Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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A tale of two concerts

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas and along with holiday lights and temporary lots filled with fragrant greens, there are holiday concerts happening in towns everywhere.

Thursday afternoon, while scrolling through Facebook I noticed an announcement for a community orchestra concert in a town just twenty minutes from me. I didn’t know the city of Fenton even had a community orchestra.

The concert was free. What did I have to lose?

Excited to hear the program.

Turns out it was nothing but a win for everyone that attended, both the musicians and those of us in the audience. A multi generational musical organization, much like my own Clarkston Community Band, the group had a wonderful, full, sound, and played a variety of music, some of which most of us recognized.

I couldn’t help but smile through the whole thing.

Was the performance perfect? Of course not. There were times intonation was off, a few, rare, wrong notes. A squeak. But I learned something. I learned that, as an audience member, these small errors didn’t ruin the experience. Each little blip disappeared under layers of beautiful sounds, the overall enthusiasm of the musicians and music director, and the obvious love and support from the people around me in the audience.

A large crowd turned out to support their local community orchestra.

I left the auditorium with a big smile on my face, humming Leroy Anderson’s Christmas Festival, something I’ve played multiple times, but had never heard while seated in an audience.

Testing the sound system in advance of our concert.

And on the drive home I thought about all the concerts I’ve played where I’ve been focused on the parts that didn’t go perfectly, felt bad afterwards because something had gone wrong. The reality is, for most in our audience, the overall experience at our concerts is probably good, maybe even great.

And if members of our audience leave our venue with smiles on their faces, maybe even humming a bit…well…then the concert was a success.

Making our audience smile.

My own Clarkston Community Band played our holiday concert Friday night. We had less than an optimal number of rehearsals, and though I practiced, I was still nervous. The nerves were well founded, as I lost my way on one piece of music, missing almost an entire page of music before I could join back in.

Santa shows up with the world’s largest whip slap percussion instrument!

But the reality is, one 2nd clarinet’s loss of concentration did not ruin the concert. Most likely no one but the clarinet playing next to me even knew. And the overall feeling of the evening was happy, fun, perhaps even joyful.

Sleigh Ride is guaranteed to make an audience smile. Especially with a whip that can be heard into the next county.

Cookies and cider at a reception for Santa afterward didn’t hurt either.

Smiles all around.

Happy Holidays, everyone! May all your days be warm and inviting and fun. And look around your community, there’s likely a group out there that would love to have you in the audience!

I guarantee you’ll be humming on the ride home.


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Facebook fail

The first of every month my Facebook friend, let’s call her KB, posts a greeting that is unique to her. Yesterday was December 1 and KB was nowhere to be found. I searched my friends list, no KB. Did she unfriend me? Had I done something to offend her?

It’s not likely, if KB doesn’t like something she’s more likely to tell you than unfriend you. But other scenarios I could imagine were much worse. So I checked with another Facebook friend, who was also worried and had been searching for KB too.

I decided to email KB and ask her if she and her family and business were OK. I wasn’t sure I’d hear back, we’re not frequent emailers, I wasn’t even sure the email I had was still good. I considered googling her name, but didn’t want to find bad news. So I waited.

And guess what? KB emailed back almost instantly! She was fine! Her business was fine! Her family was fine!

What’s not fine? Facebook is not fine. She says Facebook ‘assassinated’ her a few weeks ago. She doesn’t know what happened. Maybe she was hacked, but there’s no definitive proof of that. All she knows is that Facebook erased her and all her associated pages including her Instagram.

I add an image of Katie-girl, enjoying the sunset on Lake Michigan, because KB loved Katie too. And because everyone can use a little Katie once in awhile.

She’s been working ever since to get it restored but she says Facebook has virtually no customer service and she’s come to a dead end for every clue or suggestion she’s tried to pursue. She says she’s grieving her Facebook friends, those she only connected with via the social media platform.

And she wonders about others out there, maybe isolated individuals with access to others only through a platform that can summarily dismiss you forever with no options and no consequences to them.

So….what’s the deal Facebook? If KB said something you objected to (and I can’t imagine what that would be) don’t you usually give second chances? Some explanation? Something??

And how come a big company like you doesn’t have adequate customer service? KB hasn’t even been given an explanation as to what happened. Is this the way you run your organization? Giving Tuesday was this week, you’ve done a good job in helping nonprofits raise money for their causes…so you care….right?

So how about caring about an individual who’s fighting to stay connected to her community? Ignoring her is not a good look. Facebook.


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Getting outside

I’ve been able to get outside for long walks a couple of times in the past week or so. Being outside always makes me feel better.

Patterns in ice greeted me when I arrived.

