Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Escape to the lake side

Here it is Saturday already, and I’ve inadvertently left you hanging on my last two posts. Wednesday many of you wanted to know, “What IS that?”

What??

and in the post before that you wondered where I went on my little mini adventure.

From a crispy but beautiful morning.

Both posts were related to the same adventure I was inspired to take last weekend, on our one completely sunny day so far this year. After so much rain, snow and dark skies I eagerly set out early Saturday morning anticipating bright blue skies and endless sun, looking for something magnificent to photograph.

But, as those of you who have been reading know, I got tangled up in beautiful frost before I made it more than a couple miles away from the house. Not a bad thing, you understand, but it certainly slowed me down.

So nice to see sunlight!

My first stop was Katie’s park right in my own town, where the tall grasses were shining. The Wordless Wednesday post was in the parking lot there, a car had driven over the unplowed lot, probably the day before, and then deer had crossed that track. In the early morning light what was concave appeared to be convex and I couldn’t resist capturing the image.

As to where I went next? Well, I had no destination in mind, and even though the sky was bright blue and there was still a little snow on the ground, as I drove nothing in particular caught my eye. So I kept going.

Surely I can find pretty stuff on a day like this!

Eventually I found myself half way to my favorite lake, so I went for it and headed for Warren Dunes State Park, someplace I’ve always wanted to visit.

I’ve always liked images of sand and snow. Blue sky doesn’t hurt either.

It’s down near the Michigan/Indiana border, quite near Chicago. I didn’t know what to expect, but the first sight of the giant dune sure made me smile.

It’s a long way to the top.

I watched families as they trudged up the dune or ran back down. Everyone was having a lot of fun on a chilly but sunny Saturday afternoon.

A long line of trees led to the water.

Of course I couldn’t be at Lake Michigan and not walk on the beach, even though the sun was beginning to descend and the shadows were growing longer.

Pretty patterns.

So I headed down the beach, just for a bit, so that I could say hello to my lake. There weren’t many people out there, the wind was picking up and my fingers were chilled. But I know there’s always something pretty to photograph when you’re walking on a Great Lakes beach.

A chilly afternoon on a beautiful beach.

And of course there was.

Ripples in the sand, driftwood, and the brilliant sky.

Soon enough, though, I knew I should head for home. I hadn’t seen the St. Joseph lighthouse, something I really hoped I would have time for, but it was 30 minutes further south, the wrong direction. I checked to see what lighthouses might be north of me and found one near Saugatuck, not so far away. I put it in my phone and headed out.

Not real, but still pretty.

Turns out it was a replica of a lighthouse, tiny, being used for educational purposes. But it was still photogenic. As was the giant tug boat moored next to it.

All prettied up in festive holiday colors.

It wasn’t what I was hoping for, but what the heck, it was still an adventure, so after a couple shots I headed toward where I thought the freeway to home should be.

I was wrong, and ended up lost in Holland, which turns out to have several murals painted on the sides of it’s downtown businesses. I only stopped for one, because it had a parking lot where I could park and get my bearings, study the map, and set a true course for home.

One mural in Holland, there were more.

Early that morning I set out to find some barns, always a goal of mine on any adventure. I didn’t find any on the way over to the lake, not because they weren’t there, I suppose, but because my heart needed something more.

The last light of day made the barns glow.

Satisfied by a visit to my lake, I found several, all red, on my trip back home.

Worth stopping for.

Since last Saturday we haven’t had another day that was all sunny. No bright blue sky, no warming rays.

Just waiting for me to find it.

But I know we will again someday. And I hope, when the sun shines, I’ll be off on another adventure.

There’s always my lake.

You just never know where or when.

Every sunset promises a new tomorrow.


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Sending cards in new directions

Since this pandemic became overwhelming, way back in March, I’ve been painting little cards and mailing them off to people.

These were birthday cards.

It started as a little project to keep me occupied, and a way to send smiles to people who were stressed or homebound or lonely or all of those things. I planned on producing and mailing one little painting a day until we were through with all this virus stuff, which would certainly be, I thought, just a few months. At most.

Sympathy, birthday and happy retirement!

I was naïve.

Christmas kept me busy.

Now many many months have passed and I’ve mailed cards to almost everyone in my address book and then some. I stopped painting every day and I didn’t have a plan for what to do next.

