Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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A moment of grief

I’ve been away on a three day adventure and I have many things to share with you. But on my return drive, after seven hours of photography interspersed with driving, and one exit away from home I turned on the radio to listen to the news. I’d been out of contact with the world; I wondered what might have happened while I was gone?

And the first sentence uttered by the newscaster was something about “pancreatic cancer” and “her” and “28 years on the court.”

I couldn’t, for a moment, wrap my head around what that could all mean. I knew. But I didn’t want to know. As reality slammed into my brain I pulled off the freeway, found a parking lot, and cried.

RBG was a hero to me and most women I know. A role model. A beacon. Hope.

I know she wanted to stay on the court until after the end of this year. We all wanted that too. But we have to respect the fact that she was 87 and in poor health, and though she was a fighter, sometimes things are not in our control.

As I watched some of the tributes last night I saw a small clip from the documentary about her. How her mother had died when she was 17. Seventy years ago. Seventy years since she’s seen her mom, had a conversation. A hug.

I had to smile. Just think of them together again, the amazing conversations they must be having right now! And the hugs! I’m pretty sure there were hugs when Ruth arrived.

So that’s what I’m focusing on today. She’s with her mother and other members of her family. She’s no longer in pain, she deserves her rest. I send my condolences to those friends and family still here. She left a huge hole in their hearts, and in the hearts of a nation.

Many of us are mourning her today and that’s only right. Next week is soon enough to get to work mitigating the damage her empty seat may cause our nation. We have work to do to honor her legacy.

Change is hard.
(photo credit, CNN)


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Change is hard

From earlier in the week. I drove by this, went home, got the camera and came back for this shot.


Unfortunately my laptop memory is full.

Fortunately I got a new laptop with even more memory for all those pictures I take.

Unfortunately I had a very old version of Lightroom that I can’t move to the new laptop.

Fortunately I purchased a new version of Lightroom.

Unfortunately I didn’t have a clue how to download it.

Fortunately my husband did.

Unfortunately it is quite a bit different than the old version.

Fortunately it supplies tutorials that pop up when the program is opened.

Unfortunately there seem to be a dozen tutorials, each four to six minutes long.

Fortunately I am retired and have the time.

Unfortunately I do not have the patience.

Fortunately, if you bang enough keys you can work your way through it.

Unfortunately I haven’t figured out where the newly edited photos were exported.

Fortunately I accidentally found them in an obscure file.

Unfortunately this hours long exercise has resulted in only two photographs being edited.

Fortunately I like how they came out.

Unfortunately I’m tired now and need a nap.

Fortunately (Did I mention this before?) I’m retired and have the time.

Change is hard.

The barn next to the hayfield. All the bales in the trailers are rectangles, all the bales in the field are round. Hmmmm??


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The birth of summer

Katie and I went on an early morning walk around the yard today. It was already hot, the kind of hot that reminds me of summers growing up. Some of you remember those days, oppressive heat pressing down on you even early in the morning. Sweaty sleepless nights with a rattling box fan ineffectively moving the stifling air.

Morning light slices through our backyard.

As kids all four of us got to spend a week at grandma’s house on the farm each summer. No air conditioning there either, but I don’t remember being so insufferably hot in the big old farmhouse. We each got to choose the week, though I remember in later years my uncle requesting my brothers during certain harvest weeks.

Neighbor’s flag celebrating in morning light.

I usually tried to be there when the wild black raspberries were in season. They grew behind my grandpa’s work shed and every morning I’d go out and pick a small bowl of them, and grandma and I would put them on our breakfast cereal. So good.

Katie and I shared these in the backyard.

And I remember the summers when I was much younger and my folks bought a lake lot with the intention of building a cabin someday. I remember the orange lilies blooming in the ditches on the road to the lake.

Bringing back memories.

They always represented summer to me. Now when I see them I am instantly transported back to that lake lot and the summer days spent swimming off the dock and rowing the big green rowboat.

Queen Anne’s lace getting ready to spring into summer.

This morning while Katie was busy sniffing I was noticing so many reminders of summers past, right in my own back yard. Lots of evidence, too, that summer is progressing regardless of the craziness happening in the world.

Looking for something to cling to.

Even as we stay home, curtailing plans, missing family, time is moving and mother nature is pushing forward. A lesson, I guess, for all of us not to give up hope either. For more than sixty years I’ve watched summer unfold, leaf by leaf, petal by petal.

