Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Reilly, my love

Katie here.

When mama said she was going to write a tribute to Reilly Cowspot Dog, my fiance, I asked if I could please do it. Because Reilly was, and always will be, my boyfriend, my soulmate.

My guy.

Mama wasn’t sure it was a good idea to let me write it. She said maybe it would be too hard for me, that I’d get all sad and stuff, and of course she’s right. I am truly heartbroken that I won’t see Mr. Reilly on this earth again.

I love him so.

My guy, Mr. Reilly.

But it is precisely because I love him that I want to tell you about him. And even though it makes me sad, it also helps me to remember him and all the good times he had when he was here.

Mama is right when she says you can smile and cry at the same time.

Reilly and me at one of his amazing parks.

Reilly was born an old soul with the deepest, darkest, most beautiful eyes. I’m told he was a good boy right from the start. He never got in trouble even when he was a puppy.

He was a color-headed white sheltie, which means most of him was white, but he had this marking on one side that mama thought looked just like a Micky Mouse head, especially noticeable when he was a little guy.

Mama ‘borrowed’ this picture from Reilly’s blog. Can you see the marking on his side?

Mama says one of the first things she remembers about him was a video where he was walking on a treadmill, getting his walk in when the weather was bad outside. He was so adorable.

When he was in one of his contemplative moods.

He grew into a tall guy, so dark and handsome, with a big, booming voice. Sometimes people were startled when he barked, but they shouldn’t have worried because Reilly loved everyone. His mom said he even liked to go to the vet, and would bark upon arrival to let them all know he was there. Can you imagine being happy to visit the vet?

Lounging on his sofa. (picture taken by his mom.)

And what an adventurer he was! He loved to explore parks, proclaiming each of them ‘his’ once he had visited. Why he and his brother Denny even earned honorary Park Ranger status! Reilly felt it was very important to visit as many of his parks as frequently as possible just to make sure everything was up to his very high standards.

A couple years ago, when a hurricane was threatening his home, he and his family got to go all the way to Alabama to stay at my lake house! I wasn’t there, which makes me sad now, but I was sure happy to see the pictures of Reilly enjoying the cooler Alabama weather out on my deck.

Reilly, happy on my deck in Alabama. (picture by his mom.)

I hear he especially loved the air conditioning vents that I had put in the floors there. They are perfect to cool off warm sheltie tummies and I’m so glad he got to enjoy them.

He climbed my mountain there in Alabama too! Just one more adventure in a life full of adventures for my Reilly.

Reilly on my mountain.  (picture by his mom)

For the last few years Reilly was lucky to live near the ocean, and oh my goodness, how my Reilly loved walking on the beach in the early mornings or late evenings. So many lovely smells. So many birds to chase!

Reilly and his birds.

He loved the salt air blowing in his fur, and the sand between his toes, even the toes of his bad foot. He had the most adorable little boots that he wore to help him walk easier. I thought he looked so sophisticated in them.

Reilly and his little brother Denny on their beach. (picture by their mom.)

And guess what? A couple years ago I got to actually meet the love of my life! I’m sure you all remember that. He was so welcoming, letting me spend time in his home. He shared his beaches and parks and family with me, and even let me eat out of his bowl without arguing!

My first time on a beach, Reilly made me feel a lot safer just because he was there.

My Reilly, he was such a gentleman.

When he wasn’t adventuring or exploring he loved to spend time at home with his folks, lounging on the deck in the winter sunlight, or hanging out in the air conditioned sun-porch during the warmer months. He did that more and more these last few weeks as he became weaker in his illness.

Reilly and his little brother Denny, best friends forever. (Picture by his mom.)

This past Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, his poor body just gave out and he crossed the rainbow bridge, only two weeks after his little brother Denny. Mama took me on a walk the next day and told me the sad news. Of course I wasn’t surprised, as she had warned me that he was very ill. But still.

During my last visit with Reilly and his brother. Isn’t he handsome?

Mama’s eyes are leaking at random times now, and this morning I crawled into bed to wake her up with kisses which I haven’t done in many years. She hugged me tight. She says she is so heartbroken for Reilly’s folks who have lost both their boys this month.

