Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Walktober in the trees

We began our adventure under a dark and ominous sky.


There’s a new park, located about an hour north of here, billed as a walk in a tree canopy. Intriguing. Plus it seemed perfect for a Walktober.

So this week we went.

Come on! Let’s go explore!

We thought if we went during the week crowds would be less. And maybe they were; if you want to go on a weekend you have to purchase your tickets in advance so the crowds must be pretty thick on Saturday or Sunday.

The ramp circles up from below, so the walk is accessible to anyone using a walker or a wheelchair.

But even on a Friday afternoon, and though the sky was dark and the wind was brisk, plenty of people had ventured forth to explore the new park.

A busy day at the park.

Walking between the pods.

Along the elevated pathway were two pods made of curved wood. The docent said they were designed to represent curled queen anne lace flower buds.

The Docent likes bugs. (That’s a pin on her hat, it’s not real.)

One of them was connected to the main path by a net which had people lined up to cross.

Looks fun.

And out on the end of one of the walks was a play area filled with similar netting for people, kids and adults alike to rest or roll around, depending on your mood.

Lots of fun.

It was pretty up there, I think it would have been even nicer very early in the morning on a sunny day with the light playing down through the trees.

Not really in the canopy, but still fun.

Down below the structure are paths, some paved, some softened with fallen leaves and pine needles, through the forest.

More my style.

There were fewer people there, and immediately I felt more at home. Walking among the treetops was fun. Walking between the trees was comforting.

Viewing those still up top who were enjoying the view.

There wasn’t a lot of color yet, most of it was on the ground in the form of fallen maples leaves.

Even on a rainy afternoon the color was nice.

Truly beautiful.

It wasn’t really raining much, just damp.

It did seem odd to see umbrellas out on a walk through the trees. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone walk through the woods under an umbrella.

But it made for some fun photography.

Not exactly what I was going for, but I sort of like their blur.

We had a really good time walking in and around the trees.

Fun times.

If you’re ever near Midland Michigan check it out. The elevated part isn’t that long, but it’s interesting. And if you have children they’ll have a blast.

Subtle colors enjoyed by people who bring their own colors along too.

But make sure you also take time to wander the woods that surrounds the structure. That’s where the real magic lives.

Walking the ropes.

PS: Look around, I bet you have somewhere pretty or interesting or both near you. Take a walk. Take a couple of pictures. Post it and link it to Robin’s Walktober post (or any of her posts). We’d all love to come along on your Walktobers!

PPS: Our park in Whiting Forest is located right next to Dow Gardens, and our $5 ticket gained us entrance to both. I was going to include that walk in this post, but I think it deserves it’s own. So stay tuned. Here’s a hint:

Where does this curving path go?


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Katie does Walktober

Katie here. Am I first? Huh? Huh? Am I? Huh? I bet I am! If so I deserve a treat and if not it’s mama’s fault and I should get a treat anyway. I am, after all, a princess.

I think this pumpkin looks a lot like a Walktober gourd, don’t you?

So I told mama that I wanted to do my own Walktober and she said I couldn’t go out and do it all alone. She said she had to go with me. I don’t think that’s fair, she goes for walks by herself all the time. I think she’s just trying to horn in on my walk, but since I don’t have my driver’s license, and I wanted to do a Walktober somewhere besides my own backyard, I had to let her take me.

Here I am in front of a great smelling restaurant.

At first I thought she pulled an epic failure. She didn’t take me to a park! She took me to a town! When she got me out of the car I was shaking cause I knew it wasn’t any of my parks and I thought maybe we were going to the vet or the groomer or maybe even camp!

Mama’s been known to be sneaky that way.

But no, she took me to this little town that always dresses up with pretty fall arrangements. Including a huge pumpkin.

Isn’t this just the coolest pumpkin? It compliments my colors too!

Mama likes to take my picture with it, and this year I even stood on a little bale of hay for her. I don’t usually like standing on top of little things, so she was real impressed with me. I got double treats for that. Score!

Mama thought these were pretty. I thought they were boring.

Then we walked down the street to see what else was pretty. That’s where the Walktober comes in. It’s a real nice downtown, with lots of cute stores.

A lot of the stores had their doors open and I tried to go into every single one of them. I don’t know what the heck was wrong with mama, she kept saying “No baby, you can’t go in there.” She didn’t even try to get me inside and some of them smelled real good! Mama is a loser.

When we turned around I figured that was it for my Walktober and I was quite disappointed to say the least. I gave mama the stink eye in several of the photos she tried to get.