I guess I should stop worrying about what tomorrow will bring and just let it be.

Sneaking quietly into summer.


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Spring is out there just waiting for us

I’ve been feeling a little mind-numbing cabin feverish after staying inside for days on end. Grey skies, and yesterday’s almost two inches of rain haven’t help.

This morning started out shrouded in fog, but the sun burned it off and suddenly it was a glorious day. Fifty-nine degrees warm, blue skies and big puffy clouds.

On our search for a park to explore.


Katie insisted we go to a park. I thought that was a pretty good idea too. Some time outside would be just the ticket to clear our heads.

So we headed out to find a park without a lot of people. The first one we drove by had four cars in the lot so we kept on driving. We ended up at her regular small park, only one car there so we unloaded anticipating a lovely walk.

At Katie’s park.

Katie was wriggling with excitement.

As we began our exploration the wind began to whip, but we didn’t let that stop us. We were outside and it was wonderful! There was so much interesting stuff to see.

A huge fungus on the side of a tree.

Katie was more patient than usual with me taking pictures of things not her. I guess she knew it had been awhile since I’d been out too.

I’ll wait for you, mama, take your time.

As we turned the second corner I noticed to the west skies looked a little dicey. I left Katie out on the path and walked through some brush to get a clear shot of a pretty stunning sky.

Uh oh. Maybe we better get a move on.

She waited patiently. She’s such a good girl.

I’m keeping my eye on you mama!

I told her maybe we needed to pick up the pace. She told me not to worry and continued her slow nose work. I figured she was probably right.

Because we got so much rain yesterday a lot of the path was either covered in water or a muddy mess. Surprisingly my girl pranced right through both, never once asking to be carried.

Not to worry, mama, I can handle it!

Either she’s matured or she was so excited to be out there she didn’t care.

We saw all sorts of evidence of spring, but the wind was picking up and the dark clouds were overtaking us, so we decided to skedaddle to the car.

Trees are in bud now, just waiting for some warm weather to burst into leaf.

It’s a good thing we did, the wind is really whipping now, and Katie is asleep on the hearth here at home.

Clouds overtake us.

The rain should arrive any minute — I’m glad I followed her advice this morning or we’d have missed our opportunity to enjoy the brief minutes of sun.

You should follow my advice more often mama!

We hope you get out there too, we’re sure it will do you a world of good.

Just let me know when you want to explore, I’m ready to show you around!


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Healing walk

This morning was the 15th anniversary of the semi-truck crash that killed my dad. Fifteen years of working on issues to make our roads safer. Fifteen years of missing him every single day.

For whatever reason this year was rougher than usual. So after my physical therapy session I planned to take myself off for a walk in the woods. Unseasonably warm, at 52F (11.11C) this December afternoon, I packed extra water for Katie-girl who insisted on going along. “We can’t waste a day like today mama!”

Early afternoon sunlight felt warm on this December day.

Though it was a Monday there were plenty of people enjoying the sunshine. Everyone we met smiled at the cute sheltie who was showing off her good side by letting little kids pet her. We even ran into a woman who said she used to handle shelties at dog shows and that “someone did some good breeding” with Katie.

A perfect day to walk in the woods.

We moved at Katie’s speed which means we walked very slowly. There was so much to see and sniff. I was in no hurry either, thinking about Dad and Mom, and how much they would have enjoyed a walk in this woods on such a beautiful day, and that made me smile.

Do I get to choose which way we go mama?

About an hour into the walk my phone, which I had set to map our walk, intoned “Mile 1, split time – not moving.” I laughed out loud. We were so slow that the GPS in my phone didn’t think we had moved at all. Katie was insulted.

We’ll come back here soon.

All in all it was a lovely walk in a beautiful park. It’s new to us, we were introduced to it just this past fall by a friend. Katie says we owe her cookies or something else equally nice, as this is a wonderful place to walk. While we were there I bought a pass for 2020 as I’m sure we’ll be back!

Sometimes life throws you curves.

There’s nothing quite like spending time outside to shake the blues. I’ll always miss my parents, but it felt good taking them with me on today’s walk.

And I bet they enjoyed it just as much as we did.

Made it through another Dec 23rd.


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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.