Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


Six years to say goodbye

Yesterday was the 6th anniversary of Dad’s death. He was killed while driving to the airport, on the way north to visit family for Christmas.  He was killed by a sleepy truck driver who didn’t notice that traffic had stopped.  He was killed because some people put profit over safety.

I wasn’t going to blog about it.  No one wants to read a sad blog two days before Christmas.   We should be concentrating on package wrapping, grocery shopping, tree decorating.  But the reason we do all that is for family, and sometimes family has to travel to be together.  And sometimes traveling is not so safe.

This morning as I was lying in bed thinking that I had survived another anniversary I began to feel sad that I hadn’t written about Dad.  As if ignoring the anniversary in public somehow lessened the loss or his worth.  Which is, of course, not true.  And it’s also not true that I didn’t think about him all day yesterday, because of course I did.  And compounding all these thoughts was the fact that  yesterday my brother was driving to the airport and flying up to stay with us for the holiday weekend.  It was a complicated layer filled emotional day.

And the point is that though the pain recedes it never goes away, and though the fight to make our roads safer, to enforce the laws that are on the books and to pass new, even safer laws never ends, we’re all made of pretty strong stock, and we’ll keep fighting through the pain.

Next year on this anniversary I want to be able to say that we’ve made progress with the length of time a  truck driver can legally drive, that we’re closer to having on-board recorders that make it harder to cheat on the hours of service rule, that we’ve stopped bigger, heavier trucks from being allowed to roam freely across the country.

For now I’m happy that Dad’s picture, along with many others, hangs in the offices of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.  And that the Truck Safety Coalition is a constant reminder to them (and sometimes a bur under their skin) of the importance and urgency of their work.  It’s not enough but it’s a beginning. I’m thinking we’ve already saved lives and Dad would be proud.

Meanwhile, all of you traveling this holiday weekend…be careful out there.


Forever peaceful

A last bit of story from our trip up north.  As we were leaving Grindstone City, way back on a dirt road we passed this:

It was a beautiful little hill with a family plot, all fenced in with obvious care.

We climbed the hill and quietly explored.  It was beautiful.  Maple trees were in full color, there was no sound except for birds and chipmunks.

We wandered about, reading the headstones, piecing together the family histories.  One stone caught my attention; a small unassuming stone of a little boy who was born and died the year I was born.  Next to him were his parents, who died many years later.

I stopped a moment and thought back to all the things I’ve done in my life.  While I was walking to kindergarten in my “milk money” dress, the one with pockets to carry the nickle for the week’s milk, this little boy was resting here.  When I graduated from high school, learned to drive a car,  went off to college, he was still here…when I bought my first house, got married, changed jobs, traveled…well…he was up on this beautiful little knoll.

For whatever reason I connected with this little boy who missed out on so much.  He should be about ready to retire now, he should have stories to tell his grandchildren.  He should be peacefully sitting on a porch somewhere, listening to the birds and chipmunks.

When things get hectic and crazy and when I’m overwhelmed and tired all I have to think about is a little boy forever peaceful up there on that knoll, and I’ll know that I’m the lucky one.

Peaceful or not, I’m the lucky one.


Grindstone City

I bet you all know that Michigan is shaped like a mitten, but did you know there is a grindstone cemetery of sorts at the tip of the thumb?  Grindstone City was named in 1870 for the large grindstones that were mined and shaped there, then shipped throughout the country.  You can read more about the city in this short historical essay. (The picture above was borrowed from this website)

As a youngster I stood with my Dad along the shore of Lake Huron at the tip of Michigan’s thumb among huge grindstones that had been dumped there years and years ago.  I’ve held this vague memory for decades, and last weekend I stood in the same place again, feeling Dad with me, as my husband and I explored  the shoreline until we found the grindstones.

It amazed me that the grindstones were still resting on the shore much the way I remembered.  To think they’ve been there all these years…that I didn’t know exactly where we’d been more than 40 years ago and yet here I was again feeling the same sense of history and wonder I’d had as a kid.

I walked among the grindstones, touching the rough surfaces, the square holes in the centers, thinking about the people who had made these stones, and wondering about the reasons these particular stones had ended up as defects on the shores of the big lake.

