Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Aha! I KNEW you missed me!

Katie here. Finally. Mama told me that since I was getting older and not going on any adventures lately that I was obsolete. Yep, I think that’s the word she used. Might have been redundant, it was a big word that I had to look up and I didn’t like it one bit.

This is me walking away from mama cause she asked me to sit for a picture. I’m a princess. She forgets that.

Anyway, I thought I should check mama’s blog and see what she’s been doing, cause it hasn’t been with me, that’s for sure! Looks like she’s been having fun…and with CATS! I thought I smelled cat on her when she came home last weekend, but I was napping when she arrived and really, it seemed like a lot of work to bark at her so I just went back to sleep.

No, I’m not too upset by her taking a get away without me, cause I really don’t like cats and I’m pretty sure that Ringo dude would have wiped the floor with me, so it’s just as well she left me with daddy. Daddy and I are buddies, we have lots of fun when mama is away.

Don’t tell her I said that.

Ok, mama. I’ll stand for a photo, but I’m not sitting.

No, what I’m upset about is that some of my fans, namely Miss Debbie and Miss Loisajay, asked about me and mama didn’t even tell me! They said the pictures of flowers from our garden would look better if I was included. Well of course they would! I am a princess and a princess always enhances any decor, inside or out.

So anyway, yesterday I gave mama a scare, just to get even with her ignoring me. Yep, we were on our walk around the yard after supper and mama was letting me stick my nose into whatever I wanted (frankly I think she was feeling guilty about the ignoring thing) and she was contemplating the green trees and blue sky when she thinks she saw me grab a berry off a nightshade plant. She lunged at me to pry my mouth open (which I do not allow, by the way) and she thinks she saw me swallow.

This is Davis Lake. My park overlooks it, which is why it’s called the Davis Lake Overlook park. I just call it Katie’s Park II

Yep, mama was in full on panic then. She picked me up and she raced inside and she looked up nightshade and found a site that said even two berries could kill a toddler. Oh my dog! She called my dad who wasn’t home, and then she called the vet to get the emergency number and then she called the emergency vet office where she was put on hold.

Mama is not very patient.

Finally they told her someone would call her back. Mama paced. I, however was very calm and took a nap beside the sofa. The vet tech called her in about ten minutes and told her they didn’t have a protocol for knowing how much of any certain plant could damage any sized dog and she should call animal poison control. Then the vet tech went on with a lengthy spiel about why they couldn’t help mama, and mama cut them right off and asked for the phone number. Did I mention mama is not very patient?

This is me smiling because I’m having fun.

She called poison control which had a long prerecorded message about what the vet would ask about and then said it would cost $75 on a credit card before a vet would speak to her. Mama hung up and started researching how to make me throw up.

Then daddy arrived home and they gave me something that tasted terrible and almost instantly I threw up most of my supper and there wasn’t any berry. Mama and daddy decided they’d just watch me for a little bit before they spent $75 to talk to a vet when maybe mama didn’t really see me eat that berry.

I told them they could watch me all they wanted, but I was going to go sleep on my new princess bed that daddy got me and if they could please be quiet while they watched me I’d appreciate it.

I walked right up to the camera cause I wanted a treat. Mama said that was OK and rubbed my ears.

And I also mentioned that I’d probably be really hungry about 4 a.m. and maybe they should consider being nice to me and feeding me breakfast early. Because they owed me.

So this morning I was just fine, even at 4 a.m. when mama got up with me and let me have a little something to eat. And later in the morning she took me to one of my parks for a short walk, cause, as I may have mentioned, she owes me.

I let her take one artsy-fartsy picture.

And that’s all the excitement around here. I didn’t eat the stinking berry, I never do stuff like that, and mama should have known better. But mama says better safe than sorry sweetie. I don’t know what that means, but I do know a princess does not like to throw up in front of her subjects.

Mama says I’m getting grey hair. I told her she should worry about her own hair and leave mine alone.

So let’s not do that again any time soon, OK mama?

Home, mama! (but thanks for the walk too)

Glad we got that straightened out.

Your girl, Katie.

That short little walk was just perfect for a princess like me!


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When you get to see a comet you can’t help but smile

Sometimes stuff just works out.

