Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Paddle away the blues

Sometimes being here at the house my parents built without them gets a little sad. Though it’s beautiful here it’s also filled with lots of memories.

Savoring the stillness.

Everywhere.

So the other evening, feeling a bit melancholy, I took a little paddle upstream. The evening was warm and still.

Mountains of clouds.

I spent a little time just sitting near the green trees, floating in the water, the clouds reflected all around me. It was just what I needed to fix my blues.

Green reflected in green.

Being a weekday it was quiet, all the weekend lake lovers had to go back to their jobs and city lives. But as I was paddling back to the house a big pontoon boat slid by me creating large waves that gently rocked my kayak. I waved at them. They waved back at me.

Rocking in warm waters.

Southern living. It’s a good thing.

The day’s clouds produced no rain for us. This time.

I headed home to wait for the evening’s sunset.

Perfect.

Pretty in pink.


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Lake dogs

Katie here. I thought I should share an observation I’ve made while living down here in Alabama at the lake.

Dogs around here don’t seem to be bothered by getting their feet wet!

Jet ski dog

Huh.

Why just yesterday I saw several dogs out on the water. I guess they are not all princesses like me.

Kayak dog

As close as I want to get to the water is along the lake shore or maybe on the dock. Yesterday I did run along the shore for awhile, cause my mama and her sister and brother were swimming and I wanted to keep an eye on them.

Paddle board dog

And while they were swimming I barked and chased the waves that dared to splash on my rocks, then I ran to the neighbor’s boat ramp and barked some more; I even got my feet wet there!! Accidentally of course…that one stupid wave was bigger than I thought.

Pontoon boat dog. I think this might work best for a princess like me.

Anyway, yesterday was Saturday and lots of dogs were out on the lake with their people. I guess they were enjoying the water. So I figured I should maybe give it a try. So I asked and my people said I could come along on a boat ride they were planning.

This is the way to travel!

You may remember that I’ve been in a boat over at my Uncle’s place two times before. But that was back when it was a lot cooler outside, and not on a weekend when there were hundreds of thousands of boats out there making waves!

It was a beautiful day so I guess I can’t blame all those boats for being out there.

OK. Maybe I exaggerate a little bit. There were probably only a couple hundred boats out there, and it’s a big lake. Still…it was really bumpy.

I can look adorable even in a bumpy boat!

I was pretty much OK. Sometimes I sat up near the front between my dad and Uncle. A bunch of the time I sat next to my mom or my Aunt. But it was really windy back there.

This is not a good look mama!

If I felt nervous I’d just lean up against mama or my Aunt’s knee and they’d pet me, and then I felt pretty safe.

Sometimes a hand is all a doggie needs to feel a lot safer.

It was nice to be out there…

The fire tower has a flag on it now!

…but as soon as we pulled back into my part of the lake I knew I was almost home and I went to stand up near my Uncle and dad…

A little to the port side Captain!

…to help guide the boat back into the boat lift you know.

I’m pretty sure they were glad they had me along, but to be honest, I was happy to be back with all four of my paws dry and firmly on the ground.

I’m not sure exactly what all those other dogs see in the spray and the waves and the wet! But I guess I’m happiest when I’m next to my people. And if that means I’m in a boat, well, that’s just fine with me.

Signing off for now, First Mate Katie-girl. Boat dog extraordinaire.

Me and my mama chilling out on the boat.


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Truck Safety – the details

It’s a very busy place, Washington DC.


It all started when my dad was killed by a tired semi-truck driver who fell asleep at the wheel and didn’t see the traffic stopped ahead of him early in the morning of December 23, 2004.

Since them members of my family have been traveling to Washington DC regularly to tell our story and lobby for safety on our nation’s roads. This past week my husband and I were there again, talking to the staff of House Representatives and Senators, as well as people at the DOT, about the bigger, heavier, longer trucks that are once again being proposed by some in the trucking industry.

Riding the metro to the Hill on a beautiful day.