She says there are no words to make this better.

And she says she knows lots of people all over the world were sad to hear the news. Did I tell you my Reilly was famous and had his own blog? He had friends everywhere.

Reilly’s last visit to his beach.(Picture by his mom.)

I feel very honored to be his girl and I know when I go across that bridge he’ll be waiting for me. Cause that’s the kind of gentle boy he is and always will be.

So Mr. Reilly. My love. I will miss you forever and ever. Thank you for being my guy and sharing your space with me and putting up with my princess-ness. Thank you for all the gifts you’ve sent me over the years. Thanks for sleeping next to me when I visited, and taking me to your special places. I loved all of it. And I loved you.

No, that last bit shouldn’t be in past tense. I love you Reilly, and always will. Till we meet again sweetie, run on those beaches up there, and sniff through the woods. Chase a bird and a squirrel for me while you’re waiting. And eat the good treats, just save a few for me.

Your feet, all four of them, are good now, and your legs are strong. Your bark is as loud and as deep as ever; I’m sure you announced yourself when you got over the bridge. Run and bark and keep a watch over Denny and I’ll see you again. One way or another.

Run pain free, my love!

Love forever,

Your girl Katie.

Reilly and Denny, together forever. (picture by their mom.)


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Snow infringes yet again

April 15th of this year we had snow. It seemed way too late to be getting so much of the wet white stuff. Sure it was pretty. But really, winter around here is long enough without it lingering on.

Our back yard on October 30th.

So our warm season seemed even shorter this week when on October 31st we got the first snow of the season. Yes, Halloween night, when kids from around the neighborhood should be enjoying a house-to-house foraging for candy, we were enduring wind, sleet and snow.

The snow made the colors pop.

Needless to say no one came to our front door.

But in the morning we enjoyed the beauty the night’s storm left behind. We still have quite a bit of color here, leaves had only just turned when they were coated with snow.

Fall and winter, mixing it up. Unfortunately we know which will ultimately win.

It made a pretty juxtaposition, the warm colors of fall against the stark coldness of winter.

The ginkgo tree begins to lose her leaves, the maple has hardly any left.

Katie and I went out to explore the backyard. Lots and lots of pretty things there.

Kind of like a Christmas card.

She wasn’t even jealous that I wasn’t paying attention to her, she was having such a good time following smells.

Mama, I kind of like this snow.

It was pretty cold, the snow stayed around for most of the day, but by the next day it was gone. We’ll enjoy a few more days of sun before winter comes back for a longer visit.

Add a little ice to the mix.

Katie says we should get out there and enjoy every one of the good days. Cause she knows how it is when the snow is higher than she is tall.

The last hurrah.

And it’s not fun.

Sad sunflower.


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The last long run

The title of this post might be misleading for any number of reasons. Today’s run/walk was probably not the last long run I’ll ever do, and frankly there wasn’t all that much running involved.

But I have the much anticipated (at least by me) Crim race next Saturday, and today was my last long training run in preparation for actually accomplishing the ten hot and hilly miles next weekend.

Pontoon boats waiting for the weekenders to descend.

It’s not as though I’ve been training methodically. Or even with a plan. I just tried to run longer once a week than I did the week before. And I tried to get out there one or two other times during the week to do 3 or 4 miles.

Moving in formation away from the noisy, gasping, foot slapping runner.

And even then it wasn’t really running like I remember from the days when I was young. It was shuffle along for a quarter mile, gasp for air and walk at least part if not all of the next quarter, then pick up the speed and shuffle along again.

And if there was a big uphill, then all bets are off and walking was totally acceptable. Unless I wanted to prove something to myself, in which case I sometimes shuffled to the top just to say I could.

But not generally.

Riding a bike looked infinitely more fun.

This morning I did my last long run/walk at my favorite park. It’s where I used to run long every weekend, often meeting one or more of my running friends to talk and run together.

Along the familiar route today I’d remember things from previous runs. A running partner with a frozen water supply line here, a couple of dancing cranes there, the spot that Katie rested before we headed back to the car on one of our walks.