Last week I had an impromptu opportunity to go north to visit a friend who lives in what I call my “Happy Place,” along the shores of Lake Michigan. I haven’t been in a more than a year, but it’s still just as beautiful as I remember.

I’m rarely here in summer, this is the most people I’ve ever seen on the beach!

Since we’ve both been pretty careful to stay away from crowds of people we felt comfortable being in each other’s company, though we spent almost 100% of the time outside. Trust me, that is not a sacrifice.

I left lower Michigan under blue skies and temperatures in the 80s. Five hours later I pulled into her driveway and it was 62 and raining. Suddenly the shorts and Tshirt I wore seemed pretty skimpy.

Stormy weather greeted me upon arrival.

Still, it was beautiful.

I was up there to introduce my friend to another friend of mine who has just moved into the community. I think they have several things in common and might enjoy each other’s company. And just by coincidence I’d be on the shores of Lake Michigan, looking northwest, where there happened to be a comet that I might be able to photograph. If the sky cooperated, and if I could figure out those pesky camera settings.

The first night there wasn’t much of a sunset. But it was pretty.

Though the rain stopped that first afternoon, the sun set behind a bank of clouds. Definitely no comet watching that night.

I wasn’t too worried, I had two more nights, and the forecast said we’d have beautiful, clear weather. So I slept my first night in my friend’s bunkhouse, a screened building with a comfortable bed from which I could hear the waves lapping at the shore and the birds singing in the morning. And during the night I could check the sky without even getting out of bed.

The perfect guest house.

It was marvelous.

The next morning dawned clear and beautiful.

The weather looked promising early in the day.

We went for a walk on the beach, enjoying blue skies and sparkling water.

Just a touch of cloud out there on the horizon. Maybe tonight will be comet night!

I got to put my feet in my lake, and that always makes me smile. And of course I picked up a few stones, it’s impossible not to. In fact I think it’s a scientific fact that you must pick up stones while walking this beach.

Modern, abstract art shimmers in the clear water of Lake Michigan.

As evening approached we noticed a bank of clouds hanging low along the horizon. But we hopefully set up down on the beach, me with my camera, my friend with her telescope.

That bank of clouds might be a problem.

And we waited. The sun set. It was pretty. But the clouds obscured the comet, so we concentrated on watching a freighter go by.

I did a longish shutter speed just to make the lights blur.


And then I went to bed in my wonderful bunkhouse and listened as the wind picked up and the waves crashed. I added extra blankets and had a wonderful sleep.

The next morning, my last full day at my lake, the moon came up in the pink sky and I hoped that tonight we’d get a chance to see that comet.

The moon showed up and danced between the clouds.

Meanwhile I took some pictures in her native plant garden…

Native lilies opened the next day.

…and then we hiked through one of the county’s conservancy properties where we feasted on wild red raspberries and enjoyed the dappled sun sliding through tall trees.

Great Spangled Fritillaries.

We saw another beautiful sunset that night. But even by 11 we couldn’t see the comet, so everyone went to bed.

A cat sculpture stretches, getting ready for sleep.

I was determined to get up in an hour when it would be darker to do some star photography, even if the comet never showed up.

At midnight I picked up my camera and tripod and began to edge down the 40+ steps to the beach. I glanced to the north and there it was! A brilliant white triangle that obviously wasn’t your typical star.

The lights on the water is a boat sitting out there, probably also watching the comet. And if you look carefully you can see the second tail, a blue streak to the left of the white tail and going straight up.

I ran back in the house and got my friend and we stood there on the stairs just watching it. Amazing.

I went down to the beach and set up the camera. It wasn’t that easy to find the comet through the viewfinder, but lucky for me there was a boat out there, just under the comet and I could see it’s lights in the camera’s screen. So I pointed at the boat and shot while hoping I got the comet in the frame.

Luckily I did.

As the comet was fading I captured either a shooting star, or more likely, the space station sliding across the sky.

I shot for maybe an hour, sometimes straight up into the stars, sometimes toward the comet, sometimes including the big dipper. I didn’t have a wide angle lens to capture the big dipper in the same shot as the comet, but I was having fun anyway.

Eventually the comet faded and I remembered that the milky way would probably be to the south, directly behind me. I turned around and laughed out loud.