The foot went to someone who broke his ankle, and the rose was sent in sympathy to someone who lost a sibling.

And then I happened across a Facebook friend’s post about getting recognition for her 1000th donation of a handmade card to a nonprofit group who in turns sends them to people in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and group homes. People who are stressed, homebound and lonely.

A Christmas card based on somebody’s holiday doormat. You know who you are.

The name of the group is Bring Smiles to Seniors and they have two offices, one right here in Michigan, just a few miles from where I live!

More last minute Christmas cards.

I emailed them and after a few messages back and forth I knew I had found a worthy group, people that would find good homes for my little paintings.

One of my favorites, a birthday card.

I’ve done my first group of 5 and sent those off. Now I’m working on my next group. I don’t feel pressure to paint every day, but when I feel like making a little picture I know I have a place to send it.

My first batch of 5 cards sent to make seniors smile.

I know the group is called Bring Smiles to Seniors, but it’s also making me smile. I guess that makes sense, I’m a senior too.

Christmas just kept going.

Some of you may see paintings here that look very much like paintings you’ve received from me. That’s because I’ve started doing some that I’ve done before, don’t look too closely, these might be better than the originals I sent you months ago!

Christmas was fun.

It’s true what they say. Practice does make perfect. Or, in my case, nearly perfect.

Some of these got mailed way after Christmas, but I hope people love them anyway.

There’s no real perfect in art, right? The artist always knows where something didn’t go as planned. Sometimes that makes a picture better, sometimes not so much. But either way, I hope those lonely seniors who get my next bits of art smile.

I think they will.

Moving on from the holidays now.


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Sharing sheltie smiles

Hey everyone! Katie here, checking in to see how all your new years are starting out. I have to say that mine has been stupendous! Cause we got snow both Saturday and Sunday! Fresh, pretty, light, beautiful, photogenic snow!

So many things to sit in front of!

Well, not as photogenic as me, but still pretty. And of course mama said we had to get right out in it so as to enhance the photogenic-ness of our yard. On Saturday I wasn’t sure I wanted to go.

It’s pretty nice out here, mama.

But once I got out there and realized that mama and I were going for a walk in my yard and she wasn’t just leaving me in my pen, well, then I decided I’d have a good time!

I kept posing for her, even when she was trying to get a photo of some stupid leaf. I’d just go around in front of her and sit. Repeatedly. Even after I figured out she hadn’t brought any treats for me.

I wonder if anyone over THERE has any treats?

Eventually she got the idea and took some pictures of me before she went back to her artsy fartsy stuff. I swear, I don’t know why anyone would want to look at anything besides me.

Mama kept looking over my shoulder at this stupid leaf. She thought it was cool.

Then on Sunday, oh my, oh my, oh my…this is what we woke up to!

Isn’t this amazing??!

It was even more beautiful than Saturday’s snowfall! Mama and I just couldn’t wait to get out there with the camera.

Let’s go exploring!

I was less interested in posing for her Sunday. After all, I’d sat for a bunch of pictures on Saturday and gotten zero treats. I figured she wasn’t any more organized Sunday morning and I was right.

What? I’m not sitting in front of this bush, I did that yesterday and it netted me nothing.

But I did grant her a picture or seven dozen. Sigh. You just can’t get mama to stop taking pictures, even when there are much more interesting things to do. Like breaking up sticks. I found this perfect stick and went right to work on it.

This stick is oversized and needs to be reduced in length. Pronto.

Mama said, ‘stop baby, you don’t want to hurt your teeth.’ But I kept on working on that stick because it needed to be broken up into little tiny bits.

Yep, it’s a pesky stick, that’s what it is.

It’s my purpose in this world to break up sticks. And protect mama from squirrels, but a girl has priorities and Sunday morning it was all about stick breakage.

Come on you stubborn stick!

So mama kept shooting pictures and I worked on that stick until it was nothing but stick dust.

Take THAT you stick!

And then I thought maybe mama was laughing at me, and I was not happy.

What? You think this is funny woman? You don’t know what I sacrifice to make you safe from stick assult!

I expected to get a treat for my bravery in defeating the dangerous stick.

I would like extra treats please.

Mama felt bad about almost laughing (and also about not bringing treats), so she asked me if I wanted to chase a snowball or three. Really mama!?!?!

