Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Descent of the cardinals (and their friends).

I interrupt my eagle search to bring you this morning’s craziness right here at home. We’re getting a light snow. It’s cold. Katie and I were napping as the early morning light began to invade our dreams.

“Come on over, there’s plenty for everybody!”

I glanced outside and was both amazed and guilty as I saw birds all over the empty feeders, searching frantically for something, anything, to eat.

“Hey! Can we get a little water over here?”

Stuffing my naked feet into an old pair of sneakers, and throwing on a sweatshirt, not slowing for a coat, gloves or boots, I ran outside. Katie waited in the comfort of her palace, watching me intently.

“I think this lady serves the best oilers in town.”

My freezing fingers fumbled with the seed bin lid. The birds stayed close, not flying to their usual safe places, sitting on the deck, in the honeysuckle bush, the beech tree, hovering around my head.

They were too hungry to be afraid.

“Don’t judge me, I’m having a bad hair day.”

I filled the thistle feeder, the oiler feeders, the suet cage and then spread seed along the railing so that all of them could eat without having to wait their turns.

“I think I’ll head over to the quieter thistle feeder. These cardinals are crazy”

And they did. And in return they let me take their pictures.

“Yep, she puts on a great spread. She was a little late today, but it was worth the wait.”

I’d say it was a even exchange.

“I heard there was a ‘one shot, one treat’ rule around here. I already gave you my one shot.”


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Seeking an Eagle

Today, while much of the rest of the United States was under various weather advisories, we had sun. It was cold, but the wind of the past few days has blasted off toward the east coast. Nineteen degrees farhrenheit (-7.22 C) and blue skies just begged for a photography adventure.

And I knew just the place.

Maybe this is the eagle!

Not far from me is a National Cemetary; I’ve taken you there before. But lately I’ve been hearing about an eagle hanging around the acres and acres of gleaming white headstones. I’ve been out there a couple times hoping to find him, but couldn’t find the nest and never saw the magnificent bird.

Since it’s so close to home, and it was a pretty day, I figured I wouldn’t be disappointed if I failed again. And you know me, I’ll always find something to take a picture of!

What about those globby shapes over in those trees?

Right near the entrance I saw a bird in the top of a dead tree. Could that be the eagle? Naw…just a big crow.

Then toward the back of the cemetary I saw a bunch of blobs high up in the trees, could those be eagles? Naw..just some clumps of leaves, maybe squirrel nests.

I wandered around some more, but saw nothing else that looked promising. Still, I wasn’t sad, it was such a pretty day…

The sun makes everything beautiful.

…and the moon was setting. I always enjoy a late setting moon.

Moon over Michigan.

And then, just as I gave up and turned the car around to go, I saw this out of the corner of my eye. Could it be?

If that’s another squirrel nest, it belongs to a really big squirrel.

I put that car in park fast and was out of it, moving as quickly as I could across the lawn, then creeping into the woods. I had to pass two signs that warned me not to trespass, hoping to get a shot before someone arrested me.

Taking a break from this year’s remodel project.

And I did. But the eagle knew exactly where I was too, walking on all that crunchy snow I sounded like a herd of elephants making my way through the woods. I only got a couple shots before he took off.

He flew in a big wide circle, and then vanished into the trees.

“Tourists! A guy can’t catch a break around here.”

I didn’t have any stellar shots…but I got to see an eagle fly.

“See ya later, lady!”

On the way home I took a different back road, and realized almost right away that it wound along the back of the cemetary. And guess what?

Well, duh. The view, with the morning sun is way better over here.

There’s a much better view of the eagle’s nest from back there!

And on the way I got to see a barn.

Red barn, white snow, blue sky. Perfect.

When I got home I was still excited about seeing the eagle and having such a good time with the camera on such a pretty day. And I’ve heard there’s an eagle out at Kensington, my favorite park.

That’s not so far away either. The sun is still shining.

Too pretty a day to spend inside.

Should I head out there? What are the odds that I’ll find an eagle just sitting around waiting for me to discover him?

What are the odds?

Guess you’ll have to wait and see.

Eagle or no eagle, always good to stop by this place.


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Barn music

I’m having trouble with my clarinet. Some of it is me having to play through a mask. But most of the problem revolves around sticky pads. For several notes when I move my fingers there’s a delay in the movement of keys.

This farm was the reason I got off the freeway.

In normal times that might not be a huge problem, as I’d be one of twelve or so clarinets. But at Tuesday night’s rehearsal we only had two clarinets so I could hear myself, and it wasn’t good.

These two caught my eye right away.

Wednesday I drove my clarinet to a music store about an hour away. Of course nothing was sticking when the technician checked it out. I told him the problem only becomes noticible when the instrument is warm, after I’ve been playing for half an hour or more.

