Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Sharing a smile – musically

You ever have one of those weeks that just flies by and you’re pretty sure you had plenty to smile about but you can’t really remember anything specific? Well, that’s been my week. So this week’s smile comes to you from this very afternoon, the last afternoon of the week.

Today I attended a band concert at our local high school. But this isn’t just any band – it’s made up of band directors, private music teachers and a few assorted graduate music students. Talk about talent filling a hall!

Though the house wasn’t full (and it should have been, all the students of all these teachers should have been there) those of us in the audience were serious appreciates of good music. During one piece I noticed a guy up one row and to my left conducting along with the music. And there was plenty of head bopping going on all around me. Yep, the place was filled with musicians and musician’s families.

And in the middle of their last piece, Danzon No. 2 by Marquez, where the piece gets extra wild and a bit raunchy, (about 7:38 into the piece, see link above.), I actually got goosebumps.

That was definitely cause for a smile.


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The weekly smile is buried in snow.

Trent hosts a collection of smiles each week. People post on their own blogs, describing things that made them smile that week, and link their posts to his. On Mondays, a day when we could all use a few smiles, Trent posts a recap so that we can all visit everybody else. It’s a nice way to start the week.

So this week, in Michigan, we got snow. Record breaking snow, more snow this early in the season than we’ve ever received in the history of our weather.

Sure it was pretty, but nothing to smile about.

Did we smile?

Well, not so much, not after the first “Oh it’s so pretty” wore off. My husband went out three times during the day to clear the driveway. And then he went and bought a bigger snowblower.

We all wanted to fly away.

To add more drama to our lives, this week we’re having drywall put up in the garage, so the car had to stay outside. In the accumulating snow.

Is this supposed to be fun mama?

I took his truck with four wheel drive to my morning physical therapy appointment. Driving in blowing snow, through snowdrifts, and finding out, after the appointment, that there was no snow scraper in the truck meant I was still not smiling.

My feet are cold. This is not fun.

And Thursday and Friday we had painters doing the inside of our house. Katie and I were relegated to one bedroom with the door closed so she didn’t end up a painted dog. She wasn’t smiling.

Camping makes me smile, but not in the snow!

And when Katie is unhappy everyone is unhappy. So most of Thursday and some of Friday she and I explored her parks.

About time you found me a park where they plowed the path!

And then the sun came out. Which made us all smile!

Now this is perfect weather mama!

After two long days of exploring cold, snow covered parks, we spent last night playing hide the sheltie-girl.

You can’t hide from me mama!

And the smiles continued.

What made you smile this week? Share it with us! Those of us up here in snow country could use more smiles.

Adventures always make me smile mama!


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Living large as befits a princess

Katie here.

Welcome to Davis Lake Overlook Park! Or as I call it – Katie’s Park Two.

Boy I’ve been busy; mama says you wouldn’t know I’m going to be a teenager next month. After lolling around all summer I’m now all energy and bark. Maybe too much bark, but it gets me what I want so I’m not going to stop.

Even when mama calls me “KATE!”

Stop lolly-gagging around mama!

So when I kept barking and getting under her feet, mama gave in and took me to a local park. It was a beautiful, if a bit windy, day. Mama said that worked in our favor because no one else was out there.

The wind is taking down the last of the leaves!

She was intent on taking pictures of these yellow trees out in the wet swamp.

It was such a pretty day!

She does this every year and every year she gets her feet wet. I chose to stay up on the hill and wait for her; I haven’t forgotten how I got my feet wet following her last year.

I’ll wait here.

Then she started focusing on the light shining through this young oak tree leaf. I was bored and figured she should be focused on me and my treats, so I photo bombed her shot and she got the message. After that it was all about me.

Which is more pretty? This stupid leaf of me?

Still, this was just a local park and I thought I deserved a bigger adventure. After all, this year I’ve spent weeks and weeks at ‘camp’ and she feels quite guilty about that. I milk it for everything I can, so I kept bugging her to take me somewhere more fun and guess what?

Whatcha going to do for me next, huh mama?

She made a date with another sheltie and her mom down in Ann Arbor at Nichols Arboretum!

Meet Abby!

Abby is going to be 12 soon. She is a very elegant lady.

Mama and Amy’s mom have been Facebook friends for a long time, and it turns out Ann Arbor is sort of halfway between where we each live, so we met there yesterday.

