Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Just can’t

I’m back from camping in northern Michigan where I was lucky enough to have a couple days with sunshine and one clear night. I have photos for you that I’m anxious to share. But I can’t. Couldn’t yesterday and it doesn’t feel right today either.

Because while I was blissfully floating down a beautiful river through the wilderness, enjoying the blue sky and birds and fish and turtles, somewhere in Texas terrified children and their teachers were locked in a classroom with a gunman.

I never checked my phone for news that afternoon, didn’t through the evening while we enjoyed dinner under swaying pines, or later on the beach as we waited for the sunset, or even later sitting around the fire with a glass of wine.

I didn’t know until, on a whim, I turned the phone on just before rolling over to sleep in my warm sleeping bag in my snug little tent. Immediately I knew something was wrong, the first Facebook pages to pop up were filled with obscure but horrifying posts. I didn’t know what had happened, but it was clear something terrible had.

So I googled “news today.”

You all know what that news was. And now I find myself feeling overwhelmingly sad, and frustrated, and very very angry. As the mayor of Buffalo said….”We haven’t even raised our flags from half mast for the last mass killing and now there’s another.”

I thought we’d have reform by now. I thought that after Columbine in 1999 where two students killed twelve other kids and one teacher. I thought certainly this shows there is a need to rethink gun accessibility.

But then there was Virginia Tech in 2007 with 32 dead, and Northern Illinois University in 2008 with 5 dead, and of course Sandy Hook with 6 educators and 20 first graders dead. That one, little kids, for sure I thought would make us start discussions that resulted in real change. But the killings continued, in churches, in theaters, in stores. In schools.

And nothing significant has happened to resolve the problem, other than those who feel it’s all a mental health issue and those that feel it’s all about the guns stand harder and faster on their beliefs and the gulf between them widens.

It’s incomprehensible to me that we can’t each move a little closer to the center. It’s obvious it’s not all about mental health or all about gun control. Adults should be able to find ways to adult. There are things both side could agree on if each side were willing to compromise.

Maybe we can find ways to increase the availability of mental health support while at the same time lower the accessibility to individuals of weapons designed for war. I’m not saying everyone needs to get a mental health screening and I’m not saying no one can own a high powered gun. (Though I don’t understand what purpose those types of weapons have in an individual’s collection.)

What I am saying is that we can’t continue in the direction we’re headed. We can’t continue to stick our heads in the sand and mumble that these problems are too big, not fixable, that nothing would change the outcome.

And if those currently in office do nothing more than throw their hands up and say it’s too hard…well…those people need to be voted out so there’s room for people who are willing to work hard to fix the problem.

Because whether you want to admit it or not….we have a serious problem and none of us are safe. Wishing it was different won’t make it so. Doing the work, making the hard decisions, risking your friendships, your constituents, your donors, even your job, doing the work is the only thing that will cause change.

Change is hard.

I’ll give you one image from my time away. The sunset we watched on the day those innocents died. Now I can see how it represented that day, and the way our country, maybe even us as individuals, are split, shadowing the light that is our democracy.

We need to do the hard work necessary to make that light shine bright again.


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Backyard spectacular

I’m so excited by the birds in my backyard. Some come every day, no matter the weather.

“I hope she’s provided a better quality jelly this morning.”

Some only show themselves to me for moments…

“Please note my subtle beauty.”

…in all their finery.

“I know it’s hard not to stare at me.”

And this one has only visited once and luckily I was standing in the window with my camera.

“Do you see me?”

If I could, I’d stand all day long at my windows with the camera.

“I’ll pose for you!”

Pretty amazing.


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Looking for spring

Last weekend I got to enjoy a walk in the park with my aunt. And here another weekend is approaching and I haven’t shared with you what we found.

I guess I better get cracking.

A perfect spring day spent out in the woods.

We went to Hudson Mills, a park over near Dexter Michigan, not so far from where she lives, but far enough away we don’t get there very often. It reminded me quite a lot of my favorite park, Kensington, and in fact it’s part of the same park system.

Such wonderful light falling through the new leaves.

There was a paved bike/walking path, and then lots of wooded nature trails to explore. We walked some of my aunt’s favorite trails, looking for evidence of spring, especially a particular dogwood tree she enjoys every year .

We found her dogwood in full bloom, shining in the morning light.

Luckily for us we had sunshine and slightly warm temperatures for our walk. Perfect. These are trails she knows well, and she knew just where to look for the early wildflowers too.

