Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Hanging in the rain…and fog…and cold…and…

Katie here. I know you can hardly stand waiting to hear all about my adventure, but I had to wait until mama trimmed my paws. You know how hard it is to type when your nails are too long.

One of my favorite things to do is hang out under the picnic table. Never know what you’ll find under here.

Plus, we got home from our trip way last Friday but this is the first time I’ve been able to kick mama off her laptop long enough for me to write to all of you.

Sometimes mama forgets I’m the princess.

We had a great view!

But other times, like last week, she does things just for me, like taking me camping in my tent but way up north instead of in my own backyard. I just love doing that. This time we went up into the thumb of Michigan, and camped at a Michigan State Park called Port Crescent.

Mama reserved our site way back in January, so that we could have a spot right on Saginaw Bay. It was awesome. OK, yes when we first arrived on Tuesday afternoon it was a trifle windy. So windy that mama wasn’t sure she’d be able to get the tent up by herself. I told her I wasn’t about to help her, as a princess doesn’t do manual labor.

Mama was hoping for no rain.

She got it up but was afraid to try to put up the rain fly. She said that would be like handling a giant kite in a tornado.

Eventually the wind died down a little, plus it looked like rain, so mama gave it a shot and, using the wind to her advantage, got it up and over the tent. Turns out this made the wind try to lift the whole tent up into the air.

It was really windy, but I wasn’t afraid of those waves!

Mama got out the heavy duty stakes and pounded them deep into the ground.

Then she and I got inside the tent to help hold it down. The wind was amazing, making the tent walls shudder and the waves, only feet away, roar. Then on top of the wind and waves the rain began to pour down. Rain on a tent can be pretty relaxing, but not when it’s coming down sideways!

You want me to help you hold the tent down mama?

It was a pretty noisy night, but I slept through most of it. Mama said she stayed awake shivering and finally put on more socks and long underwear and her winter coat and a hat and mittens so that she could get some sleep around 1 a.m.

Guess mama isn’t built for cold. I thought it was the perfect sleeping temperature.

The next morning the wind had died down, the bay was calm when we ventured out about 5:30. I don’t know why mama was so grumpy, it was beautiful! She should thank me for getting her up to enjoy it.

Early morning blue hour. She would have missed this without me. She never gives me enough credit for the good stuff.

We walked down to a little beach and looked at the water for a bit, then mama said after breakfast we were going to go visit Grindstone City. Well, I don’t know what that is, but I’m always up for an adventure.

A nice morning…but is that fog?

Mama said it was a tiny town up on the very tip of Michigan’s thumb that used to make grindstones, and lots of the old grindstones are still up there scattered around. She’d been there twice before, once with my dad about 10 years ago, and once with her dad so many years ago she can’t count.

She was confident she knew where it was.

Hurry up mama, I think the fog is closing in!

So off we went. First up we visited the marina at Port Austin, the town just up the road. It was really pretty, which, from a princess point of view isn’t always a good thing, cause mama makes me pose in front of a bunch of stuff. All the time. Boring mama!

A pretty spot to sit on a day without fog maybe.

Anyway, while we were there the fog blew in, and it blew in really fast! By the time we left you could hardly see anything. Mama, however, noticed a few barns as we drove further north looking for Grindstone City. She was so busy looking at the barns that she sort of lost track of where she was.

Lots of barns in lush green hills!

At one point she stopped to look at a map. I don’t know why she had to do that. I mean, I asked her, how hard can it be to find the furthest northern point of a thumb? It’s like right there on her hand, right? (Joke mama, joke!)

Mama said she thought we had gone too far in the fog and needed to turn around. So she was looking for a place to do that when she saw a sign for this.

We had this place all to ourselves.

It’s Pointe Aux Barques Lighthouse, built in 1847. In 1849 Catherine Shook became Michigan’s first female lighthouse keeper when her husband drowned. The current structure was built in 1857. It began to rain as we were exploring, so we didn’t stay long, but it was fun to walk around and imagine what it must have been like back in the day. The fog and rain made our imagination even more vivid!

Still, we hadn’t found Grindstone City! Mama referred to her map again and set off confidently. And this time she was right!

Grindstone City must be around here somewhere!

We pulled into town and stopped at one of only a few commercial buildings. Signs said the best ice cream in the world was served there, but it wasn’t open.

No ice cream today!

I wasn’t disappointed cause I never get ice cream anyway. Mama said it was OK because she was too cold and wet for a frozen treat.

Really old.

