Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Katie’s Walktober

Hi everyone, Katie here. Mama told me Ms. Robin was hosting Walktober again this year. I’m so glad, it’s always good to have an excuse to go for a walk. I think everyone benefits from getting outside, don’t you agree?

I did my Walktober on an interesting weather day!

I definitely believe in getting mama off the couch as often as I can. She’s not always so appreciative.

Well, anyway, this time I owe mama cause we walked at a new park, Rose Oaks, which is about 6 miles from our house. Even though it’s not far I’ve never been there and mama has only been there once.

Those are the clouds that hailed on us!

She went this summer but the mosquitoes made her run out of the woods. She said she wanted to go back and she thought maybe she’d do her Walktober there. But when she told me she was thinking about heading over there I made it abundently clear that I needed a Walktober too, and this park sounded perfect for me.

There weren’t a lot of flowers, but this one was pretty!

So she sighed and said she’d let me use our walk at Rose Oaks as my Walktober this year.

Turns out it began to rain and then hail on our way to the park. But it cleared up just after we arrived, so we got to explore almost right away. First thing mama took me out on this long dock.

You sure you want to go way out there, mama?

I wasn’t sure I liked being on the dock, I could see water right under my feet! As you know I am a Princess, and I do not like getting my feet wet, so I wasn’t happy that water was so close. But I’m also a good girl, and since mama wanted to go out there I went too.

Well come on then mama! I’m always waiting for you!

The view was pretty spectacular, what with the storm clouds moving overhead. Still, I wasn’t all that comfortable out there, so mama and I headed to the woods. But first we had to walk over another long bridge.

Hurry up, mama, the woods are right over here!

Finally we got to the woods. Since mama forgot to look at the map she wasn’t sure which way to go. So she let me decide.

Which way should we go, mama?

I thought this way looked pretty. What do you think?

There’s a little bit of color over this way, mama!

To be honest, mama took a lot of pictures of stuff that wasn’t me. She kept stopping, and the worst thing was when she was taking pictures of flowers I didn’t get a treat!

Mama liked these yellow flowers with that red background.

I think I’ve made it clear that when she takes a picture I’m supposed to get a treat. It’s in my contract. There’s nothing in there that says the picture has to be of me. One shot, one treat, that’s the rule.

Sometimes mama likes me to sit next to big trees just because they’re cool. I’ll do that for a treat.

We walked a ways into the woods looking for color.

There wasn’t a lot of color, but what was there was really pretty.

And then you know what happened? It started to rain! Well, not on us, not at first. We could hear it coming though, mama said it sounded really cool coming from way off in the woods. And then she said I needed to hurry up because we were a long way from the car.

Wait mama! You said we needed to find color, how about this? 

I, of course, was not in the hurrying up sort of mood. I wanted to sniff stuff some more. And don’t forget I’m almost forteen, a forteen year old does not hurry. Unless treats are offered.

The sun came out and so did my shadow!

So we mosied along toward the car and you know what happened next? Nothing! The rain never got to us. So when we came to another trail I decided we should go explore that one too and mama signed and rolled her eyes and followed me along.

It was, after all, my Walktober.

Come on, mama, let’s keep walking!

We wandered a bit more, until mama said we should turn around. At which time I sat down and refused to head back to the car unless I got a treat. She gave up after she saw I was serious. Not turning around mama unless I get something!

Not going anywhere, mama, without a treat.

Sometimes mama is smart and just goes with the flow and this time was like that. Mamas can be trained.

Pretty when the sun shown through them.

After my treat I trotted along willingly. To tell you the truth I was getting kind of tired anyway.

Mama stopped and took a few more pictures but pretty soon we were back at the car. I know there’s a whole lot more to this park than we got to see, and I hope mama takes me back again, maybe when it’s cooler and I feel more like trotting along.

Wait up mama!

Meanwhile, I thought you’d enjoy seeing my new park. I call it Katie’s Park III.

Last bit of sun on the leaves before we left.

