Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Abby and me

Katie here. Hey! Bet you’ve been wondering what I’ve been doing lately – right? What? You’ve been busy with all the craziness going around, the virus, the election, the weather?

I’m not on your radar?

At a new park!

Huh.

I think mama’s been slipping. I hired her to be my agent, my marketing advisor, and my general manager, but maybe that’s too much for her, what with her being elderly and all.

I might have to reevaluate her contribution to my franchise.

We had a pretty beautiful day to enjoy the park.

I guess I’ll have to tell you about an adventure I had last weekend myself. I can’t believe it’s already a week ago and mama hasn’t put it up on my her blog.

You might remember that last year I got to meet aother sheltie-girl, Abby. We met her and her mom down in Ann Arbor and walked in the Arboretum. We said we’d get together again, but you know how time flies, and here it is a year later and we still hadn’t gotten back together.

This is Abby and her mom Shawn just last weekend.

So I told mom she better get to getting and arrange another walk date with my friend. And you know what? She listened to me and the next thing I know I’m in the car and the ride is much too long for us to be going to my usual parks.

Isn’t she beautiful? She’s 13.

I got kinda nervous, but figured I’d trust mama this time, and I was happy I did. Cause we got out of the car at a beautiful little park in Ann Arbor, and there was Abby and her mom!

It was nice to see Abby again!

Both of us are a year older now and we don’t go on real long walks any more, but this little park was perfect, with lots of places for the moms to sit and talk while we rested.

Abby liked to sit between her mom’s feet.

Well, sometimes we rested, sometimes we asked how long the moms were going to sit around.

I liked to spend our walk breaks checking for treats.

Abby and I were OK with posing for the moms as long as we were maintaining our social distancing. It’s really not that hard, neither one of us understands why people are having such a hard time with this concept.

Abby will pose for NO TREATS! I’m going to have to explain my ‘one shot, one treat’ rule to her.

Anyway, it was really good to see Abby and her mom. We decided we might try to get together again before the weather gets too bad. But knowing mama, that will probably be next spring!

I think our beauty enhanced this park. Dont you?

Abby. She’s so beautiful, she still reminds me of a regal queen. Queen Abby and Princess Katie. We were quite a beautiful sight, as we were told by numerous people out there in the park.

Hanging out together, but not too close together.

People are pretty good at spotting royalty, even when we leave our tiaras at home.

Definitely royality.

Signing off for now,
Park Princess Katie

It’s good to have a girlfriend when you want to go on a walk.


32 Comments

2 smiles, one weekend

I’m a lucky lady, I got to experience two big smiles jammed into one weekend. Plus we are experiencing beautiful weather, warm and sunny with the trees starting to turn color. The morning and evening light makes the trees just glow.

But that’s a different blog post.

My first smile of the weekend was Saturday evening when I got to play in a pop-up concert with some of my Clarkston Community Band mates and several professional musicians who came to fill holes in our orchestration.

The neighbors came out to listen to us play on their cul-de-sac.

We haven’t played together since early March. Many of us haven’t played at all since then, though most of us frantically practiced these past few days trying to get our lips back in shape. The professionals sightread the music and sounded wonderful. I was grateful to get to play with them.

Thankful for these guys coming to help us out.

It was a lovely night and we are reminded again why we play long after school ends. As our Director, Ms. Roland said, tonight we’re not talking about politics or bingewatching silly shows on TV, we’re not thinking about virusus or worried about the future.

ALl about the music.

Tonight it’s about the music. And what a relief that was.

Keeping us in time.

I hope the neighbors who came out of their homes, sat in lawn chairs and waited while we did a little rehearsing before we began, I hope they had as much fun as we did.

Making a big sound.

But I don’t see how they could have had more.

He’s played with us since he was a kid, now grown up and still making music.

Then this morning I did a virtual 5K with my friend Tami who lives in California. So that we could run/walk together she went out at 6 a.m. while it was still dark, and I waited until 9 am. here, an hour or more later than I would normally go out.

At the turn around point.

It was a compromise on both our parts because we wanted to motivate each other. Compromise works, I wish it was something that happened more in our world, but I’m not going there in this post.

Nope, this post is all about smiles. I hope you had something fun to do, or pretty to see, or beautiful to listen to this week.

As we march toward November we all need to remember to smile. And that’s as political as I’m going to get today.