I’m ready mama!

Throw it, mama, just throw it!

I’ve got it mama!

It’s mine, mine, mine!

Everybody back off, this one is mine!

You can’t get away from me, snowball! I will chomp you with my teeth!

I’m a natural, I tell you!

Here comes the world famous stick breaker and snowball chompper!

Making a run for it.

Well, geeze, mama, if you’re going to throw it way over there….I’m not going to go get it. You can find it yourself.

Really, mother?

And so the game was over. Mama failed miserably at making sure I could catch that last snowball. Sometimes she forgets I’m a princess and a princess should never miss. Therefore the princess servant should make sure to only toss things that are catchable.

Sometimes mama forgets.

After all these years I should not have to explain this to her. Again.

Anyway, don’t tell her, but I had a fabulous time and when we went inside I happily spent time pulling tiny snowballs out of my furs and depositing them all over the house so that my folks could enjoy the full meaning of winter wonderland even while they were inside.

Good thing I’m beautiful.

They haven’t thanked me for that yet, I’m sure it’s just an oversight on their part.

Mama says she guesses she’ll write about the pretty snow in her own post. She says I have hijacked this one and it’s all about me. As usual.

Me and my yard.

Well of course it is, mama.

I always say you should give the people what they want. Right? That way a sheltie-princess can share the smiles…another life purpose, but don’t tell mama. It would ruin my image.

Smile!

Outdoor lights make people smile too, so I have decreed that they will stay lit until spring.


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It’s gonna be a long list

About this time a couple of years ago I decided to put together a list of interesting, stupendous and fun stuff to do in the coming year. You know, sort of like resolutions, but way better.

I got some of the things on the list done in 2019, but had to carry a few of them over onto the 2020 list. The title of that post was “2020 sounds so cool.” Little did we know what 2020 would really turn out to be.

So I’m looking at my 2020 list of fun stuff and realizing that today is the last day of the year and the odds of completing any more of these fun things before the year expires is remote. Ok, impossible. But I think I should give myself a pass and use the virus as an excuse. I’ll just move some of these things to my “Fun and interesting and stupendous things to do in 2021” list, which I will put together in a future post.

Meanwhile, here’s what I did do, before chaos reigned in all our lives.

**Improve my night photography skills** Well, I did get to go to northern Michigan several times this past summer and fall, and each time I did some night sky photography. I even got some decent shots of the Neowise comet! So though there is still much room for improvement I think I made progress on this one. And because I love it so much night photography is probably going to get a place on my 2021 list.

**Spend a week in the Southwest.** We got out to Arizona in February, before we realized what was going on with the virus. It was a wonderful trip, we got to visit with a friend, and also see some amazing sights, like Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon and even more wonderful, a slot canyon! I’m so glad we went, I hope we get back out there again someday.

**Walk in at least 3 5K races.** Well. I did one race, virtually, with a friend from California. It was fun, and preparing to keep up with her (she’s a really fast walker!) got me out and walking for several weeks prior. I could have done more. Should have probably, but they’re not cheap and I sort of felt like I could go do a 5K without paying someone for the honor. But did I? No, I did not. So maybe a few 5K races will be in my future.

**Purchase a set of extension tubes for the camera and explore macro photography.** I did get a set of tubes, and I’ve tried them a couple times, neither time with success. I can’t figure out the focus, seems to be a theme in my photography lately, and I get frustrated and stop. I need to just take the camera with the tubes out into my own back yard and figure it out. How hard can it be, right?

**Take Katie camping at least twice this summer.** Well. I went camping several times but only took her along with me once to our local state park, and that was when summer was just about over. She had a good time, but doesn’t seem as enthusiastic about it as she used to be. We also camped in the back yard a few times over the summer. Each night she wanted to go back inside around 3 a.m. so I’d take her in and then head back out to finish my own sleep under the stars. When I really think about it, she probably just had to go to the bathroom and she’d most likely have gone back to bed in the tent if I’d taken her back, but to be honest, I sort of liked being able to sleep in out there and not get up at 5:30 to make her breakfast. Win/win, right?

**Meet up with other sheltie moms for doggie adventures.** Katie and I were lucky enough this year to meet up with one sheltie mom and her girl Abby this past fall. We social distanced and met outside so it all worked out. It was so nice to see them on a beautiful day down in Ann Arbor. Hopefully there will be more of that in 2021.

