Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Smiling in the rain

Seems like the weather all across the country has gone crazy. Temperatures over 100F (37.7C) in Oregon where it’s usually cool and wet. Flash flood producing rains here in lower Michigan and elsewhere.

At first I thought the only barn photos I’d get would be from the Plaza reststops on the turnpike.

Everything here is soggy from days and days of constant rain, and it’s been raining all day today too. You’d think I’d be kind of depressed by all the dark skies and thick humid air. But I’m not. In fact I’m finding it sort of cozy to be curled up inside on the sofa listening to rain on the windows.

Right up against a winding, hilly road, I’m surprised it hasn’t been hit and taken out by a truck.

There’s no pressure to go out and weed, though that’s going to be a huge job once it stops raining. No walks in the park, no bike rides that I never seem to get to. Just lots of time to attend meetings and get clerical stuff done for the two nonprofits where I volunteer.

These first images are from Pennsylvania, with picturesque farms tucked away in the mountains.

Even Katie seems content to nap. Though she’s starting to hint that she’d like to post here soon. She says she has stuff to say. Of course she does. She’s a sheltie.

I loved the cows in the front yard.

But this post was supposed to be about what made me smile lately, so let me tell you about a impromtu trip I made to Baltimore this past weekend.

Perfectly iconic farm.

The Truck Safety Coalition was putting on a small local lunch with a couple of important objectives. One, it was an opportunity for the volunteers local to that area to get together after the long Covid shutdown. And two, we just hired a new Executive Director, and he would be attending, so it was something of a welcome lunch.

In Ohio, the wheat was ripening.

My husband and I decided to go. Katie had been eating well for almost a month and seemed like her old self. I booked her for 4 nights at camp. We planned on driving the nine hour trip, my husband’s first excursion since early 2020.

I had great weather, no significant rain the whole weekend.

Then, 2 days before our departure Katie decided she no longer liked the food she’d happily been eating. We began to hand feed her, one kibble bit at a time. Sometimes she wanted it dry. Sometimes she wanted it wet. Sometimes she’d only eat it if it was soggy.

No way she could go to camp.

Wide open flat vistas.

So husband stayed home with her and I went alone. I spread the trip over two days each way, and most of it was on either the Ohio or Pennsylvania turnpike. As you might imagine I saw lots of beautiful barns. But it was such a hassle to get on and off the turnpike, particularly in Ohio, that on the way over I didn’t stop or take a single photo.

My last day of driving was such a pretty day.

But, after a wonderful weekend among friends, on the way home I stopped twice, once in Pennsylvania and once in Ohio. Each time I drove a big country block and stopped for whatever barns I could find, then jumped right back on the turnpike again.

Red barns and golden wheat sure were pretty.

So the images in this post are from those two wanderings. I can’t show you the images I took at the lunch because I don’t have permission from any of those people to go public. Plus, it was just a bunch of pictures of people most of you don’t know eating and talking and laughing.

Add in some orange ditch lilies and you can’t help but stop for a photo!

Suffice it to say it was wonderful to be back with my Truck Safety Family, though sadly we had two new families represented. There are always new families and that’s the part that doesn’t make me smile.

But barns? Barns will always put a big ole grin on my face.

This one was a gift shop that wasn’t open when I drove by. The better not to spend more money!


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Surprise around the corner

I went out this week intent on getting images of a couple barns I’d seen on my way back from Selma. It wasn’t a great day for photography, grey with a flat and boring sky. Not great light. Kind of drizzling.

I took a picture of this barn 2 years ago, through my car windshield. This time I parked in it’s driveway and got out.

But it wasn’t a great day for hanging at the lake or hiking up a mountain either, so I figured what the heck, I’d go get those barns.

I almost didn’t get out of the car for this one, but it turned out to be pretty interesting with it’s drooping roof and missing siding.

And after that second one I headed down an unfamiliar road in the direction I figured Auburn would be. I turned left when the road ended because that felt like the right direction to go.

Such stately buildings, all red brick and white trim.

And noticed all these beautiful buildings behind a black wrought iron fence. I figured it was a military school of some sort. And then I saw this house and the sign in front of it.

This is Booker T. Washington’s home. Can you guess, now, where I was?

I began to look for a place to turn around and park. Because it’s not every day you accidently stumble upon Tuskegee University.

The entrance to the university.

And you for sure as heck can’t just drive right on past it. Even if it is drizzling and cold and getting dark. I would love to go on a tour of the house, and the university. I need to do some investigating and find out if there are such things.

