Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


25 Comments

Running toward the past

Once upon a time, more than two decades ago, I joined a online group of women who wanted to run. I met some of them out at Kensington, my favorite park, and that first day we walked and ran around the lake, eight miles. We walked the uphills and ran the downhills and had a great time talking.

Today I ran behind this guy for quite awhile, but at 3 miles I turned back and he kept going.

Over the years we’ve run plenty of training runs either together in person or together in cyberspace. Plenty of races too, including several half and full marathons. We’ve even been on a few road trips to do races, those are the most fun!

And after each race or long run I’d post my ‘nature report,’ things I’d seen along the way. Even in marathons I could usually remember one thing from each mile to comment on in my race report delivered to our common website after I was home.

The cowslips and most of the trillium are gone, but I found a few still blooming.

Then, ten years ago I ended up with a stress fracture in my right foot, training for a local half marathon, and the running, for me, stopped. I stayed in touch with the group though, cheering on those who were still running, celebrating life events like children’s weddings and the birth of grandchildren too.

The group is much smaller now, but they still support my attempts to get back to running. On my 60th birthday I met some of them for a race in a small town several miles away. Some of them did a half marathon, I did the 5K and then waited to cheer them in after their race. (If you want a giggle, read the post at the link above.)

I don’t know what this is, it was about knee high, all these blossoms are connected to one stem.

Still, even after that I didn’t get back into the running groove. And time moved on.

I miss my friends, I miss the comradery of preparing for a race together, even if it is online. I miss writing my nature reports.

There’s quite a bit of this, reminds me of perennial geranium in my garden.

So a couple of months ago I registered for a local race. It’s a 10 mile race in Flint Michigan at the end of August, and I used to run it all the time – I think the first time I ran it was 1990. In the past decade I’ve run the 5 mile event, and I’ve walked the 10 mile, but I haven’t really trained to run the long, hot and humid race.

And now that I’m registered, well, I have to get cracking. So for several weeks I’ve been trying to get out the door every other day at least for a long walk. And in this past month or so I’ve been adding running bits.

This little whippersnapper passed me a couple of times. Then she’d walk and I’d pass her.

At first just a quarter within each mile. Sometimes not even that. Some days are just walk days. But this week I had a four mile run/walk where I ran the middle two quarters of each mile back to back. A half a mile each mile run.

OK, so run might not be exactly the right word. It’s not that I’m fast. But still.

Then she got further ahead and when I went around the next corner she was long gone.

Some weeks are better than others, and I’m worried that I’m nowhere near ready to do 10 miles, but I’m trying not to get injured, so I’m going slow.

I’ll be traveling a lot this summer which always makes it more difficult for me to train. But I hope that we’ll be doing lots of walking and somehow I’ll stay in shape.

Hot and sweaty but still smiling.

Once I get in shape of course.

Set the phone camera on ‘selfie’ and held it under the may-apple leaves, shooting up.


13 Comments

This week’s smile

Trent, over on Trent’s World, hosts a weekly blog post that collects smiles from bloggers all over the world. This week his featured smile is the bees that survived the Notre Dame fire.

And he wonders what all of us have found to smile about lately.

I did plenty of smiling this week, given the first part of the week I spent in Florida, walking beaches and exploring parks, and especially hanging with good people and wonderful dogs.

Hi mama!

And of course I flew home on Wednesday to my husband and my Katie-girl. Lots to smile about there too.

Then last night I attended a community orchestra concert in a small town about an hour from here.

A fun evening.

On the early evening drive over to the venue the sky was filled with big beautiful blue bottomed clouds. I wished I had my camera and time to find a place to stop.

I had neither.

The concert was fun, and it was good to see an almost full house to support a community orchestra. There were some really talented people playing, and you could tell they were having a great time.

Pretty amazing!

After it was over I emerged from the high school to see the clouds were thinning, but still in evidence. And they were turning purple and pink.

The barns were glowing.

With only my phone to capture the beauty and in a community I didn’t know I set out trying to find an open field with a place to pull over before all the light was gone.

Everything was beautiful.

I got a few good shots, and that, in combination with the evening’s music, made me smile.

What made you smile this week?

The last glow of a great evening.


9 Comments

Nobody asked me if I wanted to go

Katie here.

You’re going to think I’m being repetitive if every time you hear from me it’s to complain about mama. Yet here I am once again having to deal with a mama that obviously doesn’t think about me before she goes off and has a good time.

This time it was even worse because she came home after being gone a whole week and she smelled like my boyfriend Reilly! Can you believe that?

