Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Comfort music

Christmas is right around the corner, and people are talking about how they’re not ready, have so much more to do, cooking, shopping, wrapping. I smile in sympathy but I don’t really get it. Especially this year.

This barn and other outbuildings are on land that is for sale, zoned commercial. So it won’t be here for much longer. I’m glad I got an image to preserve it.

Even without covid my family is small and doesn’t travel that much. We don’t do so much for Christmas anymore, though Thanksgiving is a big deal. I mailed the couple of boxes I needed to more than a week ago. I bought the ingredients for our simple Christmas supper last week.

The barns on this particular barn hunt came in many colors.

The thing I’m looking forward to most is a Christmas nap. I wonder if that shows my age? Still, it can get a little sad when the world seems hyped up and you aren’t. So yesterday I decided to go out looking for a few barns. Sort of a comfort photo hunt of sorts.

Not something you see every day, a blue barn.

And along the way I listened to XM radio, station 73, Traditional Holiday, humming along to music that my folks would have listened to back in the 50s, and some that we listed to in the 60s and 70s too.

I liked the red tractor in front of this red barn. I turned around to get it.

I remember my mom commenting that she wished they played Christmas music for awhile after the big day because she didn’t have time before it to listen. I feel lucky that I have all the time in the world to enjoy these oldies.

I want to go back when the light is better and see if I can figure out what was painted on this barn.

People like Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Torme, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, Eartha Kitt, Perry Como, Bing Crosby, Peggy Lee, Rosemary Clooney and Jo Stafford, groups like The Four Seasons and The Supremes, instrumentals from the likes of The London Pops, Percy Faith and Oscar Peterson.

It was a gray and rainy day. This farm seemed to sit so naturally in the landscape.

I heard so many pieces that we’ve played at our own holiday concerts, and I could imagine, and remember what it felt like to play again. The music did what music is intended to do, lifted my spirts and I arrived home after a couple of hours of Christmas music and barns smiling.

My favorite capture. A photogenic green barn!

I hope you are all smiling too, no matter what your holidays will look like. Here’s to spending time together, in person if it’s safe, virtually if it’s not. And here’s to looking forward to 2021. May it bring us all more smiles than frowns.

Classic


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Birthday celebration

Katie here.

Guess what, guess what, guess WHAT?? This was my birthday week! I turned fourteen on Tuesday, and since no one made any big deal about it I decided that I’d extend it to the whole week.

Wanna come on my birthday walk with me?

The better to give mama and daddy a chance to make me a cake. Or something.

But here it is Friday night and so far no signs of any cake. Or ice cream for that matter. No presents either, unless you count the little goodie bag my groomer gave me for Christmas.

We had a pretty day with some sunshine.

Oh yes, you heard me right. The groomer. Mama actually scheduled a spa day during my birthday week! Obviously mama doesn’t know me very well. Some doggies might like going to the spa and getting a bunch of attention and all gussied up and stuff.

I, however, am not one of those doggies.

I hate getting wet, and in case you’re not aware, a spa day involves a bath. Which is definitely wet. And I don’t like getting brushed either, and there’s a whole lot of that at spa day. And don’t get me started on nails. I double hate getting my nails trimmed.

The groomer puts these bows in my furs. I don’t know, I think they’re sort of silly.

So all in all, spa day is not my cup of tea. I’d have liked a camping trip in the woods and lots of sniffage on my birthday. And if I’m honest mama did try. She took me to one of my parks on Tuesday and we walked almost a mile up and down the hills and she let me sniff as much as I wanted.

There were lots of hills. We were either going up or down all the time.

Toward the end she even carried me up the biggest hill. She says I need to lose a pound or two. I did not point out that perhaps the extra heft was her own.

Ahem.

Anyway, most of the pictures in this post are from my birthday at my park. We had a good time, mama and me. We always do when we’re in the woods together.

I don’t mind going DOWN the hills at all.

Mama said she had ordered snow for my birthday but it didn’t arrive on time. She said something about the post office being messed up. Personally I think maybe she ordered it late, mama doesn’t always have the best sense of time you know.

But that’s OK, because you can guess what eventually showed up!

He mama! Look, it’s SNOW!

Yes, my snow arrived, and it was just the right amount, not too much that she had to shovel my poop room, but enough that it was fun to walk around. Mama and I stopped at a little dog park to walk in the snow before I got dropped off at my groomer’s house.

We had the dog park all to ourselves, so I tried out the equipment.

I didn’t know, when we were at the park, that I was headed for a bath. So I had a real good time wandering around. No one else was there, so mama and I got to run around, I even chased an old tennis ball she found.

But mostly I’d like to point out that mama did not get me anything for my birthday. So I’m wondering what you guys think I should do. I’ve seen her wrapping presents for Christmas, and I checked the other night and I don’t see anything for me in that stack either.

