Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


Katie and the big turtle

A year ago last fall Katie and I had an adventure with a tiny newborn turtle.   Diana will remember that I grabbed the baby turtle back out of the water right in front of a big black snake that was anticipating lunch.  This morning we tried very hard NOT to have an adventure with a much larger turtle.

Earlier in the day I noticed what looked like a big turtle in the neighbor’s front yard.  But the light was low and he had mowed his grass yesterday and I figured it was just a big clump of cut grass.  Later in the morning Katie and I went out to do her job and I noticed this trail through the dew…

…now WHAT I thought, would make a big wide flat mark like that?  Then I remembered the clump of  ‘grass’ I had noticed earlier.  I wondered…if there was a turtle, where was she?  So we tiptoed around a spruce tree…and found this:

Katie was not happy to be taken back to the house.

An hour or more later we went back outside and guess what.  She had maneuvered into the middle of our yard, on her way to the pond across the street.

It’s MY yard Mama!  I want to go see what she’s DOING!

OK, OK.  I’ll just sit right here and watch her.

Katie was again unhappy to be told to “leave it’ as we went back inside.

I was worried that she’d get smushed crossing the road, so I thought I’d pick her up and put her in a laundry basket, carry her over the road and let her go in the pond.

Not going to happen.  She hissed at me when I touched her.  So I figured she was on her own.

She’s made it to the pond safely now.  She would have made it faster if we hadn’t investigated her progress all morning.

Silly us.


A walk in the Arb


Last night I was in Ann Arbor watching the University of Michigan’s Brigadoon with my Aunt.  This morning, before driving back to home I took myself for a walk in the arboretum, a park on the banks of the Huron River.

As I got out of the car I was met by these two.  They were welcoming me to the park.

I was looking for spring, and there were a few signs.

I was out early, and the park was full of animals and birds, but no other people.  I saw a little red squirrel chasing a bigger brown squirrel, and above them was a red tailed hawk just squawking away.  Then I heard footsteps behind me; a little herd of deer was passing me on the hill, coming up from the river.  They looked at me, I looked at them, and I think we all smiled, it was such a beautiful morning even though the sky was heavy with clouds and the threat of rain.

I moved along, looking for more signs of spring.  If you looked closely you could see quite a bit of green.

And I was thinking of Diana when I took this photo; it reminded me of snakes.

Eventually I got back to the memorial to my parents that sits near the canoe landing.

Even though it’s been there a few years now it still makes my heart beat faster when I first see it.  I wish they were walking in the Arb with me, but I guess in a sense they are.

This is the canoe landing near their stone.  Pretty, ey?

Nearby was a downed ash tree, with the pretty but fatal marks of the ash borer that killed it.

And another friendly goose.  My Mom always liked the Canadian geese that visited her dock down in Alabama.

Then I looked just down the river and saw this graffiti on the train trestle.

It seemed fitting.  So I did.


Ants, 38 seconds, and goal achieved.

This morning when Katie and I went out to do her business I noticed this.

It looked like my husband had spilled a bit of peat while he was planting trees yesterday.  I didn’t think much about it.  But it isn’t peat.  Can you think what else it might be?  Does a closer picture give you a better idea?

I didn’t think so.  I’d need a close up lens on my little point and shoot camera for you to really see what this is.

It’s tiny tiny tiny red ants!  I don’t know what they’re doing, but they seem intent on doing it together.

After Katie finished doing her business I went out for a 4 mile run/walk.  I’m working back from an injury that occurred almost two years ago.  It’s hard.

My rules for this run/walk were simple.  Run a minute, walk a minute.  I allowed myself to run longer than a minute if I felt good, but never less than a minute.  And walks were never ever longer than a minute.  Those of you that have done sits and downs in dog obedience know how long a minute can be.  I have it from a very authoritative source (me) that 38 seconds feels like a minute.  I glanced at my watch at least once every minute for 54 minutes during the run…and often the first glance showed that only 38 seconds had gone by when I thought for sure it had been at least a minute!

