Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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A very Covid Mother’s Day


Not having a mother still on this earth I hadn’t been paying attention to the upcoming celebration preparations. But today’s newscast reminds me that Sunday is Mother’s Day and that most people won’t be able to celebrate it in traditional ways.

Of course not.

This year most adults in this country will be separated from their moms by more than distance or time, the usual excuses not getting home to visit. Even some younger children, those who didn’t happen to be living with their mothers when all this started, likely won’t be celebrating with her this Sunday. They’ll be separated by the virus. By fear. By common sense.

But I bet there are plenty of creative ways to connect with her. Technology sure helps. At worst people can make coupons to send, dinner at a future date, for example, promises for time spent together when it’s safe again.

Flowers dropped off on the front porch would work too.

None of that will help my family have physical contact with our mom, as she went on ahead sixteen years ago. She’d be 91 now, and I have often wondered, during this pandemic, what she’d think about it all. I know we would have been scared for both of my folks, if they were still alive. I can feel the fear friends with elderly parents have, and I feel some guilty relief that I don’t have that worry.

And as I make weeks worth of meal plans and shop with my lengthy list these days, trying to limit my trips to the store, I remember my mother doing the same thing, for different reasons. It must have been hard feeding a family of six day after day. The endless scrimping and planning. Not wasting anything because there was never enough.

I know I have it much easier, though I sometimes feel the same way these days.

I don’t think we appreciated her for all the things she did for us, all the things she was for us, all those years ago. I wish she had lived longer because I think we were just beginning to realize what we owed her when she died.

Anyway…if you’re a techie and can figure out a way to get Zoom or some other app to connect to heaven…let me know.

I’d like to check in, express my appreciation, even if I can’t be with her, right now, to share a meal.


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Should have

Yesterday evening’s moon was 98% full as I noticed it come up, reflected in our breakfast room window. It was already too high to get a really great shot, though of course I tried.

I checked on line for the time it would set in the morning, 6:30 a.m., and figured I would get up and get out to a local park where a hill with no trees would provide me a perfect spot to watch it go down. I knew I’d need to be out there prior to 6 because it would become too light after that. 5:30 would be perfect.

Well.

When the dog wanted to go out at 4:30 I checked the moon. Thought about getting in the car soon and heading to the park. Thought about going back to bed. The bed won.

And when the dog got me up at 6, the time she normally gets her breakfast, I saw a big golden moon sinking into my tree limbs in the back yard. Too late to get to the park.

All I got was this:

Which in the end I think is pretty cool. But still, I should have got out of bed.

And then I opened up my email and saw Mike’s blog post about needing to be in the environment to capture the landscape. So appropriate. Thanks Mike. If it’s a clear night you know where I’ll be tomorrow morning.


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Can’t help but smile

May is my favorite month here in Michigan. The grass greens up, the spring flowers bloom, the trees begin to leaf out in that pretty spring lime green, the weather isn’t hot, or dry, or cold, and it doesn’t (usually) snow.

You may need to open this on a bigger screen to see the love birds in the redbud tree.

There’s so much potential. The gardens are still in the planning stages, stuff hasn’t died or rotten on the vine yet. The deer haven’t eaten all the greens, the ground hog hasn’t eaten the green beans and there are big, juicy tomatoes on the vines in our anticipatory imaginations.

And my summer birds come back to the feeder.

This week the orioles came in for the summer. I put my feeder up after reading that others in my area had seen them. Four hours later the first male baltimore oriole tentatively checked it out.

Is that grape jelly down there?

I was thrilled and couldn’t stop smiling.

Hope you got my good side, lady!

They are such beautiful birds, it’s hard to miss those colors as they fly through the yard. And it’s hard to miss their anxious call too, that loud crackling sound they make when they’re unhappy about something. I always know when they’re in the trees above me as I’m filling the feeders.

This year I have another visitor to the oriole feeder too. I’ve never seen an orchard oriole before, in fact I never heard of them until a couple years ago when a friend in New York state mentioned having them.

Orchard orioles are a darker, rusty orange.

He is very skittish and I’ve only been able to grab pictures once – I was already standing still in the house taking pictures when he arrived. If he’s at the feeder and I move to pick up my camera he flies off. So, for now I’m sitting still when they arrive and just enjoying them.

I was out in the yard yesterday afternoon and saw the baltimore oriole, the orchard oriole and a goldfinch sharing the feeder. I think they were taunting me because I didn’t have my camera. It sure was beautiful to watch though.

But this morning, the early morning sky was lighting up just the tips of the trees and I was outside trying to capture the magic…

The sun lit, just for a moment, the very tips of the trees across the street.


…when up over my head, high up in the birch tree I heard that now familiar call.