In fact, that’s advice I give regularly to people who are feeling down or sad and wistful. Being outside just makes me smile.

I’d heard the queen of the boardwalk was a lovely female cardinal. And she was there, but not hungry.

I suppose that’s why mom always told us to go outside and play. Or, just possibly, it was to get us all away from her!

Mrs. Red-bellied didn’t want to sit on my hand either, but was willing to grab a snack for later.

Either way, we spent our childhoods romping around the neighborhoods we lived in, climbing trees and stomping through mud, riding bikes, roller skating, playing kick the can and just generally running around.

Mrs. Red-bellied flew every peanut way over to the rookery for storage.

I don’t roller skate anymore…haven’t kicked a can in a few decades, used to run, but don’t do that now either.

Swans flew over but didn’t stop for a treat. I guess they had better pickings somewhere else.

But I can still stomp around in mud and walk through the woods and look for good climbing trees, though I don’t dare actually climb these days.

Mrs. Red-bellied races a blackbird for the treat on the boardwalk railing.

And I can look for the birds and others who generously share their woods with me. And sometimes, though certainly not nearly all the time, I can grab an image to remember it all by.

A nuthatch decides my seed is better than the bittersweet.

A little over a week ago I decided, late in the morning, to go to Kensington, my favorite bird park, even though I’d arrive much later than normal and the odds were the little birds would have full bellies and not want to socialize with me.

“I’m not really hungry, lady, but if you’re giving it away…..”

Well, the pictures above are from that walk. The little ones were more than happy to visit with me, though the red-bellied woodpeckers and the redwing blackbirds weren’t willing to sit in my hand that day.

I’ll hop over to your hand, lady!”

But they were definitely willing to grab a bite if I left it somewhere for them.

Waiting in line for a snack.

And the squirrels were very upfront about asking for something too.

“Could you spare a bite, madam?”

And then there was this sandhill crane family. The juvenile (you can tell it’s a youngster because his/her head is still brown, not red like his folks) was transfixed by a squirrel that was up in a tree.

Youngsters also have yellow, not red, eyes.

The squirrel was not as excited about meeting the cranes.

I’ll just wait up here a bit, see if they move on down the trail.”

It ran up and down the other side of the tree, gathering seed I’d spilled while the young crane closely watched.

“Now, if I stay over here on this side of the tree, he won’t see me.”

It was hysterical.

“What is that? Is it edible?”

By the time I left them the squirrel had scampered away and the crane family was poking among the leaves for any leftover treats.

It’s a standoff.

And just this weekend I went up to the Shiawasee Nature Preserve with a friend. We walked almost 2 miles back into the woods, wandering the dyke system and marveling at the engineering.

It’s a totally different kind of wonderland.

We didn’t get any close encounters with birds, but we saw plenty of bald eagles, both adult and juvenile flying high overhead.

“I see you two down there, ladies, and I’m not getting any closer.”

And we heard hundreds of sandhill cranes, their calls coming from all around us. When we got out into the open we saw many of them walking in the mud flats far out in the wetlands.

Time for a bit of snacking.

And dozens more were flying in, their grey feathers glinting in the afternoon sun.

The afternoon sun made them glow as they flew in.

It’s just as magical, in a different way, as Kensington.

The lines of the landscape are irresistible to this photographer.

Lucky me, to get out into places like this so regularly.

Can’t resist these lines either.

I wish you all could come!

What kind of winter do you think we’ll have?

But since most of you live so far away, I’m counting on you to look around your area and find some wild beautiful place and take me along with pictures and words some day. We’ll both be the better for it.

Another perfect adventure.

Guaranteed.


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Deep breath

I woke up this morning feeling so wistful. Even before the sky lightened I was watching the trees silhouettes through the window blinds and remembering other holiday seasons, years and years ago, when as a kid I was excited for some time off school, for big fancy meals with family favorites, for lots of company and grownup conversations.

I haven’t felt that excitement for a very long time. Maybe you haven’t either.

Joyful color waits in the melancholy mist.

Mostly holidays seem like extra work and grownup conversations leave me frustrated and sad. And though I realize I can’t get those childhood days back, I wonder….how do we bring a little bit of joyful excitement to our lives these days? What small things could we do to experience a tiny bit of the wonder of the season?

What suggestions do you have? Let’s share with each other and spread a little hopeful joy around. Tis the season after all.


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Giving

How many of us are lucky? I feel like I am, lucky to be born into the family I was, to be given the opportunities I’ve had. To never wonder where my next meal would come from or where I’d sleep for the night. Nothing really bad ever happened to me or my family.

Until 2004.

