Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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The canals of Detroit

Kayaks waiting for us to begin our adventure.


Did you even know that Detroit has canals? Me either, and I live only an hour north of the city. But I saw an advertisement months ago on Facebook for kayak tours of the canals and I thought it looked interesting.

I know, I know. An advertisement on Facebook? But a friend of mine, someone I haven’t seen in a lot of years, agreed in a comment that it looked fun, and she made all the calls to get us a reservation.

Safer to do this while still on land than once we were on the water.

So Sunday was the day and of course there were thunderstorms predicted. Our early morning 3 hour tour was delayed until afternoon, and in the end that worked out just fine.

We arrived at the marina located just off the Detroit River slightly before scheduled takeoff. We got our life vests fitted and our safety lecture, and then we were in the water.

A quick meeting with one of our guides…

We started the tour by paddling around an island, originally built out of swamp land in the 1920s for wealthy people to live in big houses away from the city. Now it’s mostly filled with homes built in the 1990s.

…and we’re off!

But there are still a few of the original homes left. Like this 30,000 sq foot 2 bedroom mansion built for the Fishers, part of the General Motors team way back when…

The Fisher mansion is in disrepair but seems to be under renovation.

…and some smaller homes, also built in the 20s. Most of the homes built during that period burned in a big fire in the early 70s because the bridge to the island hadn’t been built large enough to carry Detroit city fire engines.

A couple of the smaller original homes.

After we circled the island we headed out to the Detroit River.

Headed into some serious paddling now.

The river is a busy shipping channel, connecting the Great Lakes and lets ships get, eventually, to the Atlantic Ocean. We were told to stick together, not go too far out into the river, but stay away from the wall along the shore, where waves would be slapping and bouncing back at us.

Almost immediately we saw a huge freighter coming our way. We were in no danger, but the size differential between it and us was hard to ignore.

That’s one mighty big ship.

And right behind that ship was another, bigger, deeper more foreboding ship. I knew they’d both be kicking up some serious wake and I was eager to turn off the river back into the safety of a canal.

Another huge ship coming our way.

There was already some serious chop going on and I didn’t really want to ride out any huge waves in my little orange kayak. Soon enough we turned away from the big water and into the relative calm of another canal.

This is much more relaxing!

Turning the next corner we found ourselves in a small community of river homes complete with boat houses. Most of them looked like they’d been around a long time.

Those boathouses might need a little work.

But other boat houses seemed in better repair. And some even held beautiful vintage wooden boats.

High tech garages for beautiful old boats.

We paddled through more older waterfront homes…

Pretending we’re gliding through Venice.

…and then had something of a traffic jam under a bridge.

Some confusion about who has the right of way.

Out the other side of the bridge, around another corner and past more boat houses we headed back toward the big river.

The locals tell us the water is very high this spring.

The sun was beginning to break through the clouds as we entered the Detroit River again. To the east of us the skies were still dark…

Let’s not go toward the storm.

…but to the west of us the sun was shining and the water sparkling.

Even the water got more vibrant when the sun came out.

But the wind had picked up and the water was even more choppy than before. There was little time for taking pictures. I had to try, though, because the Detroit skyline was right there and just stunning with big puffy white clouds overhead.

It turned into a beautiful day!

And then, just as everyone was getting tired paddling into the wind we turned one last time into the safety of the canals.

Back where we started, all too soon.

We had a wonderful time. We saw some really interesting houses and boats. We were challenged on the river. And the sun came out at the last minute to make it all look brilliant.

A pop of color on the beautiful water.

I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. I guess you can’t always dismiss those ads on Facebook. Sometimes they turn out to be pretty darn cool.

This one sure did.

Fun stuff.


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Birding with a friend

Yesterday I got to go on a dog-less adventure with a friend. It rare that either one of us spends time at a park without our girls, but today it was all about the birds. With our pockets filled with bird seed and cameras slung around our necks we headed out to my favorite park on a perfect morning under clear blue skies to see what we could see.