Did you know he had 3 wives?

Meanwhile I’ve ordered Booker T. Washington’s autobiography. I want to know more about his children too, and what they did with their lives. I hope I can find that.

This woman sounds fascinating too.

You just never know where you’ll end up when you go barn hunting.

That’s for sure.

Barns, barns, everywhere a barn.


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Window of Opportunity

There was a weather window of opportunity and I took it and ran. In between major storms crossing the country were a couple of snow free days.

Interesting sky made me stop in mid-Indiana farm country.

It’s fourteen driving hours from my home in Michigan to our lake house in Alabama. And that’s if I only stop for gas and bathroom breaks.

Can’t resist a red barn glowing in what little light there was.

Seriously? What are the odds I only stop for gas and bathroom breaks?

The the sun began to fight it’s way through the clouds and this farm lit up.

Either way that’s two long days of driving, and this trip I had a meeting to attend virtually too. That’s an hour a half spent sitting in a parking lot while on the phone, making no Southerly progress.

They must have had an ice storm the day before, when the sun came out I could see the trees were covered in thick ice.


But on the whole I had a nice drive, the roads weren’t bad, traffic wasn’t horrible, and I got to see some pretty stuff along the way.

I stopped only five hours away from home but after more than seven hours of traveling, in Columbus Indiana. After checking into a room, I went out looking for something to eat. I ended up following the road right into the next town over, Seymour.

The bridge looking back toward the west.

Which happens to have a stinking cute bridge that perfectly frames their county courthouse as you travel west to east. I didn’t get a photo of that because I didn’t have my camera with me that evening, and because there was nowhere to park. So you’ll have to image driving up over a winding entrance to the bridge, and bursting out at the top to see the tower of the courthouse framed in the red tubes of the bridge.

An almost whimsical building, with fussy details and beautiful colors.

I went back to Seymour the next morning, found a place to park in town and explored the bridge, and the courthouse grounds.

This modern sculpture next to the more victorian architecture of the courthouse struck me.

I couldn’t resist checking out the tall sculpture, even though it meant more walking and it was a bitter 17F degrees.

Reaching toward the sky.

Turns out it is the county’s homage to their fallen war veterans. The interior walls are scribed with names and dates. And letters home.

There were long letters, and short, each with the name and date of death of the author. Some were killed only days after sending the letter home.

It was heartbreaking.

A grandson’s love.

After spending almost an hour wandering Seymour I figured I’d never make it to Alabama at the rate I was moving south, and I got back in the car, resolute not to stop again until I needed gas.

Five miles down the freeway I glanced to my left and saw white farms shrouded in a layer of fog rising from the snowy fields under a blue sky. And there was an exit right in front of
me.

Couldn’t NOT stop.

The fog was freezing thick on everything.

Nature’s art.

I was on a narrow country road with not another person or car in sight. So I stopped for quite a long time.

Frosty fencing.

But I knew time was flying by and I’d only progressed a few miles down the road, so as the sun rose I tore myself away, and headed back toward the freeway.

One more image. Really, only one more this entire trip. 🙂

By focusing on the road and not the pretty sights I finally made it to Kentucky.

Kentucky had snow on the ground! I chose to think of it as cotton instead.

But do you know what they have a lot of in Kentucky? Yes, you are right.

Saw this guy from the freeway, and there was an exit right there!

I only drove a couple miles down one little road which was running right next to the freeway and I found three barns.

A little jewel.

I call that a worthwhile diversion.

I turned around here, I’m sure there would have been more just over this hill.

Someday I’m going to have to visit Kentucky instead of just travel through it.

And then there’s Tennessee…

I always enjoy this sculpture at the Tennessee welcome center just across the state line from Kentucky.

… which thankfully is a narrow state if you’re traveling north or south. So I could feel like I was finally there when I got to the Huntsville Alabama welcome center.

Celebrating Alabama’s contribution to space exploration.

Of course it was a false sense of being home. I still had four hours of driving to go.

Welcome home, ya’ll.

By the time I made it all the way to the house it was dark, so no views of my lake. But I knew it was out there, and that was all that mattered.

I had a great trip down, and for those of you wondering where Katie is on this grand adventure, well, she is having some dad time at home. I thought about bringing her, she hasn’t had an adventure in a long time, but mama needs to get some sleep and Katie is a persistent little girl who has decided she wants her breakfast somewhere between 2:30 and 4:00 a.m. Every single day.

All I have to say is good luck daddy!

