Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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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?


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A note a day continues

A few days, or was it weeks ago, it’s so hard to keep track these days, I posted about mailing a letter to someone each day of this crisis. It was something to keep me busy and I hoped it would spread a few smiles around at the same time.

Well…it morphed into doing these little postcard-sized water colors and writing a note on the back of them. And that turned into such a fun thing that I look forward almost every day to sitting with my paints and snippets of paper. You never know what will emerge.

These have all been mailed to their new forever homes.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, these are not original images. I googled ‘simple water colors’ and found most of them. Then I use the images as inspiration. I have to say that what I end up with isn’t entirely like what I see on my laptop.

But I like them anyway!

They are all like my children, and each morning I pick one and mail it off to someone, hoping it will find a good home. Some are harder than others to let go, but the idea that I can go find more to paint is motivation to send them on their way.

This is the latest batch. I am stretching more, doing a lot of different things.

I think I’m getting more smiles out of this project than the people who receive them. After all, I get to see them all assembled together and I think they have more impact that way.

So I’m sharing them with you, because I can’t mail one to each of you, and this way you’ll get to see them all anyway!

I hope they made you smile!

Gotta watch out for those cats, they’re everywhere!


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Should be celebrating

Me, my first spring with mama and daddy.

Katie here.

Do you know what today is? I bet most of my fans have it marked on their calendars. Even mama said she had a big party planned for me. Frankly I’m surprised there isn’t an outcry for a national holiday just to celebrate.

Today is my Gotcha Day!

Yes, 13 years ago today I came home with mama and daddy and changed their lives forever. I like to think they’re grateful for that.

And because they are grateful mama said she planned a big party with all my friends from all over the world and there was going to be cake and ice cream (my favorite is ice cream) and presents and lots of music and fun games and brand new squeaky toys for everyone!

But then this virus thing happened and now mama says we’re not going to do anything.

Watcha mean no party mama?

Nothing?

Not even a walk in my park? Or just a little ice cream? I mean, really mama? Nothing?

I think I should go on strike. I should withhold all my attention and love and stuff. Cause not celebrating me every opportunity you have is just wrong.

I’m taking my blankie and finding someone that appreciates me!

Don’t you agree?

I thought so.

Hmmmph.

Awwww, who can resist this face? My first nap at my new house.


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How to make a note a day

When all this virus stuff started making headlines I talked about using the time to connect with people in ways we haven’t in awhile. I remembered a challenge I once accepted to send a letter a day (or it might have been a letter a week) to someone, and how fun that had been.

And I vowed to do something similar during this crisis.

So I started the end of last week…scrounging through drawers looking for a card…finally finding one and sending it to a friend I haven’t seen in awhile who had surgery recently.

The next day I picked up a couple cards at the grocery store during my toilet paper run, and I’ve mailed those too. But I recognize that not only are buying enough cards to send one a day for the foreseeable future expensive, but I don’t really want to go out and buy anything during this stay at home order we’re living with here in Michigan.

So I took an idea from another friend’s blog, Far Side of Fifty. She makes cards all through the year. I’m sure people love to get them too!

I dug around in my basement bins for my old water color pallet and a pad of paper. I decided I didn’t want to mess around with trying to make a folded card, so I cut the paper into rectangles that will fit inside generic envelopes. Then I looked online to find “easy watercolor pictures’ and saved a bunch that I thought I could do.

And this morning I sat down and made three of them. I’ll write a note on the back, slip each into an envelope and mail them off, day by day.

It was fun to do them, and I hope they’ll be fun to receive. I don’t know how long I can keep this up…but I know I’m set for the next three days!

I hope you have found something fun to do with any spare time you’ve got. I recognize that not everyone has any time to spare during this crazy period. If you have kids at home, or are trying to work full time from home, or are taking care of friends and neighbors on top of your own worries, then you probably don’t have time to make cards and mail letters.

But maybe during an evening or two you can face-time a friend, or give a neighbor a call. I think you’ll be smiling as much as I am when you do.