Trombones all in providing the bass sounds.


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Planning a Walktober

A rainy day for a walk, still the colors were great.


Those of you new around here might not know what a Walktober is. It’s one of my favorite things to do in the fall and I’m delighted that Robin, over at her blog Breezes at Dawn is going to host it again this fall.

I’ve been doing her Walktober for a number of years, I should go back and count how many, and I always enjoy it. Sometimes even Katie joins in, and you know what a princess she is!

Katie shared her backyard last October.

Walktober is just what it sounds like. You go on a walk, in October, take a picture or a few pictures, (or a lot if you’re like me) and write a post on your own blog, linking it to Robin’s. At the end of the submission time she will post and link to everyone’s walk and we’ll all get to see what other parts of the country or the world look like in October.

Maybe you’ll find flowers to share with us!

So think about it. If you wanted to show us something you value and enjoy near you, where would you go? Visit a favorite spot, between October 3rd and the 18th, then link your post to Robin’s official Walktober announcement post (which she’ll have up prior to the start). That’s all there is to it.

Even if you pick a rainy day there will be something pretty or interesting to photograph.

It’s so much fun, you won’t ever regret getting out for a walk (or as Robin says, a bike ride, a skate, a run, a paddle or even a drive) in October!

Biking would be fun too.

And those of you living in cities shouldn’t feel left out. Last Walktober I took everyone on a tour of Detroit’s riverfront, with a side trip into a bit of the city. Feel free to take us for a walk anywhere! The more diverse posts we get to see the better!

Photos on this post are from several of my own walks around here these past few days. I can’t wait to see where you will take us all! See you soon!

Starting to show a touch of color now.


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Thank you

You are all so nice to be worried and I appreciate all the helpful suggestions about my lost pictures. I should have been more clear in telling you I do have all the pictures on the old laptop backed up on an external drive. I just never deleted the files on the laptop. I have a hard time deleting anything.

This is the way my birdfeeder looks when I’m shooting through the window, there are often reflections that bisect the feeder, but this was my first sighting of what I thought was a juvenile rose-breasted grosbeak. They love safflower seeds. Notice there are none on the feeder.

I also have most of the pictures over here on the new laptop too. So really, there was no reason not to delete a boatload of stuff off the old laptop to make room for the few pictures I wanted to find.

So I did.

I put some safflower seed out. And I waited. The cardinal was very pleased, it’s one of his favorites too.

I found most of what I remembered and downloaded those to the old laptop, then looked at them over there and emailed myself a few of them which I then downloaded to my new laptop.

I waited while other birds showed up looking for lunch.

Seems convaluted but it sort of worked. The hardest part was trying to find the photos I remembered from a couple weeks ago looking at little thumbnail images. But I got most of it.

I think.

Lots of other birds showed up.

I wonder why I have such a hard items deleting stuff when I know it’s being stored somewhere else and it’s just taking up valuable space.

And when I’m taking new pictures and sorting through them the image has to be really really bad for me to delete it. And if it’s family or Katie, well, even really really bad images get to stay.

Finally! See him down on the baffle, right at the level of the deck railing in this shot. See the beginning of the rose patch on his breast? He’s not at all sure about all the bird activity up above. In fact that might be another grosbeak landing!

Why is that?

I think one of the reasons I love taking pictures is that it preserves that moment in time, a moment that is already gone by the time the shutter shuts. And each moment seems so precious that even if the image is bad it’s still some sort of preservation.

Finally they both showed up. (This is the other one, and possibly an adult femail.)

I don’t think most people feel this way and I wonder where it comes from.

Anyway, today’s images are brought to you from deep in the memory card and a couple weeks ago when I had a juvinile rose brested grossbeak at the feeder. Maybe I had two, there’s one image with one on each end of the feeder.

They were adorable to watch.

They were only here for two days and I’m glad I got to watch them and capture their cuteness before they went on their way. I hope they come back next spring!

Immature male cardinal? Or just an older molting guy?


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When you get to see a comet you can’t help but smile

Sometimes stuff just works out.

Last week I had an impromptu opportunity to go north to visit a friend who lives in what I call my “Happy Place,” along the shores of Lake Michigan. I haven’t been in a more than a year, but it’s still just as beautiful as I remember.