Isn’t Abby pretty? She has a regal air about her don’t you think?

Abby and I got along just fine, mostly because we ignored each other. If I’m honest I sniffed her behind a couple times, but she was polite and didn’t try to sniff mine at all.

Abby’s mom didn’t bring her any treats, and she still posed when asked. I, of course, demanded payment after each shot.

At first we weren’t too excited to pose too close to each other, but almost right away we recognized if we just did what they asked we got to go off and sniff sooner. And there are so many good smells in the woods there!

This is Abby’s mom Shaun.

Since I had been there before I showed Abby some of my favorite places. There was one spot with lots of pretty leaves on the ground.

Abby didn’t mind hanging around getting her picture taken at all.

Then mama saw this tree. Well. You know we had to pose by that!!

“Does she always make you stop and take pictures on your walks Katie?”

We walked for a long time, but Abby and I didn’t get tired at all, mostly because mama was always stopping for more pictures. You know how mama is.

I think Abby had a good time too!

On our way back to the car I asked Abby if she wanted to come back sometime and explore more. She said she was definitely interested!

“I think this was a good idea, Katie!”

It’s a good thing we went for that walk yesterday. Cause this is what’s happening today!

Oh yea, Fall is over!

So, as you can see, I’ve had a pretty good time lately. I didn’t even tell you about the new park I explored last week with my friend Deuce!

Me and my friend Deuce as the sun set on another perfect day.

Yep, mama’s keeping me pretty busy. She says she’s trying to get me to sleep through the night. Yea. Like that’s going to happen.

Talk later, your park advisor pup, Katie-girl.

I always have fun with my friends.


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Snow infringes yet again

April 15th of this year we had snow. It seemed way too late to be getting so much of the wet white stuff. Sure it was pretty. But really, winter around here is long enough without it lingering on.

Our back yard on October 30th.

So our warm season seemed even shorter this week when on October 31st we got the first snow of the season. Yes, Halloween night, when kids from around the neighborhood should be enjoying a house-to-house foraging for candy, we were enduring wind, sleet and snow.

The snow made the colors pop.

Needless to say no one came to our front door.

But in the morning we enjoyed the beauty the night’s storm left behind. We still have quite a bit of color here, leaves had only just turned when they were coated with snow.

Fall and winter, mixing it up. Unfortunately we know which will ultimately win.

It made a pretty juxtaposition, the warm colors of fall against the stark coldness of winter.

The ginkgo tree begins to lose her leaves, the maple has hardly any left.

Katie and I went out to explore the backyard. Lots and lots of pretty things there.

Kind of like a Christmas card.

She wasn’t even jealous that I wasn’t paying attention to her, she was having such a good time following smells.

Mama, I kind of like this snow.

It was pretty cold, the snow stayed around for most of the day, but by the next day it was gone. We’ll enjoy a few more days of sun before winter comes back for a longer visit.

Add a little ice to the mix.

Katie says we should get out there and enjoy every one of the good days. Cause she knows how it is when the snow is higher than she is tall.

The last hurrah.

And it’s not fun.

Sad sunflower.


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Stirring the oatmeal makes me smile

When I was a little kid, maybe 7 or 8, my dad made oatmeal for all of us. It wasn’t his normal gig – mom was in the hospital with pneumonia and he was trying to feed four of us breakfast. I remember that oatmeal as being cold and grey and lumpy and awful. I haven’t eaten oatmeal since, other than those envelopes of instant that are something totally unrelated to simmering oatmeal in a pot on the stove.

This year, trying to eat healthier and noting the amount of sugar and other refined things in cold cereal, I explored overnight oats. I didn’t think I’d like them, considering my aversion to cold lumpy oatmeal, but I was surprised. I found out I enjoyed them very much, especially with agave sweetener, and other than mornings after nights when I forgot to make it before heading to bed, I ate it every day for several months.

And then we spent the summer traveling and breakfast at hotels is pretty predictable. Fake eggs, greasy bacon or sausage, cold cereal, toast. Not a lot of choices that I wanted to eat. But there was always a big pot of steamy oatmeal. And I liked the cold overnight oatmeal, right? So maybe…

Yep, it turns out I like oatmeal!