The sun was warm on our shoulders, the water lapped peacefully near our feet, the stones offered up their stories silently.  I could easily have sat on the warm stones imagining history and remembering that trip with my Dad all afternoon.

Just another place that holds a piece of my heart.


And the answer is…

You’ve all been very patiently waiting to find out what that metal thing was.  I know you’re sitting around at home just aching to find out.  Really you are.

We began our weekend trip in Port Huron, a town on the Eastern coast of Michigan across the river from Canada.  The Blue Water bridge connects the two countries.

Port Huron is also the boyhood home of Thomas Jefferson, something they are very proud of. You can read all about his exploits as a boy in the museum at the train depot under the bridge.

And the thing I found most interesting in the park below the bridge was a lighthouse boat.

The boat was built in 1921 and went out on the Great Lakes to help ships in trouble.  It had a lighthouse on board and the beam could be seen for miles.  It’s a museum now, though we didn’t get to board because it wasn’t open when we were there.

What fascinated me was that there was a small, outboard motor boat sitting on the deck, the little boat so similar in size and shape to the first family boat we had years ago.  I tried to imagine a boat that small out on the big lake, and I just couldn’t imagine it.

So now you know the rest of the story…at least about Port Huron.  There’s much more to show you from our trip last weekend.  And here it’s almost the weekend again!

Stay tuned.


Do you know what this is?

Can you guess what’s piled up here?

Does this help?

Hmmm…I didn’t think so.  Unless you’re a farmer…or have farming in your family it’s unlikely you’ve got this figured out.  Is that enough of a hint?  No?

During our drive in middle Michigan this past weekend we saw lots of farmers out in the fields bringing in crops and tilling empty fields.  One of Michigan’s exports is sugar.  Can you guess now?

Yes!  That’s a heap of sugar beets!  There’s a sugar processing center for Pioneer Sugar up at Sebewaing which is on the western coast of the thumb of Michigan.  And this was one of the smaller piles there!  There were huge dump trucks filled with sugar beets lined up to dump.  Kind of amazing!

On Sunday morning when we woke and began to pack the car there was a semi truck with a flat bed full of brand new, shiny red and yellow farm equipment parked in the motel parking lot.  I thought the new farm equipment was beautiful.  What do you think?

To me it was sculpture…though I’m sure if anyone saw me taking pictures they’d have thought I was nuts.

Things are pretty straight forward and down to earth in middle Michigan.  Not so much into sculpture I’m thinking.

And you know how I usually give you photos of sunsets over water?  Well…how about a sunset over a corn field?

Just as beautiful, don’t you think?

We saw so many beautiful things, and I have so much to share with you.  It might take me a whole week of posts just to show you what we saw in two days.

Now for your next assignment.  Can you figure out what this is?


Memorizing sound

This weekend husband and I explored the coast of Lake Huron.  While I have been in love with Lake Michigan my whole life, I have never spent much time near the big lake on the eastern side of our state.  After two short days in and around the vicinity I can see how easy it would be to cheat on my first love.

As we were driving along on assorted “Lakeshore Drives” up the coast I was looking at the homes – some little cabins, some monster estates – and wondering if these people who are so lucky as to wake up to that huge beautiful lake ever take it for granted.  Or if they, like I believe I would, wake up each day in awe and wonder and thankfulness just to be there.

One of my favorite stops this weekend was Tawas State Park, which we walked on the beach for what seemed miles.  There were little spits of sand sticking out into the water, and at the end of one of them, Sunday early afternoon I stood with my eyes shut and memorized the sound of the soft waves lapping at my toes, gurgling around the sand, sliding away.

Today, when I find myself back in my cubicle working on files and making decisions, when the hours grow long and my neck is tired, when my head aches and I’ve adjusted my glasses for the thousandth time, I’ll think of that moment standing on the sand with water all around me.

And in my heart I’ll smile.


Training Challenge #7

This week’s challenge for Katie was going for a long drive.   We are wondering how she’d travel, so we took her over to Michigan State University which is just over an hour away from us.