Remember you can make any image bigger just by clicking on it. I’ll see what I can find pretty down here, it’s raining this morning, but it’s not snow, so that’s a win in my book.

Talk later, as my girl says, time for mama to take a nap.

Edit: I thought that grey barn felt familiar. Turns out 2 of the three I found on that road this trip were featured in a post I did in June of 2018 on my way down to Alabama!


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Escape to the lake side

Here it is Saturday already, and I’ve inadvertently left you hanging on my last two posts. Wednesday many of you wanted to know, “What IS that?”

What??

and in the post before that you wondered where I went on my little mini adventure.

From a crispy but beautiful morning.

Both posts were related to the same adventure I was inspired to take last weekend, on our one completely sunny day so far this year. After so much rain, snow and dark skies I eagerly set out early Saturday morning anticipating bright blue skies and endless sun, looking for something magnificent to photograph.

But, as those of you who have been reading know, I got tangled up in beautiful frost before I made it more than a couple miles away from the house. Not a bad thing, you understand, but it certainly slowed me down.

So nice to see sunlight!

My first stop was Katie’s park right in my own town, where the tall grasses were shining. The Wordless Wednesday post was in the parking lot there, a car had driven over the unplowed lot, probably the day before, and then deer had crossed that track. In the early morning light what was concave appeared to be convex and I couldn’t resist capturing the image.

As to where I went next? Well, I had no destination in mind, and even though the sky was bright blue and there was still a little snow on the ground, as I drove nothing in particular caught my eye. So I kept going.

Surely I can find pretty stuff on a day like this!

Eventually I found myself half way to my favorite lake, so I went for it and headed for Warren Dunes State Park, someplace I’ve always wanted to visit.

I’ve always liked images of sand and snow. Blue sky doesn’t hurt either.

It’s down near the Michigan/Indiana border, quite near Chicago. I didn’t know what to expect, but the first sight of the giant dune sure made me smile.

It’s a long way to the top.

I watched families as they trudged up the dune or ran back down. Everyone was having a lot of fun on a chilly but sunny Saturday afternoon.

A long line of trees led to the water.

Of course I couldn’t be at Lake Michigan and not walk on the beach, even though the sun was beginning to descend and the shadows were growing longer.

Pretty patterns.

So I headed down the beach, just for a bit, so that I could say hello to my lake. There weren’t many people out there, the wind was picking up and my fingers were chilled. But I know there’s always something pretty to photograph when you’re walking on a Great Lakes beach.

A chilly afternoon on a beautiful beach.

And of course there was.

Ripples in the sand, driftwood, and the brilliant sky.

Soon enough, though, I knew I should head for home. I hadn’t seen the St. Joseph lighthouse, something I really hoped I would have time for, but it was 30 minutes further south, the wrong direction. I checked to see what lighthouses might be north of me and found one near Saugatuck, not so far away. I put it in my phone and headed out.

Not real, but still pretty.

Turns out it was a replica of a lighthouse, tiny, being used for educational purposes. But it was still photogenic. As was the giant tug boat moored next to it.

All prettied up in festive holiday colors.

It wasn’t what I was hoping for, but what the heck, it was still an adventure, so after a couple shots I headed toward where I thought the freeway to home should be.

I was wrong, and ended up lost in Holland, which turns out to have several murals painted on the sides of it’s downtown businesses. I only stopped for one, because it had a parking lot where I could park and get my bearings, study the map, and set a true course for home.

One mural in Holland, there were more.

Early that morning I set out to find some barns, always a goal of mine on any adventure. I didn’t find any on the way over to the lake, not because they weren’t there, I suppose, but because my heart needed something more.

The last light of day made the barns glow.

Satisfied by a visit to my lake, I found several, all red, on my trip back home.

Worth stopping for.

Since last Saturday we haven’t had another day that was all sunny. No bright blue sky, no warming rays.

Just waiting for me to find it.

But I know we will again someday. And I hope, when the sun shines, I’ll be off on another adventure.

There’s always my lake.

You just never know where or when.

Every sunset promises a new tomorrow.


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Comfort music

Christmas is right around the corner, and people are talking about how they’re not ready, have so much more to do, cooking, shopping, wrapping. I smile in sympathy but I don’t really get it. Especially this year.

This barn and other outbuildings are on land that is for sale, zoned commercial. So it won’t be here for much longer. I’m glad I got an image to preserve it.

Even without covid my family is small and doesn’t travel that much. We don’t do so much for Christmas anymore, though Thanksgiving is a big deal. I mailed the couple of boxes I needed to more than a week ago. I bought the ingredients for our simple Christmas supper last week.