Almost immediately we noticed a trio of sandhill cranes snacking, not far from the trail, in a grassy wetland meadow that had been burned by the rangers days before. I especially liked how they blended with the lines of the grass stubs.

If it weren’t for that red head patch I might have missed seeing this guy.

It didn’t take them long to notice us and head our way. They were expecting breakfast and I guess they can’t read the signs up in the parking lot — “Do not feed the cranes.” Since they were almost as tall as we were we decided not to begrudge them a bit of the seed in our pockets.

After breakfast preening.

Also they were blocking the path and we had to pay the toll in order to move along. I think it’s a racket they have going there, but I’m not going to report them, because it was a wonderful experience to be this close.

Stunningly elegant.

I wouldn’t want you to think we spent all day with the cranes. We moved one way on the path and they went the other way, looking for their next patsy and another handout.

Further into the woods we were approached by several chickadees and a titmouse or two. We stopped to share our provisions with them all.

Choosing the perfect seed.

Some of them were quite choosy, and took their time picking out the perfect seed. Others barely touched down before they were off with their prize.

I’m outta here!

Directly over my head was a curious woodpecker. We thought he might come down and join the banquet but he stayed up in the tree watching me. When he turned a certain way the sun caught the bright red cap on his head. He made me smile and I dropped the seed in my hand to get a quick image of him.

Whatcha got down there lady?

I’m sure that made him smile too because after we moved on he enjoyed the meal I left behind.

Some of the birds were harder to spot than others; this blue heron sat silently in the reeds watching us go by. He wasn’t in the mood for birdseed. If we’d had fresh fish in our pockets things might have been different.

See him off in all those cattails?

Our trail followed the shore of a lake which is teeming with birds and wildlife. In the center of the lake is an island with a rookery, the tops of the trees filled with huge nests, inhabited year after year by a large group of herons

The heron condos are full up this year.

I need a longer lens to really get a good look, but you can see how fascinating it is to watch the comings and goings of the adults as they prepare for the arrival of the young ones. Later in the season it gets even more fun to watch the teenage birds try out their wings.

Maybe it was the noise at the rookery that sent that other heron off to stand among the weeds for a little peace and quiet. Understandable.

Heading out to get lunch. Or just to find a peaceful place for a nap.

Back on the boardwalk and almost back to the car we came across these guys.

Dancing to their own beat.

There were several of them all lined up, mostly staring up at the sky. I’m not sure if they were watching for the space shuttle to go by overhead, or were doing some sort of mating dance. Either way I enjoyed watching them. Look at all their colors shining in the sun!

And just so you don’t think we ignored anything without wings…

Thanks for the treat lady!

…here’s a couple of non-bird things we ran into. Not literally. Cause this guy is not someone I want to get that close to.

Whatever kind of snake this is, it’s the biggest one I’ve ever seen.

So now you’ve seen the most interesting things we saw yesterday. We were only going to be out there for a coupe of hours, but it was so much fun that we ended up staying well into the afternoon. It was a perfect way to spend a spring day.

Even though we didn’t spend it with our dogs.

Thanks for the grub ladies, come back any time!


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A date with my boyfriend

Katie here. You all know I’m down in Florida waiting out the snow up north and visiting with my boyfriend Reilly Cowspot Dog. Well guess what? Yesterday we got to go on a date and we went to Reilly’s park!

The moms asked us if we wanted to go and we got all excited. But then, in a typical mama fashion, she took forever to get all her stuff together and eventually I made my opinion known.

Come ON people! Let’s get moving!

They moved a little faster after that and soon we were all in the back of the car headed out!

Everybody’s ready to go mama!

Once we got to the park we could hardly contain ourselves. So many great smells, and we were barely out of the parking lot!

Good sniffing everywhere!

Some of the time I spent with my special guy….

Let’s go this way Reilly!

…but most of the time we all just hung out together. That’s OK. I like Reilly’s little brother Denny too.

We didn’t always agree which way to go.

Of course the moms made us stop to take pictures. We tried to cooperate.

We’ll all look at you guys if you promise this is the last time we have to pose.