Very tall water lillies. I need to come back here with the good camera and maybe a kayak.

And sometime during mile 7 as I was slogging up a little hill to round the flagpole, ensuring my total would be ten miles because I added that ‘little’ out and back at Turtlehead, I remembered that once, many years ago while training alone I had come up this very hill and found a flock of cedar waxwings swarming a tree. I looked up at the tree again, now perhaps twenty years later, and imagined those birds, their little bodies fliting among the branches, the color on their tails. I remembered how I stood there a long time watching them way back then. And I noticed birds flitting among the same trees, though my eyesight is much worse now than it was then, so I thought today’s birds were sparrows.

Until I got closer and heard the little snuffling tweets they made as they flew back and forth.

Such delicate little blue bell type flowers.

Could it be? Not possible! But yes, up in the top of the trees was a flock of cedar waxwings, yellow band on their tails the tell-tale sign. I had to laugh out loud, though to be honest, crawling up a hill in mile 7 of a ten mile run is not generally a time I spend a lot of time laughing.

I guess sometimes you can conjure up memories and make them real if you give your mind free reign.

Proof summer is sliding at an alarming pace into fall.

Anyway, I saw lots of things on this run, the pictures here are all taken with my phone, often while I was still moving. They aren’t great photogenically, but they tell you the story of a (very) long run during a grey, foggy morning, at my favorite park.

And I’m very very glad it’s done.

Hiding among the reeds to avoid the paparazzi.


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Spring finally fights off the winter blues

Singing with joy in the sun.

We’re done with snow in southeastern Michigan. I think.

It’s been cold and rainy for what seems like weeks, not feeling like winter, certainly not feeling like spring. But with all the rain things are starting to bud, to spring up from the squishy earth, to green almost before our eyes.

Color is popping up everywhere.

I was walking out at a local park earlier in the week, trying to get my miles done, training for a summer race. I know that if I start noticing things, stop to take pictures with my phone, that I’ll never get the miles in.

Subtle color glows.

So I made note of where some of the prettiest stuff was and went back with my camera the next day. I was expecting a quiet walk in the woods, but it turned out to be the most beautiful, sunny, warm day that we’ve had yet this spring and that caused lots of people to go out to enjoy the park.

Light turns skunk cabbage into emeralds.

That didn’t bother me at all. I was immersed in the beauty of light on leaves, light making grass and skunk cabbage glow.

Cow slips, or marsh marigolds, either way they’ll make you smile.

Light bringing color to what has been, for months, a grey and drab woods.

Green life glows in the woods.

I only walked 5 miles on Sunday, but it took me almost three hours. Seems I was stopping every little bit to capture something else.

Tiny bits of color are everywhere if you look.

While others were riding by on bikes, or jogging past with the slap of feet, I was crouched down, my face near the earth trying to capture that illusive image.

Bits of gold hidden near the forest floor.

I couldn’t have been happier. Indeed, I couldn’t stop smiling.


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Beautifully unwanted

Yesterday we experienced hail, sleet, and a tiny bit of snow but mostly cold driving rain fell all day. It was a no good kind of day through and through. And this morning I woke to this.

Early morning blue light shows off the overnight snow.

It was the ‘blue hour’ when Katie-girl decided we needed to go outside. I couldn’t help but try to capture the magic that surprised me once we got outside.

Wet snow covered every detail.

And then, as the sun came up I saw how truly beautiful, but truly unnecessary, it all was. From the warmth of our living room I framed the backyard, ornamented by some Florida seashells on the mantel.

Cold and warmth represented.

I liked the juxtaposition, not the snow.

Still, it was stunning, and on my way to an appointment in town I couldn’t help but park and dart out to take a picture or two.

No matter how boring the scene, the snow made it prettier.

Or three.

I knew it wouldn’t last long and by the time I got back home it would be gone. No chance to take Katie for a walk in it, no time for formal portraits against the black and white art of Mother Nature.

Swampy wetlands looked beautiful against the black and white of the trees beyond.

No, just a few clicks with the camera on my phone in the early morning light would have to do.