I’m rarely here in summer, this is the most people I’ve ever seen on the beach!

Since we’ve both been pretty careful to stay away from crowds of people we felt comfortable being in each other’s company, though we spent almost 100% of the time outside. Trust me, that is not a sacrifice.

I left lower Michigan under blue skies and temperatures in the 80s. Five hours later I pulled into her driveway and it was 62 and raining. Suddenly the shorts and Tshirt I wore seemed pretty skimpy.

Stormy weather greeted me upon arrival.

Still, it was beautiful.

I was up there to introduce my friend to another friend of mine who has just moved into the community. I think they have several things in common and might enjoy each other’s company. And just by coincidence I’d be on the shores of Lake Michigan, looking northwest, where there happened to be a comet that I might be able to photograph. If the sky cooperated, and if I could figure out those pesky camera settings.

The first night there wasn’t much of a sunset. But it was pretty.

Though the rain stopped that first afternoon, the sun set behind a bank of clouds. Definitely no comet watching that night.

I wasn’t too worried, I had two more nights, and the forecast said we’d have beautiful, clear weather. So I slept my first night in my friend’s bunkhouse, a screened building with a comfortable bed from which I could hear the waves lapping at the shore and the birds singing in the morning. And during the night I could check the sky without even getting out of bed.

The perfect guest house.

It was marvelous.

The next morning dawned clear and beautiful.

The weather looked promising early in the day.

We went for a walk on the beach, enjoying blue skies and sparkling water.

Just a touch of cloud out there on the horizon. Maybe tonight will be comet night!

I got to put my feet in my lake, and that always makes me smile. And of course I picked up a few stones, it’s impossible not to. In fact I think it’s a scientific fact that you must pick up stones while walking this beach.

Modern, abstract art shimmers in the clear water of Lake Michigan.

As evening approached we noticed a bank of clouds hanging low along the horizon. But we hopefully set up down on the beach, me with my camera, my friend with her telescope.

That bank of clouds might be a problem.

And we waited. The sun set. It was pretty. But the clouds obscured the comet, so we concentrated on watching a freighter go by.

I did a longish shutter speed just to make the lights blur.


And then I went to bed in my wonderful bunkhouse and listened as the wind picked up and the waves crashed. I added extra blankets and had a wonderful sleep.

The next morning, my last full day at my lake, the moon came up in the pink sky and I hoped that tonight we’d get a chance to see that comet.

The moon showed up and danced between the clouds.

Meanwhile I took some pictures in her native plant garden…

Native lilies opened the next day.

…and then we hiked through one of the county’s conservancy properties where we feasted on wild red raspberries and enjoyed the dappled sun sliding through tall trees.

Great Spangled Fritillaries.

We saw another beautiful sunset that night. But even by 11 we couldn’t see the comet, so everyone went to bed.

A cat sculpture stretches, getting ready for sleep.

I was determined to get up in an hour when it would be darker to do some star photography, even if the comet never showed up.

At midnight I picked up my camera and tripod and began to edge down the 40+ steps to the beach. I glanced to the north and there it was! A brilliant white triangle that obviously wasn’t your typical star.

The lights on the water is a boat sitting out there, probably also watching the comet. And if you look carefully you can see the second tail, a blue streak to the left of the white tail and going straight up.

I ran back in the house and got my friend and we stood there on the stairs just watching it. Amazing.

I went down to the beach and set up the camera. It wasn’t that easy to find the comet through the viewfinder, but lucky for me there was a boat out there, just under the comet and I could see it’s lights in the camera’s screen. So I pointed at the boat and shot while hoping I got the comet in the frame.

Luckily I did.

As the comet was fading I captured either a shooting star, or more likely, the space station sliding across the sky.

I shot for maybe an hour, sometimes straight up into the stars, sometimes toward the comet, sometimes including the big dipper. I didn’t have a wide angle lens to capture the big dipper in the same shot as the comet, but I was having fun anyway.

Eventually the comet faded and I remembered that the milky way would probably be to the south, directly behind me. I turned around and laughed out loud.

The milky way was waiting patiently for me to notice it.

Yep. I have to say it was an amazing night. In fact I stayed up all night, taking pictures, and then laying in bed looking at them in the camera. I think I looked at all of them at least a couple times, smiling in the dark.