Denny and Reilly my boyfriend at the beach.

She went to visit Reilly and his little brother Denny and she didn’t take me!

OK. So yes she flew and yes I would not like flying. And yes I didn’t have to go to camp and yes my daddy was with me and yes daddy and I had a great time.

So maybe it wasn’t all that bad. I guess.

She came home Wednesday night and I made sure to get her up very early Thursday so that we could spend lots and lots of quality minutes together.

She was very appreciative.

Red skies early in the morning.

She did get to see the sunrise because of me. She said it was pretty. I guess it probably was, I don’t know because I went back to sleep as soon as she was up and moving around.

She did take me to my favorite park Thursday afternoon and we even got to watch some guys do a managed burn at one of my other parks!

This was at one of my parks!

I’ve never seen that before, it would have been scary if I hadn’t been in my car with my mom right by me. Mom thought it was very interesting even though emotionally she has a hard time with something burning up right in front of her eyes.

Me at my park, with the burned area right across the creek.

Mama said she liked the bits of spring she found better than all the smoke and flames across the way.

Hope buds eternal.

And she says we better enjoy it while we can because those weather people are predicting snow this weekend.

So anyway…I’m thinking maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on mama. My Mr. Reilly wanted her to visit for a few days and she went to take care of him, and I’m thankful she could do that, cause Mr. Reilly is a very very special guy.

I hear the boys are very good at asking for treats too.

The fact that mama got to walk on the beach without me is something I will just have to forgive. Forgiving will be easier if there are treats involved. You, my faithful readers, may want to remind mama of that important detail.

Guess who forgot to bring treats on this walk?

She seems to have forgotten that part of our contract.

Talk later,

Your gal Katie, patience is my middle name.

Yea. Right.

You can’t hide treats from me mama!


10 Comments

Dutton Island Preserve

On my last full day in Florida my friend took me to another sort of park. Not on the ocean, no waves pounding the shore, no shells to collect.

I loved the subtle color of the grass curving into the brilliant blue of the water.

No, Dutton Island Preserve is quieter, more reflective and sits among the salt marshes, an entirely different world.

The water was so still.

We walked among tall pines and over boardwalks. We listened to the birds calling, and watched for fish to jump.

So much texture and color!

It was a small park compared to the vastness of the ocean, but it was beautiful. Though we only saw one woodpecker, we heard plenty of things rustling in the grass or hopping about overhead.

Hungry bird.

It was a wonderful way to wind down a lovely week spent in the warm sun with good friends and good dogs.

Great day for a paddle.


10 Comments

Little Talbot Island State Park

Monday my friend took me out to Little Talbot Island State Park where we wandered on a beach totally different from the beach at Mayport Naval Base.

Wide sandy beaches meet the turquoise ocean.

Instead of a beach covered in shells crunching under foot there was a wide span of white sand stretching as far as the eye could see.

And hardly anyone was out there aside from a few people fishing from the shore.

More birds than people at the beach on Monday.

We walked a long way. I kept noticing how the sand changed the further we went. The tide was out and the hard packed sand showed evidence of how the water had massaged the sand into fascinating shapes, then left it to bake in the Florida sun.

Memories of the last tide etched in the sand.

I kept taking pictures of the sand, thinking to myself…who does this? Who focuses on the sand and not the beautiful vistas?

Don’t you wonder how this pattern was made?

Well…I do.

And you’ve already seen beautiful beaches with turquoise water reflecting brilliant blue skies. I wanted you to see something different.

The colors of the water close to shore were spectacular.

Next time you’re out on a beach somewhere look down and pay attention to what you see. There’s all sorts of color and patterns there, mostly taken for granted.

The last bit of water flows back to the ocean.

Interesting things live there too, like this ghost crab that we found far from his home on dry land where he would typically live.

Don’t mess with me people!

We think a bird picked him up and dropped him out near the water. He was in rare fighting form, always facing us and waving his claws. I thought he looked a bit like a Lego robot myself.

This looked like the badlands of South Dakota as seen from a plane.

Most of all we just walked and enjoyed the beauty of the water and the beauty of the sand and sun.

Sunshine, palm trees, sand and water.

And we enjoyed the fact that we are retired and can spend a Monday afternoon doing nothing more than appreciating the world around us.

A lonely beach didn’t feel lonely at all.

I hope you can all take a moment to do the same, no matter where you are.

Driftwood looks like angel wings flying into the sky.

And Katie-girl….I’ll be home soon.

Definitely not in Michigan.


29 Comments

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.


19 Comments

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.


21 Comments

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.


24 Comments

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.