Aside from the normal red winged black birds that circled my head when I ran through the swamp I also got to see a swimming muskrat, and munching young groundhog, a couple of chipmunks scurrying across the road, a giant crow jeering (ahem..cheering) me on and a myriad of other birds flitting across the road in front of me.

The morning was misty, cooler than it’s been, gray skies.  Just a touch of rain falling gently on the back of my neck.  So peaceful.  Except for my labored breathing.  Four miles seemed longer than it did years ago.  During mile 3 I began to realize that most of my energy was being expounded moving me up and down rather than efficiently moving me forward.  I tried to lengthen my stride, an attempt to get home sooner rather than never.  But as a car approached and I began to move off the white line of pavement that I’d been running on I realized it was taking me five steps just to get both feet on the shoulder.  Obviously my stride hadn’t lengthened at all!  LOL

Turning into my subdivision, 3/10 of a mile to go to my driveway, I was relieved but also hot and smelly.  My right knee was beginning to twinge, and I was pretty sure I had a blister on my left little toe.   But the mist was cool on my face, and I knew I was going to reach my goal.  Eventually.  I ran the last three minutes home, because it was downhill.

And because I could.


A new day

Trees 1536 I’ve been staying with Aunt V these past few days.  She’s not steady enough on her feet to be alone.   But today I had jury duty, and had to be in “business attire” at the court by 8:30 in the morning.  I didn’t think I could get ready at her apartment without disturbing her routine, so my husband stayed with her last night, and I got to hug  Katie at home all night.  I’m not sure Katie really appreciated that, but she will when she’s older!

This morning as Katie and I emerged, trying to get her jobs done before I had to leave the sky was alive with fluffy clouds, the undersides of them gray, the tops tinged with pink as the sun came up.  I was sad that I was going to spend it in a jury room.  But I was also glad for the bit of freedom I had from the overly heated apartment I’ve been cooped up in since Sunday.  It’s funny how a tiny hour of freedom has so much more value when you’ve had none for a few days.

I have to give credit to those of you out there that are care givers full time, and have been for years, or face years of it in the future.  It’s a hard job.  Not to mention terribly boring!  I’m reading a good book, “Seven Types of Ambiguity” by Elliot Perlman,  recommended by another blogger, but it takes some concentration, and  it seems just when I’m getting my head back into the plot the Aunt needs something.  And of course she comes first.

She reminds me that it’s heck getting older.  Years ago when I lived in the Upper Peninsula I sometimes drove down to visit my own grandmother who was in her 90’s.  She’d outlived most of her friends and quite a bit of her family.  The last time I saw her she was walking with a walker and still living in her own home on the family farm.  She told me not to live to be her age and I wondered, in all the wisdom of a 20 something young person, what she was talking about.  Now I see it again with our Aunt.  Though she’s  smart as a tack she too has outlived her friends and much of her family.  Yesterday she started listing people, counting on her fingers over and over again, people she cared about who are gone now.  I had no appropriate response.  And it’s sad to witness.

Today’s jury duty went well.  All the cases before the two judges were settled, so they let us all go!  And today is going to be a beautiful day, high in the 80’s with sunshine.  I think perhaps Katie girl and I will have to go for a walk in the park before I head back over to the apartment to relieve my husband.  We did get some play in already, Katie and I, out in the yard.  She had a wonderful time.  Me too.

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And on a totally unrelated topic, I found a baby turtle in the driveway just a bit ago and took it over to the edge of the pond.

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He is about the size of a nickle and was warm in my palm as I carried him over to the pond.  I set him on a leaf just at the edge of the water.  I hope he makes it.

Newborn and elderly, all in the same day, with a bit of sunshine thrown in.  It’s a new day

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The great turtle escapade…staring Katie the Sheltie Extradonaire

Late this morning I happened upon a tiny little baby snapping turtle on my driveway.  I had moved some flower pots, emptying the now mushy stubs of summer flowers.  I think the little turtle may have been hiding among them and was left out in the open when I moved the pots into the garage.

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I picked him (her?) up, put him in a container and took him to the park where there are several ponds in the wildlife area.  Kate, of course, went along for the ride.  No one gets to go to the park without her!  And of course she needed to supervise the release.