The barns on this particular barn hunt came in many colors.

The thing I’m looking forward to most is a Christmas nap. I wonder if that shows my age? Still, it can get a little sad when the world seems hyped up and you aren’t. So yesterday I decided to go out looking for a few barns. Sort of a comfort photo hunt of sorts.

Not something you see every day, a blue barn.

And along the way I listened to XM radio, station 73, Traditional Holiday, humming along to music that my folks would have listened to back in the 50s, and some that we listed to in the 60s and 70s too.

I liked the red tractor in front of this red barn. I turned around to get it.

I remember my mom commenting that she wished they played Christmas music for awhile after the big day because she didn’t have time before it to listen. I feel lucky that I have all the time in the world to enjoy these oldies.

I want to go back when the light is better and see if I can figure out what was painted on this barn.

People like Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Torme, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, Eartha Kitt, Perry Como, Bing Crosby, Peggy Lee, Rosemary Clooney and Jo Stafford, groups like The Four Seasons and The Supremes, instrumentals from the likes of The London Pops, Percy Faith and Oscar Peterson.

It was a gray and rainy day. This farm seemed to sit so naturally in the landscape.

I heard so many pieces that we’ve played at our own holiday concerts, and I could imagine, and remember what it felt like to play again. The music did what music is intended to do, lifted my spirts and I arrived home after a couple of hours of Christmas music and barns smiling.

My favorite capture. A photogenic green barn!

I hope you are all smiling too, no matter what your holidays will look like. Here’s to spending time together, in person if it’s safe, virtually if it’s not. And here’s to looking forward to 2021. May it bring us all more smiles than frowns.

Classic


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A little barn magic

A few weeks ago husband and I were over near Lansing Michigan picking up a leftover campaign sign and I noticed the area was full of beautiful barns. And me with no camera. So I vowed that one day I’d go back and see what I could gather for my collection.

Yesterday was sunny, and I didn’t have any commitments, so it seemed like the perfect barn collecting kind of day.

On the way over there I passed a barn I showed you last summer. It was so pretty in the morning light that I had to stop and grab another couple shots. I’m sure you won’t mind seeing it again either.

This is one of my favorite barns because it’s off by itself and it has this tree and photogenic fence. Plus there’s somewhere safe to park.

The hardest thing about hunting for barns is that you might see them, off across a field, or down a road, but there’s often no safe place to park. I love lonely dirt roads where you have time to park on the road, stand just outside your car and grab a shot before anyone else comes along.

Yesterday wasn’t like that.

No, yesterday almost all the roads were paved, and some of them were way too busy to be stopping. No shoulders either, though I generally don’t like parking on the shoulders of a busy road and will forgo the image if that’s the only parking option.

But some roads, though paved, were totally empty. And it helped that I was out there early, searching for the morning light, before too many people were up and about.

Sometimes the whole farm, shot from across their field, and on a side road, is pretty too.

I love farms. Even when I can’t get the shot I am always glad I saw it.

I caught the morning light glinting off this orange equipment out of the corner of my eye. I turned around and went back for it.

But I’m also aware these are people’s homes and maybe they wouldn’t be happy to have a barn stalker driving back and forth in front of their property. Not sure how they’d feel about me parking in their driveway and walking down their lane to get a better angle.

So I don’t do that.

Sometimes all I can get is a quick, crooked shot almost out of the frame, fixable once I get home.

I guess most people would be happy that someone found their barns, mostly old and sometimes falling down, beautiful. But I don’t know how I’d answer the question, “What are you going to do with the picture?” if they asked. Because the answer really is, ‘nothing, I just like looking at them.”

This was on a dirt road, with manicured lawn all around the outbuildings.

I do. Last night I made a slide show out of several images I’ve taken over the years and sat quite contentedly watching them go by. I can’t remember where some of them were, but I sure like looking at them.

Overgrown by trees, it was still a pretty barn.

Yesterday I could have used a few clouds in the sky to add interest. Some of my favorite barn shots are those with big fluffy white clouds hanging low over red or grey barns. But I had to settle for crystle clear blue sky yesterday.

My favorite barn from yesterday’s adventure, and the reason I went back after seeing it weeks ago.

Oh darn.

This one is hanging on, fighting gravity.

I had fun, spent a few hours driving around in the country, and grabbed a few beautiful barns for my collection.

Barns aren’t always red. This one glowed and I had to go back and forth a few times because it was on a busy road. By then the cows that were in the yard had moved off for breakfast. You’ll have to imagine them there.

