Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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The illusive camping birds plus a robin or three

I like site #16 at our local state park because it’s always filled with birds, many of them different than the birds that visit my feeders at home.

A yellow warbler hides in plain sight.

Camping there this week without Katie to distract me or them, I sat quietly through most of a day, camera in my lap studying how they worked the shrubs for food. There was wild cucumber as well as wild grapes winding their vines all over, and though the fruit wasn’t ripe, they seemed to be enjoying it.

I don’t know if this is the same bird, see the black around it’s eye?

This little yellow warbler worked his (or her) way up and down the branches, picking off green fruit as it went.

Giving me the cold shoulder.

I couldn’t get a good image, because it never stayed still, and mostly hid behind at least one layer of leaves. It would pop out for an instant and then be hidden again.

Incoming!

I tried for hours.

While I was concentrating on the little yellow bird I noticed a robin hopping around near my feet. Sometimes he’d stop and stare at me, and I realized I had a big container of blueberries open in front of me.

Hey lady! You got anything good over there?

Did he want one?

Well of course he did! Obviously he has been successful begging campers before.

Nom nom nom

The whole three days I was there a robin stopped by and begged for a treat. I don’t know if it was the same one, but at least once there were several be-bopping around.

Thanks lady!

And I had this visitor, I don’t know what this is, but he (or she) stopped by a couple of times.

He’s got a dark patch on his head that you can’t really see here.

And this one….this one seemed interested in the blueberries and chased a couple of them down when I tossed them his way. But he didn’t eat any of them. I don’t know what he is either.

About the same size as a robin, but slimmer. Maybe because he doesn’t eat blueberries.

At one time there was a perfect shot, he flew up on top of my tent with a small insect in his mouth, but of course my camera was over on the picnic table so I just watched him as he watched me.

Maybe a young something?

None of these bird pictures are great. I have excuses, the light was low, the birds were fast, I didn’t have the right ISO or shutter speed. But it was good practice for me and I’ll try again soon.

Meanwhile if you know what those last two birds are, let me know!

Site #16.


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It’s all about the light. Plus other camping tales.

We returned from D.C. a week ago today. I was so exhausted, so overwhelmed by crowds of people everywhere we went, that I needed some quiet time.

So I booked a campsite at the nearby state park for three nights, avoiding the weekend deliberately because no matter where I’ve camped sites fill up with crazy people starting Thursday afternoon.

Luckily for me my favorite site, #16, was open for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

Site #16 is kind of sweet!

It’s my favorite site at this state park because it’s almost entirely surrounded by trees and underbrush, making it much more private than most of the sites.

I didn’t even take Katie, I was that tired. I planned on sleeping long in the mornings and doing nothing more than walk in the woods, read books and take naps.

Morning light deep in the woods.

Most of that happened.

When I checked in on Monday evening the ranger warned me that there were a “bunch of teenagers in site 12.” I wasn’t that worried, I figured there would be some laughing and squealing and music during the evening but my experience has been that everyone sort of settles down at 10 p.m. when quiet hours begin.

Not so much with these teenagers.

A bit of bee balm reaches for the light.

They were playing rap loudly when I arrived, and continued that throughout the evening, and well after midnight. Sometime during the night I heard a sound like a bunch of metal pipes falling. Then lots more laughing and yelling. Eventually, around 1:30, the music stopped and silence prevailed.

Early the next morning as I silently walked through the campground on my way to a walk in the woods I saw this.

Oops. One side of their camper collapsed.

I laughed, even while hoping no one was hurt.

My walk was wonderful, four miles took me two hours, caused by the hilly trail…and the fact I was taking pictures, practicing the manual settings that I learned last Sunday at my lavender field photo shoot.

Trees reaching for the light too.

The morning light was wonderful, sliding sideways through the trees. So many things were pretty that I had to stop often. That’s my excuse for my slow time. I’ve found it’s always good to have a camera around to use as an excuse when you’re just moving slow from lack of sleep. Most of the photos here are from that walk.

Don’t forget to look down sometimes, lots to see there as well.

Tuesday night a marauding groundhog woke me as he was snuffling around my tent for about an hour. Then coyotes howling far away kept me from falling back asleep. Still…that’s what camping is all about.

Wednesday I spent most of the day at my site, trying to get a decent picture of a yellow warbler that was flitting around. I didn’t end up with a great picture, but I’ll show you what I got in the next post.

Such fun stuff to see no matter where you look.