So…what didn’t I get done?

My camping trip to the Upper Peninsula got cancelled, and I never rode my bike once, not even in my driveway. That’s two years in a row with no bike riding. Maybe I shouldn’t even add bike riding on local trails to my 2021 list. I never made it to Alabama, haven’t seen my family down there in over two years, so that’s got to be on the top of the list, and I didn’t make it to Florida to see the sheltie boys, and here they are already over a year old!

I never took a drawing class, but I did morph my watercolor painting into a continuous project, sending smiles out almost every week since March. I’ll post more about what that’s turned into another time. And I hardly made a vegan meal, certainly not one a week like I had planned. I’m trying to go to the grocery store much less frequently and I run out of fresh stuff really fast. That’s my excuse, though it might not be the only reason. I’ll have to debate with myself over this one.

What will be on the list of fun, stupendous and interesting things to do in 2021? I don’t know yet. I might be cautious, given the virus hasn’t been stalled yet, or I might go all out.

You’ll have to wait for another post to find out.


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Merry Christmas from our family to yours

We hope you all have a fabulous holiday, however you celebrate it. Our wish for everyone is that 2021 is a more peaceful, healthier year. We’ll do our part by wearing our mask and keeping our distance for as long as it takes, even though we are very sad not to be with family this year.

We are grateful for all your friendships, and look forward to continuing the adventure soon!

Happy cuteness from Michigan!


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Comfort music

Christmas is right around the corner, and people are talking about how they’re not ready, have so much more to do, cooking, shopping, wrapping. I smile in sympathy but I don’t really get it. Especially this year.

This barn and other outbuildings are on land that is for sale, zoned commercial. So it won’t be here for much longer. I’m glad I got an image to preserve it.

Even without covid my family is small and doesn’t travel that much. We don’t do so much for Christmas anymore, though Thanksgiving is a big deal. I mailed the couple of boxes I needed to more than a week ago. I bought the ingredients for our simple Christmas supper last week.

The barns on this particular barn hunt came in many colors.

The thing I’m looking forward to most is a Christmas nap. I wonder if that shows my age? Still, it can get a little sad when the world seems hyped up and you aren’t. So yesterday I decided to go out looking for a few barns. Sort of a comfort photo hunt of sorts.

Not something you see every day, a blue barn.

And along the way I listened to XM radio, station 73, Traditional Holiday, humming along to music that my folks would have listened to back in the 50s, and some that we listed to in the 60s and 70s too.

I liked the red tractor in front of this red barn. I turned around to get it.

I remember my mom commenting that she wished they played Christmas music for awhile after the big day because she didn’t have time before it to listen. I feel lucky that I have all the time in the world to enjoy these oldies.

I want to go back when the light is better and see if I can figure out what was painted on this barn.

People like Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Torme, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, Eartha Kitt, Perry Como, Bing Crosby, Peggy Lee, Rosemary Clooney and Jo Stafford, groups like The Four Seasons and The Supremes, instrumentals from the likes of The London Pops, Percy Faith and Oscar Peterson.

It was a gray and rainy day. This farm seemed to sit so naturally in the landscape.

I heard so many pieces that we’ve played at our own holiday concerts, and I could imagine, and remember what it felt like to play again. The music did what music is intended to do, lifted my spirts and I arrived home after a couple of hours of Christmas music and barns smiling.

My favorite capture. A photogenic green barn!

I hope you are all smiling too, no matter what your holidays will look like. Here’s to spending time together, in person if it’s safe, virtually if it’s not. And here’s to looking forward to 2021. May it bring us all more smiles than frowns.

Classic


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Birthday celebration

Katie here.

Guess what, guess what, guess WHAT?? This was my birthday week! I turned fourteen on Tuesday, and since no one made any big deal about it I decided that I’d extend it to the whole week.

Wanna come on my birthday walk with me?

The better to give mama and daddy a chance to make me a cake. Or something.

But here it is Friday night and so far no signs of any cake. Or ice cream for that matter. No presents either, unless you count the little goodie bag my groomer gave me for Christmas.

We had a pretty day with some sunshine.

