Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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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.


33 Comments

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…


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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.


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A little attention please!

Katie here.

First of all, how long has it been since you’ve heard from me? I asked mama very politely to please go back and look and has she done it? No! But I can tell you it’s been very very long time in dog years.

Mama! I never get to do anything fun!

And it’s not as if I have nothing to share with you, why it’s been…well…come to think of it, it’s been quite boring around here! Mama and daddy are around more than usual and you’d think that would spice things up a bit but in reality having them around so much just interferes with my naps.

I haven’t been anywhere special since I went to the vet and got my teeth cleaned way back in the middle of March! That was no fun, they pulled six teeth! Mama felt really bad. I made sure to mope around for a day to make her feel extra sad.

The most exciting thing I do is sit around in my yard on my princess pillow.

But I bounced back because I am a sheltie and shelties definitely bounce.

Anyway, since then not to much has gone on. Mama took me to my park (finally!) last week. It was really windy and cold. I thought it was perfect. Most of the pictures in today’s blog are from that walk.

I’m getting a little shaggy with no spa day in sight!

Mama said I looked extra beautiful in the breeze because I haven’t been able to go get my furs cut. Don’t tell anyone, but that’s just fine with me. I am not enamored with the whole bath thing. I would like to get my nails done though.

This sure feels good!

Mama tried to get photos of me when the wind was coming from all directions and my fur was going in all directions too. She said it wasn’t easy.

How often you gonna try for the perfect wind-swept image mama?

Mostly she says it’s not easy because I have that one shot, one treat rule, right? So I’d keep getting up and coming over to her for my treat just when she was going to get the perfect shot. So she says.

They planted daffodils at the entrance to my park!

Being deaf has it’s advantages you know. Not hearing mama say “STAY!” is one of them. Oh yea, she uses the hand signals too, but I figure her broken finger makes that signal void. You know what I mean?

This is a really pretty park, I don’t know why mama needs to lollygag around taking pictures though.

So other than that walk it’s hasn’t been very exciting. It’s getting warmer and mama is busy weeding and stuff. I’d just as soon hang out in the house. If she wants to go sit on my deck, well that’s good, I’ll go do that. Mama says that’s more fun anyway.

It’s kinda nice right here on my deck!

And she went camping last night, out in the yard. I didn’t want to go do that either. Made mama very sad. So to cheer her up I agreed to go to my park this morning and see my Aunt Karen and her boy Deuce and go for a little walk together.

Boy was I in for a surprise! Meet Ace! Deuce has a little brother! This is the only picture you will see of the two of us together.

Ace is a 10 week old cocker spaniel.

Let’s just say maybe we’re not going to be best friends. At least not right now. I imagine he’ll grow up to be OK, after all, his brother Deuce is one of my best friends! Maybe I’ll go for another walk with him when he’s about seven. Yea. Seven is a good age.

Mama took a bunch of pictures of him. I was sort of jealous…I’m sure you’ll see all sorts of cuteness in an upcoming blog.

Ace, during a brief moment of stillness.

But remember…I’m the princess and I get final say on what she posts…so if he’s too cute I might have to get out my veto pen. Of course she’d have to use it, I don’t have thumbs.

Mama said we might go back tonight when it’s cooler and do my dandelion photo shoot. I don’t know about that. We’ll see how she’s planning on paying me.

Anyway, that little guy about wore me out and I need some serious napping. I think I’ll send mama out to weed some more.

Talk later, your park advisor and senior puppy mentor, Katie-girl

Me today at my park, before I knew there was a little guy coming on my walk!


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Be careful what you wish for

Many mornings, during the 30+ years that I worked, I used to wish as I pulled out of the driveway that I could stay home. The few precious days when I was home on a weekday I’d watch the treetops become lit with rosy morning light, watch rectangles of sun slide across my living room floor, and think, “this is what happens every day while I’m at work.”

And I’d feel melancholy.

I’ve been retired for 5 years next month. The time has flown by and I haven’t always noticed when the light touches a branch or the tip of Katie’s nose as she sleeps. I’ve traveled a lot and missed plenty of light movement here at home.

And now we’re under the stay at home order, and suddenly staying at home has lost it’s luster. Maybe it’s because we’ve had mostly grey sky and rainy days here in Michigan. Maybe there hasn’t been that much light to admire.

When it’s not raining it’s snowing.

But I think it’s more than that, this sad feeling I feel deep inside. Yes, I enjoy being home, and feel guilty that I do, but there’s an underlying anxiety that picks away at me.

I haven’t been able to read a book since this started, I don’t have enough focus. I have started my current book five times because I can’t remember what I read the day before. I don’t know that I’ll try again.

Music helps, but I can only listen to short pieces all the way through. I am grateful for all the inspirational and fun pieces of music wandering the internet these days, and I’ve passed several on, but still the anxiety persists.

I thought maybe I was alone in the struggle between sad and happy, but I’ve been reading more and more blogs and articles from people that have similar feelings. Happy one day, anxious the next, lack of focus or direction. No motivation.

Just knowing I’m not alone is helpful as I watch today’s snow fall. I know things will get better. And Katie says that I shouldn’t forget I’ve still got her.

Yea, you’ve got me, mama. But could you wait till I’m done with my nap? Maybe more toward supper time.

That, and the sun shining after the snowfall, should make me feel better.

How about you? Are you happy to be home, or struggling that you’re there?