Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


37 Comments

Waiting on my numbers

Hey everybody! Katie here.

So most of you know that I’ve been fighting kidney disease for much of this year. I go to the vet every month and donate my blood so the lady vet can see how I’m doing.

Me at my park where they have a children’s storybook walk.

Daddy and mama took me to the vet yesterday, they say I shouldn’t be so scared every time, but they aren’t there in the back room when those vet techs get my blood! I’m starting to feel like a pin cushion, all those needle pricks over the past nine months!

At a rest stop on our way home from the vet yesterday.

It’s scary back there, I tell you, and I’m so glad when they take me back to my daddy; I’m always ready to go go go back out to the car where mama waits impatiently for me.

During one of my neighborhood patrols.

But the lady vet and daddy always have to stand around and talk after I give away my blood. They usually look at all the test results, but this time they just talked about my poop!

Checking out my yard.

Geeze! Can’t a princess have a little privacy about anything? Mama and daddy have been taking pictures of my poop for weeks! I guess having soft runny poop is not a good thing. Who knew?

My yard has a katsura tree and all the leaves fell off in one day!

Now I have medicine to help my poops get back to normal. Mama says we’ll see. Literally I guess, right?

My yard has a ginkgo tree too. It’s leaves also fall off in a single day!

And the test results? The ones that will tell us if I’m getting worse? Well, the lady vet sent my blood out to a lab instead of running the tests right there, so we won’t know until sometime next week.

At my park.

I’ll keep you posted, cause I know you want to know!

Meanwhile, I’m chowing down like the food hog I’ve always been and that makes mama and daddy smile.

A little snow.

I hope you all have a great week, and those of you in the United States enjoy Thanksgiving! Mama and daddy say they are very thankful for me. Well of course they are. And I guess, if I’m honest, I’m very thankful for them too.

Another favorite park.

And I’m also thankful for each of you, my loyal subjects. Thank you for stopping by and reading about my poop during a holiday week. I should probably talk to mama about being more appropriate, but you know how mama is. No sense of decorum, that woman.

I love being in the woods with mama!

Anyway, these photos were taken the past couple of weeks during all the walks at my parks and around the neighborhood that mama’s been taking me on. She says she knows how much I love the colder weather and she wants me to get out and enjoy as much of it as I can.

Just another thing I’m thankful for, fall in Michigan!

Come on, mama!

Talk later, your cool air loving, pincushion girl, Katie.

All this walking makes a princess sleepy.


24 Comments

Shiawasee Nature Refuge part two

So where did I leave you? Ah yes….at the viewing platform overlooking the wetlands, about two miles from the car.

An excellent place to watch the birds.

Since we’ve been lugging the camera backpack filled with lenses and spare batteries all this way, this would be a good time to change to the long lens. Don’t you think? And perhaps take a sip from the water bottle that’s been adding weight to the bag for the long trek out here.

I loved the stripes of color.

There, that’s better.

So, out here in the open marsh you can here sandhill cranes and Canadian geese as they fly in and out. A few trumpeter swans too. No pelicans this time, and that’s disappointing, but I’m too late in the season for much of a variety.

These guys decided to move on to a place less habited by nosey humans.

The other people on the viewing platform have high powered binoculars, and they are watching a northern harrier harrass a young bald eagle. I can’t see any of that of course, but I enjoy listening to them talk about it.

Yep way over there is a tree that often hosts eagles. In fact that might be one to the left, or that might be the harrier.

Mostly I watch the geese that were nearest to me and enjoy the sun and the sitting down for a bit.

And then I decide I’ll head back, but take a path I’ve never chosen before, out past the tree where, on a previous visit, I’d seen so many eagles, out along the edge of the wetlands, because you just never know what you’ll find.

It was a beautiful day, even if I didn’t get any great shots of an eagle.

And I do find the juvinile eagle, I think, though I can’t get a close enough view of him to be sure. I have a longer lens than I had last year, but he was still a long ways away. For all I know, this is the harrier, rather than the eagle. He (or she) is fun to watch either way, soaring high above the grasses, searching for a meal.