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I put him down gently on the soft grass right next to the water.

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Katie was very happy that we had saved the tiny turtle!

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Since we were at the park we decided to go for a walk through the beautiful fields of drying grass.  Today it is going to get up to 70 degrees, the first day in a long time that we’ve had anything that warm.  So we enjoyed the sunshine as we wandered.

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On our way back to the car we stopped by the turtle release site to see if he had moved.  He wasn’t on the bank where we left him, so I was glad that he had moved on.  Then I realized that there was a big dark Northern Water Snake, about 3 feet long, coiled in the shallow water right off the grassy spot I had left the turtle!   OH NOOOOO!!!!! I felt TERRIBLE!  I hadn’t saved the little guy just to have him end up as lunch immediately!  I felt so SAD, and glared at the snake, who I assumed was resting after his big meal.   Katie didn’t notice the snake at all.  I guess she’s more of a princess than a nature dog.  Then the snake moved his head side to side slightly and I realized my little turtle was just below the surface of the water, up next to the grass.  And the snake was beginning to make his move!

“NOOOOO!” I shouted, and the snake, startled, swam back out into the pond.  I swooped MY little turtle back up in my hand, put him back in the container, and Katie and I drove him home.

Once there I walked my little guy across the street to the neighborhood pond, where I should have put him in the first place.  It’s the pond his mother likely lives in.   I  had  thought he’d like the nature preserve pond better.  Right.  I  thought the poor thing would be totally traumatized, but he was now moving  around the container more than he did at any other time.  Across the street at the pond I gently placed him in the water near a shallow spot where he could climb out of the pond if he wanted to.  He seemed happy, sunk a little in the water and stuck his snout out, looking around.

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Can you see him?  I wished him luck, and went back home.  I don’t know if he’ll make it or if our neighborhood blue heron will have him for lunch.  But I hope he thrives.  I hope when I see turtles sunning as I drive by, one of them will be him.  I like to think about him exploring his new home.  I know the snake needed food, but I don’t think it needed lunch delivered.  At least not by me.

Meanwhile, Katie is checking out behind all the pots just in case there’s a sister or brother waiting to be heroically saved by a Sheltie.

Here’s most likely his Mom:

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She was over by the pond earlier this summer.  Amazing, isn’t she!

Katie wasn’t interested in her either…though I didn’t take her over there to see her up close.  She’s a snapper, and a big one.  Katie needs a nap now.  I have to go to work.

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A walk is not a run

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Many nights as I’m driving home from work I imagine myself going for a run in the morning.  I am thoroughly convinced that I will don my running garb and head out the next day.  I’m even excited about it.  But morning comes and the bed is comfortable and the dog needs walking and I wonder about my foot, and think (again) about purchasing new shoes “just to be safe,” so as not risk reinjury and it doesn’t happen.  Last night I didn’t fall asleep until 5 in the morning, thinking about why I wasn’t running anymore, and how this morning would be different.

So when the cute Sheltie woke me at the usual 7 a.m. to go out and investigate the yard I put on the running duds first.  No excuses.  We wandered the yard, came back inside and I went back to bed.  When we awoke at 9 I put the running stuff back on, ate breakfast and kept talking myself into the run.  OK.  The walk.  I decided to walk my favorite 4 mile route.

I hadn’t walked this route since last spring, when the leaves were just peaking and the herons were building nests, the horses were restless and the swamp frogs were peeping.  To do it now at the beginning of fall felt different.  The insects were buzzing, the jays were calling, the horses wore blankets, but the sun was shining and the sky was blue.  It was a good day.

Dawn 125The first mile I spent thinking about why I felt that walking somehow wasn’t as good as running.  How I seemed to think that if I couldn’t run then I wouldn’t do anything.  Seemed to me to be a silly attitude, but there it was.  I did notice that I saw a lot more beautiful things along the way when I walked than I did when I ran, but  I have to say I  liked being able to say that I was a runner.  I liked the way I could pretty much eat whatever I wanted when I was a runner.  I liked to watch people’s faces when they found out I had completed marathons.  But I didn’t really like to run.  I was always talking myself into getting out there, and I was always glad when I was finished.  So maybe walking would be a good compromise.  Maybe.