I don’t know how to look much cuter!

Should I go on strike? Should I whine and pant and make her go outside and then inside and then outside again all day every day until she makes amends? I’m very good at that, but I’m concerned that she won’t realze I’m trying to make a point, cause I do that every day anyway.

I want to come inside RIGHT NOW!

So I leave it up to you, my fans, to give me good ideas. What should I do to make mama take me to the store and let me pick out something for myself? I’m sure if we all put our heads together we can come up with a stupendous plan!

You’ve got some good ideas, right?

PS: This got posted late tonight because I had to wait till mama went to bed to get on her laptop. She’s always on that thing, plus I don’t want her to know I’m complaining. Never complain about the hand that feeds you and all that.

I can’t believe she took a picture of this oak leaf stuck on my cute behind.

Am I right? I know I am.

Talk later, your birthday girl Katie.

Mama DID make me frozen banana treats for my birthday. I guess she’s not all bad.


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A political smile is not an oxymoron

This week President-Elect Biden nominated Pete Buttigieg as Secretary of Transportation. This made me more than smile. It made me grin and then sort of tear up.

No matter your politics, if you have an issue you want your government to understand, it’s akways a relief when you find someone willing to listen without judgement. And you all know I have some truck safety issues I’ve been trying to get heard for the past sixteen years.

The last four years have been frustrating as safety advocates were not welcome to the table at the Department of Transportation. Numerous requests for meetings were ignored or flatly denied. In past years we’ve been able to meet with the Secretary, but not in the latest administration. I don’t know that it would have changed anything anyway.

So I’m relieved that the President-Elect has nominated a person that appears willing to listen to all sides of an issue. I watched Buttigieg during the debates and found his comments to be thoughtful and measured. Calm. Just the kind of person I’d like to present my facts to.

I have high hopes that the person nominated for the Admistrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will also be willing to listen to safety’s side on all the issues. I think if we remind Buttigieg that safety is in their title and therefore their main responsibility we might have a shot.

Anyway…this was my biggest smile of the week. I hope his confirmation goes through without a hitch. I know he’s had some issues when he was mayor. I know he’s young. I know he doesn’t come from the trucking industry (and for me, that’s a plus), but he’s wildly intelligent, compassionate and personable.

He can learn the industry stuff. After all, the families of the thousands killed and injured each year learn it the hard way. It’s got to be a lot less painful to learn it just by being willing to listen.


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Into the woods we go

So. Let me see, where was I? Ah yes, casually racewalking into the woods. I had left the more traveled path behind, along with with the pesky turkeys. If only real life could be that easy.

I couldn’t ask for a prettier day.

It was quiet back there, and the sun was shining down on me walking silently on a cushy bed of fallen oak leaves. There was something pretty no matter where I looked.

Oak leaf caught in sunlight.

I notied a lot of green shining in the morning light, even though all the summer’s leaves had long since dropped.

Nature’s art was everywhere.

I wanted to get a good shot of some moss. It was hard to get it in focus and I’m not sure I succeeded, but if you just think of it as abstract art you’ll be fine.

I enjoyed the delicate green enjoying the sun.

I finally got myself back on my feet and headed down the path again when a slight movement caught my eye off to the right.

She’d been watching me while I was busy with the moss.

She wasn’t very far off the trail, just enjoying the sunlight and chewing her cud and she wasn’t disturbed by my being near at all. I whispered that she shouldn’t get up, she telepathed back she hadn’t planned on it, and I quietly moved along.

Enlarge this image. How many faces do you see? I never saw the others until I looked at this on a big screen.

Her eyes followed me, and then she turned her head away. At the time I thought she was pulling a Katie – – not wanting to look at the camera unless there was something in it for her. I even said “You little stinker” as I took the shot above. Turns out that she had just noticed something else and had written me off as nonthreatening.

I was working to get this closeup of some fungi when I heard footsteps approaching. Thinking it was the deer, I glanced over my shoulder.

Fungi art.

It wasn’t the deer, just another woman walking through the woods. I asked her if she had seen the doe, and she looked confused, then said no, she was too busy with her own thoughts. I smiled and she walked on by. I’m pretty sure the doe saw her, and that was what made her turn her attention away from me.

Another photographer, going the opposite direction. I’m sure HE saw the deer just around that next corner.

I didn’t see many people on those back trails. When we did meet we generally just nodded or said a quiet “good morning.” It was sort of like being in church.

I got to an intersection. I had another choice to make. I could go straight and be back at the car in 15 or 20 minutes. Or I could turn left and make another large loop up and down some hills and through a meadow and a wetland. I almost headed back, I was certain that was what I was going to do. My neck and back were getting tired from carrying the camera with the long lens. I was hungry. I had pictures of large birds and a doe.

Light shining through yesterday’s leaf.

My work was done for the day.