Time for a nap now. I bet Mama will take one too, we’re both getting older, don’t you know.

Thanks mama, I got sort of dirty, but that was fun!

And thanks to Ms. Robin for hosting Walktober.  Mama and I look forward to it every year and we know it isn’t always easy to host these kinds of things.  We sure appreciate it!

Reflections

Now I need to get mama off the sofa and out into the woods somewhere so she can go on her own Walktober.  Personally I think she should take me along, because I’m the best Walktober pal she’s ever had.

Don’t you know.

Your park guide gal,
Katie-girl.

Mama’s artsy-fartsy picture. She always has one.


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Some politicians are just regular folks

Let me tell you a story about politics that makes me smile.

I know, I know. Politics and smiling haven’t seemed related in a very long time. But trust me, there are plenty of great people holding down policital jobs these days. We don’t hear about them often, but we should.

Those of you following this blog for the past few years know that in 2016 I stepped way out of my comfort zone to work on the campaign of a woman running to become my district’s Representative. You know that politics is not my thing and if I had my druthers I’d live in a little house in the woods or on a lake and not turn the television on at all.

But then my dad was killed by a tired trucker and my life changed. I tell new truck safety families all the time that they don’t know how strong they are until they have to be. That we can do anything that’s important to us, that we’re passionate about.

And changing the Representative for my district was important to me, because the incumbent, representing a party that had been in office for years, refused to meet with me to talk about truck safety issues, even though I was his constituent. And the challenger, Elissa Slotkin, was willing to hear me out at the very beginning of her campaign.

So in 2018 I canvased for her, which was much more scary to me then speaking in public about truck safety issues, scarier than meeting with the Secretary of Transportation, or testifying in front of a Senate subcommittee. And she won, by a slim margin, in a district that is primarly made up of people not in her party.

Katie was happy when Elissa won too.

Since she’s been in office she’s signed on to support one of our issues, trying to get automatic emergency brakes mandated in commercial trucks, and she’s always been willing to talk with us about whatever safety issues we’re fighting.

This year my husband and I have focused on getting people the yard signs they’ve requested. We live in a township that is very red, the roads are lined with signs of the opposing party. I take it as a personal victory when I can get one of Elissa’s signs into a yard that is surrounded by her opponent’s signs.

A couple weeks ago we were notified that one of her signs, a large one on a main road, had been defaced. We didn’t know how it was defaced, but we said we’d go out and see if we could salvage it. We hoped it was just kids having a crazy Saturday night.

Discouraging.

We were wrong.

Maybe we should have left it defaced, to make a point, but signs are expensive, and the defacing seemed malicious, so we went to work to try and clean it up. It took 3 hours and a whole lot of elbow grease. And even after all that, the sign was still disfigured.

But while we were working on it we had several cars honk in support, and a few people stopped by to offer ideas on supplies that might work, or to help clean it. We probably created more goodwill cleaning that sign than we would have if it had never been defaced. And no we didn’t deface it ourselves.

Working to clean it up.

But here’s the really cool thing. Today the Congresswoman called and left a long message on our landline, thanking us for cleaning up the sign, saying she had just driven by it and she wanted us to know that she appreciated the work.

At first, while I was listening to the message, I thought it was a robo call from her campaign — you know the kind where the candidate leaves a recorded message thanking you for support and asking for you to chip in a little more. But no, this wasn’t her office calling, wasn’t a recorded message, it was just a woman saying thanks, like any regular person would, directly and in person, sincerely, asking for nothing more.

As good as we could get it.

Just saying thanks.

And that’s the kind of person I am proud to vote for this November. A decent person who tries to make the best decisions at her job under stressful conditions every day. A person working for the betterment of all the people in her district – whether they voted for her or not. Someone who will listen to anybody’s issues, will give them all careful consideration, who doesn’t dismiss anyone. Someone who is always upfront and honest with her constituents.