Hey lady! Go back inside, you’re making me nervous and I want my breakfast!

Good morning Mr. Oriole! Welcome to my yard and the grape jelly in your newly filled feeder! Have a good day!

Geeze, I thought she’d NEVER go inside! I was starving up there in that tree!

I know he will. Little stinker.

What’s that over there?


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The joke’s on mama

Katie here. Again. I just couldn’t resist telling you a funny story about mama. You remember that yesterday I got to go to my park and we walked with Aunt Karen and Deuce and the new puppy Ace?

Ok, I admit it. They’re both adorable.

And the dandelions were all in bloom and mama wanted to do my annual yellow flower photo shoot but it was so hot she decided she’d bring me back after supper to do it?

Aunt Karen took this one, I was trying to get her to make my mama stop cause it was HOT out!

Well, we did go back in the evening. And did you know that dandelions close up when the sun goes down? Mama did not.

Yep, the flowers are all closing up mama!

So we pull into the parking lot and she realizes the field is not filled with yellow like it had been during mid-day. And she’s trying to get me to hurry out to the softball field before they close up entirely.

There was a cool breeze and it was lovely out there!

But I like to sniff things. And perhaps pee on something. Or both.

Plus I am thirteen, mama! Give me a break. Oh wait…yes I was actually prancing and running around because it was a lot cooler than it had been earlier.

Here’s a pretty one, right here, mama!

I kind of liked it.

In fact I didn’t mind posing at all with what few dandelions we could find. I even went off and found a few for her myself.

Can we go home now mama? I think the sun went to bed.

She’s silly, my mama, but I guess I’ll keep her.

The car’s over that way, mama.


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A little attention please!

Katie here.

First of all, how long has it been since you’ve heard from me? I asked mama very politely to please go back and look and has she done it? No! But I can tell you it’s been very very long time in dog years.

Mama! I never get to do anything fun!

And it’s not as if I have nothing to share with you, why it’s been…well…come to think of it, it’s been quite boring around here! Mama and daddy are around more than usual and you’d think that would spice things up a bit but in reality having them around so much just interferes with my naps.

I haven’t been anywhere special since I went to the vet and got my teeth cleaned way back in the middle of March! That was no fun, they pulled six teeth! Mama felt really bad. I made sure to mope around for a day to make her feel extra sad.

The most exciting thing I do is sit around in my yard on my princess pillow.

But I bounced back because I am a sheltie and shelties definitely bounce.

Anyway, since then not to much has gone on. Mama took me to my park (finally!) last week. It was really windy and cold. I thought it was perfect. Most of the pictures in today’s blog are from that walk.

I’m getting a little shaggy with no spa day in sight!

Mama said I looked extra beautiful in the breeze because I haven’t been able to go get my furs cut. Don’t tell anyone, but that’s just fine with me. I am not enamored with the whole bath thing. I would like to get my nails done though.

This sure feels good!

Mama tried to get photos of me when the wind was coming from all directions and my fur was going in all directions too. She said it wasn’t easy.

How often you gonna try for the perfect wind-swept image mama?

Mostly she says it’s not easy because I have that one shot, one treat rule, right? So I’d keep getting up and coming over to her for my treat just when she was going to get the perfect shot. So she says.

They planted daffodils at the entrance to my park!

Being deaf has it’s advantages you know. Not hearing mama say “STAY!” is one of them. Oh yea, she uses the hand signals too, but I figure her broken finger makes that signal void. You know what I mean?

This is a really pretty park, I don’t know why mama needs to lollygag around taking pictures though.

So other than that walk it’s hasn’t been very exciting. It’s getting warmer and mama is busy weeding and stuff. I’d just as soon hang out in the house. If she wants to go sit on my deck, well that’s good, I’ll go do that. Mama says that’s more fun anyway.

It’s kinda nice right here on my deck!

And she went camping last night, out in the yard. I didn’t want to go do that either. Made mama very sad. So to cheer her up I agreed to go to my park this morning and see my Aunt Karen and her boy Deuce and go for a little walk together.

Boy was I in for a surprise! Meet Ace! Deuce has a little brother! This is the only picture you will see of the two of us together.

Ace is a 10 week old cocker spaniel.

Let’s just say maybe we’re not going to be best friends. At least not right now. I imagine he’ll grow up to be OK, after all, his brother Deuce is one of my best friends! Maybe I’ll go for another walk with him when he’s about seven. Yea. Seven is a good age.

Mama took a bunch of pictures of him. I was sort of jealous…I’m sure you’ll see all sorts of cuteness in an upcoming blog.

Ace, during a brief moment of stillness.

But remember…I’m the princess and I get final say on what she posts…so if he’s too cute I might have to get out my veto pen. Of course she’d have to use it, I don’t have thumbs.