The milky way was waiting patiently for me to notice it.

Yep. I have to say it was an amazing night. In fact I stayed up all night, taking pictures, and then laying in bed looking at them in the camera. I think I looked at all of them at least a couple times, smiling in the dark.

By the time I was finished analyzing the images (which was stupid because they don’t look that great on the back of the camera) birds were beginning to sing. And then I saw the biggest star I’ve ever seen come up to the east.

Venus welcomes me to a new day.

Turns out it is Venus, and of course I had to set up in the front yard and try to capture that. And then the sky turned pink, even out over the lake and of course I had to run back down the 40+ steps to the beach.

Another amazing morning on my lake.

And when I finally made my way back up to the house, intent on getting a couple hours of sleep, I noticed the cat sitting in the window watching my antics.

What in the world are you doing out there lady?

And of course I had to capture that too. Not a lot of sleep, but one of the most fun nights I’ve had in a very long time. Thank you to my northern friend for sharing her amazing home, though I wasn’t inside it very much.

Can’t beat this view.

Sitting on the deck and just watching the lake is more then enough, much less a hike in the woods and a comet photoshoot…with the milky way thrown in.

And on the way home I got a couple barns to boot.

Barn #1

I’m smiling now just thinking about it.

Barn #2


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Confused, and not even sure why

I’ve been reading books lately that shed some light on the experiences of people of color. For a long time I’ve realized that I was brought up protected and in a very white world.

In 2012, when Travon Martin was killed, and there began to be stories on the news about parents having ‘that talk’ with their black children, particularly sons, about how to interact with police, I was stunned. I’d never heard of that kind of talk and I was more than half a century old back then. And as event after racial profiling event unfolded I became more uncomfortable with being so unaware.

So after George Floyd was killed I started looking for things to read. I’ve read “Evicted,” by Matthew Desmond, a study of how landlords profit renting to those in poverty, “How We Fight for Our Lives,” by Saeed Jones, the memoir of a gay black man growing up in Texas, and “I’m Still Here, Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness,” by Austin Channing Brown.

All three are very readable and each is enlightening in a different way, but that’s not to say I am educated now. In fact it’s possible I am more confused.

Channing’s book is based on her experiences as a black woman leader in her church and at work. It was difficult to read because it made me uncomfortable as she described so many ways that white people put her and other people of color in a subservient place. The little things that are done, perhaps innocently, that hurt, that keep people from reaching the next level on the job or in life.

I wondered, as I read, if I had ever done anything that felt that way to those people, mostly women, of color that had worked in departments I managed. I’d like to think I hadn’t. But I don’t know.

I had just finished her book, and had all sorts of questions running through my head, mostly about how black women can rise into places of power, when I went out to the mailbox yesterday afternoon. There I found two election fliers and one in particular caught my attention.

“Two Democrats are running for County Executive – but which one lives up to our values?” screamed the headline. And next to that headline was a black woman smiling up at me. “Good news,” I thought. “A black woman is running for County Executive!” The flier added, “Turn over to compare the candidates” and I excitedly did.

I was disappointed and confused to realize that the two Democrats running for our county’s highest office were both white men.

I don’t know what the reasoning was to put a strong black female face on the front of the flyer. I know that I felt ticked off at being fooled, though I know that wasn’t the intention. And I’m confused about why I feel irritated. Am I irritated because I felt like a black woman was used? Or am I irritated that the idea of a black woman County Executive is so foreign here?

I’m definitely not finished trying to understand the dynamics of all of this. It’s obvious that there’s a lot more going on then I ever knew, more than I know now. I still live in a world that is very white. I’ve thought about the fact that I don’t have any friends of color here, no one to talk to about this.

And then I remember that one of the themes of Channing’s book is that she resents being the ‘teacher’ to all of the white people in her life. As a student she was often one of a few students of color and every time race issues were brought up she was expected to explain her side of the issue, as education for the others. She’s tired of being the only one of color in meetings at work and looked to for the endless ‘diversity’ discussion. She says that whites use dialogue to stall, to make themselves feel like they’ve done something, when in reality action is the only thing that matters.