Then…Wednesday night. I really really wanted to get a good night’s sleep on my last night camping. But that wasn’t going to happen, because across the street, out of my sight, but right on the other side of the narrow park road, two huge campers were parked. Their many children were loud all day, but that was fine. The moms yelled, loudly, at the kids all day long, but that was OK too.

What wasn’t Ok was that after the kids went to bed the four adults sat around a campfire and discussed loudly most of the world’s ills. I am guessing what they were talking about, because it sounded like an Eastern European language, but it was obviously something they were very passionate about.

Touch-me-not with morning dew.

The four of them talked louder and louder, talking over each other excitedly. It woke me up at 1:30 and went on until almost 5 a.m. At one point I got up and walked to the end of my driveway, listened a bit and realized they weren’t talking louder than they had been all day. Maybe this was just the way they talked. Sure they’d been drinking, but they weren’t sloppy drunk.

A peaceful morning doesn’t always mean a peaceful night.

Maybe it was just the night air that made it sound like they were sitting around my fire. I went back to bed, drew the blankets up over my head and tried to imagine that their voices were just the sounds of bullfrogs singing.

The frogs actually were singing, but I couldn’t hear them over my neighbors talking.

I don’t know what this is, but it was very cool.

So, night three of little sleep. The first night I told myself not to let six teenagers ruin camping for me. But with two out of three nights ruined by rude noisy people I wonder if maybe camping has lost it’s appeal.

I don’t know. Maybe I should try again somewhere further away from the city. Maybe I should have called the night ranger. Maybe I should have just gone over there and asked them to pipe down.

What would you have done?

Twisted logic?


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Hanging in the rain…and fog…and cold…and…

Katie here. I know you can hardly stand waiting to hear all about my adventure, but I had to wait until mama trimmed my paws. You know how hard it is to type when your nails are too long.

One of my favorite things to do is hang out under the picnic table. Never know what you’ll find under here.

Plus, we got home from our trip way last Friday but this is the first time I’ve been able to kick mama off her laptop long enough for me to write to all of you.

Sometimes mama forgets I’m the princess.

We had a great view!

But other times, like last week, she does things just for me, like taking me camping in my tent but way up north instead of in my own backyard. I just love doing that. This time we went up into the thumb of Michigan, and camped at a Michigan State Park called Port Crescent.

Mama reserved our site way back in January, so that we could have a spot right on Saginaw Bay. It was awesome. OK, yes when we first arrived on Tuesday afternoon it was a trifle windy. So windy that mama wasn’t sure she’d be able to get the tent up by herself. I told her I wasn’t about to help her, as a princess doesn’t do manual labor.

Mama was hoping for no rain.

She got it up but was afraid to try to put up the rain fly. She said that would be like handling a giant kite in a tornado.

Eventually the wind died down a little, plus it looked like rain, so mama gave it a shot and, using the wind to her advantage, got it up and over the tent. Turns out this made the wind try to lift the whole tent up into the air.

It was really windy, but I wasn’t afraid of those waves!

Mama got out the heavy duty stakes and pounded them deep into the ground.

Then she and I got inside the tent to help hold it down. The wind was amazing, making the tent walls shudder and the waves, only feet away, roar. Then on top of the wind and waves the rain began to pour down. Rain on a tent can be pretty relaxing, but not when it’s coming down sideways!

You want me to help you hold the tent down mama?

It was a pretty noisy night, but I slept through most of it. Mama said she stayed awake shivering and finally put on more socks and long underwear and her winter coat and a hat and mittens so that she could get some sleep around 1 a.m.

Guess mama isn’t built for cold. I thought it was the perfect sleeping temperature.

The next morning the wind had died down, the bay was calm when we ventured out about 5:30. I don’t know why mama was so grumpy, it was beautiful! She should thank me for getting her up to enjoy it.

Early morning blue hour. She would have missed this without me. She never gives me enough credit for the good stuff.

We walked down to a little beach and looked at the water for a bit, then mama said after breakfast we were going to go visit Grindstone City. Well, I don’t know what that is, but I’m always up for an adventure.

A nice morning…but is that fog?

Mama said it was a tiny town up on the very tip of Michigan’s thumb that used to make grindstones, and lots of the old grindstones are still up there scattered around. She’d been there twice before, once with my dad about 10 years ago, and once with her dad so many years ago she can’t count.

She was confident she knew where it was.

Hurry up mama, I think the fog is closing in!

