Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Sunshine and smiles

This week I’m in Florida taking care of a pair of sweet dogs so their folks can take a short vacation. The boys and I are getting along great, though I know they miss their mom and dad.

No more pictures Aunt Dawn! Let’s play!

Sometimes they seem a bit confused, but most of the time they’re happy as long as they get fed. Sounds just like a little girl I know.

Being in Florida I wanted to spend at least a little time wandering the beach. This morning I drove over to the Atlantic to see how the beach fared in yesterday’s storm.

The beach is just down there.

There are miles and miles of beaches to walk, and I only explored a small part of one. It was windy and a bit cool, not exactly beach weather. Still plenty of people were out enjoying the sun after a yesterday’s thunder, rain and tornadic winds.

A peaceful place to read.

There was color out in the water too, and waves tipped with spray under brilliant blue skies.

Wind whipped the waves into froth.

The shore birds were bouncing around.

Hey Fred, is the restaurant open yet?

The waves were spreading out over the sand…

Such a pretty day after stormy yesterday.

It was a good day for a run.

Hurry up dad!

Not that I ran, but it was a good day for one.

And this little guy came out to talk to me on my way back to the car.

Nice day, isn’t it lady!

All and all it was a morning filled with smiles.


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The greening

Taking a walk in the Jacksonville arboretum.

There’s nothing more special than watching your world transform from winter brown to brilliant spring green. But sometimes those of us in the north get impatient while Mother Nature takes one step toward sunlight and falls two steps back into sloppy slushy cold.

Peeking out to see the sun.

So you can’t blame a person for skipping all of those last moments of winter and retreating to warmer climes. Like Florida. And that’s what I’ve done.

Magnolias are in bloom here.

A friend in Florida wanted to take a short vacation, but her two dogs couldn’t go with her, and she wasn’t comfortable putting them in a kennel.

Whimsical tree.

And on a whim she asked me if I’d consider coming down to house sit with her lovely pooches. My calendar was open for the proposed dates. Hmmmm… let me think…would I like to stay in the cold north and continue to watch winter fighting it out with spring?

Cedar stumps create sculpture covered in moss.

Or would I like to walk barefoot on a sunny beach, watch palm trees sway against blue skies.

Pops of color everywhere if you look.

Let me think about that.

Spiderwort grows wild here.

So here I am, hanging out with two sweet boys, enjoying the sunshine and the warmer temperatures. Sure tomorrow is going to be stormy and we’ll be stuck inside all day.

Pretty shell-like fungus hides in the shade.

But that’s OK. It’s almost guaranteed not to snow.

It’s called Christmas licen, bright red on tree trunks.


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It’s not about the art

Once a month a group of ladies (and sometimes men) get together and create a page in their art journals. The session is taught by Kim, a local artist, who plans the activity to help us learn different techniques while expressing a bit of who we are.

Kim’s work is beautiful, our work is stress relieving, peaceful, fun and not meant to be great art.

Started out with graduated colors to build a landscape background.

In fact the evenings aren’t about the art at all. Instead they provide camaraderie, funny stories, lots of laughs and usually cookies.

Last night we all worked on Kim’s vision of combining acrylic paint techniques with primitive dolls with a bit of ourselves.

Then we chalked in the image.

The dolls represented a bit of who we are, or were as kids or always wanted to be. The hair might be the way you wished yours was, the head might be your favorite pet, the colors muted or bright depending on your whim.

Then we blacked out everything but the image.

The final clue about who you are would be something put in the center of the dolls petticoat…but we ran out of time to do that last little bit. I’m thinking about putting musical notes on mine…or maybe just a Treble-clef.

Then we used pinstriping tape (from an auto parts store) to add stripes to her overcoat.

We’ll see if I get around to doing that. Even if I don’t, it was a really fun evening…and I got to play around with acrylic paints, so double fun.

Painted her coat red, then pulled up the tape.

What do you do to treat yourself once in awhile? You can’t beat sitting down with some paint and a bunch of laughing women.

Everybody’s lady is different. Just like we are.