Next year, if I get the opportunity to drive down to Alabama, I’d like to take her with me rather than have her stay at a kennel.  But sometimes she gets feisty even coming home from her school, and I can’t envision a two day car trip with a sheltie barking at me!

But on this trip Katie settled in on her princess pillow in the back and seemed content to just nod her head sleepily.  Maybe because we did this last Sunday, after her Rally Trial, and she was exhausted.  LOL.  She wouldn’t put her head down, but her little eyese were closed and her head was bobbing up and down until she’d catch me watching her, then she’d try to look alert.

We were visiting the ornamental grass garden on campus.  It’s out near the farms, on the grounds of the sod farm where they experiment in making grass that golfers love.

Katie was really happy to get out of the car and explore.

The gardens were beautiful.  We had a nice time checking out the names of the grasses that we particularly liked, and considering where we might be able to add a few varieties to our own landscape.

Katie drank some water and peed on the pretty green lawn, just to make sure everyone knew she’d been there.  Then back into the car we went for the hour trip home.

She did great.  Maybe some weekend I’ll see if I can take her a little further from home.  Because two hours is not two days and I still don’t want to find myself somewhere in Tennessee with an unhappy girl.

Know what I mean?



Did ya’ll see the full moon last night?  It made me nostalgic for the lake.  You see, the last night my husband and I were there we went “bobbing” at the end of the dock.  Bobbing is our term for floating using noodles.  You can sit on the flotation devise, water up to your shoulders, and chat or contemplate or just enjoy the warm water.

That last night we took a bottle of wine down to the lake, bobbed in the 80+ degree water and watched the moon rise.  We were tired and cranky from spending the day working on the house; cleaning, doing the laundry including sheets for all the beds, installing new lighting and a new ceiling fan, pulling the wave runner out of the water, locking up the other boats.  All jobs that sadly reminded me I was leaving soon.   So it was nice to take some time and finally relax together.

We decided to go down to the water with our bottle of wine in early evening when the sun was still up, but two hours later, having watched the sun set and the moon rise, even though we had turned into prunes, we were reluctant to get out of the water.  What is it about bobbing around in warm water in the dark with the bright moon overhead that makes life just seem so right?

Now I’m back in the real world and am resisting it, unsure of myself, not certain that I want to be here.  Tonight as I’m watching the moon rise, this time through the bedroom window, I remember how it was to be bobbing in silky waters of a lake in the deep south;  the shimmer of the moonlight on the water, the bugs humming in the trees, the ducks murmuring to each other in the shadows.

And I wish I was floating there under the moon this evening.



My reunion with Katie was something of a disappointment.  I waited patiently in my reading corner for Katie and her Dad to return from the kennel and  I was excited when I heard them drive up.  Katie wandered around the kitchen for just a moment, then ran right over to me.  But instead of jumping on me with welcoming kisses she dropped into a “down” and began to bark at me.  Her little yips were hoarse and I’m guessing she barked pretty much the whole week she was in the kennel.  She wouldn’t let me touch her; each time I reached out she backed away and commenced to barking again.  So I sat still and let her decide on her own what to do about me.  She ran up to her Dad when he came in as if to say “There’s this LADY over there Dad but don’t worry, I’m taking care of her!”

Husband said the kennel told him Katie had been very good.  She liked their bed; apparently some dogs preferred to sleep on the floor.  Well of COURSE she liked the bed, this is Katie, the princess who hogs as many pillows as she can, even if she’s already on the couch.  And they said she had to “think” about things before she’d follow or go with any of them.  But once she decided she wanted to go outside she’d be happy to go.  That sounds so much like our little stubborn, mind-of-her-own, Katie girl!

This evening Katie and I went for a walk in her favorite park while we got reacquainted and bonded again.  I think she’s over her initial suspicion but she sure is barky!  I’m used to peaceful evenings filled with reading, napping, swimming …not the constant barking of a Sheltie recently home.  I think she had free reign to bark as much as she wanted in the kennel and she’s not yet quite under control.  Not even close.  But that’s OK…we can start training again.

As long as she’ll give up on her grudge against a wayward mama.