Spring beauty, so delicate with it’s pink stripes, was everywhere.

We walked in the dappled shade of newly leafed trees and watched the ground intently for surprises.

A trillium hides waiting to be discovered.

You could walk right past many of these wonderful bits of spring. But if you’re vigilant, you’ll see very special things.

My mom loved these jack-in-the-pulpit plants. Later in the season there will be red berries too.

It was so much fun when one or the other of us found something special and explained “Look!”

Wild geranium added color.

There was something to see no matter where we looked.

Tiny, deep purple, violets made us smile.

You could spend hours wandering these nature trails any time of the year and see beautiful things.

Purple is such a great color for spring!

We had such a good time walking in the woods together.

Walking just for the sheer joy of being out there.

And when we headed back to the car, we ran into a goose family with one little one trying to be grown up before he or she was old enough to care.

“And another thing! My mama’s gonna whip your….”

It was a fun end to a perfect day at the park.

“Geesh, kids today…”

Can’t wait for our next one!


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I’m the neighborhood Mrs. Kravitz

There’s an older widow living across the street. I swear her adult kids must think I’m the nosiest person around. Seems like any time one or another of them pulls in to check on their mom I’m out front.

Walking my dog in her ditch. Letting Katie sniff her mailbox. Wandering in my own yard or down my driveway.

What’s going on over there?

Yep. Always out there.

Other neighbors might think the same. For example I know that the newish neighbors next door got a sofa, loveseat and big plush chair delivered a couple days ago around 7 a.m. I was walking my dog across their lawn when the truck backed into their driveway. Katie insisted on watching the guys unload the truck.

The new furniture is beige.

What are YOU doing?

The people that live three houses away haven’t been there for a very long time. The adult son is still living there, and I wonder where his folks went. He and I wave as I’m walking the dog early mornings and he’s headed to work.

Got to keep an eye on everything around here.

Next door to him is a house that just sold. I saw a steady stream of cars head down their driveway the weekend it was put on the market. I figured it would sell fast; it’s on a lake and there’s no real estate inventory around here. About 5 days later I watched as a young man in a black jeep drove slowing past me as I was walking the dog, then back up and head down the driveway. An appraiser or maybe a home inspector. The house must have sold.

Bet they got full price, or more.

If you want to keep track of things you need to sit way up high.

I knew the people on the other side of me were back from an extended trip when I saw, as I was walking the dog, the husband put the garbage out. That’s how I know when they’re home or when they’re traveling, by the garbage cans waiting to be sniffed by a little sheltie-girl.

I watch another neighbor pull out each morning, towing his work trailer behind him. He doesn’t work every day, but I’m usually walking the road with a short fuzzy furball when he does. We wave.

So I’m thinking, when Katie crosses the bridge I’m not going to know anything about what’s happening in the neighborhood! No more sitting in the front yard watching everybody’s comings and goings. No more wandering slowly up to the third driveway and turning around to sniff our way home multiple times a day.

Always note what’s above too.

No more sticking our heads in places they don’t belong. Mrs. Kravitz will fade away.

Apologies to those of you too young to know who she is. You can google her.

All this watching people is exhausting.


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Hanging with my sister

Katie here. Even though I’m a princess and sometimes come off as being a bit….well…high maintenance, I know that I have a pretty good life. My folks and lots of other people make sure I get to have special times with friends and family.

Sharing my park with my friends.

And this past weekend I got to see my half sister, Payton, and show her (and her parents and her sister Tally the Gordon setter) my park! I was so excited to share Katie’s Park with my sister. And, like sisters do, we joined forces to make sure mama couldn’t get a decent picture of the two of us.

Discussing our strategy to foil mama.

That was part of the fun!

It was a perfect day for a walk, not too hot, and a bit of a breeze to cool those of us still wearing winter coats. The folks made sure we walked at a leisurely pace, though at the beginning I was raring to go!

This is Payton’s mom and dad and her sister Tally!

We stopped at the overlook deck halfway around the park to rest and enjoy the view. I told Payton all about finding a cracker there once and how I’ve been looking ever since for another one. Payton’s dad gave me a treat to make up for the lack of crackers.

“Make sure you remember not to let your mom get us together, Katie!”

I even shared my annual photoshoot in the yellow flowers with Payton! Mama takes my picture over at my park every year during the yellow flower season.

“OK, we can let her have ONE picture of the two of us!”

Payton’s like me – she doesn’t get why that’s so special, but mama is insistent and it’s easier to just let her get the picture than arguing with her.

