Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Out like a lion or hungry birds

Not surprisingly we had snow on March 31st. This is Michigan after all, where winter doesn’t go quietly.

We only got this much snow, but it sure was pretty!

Oh no, winter around here is much more sneaky than that.

After beautiful days earlier in the week those pesky weather people predicted snow, and they were right. It started Friday evening, by Saturday morning the yard was stunning. And when the sun peeked through the clouds (for only a few minutes, but still) it was spectacular.

A moment of sun early in the morning made it all sparkle.

I told Katie I arranged for snow just for her Gotcha Day. I don’t think she bought it, but she was kind enough not to laugh.

I’d rather not sit here mama, can we go back inside now?

Even she seemed to think it was pretty cold, wet and windy when we toured the yard. She said snow was not enough to get me off the hook for the lack of celebration on her big day. I had to promise something special for later. I think camping might do it, but don’t tell her.

Seriously mama, I’m cold and wet.

Meanwhile the birds were crazy. I have so many cute shots of them crowding around the feeders, that they will have to be in a separate post.

It was crazy around the feeders!

And of course Katie will be posting about her day and her expectations for future adventures. I might be in a bit of trouble there. We’ll see.

Waiting his turn at the feeder. Classy gent.


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Happy Gotcha Day to me!

Hi everybody, Katie here!

I can’t believe another year has flown by and it’s my Gotcha Day again! Yep, March 31, 2007 was the day I came home with mama and daddy. That’s a really long time ago!

My very first walk in my yard!

I have to say I was one cute puppy! Mama and daddy fell in love with me right away. I thought they were OK too, but back then I wasn’t real sure about new people. In fact I stayed shy for a lot of years, but mama and daddy worked really hard to get me more comfortable with people.

Spring has always been my favorite season.

That’s good because over the years tons of people have wanted to pet me, and now I let them even if they don’t have a treat.

Mama has taken me on lots of adventures and I’m wondering what she has planned for my Gotcha Day. I hope she’s figured something out because to be honest, laying around here at home is getting to be a bit boring even though I like to sleep a lot these days.

Zzzzzzzzzzz…

Last year she completely forgot it was a special day, but that worked out cause we were adventuring down South. This winter we didn’t go anywhere so I think I am due something amazing!

Mama, standing on a big dot is not an adventure!

I will wait patiently to see what she has planned. Well, as patient as any sheltie can be. Which is to say there better be something good waiting for me!

I’m waiting mama…


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It’s not about the art

Once a month a group of ladies (and sometimes men) get together and create a page in their art journals. The session is taught by Kim, a local artist, who plans the activity to help us learn different techniques while expressing a bit of who we are.

Kim’s work is beautiful, our work is stress relieving, peaceful, fun and not meant to be great art.

Started out with graduated colors to build a landscape background.

In fact the evenings aren’t about the art at all. Instead they provide camaraderie, funny stories, lots of laughs and usually cookies.

Last night we all worked on Kim’s vision of combining acrylic paint techniques with primitive dolls with a bit of ourselves.

Then we chalked in the image.

The dolls represented a bit of who we are, or were as kids or always wanted to be. The hair might be the way you wished yours was, the head might be your favorite pet, the colors muted or bright depending on your whim.

Then we blacked out everything but the image.

The final clue about who you are would be something put in the center of the dolls petticoat…but we ran out of time to do that last little bit. I’m thinking about putting musical notes on mine…or maybe just a Treble-clef.

Then we used pinstriping tape (from an auto parts store) to add stripes to her overcoat.

We’ll see if I get around to doing that. Even if I don’t, it was a really fun evening…and I got to play around with acrylic paints, so double fun.

Painted her coat red, then pulled up the tape.

What do you do to treat yourself once in awhile? You can’t beat sitting down with some paint and a bunch of laughing women.

Everybody’s lady is different. Just like we are.

Even if you don’t produce great art.

Having fun on a star filled evening with my primitive lady.


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Early morning smile

I was thinking yesterday about what this week’s smile might include. Nothing really stood out except that magnificent image I didn’t get of the two cranes flying low across a grassy brown hillside, sun glinting off their wings. And though that made me smile at the time, it’s caused me angst since because I didn’t have my camera with me and it would have been a great shot.