Trees 1150 Mile one I noticed some beautiful gray blue berries near the edge of a swamp and some stunning red Virginia creeper.  I’ve been reading a book about painting intimate water colors and these two would make a nice little painting.  Along my dirt road leaves, fallen from the trees overhead, had become embedded in the dirt.  I thought how these leaves, giving the last of their life were still making imprints in my life.  A lot like some people I’ve known.

Mile two I crunched along on the fallen acorns which were plopping down around me under the big old oak trees, and squished on the choke cherries strewn along the road.  I ran a bit here and there; anywhere the road was sloping downhill, was even and had shade.

Trees 1143 Mile three is my favorite mile of the route, mostly downhill, a tunnel through the woods.  As I was running under the trees, a squirrel leaped out of the woods and ran toward me.  Suddenly realizing I wasn’t another squirrel come to play, he turned and ran ahead of me for awhile, then leaped back into the woods.  Two chickadees cheered me on and I smiled at the last little bit of the squirrel’s red tail gleaming in the morning sun as it scrambled up a tree.

Mile four, my least favorite mile, travels through our one block town on the main road, back toward home.  It’s mostly uphill, traffic is nonstop, it’s noisy and dusty and hot.  I pass a Bulldog sleeping in a bay window.  Guarding the homestead so to speak.  He doesn’t hear or smell me (though by now I am pretty stinky) and slumbers on as I pass.  Three houses down I hear him barking.  Too little too late.  I climb the last hill, a half mile from home and see two little Bichons standing on the back of a sofa, watching their road.  One is in charge and is the barker;  he yaps frantically at me as I walk by.  The other one glances at me and yawns.  I smile back.

Home again, walking up the driveway I see my own little yapper waiting.  She is sitting in the sun, watching for me out the storm door.  She is pouting because she didn’t get to go, but can’t maintain the attitude as I walk through the door.  She’s all happy dances and licky-licks.  A fitting welcome to a former runner turned walker extordinare.

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Bird dog?

Katie and I went to the park yesterday afternoon.  There was a new sign there that said we weren’t allowed to train bird dogs for several months during bird nesting season.


Good thing we were warned about that, because you know Katie is such a bird dog!  But we did have several incidents along our walk that involved birds.  Right at the beginning of our walk I noticed two families of Canadian geese near the pond.  One family’s babies already had the markings of adult birds, the other family’s little ones were still fuzzy balls of fluff.  I decided we’d take a route that totally avoided them as Sheltie + parent geese do not make a good mix.

We headed into the mowed paths of a big hilly field.  Katie enjoyed sniffing along the edges, at the flowers and traces of other dogs, who knows.  Suddenly she went stiff, then lunged and up out of the tall grass right next to us flew a fat brown partridge (or something like that).  Katie leaped straight up in the air and I screamed.  Guess we weren’t meant to be bird hunters!  Good thing Katie was on a leash.

We moved on down the path, and Katie went into her bird dog alert mode again. katie-16541 Holding tight to her leash I let her explore a little, and there was a turtle!  Way less frightening (at least to us) than the bird.  I eased Katie away so as not to disturb it and we moved on.  katie-16552

Just a bit further along the way we began to be dive-bombed by tree swallows, as we were passing their nesting boxes.  I kept ducking and urging Katie to “come on” as they swooped low over my head, making clucking noises just inches away from my hat.  We rushed through that section of the path!

katie-1656 Eventually we arrived at a resting spot, and Katie had a bit to drink.  I’ve been working on getting her not to be afraid to drink out of this contraption that allows me to carry water on my belt as well as serves as a bowl for her.  She decided yesterday that she was thirsty enough not to worry about the funny shape.

We also got to see a bluebird couple.  They were sitting on the fence that surrounds the softball field.  A game was in progress but that didn’t seem to bother them.  The male and female were swooping down into the outfield to catch bugs.  There was another bird hanging out on the fence, a little brownish bird that I thought was a sparrow or house finch.  On our way back to the car the blue birds were back on the fence, as was the little brown bird.  Turns out the little bird was a baby bluebird.  As Mom and Dad got bugs they’d fly up to the fence and feed the youngster!  How cool!  We watched for a bit and then wandered past.