Even if you don’t produce great art.

Having fun on a star filled evening with my primitive lady.


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Don’t take your hands for granted

Monday this week I went for a long walk. I’ve been trying to do that more often, and even though it was cold and very windy I decided I was going to stick with the plan.

Out at the park there was about a mile and a quarter out in the open before the bike path turned into the protection of the forest. I held my hood over my face, bent my head and tried to walk that part as fast as possible.

Once in the woods things were decidedly better and I began to enjoy myself, glad I had stuck with the plan. Still winter hasn’t let go of us here in Michigan and there were dark, seemingly just wet, spots on the path that I skirted because I knew, with temps below freezing, that they’d be slippery ice.

The plan was to walk 6 miles, and just before the 3 mile turn around there was a very large and very wide dark patch. With steep declines on either side of the bike path there was no good choice for going around. Reminding myself that I needed to be careful, not wanting to fall way out there in the woods all by myself, I inched my way across what seemed to be just wet pavement.

And suddenly I noticed that both my feet were up in the air in front of me. And just as suddenly I was flat on the path.

After a quick check that nothing seemed broken I rolled to my knees and crawled to dry pavement. The only thing that hurt were my hands, and those weren’t that bad.

I felt lucky.

Back at the car I posted pictures of the walk, checked my emails and prepared to drive home. But steering hurt my hands, and they were getting worse. I drove home slowly, using my forearms and elbows. My husband wrapped both hands in Ace bandages and I took a bunch of pain relievers to get some sleep, hoping the next day things would feel better.

But things weren’t better in the morning so we went to the doctor who took xrays, proclaimed no broken bones, and prescribed splints and heavy duty pain relief. And now I’m in day three of wearing splints.

I miss my hands.

I had a good friend in college, and for almost 30 years after, who had rheumatoid arthritis. Her hands were in a permanent curve, and she used both of them for simple things like holding a mug, or opening doors. These past three days I am the same, and I’ve been thinking about her a lot.

Michelle was eternally happy, she was a bit older than the rest of us and we used her as a mom substitute. She was the best listener and I wonder, now, if she realized how silly our young problems were. She kept on enjoying her life, though she was in constant pain, until lung cancer, probably caused by the meds she had to take, claimed her 15 years ago.

This week, though the splints make life more difficult, I appreciate the lesson my injured hands have taught: Don’t take hands for granted, they are under appreciated and needed for almost everything.

I’m hoping to be out of splints and back to normal by the end of the week. I’ve got a concert to play on Tuesday.

And I’m pretty sure I can’t do that without my hands.


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Coasting down Michigan’s western shore

Last Sunday a friend and I drove north and west to see Point Betsie with it’s lighthouse in winter. We were hoping to see some waves and some ice, and we saw a bit of each.

Taken by my friend, look how she caught that wave action!

On Monday we meandered under a blue sky down the western coast of Michigan, enjoying the shore and beaches at several parks along the way.

Lake fog danced on the relatively warm water in the single digit air temperatures.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to show you some of the beautiful sights we saw. There are so many it’s hard to choose what to share.

The view was worth the climb!

We stopped across the river from Frankfort early in the day and admired their tugboats…

Tugboats waiting for spring.

…and the lighthouse against the dark sky.

The white buildings pop against the darkening sky.

Then we drove up to a bluff overlooking the harbor and the sun came out. I was a bit scared to drive up the steep, snow covered road, but the view was absolutely worth it.

From up on the bluff.

The early light made the lighthouse glow out there in the blue lake.

Further down the coast Ludington’s shoreline held lots of lovely sights. Even with all the wonderful white snow and blue water, this was one of my favorite shots:

Shadows mimic fence.

And this, the ice on the railing, deserves some attention too.

Ice interest.

So many pretty things to see, I put together a little slide show.

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Our last stop was Muskegon State Park where the views weren’t as stunning, but still very interesting.

A lonely tree on a lonely beach.

We had such a fun time wandering the coast of Michigan even though we didn’t get it all done. That just means we have something to anticipate some weekend when the sun shines and the lake glows.

