationship with his parents. His love for his wife. The bits of drama and tragedy that shaped him. He is sullen and moody and angry but all of that seems reasonable in an unreasonable sort of way.

I can’t tell you more or it would spoil it for you. Just know that under that gruff exterior is a gentle and loving man who just didn’t know what to do with himself until a crazy neighbor moved into his neighborhood.

The writing is gentle and profound and simple and true.

“And time is a curious thing. Most of us only live for the time that lies right ahead of us. A few days, weeks, years. One of the most painful moments in a person’s life probably comes with the insight that an age has been reached when there is more to look back on than ahead.”

“It is difficult to admit that one is wrong. Particularly when one has been wrong for a very long time.”

“But we are always optimists when it comes to time; we think there will be time to do things with other people. And time to say things to them.”

I didn’t want this one to end. But I knew it had to…everything does, and Ove had been trying to end things for a very long time. It’s just that the neighbors interfered with his plans, and in the process gave him a reason to postpone the inevitable.

Ove had a heart that was too large. You’d never know it when you first met him. But if you let him in you’d know that truth for sure.

So anyway, with vague memories of a book I loved, my husband and I sat down last night to watch the original movie complete with English subtitles. Some small bits I didn’t remember, but the gist was all there. I remember sighing with tears in my eyes at the end of the book. The tears were running down my face at the end of the movie.

I knew it would be that way…but I was surprised about why my eyes filled with tears. It wasn’t the ending, which I knew, but the fact that I suddenly saw my own parents in Ove and his wife, and I truly, madly, hope that what I saw at the end of the movie is true.

But I can’t tell you what that is, because I don’t want to spoil it for you.

I’ll probably go see the Hanks version, set in the US instead of Sweden. No need for subtitles. I’ll probably enjoy it, maybe even love it. But I doubt it will pack the emotional punch I experienced last night.

Because when you’re expecting it, it’s just not the same.


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Showing his red belly

We have a squirrel problem at our house, made worse by the number of birdfeeders the fuzzy marauders have to choose from.

So we have a caged feeder that little birds flit in and out of regularly. The littles were never nervous about it, right from the start.

But the bigger birds don’t fit inside the cage. They have to do with the nearby flat feeder, or whatever seed has fallen to the ground.

Sometimes they get jealous and try to figure out how to get to the seeds in the caged feeder.

And if they have a really long tongue and are especially tenacious…

…they can be successful!

I’m outta here.