Back in 2015 double 33 foot trailers were proposed by the trucking industry, they say because of a driver shortage. What they didn’t say is that adding 5 feet on each of two trailers, hauled in tandem, made the entire truck 83 feet, 8 inches long. That’s similar to an 8 story building. Try passing that on a busy freeway.

We worked long hours and got back to the hotel after dark most nights.

They also don’t tell you that it will take longer to stop, that the back trailer doesn’t track correctly going around corners and that they’re harder to drive, requiring a special endorsement on a driver’s commercial license.

In one of the lady’s rooms, mid century modern makeup chairs.

There’s already a shortage of drivers, finding experienced drivers to haul double 33 foot trailers isn’t going to be easy.

Mountain sculpture in the Hart Senate Building lobby.

Aside from the safety issues, many companies ship their goods ‘intermodal’ meaning they move over land on rails as well as highways, and across the ocean on ships. The 33 foot trailers won’t fit on rail cars as they are configured now, and container ships may have to change the way the trailers are stacked as well. Some people fear that smaller transport companies will be forced out of business as shippers and brokers move to the more competitive larger trailers to ship their goods, regardless of the level of safety attributed to these trailers.

Waiting for a shuttle I thought the metro lines above were interesting.

There’s an appropriations bill in the House of Representatives right now. It’s the kind of bill that ‘must pass’ because it funds most of the Federally mandated programs across the country. Some members of Congress have added amendments to the bill that we consider anti truck safety. Allowing for a study of the double 33 foot trailers is one of these amendments.

It wasn’t all work. We ate dinner down on the wharf near an old torpedo factory that has been turned into an artist loft.

You might think that we shouldn’t be afraid of studying something, and normally I’d agree. But there isn’t much data out there on double 33s, they are running on some roads of certain states, but not many. We’re concerned that the trucking industry will fund studies of their own, and of course those will be favorable.

Right now the amendment is still in the appropriations bill. An amendment offered by another Representative to strip it from the bill failed by a few votes. So we have work to do.

We walked up and down a lot of stairs.

And this is just one issue. There are so many more that I want to tell you about. We worked all week on the Hill, talking about speed limiters, hours of service, underride crashes and the bill sitting in Congress right now, Stop Underride, that needs to move out of committee.

One afternoon we even got to take some time off and visit the national zoo!

We walked between appointments, from the House side to the Senate side of the Hill and back again, in the hot, humid air of summer in DC. It was hard. But getting the call about Dad was harder and I reminded myself how important this all is.

And yes we got lucky and saw the famous pandas.

I know truck safety is not everyone’s thing. And I know some of you will have differing opinions on how to solve the problem of truck crashes on our highways. I have so much more to tell you, and to show you, about our trip to DC last week. But this is already too long, too boring, and just a little stressful.

We had one peaceful evening on the Mall.

So I put a few photos in for relief — just in case you’d rather just look at cool stuff. I’m OK with that too.

Studying before an appointment.

I’ll tell you more about our work in another post. Stay tuned.

The flight home was thankfully incident free.


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Flying back into the fray

We’re back in D.C., ready to work for safer roads.

Flying east with hope

We got in late last night; our flight was delayed due to mechanical problems. We arrived at the hotel long past dinner time having only eaten breakfast many hours prior.

The Potomac River gleams pink as we bank into D.C.

The hotel staff was helpful in finding us one last restaurant that would deliver though they were official closed for the evening. It’s nice when people go out of their way to be helpful.

Flaps up we’re in the Capitol now.

We can only hope the lawmakers we’ll be talking to about bigger and heavier trucks are as thoughtful.

Luggage in tow we’re going to work now.


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Gotcha Day, the adventure continues

Shhhhhh….mama’s sleeping and I wanted to get back online and tell you about the rest of my Gotcha Day, the 11th anniversary of me coming to live with mama and daddy. As you know this year I’m with mama down South, and she forgot all about my anniversary! But we spent the day out adventuring with my Aunt and Uncle, so that’s OK.

After we got finished with the crazy art compound Pasaquan we drove another hour and arrived at a Providence Canyon State Park. It’s Georgia’s very own Grand Canyon!