She’s such a regular person that sometimes it’s hard for me to remember she’s actually a Congresswoman. I think of her as Elissa. I really need to work on giving her the respect and title she’s earned. She’s my Congresswoman and I’m proud of the work she’s doing while still being just regular folk. It’s such a relief to have someone like her representing me.

She makes me smile.


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2 smiles, one weekend

I’m a lucky lady, I got to experience two big smiles jammed into one weekend. Plus we are experiencing beautiful weather, warm and sunny with the trees starting to turn color. The morning and evening light makes the trees just glow.

But that’s a different blog post.

My first smile of the weekend was Saturday evening when I got to play in a pop-up concert with some of my Clarkston Community Band mates and several professional musicians who came to fill holes in our orchestration.

The neighbors came out to listen to us play on their cul-de-sac.

We haven’t played together since early March. Many of us haven’t played at all since then, though most of us frantically practiced these past few days trying to get our lips back in shape. The professionals sightread the music and sounded wonderful. I was grateful to get to play with them.

Thankful for these guys coming to help us out.

It was a lovely night and we are reminded again why we play long after school ends. As our Director, Ms. Roland said, tonight we’re not talking about politics or bingewatching silly shows on TV, we’re not thinking about virusus or worried about the future.

ALl about the music.

Tonight it’s about the music. And what a relief that was.

Keeping us in time.

I hope the neighbors who came out of their homes, sat in lawn chairs and waited while we did a little rehearsing before we began, I hope they had as much fun as we did.

Making a big sound.

But I don’t see how they could have had more.

He’s played with us since he was a kid, now grown up and still making music.

Then this morning I did a virtual 5K with my friend Tami who lives in California. So that we could run/walk together she went out at 6 a.m. while it was still dark, and I waited until 9 am. here, an hour or more later than I would normally go out.

At the turn around point.

It was a compromise on both our parts because we wanted to motivate each other. Compromise works, I wish it was something that happened more in our world, but I’m not going there in this post.

Nope, this post is all about smiles. I hope you had something fun to do, or pretty to see, or beautiful to listen to this week.

As we march toward November we all need to remember to smile. And that’s as political as I’m going to get today.

Trombones all in providing the bass sounds.


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A walk through Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge

I follow a wildlife group on Facebook. I’ve been seeing pictures of what were identified as Brown Pelicans that people were seeing out at the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge which is only a little over an hour from me. Pelicans in Michigan?

Early morning at the refuge.

I’ve been to this refuge once before, about a year ago. I saw lots of pretty things then, but no pelicans. I’ve never heard of pelicans in Michigan and I wanted to see them.

I startled a racoon as it swims over to a log to exit the water.

But life, as it usually does, interfered. I had too many commitments, too many places I needed or wanted to be. I kept putting off my trip up to Saginaw County, but those images of these beautiful birds continued to show up on Facebook.

Huge flocks of sandhill cranes flew overhead in the early morning light.

Finally I decided to add a stop at the refuge to a scheduled trip north to my happy place along the shores of Lake Michigan. I figured since I wanted to be at the refuge at sunrise I could spend as much as four hours there and still get up to Northport at a reasonable hour.

Water on either side of the dike I was walking on.

So one day last week I let Katie get me up at 3:30, put on my waterproof shoes and lightweight hiking pants and headed out the door by 4:30, prepared for a double adventure.

I arrived at the refuge as the sun was coming up. In hindsight I should have arrived even earlier, because it’s a two mile walk back to the wide open wetlands where the pelicans were supposed to be. But I saw plenty of things on my two mile walk, even as the sun crept higher and higher into the sky.

A damp egret watched me walk by.

I crept along as well, because the trail was covered in crushed stone and my heavy, waterproof shoes were so noisy on the rock that every few steps ducks rose up from the water on either side of the dike I was walking on. The noise of their flight up out of the water is startling, even after I heard it a few dozen times.

I frighten a wood duck couple into leaving.

It was hard to get a decent image of anything in the low light, no matter how high I set my ISO. But I had fun trying.

A juvie green heron, just out of focus.