But sometimes we just had to take things into our own paws and put a stop to all the photography.

Enough is enough moms!

We did agree to sit with each of the moms for a photo. We figured if they had to do it they’d see how annoying it was to be interrupted while having a fun day at the park just for a photo opportunity.

This is my mama with all of us!

We had the best time! I treasure every minute I get to spend with my guy Reilly and his family. And that’s not just cause his mom gave us doggy ice cream when we got back home.

Yum. How come you never buy me these mama?

Yep, I’m a lucky princess. Kisses to my prince Mr. Reilly.

Me and my guy.

And thanks to mama and Reilly’s mom for taking us on a wonderful date!

What’s next mama?


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Ocean spray is good for my furs

A beautiful spring day at the beach.

Katie here, continuing as your tour guide. Today I take you to see the Atlantic Ocean in northern Florida. Though to be honest most of what you’ll see is me. But that’s why you come to visit my, ahem, mama’s blog. Right?

I thought so.

Showing off my true form, and proving I’m not fat! It’s just fur people!

This will have to be short as I had a very long day yesterday driving in the car for miles and miles and hours and hours and then today I got to walk on the beach forever. So I’m behind in my sleep quotient and I need to get to bed.

I’m visiting my intended Mr. Reilly Cowspotdog in Florida for a couple of days. He didn’t feel up to frolicking on the beach so I sacrificed and went to inspect one of his beaches for him. I always do my duty, yes I do.

Everything’s OK under these rocks, Reilly!

It was a little bit warm, at 63 degrees, but very windy which kept my furs fluffy and cool. There was hardly anyone else on the beach.

Nose into the wind and on a mission.

That meant that mama could let me run free most of the time, though she had to hook me back up to my leash when joggers went by because I like to tell them off and mama says that’s rude. Whatever. It’s Reilly’s beach and I’m just making sure everyone knows that we shelties rule!

I got the zoomies for a little bit, I was so happy!

Mama took a few pictures of things that were not me, but not very many. Mostly I kept her entertained by all the fun I was having. She likes watching me enjoy new things. I guess that’s why she takes me with her on so many of her adventures.

Artsy pelicans.

My only complaint about this adventure was the first wave. The tide was coming in and I forgot how wet the ocean was and I was standing there and a wave came up and went right over my feet! I jumped and mama laughed and I twirled around trying to get it off me and then it left. I was mortified and never let it happen again! Mama didn’t get a good picture, but this is sort of how I looked.

Wet feet! Wet feet! Wet feet! Get it off of me mama!

Oh, and another embarrassing thing was that mama kept trying to get a picture of my behind with the wind blowing all the fur forward. She says it was cute. I made sure she didn’t get a decent shot. Then just as we were leaving she said she got me AND the danger flag.

Drats. Never let your guard down with a mama and her camera.

Anyway, I’m outta here, I have things to do and people to sniff.

Talk to you guys later. Don’t look at my behind.

Signing off for now, Katie, beachcomber extraordinaire.

Mama! Don’t you embarrass me!


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Charlie

Carson‘s family, including his little sister Mandy, missed Carson so much after he went over the Rainbow Bridge that they went out and got a puppy.

Meet Charlie.

You’ve got big feet to fill little buddy!

I’ve only visited with him once, but I look forward to getting to know him. He’s just a little guy, but he’s already mending broken hearts around here.

Welcome to the neighborhood sweet boy!

Charlie and his big sister play.


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Cheated!

Katie here!

I am livid! And depressed. Oh man, I’m just all wound up because my mama cheated on me! Oh yes she did, and she can’t explain this one away either.

I looked up the definition of cheat, just to make sure I was accurate, and this is what the Urban Dictionary said: “Someone who is in a committed relationship and breaks the trust of his or her Katie-girl by getting physically or emotionally involved with another dog.”

OK, I edited the definition just a bit. But she still cheated.

Three boy dogs and a car – that’s just asking for trouble.

What you say? You don’t think mama would ever do something like that? That she loves me with all her heart and I’m the most important dog in her whole world?

Well. I have proof.