A super cropped image of a bird. Might be an eagle. But I think it’s the harrier. Cool either way.

I come across a passel of cranes, standing around out there in a clump. No noise, just hanging out. When they see me noticing them they begin to walk away at a fast clip, so I move on, not wanting to upset them.

Moving quietly back into the grass so as not to attract any more attention.

And then I begin the long wander back to the car. It is a beautiful day and I’m not at all disappointed that I don’t have anything spectacular to shoot. But wait! There’s an eagle’s nest! Wow, that thing is huge! Now I know which way I’ll walk next spring when there might be some activity there, maybe early in the season before leaves obscure the view.

This won’t be easy to see once the tree leafs out.

It’s not far from the tree where I’ve seen eagles, adult and juviniles…and it’s in the direction I always see them flying from out there. Now it all makes sense. I’m excited for next season!

But other than that my walk back is just filled with beautiful fall sights. I am walking on a path less traveled, and mostly not mowed, so I am glad for my waterproof hiking shoes keeping my feet dry.

Even though I am on the lookout for birds of any size, and though I hear a few, I don’t see any. I probably need to sit in one place, as I’ve considered on other visits to this park, and wait for something to come by in stead of tromping noisily through the woods.

But I am hungry, and tired, and still a long way from the car, so I trek on.

I like the spunkiness of the little tree growing in the remains of it’s ancestor.

The views don’t disappoint. Just about any direction I look there is something pretty.

Another dyke flanked by leaning trees. These always remind me of Marines at a wedding, with their swords forming a tunnel for the bride and groom. Actually, a wedding woud be amazing here.

I can’t stop taking pictures, but that’s no surprise to anyone. Right?

Such great colors and shapes, it’s impossible to resist taking just one more shot.

But eventually I put the lens cap back on, resolving to move faster toward the car and the banana waiting for me. I even pass up the opportunity to sit on a bench, because I know I am only half a mile away from the parking lot.

A tempting bench. If I’d had my lunch with me I might have stopped.

I promise myself I’m not taking any more images. Just going to forge ahead, eyes front, no stopping. Really.

Hmmmm….what’s making all that noise over there?

But I can’t ignore the huge ruckus coming up from a field just beyond the trees to my right. When I come to an opening I see what must be the party room for cranes. Because they are dancing up a storm. So I had to take the lens cap back off. You would have too, I’m sure.

And then I hear this little guy, and since he is the only little bird I’ve seen clearly all day, well, the lens cap comes off again.

It’s not even a good shot, but he is the only one that cooperated, so he gets to be in the blog.

And then, finally, I make it back to the car. My 4+ mile walk through the woods is over, and I know I wouldn’t be back until spring. Unless I decide a winter hike is in order. I guess I’ll put that idea into the ‘things to ponder’ file drawer and see what the winter weather is like this year.

Always notice the light.

More likely I’ll be back in the spring, when northern migration is happening and there will be more activity to wittness. I’ll be sure to bring you along whenever I go back. Maybe I’ll even carry a banana with me so I can stay out there longer.

Come along with me, the walking is marvelous!

You’ll be responsible for your own snacks. And your waterproof shoes.

Stay tuned.


33 Comments

Sharing something magical

Do you want to join me on a magical walk? Well, come along! I’ve sorted my more than 800 images down to only a few dozen to represent the wonderful morning I spent at the Shiawasee National Wildlife Refuge this past Monday.

I knew I was late in the migration season. The herons and egrets were long gone. No pelicans to watch. I figured even the sandhill cranes should have moved on by now, though I still see them out at my favorite park. I wasn’t even sure why I was out there when the chances of seeing anything special were so slim.

Waiting for sunrise from the trailhead parking lot for Fergeson Bayou Trail.

But since it was one of our last beautiful fall days I thought I’d stand there on the observation deck in the parking lot and wait, just see what the sun would bring.

After a few minutes in the cold silence I went back to the car to get my gloves.