So we headed off to look for a particular peninsula where she knew there used to be some abandoned grindstones. Plus when she was there with daddy years ago she had thought that I would like to explore it someday. And there, just around another corner was the place she remembered!

This looks interesting mama!

We pulled up and she noted that there were lots and lots of families of Canadian geese, complete with dozens of babies. She told me maybe we wouldn’t be walking out to the end of the point after all, as geese can be pretty aggressive when they’ve got the babies around. But as soon as she got me out of the car they all slid noisily into the water.

Guess they know not to get in the face of a princess.

Let’s get sniffing mama!

So off we went. Mama liked this one tree across the way and spent a lot of time trying to get a shot of it. There were tons of swallows flying and she started laughing cause she couldn’t get a shot of the tree without a bird flying into the image.

A bird flies through the frame.

I was too busy sniffing the ground, looking for grindstones to bother with birds. And way out at the end of the point I found one!

There’s a grindstone out there!

We spent a long time out there, mama found all sorts of things to photograph. And I liked being out in the wind and the fog and the rain. Kind of made my fur curly, but I figure it’s a look. Right?

Right?!

Anyway, by the time we got back to camp I needed to take a long nap. Unfortunately our campsite had a whole bunch of wood chips that liked to stick to my fur. It didn’t bother me, but mama spent a lot of time sweeping out the tent and muttering.

A princess needs her nap.

Wednesday night mama slept in all her clothes including hat and mittens again. She actually googled for nearby hotels but there weren’t any. I, on the other hand, slept great.

Don’t bug me mama.

Thursday morning I managed to let mama sleep until about 6. It was a beautiful morning and she was happy to see what she thought might be sun touching the tops of the trees. And soon we had evidence that finally we were going to have a nice warm sunny day. Perfect for camping even though it was our last day there.

Tall cottonwood trees shaded our site.

We went south a little bit and explored the Albert E Sleeper state park. Mama hadn’t wanted to stay there because their campground is on the other side of the main road. Mama says it’s more fun to be right on the water.

Another park with no one around.

I reminded her it probably would have been warmer at night to be in the woods instead of on the water, but she said the sun on the water Thursday was worth all those nasty nights of shivering.

Sunshine on the water makes us happy.

Whatever mama.

No one was at the Sleeper state park at all. There were lots of trees and it was pretty…

Lots of parking available!

..but there were also lots of signs like this. Which we ignored since no one was there.

Let’s go see what’s over the dune quick before anyone notices!

We walked down to the beach and I got my picture sort of on it…without really touching their precious sand. I figured I’d rather just hang out at my campsite and watch the water instead of worrying about being busted breaking the no dog rule.

So that’s what we did.

Kids and their dog play in front of our site. I stayed dry on shore as befits a princess.

And Thursday night there was the prettiest sunset. The people in the next site brought their kayaks and went out to enjoy the sunset. Of course mama took their picture ( a few dozen pictures actually) and she sent them the best shots yesterday.

A romantic paddle at sunset.

She took a few of me too.

This was a perfect day mama!

And then it was Friday morning and time for us to head home. I was sad, it was going to be another beautiful day and I didn’t want to leave. But mama said camping in the state parks on the weekends is just not fun, too many people, too much noise, and besides, she was sort of missing her bed at home.

You always do this mama! Where is my tent!?!?!

I didn’t understand that exactly, cause I was sleeping in my own bed. Mama brought it with us, per my demand. Doesn’t matter to me where it is as long as mama is nearby.

Anyway mama packed up Friday morning, and I supervised. Then we took the long way home and mama took pictures of a few more barns.

A bird on a barn with a bird.

We made it home in time for dinner, and then mama unpacked the car and did the laundry and put stuff away. I took a nap.

I’m ready for us to go again real soon, but mama says she might need to take a little break. She says it’s nice to sleep without putting on four layers of clothes, and huddle under three blankets. She also enjoys sleeping without sand and wood chips in her bed.

I don’t know why she looks at me when she says that.

I miss my campsite by the water mama!

So that’s the story of my adventure. We had a lot of fun, that last day of sunshine sort of eclipsed all the rain and wind and fog and cold. Almost. I hope our next adventure is a little bit warmer, but not too warm. You know how a sheltie princess enjoys being cool.

Mama will just have to suck it up.

I can’t wait to get back out there!


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A smiley kind of week

Trent hosts a weekly smile blog where he invites people to share something each week that made them smile, then link to his blog so that he can send out a recap on Mondays.