There were red cliffs and white cliffs and a beautiful blue sky.

Mama and Uncle and Aunt and I decided to walk down to the bottom. Mama was a little worried because it was a warm day and she was picturing herself carrying me back up if I overdid it. We asked a Ranger how far down it was and she said it was a little over a mile down and back up. Well! I can do a mile mama!

She still looked worried, it wasn’t the down that concerned her; she said OK, but she’d be watching me and if I got to lagging she was turning around. Plus she had water for me, and treats. So maybe it would be fun.

Are we going all the way down there mama?

So down and down we went. We saw lots of people coming up and most of them were panting just like me. It was pretty steep. But there were lots of trees for shade and it got cooler the further down we went. Once we got to the bottom I instantly saw a problem.

Water. Lots and lots of water. Not deep, but definitely wet and as you all know I do not get my feet wet. No I do not. I am a princess and it is unseemly to have damp feet. Plus I just went to the groomer a couple weeks ago and I am not up for having to do that all over again.

Ummm…that’s not water is it?

So I suggested we just observe it from the edges. But my peeps seemed to think we needed to walk upstream. I tried to find the dry edges to walk. I was very focused on not getting my feet wet.

Let’s stay over here where it’s dry!

But some of the stream didn’t have dry edges! Oh NO! What is a princess to do?

Oh no! Wet feet!

Eventually, when I had to, I just gave in and walked in the water. Don’t tell them, but it was pretty cool and my feet weren’t so warm when they were wet. But my beautiful white feet turned Georgia clay red!

I don’t like it but I guess I don’t have a choice.

I’m hoping mama doesn’t notice that and doesn’t make me go back to the groomer. I was a pretty wet mess by the time we turned around to head back to the car.

I give up!

On the walk back up the cliff we stopped a whole lot. And not just for me either – my people were huffing worse than me! Most of the time I was out front pulling them along. As you may recall my mama calls me a mountain goat.

Resting on the way up. Don’t look at my red feet.

I did really well, and drank all my water and ate a few treats along the way. We saw lots of dogs but it was mostly the children we ran across that wanted to meet me. I let everybody talk to me and pet me and tell me how beautiful I was (even though I knew I was far from beautiful dripping muddy water off my furs!) and I thought the whole thing was fun, though a bit muddy for the likes of a princess.

I told mama that was stretching it a bit much, so the next place we went that day was a marina where I got to sit under Spanish moss and on a porch with rocking chairs.

This is pretty. And a lot drier!

That was more like it.

Except for the warning about the alligators.

What does this sign say mama?

Geeze mama! What were you thinking! I’m alligator bait here! Let’s get back to the car and home so I can get my supper. Sometimes I don’t think you even have a brain woman!

Once we got home and I got my supper I was all stretched out on my comforter when my Aunt decided she’d comb out all the seed pods and sticks caught in my muddy red fur. I opened one eye, didn’t tell her off or anything, just got up and crawled under the bed.

Enough people! (Don’t look at my red feet.)

I’d had enough adventuring and I didn’t want to be bothered. Mama and my Aunt laughed and said that was OK. And they let me sleep till the next morning by which time I had pretty much cleaned myself up my own way. A princess knows how to prepare for the new day after all. She doesn’t always need help from her people.

The next day I went for a long boat ride and saw cool stuff, but that messed my fur up too. I swear, mama needs to come up with a more sedate adventure for me now. Cause I can’t keep putting myself back together every single day, you know?

I know you know.

Don’t tell the peeps, but this was sorta fun.


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She is everywhere

In memory of my mom. She would have loved this Alabama spring.

Wisteria, in bloom all over. It’s invasive, but oh so beautiful.

Dogwood, such a sign of spring.

Redbud, crazy fushia glowing all through the woods.

There’s a whole bank of crowfoot violets at the end of her street.

I see her everywhere, but nowhere as clear as in her beloved flowers and birds near her home on the lake.

Feeding her ducks.


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When a screwdriver turns into a walk in the park

I’m at the lake house, enjoying the view and the weather and what appears to be spring happening all around me. But evening comes early in this part of the country and during the long dark hours I wander the house, noticing stuff that needs to be done.