And right about then I heard a sound. I couldn’t quite place it. It sounded like a gentle wave was rising softly against the sand on some distant beach. It got louder. And louder. And then, squinting in the dim light, I saw them. Thousands and thousands of little birds coming across the marsh toward me in the pinking morning sky.

Just a tiny bit of the huge swarm of little birds, the first ones up and out that morning.

The sound swished and washed and surrounded me for only a moment and then they were gone, disappearing into the light in the east. The experience was so amazing that I thought if I saw nothing else, heard nothing else, I’d still be glad I made the hour plus drive so early in the morning.

And then I heard the cranes. (Click on the link to hear them, in fact listen to them while you read this, it will feel more like you’re really there!) It started with just a couple of those distinctive cries coming from somewhere far away. And then the sound grew.

Already high in the sky the crains were headed out by the dozens.

I saw the first three cranes flying out for breakfast. And then a few more. And more. And then more and more and more and more.

The sun was still low, and it lit the undersides of the birds as they flew overhead.

I don’t know how long I stood there, alone in an empty parking lot, fingers no longer cold, grinning like crazy trying to get the shot, the feeling, of what it was like to have so much craziness just above my head in the pink sky.

And then there was a different sound, lower, almost hidden under the screeching of the crane voices. What could that be? I lowered the camera and searched for the source.

These two announced themselves as they flew under the chaos above.

Trumpeter swans! Just a couple of them, making a more gutteral sound, announcing their presence. As if to say, notice us! We’re here too!

Then my attention was back on the waves of cranes still coming toward me. Wave after wave of them.

The rising sun made the colors almost as intense as the sounds of the flying birds.

Even with all the activity I began to wonder…how many images of flying cranes does a person need? Well, just one more.

On their way to breakfast, they danced overhead.

Well, I thought to myself, I could stand out here all day, but there’s more to explore. Best to get moving.

There aren’t many days left for wandering these trails before the winter sets in. In fact, there are some weeks where hiking is prohibited as the preserve allows hunting to manage the deer population. I’ve never been here this late in the season and I was startled to see the hunting blinds places strategically along the trail.

Hidden in plain sight.

I understand the need, but I wished the couple of white-tailed deer I glimpsed good luck next week when the hunters will be back on the job.

The trail here is on top of a series of dykes, most of the time there’s water on both sides. When I’m here earlier in the season the water is filled with migrating ducks, but in November their safe places are filled with fallen leaves instead.

Almost as pretty, though less exciting for sure.

Pretty, but quiet, without the ducks flying up out of the water as I approach.

Along the way, while trying to get a shot of trees in early light, I stepped on something soft that exploded around my knees in a foggy mist.

If I didn’t know better I’d have thought this was part of a destroyed seat cushion!

That was cool, but it reminded me to watch more carefully where I was going. And to listen better too, as this early morning walker startled me with her quiet approach.

She was moving fast, getting her cardio.

We smiled hello to each other and she briskly moved on past. I stayed to get this shot:

Not so much cardio in photography I guess.

And then I heard that distinctive low sound overhead again. I pointed the camera up and waited.

More trumpeter swans!

Once they did their fly over I tried to pick up my pace. I was still a distance away from the turn around point, a viewing platform out in an open wetland. By now I knew there were other people already there, the woman, her lovely husband with the English accent who followed her and another birder I’d met earlier in my walk. All three of them had passed me as I lolly-gagged along, taking photos.

Still lots of color back in the woods.

There’s all sorts of reasons you’d enjoy your time here, birding and photography are just a couple. It would be worth the walk just to see such beautiful places. But since you can’t all get there, I thought I’d share a few of them with you.

One of my favorite places to grab an image.

I have more, but this seems long enough. Do you wonder what I saw when I got out to that viewing platform? There’s always something to see out there.

What’s that over there?

I’ll share the rest with you in the next post. Katie demands attention now. And you know how she is.

Best to get to getting, she says.

So I will.

Let’s just see what’s around that next corner…


17 Comments

Come on over, Canada!

