Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Two photo challenges in one

This week Cee’s black & white photo challenge is to get an image of an isolated object, and Nancy Merrill’s A Photo a Week challenge asks us to post a black and white image.

So this is a two for one kind of post.

I like black & white images that have clean delineation, almost graphic art. I really liked the light making the wing look like modern art. I thought about focusing more on the goose and less on the background.

I think there’s a way to mask out the goose and then smooth out the water behind it. But I haven’t figured that out yet. Doing that would make this even more like graphic art.

I don’t know though, I sort of like the reflection/shadow that is included in the first image.

What do you think?

Oh, there was this guy out there that day too.


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A musical smile

If you’re a Facebook friend of mine you know I’ve been working on a pesky Shostakovitch piece, Dance 1, for this Sunday’s community band concert. It’s hard. Not the key it’s arranged in, or, really, any particular part of it, done at a manageable tempo. But this one is presto, which translates to really really really fast. Please click on the link above, it’s a YouTube post of a group playing the same arrangement we’ll be doing, a three minute and eleven second thrill ride.

There’s a whole other page too.

I let this piece stress me out.

I’ve practiced many nights, starting at a slower tempo and working out difficult fingerings, going over and over passages until my fingers could remember what my eyes and brain couldn’t always coordinate. Every evening this past week I worked at a faster tempo.

I shouldn’t let playing music stress me. The whole idea behind a community band is to provide an opportunity for people to continue playing after school. People that aren’t professional musicians but who loved to play as young people have the chance to reconnect with others just like them, all working toward a common goal – make some music and have some fun.

In our band several generations are represented, and that’s special. We have people that some would label elderly and kids just getting their drivers licenses. This season I’m sitting between a tenth grade boy and a ninth grade girl. Sometimes the sheer drama of their lives overwhelms me. I’m not typically a lover of kids. Individually there have been some I really like, but mostly I think they’re best enjoyed at a healthy distance.

But here’s where this week’s smile comes from.

During a break.

Tuesday was the last rehearsal before our concert. Everyone was pretty worried about this particular piece. When the conductor asked us to pull out Dance 1 we all took a collective deep breath. And then we began. One hundred fifty beats per minute, and the music just soared. The runs climbed and dipped, the trills thrilled, the beat pulsed. And when we got to the end of page four the conductor put her baton down and sort of hugged herself.

And she smiled.

In the back row of clarinets there were quiet grins and a few high fives. Kids on both sides of me sat back satisfied. The ninth grader told me she liked sitting back there with us. I told her I liked having her next to me too. The tenth grader, who generally doesn’t engage with me actually looked at me and smiled.

Music brought a whole bunch of disparate people together. Music made us all work hard for a common goal. Music made us all, for that moment, beyond happy.

Music made us smile.


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My name is Dawn and I’m an email hoarder

I know I have a hard time throwing things away, especially if there’s even the most remote connection to someone or some event that I enjoy. Just look around my house and you’ll know I have a little problem.

But I’ve just discovered I’m an email hoarder too.

This week I got a warning from the god of gmail telling me that I was almost out of space and I either had to make space or buy more space. I didn’t know there was a limited amount of storage in gmail land, but the notice did remind me that lately I haven’t been keeping up and whole days go by when I don’t read or delete them.

Maybe, if I’m honest, several days of any given month go by with unread and unsorted messages.

Oh I’m not ignoring all of you. Well. I guess I am sort of. I do scan the list of emails daily, looking for a imminent crisis or a class I might enjoy, or an invitation to something fun, or a catchy blog post title.

Even then I sometimes just star it so I can find it later.

So I wasn’t that surprised to look at my gmail account and see I had over 9,000 emails sitting there taking up space. I figured if I hadn’t gone back to read them and nothing terrible had fallen out of the sky to dampen my day I could just delete a few thousand of them without looking.

I find it’s easier to toss things out if I don’t look.

So for the past few days I’ve been deleting, in batches of 100 because I don’t want to delete all 9000 emails – there are more recent ones I might want to read. Really. But then I realized that all of these ‘deleted’ emails were sitting in the TRASH, and my numbers of stored messages wasn’t going down, it was just getting reorganized.

The warning at the top of my email account said one of the ways I might lighten the load was to empty the trash. Sure. But I couldn’t find TRASH in the long list of stuff on the left. And I didn’t have the patience to dink around looking. I remembered from a long time ago that you had to do something more than just scroll, but I couldn’t remember exactly what.

So I kept deleting from the back of my email list and figured eventually the gmail garbage truck would come by and empty my trash.

But this morning I got mad looking at that warning, so I sat down with a cup of tea and a buch of determination and asked the internet – “Where is the trash in my gmail, and how the heck do I empty it?”

That internet is so smart! It popped right up with the answer, as it appears I am not the only one that couldn’t figure this out. I had 8,000 items in my trash which I quickly deleted permanently. The message warning me about space restrictions is gone.

And my tea isn’t even cold yet.

But I have to say if Google wasn’t trying to sell everybody more space don’t you think TRASH wouldn’t be hidden? Shame on you Google. Taking out the trash shouldn’t have been such an effort.

Even for this technically challenged senior citizen.

I put this pretty picture here as a reward for slogging through my rant. 🙂


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The zen of snow blowing

Early morning light shows promise.

Last night we got five or six inches of fluffy snow. Early in the morning, taking Katie out for her first foray into the yard I noticed, even in the dark, how beautiful everything looked. With no wind, and the sun just beginning to edge up into the sky, I could tell it was going to be a great day for blowing out the driveway.

What you say? No one enjoys snow removal?