She says that having to listen to whites confess to her, after her speaking engagements, all the things they had done wrong in their relations with people of color, made them feel better but transferred the guilt to her shoulders and didn’t resolve anything. Now she turns it back to them, asking them what they are going to do going forward.

So maybe talking to a friend of color isn’t the way to go either.

The reality is, after reading these three books, I don’t know what’s right, exactly, for me to do going forward. An audience member once told Channing that ‘you make me feel guilty for being white.” But that wasn’t what Channing wanted either, to make us feel guilty. I think what she wants is for us to use our power to bring other people along.

She says she won’t see full equality in her lifetime, but that can’t stop her from speaking and trying. She says it’s impossible to expect people in power to hand that power over to people in the margins. I agree. But it’s not impossible to expect people in power to lead in conjunction with those currently in the margins.

I’m not in a place of power anymore. I don’t have the ability to promote someone, or recommend them for a raise. But I can vote. I can vote for people that don’t look like me but who have powerful brains and good hearts and the intellect to lead us toward a more equitable country.

And that’s what I’m going to do going forward. How about you?


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Exploring a new park


While I was on the guided tour of one of Katie’s parks a couple weeks ago, another participant told me about a park the next township over that she found beautiful.

I had never heard of it, but it sounded intriguing.

So last Monday I got up early and headed over there. It’s a short ten minute drive and I arrived just as the sun was coming up behind me.

It lit up the trees across the small lake near the parking lot and I spent a long time just sitting on the end of the fishing dock listening to the birds and frogs as they greeted a new day.

Then I started across a boardwalk that connected the parking lot to the hills and woods surrounding the lake. Dew was beading on the grasses there, shining in the early light and I spent a long time trying to get a focused shot.

It was a lovely warm morning but as I moved into the woods I realized I should have worn bug spray. I pulled the hood of my sweatshirt up over my hair in an attempt to keep the deer flies from swarming my face. It kind of worked, but I walked faster anyway.

Around one corner I came across another wetland, and spent some time out on the boardwalks away from the bugs.

But eventually I had to go back into the woods, where I sprinted up and over some lovely hills, stopping only to take a few pictures before racing back to the car.

This is definitely a beautiful park, I just needed to be more prepared. I only did one long loop and there is more to see, so I’ll be back.

But I might wait until after the first frost!

Pretty but invasive.


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Doing so much smiling I haven’t had time to blog!

I’ve been away, but I don’t want to miss this weeks’ smile. So I’ll share one photo from my quick get-away.

I hope it made you smile too.

I’m still working on the processing of images like these, but the fact that I even found the milky way and got some of it in the image made me grin.

I’ll be back with more on this impromptu adventure, as well as the images from the new park I explored a week ago. Coming to a blog near you soon.

Promise.


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Davis Lake Overlook meander

To me, the woods are always filled with wonder and mystery.


Saturday I went on a guided walk, of a park that Katie and I have explored quite a bit. She and I especially like it in the fall, but midsummer turned out to be pretty interesting too, especially when the guide was the person who manages the natural preserves in our township. (You can click on any image and make it larger for more detail.)

I don’t know what this is, was low to the ground, blossom was about the size of a nickle. One blossom on each side of the stem. Do you know what it is?

No, Katie didn’t get to go, it would have been too hard for her anyway, and she’d have been a distraction to all the rest of our group. Plus she wasn’t invited, but don’t tell her that!

Our guide told us the name of this, now I can’t remember. Should have taken notes.

I went back to the park on Monday with my camera to capture a few of the things we saw that I thought were spectacular.

Our guide showed us orange lillies. We didn’t see this particular group on Saturday, it was out in full force on Monday morning, just a few feet from where he showed us lilies, but on the other side of the trail.

Specifically I went back to visit a beautiful field of prairie plants. This year the predominant flowers are black-eyed susan but our guide said next year it will probably be something else as plants get established.

A sea of yellow against that blue sky.

It sure was stunning!

Do you see the little inch worm?

Monday I had blue skies with clouds moving in. I’m always happy with sky like that.

I confess I also walked down to a part of the park that isn’t open to the public. They are working there to make it ready for public use, but it’s not quite there yet and there aren’t paths worked out.

This is a small glacier lake, surrounded by beautiful uplands and wetlands.