My favorite photogenic trees at Katie’s park early in the morning.

I’ve been to a few parks this week with Katie-girl, she’s enjoying the cool weather, I’m enjoying the lack of snow. Several times I’ve seen pairs of cranes float by. Never had a camera. So one morning this week I decided to go out early by myself. No dog. Just me and my camera to see if I could catch a pair in flight in the rosy morning light.

Don’t tell Katie, but I went to her park. It’s a totally different experience early in the morning and without her. It’s just a little park, with a mowed walkway around the perimeter, nothing special unless you’re a dog. Or a bird seeker.

I saw my first interesting bird as I pulled into the parking lot. A pair of killdeer were hopping along the gravel path. I couldn’t get a nice shot though because he kept turning his back on me.

Trying to ignore me.

Then I noticed my shadow stretched out long in the early morning light and was so busy capturing it that I didn’t notice that robin on the last fence post to the right. He would have made a nice picture, shining red in the sunlight.

Bet you didn’t see the robin either.

By the time I noticed him he flew up into a huge tree and became just about invisible. I guess you have to be alert when you’re out looking for birds, they rarely give you a second chance.

So I headed down the path, noticing the way the sun shone on everything and sort of missing my Katie-girl. A flurry of activity caught my attention out of the corner of my eye.

Flapping his wings for attention.

I ended up with a bunch of really bad pictures of this bluebird couple who were checking out a housing unit together. When I first saw them they were both fluttering around the house opening. The light was bad and I couldn’t see anything through the viewfinder, so I just kept clicking.

He was all hot and bothered, trying to win her favor. As I approached they flew from tree to tree, she’d fly first, he’d follow and perch nearby, flapping his wings, talking all the time to her. She’d hop to the next tree, he’d pursue, not too close, and flap and talk some more.

Showing his true colors in the morning light.

I decided to leave them be, not wanting to be the negative influence that made her reject him and his housing offering. As I moved beyond the birdhouse and then looked back I could see she was standing back on the nesting box.

Maybe she’s made up her mind.

And then she flew to join him at the top of a shrub just across the way.

The loving couple shares a quiet moment together.

I think they’re going to make it.

Seemed wherever I looked somebody was singing loud and clear.

Hard not to notice this guy with his big sound.

And while I was trying to get a shot of a cardinal in the top of another tree there was all sorts of commotion in the pond behind me.

He likes to choose the highest branch to proclaim his territory.

Seems a flock of ducks had gotten into a misunderstanding, and they took off into the bright blue sky to circle around and around the pond, chasing each other, working out the hierarchy for the coming season.

All six landed back on the pond, so maybe this was just an exercise in take offs and landings.

It was hard trying to capture them as they flew in and out of the sun now blazing down on Katie’s little park. But I liked the way they looked against the sky so I kept trying.

And while I was busy with that an insistent bit of chirping and warbling caught my ear. I turned around and this little guy had planted himself quite low in a tree right in front of me.

Now just who are you again?

I’d been trying to get his picture when he was in the tree with the cardinal, but I couldn’t tell what he was, he was just too far away. I guess he wanted his turn in the spotlight because he sat there, proudly puffed up, and chirped away at me.

I moved off to the side trying to determine what he was and he didn’t seem afraid of my moving at all. He just kept singing.

Sing it buddy!

I still don’t know what he is, maybe a song sparrow? Or something else? Once he figured I had enough images of him he nodded his head and flew off to look for breakfast. Cheeky little guy.

So I wandered around a bit more but my fingers were cold and I was happy with what I had. I did hear the cranes a few times while I was out there, their calls always seemed to come from the opposite side of the park, no matter which side I was on.

So, no crane pictures from this adventure, but I’m still smiling. Because when I got back to the car the robin was still singing and this time he let me get the shot.

Did you get my good side lady?

And the killdeer couple was still bopping around, happy on their gravel path and willing to let me grab one more image, this time of the two of them together.

Another happy couple checking out housing options.

I hope all of you had at least one big smile this week. And if it wasn’t a great week I hope the birds here at least made you grin just a little bit.

And someday I’m going to show you the most amazing image of a crane couple gliding gracefully in a blue sky. Makes me smile just thinking about it.