Even muddy dirt roads look good decorated with fresh sticky snow.

It was beautiful and it was gone within the hour. I hope that’s the last of our snow for this season.

Spring green of the willow competes with stark white of yet another snowfall.

Our grass has greened, the trees are budding and our early spring flowers are in bloom.

No early morning golfers today.

Time for winter to let it go.

Just stop.

But it’s Michigan, so I’m not betting on it.

Waiting patiently for summer.


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Smiles can come from the smallest things

Trent coordinates a weekly smile post over at his blog, inviting us all to find at least one thing each week that made us smile, and then share it with all of you.

Nice concept, don’t you think?

I’ve been out walking a lot and this little bit of nature made me smile a whole lot…

A bit of green in early April always makes me smile.

…because it felt like spring.

What made you smile this week? Share with us! Cause it’s going to snow here soon and I’m pretty sure we could all use a smile.


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Define spring

The calendar says winter is over. But those of us living in Michigan, and I suspect, other northern states know better than to trust a date on the calendar. Around here we look for more definite signs that spring is poking around and considering hanging out with us for awhile.

For me robins bouncing around in my front yard is hopeful, but not really true evidence of the season changing; we’ve been known to have them stop by in the middle of winter. In fact I think I have a picture somewhere of a very disgruntled robin sitting in my heated birdbath during an icy snowstorm.

Gotta get your bath in when you can.

Up here it’s not really spring until I’ve hear the red-winged blackbird’s cry. It’s a distinctive sound, one you can’t confuse for anything else. That’s why I was grinning last week, because the blackbirds were robustly announcing their arrival. This week they are busy daily cleaning out my bird feeder, they must not have stopped anywhere for lunch on their trek home to me.

Singing for his supper.

Then there are my goldfinches. Though many hang around all year the bright yellow males turn to an olive green in the winter. And in the spring they start sprouting patches of brilliant yellow again, a heralding of sorts that warm spring days aren’t far away.

It’s starting to get yellow around here.

This week the goldfinches are turning a decided yellow. I’ve been hanging out by the windows just watching them power eat thistle seed. Every day there seems to be more yellow showing.

Do you have any more food in there lady?

Some of them have turned almost totally yellow already. Proof positive that winter is losing it’s hold over us, even though it snowed again today.

Can’t hide my colors now!

Daffodils are pushing up from the cold ground. I saw buds on a bush yesterday. The limbs of the forsythia bush seem to have a golden glow though there are no blossoms or even buds yet.

I’m not so gullible to think it’s time to till the garden or plant those annuals yet. Way too early up here. And I know that every year we have a significant snowfall in April.

What do you mean this isn’t the last of the snow?

But I also know that last snow won’t need shoveling because it will melt by mid afternoon. And the sun will grow warmer and finally, finally the frogs will begin to peep.

And then it will be spring.

More evidence.


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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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Photography makes me fat

I admit, the title of this post wormed it’s way into my brain during sleep last night. It made perfect sense then, but it’s less clear in today’s snowy morning light.

I weighed myself yesterday because my knees, hip and legs ache most of the day and night. I particularly notice my knees when I’m carrying the dog, an extra twenty pounds on top of my own extra poundage.

Snow is on the way.

In my sleep I analyzed the situation. I rarely take long walks anymore. When I do walk, even on short neighborhood strolls, I almost always have a camera, though sometimes it’s just my phone. There is always something to stop and take a picture of.

Always.

So the walk turns into a photo shoot. Very few calories are expended while leaning over a mushroom or shooting up into trees.

Let’s go for a walk before it snows more mama!

I wear my Fitbit and religiously note the dismal number of daily steps. Even knowing I’m barely moving doesn’t get me off the sofa. It’s just so warm and snugly there. And here comes winter in full force. Record breaking cold is on the way. More snow. Little sunlight. The odds or me taking more steps slips lower.

But! We have a perfectly good elliptical in the basement. It’s been there for years and I’ve used it twice. It’s hard. It’s boring. But I have no excuse, something has to change, probably more than one something.

Darn. Change is hard.

Don’t stop visiting us lady!