Really mother? THIS is a ‘walk?’

And I did my best never to look at her while she waved her hand around and called my name. That usually makes her give up and take me home. I was sort of glad when the photo shoot was over and I took a nap in my car on the way home.

But imagine how surprised I was when she opened the door and we were at one of my favorite parks! I secretly think she felt bad about me not having a good time in town. All those people walking by and noisy trucks and cars on the roads made me nervous. So I guess she figured she owed me.

Hey! It’s one of my parks!

She was right.

I even got to run around off leash because nobody else was out there! Boy oh boy it felt so good to run, especially since we got cold weather that day!

This feels so GOOD!

It was my kind of day at the park, cold and windy. Perfect!

A cool breeze, perfect for a Walktober!

I didn’t even mind posing for her on the sledding hill that was all green and beautiful. I got lots of treats and the wind in my fur. We walked for a long time.

This is the toboggan run. It looks beautiful in winter too.

It was all good. Well, mostly all good. There was this one time when I was sitting on the sledding hill and the sun came out and mama said the tips of my furs lit up like a halo and she was trying to get the shot and the stupid memory card was full. That wasn’t such a great moment.

Oh and I guess since this is a Walktober I should at least show you that we have a little bit of fall color. Not a whole lot, but we found some to share with you.

See? We found a little color for you!

All in all I had a pretty good day with mama, going on my very own Walktober. I want to thank Miss Robin for hosting the walk, and mama for taking me and providing bribes treats.

And my advice to all of you that are planning your own Walktobers? Make sure your memory card has a whole lot of memory left. Cause you’re going to need it to capture the pretty places you’ll be sharing with us!

I think we should come back next week mama!

We can’t wait to see what you all come up with. Mama says she’s going to do one by herself, but I don’t see how it could top this one unless she’s going to run down a hill too, but that would be copying.

Try to think outside the box mama.

Talk later, your park guide Katie-girl.


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Getting lost in the Grand Canyon

Taken through the windshield of my stopped car. Because it was so pretty and so was the music.

This morning I went to a town several miles up the road to buy some birdseed. We have lots of feeders and my finches have been eating me out of house and home.

When I got back in the car after loading 60 pounds of assorted seed into the back the radio was playing something that sounded familiar. I glanced down at the screen and smiled.

The Grand Canyon Suite was playing, and though I couldn’t remember much of it, I knew it was something I had enjoyed years ago when I was a kid.

As it was playing I was trying to remember if it sounded familiar because I had played it with my high school band. Still…I didn’t think that was it.

And then the movement with the mules and donkeys clip clopping down into the canyon came on and I had a sudden image of a green and white portable record player and I remembered. I’d had this piece on vinyl years ago and I’d loved it.

I turned the radio up and took the back roads home. By the time the piece ended I had no idea where I was, but it sure had been a beautiful drive.

Wonder where that record ended up.

The light was beautiful this morning.


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This is a test, this is only a test.

Rain made all the colors seem more intense.


Robin over at Breezes at dawn coordinates a walk each October called Walktober. People from all over the blogasphere participate by taking a walk, by themselves or with others, and then posting about the walk with or without pictures, linking back to Robin’s original Walktober post. Then at the end of October (or whenever she can find the time after that) she puts out a post with links to everyone’s Walktober posts and we get to visit and read all about them.

It’s so much fun to read about people taking walks in areas so different (and sometimes so similar) to our own places. I always look forward to October and one of the reasons is because I love doing Robin’s Walktober!

Lots of color out there if you look for it.

Of course right now I can’t find her post with this year’s dates, but you can read more about the idea of a Walktober at this post she did in 2014. This year the dates will be slightly different, and I’m sure she’ll let me know what they are. Then I’ll fix this blog and tell all of you!

EDIT: Robin says her Walktober dates are October 14 through the 28th. But if you want to walk sooner, go for it, and just wait to write that blog and link it to her when she posts on October 14th. And if you need to go later, let her know, she’s flexible and will wait (within reason) for your walk!

Even though water was dripping everywhere it was a pretty day for a walk.

So anyway, Saturday was a rainy sort of day. Lots of downpours in the morning, and then sprinkles through the rest of the day. I couldn’t stand being inside, so I took myself to my favorite park after the worst of the rain had stopped.

Walking around under the dripping trees I was glad I wore my raincoat. I kept my camera under the coat most of the time. Oh who am I kidding. I was shooting pictures most of the time.

