Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Veterans Day

I live in a place I might not easily fit into if I were to freely expressive my political leanings. So mostly I don’t.

Some election cycles I am more obvious in my support, but this year we were redistricted, and we lost the Congressional Representative for whom we had actively campaigned. She moved on to the newly formed District 7 that encompassed most of her previous district, but doesn’t include us.

I feel sad that we need to start over educating a new Representative. I don’t have huge hopes that she will listen to our issues, but I recognize that I’m making an assumption, and that makes me just like everyone else who jumps to political conclusions without research or data.

So, in the New Year, I will make an appointment to meet with her staff and introduce myself and the Truck Safety Coalition. I’m pretty sure she has not heard of us; I’ll do my best to give a good first impression.

But what bothers me the most during this Veterans Day weekend is that though our veterans fought to keep us free to speak about ideas important to us, it no longer feels safe to talk about issues at all. They didn’t fight so that only Republicans or only Democrats could express their views, yet where I live, and where many of us live, it feels unsafe to be different.

We used to be able to discuss our differences without being called unpatriotic. Without being accused of not supporting the Constitution. I’m certain most people in this country support the Constitution, regardless of political affiliation. I don’t think being patriotic is a trait found only in one party or the other.

I bet there are households on both sides of the aisle who proudly flew our flag in my neighborhood this week, who love our country unconditionally. Who have served to keep it free.

And I’m pretty sure there are both Democrats and Republicans and even some Independents buried in our National Cemeteries. They sacrificed so we could all speak.

It’s about time we all learned how to listen too.


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Chasing windy weather

Last week the weather people started talking about a wind advisory for Saturday. Lots and lots of strong wind, they said and I wondered if there would be big waves over on Michigan’s west coast.

Heading out to surf Lake Michigan’s waves.

I wondered if it would be worth driving over there to see. It’s a long drive, between 3 and 4 hours, depending on where I go. Still…it was going to be warm, unlike other drives I’ve made to see storms roll in.

St. Joseph lighthouse, taken from a safe place with a long lens.

So about 10 a.m. I made a snap decision, grabbed my camera and jumped in the car. Even on the way I wasn’t sure exactly where I’d go…but construction on the roads made the decision for me.

People NOT in a safe place on the other breakwater.

I ended up at St. Joseph Michigan, where I’d never visited before. I knew there was a lighthouse out on the end of a cement breakwater, and I was hoping to see big waves crashing over it.

A beautiful place with dunes and a big sandy beach.

But what I found was very different.

The wind was coming from the southwest, and just south of the lighthouse pier was another breakwater, which did what it was supposed to do, and broke up the waves before they reached the lighthouse. So…in reality it was sort of boring, even though the wind was blowing very hard and just as I left the rain began to whip sideways.

And then it started to rain.

I figured the trip was something of a bust…and was going to head back home when I decided to just stop by Grand Haven on the way (even though it isn’t exactly on the way home. At all.) for a sort of drive-by look to see what the waves were doing there.

Of course there was a barn waiting to be noticed along my way.

Well. Even though I’ve been to Grand Haven before, seen waves crashing there before, I was thrilled to see it again. The red lighthouse against a changing sky is always photogenic.

My first glimpse on Saturday of the iconic lighthouse under dark skies.

When you add white capped green waves, well, it’s just stunning.

Lake Michigan’s green, almost tropically colored water froths around the brilliant red building.

I don’t know how many images I took…but it was a lot. Sometimes I was just holding the shutter down while trying to stay upright in the gusting wind.

Wind gusts changed the image, always something photogenic.

I actually turned around to go back to the car a couple times then turned back because it was so mesmerizing.

I was not alone out there on the beach!

I tried to find different angles, moving up and down the beach…running away from the water whenever a rogue wave slid up the sand overcoming where I’d just been standing.

Standing safe behind the rocks at the base of the breakwater.

The sun actually peeked out for a brief moment just as I was leaving, so of course I stayed. But the wind was getting stronger and I had plenty of images.

A bit of sunshine makes the lighthouse glow.

Luckily I was inside the car when a huge burst of wind began throwing sand around and people began running for their vehicles.

The dark clouds moved off to the east.

I smiled all the way home, even though I arrived long after dark.

Was it worth the drive?

Nice place to walk the dog.

Oh yea.


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The gift of moonlight

I went impromptu adventuring last weekend, chasing weather with my camera.

You’d expect to see some evidence of that here.

And you will.

But early this morning I was standing in my own yard, because I failed to plan a better location.

Shivering, feet and fingers cold for the first time this season, the moon seemed stubbornly slow to work through the phases of it’s eclipse.

But then the moon smiled at me, blushing pink, and I realized what a wonderful thing it is,

to be able to stand in my backyard on a cold morning, and watch the moon turn red.

And, suddenly, I wasn’t impatient any more.


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Foggy glow

It all started, as things often do, with an early morning appointment.