The United States opened it’s borders today to all Canadians, even those with nonessential business. We’ve missed our neighbors and encourage them to come on over!

This leaf, seen on today’s walk, reminded me of the Canada/United States border.

There are rules, of course. Everyone coming across the border has to be fully vaccinated. And to get back into their country they’ll need a recent negative covid test.

Change is still hard.


63 Comments

Life is short, no matter how long you’ve got

Katie and I spent Halloween day wandering together under beautiful blue skies. The leaves here are finally turning, and in the early morning light they were spectacular. Walking under them, with my girl, watching the light shift and glow was special.

On the way to our early morning adventure.

When Katie got sick last spring we hoped we could get her to fall, when the temperatures drop and she has, in the most recent years, transformed from a middle aged, lethargic dog of summer into a youngster who throughly enjoys her walks.

I love this rug, mama, it compliments my beauty!

Somehow, in the fall, she turns back time and prances during her walks in the woods and around the neighborhood. But this year, the year we needed those cooler temperatures to hurry up so she could enjoy them, October held on to summer with an iron grip.

I’ll sit here for you mama, but you better have treats!

I enjoyed those warm days with temperatures in the 70s, but worried that Katie and I wouldn’t get our cool walks in the woods. So on the last day of October, with early morning temperatures dropping and as the sun began to creep up into the sky, Katie and I headed out in search of adventure.

Don’t you just love this weather, mama?

We stopped first in Milford, a town that always dresses the storefronts for fall, complete with a giant pumpkin in front of a fancy restaurant. For the past few years I’ve taken Katie there for a photo shoot.

Hey mama! THIS is the giant pumpkin you talked about??

This year we were disappointed, as the entire town is dug up with some sort of construction project, and the giant pumpkin was less than giant. Still, we walked around town for a little bit. Like the princess she is, she insisted on doing some window shopping, checking out every single shop doorway. That made me smile.

Anything good in here, mama?

So I took a window shot of the two of us.

Me and my girl.

But we didnt stay in town long, we headed out to my favorite park, and to her favorite walk in that park. The color as the sun rose was spectacular.

I was giggling like a schoolgirl it was so pretty.

And walking there, on a service road through the trees with my girl, I contemplated the shortness of life. Though her numbers were better at the last vet visit, Katie is still near the end of her life.

Isn’t this amazing, mama?

She’s a happy girl, and good at hiding her discomfort. She still likes to go on adventures, she still loves her suppers. She still loves us. But sometime, maybe sooner then later, we’re going to have to make that hard decision.

Light and color ease the angst.

And it’s not just her. I’ve been dog sitting for a neighbor whose husband had a combination of cancer and heart disease. He’s been in the hospital for the last few weeks, and this week, when she thought he was coming home, he died.

I always feel better when I’m near water.

He was a very nice man, loved his garden, his wife, his dogs. I’d talk to him when I was out walking Katie. He’d always tell me what he was planning for next year’s garden, “if I’m still here,” he’d say. Now his flowers are still blooming in our long, extended fall, but he isn’t here.

A bit of fall trapped in last summer’s volleyball net.

I dog sat for his two pups while his wife and family attended his funeral. I would have gone myself, but my time was better spent taking care of the two little dogs who have lost their man.

Be like me, mama, live in the moment.

And another friend just had surgery, leaving her two cats at home for the duration. She had someone to come in and take care of them, but I stopped by to play with them too. They always came running for a tummy rub, or a romp through a tunnel. I enjoyed spending time with them, but they’re so much happier now that their person is back home.

I love it out here mama.

And there’s my own family member who has spent the last two weeks in the hospital and had major surgery too. She has a long road ahead of her, and though she has no pets for me to take care of, she’ll still need some visits and perhaps help with some household chores.

Nature’s art installation.

It has seemed like trouble and tragedy is everywhere. But it’s easier to bear while walking through a beautiful woods with my girl. And someday, hopefully far in the future, when I don’t have my girl walking next to me, well, I’ll have the memories, and the pictures. And that will have to do.