Tally got her picture taken in the yellow flowers too.

Most of the time, though, we were able to foil mama’s attempts at getting a nice picture of the two of us together. She did manage to get several sweet pictures of Payton though!

She’s such a pretty girl.

I decided it wasn’t all that bad for her to be focused on someone besides me! That way I got to nap mostly uninterrupted under the picnic table.

“Geeze mother, can’t a girl get a break?”

We had a great time and I’m really glad Payton’s parents brought her over for a visit. We decided we’d get together again next fall when it’s cooler outside for another walk.

“Don’t stand still, out of focus pictures mess with mama the most!”

On a much sadder note, we learned yesterday that our friend Sophie got her wings on Friday. It’s a shock because we hadn’t heard that she was ill. She was one year younger than me, and still exploring her yard, swinging with her mom on her swing and supervising everything in the house.

Photo credit, Sophie’s mom.

We will miss her daily posts terribly. Mama has been giving me extra hugs and kisses on top of my head and her eyes are all leaky again. It’s hard to understand why some things happen, but we know that we’ll get to see her again, she’s just on the other side of the bridge. Please send good thoughts to her mom and dad who are very very sad right now.

Sophie on her porch swing this past week. Photo credit, Sophie’s mom.

Talk later, I have to get mom some tissue cause her eyes are damp again. I promise not to shred it immediately, I’ll do that later in honor of Sophie, who, just like me was an expert shredder!

-Your sad but still happy Princess Katie.

Sending hugs and kisses to Sophie’s mom and dad.


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Cowslips for Mom

Happy Mother’s Day up in heaven, Mom. It’s been sixteen Mother’s Days without you now. That doesn’t seem possible, it been only moments since I got the news that began the landslide in our family.

But today let’s just remember the happy Mother’s Days, lots and lots of them, when you were here to get our homemade art projects and cards and all the flats of petunias and marigolds we brought home for you from the local nurseries.

This year I found cowslips for you just like we used to when we were young kids. You remember those golden yellow flowers that bloom right around Mother’s Day.

Glowing in the swamps we used to tromp through they were obvious gifts that we lugged home in buckets overflowing with black peat sludge that ran down our legs and into our boots.

We planted them for you along the lakeshore in the backyard. I don’t remember that any of them lived, but it was the thought that counted. Right?

Anyway, this year I found some cowslips for you but I didn’t dig them up. Didn’t even get my feet very wet. I figure it’s easier to send an image up to heaven than a bucket full of mud, roots and blooms.

I hope you enjoy the flowers, Mom. We miss you every day, but we smile, too, with all the great memories.

Sending you hugs, please share a few with Dad.

Happy Mother’s Day.


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Hope

I’ve told you about this fluffy bit of joy before. But I just have to tell you about my experience this morning.

Even though I stopped filling my bird feeders this spring, due to the bird disease in our state, many of my little birds are still stopping by. I watch them check out where their feeders used to be, or be-bop among the branches of the trees and shrubs we planted just for them.

And lately whenever I go out on the deck one particular chickadee arrives, almost instantly, and looks at me intently.

So I go down the steps to the seed bucket and grab a small handful. By then the little bird is waiting expectantly in the beech tree near the bucket. He won’t come land on my hand, but if I move it toward him he doesn’t fly away. And he will move closer and closer, until he’s on a branch within my reach. Then he carefully leans over and selects a seed from my palm.

From another encounter a few years ago.

Generally he flies to a higher branch and eats it, then flies away. He has never come back for a second helping, though he always makes me smile.

But this morning, as he was hopping down the branches to my hand another fat chickadee landed near the top of the beech tree and started to make a lot of noise while flapping it’s wings. I thought it was admonishing my little guy for getting too close to me.

Still, he reached down low, hanging almost upside down and carefully selected a seed, then flew part way up the tree and cracked it open. And then he flew up next to the noisy chickadee and fed the precious treat to the other bird!

Visiting the birdbath last summer.

By now I was smiling ear to ear as I stood still, hand still out, more treats awaiting. Would he come back?

And he did; almost immediately he bounced back down to the branch near my hand, grabbed another seed, moved up and opened it and then took it to the chirping fat bundle of feathers near the top of the tree.

Then he came down a third time. This time he and his friend (or mate?) took off with the seed, maybe to their new home.

Last fall at Kensington.

I think there’s something right in the world when a tiny little bit of nature can trust us scary humans. I’m still grinning hours later.

I hope you’re smiling too.