For years Katie-girl got me up extra early and while we were outside doing her business I’d usually witness beautiful but fleeting things. Geese or swans flying low with bellies glowing in the early light. Full moons dipping below the branches of our trees. A fox slipping silently through the woods. The flick of a deer’s white tail. Wisps of fog dancing on the pond.

But I haven’t been out in the early morning light lately.

Last week, once our 7:30 a.m. oil change was completed, my sister and I were driving home just as the sun was trying to break through the fog. It was beautiful, and we looked at each other and said….”Where can we go to get pictures of this?”

And…lucky for us we were only one exit away from one of my favorite parks, Holly Recreation, where Katie and I used to camp and wander the trails.

I felt a twinge of grief as I contemplated visiting one of her parks without her. But as we entered the park I realized the best place for pictures would be down near the lake and there was a parking lot Katie and I hardly ever used that would work perfectly for morning fog photos.

I felt relieved. I could be in the park, but not in Katie’s favorite part where I would feel her loss the most. Progress ,on this grief journey, is often made with tiny steps.

We parked and walked up and down that section of the road, taking pictures of the sun rising above the water, and the fog through the trees.

The reflections were gorgeous and we probably looked like crazy old ladies as we giggled and called back and forth to “come here and look at this!”

And when our fingers were frozen and our feet were soggy we climbed back into the car laughing as we cranked the heat up and scrolled through the images on our phones, each one better than the one before.

You can’t beat a good morning adventure – Katie taught me that over and over and over again. I like to think she was with us that morning, saying “I told you mama! You have to get out of bed early in the morning to catch the best stuff!”

I know, little girl, I know.


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You’ve seen it all before

I had a chance visit my favorite park this week, a late afternoon decision.

You’ve seen images like this before. I’ve taken hundreds of images just like these.

But of course I took the camera.

And of course there were birds — that was the point, is almost always the point when I walk these trails.

And luckily the birds were hungry.

Very, very hungry.

And of course we had a very good time. Because, really, how could we not?

I think the birds had a good time too.

For the most part anyway.

So I’m hoping you don’t mind seeing images like this again. Because I never tire of taking them.


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A little bit of everything

Here in Michigan you can expect a little bit of everything with October’s weather. Kind of like an everything bagel.

I know I say it every year, but this year the autumn colors were spectacular. Truly amazing.

And we had lots of sun.

And some snow.

Then more sun.

And a bit of snow. And rain.

It was warmer than normal.

And then really cold.

But the days when the sun shown and the wind died down were truly delightful.

I don’t think we can expect November to be nearly as entertaining.

Gosh, that everything bagel sounds pretty good right about now. Toasted. With cream cheese please.


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It’s not goodbye

I’ve been thinking about the best way to share this, some eloquent words that capture the loss our family experienced this week. But there is no easy way.

My last post, Wordless Wednesday is an image I captured in May when my aunt and I were walking through Hudson Mills Park. She was looking for dogwood and trillium. I was trying to capture as much of the experience as she’d let me.

Which means most of my images were taken from behind.

We walked slower this spring than we had the year before, took the shorter trails, gauged whether a hill was too steep or manageable. We stopped to rest on convenient benches more often. There was, after all, no hurry. In fact there was more savoring the moments because we both knew it was our last spring together.

She’d been diagnosed with a terminal cancer and she had chosen not to take any treatment. They told her she’d have a good summer, and, right on schedule, she did.

My sister and brother came up, then my sister came up two more times. We visited her as often as we could. We attended her last symphony, brought her simple suppers rather than expecting the elaborate meals she has made for us our entire lifetimes. We swam with her at her community pool, walked in her beloved Mathi gardens and the University of Michigan Arboretum.

On our last visit, she sat in a wheelchair, pulling sheets of music for my sister and me to play, music she had written when her children were small. She sang along. We played music until she seemed tired, and then we talked just a bit. “Say Hi to Dad,” my sister said, “He’ll surely be waiting for you.”

It was a gift, she said, that she had these past months to spend with her children, with us, with her friends. And so that she could plan and arrange to make things as easy as possible for her family to carry on without her.

We all cried a bit, and then had a long, last hug.

This past Monday morning she left us to say hi to her brother, my dad, and to her husband, her mother, my mother, and so many other family members who had gone on ahead. And on Saturday we all said “see you later” at the most beautiful funeral I’ve ever attended.

She had, of course, planned it all, including her own words to all of us, the hymns to be sung, the prelude and postlude played by the incredible pianist, and the bagpipes played by my sister.

The time she spent with us was our gift as well. She was a gift to all of us, her family, her friends, musicians in her beloved symphony, her neighbors, the students she taught, the community band in which she played.

I can’t be sad, though I will miss her so much; she had a wonderful and joyous homecoming on Monday morning. And, as someone said at the funeral, she’s probably up there organizing heaven right now.

Thanks for all the good times, good meals, good conversation and good company, Aunt Becky. I’ll see you on down the road.