By the time I got out to the open wetlands I was already tired. Such an early start, so many missed images. But then I rounded a curve and saw these guys. They sounded an alarm as I slowly approached them.

“Should we stand our ground or get the heck out of here?”

They were between me and where I needed to be in order to check out potential pelicans. I wanted to get a good picture of them flying, so I stayed prepared with the camera held up to my eyes as I moved forward. Eventually they gave up and rose into the air with great fanfare, warning about my trespassing into their space to anyone else out there that cared. They were absolutely beautiful.

The sun on their wings was so beautiful.

I coldn’t stop shooting as they rose higher and higher.

They looked like a painting.

Once they had flown off over the woods and the sound of their calls had faded I looked around and saw what I thought were some swans preening on a log on the other side of some open water.

Those are swans over there. Right?

I couldn’t see them very well, even with my long lens because I was shooting into the morning light. I was pretty sure it was a bunch of swans, so I spent some time seeing what else was out there.

Egrets discussing the weather. Or something.

The egrets were beautiful in the morning sun. And everywhere I went something flew out of the water. It was hard to keep up.

I startled this blue heron too. He left without looking back.

Still, those swans out there called me and I took more pictures. But time was ticking, and how many images did I need of a group of swans? I was getting tired and I was disappointed that I hadn’t seen the pelians.

A female wood duck takes off. I seem to be disturbing everyone!

I turned to go, and over my left shoulder three large birds flew by. Three large white birds. Could it be? Yes! They were pelicans! My settings weren’t right for a moving bird, but I got some OK shots.

White pelicans!!!!!

Then I took some more shots of those ‘swans’ back where I had turned around. Because you know what? There were more and more gathering there. And behind them were hundreds more, out of camera range. Pelicans masquerading as swans.

They call a group of pelicans a ‘pod.’ This pod was getting bigger by the minute.

I looked them up and I think these are not Brown Pelicans, but American White Pelicans. They have big black stripes on the ends of their wings, just like the images in the article. I feel lucky to have seen them.

All those white birds flying in the background are pelicans too!

After spending a long time watching them I turned and began my long walk back to the car. By now the sun was really up and so were all the little birds. Lots of hopping around in the underbrush, chirping, flitting across the path. I only got one of the little ones in a decent shot.

A little round yellow bird. Maybe a warbler?

But I saw several others too, though the images are terrible so I won’t share. I’m just glad to have seen a juvinile rose breasted grosbeak, and a white throated sparrow, who, people say, is only around in winter. Uh oh. Winter??

What a beautiful place to be on a beautiful morning.

On the way back I concentrated on moving along, but also stopping to notice the flowers still in bloom…

Everything was yellow, green or red.

…and the beautiful fall colors just starting.

The maple trees were glowing in the early light.

Four hours later I had walked a little over six miles, my feet hurt, my back hurt but my heart was full. I still had a four hour drive to Northport, but I was headed to my happy place, and had been in a very beautiful refuge. Couldn’t complain, that’s for sure.

Morning light.

Plus….I had seen hundreds and hundreds of pelicans! And now you have too!

Definitely worth getting up early!


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Had so many smiles this week I haven’t had time to share

This week was filled with smiles, so filled in fact that I’m having trouble finding time to process all the photos to share with you. So how about I show you just a couple, a teaser of sorts, to keep your interest for a few more days.

The maple trees were turning.

I traveled north on Wednesday, stopping at the Shiawasee Nature Preserve on the way to my final destination. I took you for a walk there a year ago, this week, unlike that walk, the colors haven’t peaked but I saw lots of really neat things.

I startled ducks wherever I walked.

Including pelicans. Did you know there are pelicans in Michigan? Me neither! But there they were. I felt lucky to have seen them, I’m sure they’re just passing through.

See all those white birds back there? Pelicans. And notice the blue heron down on the left bottom? Busy place.

Anyway, the four hours I spent there early on Wednesday morning made me smile. A lot. I will share more of this magical place as soon as I can finish looking through the more than 800 photos I took.

Avoiding the noisy human.