Kind of a perfect morning.

All barns are beautiful


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I wish things were easy

Hmmmm…that title makes it seem like this is going to be a deep, heavy conversation about something important.

It’s not.

It’s just that with my new laptop I have a steep learning curve and here’s my latest problem.

A couple weeks ago I took some pictures of my birds (not a surprise) and in particular a juvinile rose breasted grossbeak that was adorable. (I think anyway). And when I went to download those pictures to a specific folder on my laptop I found that some of the numbered images had the same number as older things in that file (maybe a new card, I don’t know) and I panicked and somehow hit something and the new images I just took went somewhere and I have no idea where.

This laptop downloads pretty automatically, I insert the card and it pulls the most recent and not already downloaded images up, I can then cut and paste those into a file of my choice. But once they’ve been downloaded the laptop won’t access them again. It only ever shows me the stuff that’s new.

My old laptop would show me everything on the card regardless of whether it had already been uploaded. Sometimes that was a pain. But sometimes it was handy. Like now.

So I thought about just using the old laptop, finding the image I wanted, uploading that to the old computer and then emailing it to myself for download onto the new computer.

Brilliant, right?

Except the reason I have a new computer is that the hard drive is filled on the old one. And it won’t let me download anything.

So…unless someone has a good idea, and I’m sure there is one out there, I think I have to delete a bunch of stuff on the old computer and then download the picture I want to it.

What do you think? Of course the longer I stall and the more pictures I take, the harder it will be for me to find the one I would like to salvage. So I better get a move on.

If you read all the way to the bottom of this ramble, I’ve posted a picture of a pretty barn as a reward.


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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.


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The last smile post of 2019 plus Nancy’s photo challenge: Clouds

You wouldn’t think heavy weather would be the underlying reason for smiles. And unless you have a camera and a habit of watching the sky it probably isn’t.

The first image I got this morning.

This week’s smile comes to you in conjunction with Nancy’s weekly photo challenge where she asked for images of clouds.

I loved the gold of the shorn corn field against the navy of the angry sky.

Today’s post also comes to you compliments of high winds and a cold front that blew through Michigan today. I couldn’t resist grabbing the camera and heading north.

Sentry poles stand against the storm.

I was looking for open fields so that I could highlight the sky. And if I got a barn in the shot – well – that would be even better.

A flash of red had me stopping on the empty rural road.

I was traveling on roads unfamiliar to me, and the land just wasn’t opening up. I traveled through small town after small town, feeling frustrated as the clouds I chased were blowing away faster than I could drive.

And just as I was turning around, heading home, the sun came out.

But I kept driving and eventually I found the country dirt roads lined with big empty fields that I’d been looking for. And lucky me, a whole new batch of clouds obliged by posing over barns and fields alike.

Love the sun on the field and the white clouds overtaking that navy sky.

You can’t keep me from smiling when I’m on the hunt for barns and weather.

Thank you Trent and Nancy, for coordinating challenges that get me out, usually with my camera, but always noticing the world around me. The world is a better place when we stay open to the beauty and the smiles that surround us daily.

Happy New Year everyone!

Farms and clouds, both guaranteed to make me smile!


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Walktober – epic fail

Looking at my calendar it was obvious that yesterday was the only available day between now and the 19th to get my Walktober in. Especially if I wanted to go anywhere further away than my own back yard. Which I do.

So yesterday morning I packed up the camera and headed out to the Shiawasee Nature Preserve, about an hour north of me.

Last year, on the way home from a camping trip without Katie (dogs aren’t allowed at the Preserve) I got there the day after they closed for the season. I’ve been wanting to go back ever since.

This year I figured there’d be few people out there in the middle of the week, but there might be better color in the trees since it was north of me. I was sort of excited about checking it out.

My GPS took me down a couple of wrong roads once I got close, all of them dead ends, but eventually I found the parking lot. And this:

Well darn it all.

So I wound my way home using backroads, getting turned around on detours for construction but not minding too much because that just put me on more back roads with more barns.

Turns out this was a barn photo shoot, more of a Drivetober than a Walktober.

But I have not given up! I am going to find somewhere new to visit, just closer to home as I only have partial days available between now and the deadline.

And I know if I really get backed up against the wall Robin will give me a few more days…just like she’ll give them to you if you haven’t scheduled your Walktober yet. But I hope you have, grab your camera and share something of what fall looks like where you live, then link to Robin’s blog!

I can’t wait to see where you all walk!