Oh, and just for me, we stopped along the way for a photo of a barn.

Every road trip needs at least one barn.

I’m looking forward to our continued adventure. It’s nice when you can make something out of a cold winter weekend in the north.

Colors out of this world.


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Check it off the stupendous list

Visiting Point Betsie during the winter is on my list of stupendous things to do in 2019.

Tucked into the sand dunes along the shores of Lake Michigan.

Today I had the opportunity to do just that — and it was beautiful.

At home we had snow yesterday, the most we’ve had in one day so far this winter season, so a trip across the state was in question.

The path down to the beach shows the first glimpse of the turquoise lake.

But by this morning the falling snow had stopped and the sun made it glitter as a friend and I took the chance and drove across the state toward Lake Michigan and Point Betsie, a little over four hours away.

The wind was flinging waves over the breakers.

Though there was little new snow falling, the wind was brisk, and the temperatures were in the single digits. I don’t even want to think about about the wind chill.

The sun tried to break through but ultimately lost out to the clouds.

Trust me it was cold. I could barely get the car door open once we arrived at the lighthouse. We sprinted down to the shore – the lake was it’s typical turquoise.

The lighthouse was beautiful, but the ice coating the land around it prohibited us from exploring too close. That and the chilling wind howling off the lake.

The view looking south, away from the lighthouse, was stunning too.

To the south the light was diffused, the colors muted.

We stayed on the beach for only a few minutes before we ran back to the car, fingers frozen.

My friend heading back to the car, I was right behind her!

Was it worth it to drive over four hours to spend less than 10 minutes enjoying the view.

You bet it was!

Safe and sound at the hotel.


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Cee’s Black & White photo challenge: Music

A few years ago we had a mother/daughter duo playing clarinet in our community band. I took this image just before a concert, for another of Cee’s black and white challenges, that time for two of anthing.

I’ve always liked it, and so did they. I gave them a framed copy.

The daughter was in high school at the time, and now she’s graduated from college. Time flies, but connections made through music last forever.


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Sharing the light

On this last night the Jewish Hanukkah I wanted to share an image:

I borrowed it (with permission) from Daily Musings at A Day in the Life.

I share it with hope that we can all become more tolerant. I believe that all religions are variations on the same theme and that we are not so very different.

Let this year be the year we begin to objectively listen to each other.


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Birding

Tamarack trees provided what little color was left out there.


I got to head back to my favorite park with a friend yesterday. It was cold, almost sleeting and I figured those little birds would be hungry.

You see, I’d taken her out there last summer so that she could experience feeding the birds out of her hand and we had not one bird visit us!

Even without color the woods was still beautiful.

She sort of thought I’d made up the whole thing about the birds out there swooping down into people’s hands for a snack. But yesterday was an entirely different story. Those little ones were all over her!

Three birds visit at once!

And at the end of our walk we ran into some turkeys. They were hungry too.

The colors in the turkey feathers was just amazing.

I trust none of them will be on a table come this Thursday.

Dressed in red bowties, but not planning on attending Thanksgiving dinner.


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Short and sweet

I’m on a quick ‘up north’ trip with a friend. We wanted to make a specific destination in time for sunset, figuring the lowering sun would enhance what remaining color was hanging on the trees.

It was sunny when I left home, but as I headed north more and more clouds accumulated. I wasn’t worried, I figured the sunset would be more interesting with clouds.

But as I pulled within four miles of our destination the sky turned a blank grey and it began to rain. Fog floated up between the trees.

Not looking good for finding color.

I figured trekking through a wet field to the top of a hill in the rain to see the nonexistent sunset was going to be a waste of time. But I’ve learned to never give up, especially when you’re so close. So we trekked.

And as we began to top the hill I knew we were right to make the trip; I could see color out there in the fog.

See what’s over the hill?

And when we got to the top?

Stunning, even in the rain.

Amazing.

It’s supposed to be sunny here tomorrow and we’ll have a few hours to explore before we head home.

Can’t wait to see what we find.

On the road again.