So off we went. First up we visited the marina at Port Austin, the town just up the road. It was really pretty, which, from a princess point of view isn’t always a good thing, cause mama makes me pose in front of a bunch of stuff. All the time. Boring mama!

A pretty spot to sit on a day without fog maybe.

Anyway, while we were there the fog blew in, and it blew in really fast! By the time we left you could hardly see anything. Mama, however, noticed a few barns as we drove further north looking for Grindstone City. She was so busy looking at the barns that she sort of lost track of where she was.

Lots of barns in lush green hills!

At one point she stopped to look at a map. I don’t know why she had to do that. I mean, I asked her, how hard can it be to find the furthest northern point of a thumb? It’s like right there on her hand, right? (Joke mama, joke!)

Mama said she thought we had gone too far in the fog and needed to turn around. So she was looking for a place to do that when she saw a sign for this.

We had this place all to ourselves.

It’s Pointe Aux Barques Lighthouse, built in 1847. In 1849 Catherine Shook became Michigan’s first female lighthouse keeper when her husband drowned. The current structure was built in 1857. It began to rain as we were exploring, so we didn’t stay long, but it was fun to walk around and imagine what it must have been like back in the day. The fog and rain made our imagination even more vivid!

Still, we hadn’t found Grindstone City! Mama referred to her map again and set off confidently. And this time she was right!

Grindstone City must be around here somewhere!

We pulled into town and stopped at one of only a few commercial buildings. Signs said the best ice cream in the world was served there, but it wasn’t open.

No ice cream today!

I wasn’t disappointed cause I never get ice cream anyway. Mama said it was OK because she was too cold and wet for a frozen treat.

Really old.

So we headed off to look for a particular peninsula where she knew there used to be some abandoned grindstones. Plus when she was there with daddy years ago she had thought that I would like to explore it someday. And there, just around another corner was the place she remembered!

This looks interesting mama!

We pulled up and she noted that there were lots and lots of families of Canadian geese, complete with dozens of babies. She told me maybe we wouldn’t be walking out to the end of the point after all, as geese can be pretty aggressive when they’ve got the babies around. But as soon as she got me out of the car they all slid noisily into the water.

Guess they know not to get in the face of a princess.

Let’s get sniffing mama!

So off we went. Mama liked this one tree across the way and spent a lot of time trying to get a shot of it. There were tons of swallows flying and she started laughing cause she couldn’t get a shot of the tree without a bird flying into the image.

A bird flies through the frame.

I was too busy sniffing the ground, looking for grindstones to bother with birds. And way out at the end of the point I found one!

There’s a grindstone out there!

We spent a long time out there, mama found all sorts of things to photograph. And I liked being out in the wind and the fog and the rain. Kind of made my fur curly, but I figure it’s a look. Right?

Right?!

Anyway, by the time we got back to camp I needed to take a long nap. Unfortunately our campsite had a whole bunch of wood chips that liked to stick to my fur. It didn’t bother me, but mama spent a lot of time sweeping out the tent and muttering.

A princess needs her nap.

Wednesday night mama slept in all her clothes including hat and mittens again. She actually googled for nearby hotels but there weren’t any. I, on the other hand, slept great.

Don’t bug me mama.

Thursday morning I managed to let mama sleep until about 6. It was a beautiful morning and she was happy to see what she thought might be sun touching the tops of the trees. And soon we had evidence that finally we were going to have a nice warm sunny day. Perfect for camping even though it was our last day there.

Tall cottonwood trees shaded our site.

We went south a little bit and explored the Albert E Sleeper state park. Mama hadn’t wanted to stay there because their campground is on the other side of the main road. Mama says it’s more fun to be right on the water.

Another park with no one around.

I reminded her it probably would have been warmer at night to be in the woods instead of on the water, but she said the sun on the water Thursday was worth all those nasty nights of shivering.

Sunshine on the water makes us happy.

Whatever mama.

No one was at the Sleeper state park at all. There were lots of trees and it was pretty…

Lots of parking available!

..but there were also lots of signs like this. Which we ignored since no one was there.

Let’s go see what’s over the dune quick before anyone notices!

We walked down to the beach and I got my picture sort of on it…without really touching their precious sand. I figured I’d rather just hang out at my campsite and watch the water instead of worrying about being busted breaking the no dog rule.

So that’s what we did.

Kids and their dog play in front of our site. I stayed dry on shore as befits a princess.

And Thursday night there was the prettiest sunset. The people in the next site brought their kayaks and went out to enjoy the sunset. Of course mama took their picture ( a few dozen pictures actually) and she sent them the best shots yesterday.