Yesterday, at approximately 11 hundred hours a car drove up to our house. A nice lady (I remember her from visiting her farm last year) got out of the car and petted me and she smelled good and I liked her right away. (She’s a regular treat dispenser, ya know what I mean?)

Well, I guess mama isn’t actually TOUCHING them.

I gave her a tour of my lake house and then she and mama went back outside and I wasn’t allowed to go with them. Huh! Something is up. But I didn’t see or hear anything so I waited expectantly. I figured I was due another treat.

Then mama came back inside and got her camera and I still didn’t get to go with her. That’s definitely a sign that something’s amiss. Usually I am the center of all her photography and if she’s not shooting beautiful me, then, I ask you, what is she taking pictures of?

This is my tower. Mama should only bring other dogs here if I give written permission.

But I heard the car drive away and my mama didn’t come back in the house, so I settled down to wait (not nap, people, wait!) by the door.

I’m not going up there!

Eventually she came back and do you know what? She smelled like boy dogs! More than one boy dog! I think my mama is cheating on me with more than one dog! And these aren’t the harmless neighborhood dogs either! I know all their smells and she’s usually with me when they come around.

That’s a tall tower!

So…while she was sleeping last night I snuck on her laptop and found pictures! I have proof people! She went up the mountain without me (that part is just fine) and took the nice lady and her three boy dogs!

And then, the worst part is she brought them back to the house and they got to explore my back yard! And I didn’t even see them out there because I was waiting (not napping!) by the door on the other side of the house!

HEY! That’s MY lake!

What do you think I should do? Should I kick my mama out of the house? Or should I go find a new mama and a new lake house with my own special bed and special dinner bowl and my own special food and treats and toys?

I think this is the one I have to worry about the most. You know how mamas fall for younger guys.

I need advice and I know you guys are just the ones to tell me what to do. You can comment here, but do it quick cause mama will be awake soon and you know she’s always on her computer. I don’t want her to find out she’s been caught.

PROOF!

Not yet anyway.

PS: Mama woke up. She says to go to this blog to read about the other point of view.


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Best of Carson

“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” – Khalil Gibran

Hi there!

For many years one of the joys of spending time here at the lake was a neighboring dog named Carson. We’ve watched him grow up from a soft fluffy bundle of joyous energy …

OK, I’ll hold still for your photo lady. But be quick about it!

…to a soft fluffy sophisticated man about town of eleven.

You’ve been taking my picture for years! I just keep looking better!

Carson liked to visit everyone in the neighborhood, and he seemed to know when we were in town, showing up by the door to check in with us, sometimes meeting us at the car when we unloaded luggage. Each time he asked for an ear rub or a tummy tickle.

That’s a good spot lady!

He wouldn’t decline a treat if you happened to have one on you…

nom nom nom

…but mostly, for Carson, it was about a little loving, a little play. And the lake.

My favorite place to be – my lake!

His favorite thing to do was to walk along the shoreline, knee or chest deep in the water, hunting for those pesky minnows. When he found some he’d pounce on them and then grin.

There’s one over THERE!

All summer you could find him in the water. And year-round you could find him on a neighbor’s porch, getting some loving.

Hey Katie-girl…want to PLAY?

Katie wasn’t too sure about him visiting us. It wasn’t that she was afraid of him. But he was so big…and when he barked it was with one deep baritone WOOF! She always jumped.

She just didn’t know what to make of him, but the rest of us? We loved Carson. It didn’t matter that he didn’t belong to us, we all just loved him.

Is he still back there mama?

Carson was most famous for being the softest dog any of us had ever touched. And he smelled good. Yes he was a dog, and yes he loved to wade in the lake, the muddier the better, but he always started each day smelling good.

You still taking pictures lady?

I imaged he took a shower with his person each morning because he always used to smell like Irish Spring soap. This last week he smelled like some other shampoo, but he still smelled too pretty to be a boy.

Everybody loved Carson, the dog that smelled so good.

Sunset is my time to head for home. See you tomorrow lady!