Mama? Do you feel better now?

I’m grateful that I have had so many years with her. I’m grateful I knew my neighbor and his gardens. I’m grateful to the friend with the cats, and the long life of my relative now recuperating at home.

Life is a road, mama.

But sometimes…sometimes it feels like time has flown, and life is short, and there’s just no way to slow it all down.

Don’t try to figure it out, mama. It’s all going to be OK.


33 Comments

A little crane conversation

Last week I ran up to the post office on my way out to Katie’s park. Katie was in the back seat. My camera was on the passenger seat. I dropped off the letters that needed to be mailed and was headed to Katie’s park when I noticed these two having an intense conversation.

Or something.

“I’m tired of discussing it.”
“We haven’t solved anything yet.”
“But I don’t WANT to talk about it anymore!”
“We should be able to talk about it like rational adults.”
But I don’t WANT to!”
“I swear, you never let anything just go!”
“OMG, you are just too much!”
“Whatever.”


30 Comments

My advice – when you’re stressed, take a walk in the woods

Katie here.

Yes, I know you heard from me quite recently, but mama has been really busy and being a responsible dog, I feel the need to fill the void here on mama’s my blog.

Deuce and me before our walk in the woods!

Because mama is so busy it’s pretty easy to make her feel guilty about neglecting me. So I’ve been exploiting using that guilt to get her to take me on walks at several parks.

Sitting together for our obligitory picture in the fall leaves.

Having wonderful October weather doesn’t hurt either. I think mama should thank me for getting her outside to enjoy the last bit of warm weather before it starts snowing.

Anyway…last week I got to meet up with my friend Deuce and explore Dinosaur Hill, a park over near where he lives with his mom.

Deuce thinks he’s going to get a treat photo-bombing my shot!

As you can see, somebody had decorated the park, getting it all ready for Halloween which is coming up soon here in the United States.

What is all this stuff, mama?

We had a real nice walk. So nice in fact that we walked all the way around the little park two times! I felt wonderful, and sometimes I even led out front, something that I never did even back when I was a youngster!

Hurry up you guys, it smells great over here!

Mama was real happy that I was real happy.

I guess I should tell you guys, if you don’t already know, that I have some days when I don’t feel so good. It turns out my kidneys aren’t working at full strength.

Don’t feel bad for me, I’m still a happy girl.

A few weeks ago the vet said I had progressed to stage 4 kidney disease and that made mama and daddy very sad. But then last week my numbers were a lot better, so now they feel a little bit better.

I don’t know what’s in my future, but you can be sure I’ll parlay it into more walks!

Deuce thought he’d find treats up there, but nope!

In fact, a couple days after my Dinosaur Hill adventure mama took me to one of my own parks, Davis Lake Overlook which is right by my house. I call it Katie’s Park II.

It was another beautiful day, kind of windy, but I don’t mind that, wind just makes me more beautiful.

Me at my park on another beautiful day!

Mama said we were only going to go a little ways down the trail. She didn’t want me going too far because she didn’t want to have to carry me back. Silly mama!

I thought we should keep going, right down this big hill. Mama thought I was over estimating my ability.

We got to the top of a big hill and mama said we should turn back. I said no way! We argued about that for quite some time.

I love being in my woods.

And then I won and we went down the big hill and up the other side and around to my favorite part of the park. I walked all the way back too, I never once asked mama to pick me up.

We saw a little bit of color. Of course mama had to take a picture.

So there mama, you don’t have to coddle me! On these bright beautiful fall days I can’t wait to get outside and into the woods!

I thought maybe I’d find something good under the picnic table. But nope.

In fact, mama took me to another of my parks tonight, but I’ll save those pictures for another post.

Hey! Do YOU guys have any treats? Cause mama is restricting treat dispersment around here.

I figure you’re pretty much overstimulated with all these images of me. Though I have to say, there’s not a bad picture in the bunch. Naturally.

Always a cover girl.

Talk later,

Your Katie-girl, rock star, hiker extraordinaire, and all around glamour girl.