By the time I was finished analyzing the images (which was stupid because they don’t look that great on the back of the camera) birds were beginning to sing. And then I saw the biggest star I’ve ever seen come up to the east.

Venus welcomes me to a new day.

Turns out it is Venus, and of course I had to set up in the front yard and try to capture that. And then the sky turned pink, even out over the lake and of course I had to run back down the 40+ steps to the beach.

Another amazing morning on my lake.

And when I finally made my way back up to the house, intent on getting a couple hours of sleep, I noticed the cat sitting in the window watching my antics.

What in the world are you doing out there lady?

And of course I had to capture that too. Not a lot of sleep, but one of the most fun nights I’ve had in a very long time. Thank you to my northern friend for sharing her amazing home, though I wasn’t inside it very much.

Can’t beat this view.

Sitting on the deck and just watching the lake is more then enough, much less a hike in the woods and a comet photoshoot…with the milky way thrown in.

And on the way home I got a couple barns to boot.

Barn #1

I’m smiling now just thinking about it.

Barn #2


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Doing so much smiling I haven’t had time to blog!

I’ve been away, but I don’t want to miss this weeks’ smile. So I’ll share one photo from my quick get-away.

I hope it made you smile too.

I’m still working on the processing of images like these, but the fact that I even found the milky way and got some of it in the image made me grin.

I’ll be back with more on this impromptu adventure, as well as the images from the new park I explored a week ago. Coming to a blog near you soon.

Promise.


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So about that spunky little bird

A few of you are wondering, still, what the story is about that spunky little bird you saw in a previous post.

He was a quick little painting to do, all wet paint on wet paint running together. I really liked him, and didn’t mail him off right away, though I did post him on Facebook saying something like “I think he’s ready to fly.” He got a lot of comments, naturally, as he is very very cute.

I considered keeping him, he made me smile so much, but he was created to fly off to a forever home so eventually I scrolled through my address book and chose a place for him to land.

His new mom is a member of my Truck Safety family. Her son and her ex-husband were killed when the car they were in was rear ended by a semi a few years ago. She’s using her unrelenting grief to work with the Truck Safety Coalition as we try to make safety a priority.

I thought of her because she’s spunky too. She’s not a very big person, but she’s so strong and eloquent and unafraid to make waves. She’s just the kind of spark we need and I so appreciate her.

So I wrote a note on the back of the painting saying he reminded me of her and mailed him off. A few days later I received a Facebook message from her, thanking me for the gift of her little bird and telling me this story:

She noticed ‘her’ bird on my Facebook post, and said, aloud, “Oh I want you little bird,” but she didn’t comment on the post. She figured I had made him for someone, and had already decided where he was going.

But she connected with him.

So she squealed when she opened the unexpected envelope and the little bird hopped out. Her husband wanted to know what was up…and she told him I had sent her the bird she’d wanted. He figured she had asked me if she could have him. But she hadn’t.

No, she never commented on him at all, I randomly picked her name out of all the names in my address book. I think this little bird was destined to find his forever home with this mom. I think he was meant to help her her with her unbearable sadness.

And I don’t believe it was a coincidence.

Do you?


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Painting smiles, one day at a time.

I started making little paintings when the Covid craziness started, back in the middle of March. Originally I thought I was going to send a card to someone each day, in the hopes that it would make them smile amidst what felt like panic and fear. Then I realized I’d have to go to a store to buy cards. And they were expensive.

Nature in all it’s colorful forms

I don’t exactly remember the first time I googled ‘easy water color pictures,’ but there were a bunch of ideas. I started saving ideas into a folder, not anything specific for people, just little things I thought I could replicate. And I had some old, dried up watercolors on a pallet from years ago…and some paper somewhere in a bin in the basement.

So what the heck, I hand cut some rectangles the size that would fit into a small envelope and started out. I’d paint something and if it wasn’t too awful I think about who in my address book might like it. And then I’d send it off.

One a day, a little bit of a smile, sent through the post office, to someone who might be surprised and happy to get mail that wasn’t advertising or a bill.

A rustic little scene of a friend’s favorite beach in Maine.

Eventually I started looking for specific things for people I knew. A crane for someone who always has a family of cranes she watches each year. Musical instruments for musicians I know. A black cat for a friend that has three of them at home. Another black kitty for someone who’s black furbaby just died.