Mama said we might go back tonight when it’s cooler and do my dandelion photo shoot. I don’t know about that. We’ll see how she’s planning on paying me.

Anyway, that little guy about wore me out and I need some serious napping. I think I’ll send mama out to weed some more.

Talk later, your park advisor and senior puppy mentor, Katie-girl

Me today at my park, before I knew there was a little guy coming on my walk!


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Breakfast – the most important meal of the day

After a few days of nothing but clouds and rain it was a relief to see the sun rising this morning. Apparently the birds in my backyard were happy too, as the feeder was as busy as Grand Central Station during the morning commute.

Not a great picture, but it makes the point that there was much coming and going this morning!

Everybody was flying in to grab a seed, though most of them were chased out by the next wave of incoming.

He would have stayed longer but at least he got some ‘to-go.’

The little birds, the chickadee, titmouse and nuthatch were mostly rousted out by bigger birds.

Scored one seed, will be back for more when it’s quieter.

Meanwhile, on the deck, someone else is getting a drink.

Always something good to drink here.

And another was just watching all the goings-on.

It’s way too busy for me on that feeder!

I was standing in the breakfast room, trying to get shots around all the distractions, lots of feeders, the dog in her pen, the railings were all things the camera wanted to focus on rather than the birds themselves.

But, regardless of my shortcomings, the birds kept on giving me fun images, even if most of them were never going to be stored on my memory card.

Incoming!

The comings and going were constant.

Next!

Just when one bird got comfortable and was enjoying breakfast another, usually larger and often noisier, swooped in and took over.

The biggest of all was this guy.

A large male grackle arrives late to the meal but manages to get a seat at the table.

He made quite a show, puffing up when he saw anyone else attempt to move in on him…

Don’t even try it!

…and giving the evil eye if the puffing up didn’t work.

The ‘look’ usually worked.

Still, a foolish little goldfinch wasn’t paying attention.

La, la, la…happy little goldfinch coming in for brunch.

He made a couple of circles, surveying the situation.

Maybe if I circle behind him I can squeeze in.

He wasn’t about to give up.

Maybe from this angle…

But in the end the poor guy had to concede that he was no match for the huge and boisterous crackle. After all, there are other feeders out there.

Never mind. I wasn’t that hungry anyway.

So in the end, for that moment anyway, the bully grackle won.

And I’ll eat my fill before I leave too.

But the little birds are very patient and once the big guys left, they happily settled down to the leftovers.

Looks like it’s all clear. Let’s eat!


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Spring is bustin’ out all over

Motivated by the fact I promised a running buddy that I’d walk a virtual 5K while she ran a half marathon this coming weekend, I went out to a local park on Monday to see how walking further than from the couch to the fridge would feel.

Before my walk Tuesday I stopped by the pond to see how my favorite line of trees looked in the morning light.

I haven’t been out there to walk on the bike path since I did the CRIM race back in August. The race where I fell at the end and broke my finger. A finger injury seemed a good excuse not to exercise for, well, eight months. Or so.

I won’t lie and say it was easy, but it wasn’t really hard either. Monday I only walked 3.1 miles, the length of a 5K, just to see what my time was. Yep…moseying along at my comfortable pace it took me an hour. I’m not really in race condition, but at least I was out there. Right?

I don’t know why I took this picture other than the lights for the parking lot which is over the hill looked cool coming out of the grasses. And the sky was neat too.

And while I was out there trying hard not to take pictures with my phone, which slows me down but also makes me happy, I noticed that spring was just about to pop and I wished I had my regular camera. So right then and there, before I turned around at the 1.5 mile marker I decided I’d go back the next day, Tuesday, with my camera and go just a little bit further.

I enjoy the sky bouncing off the top of this hill almost every time I walk at this park.

Because, you see, I saw cowslips in bloom along a stream at the 1.25 mile marker, but they weren’t in a spot that was easy to reach. And I knew, at mile 2.1 there was a marsh that would be full of them. And a photo of those cowslips (also known as marsh marigolds) was my goal.

Other stuff also caught my eye.

Of course I saw plenty of other pretty things on my way back into the woods. Plenty of things that were (almost) as good as marsh marigolds in bloom in the morning sun.

Lots of these little guys along the edge of the woods.

In fact, I’m sharing a few of them here. Surprise!

Tuesday I went early in the morning, around 8, and it was a bit nippy, but I warmed right up as I walked. There’s a 1 mile walk down a big hill, out in the open that’s always colder than it is once you get back into the woods. I just pulled my hands into my sleeves when I wasn’t shooting an image. Which turned out to be rare moments.

The light was really nice, making the skunk cabbage glow.

I like the open part of the path, even though it runs next to a road, because you get to see hills with golden grass and a view of the sky.