Sadly Carson crossed the rainbow bridge this week, suddenly and without warning. I’m so glad he stopped by a couple times since I’ve been here this trip so that I got some Carson loving.

My last Carson loving.

But man. We are all so going to miss him. I look for him every time I leave the house, he was so often sitting on my porch. I look for him along the lake shore. I listen for his bark.

We’ll always remember you sweetie!

I am more than sad. But I’m trying to remember that I was lucky to know him.

Somehow it’s not enough.

Who wouldn’t love this face?


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“Happy Birthday Wolfie”

Yesterday was Wolfgang Mozart’s 262nd birthday, and what better way to celebrate than to spend an evening with the Ann Arbor Symphony enjoying their Mozart Birthday Bash.

Did you know Wolfgang wrote his Symphony No. 1 at the ripe old age of eight? And that Mozart had a favorite pattern of notes, three notes rising, the fourth falling, which were included in both his first symphony, written as a child, and his last, Symphony No. 41, a symphony he probably never heard performed before his death at age 35?

I didn’t know any of that either.

Last night we learned all that and were privileged to hear both Symphony No. 1 as well as Symphony No. 41. And though you could clearly hear his childlike interpretation of music in the first, it was much more intricate that I could have imaged at age eight.

And Symphony No. 41? The fourth movement was my favorite, the most intense, the most intertwined, the most triumphant. It’s eight and a half minutes long. Get a cup of tea or coffee and settle back to listen, it will be time well spent. There’s so much going on in this movement, let it take you where it will.

Now, take a moment to listen to the first notes of Symphony No. 1. The juxtaposition between that first symphony and the very last symphony movement he ever wrote was breathtaking. Isn’t it amazing what he created within his short lifetime?

And on top of all that, the evening’s guest soloist, Chad Burrow, performed Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A Major. On a basset clarinet. Be still my heart.

All in all it was a special evening for this clarinetist.

As I sat listening to the symphony building up to the final moments, the music swelling, the entire hall entranced, I gazed up, lost in the music, and wondered. On this birthday was Mozart’s music being played all across the world? Were there concert halls and high school auditoriums and living room stereos playing Mozart in celebration? And was he listening from somewhere, tapping his toe, smiling a bit wistfully, happy to hear his work, glad not to be forgotten?

I like to think he was.

So, as Maestro Lipsky said last night – Happy Birthday Wolfie. Thank you for your gift to us all. I hope you enjoyed the Ann Arbor Symphony’s gift to you.

I know we did.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


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Ambushed

Ambush: Make a surprise attack from a concealed position.

I’m trying to declutter the house in preparation for the painter. We’ve lived here a long time, and, I guess I haven’t put things away as promptly as I might have.

I thought I’d start with the guest bedroom – how hard could it be to sort through the stuff piled on the dressers in there? I was sure most of it could be tossed.

But under the piles of old sheet music, bad clarinet reeds, the patterns for sweaters I might have wanted to knit once upon a time, the maps of campgrounds and parks I’ve visited, under all that detritus, was a stack of Christmas cards.

I know I keep Christmas cards way too long. They sit in a basket on the kitchen counter until the next holiday season comes along. And then I have to just toss them all at once, I can’t look through them or I won’t be able to heave them into the trash. So why would a stack of Christmas cards be sitting on a dresser in a guest room?

I shouldn’t have looked.

They are from 1997; cards and holiday letters from many people who are long gone. Cards from people who are gone from my life because relationships faded, divorces happened, or they moved and we just lost touch. And an awful lot of them have died, including one of my best friends, my adopted up north grandma, my father-in-law (that’s him in the center), my sister-in-law, and my own parents.

Merry Christmas, circa 1997

So I’ve sorted through the stack, and have saved the very special hellos and happy holidays, the handwritten notes and newsy letters of those that have gone ahead, and tossed the rest into the trash. But, man, being ambushed by so many memories sure took the wind out of my cleaning sails.

And if you’re wondering how the paint decision is going, I went back to Lowe’s and got four more samples this morning.

It’s complicated.

More of the same.