Like cleaning — especially those places that aren’t automatically done during a regular visit.

So I decide that the cold air return needs to be spiffed up. I doubt it’s been cleaned in the almost fourteen years since mom and dad left us the house. It’s not something a person would normally pay attention to, but after two weeks of living here, it’s moved to the top of my to-do list.

I look at it more closely and figure I’m going to need a phillips-head screwdriver to get it off the wall. We still have dad’s workshop set up in the basement so I traipse downstairs to search.

Hmmmm….where would I find the right screwdriver?

There’s a lot to choose from, and I quickly find what should be the perfect tool.

Back up the stairs I tromp, petting Katie-girl who is waiting anxiously at the top, unsure of where her mama went. I get down on the floor to begin loosening the screws. But darn! The screws need a flat screwdriver. I don’t know what I was looking at before.

There’s one of everything here.

Shaking my head I get myself up off the floor (which isn’t all that easy these days) and stomp back down the stairs to the workshop. I put the phillips-head back in it’s appointed spot and grab a flat screwdriver.

At the top of the steps Katie waits patiently, wondering what in the world mama is doing now.

Back on the floor again I get the first three screws out; both sides and the top of the grate came out pretty easily. But the screw on the bottom, right down at the floor, is smaller. And, as I peer at it my head flush with the floor, and through my trifocals, I see that it needs a phillips-head screwdriver.

“Hey Katie,” I say, “Want to go to the park?”

Parks are good mama!


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A missing mom kind of day turns extraordinary

I started feeling melancholy last night, laying in bed staring at the ceiling in a house she and dad built a long time ago, surrounded by some of her special things.

All day today, as I ran errands in town, I felt a certain heaviness as I drove past stores we shopped in together, past the university where she worked.

Not much going on in the sky. Yet.

Heading back to the house late in the afternoon I noticed the redbud in bloom, the delicate purple-pink flowers shining against the still bare branches of the rest of the forest. She’d have liked that.

I thought I’d take Katie to a park, sort of a reward for patiently waiting for me all day. But she wasn’t in the mood, and to be honest, neither was I. I thought I’d settle for a nap. But I was restless and sleep wouldn’t come.

A gentle circle in the grey water.

So Katie and I headed out to the dock to sit and wait for the sunset. I wasn’t expecting very much, there were only a few clouds in the sky and the last few nights haven’t been very interesting.

Still. It was nice to be sitting on the end of the dock with my feet hanging down over the water and my Katie-girl laying tight up next to me. I was still feeling sad, but it was a peaceful sort of sad.

Circles within circles.

The water was still, reflecting the sky and clouds. I smiled, and watched the water move as small minnows just touched the surface, creating gentle circles that quickly moved outward.

I couldn’t see the actual fish, just the circles appearing like magic and spreading across the water. Soon there were circles intersecting other circles.

Expanding lines intersect.

I focused on capturing those gentle patterns. Katie fell asleep beside me.

I was so intent on trying to get those circles, trying to get the light right, the focus crisp. I almost forget to check the sky. But the sun waits for no photographer; the sky was beginning to show a bit of color. And I was starting to feel a bit better.

A little bit of pink turns up for the show.

But those little fish were still making circles and I wasn’t sure I had captured the exact perfect one. So I turned the camera back to the water.

And then I realized the circles were now pink. The water was pink. Which meant the sky must be…..pink.

The circles begin to glow

I looked up. And had to hold my breath.

Katie stirred and agreed to pose with the sky. She didn’t even ask for a treat. The sky was enough.

I can’t believe how beautiful this is mama!

It’s impossible to overstate how the sky this evening picked me up. I was laughing and running up and down the beach trying to capture it all.

Katie stood on the dock and watched me with a patient look on her face. She knows her mama and she was happy that I was happy.

No words can adequately describe this.

Thanks mom, for sending me the sunset tonight. I know you were there watching me watch it. It looked like something you might have painted.

For all I know you did.

Spectacular