Oh yes, you heard me right. The groomer. Mama actually scheduled a spa day during my birthday week! Obviously mama doesn’t know me very well. Some doggies might like going to the spa and getting a bunch of attention and all gussied up and stuff.

I, however, am not one of those doggies.

I hate getting wet, and in case you’re not aware, a spa day involves a bath. Which is definitely wet. And I don’t like getting brushed either, and there’s a whole lot of that at spa day. And don’t get me started on nails. I double hate getting my nails trimmed.

The groomer puts these bows in my furs. I don’t know, I think they’re sort of silly.

So all in all, spa day is not my cup of tea. I’d have liked a camping trip in the woods and lots of sniffage on my birthday. And if I’m honest mama did try. She took me to one of my parks on Tuesday and we walked almost a mile up and down the hills and she let me sniff as much as I wanted.

There were lots of hills. We were either going up or down all the time.

Toward the end she even carried me up the biggest hill. She says I need to lose a pound or two. I did not point out that perhaps the extra heft was her own.

Ahem.

Anyway, most of the pictures in this post are from my birthday at my park. We had a good time, mama and me. We always do when we’re in the woods together.

I don’t mind going DOWN the hills at all.

Mama said she had ordered snow for my birthday but it didn’t arrive on time. She said something about the post office being messed up. Personally I think maybe she ordered it late, mama doesn’t always have the best sense of time you know.

But that’s OK, because you can guess what eventually showed up!

He mama! Look, it’s SNOW!

Yes, my snow arrived, and it was just the right amount, not too much that she had to shovel my poop room, but enough that it was fun to walk around. Mama and I stopped at a little dog park to walk in the snow before I got dropped off at my groomer’s house.

We had the dog park all to ourselves, so I tried out the equipment.

I didn’t know, when we were at the park, that I was headed for a bath. So I had a real good time wandering around. No one else was there, so mama and I got to run around, I even chased an old tennis ball she found.

But mostly I’d like to point out that mama did not get me anything for my birthday. So I’m wondering what you guys think I should do. I’ve seen her wrapping presents for Christmas, and I checked the other night and I don’t see anything for me in that stack either.

I don’t know how to look much cuter!

Should I go on strike? Should I whine and pant and make her go outside and then inside and then outside again all day every day until she makes amends? I’m very good at that, but I’m concerned that she won’t realze I’m trying to make a point, cause I do that every day anyway.

I want to come inside RIGHT NOW!

So I leave it up to you, my fans, to give me good ideas. What should I do to make mama take me to the store and let me pick out something for myself? I’m sure if we all put our heads together we can come up with a stupendous plan!

You’ve got some good ideas, right?

PS: This got posted late tonight because I had to wait till mama went to bed to get on her laptop. She’s always on that thing, plus I don’t want her to know I’m complaining. Never complain about the hand that feeds you and all that.

I can’t believe she took a picture of this oak leaf stuck on my cute behind.

Am I right? I know I am.

Talk later, your birthday girl Katie.

Mama DID make me frozen banana treats for my birthday. I guess she’s not all bad.


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Into the woods we go

So. Let me see, where was I? Ah yes, casually racewalking into the woods. I had left the more traveled path behind, along with with the pesky turkeys. If only real life could be that easy.

I couldn’t ask for a prettier day.

It was quiet back there, and the sun was shining down on me walking silently on a cushy bed of fallen oak leaves. There was something pretty no matter where I looked.

Oak leaf caught in sunlight.

I notied a lot of green shining in the morning light, even though all the summer’s leaves had long since dropped.

Nature’s art was everywhere.

I wanted to get a good shot of some moss. It was hard to get it in focus and I’m not sure I succeeded, but if you just think of it as abstract art you’ll be fine.

I enjoyed the delicate green enjoying the sun.

I finally got myself back on my feet and headed down the path again when a slight movement caught my eye off to the right.

She’d been watching me while I was busy with the moss.

She wasn’t very far off the trail, just enjoying the sunlight and chewing her cud and she wasn’t disturbed by my being near at all. I whispered that she shouldn’t get up, she telepathed back she hadn’t planned on it, and I quietly moved along.

Enlarge this image. How many faces do you see? I never saw the others until I looked at this on a big screen.