That alone makes me smile.

But this week there are plenty of things I smiled about and it’s hard to choose just one to share. For example, my tree peonies bloomed. Their flowers only last for a day or two and if you’re not quick you’ll miss them all together.

Katie and I were quick this year.

And as you know Katie and I went north for a few days to camp along the shores of Saginaw Bay, on the west side of Michigan’s thumb.

Lots to smile about there.

And this morning I made music with many of my Clarkston Community Band members at the opening of our local Farmers’ Market.

We sat out in a parking lot under the hot sun and played for three hours. It was a blast. I’m pretty sure the top of my feet are sunburned even though I put unscreen on, but at least that will be proof we’ve finally moved into summer arsound here. Another reason to smile!

Katie says she wants to tell you all about our camping trip, so you’ll have to wait just a little bit for that. She’s a slow typist lately. She blames me because I haven’t trimmed her feet in awhile and the extra long fur tends to obscure the keyboard.

Oh! And on our drive up there and back I got to see a lot of barns! You know how that makes me smile!

So let me count. The flowers in the garden, the trip up north, camping, barns, music…it’s just too much to number! What have you smiled about this week? Write a blog and link it to Trent’s and we’ll all be able to smile together.

Katie had a lot to smile about too!


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Adventure-ho!

Thank you to all who read, liked, and/or commented on the previous post. It’s a heavy topic and several of you sent me articles and links outside the comment section as well. I don’t want any of you to think I took your responses lightly, I’m still processing some of it myself.

Meanwhile Katie and I are going camping for a few days. I think we’ll be mostly out of touch, but I’m sure you’ll hear from us when we return. Katie has been unusually quiet lately, and I’m sure she’ll have plenty to say when we get back.

Meanwhile, stay safe and be happy!


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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.


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What the heck is a Dequindre Cut? The answer will make you smile.

The Dequindre Cut is a beautiful paved bike path and walkway.


If you’re not from around here Dequindre probably isn’t even a word. Heck, even if you are from around here you probably don’t know that the street in metro Detroit was named after a hero in the war of 1812.

And even if you know all that, well, it’s possible that you have never heard of the Dequindre Cut.

Graffiti art adorns all the bridgework along the mile and a half walk.

I hadn’t either, until someone who worked in my department talked about it a few years ago. It sounded intriguing, and for several years it’s been on my list of things to investigate “when I had the time.”

Well, it turns out I needed to make the time.

Some of the paintings have some sort of message to give.

This past January, instead of making a resolution I put together a list of “Interesting, Stupendous and Fun Things” to do. It sounded more fun than resolutions, and so far it has been!

Others are more traditional graffiti.

In late January I was able to check the first item, making a winter visit to a lighthouse in northern Michigan, off the list.

There were lots of people out walking and biking.

And I’m definitely training (slowly) to do the 10 mile Crim race in August.

“A star is born through immense pressure and we have had our fair share. That beacon of light you see in the dark is our fair city rising from the night sky.”

Plus I’m keeping pace to read 50 books by the end of the year.

I waited for a person on a bike to ride by this, thought it would make a great picture, but wouldn’t you know, no one did. I think someone on a red bike would have been perfect!

And you know I’m working on my photography skills with the new Nikon.

But I want to tell you about this past weekend when I had a really really fun time walking and photographing the Dequindre Cut in downtown Detroit. It’s an old railroad bed that has been turned into a bike and walking path.

And the best part?

There was great music playing near this mural.

The best part is that the developers left much of the original graffiti on the bridge walls!

A friend and I went down to explore it and were very impressed by how wonderful it was. The walk goes from the Detroit River Walk all the way north about a mile and a half to the Eastern Farmers Market.

Layers and layers of art was everywhere.

And wouldn’t you know, we walked it, unknowingly, on Flower Day weekend, when the Eastern Market is flooded with vendors and people all focused on getting their flowers and plants for spring planting!

A building up at street level had this great red shark looming over the walk.

We started down by the river, and when we came out at the other end I started to recognize that we were near the market. And then we saw people hauling flats of annuals, and wagons full of larger plants and I knew we just had to walk over there and see it.

Up at street level, on the way to the farmers’ market.

It was only a couple more blocks, and it was so much fun to watch all the activity. Plus there are lots of painted buildings there too!

People everywhere buying flowers, enjoying the music amidst the brilliant painted buildings.

We didn’t buy any plants because we were parked a mile and a half away! But we did buy some raspberries and bananas from a vendor because by then we were starving!