A romantic paddle at sunset.

She took a few of me too.

This was a perfect day mama!

And then it was Friday morning and time for us to head home. I was sad, it was going to be another beautiful day and I didn’t want to leave. But mama said camping in the state parks on the weekends is just not fun, too many people, too much noise, and besides, she was sort of missing her bed at home.

You always do this mama! Where is my tent!?!?!

I didn’t understand that exactly, cause I was sleeping in my own bed. Mama brought it with us, per my demand. Doesn’t matter to me where it is as long as mama is nearby.

Anyway mama packed up Friday morning, and I supervised. Then we took the long way home and mama took pictures of a few more barns.

A bird on a barn with a bird.

We made it home in time for dinner, and then mama unpacked the car and did the laundry and put stuff away. I took a nap.

I’m ready for us to go again real soon, but mama says she might need to take a little break. She says it’s nice to sleep without putting on four layers of clothes, and huddle under three blankets. She also enjoys sleeping without sand and wood chips in her bed.

I don’t know why she looks at me when she says that.

I miss my campsite by the water mama!

So that’s the story of my adventure. We had a lot of fun, that last day of sunshine sort of eclipsed all the rain and wind and fog and cold. Almost. I hope our next adventure is a little bit warmer, but not too warm. You know how a sheltie princess enjoys being cool.

Mama will just have to suck it up.

I can’t wait to get back out there!


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A smiley kind of week

Trent hosts a weekly smile blog where he invites people to share something each week that made them smile, then link to his blog so that he can send out a recap on Mondays.

That alone makes me smile.

But this week there are plenty of things I smiled about and it’s hard to choose just one to share. For example, my tree peonies bloomed. Their flowers only last for a day or two and if you’re not quick you’ll miss them all together.

Katie and I were quick this year.

And as you know Katie and I went north for a few days to camp along the shores of Saginaw Bay, on the west side of Michigan’s thumb.

Lots to smile about there.

And this morning I made music with many of my Clarkston Community Band members at the opening of our local Farmers’ Market.

We sat out in a parking lot under the hot sun and played for three hours. It was a blast. I’m pretty sure the top of my feet are sunburned even though I put unscreen on, but at least that will be proof we’ve finally moved into summer arsound here. Another reason to smile!

Katie says she wants to tell you all about our camping trip, so you’ll have to wait just a little bit for that. She’s a slow typist lately. She blames me because I haven’t trimmed her feet in awhile and the extra long fur tends to obscure the keyboard.

Oh! And on our drive up there and back I got to see a lot of barns! You know how that makes me smile!

So let me count. The flowers in the garden, the trip up north, camping, barns, music…it’s just too much to number! What have you smiled about this week? Write a blog and link it to Trent’s and we’ll all be able to smile together.

Katie had a lot to smile about too!


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Adventure-ho!

Thank you to all who read, liked, and/or commented on the previous post. It’s a heavy topic and several of you sent me articles and links outside the comment section as well. I don’t want any of you to think I took your responses lightly, I’m still processing some of it myself.

Meanwhile Katie and I are going camping for a few days. I think we’ll be mostly out of touch, but I’m sure you’ll hear from us when we return. Katie has been unusually quiet lately, and I’m sure she’ll have plenty to say when we get back.

Meanwhile, stay safe and be happy!


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A peek at summer fun

Charming retro, and just the perfect size!


The past two winters Katie and I escaped to the South for several weeks. My Facebook memories tell me that it was today, two years ago, that she enjoyed her first run on the beach in Florida.

This year we didn’t go, and Katie, for one, wants to know why. The weather here hasn’t been conducive to park exploration and she’s bored, bored, bored! I’ve tried to make her understand that summer is coming, but I haven’t succeeded, probably because I’m not sure myself.

So this week I took myself to the annual RV and Camper Show. It happens in February to give us hope that someday soon we’ll be back out in the woods, enjoying a campfire, maybe roasting a marshmallow or two.

High tech camping.

Katie didn’t get to go, but I brought back these pictures so that she knows there is hope. There were all sorts of recreational vehicles and campers there. Some of them were way too huge…

This felt like it was 3 stories high!

…and some were oh so tiny.

Just room for a bed in there.

Some still let you have a tent experience….

Tent/trailer combo.

and some of them were fancier than our house.

Two bedroom, two bath.