But I stood and studied the map considering. And then I turned left. Almost instantly I hear the familiar sound of wings near my head. Interesting. I never have birds begging on these back trails. There are very few people and the birds aren’t as trained.

Seriously hungry here lady, toss me something good!

But lucky for them I happened to have quite a bit of seed left in my pocket, seed those pesky turkeys didn’t get. A few little birds came down for a treat. The woodpecker stayed around begging but waited till I left him something on the ground to grab lunch.

The path led past one of my favorite benches, though I’ve never sat there. I just think it’s in a pretty spot.

A nice place to sit in the winter, in the summer you’d be a meal for the mosquiteos!

Then the trail burst out of the woods into the sunshine of a grassy meadow. I thought this made a lovely shot.

The beautiful day in all it’s forms shone everywhere.

And as I made my way to the meadow I found a couple of birdwatchers looking for something special. I hope they found it!

“What’s that over there?”

They obviously weren’t looking for this little guy, as he was right behind them. He came down for a bit of a snack after they moved on.

Chick-a-dee-dee-dee!

The trail took me back toward the road, and when I got out there I noticed a tree I had seen on my drive in. It was covered with ornaments and I’d thought I’d stop there on my drive out after my walk. But it wasn’t that far away, maybe about a quarter mile. And I was right there.

I decided to change to the short lens and walk over there. After all, who knew what the light would be like by the time I was driving past it later? So there in the woods I switched lenses and then I walked out of the woods and down along the road toward the tree.

I don’t know what the significance is of this tree, there’s no sign. But it was pretty.

As I got closer I realize not all the sparkles were baubles. The trees were filled with bluebirds! And me with the short lens on the camera. I stopped right there on the side of the road and switched back to the long lens. Still, the birds were flitting back and forth, up and down from the tree to the ground. I’d catch a flash of brillant blue, but couldn’t get the bird in focus.

He has an acorn cap in his beak.

Finally one dropped down to the ground and stayed there long enough for me to capture him. He was adorable! Then he took off with that acorn cap and I reflexively shot.

He still has the acorn cap in his bill.

I got some of him in focus accidently. But I was thrilled just to see them all there on a mid-December day.

After the bluebirds left I concentrated a bit on the tree itself.

Pretty in the sunlight.

There was another tree across the street decorated all in fishing lures an bobbers. I have no idea why, but it also was pretty.

A fishing theme far away from the lake.

After the bluebird interlude I put the short lens back on the camera and headed back into the woods to finish my trek back to the car. As I got closer to the nature center the little birds began swarming my head. They were quite insistant. So of course I had to take the obligitory picture of a bird in the hand.

“HEY! That was the biggest peanut and it was MINE!”

Or, in this case, two birds in the hand.

The big hawks were gone when I walked past their trees. I wondered which photographers were patient enough to wait for them to lift off in flight. That would have made a cool photo too. But I was happy with my menagerie of images. Plus I’d gotten over 3 miles of walking in.

Liftoff!

Choices, choices. Every choice has some kind of consequence, good or bad. I think I made the right choices on Friday when I visited my favorite park.

Don’t you?

Follow youe heart, you never know what you’ll find.


39 Comments

Choices

For months I’ve been watcing a Facebook page filled with wonderful professional and amature photographs of Michigan birds and wildlife. Lots of them have been taken at Kensington, my favorite park, and each time I see something amazing that was shot there I vow to get myself out the door.

The sun was up by the time I got out to the park, but the fog off the lake was still hanging around.

But every morning this week when I’ve considered heading out, I’ve yawned and rolled back over to sleep a couple more hours.

The lighting gave everything a vintage look.

Friday the weather guy said that next week it will be colder and rainier and maybe even snowier than the wonderful weather we’ve been enjoying. I figured if I was going to get going I better get going.

So I did.

Reflections were nice along the shore.

Now my problem is that I have over 300 photos taken on my 3.5 mile walk through the woods. I saw so many different things, any one set of photos could be a blog post. Should I try to share it all with you? Or just a tiny bit? Maybe it will turn into multiple blogs.

Guess we won’t know until I start posting. I will say that you might want to click on the images, because there’s a whole lot of detail you don’t want to miss, especially if you’re reading this on your phone.

If I hadn’t made the choice to get off the sofa I would have missed the golden light that filled my first stop at the park. I stayed there for several minutes, then drove over to the nature trails.

The usual parking lot attendants were apparently off duty, hanging out down near a pond.

When I arrived there the parking lot was half full and I knew I was later than I like to be. I considered heading out in my typical direction, but decided at the last minute to focus on the trails at the back of the park. So I made the choice to turn right instead of left, and almost instantly noticed a whole lot of photographers, complete with very expensive gear, pointing their cameras up.

It was a pretty day to be out with a camera.

When you come across a gagle of photographers it’s best to look where they’re looking. So I did. And this is what I saw first:

A female red tailed hawk, enjoying the morning sun.