This city has so much talent!

We scarfed those down on our walk back to the car.

The Detroit Lions (football) are going to be great this year. Really. We’re not kidding.

All in all it was a very good day. We saw some really cool art, and some beautiful flowers. And you can’t beat Flower Day at the Eastern Market for people watching.

The music was pretty good too.

I’d go again and probably will, maybe combine it with a trip out to Belle Isle in the Detroit River.

Detroit. There’s a lot more here than what you’ve heard.

If you like, you can come along! It’s guaranteed to make you smile!

This phoenix is rising.


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Nancy’s photo a week challenge: Circles and Squares

Most of my photography is nature related. Plus Katie, of course. Not things that generally lend themselves to circles and especially not things that lend themselves to squares.

Still…I filed this challenge in the back of my head and pretty much forgot about it. Until I was walking Katie on the neighbor’s property this week and she was sniffing around the back of their old chicken coop.

And as I turned to call her I saw it.

All squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares. Or is it the other way around?

The round kiddy pool propped up against the shed, with the square nesting boxes leaning there next to it.

Made me laugh out loud.

And then Saturday a friend and I were eating lunch at a restaurant and I noticed the big round lampshade against the grid of the black ceiling.

But the black squares didn’t show up well in my phone camera shot. And as I was putting the phone away, explaining to my friend why I was taking a picture of the ceiling, she said…

…”don’t you see it? Look at that other lampshade right next to the big white one.” And there were the squares.

So this week it’s a two-fer. And a lesson learned; if you just keep your mind and eyes open you’re likely to see the most unlikely things.


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The weekly smile

It’s harder, some weeks, to find a reason to smile, and this week has been one of those. What with the deaths of Tim Conway and Doris Day, the fall and hip fracture of former President Jimmy Carter, some health issues within my family and a semi crash not far from me that has critically injured two people just today, it seems there’s not a lot to smile about.

But if I take a moment (and a deep breath) I know the truth, that there’s always something to smile about. You just have to pay attention.

For instance – today the sun came out.

Really mama? Can’t we just get on with our walk?

To those of you living in Florida or Arizona or California that might not seem like a big deal. Now that I think about it, maybe all of you in those far away states are sun hoarders, unwilling to share a little light with us in the northern, damp and bleak states. Well, today the sun came out and we reached 70 degrees.

And Katie and I reveled in it.

The neighbors have a beautiful pond.

We took a walk, my girl and I, on a neighbor’s land across the street. I let her off her leash and she trotted along the pond, nose to the ground, then up and down hills so happy to be free to sniff all the good stuff.

Come on mama, there’s good smells over here!

I was happy to be free of the wet dripping rain.

And it was enough, this one day of sun, to make me smile.

Spring pushes winter out of the way.

Katie and I hope you have something to smile about too. Let us know what’s making you happy and put a comment in Trent’s Weekly Smile post (pingbacks aren’t working at the moment.

We look forward to reading all about your smiles.

Big thanks to our neighbors for letting us wander in their yard!


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Spring finally fights off the winter blues

Singing with joy in the sun.

We’re done with snow in southeastern Michigan. I think.

It’s been cold and rainy for what seems like weeks, not feeling like winter, certainly not feeling like spring. But with all the rain things are starting to bud, to spring up from the squishy earth, to green almost before our eyes.

Color is popping up everywhere.

I was walking out at a local park earlier in the week, trying to get my miles done, training for a summer race. I know that if I start noticing things, stop to take pictures with my phone, that I’ll never get the miles in.

Subtle color glows.

So I made note of where some of the prettiest stuff was and went back with my camera the next day. I was expecting a quiet walk in the woods, but it turned out to be the most beautiful, sunny, warm day that we’ve had yet this spring and that caused lots of people to go out to enjoy the park.

Light turns skunk cabbage into emeralds.

That didn’t bother me at all. I was immersed in the beauty of light on leaves, light making grass and skunk cabbage glow.

Cow slips, or marsh marigolds, either way they’ll make you smile.

Light bringing color to what has been, for months, a grey and drab woods.

Green life glows in the woods.

I only walked 5 miles on Sunday, but it took me almost three hours. Seems I was stopping every little bit to capture something else.

Tiny bits of color are everywhere if you look.

While others were riding by on bikes, or jogging past with the slap of feet, I was crouched down, my face near the earth trying to capture that illusive image.

Bits of gold hidden near the forest floor.

I couldn’t have been happier. Indeed, I couldn’t stop smiling.