Once you’re in the woods there’s not a lot of sky to see, but there are oh so many other things to notice if you take the time. I’m always reminding myself how lucky I am to have several parks like this near.

Lots of these guys too, just beginning to open up their umbrellas. Which is good, because it’s going to rain tonight.

There were a few people out, mainly on bikes, or jogging. A few other walkers, but everyone was very careful to keep their social distance. We just smiled and nodded at each other as we went by.

These two guys were the nosiest people! I heard them coming from miles away. Talking loudly while riding fast, they were soon out of earshot again.

I didn’t see anyone else out there with a camera. They all seemed to be out there for exercise. Hmmmm….I thought maybe I’d get exercise credit…but my phone, which was tracking my walk, sounded more and more condescending as the walk went on.

These two women had five dogs between them. I’ve seen them out there before, all the dogs did great, only one growled at me. 🙂

“Total distance is 1 mile, total time is 21 minutes, 9 seconds.” Well that’s a little slow even for me. But my excuse was that I took a couple pictures of the hills, and the sky, and well, you know.

I LOVED this view across the wetlands, the red twigged dogwood and the birch and the clouds. I had to crawl through bushes to get it. Worth it though.

“Total distance is 2 miles, split pace is 25 minutes 49 seconds.” Maybe I should pick up the pace, but that mile is my favorite mile back in the woods and the sun was shining off the old beach leaves.

Now SHE gets points for exercising.

“Total distance is 3 miles, split pace is 35 minutes 58 seconds.” Well, there were the cowslips in the third mile. I spent a lot of time there. So really, I wasn’t walking that slow. Really.

Bet you never knew a swamp could look so pretty!

Total distance is 4 miles, split pace is….not worth telling you about.” 🙂

Anyway, maybe I can’t claim this walk was exercise, but I can claim that it was a lot of fun and I got some beautiful images. Including the one that posted yesterday for Wordless Wednesday. I’ll wait while you pop over there to check it out if you haven’t seen it yet.

I got serenaded (or warned off) by a lot of these guys.

I was almost back at the car when I heard the crane. They make a very distinctive sound. I couldn’t see him, but I got my camera ready, and darn if he didn’t come my way. He went to the east of me, quite a ways away and I got some shots, but nothing spectacular. Still he made me smile.

Then he did a big u-turn and flew back toward me, right over my head! It was really, really cool.

What? You thought I’d put a picture of the crane here?

So that was the end to my 4 point something mile walk. I felt like the whole thing was a huge success, regardless of my turtle speed. Oh…and the cowslips, the marsh marigolds? Did I get a shot of them?

Sun shines on forest gold.

Well of course I did. And I hope they make you smile as much as they did me.

Almost guaranteed that they will.

Last year’s beech tree, this year’s moss both glow.


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What’s there to smile about?

I think we’re in week 5 of our stay-at-home executive order. Maybe it’s week 6. All the days run together into an endless week highlighted by a trip to the grocery store dolled up in mask and gloves. The order was set to expire at the end of April, but Friday the governor extended it until May 15th. I think that will make it 8 weeks total.

Isn’t this a beautiful barn?

But as she extended it she also loosened it a bit, allowing golf and boating, and letting people go to their up north cabins. Still no nonessential retail stores, though curbside delivery is OK, no sit down restaurants, no movie theaters, no dog groomers, no hair salons. But we can move around more as long as we continue to practice safe distancing.

This one is beautiful too, and there were a bunch of horses in the pasture next to it, but it was on a busy road and I took this through the windshield, no time to compose something better.

So I felt legit driving around in the country, by myself, looking for my favorite things – barns. Getting out and looking for interesting things to photograph isn’t exactly essential to most people. But it’s starting to feel that way to me.

All business on the front, derelict in the back.

I didn’t go far, just barely north and west, far enough to get out of town and into flat farmland, but not so far that I felt like I was taking advantage of any leniency in our guidelines. And not so far that I’d have to fill up at a gas station.

This one was cute.

The sky wasn’t very interesting, there was a storm headed our way and I had hoped for more, but at least it wasn’t raining. And since it was our first day of “freedom” the roads were busier than I’d hoped.

Old wagon compliments old barn.

It’s hard to get pictures of barns if there’s traffic. Finding a great barn that also has parking is nearly impossible. If I’m on empty dirt country roads I can just stop in the middle of the road and grab a shot. Not so easy to do on a paved busy road.

Almost interchangeable with the last one.

Still I got several interesting barns to add to my collection. And yea, I caught you smiling while you looked at these. Barns are almost guaranteed to produce smiles, unless you’re the one that has to muck out the stalls.

So I’ve been told.

I turned around to get this one, loved the patina on it.