This little goldfinch just popped off the page and definitely made me smile.

I started watching youtube tutorials and trying to recreate the fun things I saw there. A lot of that is abstract, filled with doodles and color. Those are so fun, but harder to place in good homes.

I’m still doing this, though now I don’t mail one every day. It’s taking me longer to get them done, some of them are getting more complicated and have required more than one attempt.

Different kinds of art, something for everyone.

I haven’t shown you the failures yet.

Still, I’m plugging along. I posted on Facebook a week or more ago that I had completed a few, and now I have a list of people hoping to find smiles in their mailboxes someday. I’m working through the list…but I’m also just doing stuff for fun.

Remind me to tell you the story of this little bird.

My biggest challenges are those for people where I have a specific idea and I’m having trouble executing what’s in my head. Some of you may fall in this category. At this stage if you haven’t seen a smile it’s because I’m stuck on something that isn’t working and I’m still trying to figure it out.

Sometimes I get in my own way, you know?

These went to family in Norway, representing things we saw on our visit last year.

And, of course, if I don’t have your address, well, it’s hard to mail you a smile. I just sent some to our family in Norway, and I have one ready to go to Canada, but I’m not showing you that one because it hasn’t left yet and I wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise.

These were all so fun to do!

Anyway, this is a rambling post just to share with you all the fun stuff I’ve been doing. The pictures in this post are the latest pieces, done since my last post about all of this. I’ve sent 80 so far, but I’m definitely slowing down.

Guess this was my purple and blue period.

If you’ve received one of my smiles I hope it worked and you’re smiling still. If you haven’t, and you would like to, well, message me on FB or email me, and I’ll add you to the list.

Be patient though…you just never know when a smile will strike!

An osprey a day…no wait, that’s not how it goes…


38 Comments

Still mailing those smiles

It seems like I just wrote about the little water color paintings I’ve been doing and sending off each day. But when I look back I see it’s been a month, and in a month there’s been about 30 more little paintings.

Do you want to see some of them? I’ll be honest, I like looking at them, and sometimes it’s hard to mail them away.

But I hear back from most people that receive them, and so far the notes and paintings seem to be doing the job they were sent to do. They are making people smile.

Not every painting has been a success. There have been several failures, though sometimes I look at one of those and think maybe I can salvage it.

I think that especially on Sunday nights when I don’t have anything to mail on Monday. So far I haven’t missed a day and I don’t want to break my streak.

I’ve started doing something specific for people’s birthdays. I’ve even sent a few sympathy cards made from one of my paintings.

I have a few more ideas, but the momentum is slowing down. I planned on continuing this until life gets back to normal, but the reality is that normal is an unknown thing now and may always be.

In fact we may lose our entire summer to this stay at home order here in Michigan. Certainly there will be restrictions for the foreseeable future.

So maybe I’ll continue painting these. If you haven’t received one, please don’t be sad. It’s probably because I don’t have a mailing address for you. You’re welcome to send me an address and I’ll see what I can come up with!


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The joke’s on mama

Katie here. Again. I just couldn’t resist telling you a funny story about mama. You remember that yesterday I got to go to my park and we walked with Aunt Karen and Deuce and the new puppy Ace?

Ok, I admit it. They’re both adorable.

And the dandelions were all in bloom and mama wanted to do my annual yellow flower photo shoot but it was so hot she decided she’d bring me back after supper to do it?

Aunt Karen took this one, I was trying to get her to make my mama stop cause it was HOT out!

Well, we did go back in the evening. And did you know that dandelions close up when the sun goes down? Mama did not.

Yep, the flowers are all closing up mama!

So we pull into the parking lot and she realizes the field is not filled with yellow like it had been during mid-day. And she’s trying to get me to hurry out to the softball field before they close up entirely.

There was a cool breeze and it was lovely out there!

But I like to sniff things. And perhaps pee on something. Or both.

Plus I am thirteen, mama! Give me a break. Oh wait…yes I was actually prancing and running around because it was a lot cooler than it had been earlier.

Here’s a pretty one, right here, mama!

I kind of liked it.

In fact I didn’t mind posing at all with what few dandelions we could find. I even went off and found a few for her myself.

Can we go home now mama? I think the sun went to bed.

She’s silly, my mama, but I guess I’ll keep her.

The car’s over that way, mama.