And then, on our drive home we saw a wild turkey along the road near the house!  Katie didn’t notice it, but it was the last bird in our bird filled experience of walking in the park.    Maybe I should get Katie a set of binoculars so she can watch the birds more closely.



Some of this and a little of that

katie-1628 Katie and I survived a full night of camping out in the back yard last night.  It was soothing to listen to the rain as it fell off and on throughout the night, and we had an early morning wakeup call from a couple of robins about 5:30.  For the most part Katie and I had a nice snooze and we’ll do it again soon I think.  I’ve packed up the tent so that Daddy can mow the grass.

At work yesterday I was searching for a book in the teen fiction area, a part of the library I really don’t have much experience with.  The book was not to be found, so I began to look for it throughout all the shelves.  Along the way I realized there were several titles I was interested in reading, and recognized with a start that there was no reason I couldn’t.  I’m planning on grabbing a few titles next time I’m in that branch.  Another chance to read “outside my box.”

Today I glanced out the laundry room window and thought I saw a big rock in my neighbor’s long gravel driveway.  Then the rock moved and I realized it had legs.  And a head.  So I ran outside with a camera, and this is what I saw.


It’s a snapping turtle, about a foot long, maybe 10 inches wide.  She wasn’t very happy with me so I took my pictures and retreated back across the road and down into a little dip where I could watch her without appearing to be threatening.  She sat for a long moment, then kept on moving toward the pond.  I think she had been out laying eggs somewhere.  She moved very delibertly, picking up one giant foot, plopping it down and then doing the same with the another foot.  Even so she moved quite quickly and was soon safe in the pond.  Very fun to watch.

Katie and I went to PetCo today.  Apparently it was adopt a dog day and there were lots of people and dogs outside.  I probably wouldn’t have gone today if I had known.  After we made our purchases we drove to the park.  That too was full of people, a family celebrating some sort of event complete with a giant blow up jumping house in the shape of Thomas the Train, and a little league softball game going on, teams in uniforms, each side with a mess of people cheering them on.  Katie and I decided to skip the practice in our normal area, and went for a walk in the field instead.  Just as fun.


So that’s the news from up in Michigan on a Sunday.  Nothing earth shattering.  But sometimes that’s a good thing.


Squirrel alert!


I’m Katie, the ever-vigilant squirrel hating dog.  I can never rest.  Now that it’s spring the squirrels are back!  They could be anywhere!  Just anywhere I tell you!  It’s madness!

What’s that you say?  Stop barking?  Get off the chair?  Are you crazy?  Don’t you know that if you let your guard down for ONE MINUTE those squirrels will be back?  And you just never know what they may do next!  Climb a tree!  Scamper across MY lawn!

Awww…OK, I’ll get down.  But it’s your risk if they get by me.   I’m telling you, it’s a bad decision to make me get off this chair.  They’re sneaky, those squirrels, could be anywhere.  Probably are eating MY birdfood right this minute.  They know when I’m around, yes siree they sure do.  Can’t be nearly as effective if you curtail my tools.  Silly humans.


Can’t expect me to keep track of those guys when I can’t see out the window…..HEY! SQUIRREL ALERT!!!   Don’t worry guys, I’m still on the job!  SQUIRREL ALERT!  SQUIRREL ALERT!  MAYDAY MAYDAY!


Can’t keep a good dog down.  No siree, always on the job, that’s me.  Hope they appreciate it.  Might be a biscuit in it for me if I do a really good barking job.  Hmmm…  gonna ask for a raise, yes I am.  This kind of work makes a girl hungry.  Should be getting more food at supper.

And another thing.  What’s up with no dessert for dogs?  Gotta check with my union rep.  Yep, sure do.  Oh no…there’s ANOTHER ONE!

Squirrel alert!  Squirrel alert!  Gather round guys, they’re out there.  They’re everywhere.  Stand guard!  I’ll take care of them, let me at em!

Sigh.  I know, I know…get off the chair.  Geeze.