I followed where we had walked on Saturday because I really wanted some shots of the little lake back there. Don’t tell them, I scurried down and back quickly so as not to break the rules for very long. And because the flies and mosquitoes were horrible!

Water lilies rest quietly near the shore.

I hope you enjoyed your visit to one of Katie’s parks, she says next time I go I better take her with me! I also made it to the park recommended by one of my fellow nature walkers. I’ll be working on those photos next. Stay tuned.

A walk in the woods is always a good thing.

And meanwhile, get outside and take a walk. It’s absolutely gorgeous out there and we can all use some gorgeous in our lives.

Speaking of gorgeous…


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And then the sun went down

Last week I thought there might be a great sunset, so I headed over to the park where I can climb a hill and have an unobstructed view to the west.

You hardly ever see anyone else on the nature trails that wind up the hill, but on this evening a pregnant couple and their photographer were climbing out of cars at the same time I was. As there are several ways to the top I asked them which way they were going, and told them I’d go the opposite. They laughed, I think in relief, and we headed off on our own paths.

There was a half moon hanging in the sky as it began to get dark, but not much to the west of me. I spent my time taking pictures of other things.

I noticed the couple standing in the tall grass down below me. They were standing about where I’d taken pictures of lupine in the fading sunlight a month or so ago. Where I ended up with two ticks. Hmmmmmmm.

They looked beautiful together in the evening light. Silently I wished them and their baby well and hoped the photographer told them to check for ticks when they got home.

Meanwhile the sun wasn’t making much of a sunset, so I continued to focus on other things.

It was a beautiful evening and I was glad I was there even though, in the end, there really wasn’t much of a sunset at all.

For a little while I could forget all the craziness going on in the world and just enjoy the soft summer air, the light sliding off the grasses, the birds beginning to swoop against the sky turning navy.

I wish you all a bit of peace like this, or whatever works for you, during these times. Share with us all how you relax during these days of social isolation.

We can all use some new ideas on that front.


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So much to smile about.

Both of them worked so hard to keep the kids fed.


Well, first on my smile list is the fact that I’m figuring out the new laptop, and the new Lightroom and even though there’s still a lot that I’m frustrated with I know eventually it will all work out.

Sneaking around the side to check on the kids.

But here it is, Sunday afternoon and I can’t let the second week go by without posting a smile for Trent’s Weekly Smile campaign. I don’t understand how time moves so fast when I’m not really doing anything. They say (and they are right, whoever they are) that time speeds up as you get older. Maybe that’s what I’m experiencing.

Listening to what the kids are up to in there.

Anyway, a couple weeks ago I took a series of photos of my wren family while mom and dad were frantically feeding the youngsters. The light wasn’t always good and certainly cropping these made them even more grainy, but they were such a delight to watch that I’ve been meaning to share them with you.

When either adult arrived at the box they’d do a little wing flap dance. This time they both arrived at the same time.

And even though they’ve been gone for a week or more now, looking at these images still makes me smile.

“I’ll wait here, you take yours in first.”

Of course the wrens aren’t the only thing worth smiling about around here. Yesterday I went on a guided walk through one of Katie’s park, she calls it Katie’s Park II, with a knowledgeable young man who manages the township’s nature preserves.

Doing their happy dances.

I didn’t take my camera and there were at least a couple moments that I wished I had it. In the next day or so I’ll be going back to see if I can capture a couple things I hadn’t noticed when I was walking there with Katie-girl.

“Eat your bugs and then dad will bring you desert.”

And during our walk someone told me about another park that she really likes, so I'll be going out there too. I'm pretty sure you'll get to see photos from both soon. Might even be next week's smile!

“Where’s my shift replacement?”

Meanwhile, enjoy the wren couple. I miss hearing them sing all day while they’re sitting on top of their home. I hope all their babies are growing big and strong and maybe next spring one of them will raise another brood here. Maybe I’ll get to photograph them with a more powerful lens, or at least in better light.

Taking a breather.

Oh, and Katie says to tell you all HI! She’d tell you herself but she’s busy planning her next nap. She says that’s about as exciting as it gets around here these days.

She’s not wrong.

Heading out to find more dinner for the hungry brood.