And when the unimaginable happened and Dad was killed by a sleepy semi driver we were not equipped to know what to do. We found the Truck Safety Coalition who helped us make the initial decisions, and who provided us education later on when we started to ask all the whys about what had happened.

That was almost eighteen years ago. Today I sit on the board and we’re working hard to provide the same services to other new families. Sadly there are always new families.

We’re struggling, as always, to raise funds to support our work. We don’t have pictures of cute elderly folks who need transportation to appointments or the grocery store. No sweet puppies that need adopting, no kids looking for someone to hang out with. No, all we’ve got are the faces of those we’ve lost and those injured in crashes with semi trucks.

Last year over 5,000 were killed and over 145,000 injured in crashes with large trucks. Stop a minute and think about that. How many people does the football stadium of your favorite team seat? What if all of those people were run over by a truck? Plus everyone out in the parking lot? Wouldn’t the nation take notice?

But people are dying and getting injured one by one, two by two, on highways and little back roads, spread out across the country. It doesn’t usually make the news. Even if it does the next news story buries it and no one remembers. Except the families.

We have so much work to do. So a week from tomorrow, on Giving Tuesday I’ll be asking for your help again. Over on Facebook I’ll be posting my request for donations. It’s easy to donate there, click a button, send us a few dollars. Last year you all astounded me and doubled my goal. This year I guess I should just start where I left off.

I hope you can help, every dollar counts. Every single dollar.

If you’re not into Facebook, you can donate directly through our website, trucksafety.org. There’s a green donate button, and an address if you’d rather send a check. And it’s there, on the website, that you can read some of the thousands of stories. It will break your heart, so have tissues ready.

If you don’t have time to go over to the website, here’ just a few of the thousands of faces of those directly affected by large truck crashes. Dad is 3 rows down, four pictures from the left, right next to Anna who is paralyzed from and lost her best friend in a semitruck crash. I know the names and stories of all these people and so many more. It makes me mad and sad and frustrated because it doesn’t have to be this way.

I thank you all for your support, both emotional and financial, over these many years. They say it gets easier. It doesn’t. It just gets different.

Help us help another family get through their new different. Change is hard.


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Surprise!

I was standing in my breakfast room, taking a picture of this red bellied woodpecker….

A modern art image, showing off his red belly.

….when this guy showed up. He’s a male evening grosbeak.

The yellow eyebrows helped me identify our visitor.

According to my Michigan bird book they aren’t supposed to be around here. They live in the northern lower peninsula and the UP of Michigan. But last winter at one of our local bird seed shops there was talk that people around here had seen them.

Such a striking bird, he was hungry and happy that there was seed on the railing.

I’ve only seen one, last winter, just one, and just one visit. But today our initial visitor came back later in the day along with some of his friends!

He brought a friend to the buffet!

First I saw two of them on the railing. And then I realized there were three, then four males, on the railing, in the trees…

A evening grosbeak party at the feeder!

…and on the feeder. Plus one of the birds on the feeder was a female! (over on the left above)

Num, num, num…

It was so cool. I’m thrilled that I got to see them, and even more thrilled that I got some shots.

I’ve been smiling all day.


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Change

Have I mentioned lately that change is hard?

My laptop went through an update. I don’t even know for sure who was doing the updating, and I certainly don’t know what was being updated.

Cardinal on a can

What I am certain of is that I didn’t request the update. It just happened.

So I’m finding, in the process of working on stuff, what has changed. Mostly, it seems, it’s in how pictures are being stored.

And where.

Crow with a snack.

I was feeling pretty cocky when I figured out how to find my images. It looks different, and it’s in a different place, but they’re all there. That was a relief.

But then I went to download images I took yesterday.

Buck looking for love.

WHOA. That process seems to be entirely different.

I don’t know how the images are being chosen to download and even scarier, I don’t know WHERE they are being saved.

Cardinal in a bath.

I used to be able to choose to download only the most recent images and I could pick which folder I wanted images to go into. Now there doesn’t seem to be a choice.

Since I can’t figure out where the images will go, even if I am successful in finding the download link, button or whatnot, I stopped.

Chickadee complaining about having to drink bath water.

I put the card back in the camera and I will do some research before I try again.

Female cardinal wondering what all the fuss is about.

Why do things have to be changed? Was there something wrong with the way we downloaded files before? Or is this some sort of job security for the people that design software?

Couldn’t there be some sort of warning and maybe even some instructions before they do these things?

Bluejay calling his mates to come and get something to eat.


And who is this ‘they’ that has such power anyway?

Darn.

Woodpecker reflecting on why dinner is not on his feeder. And staring at us inside to make sure we are aware of his discontent.

Change is hard.

(Meanwhile, enjoy some images I had already downloaded but never got around to using before today)