The trees haven’t really taken on their fall colors yet, but in the wetlands there was quite a bit of color. The bright reds and oranges showed off in the dim grey light of a rainy afternoon.

The boggy areas of the forest were just beautiful.

I had a pocket full of sunflower oilers too, to share with any birds that might be hungry. At first I didn’t hear any, but eventually, as I was taking pictures of some soggy berries I heard the familiar flutter of wings near my head.

I got really wet trying to get this image.

I’ve posted pictures of the birds in my hand before, so this time I’m sharing those that were either just landing, or just taking off. Though these images aren’t as clear as some, I find the energy in them interesting. I figured you would too.

Come get something little one!

It was mostly chickadees and titmice that showed up. They’re the bravest of the little birds out there in the woods. Other times I’ve had woodpeckers and nuthatches land on my hand too.

Incoming! Or maybe Outgoing!

These little guys were pretty soggy from the rainy day, and there was another batch of thunderstorms coming in so I didn’t stay there very long. In fact I had dropped my handful of seed on the path and moved on, taking pictures of the storm clouds moving fast across the horizon when I heard more fluttering near my ear.

Time to run for the car.

I looked up and this little titmouse was standing on a railing near me. I told him there was a bunch of seed just down the path, but he wanted something directly from me.

Hey lady! You’re keeping the good stuff in your pocket aren’t you!

So of course I offered him a little bit.

And this nuthatch showed up after I had emptied my pocket onto the ground. But he got his fair share even though he was late to the party.

Hey! I heard there was free food around here!

It was a lovely, if damp, walk but it wasn’t my Walktober. Oh no. It was just a warmup, a good place to walk out my frustrations about things outside the woods. And I figured you’d enjoy coming along with me, even if it wasn’t an official walk.

Katie was quite put out that she didn’t go, so this morning I took her out to two of her own parks. She says every time I take myself for a walk without her I have to compensate her with walks in two parks.

I guess I better not leave her home very often. She’s debating whether she’ll do the official Walktober. Last year she did. She got hers in way before I got around to mine, but she’s like that. She says if you’re not early you’re late. Little stinker.

Anyway….I hope you all will consider going for a walk and sharing it with us this month! I’ll let you know the dates as soon as I hear from Robin. It’s a lot of fun and we all are looking forward to seeing something from your part of the world!

And if you live near me…well….I’ll meet you in the woods!

Dripping still.


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Now she’s done it.

Katie here.

Well, mama’s gone and done it this time. She’s getting forgetful and she spends a lot of time looking for stuff. Like her keys and her glasses and her book. But now I think she’s slipped over the edge into something more ominous.

Aren’t these reed things cool?

This time she’s misplaced daddy.

I’ve looked and looked and I can’t find him anywhere! I’m worried that I’ll never see him again! Other times, when mama and I are off on adventures I know that daddy is home safe and sound. Eventually we go back and there he is and I get all wiggle-butt and happy and stuff.

Which is prettier mama? The asters or me?

But now we’re already at home and I can’t find my daddy.

Mama says it’s OK, she talks to him all the time and he’s just down south helping my uncle work on a project. But that doesn’t make any sense to me. Usually if my people are down south we’re all down there together. And here mama and I are up in Michigan. So I don’t know if I believe her.

Sometimes when I come in from a walk in the park I run in the house and down the hall just to say hi to my daddy and when he’s not there I get all disappointed. Mama tries to distract me with talk about supper and stuff, but I know the truth.

Hey mama! I’m sticking to you like glue!

My daddy is lost.

So I’m putting out the word. If you find him, please send him home to me and mama, OK? Meanwhile I’m sucking up to mama. I’ve lost one parent, I’m not letting the other one out of my sight! And she’s sucking up to me too. The images in this blog post are from a lovely walk we had in one of my parks yesterday.

Today I’m campaigning for another walk at a different park. I have to keep track of so much, my parks and my parents! It’s exhausting for a little sheltie-girl.

I think I’ll go take a nap. Got to be rested up when daddy comes home!

ZZZZZZZZZ….


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Responsible adult

The pull of the road is strong even though I just got back from a quick 5 day road trip to Minnesota.

The long and winding road.

I know I’ve been gone the majority of this summer, off to Alabama, or up north to camp or to DC for a meeting. Or somewhere.

The soybeans are turning yellow. There’s no time to lose!

If I was a responsible adult I’d buckle down and get some things done around here.

Little puffy clouds were starting to pop up.

If I was a responsible adult I’d work on weeding the gardens.

Hundreds of swallows were enjoying the warm sun.