Well, on a pretty morning, under bluing skies, with fluffy white poofs of snow hanging on the spruce trees and white birch glowing, being outside for any reason is just about perfect.

It’s going to be a pretty day!

And blowing snow out of the driveway is sort of peaceful. There’s a rhythm to it, up and down, back and forth. Mindful more than mindless, as I try not to spray snow and perhaps stones on my husband’s truck parked in front of the house.

There’s a beginning, a middle and an end which lends itself to a sense of order. You can see progress. You can get as creative or as efficient as you want. Sometimes creative is efficient.

The first run down the driveway determines all the rest.

So I cleaned up the driveway, and then, since I was already dressed for it, Katie and I went out to explore the back yard.

Hurry up mama!

We had a great time running around and looking for pretty stuff. Five inches of snow is the perfect amount for a sheltie to bury her head searching for treasure.

It’s right HERE mama!

I always wonder what she thinks she’s going to find under there. Apparently it’s something wonderful.

Darn, I was THIS close to finding it!

The yard was so pretty it was hard to go back inside.

Snow piled up on everything.

But Katie felt that since she had posed for me several times and since I hadn’t thought to bring any treats outside with me, well, we should probably head back to the house.

Race you!

So we did, but not without one last look back at the yard, dressed in it’s winter finery.

Sooooo pretty!

Almost makes staying north all winter worth it.

Typical winter in Michigan.

Almost.

We’ll come out to play again today sweetie.


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Valentine greetings

Katie here. I know some of you are at work today, others are shoveling out from the latest snowstorm. And a few of you are planning fun things to do with your Valentine later on tonight.

I figured you all could use a Valentine Smile so this week I’m doing mama’s Smile post.

My gift to all of you – a picture of me!

Happy Valentines Day everybody! I’m pretty sure you’re all smiling now!

And to my honey, Mr Reilly, down in Florida, I’m sending you special sheltie kisses sweetie!

Me, Reilly and his brother Denny.


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How much fun can a girl squish into a sunny day?

Katie here!

Hey, hey, hey, hey!!!!! Guess what? I am bored! For the last two years mama has taken me to warmer places to visit friends (and my beloved Reilly the Cowspot Dog) and to race around on the beach and hang out at my lake house and stuff.

Me, my boyfriend Reilly and his little brother Denny at the beach in Florida a couple years ago!

This year? Nothing.

Plus here in Michigan it’s been snowing and raining and sometimes it’s so cold I have to wear the dreaded booties! There’s hardly any time when it isn’t just yucky outside, and you know how important being outside is to me.

Before I got to explore mama made me sit for this picture.

Outside is my favorite place to be bar none. Well. Except when I’m in front of my full supper dish, then that’s my favorite place to be. But other than supper there’s no better place for this sheltie girl to hang out than outside with it’s wonderful smells and cool breeze.

I liked this bridge but mama said the shadows made it hard to photograph.

And sun. I haven’t seen the sun in a million years. Oh wait. We had one day last week when it stopped snowing and raining and freezing and the sun came out! Mama said we had to get cracking because we didn’t want to waste a single second of it!

Just me and my shadow.

So we jumped in my car and we raced to one of my parks. I don’t go to this one very often, it’s sort of not on the way to anywhere, but mama said we also had to go to a store that was near it, so it all worked out great.

Hey mama, you didn’t forget the treats, did you?

No one was out there, so we took a meander around to see what there was to see. Nothing amazing, but still it was pretty. I had fun mostly because she didn’t take too many pictures, and because I didn’t have to wear those stinking booties, and because she let me sniff stuff while she was busy taking pictures of not me.

Yes, mama, I will sit on this red bench for you. But hurry up, we’re wasting sunshine woman!

Mama already posted a couple of pictures from that walk, but I figured you really needed the sheltie perspective.

Then after we were done with the park mama took me to a store! I got to sniff all over, except for the cat side, cause they had a bunch of cats out in crates to get adopted and she figured I didn’t need to upset them. And she didn’t want to fall in love with a cat.

I agree mama should never fall in love with a cat!

Hey mama! Don’t you think I need a life jacket for next time we go on a boat ride?

I walked up and down the dog food aisles more than once, there were good sniffs there, but mama kept telling me that the food I picked out wasn’t good for me.

This smells especially good mama!

Well duh mama. The food you pick out for you isn’t always healthy either! And no one yanks on your collar and pulls you away! It’s OK for me to just smell the yumminess!

Mama let me walk around the store a long time, but the only thing she bought was some stuff for my arthritis. Yep, I’m an older princess now and I groan a little bit when I lie down at night. Mama already got me some meds to go with my breakfast, but a little something for the evening might be just the ticket.

I like the fox, but mama says I have too many toys already. Silly mama.

She looked at orthopedic beds too, but I wasn’t interested. I thought the fox toy would be more fun. I’m not all that old yet. Though when we finally got home I did fall asleep on my sofa for a long time.

I told mama it was just a power nap.

Still young enough to pose on a stump for my mama!


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Photo challenge: Depth of field

It’s a basic in photography, mastering the depth of field, the part of your photo that will be in focus. It took me years to be able to remember how to do this.

It finally clicked; the lower the Fstop (aperture) number the narrower the depth of field, which creates that wonderful blurry background we all love so much.

In this particular shot I found out that an aperture set at 4 (the lowest this lens will go) was just a little too narrow, I couldn’t get enough of the apple in front in focus for my taste. Going up to 4.5 did the trick for me.

You can find other examples of a narrow depth of field at the original post linked above, or you can see a couple of my favorites here and here.