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Define spring

The calendar says winter is over. But those of us living in Michigan, and I suspect, other northern states know better than to trust a date on the calendar. Around here we look for more definite signs that spring is poking around and considering hanging out with us for awhile.

For me robins bouncing around in my front yard is hopeful, but not really true evidence of the season changing; we’ve been known to have them stop by in the middle of winter. In fact I think I have a picture somewhere of a very disgruntled robin sitting in my heated birdbath during an icy snowstorm.

Gotta get your bath in when you can.

Up here it’s not really spring until I’ve hear the red-winged blackbird’s cry. It’s a distinctive sound, one you can’t confuse for anything else. That’s why I was grinning last week, because the blackbirds were robustly announcing their arrival. This week they are busy daily cleaning out my bird feeder, they must not have stopped anywhere for lunch on their trek home to me.

Singing for his supper.

Then there are my goldfinches. Though many hang around all year the bright yellow males turn to an olive green in the winter. And in the spring they start sprouting patches of brilliant yellow again, a heralding of sorts that warm spring days aren’t far away.

It’s starting to get yellow around here.

This week the goldfinches are turning a decided yellow. I’ve been hanging out by the windows just watching them power eat thistle seed. Every day there seems to be more yellow showing.

Do you have any more food in there lady?

Some of them have turned almost totally yellow already. Proof positive that winter is losing it’s hold over us, even though it snowed again today.

Can’t hide my colors now!

Daffodils are pushing up from the cold ground. I saw buds on a bush yesterday. The limbs of the forsythia bush seem to have a golden glow though there are no blossoms or even buds yet.

I’m not so gullible to think it’s time to till the garden or plant those annuals yet. Way too early up here. And I know that every year we have a significant snowfall in April.

What do you mean this isn’t the last of the snow?

But I also know that last snow won’t need shoveling because it will melt by mid afternoon. And the sun will grow warmer and finally, finally the frogs will begin to peep.

And then it will be spring.

More evidence.


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Still smiling.

There have been plenty of things to smile about this week. A couple days with sunshine, my hands are healing, Katie is feeling a little bit better, I did my grocery shopping in the middle of a Thursday when most people have to work, (that one made me smile pretty wide) and beautiful morning light two days ago that made my world glow.

Oh yea, lots of things to smile about this week.

But the biggest smile happened for me and, I think, a whole lot of other people on Tuesday night during our Clarkston Community Band concert that we played in conjunction with the Dave Bennett Quartet.

We’ve been working on our portion of the concert for weeks – most of what we played Tuesday were movements from Shostakovitch’s Jazz Suite no. 2. Though the music isn’t jazz like we know it today, it was fun, kind of tongue in cheek, sometimes almost circus like.

And some of it went really really fast.

To break up all the Shostakovich we preformed Oblivion by Piazzolla, which was slower and featured our oboe player. She sounded wonderful, with a full, rich tone filled with mystery. (The Oblivion link above takes you to our full concert; Oblivian is # 3.)

And we were honored to accompany Dave and his jazz clarinet for two of his own pieces, Blood Moon (#6 in our concert at the Oblivion link above.) and Falling Sky (#7). During Blood Moon I actually stopped playing to watch him and be mesmerized.

I couldn’t help it.

We played the first half of the concert, (through #8 in the link above) and while the Quartet played the second half I got to sit out in the audience and just listen. To be honest I had to wipe away a tear during his rendition of Hallelujah (#12).

Magic.

I couldn’t stop smiling. Couldn’t stop clapping either, even though my hands, wrapped up so that I could play my own clarinet without further injury, didn’t make any sound. And even though it hurt to clap.

I just couldn’t help myself.

Winding up, the music and the evening.

What a night! The crowd gave us a standing ovation after our portion was complete. And they stood up and clapped and a few even danced through Dave Bennett’s entire last piece. I don’t think anyone (except maybe the quartet) wanted it to end.

It was fabulous.

Things got a bit crazy. In a good way.

I just got the link from our recording engineer and listened to a few of the pieces. OK, we weren’t always in tune and there were some things that went a bit awry. We’re a community band. But overall I’m so glad that I get to play music with this group.