Snow and red barn.

He nodded and took it into the back room, I guess to give it a stern talking to.

I loved the little dormer.

In a few minutes he brought it back, saying the pads were dirty and he cleaned them. Of course, until I try to play it for awhile I won’t know whether the issue is fixed.

I guess I should get to practicing.

I turned around to get this image.

So where do the barns fit in? Well, I drove through farm country to get to the music store, and had my camera with me. I got off the freeway and wandered around those snowy fields for a little bit before hustling home.

Sitting alone on a corner.

I figured that way I wasn’t wasting all that gas just to get a couple key pads cleaned.

Right?

Right.


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Reading in times of covid

I thought I had lost my love of reading somewhere in the middle of this past year of covid testing and isolation. But Goodreads says I entered the year not enjoying my very first book, Writing in Flow, Keys to Enhanced Creativity by Susan Perry.

“I just couldn’t get into it. I’ll try again.”

I didn’t try again.

And the last book I reviewed, Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout didn’t fare any better.

“I love her writing but I’m glad this one is done.”

There are other reviews for the thirty-four books I read in 2021, but I don’t have the patience to go read the reviews I wrote to find out how many I actually enjoyed. And when I puruse the list I can’t remember the plot to any of them.

In October when I finished the Strout book I had no idea that I wouldn’t read or review another one the rest of the year.

Not reading is troubling. I have always loved to read. I miss reading. You’d think in times of stress that reading would give me an escape, that I’ve be buried in books.

And, in fact, I have plenty of books to read. I’ve started several. There are books about my camera that I need to read, books I’ve seen on daytime television that I’ve purchased impulsively, a book my aunt lent me sits on the table next to my chair.

I have no “number of books read” goal for 2022. Rather, I think, my goal this year will be to find again the pleasure of reading. I should probably start soon. January is almost half over. Who has a recomendation for something light, happy, hopeful or heartwarming?

I could sure use a librarian about now.

My anti-reading dog.


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All hail Queen Abby!

Katie here. Mama and I received very sad news last night. Our friend, the regal Queen Abby crossed the rainbow bridge yesterday. I was heartbroken when mama told me.

Queen Abby.

You might remember that I first met Abby a few years ago in Ann Arbor when we walked in the Arboretum together. We were both younger then, and we walked a long way!

This is fun!

Abby and I had so much fun! I noticed that though she was a little younger than me she carried herself with such grace, and looked so regal. I immediately decided she was a Queen. I’m sure you agree.

She was definitely royalty.

Then the moms got us together again, in a little park on an island in the Huron River. We had a beautiful day to explore, though we didn’t walk as much as we had before, we were getting older you know.

We were always willing to pose for our moms.

I so enjoyed my time with Abby. She was the perfect park explorer companion. We liked to walk together down paths and across fields.

Abby was a happy girl.

And we loved to sit together in the shade too.

Can you believe the moms want more pictures?

Abby was such a classy Queen. She never sniffed my private parts, and she never snapped at me, even when I was sniffing hers.

How you doing, girlfriend?

We got along like we’d always known each other. If we’d lived closer to each other I know we’d have turned out to be best friends.

The Queen surveying her park.

I think Abby was an old soul, you know? She was a wise, sweet girl who liked to go on adventures in a sedate sort of way. As befits royalty.

A Queen and her chariot.

And just like me, she was happy, no matter where she was, as long as she was hanging out with her mom. A wise girl indeed.

They loved each other so much.

We met again, our last walk together, just this past fall in another park. We hardly walked at all, but the moms found shady spots for us to sit and talk. We had a good time even though Abby couldn’t see very well anymore.

The Queen resting for a bit.

I’m kind of glad I didn’t know back then that it was my last visit with the Queen. I’d have been so sad, just like I’m sad now.

Content to sit near her mom.

I wish I could go on one more walk with her, but I know that when I cross the rainbow bridge Queen Abby will be there to welcome me and show me around. She’ll have her sight back, and we’ll both be able to hear again. And we’ll be able to run and bark and explore together forever!

We had a great view of the park from up here!

So, Queen Abby, please know how much I treasured our friendship. I know you have lots of friends and siblings at the bridge, but I hope you remember to keep an eye out for me. When I get there we’ll go on our royal walks once again, and everyone will be in awe of our combined beauty, just like they were when we were together down here.

Our last picture of the Queen.

Mama says she will always remember you too, and that little white patch on your behind. It makes her smile, she says, to remember you. Mama and I are keeping your folks in our heart. We know they will miss you forever.

The royal team and their shadows.

Run free, sweet Queen Abby. We sure will miss you Your Highness.

See you later sweet Abby.