But no, we aren’t going to buy any of these, we’re sticking to our trusty little blue tent. It was fun to look, but Katie and I are happy with what we have.

I love my tent mama!


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Last one of the season.

I picked Katie up from camp on Monday. Can you believe the people there say she never barks at all? Me either.

She made up for it by telling me off the entire thirty minute drive home. And then barking at her dad and me off and on the rest of the day. She was pretty wound up. So after one restless night at home we set out for one last camping trip in the north.

Since it’s after Labor Day here in the United States, most people don’t think about camping and campgrounds are pretty empty, especially during the middle of the week. But it was going to be a beautiful couple of days, with highs in the 70s (23 C) and lows at night in the mid 50s (11 C). Plus the skies were supposed to be clear, and better yet, there would be no moon.

Perfect to make another attempt at taking pictures of the night sky.

I made one attempt during our drive across the Upper Peninsula last week, when we stopped along the way at an Inn right across the street from Lake Michigan. My husband was good enough to go out into the night with me even though he was tired from driving.

Natural and man made light brighten the night sky.

Turns out we had fun, though I didn’t get exactly what I was hoping for. My Wordless Wednesday post was one that I thought was sort of successful with it’s Milky Way high in the sky and the grasses in the front. Not entirely right, but not bad. And the image above was the best of what I got during our walk along the boardwalk.

So I was hoping for another opportunity as Katie and I headed north on Tuesday. Conditions should be perfect, and I had a sweet little lake in mind. With fewer people camping I had a better chance at getting a camp site right along the lake, and Katie and I scored a great site.

Do you see the little doggie back there?

There were only three other couples camping, each spaced far from the other. The weather was perfect. Katie and I went on several walks around the campground after we set up the tent. She was thrilled to be there, prancing along with her nose to the ground.

“Hey mama! There’s still wildflowers blooming over here!”

And then as evening arrived, we sat on the shore of our little lake and enjoyed the fading light.

It was a peachy kind of evening.

Still, it was a long time until the stars came out, and Katie got impatient and restless. I ended up going to get the car and parking it at the boat ramp so that she could nap while I worked. She was good with that.

Finally, after nine p.m. the sky was a midnight blue. I was hoping to get some images of stars reflected in the still water, but that didn’t really work out. I wasn’t high enough above the water to truly see many stars reflected. And the milky way wasn’t over the lake like I had hoped. But it was still pretty.

It was a pretty spectacular night.

I think if I had waited around a few more hours it might have moved on over the lake. But Katie was sleeping in the car and I wanted to be sleeping too. So after an hour of attempting to get the image I was envisioning, I settled for what I had and we went back to camp. None of the images were perfect. This one shows the tremor from me pressing the button to open the shutter. I can’t find my remote clicker thingy. And I think my tripod isn’t stable enough for this. Or maybe it’s just me not tightening it up enough.

Anyway, once back at our site, surrounded by tall dark trees, I looked up. It seemed like there were more stars right above my tent than all across the entire lake. I had to set the camera back up again.

Could have looked at this all night.

Even Katie seemed impressed. She waited quietly next to my feet as I clicked away. Sometimes she knows it’s not all about her.

And in the morning, after checking out the misty lake, watching a bald eagle snatch a fish out of the water, and happy with my nighttime experiment, we packed up and headed home.

A beautiful morning.

It was going to get warmer, and Katie’s not so good with heat these days. Plus sleeping in my own bed seemed pretty enticing. Katie did not agree and turned her back on me as I was taking the tent down.

“If I don’t look at you then it’s not happening.”

She tried to protest by refusing to get in the car after everything was packed.

“I’m not going with you mama!”

But when I asked her if she wanted a treat…well….she decided she’d come along after all.

“Well OKAAAAAY then!”

Yea, she’s a good girl, my Katie.

“No star is prettier than me mama!”


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Not fair mama!

Katie here. I’m at ‘camp.’ And let me tell you there’s nothing about it that reminds me of camping.

And mama is off having fun.

Not fair mama!

I’m posting a pic from our last trip together in the hope it makes her feel bad and come home and spring me from this joint!

So there. I got to see the bridge too, just a couple weeks ago. It was really cool. And now she’s off up north somewhere cavorting around with daddy and I’m stuck here.

Let me tell you, she better have a real good excuse for dumping me at camp. Cause just any little ole reason isn’t going to cut it with me.

And you can be darn sure I’ll be getting her up even earlier unless she makes amends.

Signing off for now.

Your gal (but not my mama’s gal) Katie.