And I’m extra grateful that I had the opportunity to hear Dave Bennett play his clarinet. Check out his website, see if he’s going to be playing near you. And if he is, make a point of going to hear him. He’s a young Benny Goodman with a bit of Jerry Lee Lewis breaking out on occasion.

Guaranteed to make you smile.

A full moon greeted us at the end of a magical evening.


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The misadventures of a Katie-girl

Katie here. HEY! It’s not my fault if I had a few unsettling adventures around here. It’s not like mama takes me anywhere fun after all.

Happy at my park.

First I thought I was going on an adventure and I ended up at camp for a whole week while they were off frolicking in Florida. I like Florida, I’ve been there three times, I love to run on the beach and stuff. Plus my boyfriend Mr. Reilly is there. So I don’t get why I couldn’t go with them.

Me, my boyfriend Mr. Reilly and his little brother Denny on our first beach adventure way back in 2017!

So I showed them. The morning after I got home I talked mama into taking me on a walk. She was tired cause she just flew home herself, but she felt guilty (as she should) for making me stay at camp, so she took me up the street.

Me in my yard, which is not an adventure mama!

I was doing my sheltie prance, butt wagging, sniffing all the good stuff like usual when suddenly I slowed down. Mama thought that was odd. Then I turned around and looked at her and threw up! And then I threw up two more times!

Then I just lay down in the middle of our street and I started to quiver all over.

I told mama not to show anyone my tummy!!

Mama said that was not normal. And even though we were only about four houses away from home she called my dad and he came and got us. Then she called the vet.

So the next car ride I get was to the vet! This is not an adventure mama! They poked me and looked in places no princess should allow, and they took my blood. I didn’t give permission for any of this, but I felt kinda miserable so I couldn’t argue much.

I guess my backyard is better than nothing.

The vet couldn’t come up with anything, but mama had a sinking feeling cause I had an episode just like this in 2015, also one day after being sprung from camp. We didn’t figure out anything then either.

I finally convinced mama to take me to my park.

So the next day I was feeling all happy again, but mama put me on a low fat wet food for awhile just to see. Boy that was good! And when I stayed happy for several days mama did a bad thing.

She scheduled me to get my teeth cleaned, and while I was out she asked them to do an ultrasound of all my innards!

So the next week I find myself at the vet again! This is so not fair, especially because this time daddy left me there! Mama couldn’t even come because she fell on some ice and had both hands and wrists wrapped up in splints and she didn’t feel so good herself.

I would like to say, for the record, that mama’s fall was not my fault!

My park needs my inspection more regularly!

Anyway, I got all sleepy and stuff and when I woke up I didn’t feel so good and my tummy was cold! Mama and daddy came to get me and I was sort of happy but kinda confused. The vet said he didn’t see anything on the ultrasound, but he’d send it off for a better look by an expert.

All I wanted to do was get out of there.

I watched two sandhill cranes very carefully. Not going to chase them though, cause they are bigger than me!

I got home and I slept and slept and slept. But when I went out to do my business my #2 was liquid. And you know what? It’s been four days now and it’s still not right. But the vet said the ultrasound didn’t show anything abnormal.

Sigh.

Mama and daddy are talking about my poo all the time now and deciding what to do. They have even cancelled their next adventure because they don’t want to send me back to camp. Score one for Katie!

They say they might have to take me back to the vet. Uh oh. Minus one for Katie!

Trying to look cute so they don’t take me to the vet again.

Somehow that’s not a win for me, ya know? So I’m doing my best to produce a normal poo for them so we can get on with some fun stuff. Mama did take me to my park yesterday for a short walk around the pond. That’s where most of these pictures come from. It was a beautiful day and I was very very very happy to be there.

We didn’t get to walk all the way around the park because mama’s hands are still wrapped up and her mittens don’t fit. She is a wimp!

Mama says if I straighten up my act (and if her hands ever heal) we’ll do something fun cause spring is almost here. Heck I told her, I like cold weather, we need to be out there enjoying it right now!

All that poo talk made me sleepy.

So that’s what I’ve been up to. I hope all of you are having a much better end to your winter than mama and me. She says to watch out for black ice. I say to watch out for car rides to the vet!

Talk later, I got stuff to do now….maybe even a #2!

Your gal Katie.

I’m outta here people! I’ve got adventures to plan!