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Sharpie

I’m washing dishes this early morning, pots and pans left from last night’s dinner. Katie observes me and, deciding I’m going to be there awhile, settles down on her rug in the breakfast room, in front of the door to her deck. She loves to survey her yard from that vantage point, but this morning she’s sleepy, tummy full of breakfast.

Her mind wants to keep an eye on the birds, keep watch for squirrels, but her body is determined to take a nap. I watch her eyes slowly close, then blink open, then close again. Her head starts to bob.

I stop washing dishes and stand there memorizing her.

As if she feels me watching, her eyes pop open and she gives me a side-eyed glance, checking to see if I noticed her dereliction of duty. I stay motionless. She relaxes and her eyes slide closed again, head still held high.

I tiptoe away, back to the living room to get the camera. Taking the lens cap off and turning back to the kitchen I am surprised by a little fuzzy girl standing right behind me, head tilted, watching.

“Whatcha doing mama?”

Sharp as a tack, this one.

My old girl.


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Searching for Snowy

Have you ever seen a snowy owl in person? Me either. But I’ve seen plenty of them, particularly this winter, on a Facebook group of Michigan birders. So last Friday, a college friend and I headed up to the thumb of Michigan where we thought we’d have a good chance of finding one.

You’d think there’s be an owl sitting up on that ridge line.

It was a cold and grey day and the sky was a dead uninteresting color. Not a day I’d go out looking for photographs, but we were attempting to beat the snow headed our way.

Such a chilly, dreary day.

We hadn’t seen each other in awhile and the first part of the trip was filled with lots of talking and catching up. And then, as we drove through farm country, I remembered we were supposed to be watching for owls. Big white owls.

I don’t know what this green cover crop is, but it reminded me spring will arrive eventually.

My friend knows more about the birds than I do and she reminded me they would likely be sitting on a fence post, or a building or even in an open field, but not so much in the trees I was scanning.

Barns and windmills dot the landscape.

We drove around a whole lot of country blocks but no owls were to be found. We even drove over to Midland, since we weren’t so far away, and checked out the Overlook Park where I’d seen eagles a few weeks before. No eagles. No pelicans. Nothing but a few deer.

Deer adapt to just about anything.

So, mission not accomplished. But we had fun exploring and talking and laughing. So in the end it was a successful adventure, as adventures go.

So do geese.

And, if you want to see a snowy owl or two, head on over to Trent’s blog where he had an encounter last weekend. His images are outstanding!

Not a single big bird of any type was found that day.

As for us? We’ll keep our eyes open, scanning those rooftops. You never know, right? Some day, somewhere we’ll see a snowy owl. Or an eagle or pelican. Or something else exciting.

I guarantee it.


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Fun, interesting, or stupendous things that may or may not have gotten done these past two years.

Back in 2019, instead of making a list of resolutions, I made a list of stuff I thought would be fun to do. I even ended up doing quite a few some of them.

So in 2020 I moved a few of the not done 2019 things to a new and improved list, and added a few more fun ideas, thinking about all sorts of exciting adventures and explorations.

And then covid.

2020 was brutal and I rarely looked at the list, though I did manage to do a couple of the fun things. But at the end of 2020, with the loss of my brother-in-law to covid, and so much overwhelming bad stuff happening, I never even made a 2021 list.

The 2020 list has been on my bulletin board ever since, reminding me that there are still interesting, fun and stupendous things to do, I just needed to figure out how to do them.

Here’s what was on that list, hanging on the bulletin board for the past two years and how it all turned out:

*Camping in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. — DONE the summer of 2021, two separate trips!

*Travel to Florida to meet the baby sheltie boys.–Not done, and they aren’t babies anymore.

*Purchase a set of extension tubes for my camera and explore macro photography. –DONE in 2020

*Make more vegetarian or vegan meals, goal being a least one per week. — Fizzled out

*Take a drawing class. — Not done.

*Spend several weeks in Alabama and invite friends to join me. –Well, I spent a couple weeks in 2021 there, but covid prohibited inviting anyone to come along.

*Walk in at least 3 5K races. — I think I did a total of 2 over the past two years. Both were virtual but fun.

*Improve my night photography skills. — I had an awesome time this past August shooting a meteour shower. I still have lots to learn.

*Spend a week in the Southwest.. –We were there in February of 2020, before we knew about covid.

*Ride my bike on some rails-to-trails around here. — Not done, and I have no idea why not.

*Take Katie camping at least twice this summer. — I tried once, in 2020, but she wasn’t having fun. We are probably limited to camping in the back yard these days.

So. Which of these should I include in my list of stupendous things to do in 2022? Or…should I abandon all of them and come up with some wonderful but wildly different fun stuff to do?

I feel like most of this can be done even in times of covid. But some of it feels stale too.

What would you keep, what would you add? What would you toss?

Inquiring minds (mine) want to know!

Some of your stupendous plans better include me and my park, mama!