Her eyes followed me, and then she turned her head away. At the time I thought she was pulling a Katie – – not wanting to look at the camera unless there was something in it for her. I even said “You little stinker” as I took the shot above. Turns out that she had just noticed something else and had written me off as nonthreatening.

I was working to get this closeup of some fungi when I heard footsteps approaching. Thinking it was the deer, I glanced over my shoulder.

Fungi art.

It wasn’t the deer, just another woman walking through the woods. I asked her if she had seen the doe, and she looked confused, then said no, she was too busy with her own thoughts. I smiled and she walked on by. I’m pretty sure the doe saw her, and that was what made her turn her attention away from me.

Another photographer, going the opposite direction. I’m sure HE saw the deer just around that next corner.

I didn’t see many people on those back trails. When we did meet we generally just nodded or said a quiet “good morning.” It was sort of like being in church.

I got to an intersection. I had another choice to make. I could go straight and be back at the car in 15 or 20 minutes. Or I could turn left and make another large loop up and down some hills and through a meadow and a wetland. I almost headed back, I was certain that was what I was going to do. My neck and back were getting tired from carrying the camera with the long lens. I was hungry. I had pictures of large birds and a doe.

Light shining through yesterday’s leaf.

My work was done for the day.

But I stood and studied the map considering. And then I turned left. Almost instantly I hear the familiar sound of wings near my head. Interesting. I never have birds begging on these back trails. There are very few people and the birds aren’t as trained.

Seriously hungry here lady, toss me something good!

But lucky for them I happened to have quite a bit of seed left in my pocket, seed those pesky turkeys didn’t get. A few little birds came down for a treat. The woodpecker stayed around begging but waited till I left him something on the ground to grab lunch.

The path led past one of my favorite benches, though I’ve never sat there. I just think it’s in a pretty spot.

A nice place to sit in the winter, in the summer you’d be a meal for the mosquiteos!

Then the trail burst out of the woods into the sunshine of a grassy meadow. I thought this made a lovely shot.

The beautiful day in all it’s forms shone everywhere.

And as I made my way to the meadow I found a couple of birdwatchers looking for something special. I hope they found it!

“What’s that over there?”

They obviously weren’t looking for this little guy, as he was right behind them. He came down for a bit of a snack after they moved on.

Chick-a-dee-dee-dee!

The trail took me back toward the road, and when I got out there I noticed a tree I had seen on my drive in. It was covered with ornaments and I’d thought I’d stop there on my drive out after my walk. But it wasn’t that far away, maybe about a quarter mile. And I was right there.

I decided to change to the short lens and walk over there. After all, who knew what the light would be like by the time I was driving past it later? So there in the woods I switched lenses and then I walked out of the woods and down along the road toward the tree.

I don’t know what the significance is of this tree, there’s no sign. But it was pretty.

As I got closer I realize not all the sparkles were baubles. The trees were filled with bluebirds! And me with the short lens on the camera. I stopped right there on the side of the road and switched back to the long lens. Still, the birds were flitting back and forth, up and down from the tree to the ground. I’d catch a flash of brillant blue, but couldn’t get the bird in focus.

He has an acorn cap in his beak.

Finally one dropped down to the ground and stayed there long enough for me to capture him. He was adorable! Then he took off with that acorn cap and I reflexively shot.

He still has the acorn cap in his bill.

I got some of him in focus accidently. But I was thrilled just to see them all there on a mid-December day.

After the bluebirds left I concentrated a bit on the tree itself.

Pretty in the sunlight.

There was another tree across the street decorated all in fishing lures an bobbers. I have no idea why, but it also was pretty.

A fishing theme far away from the lake.

After the bluebird interlude I put the short lens back on the camera and headed back into the woods to finish my trek back to the car. As I got closer to the nature center the little birds began swarming my head. They were quite insistant. So of course I had to take the obligitory picture of a bird in the hand.

“HEY! That was the biggest peanut and it was MINE!”

Or, in this case, two birds in the hand.

The big hawks were gone when I walked past their trees. I wondered which photographers were patient enough to wait for them to lift off in flight. That would have made a cool photo too. But I was happy with my menagerie of images. Plus I’d gotten over 3 miles of walking in.

Liftoff!

Choices, choices. Every choice has some kind of consequence, good or bad. I think I made the right choices on Friday when I visited my favorite park.

Don’t you?

Follow youe heart, you never know what you’ll find.