I didn’t know what it was for sure, but I knew it was really big and beautiful. Most of the photographers were frustrated because the branches of the tree were hiding her face. I just climbed over a bench and a fence near the nature center to get a different angle.

Then someone said there was another one around the next bend in the trail. Over there were even more photographers, all pointing their huge lenses at a very sleepy, obviously well fed male.

He and his tree were both really beautiful against the blue sky.

I took plenty of pictures, thrilled to be there, in the right place at the right time for once.

He watched the people below him and seemed amused.

I just about skipped back to check on the female, getting a shot from behind that was OK, but not as interesting as this shot from below her.

She’s all puffed up against the chill.

And then she tucked her head under her wing for a quick nap.

Not concerned by all of us at all.

So much excitement and I hadn’t even started my walk yet! So I reluctantly left the big birds and headed out toward the back of the park.

The light was so pretty that morning as the fog burned off.

And almost immediately ran into the merry band of turkeys.

This was the first one I saw. There were probably 10 more wandering in the trees near the trail.

I kept taking pictures because they were so pretty. They weren’t paying much attention to me, and there was a young family complete with kids running around that was approaching from my left. I wanted to get my pictures taken before they arrived.

Look at the difference in coloring between these two!

The family was coming and I wondered if they realized these big birds can be pretty assertive if they figure out you have food.

Isn’t he stunning?

I figured I’d move on before they figured out I had seed in my pocket.

I thought you might want to see these colors up close.

I turned right to go up a path that would connect me with the trail in the back, leaving the birds behind. I was concentrated on this cute squirrel…

Hey lady! Quick, look behind you!

…when I hear multiple pairs of feet rushing toward me.

Hey!!!! Wait for us!!!

Apparently they had figured out the lunch lady was leaving. It was sort of intimidating to have they rush me like that, so I threw two handfuls of seed as far as I could away from me, and race walked (casually of course) to the next corner and turned into the woods. Luckily brush blocked me from their view and I got away.

So what do you think I found in the woods? I guess you’ll have to wait, because this is long enough already. And there’s so much more to see.

Stay tuned.

What? How does this relate to the woods??


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Camping dreams

It’s in the mid 30s this afternoon, with grey skies and a bit of a chilly breeze. Not weather that supports camping in a tent. Yet…it will not be long before I can be out in the woods in my little tent again.

In fact, if you want prime sites you have to book them as early as possible. Here in Michigan you can book a site online at our state parks, but only 6 months in advance. So right now, you can reserve sites for June 8th and before.

You probably aren’t surprised that so far I have two camping trips reserved. One is with a group of friends, at the end of May, in northern Michigan. I hope it’s warm enough up there by then!

And a couple days ago I booked 3 days at a state park with a view of the Mackinaw Bridge. This replicates what I had reserved for June of 2020 that got cancelled while we were all in lockdown. It makes me smile to know I’ll get there this year.

I checked a calendar and chose three days when there won’t be a moon, so, as long as there also aren’t clouds, I should be able to get some nice star shots with the bridge in the background. I have a site right on the water, so I’ be able to shoot pictures without even leaving my campsite.

That’s the plan anyway.

Now…as we move further into winter, I’ll have opportunities to make more reservations, but I need to be careful to leave time to be here at home, or better yet, time to spend in Alabama with my family, just as soon as it’s safe to do that.

Meanwhile I’ll dream about camping as the wind blows and snow floats down. It’s good to have something to look forward to during the long dark nights of winter.

What’s getting you through these cold winter days?


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Shenanigans on my deck

I’ve started putting some seed along the deck railing for the birds, and by default the squirrels.

The downside is that they are making a mess and I’ll have to go clean up after them soon. The upside is that they make me smile every day. And seriously, who doesn’t need a few smiles during these scary times?

We’ve been slowly getting over the virus, though both husband and I still have difficulty taking a deep breath.

I tried playing my clarinet a couple weeks ago but didn’t have the air to do it. Maybe that would have been the case after weeks of not playing anyway. Or maybe it’s the result of covid. It would probably be good respitory therapy to play a little every day even though it sounds, well, to be honest, bad.

I’ve been reading too much facebook, too many dog friends have crossed over the rainbow bridge lately. In particular, Sarah the bookstore dog, who I’ve met a few times and who was always glad of a head scritch and posed for me without demanding a treat. I will miss her.

And Nico, a sheltie I’ve never met in person but who showed up in my FB feed every morning with a greeting and sweet semi-worried face. I will miss him too. And the other shelties, so many, including Dallas and Dakota, I will miss hearing about all of them.

2020 has been a year of loss and I don’t suppose all that will just stop on New Years Day. But there are bird and squirrel shenanigans happening daily on my deck and there are vaccines on the way.

All told there is reason to hope. And even smile.