I’d order more mulch and get it spread before we turn the corner toward winter.

The classic red barns in yellow fields of soybeans.

If I was a responsible adult I’d unpack Katie’s luggage and put it all away so that I can find her stuff again when she has to go back to camp.

A lonely white barn sits with a bit of attitude on a small hill.

In fact, I’d clean out her cupboard in the laundry room where years of stuff she no longer uses are stored in sloppy piles.

There was a barn around every corner.

If I was a responsible adult I’d empty out the freezer and toss out all that frost covered unidentifiable stuff hiding in the back.

I loved the green stripes in this plowed field, combined with the wildflowers up front and the clouds above.

If I was a responsible adult I’d sort through the camping gear and toss the stuff that is old, broken, moldy or never used.

Then there was this field, full of dark green sugar beet foliage, followed by the yellow of soybeans and the barn off in the distance.

Then I’d rearrange it on the shelves in the basement so I knew what I had before next season comes around.

Barns closeup are interesting too.

If I was a responsible adult I’d do the same for the pantry. You don’t even want to know what old, broken, moldy or never used stuff is in there.

So many old barns.

If I was a responsible adult I’d clean out the oriole bird feeder and put it away for the season. The hummingbird feeders need some attention too.

A touch of red among the yellow, blue and white.

But I haven’t done any of that. Instead I heeded the call of the road and went in search of barns.

It was a good afternoon for photography.

And I don’t feel guilty one bit.

A spectacular late summer day on the farm.


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Magic

Saturday night was the Ann Arbor Symphony’s first concert of the new season. If you weren’t there you missed something pretty special.

Beautiful music in a beautiful venue.

It started out with the premiere playing of Ann Arbor Saturday, by composer William Bolcom. The piece was commissioned for the symphony and depicted Ann Arbor on a football game day, from the initial flow of cars coming into the quiet town to the intense game itself, with the University of Michigan finally coming out on top. Of course.

Along the way it pays homage to other universities with bits of their fight songs woven into the main themes. The audience, most staunch supporters of University of Michigan football got all the jokes and nuances. Being a Michigan State graduate myself, I guessed at some of them, but thoroughly enjoyed the music.

And we heard Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 (in honor of the symphony’s 90 anniversary), “From the New World.” It was accompanied by visuals, shown on a huge screen hanging above the musicians, of landscape photographs and videos depicting the natural beauty of this country.

There are four movements. My favorite, musically, is movement number two, the Largo. The spiritual “Going Home” was adapted from this movement and every time I hear it I get teary thinking about my parents and wishing they were coming home even though I know they are, now, truly home.

At the end of the piece there was a long moment of silence as the maestro and his symphony orchestra shared that connection of a piece well done. Then they stirred and the audience stood and applauded to acknowledge the beauty of the entire experience.

But the biggest, most magical moments of the evening occurred during Aaron Diehl‘s performance of two Gershwin pieces, I Got Rhythm” Variations and Rhapsody in Blue. He’s a jazz pianist who improvised during the cadenzas, those parts of the music where only the piano played. Maestro Lipsky said, during the lecture prior to the performance, that his blood pressure was higher than normal during rehearsals of this piece because “I have no idea when or how Aaron is going to come out of the cadenzas. Each rehearsal has been different.” And as the music unfurled above us, rollicking, bouncing off the walls and ceiling of Hill Auditorium, you could see both Lipsky and members of the orchestra listening intently, waiting for the cue to come back in as Diehl’s fingers flew over the piano keys.

I was lucky enough to have a seat in the hall where I could see the artist’s face as well as his hands. He exuded pure, sweet joy that manifested itself into magic that flowed from his fingers and into all our hearts. His hands moved so fast it’s a wonder that, by the end of Rhapsody, the keys hadn’t all but melted. And speaking of Rhapsody – be still my heart – the clarinet in the beginning of the piece almost made me swoon.

Both pieces were extraordinary. And as the second one was coming to an end you could feel the anticipation building in the audience. We were on our feet cheering before he lifted his hands from the keyboard, before the last note had a chance to fade. The sound from the audience exploded with a noise so loud I’m surprised we didn’t make the evening news. You’d have thought someone had just kicked the winning field goal in a championship football game.

So I guess Ann Arbor won twice yesterday. The football team did, in fact, win their game. And music lovers who were lucky enough to be sitting in Hill Auditorium won too. Thanks Ann Arbor Symphony, for giving us, yet again, a wonderful gift.

I haven’t stopped smiling.

A little night glow.