So now I’m exploring at home. The old fashioned variety which takes about 5 minutes of contemplative stirring is my favorite at the moment. There’s something so satisfying about the warm milk steaming, stirring in the oatmeal and cinnamon, maybe a tablespoon of raisins to soften. Sliding the whole thing into a bowl, adding a touch of brown sugar, some apple, maybe dried cranberries.

It’s such a peaceful way to start the day and I highly recommend trying it yourself. But those steel cut oats? Well, they’ve been taking me 45 minutes of stirring and I don’t have that much contemplation in me in the morning.

What makes you smile? Tell us about it and link it to Trent’s blog, he’ll recap the smiles on Monday. And you know it’s Mondays when we usually need a smile or two.


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Smiling in the rain

Last weekend there were high winds on the shores of Lake Michigan and I considered driving the three hours over to the Lake to see. But it was raining and cold and I just didn’t do it.

But when I saw the pictures later I regretted my decision to stay home.

One of my favorite times of year, when the trees are lit by sun after a thunderstorm.

So when I read that heavy winds were again going to pound the coast on Tuesday I just knew I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to see it for myself. In the morning I headed out before the sun was up, camera, long lens, extra batteries, winter coat, hat, gloves, spare shoes, extra wool socks and a map of Michigan.

When I left we had clear skies and no wind and I was worried I’d get all the way over there and the lake would be calm and sunny.

I drove through all sorts of weather, bands of rain, then dry roads, then rain again. I even saw a rainbow! When I got to Grand Rapids, about two hours from me, with another hour to go before I got to the lake, the sun was shining on brilliant fall trees, but further west the sky was black. The combination was amazing and I tried to find a spot to get off the freeway and take a picture while the sun was still out.

Not a perfect picture, but the clouds are cool.

Turns out the exit I chose was in an industrial section of town with not a lot of exciting landscape, and few trees still covered in leaves, but you get the idea.

When I finally got to Grand Haven and made my way out to the state park I knew I didn’t have to worry about a boring calm lake. The wind was so strong you could feel it pushing the car, and the sky was black. The parking lot along the shore was packed, with a steady stream of cars driving in, and they certainly weren’t there to swim.

As I got out of the car, long lens on the camera, in my heavy winter coat with a hat pulled down over my ears the wind was brutal. But oh…the waves! I raced out to the beach, stood right behind the snow fence that kept you away from the surf, on dry sand, and raised my camera. And at that exact moment a rogue wave broke through the fence and raced over my feet, soaking me up to mid shin. I hardly noticed because also at that exact moment the rain hit me sideways, and the whole left side of me was soaked through the coat in an instant.

I managed to get this shot:

A wild and crazy moment.

And then my camera said “card full.”

With the wind and rain pummeling me I stood there dumbfounded. Then I raced back to the car where I sat in a growing puddle in the driver’s seat, manually deleting old pictures from my card and cursing my luck. To drive 3 hours, arrive when the lake looks amazing, and for the rain to arrive at the same time, and to have not checked the capacity of my memory card, nor brought a spare. Well drats.

The car windows steamed up as water was evaporating off my coat and jeans. My feet were freezing. I was not smiling. But I continued to delete old photos, making room on my card for me to get more shots. I knew I was going back out there to get more even though I was thoroughly disappointed that the rain was so dense, and the images I was likely to get weren’t what I had hoped for.

And then, while still mumbling under my breath, I realized the rain wasn’t pounding on the car roof anymore. And I wiped steam away from the window and saw people standing out on a dune pointing cameras at the lighthouse.

I leapt out of the car and saw this:

The energy of the Great Lakes takes a person’s breath away.

I started to squeal, as I am want to do when I see something extraordinary and I have my camera in my hand, and I raced back down to the beach. The wind was so strong it was hard to stand upright. And I had to go sit in the car a couple of times just to thaw my fingers.

The sun came out for a split second and then it was gone.

I have so many pictures, most the same yet different from each other. I, along with about 300 of my closest photographer friends stepped around each other, trying to stay out of each other’s shots. No speaking, as we were all focused on the lake, but an occasional smile and nod as we acknowledged the amazing sight.

Sharing the view.

We all moved around, looking for different angles.

During nice summer evenings people walk out on this pier.

The rest of the lake was pretty amazing too.

The clouds, which would normally be what I focused on, took second fiddle to the waves on Tuesday.

In the end I had to leave at noon in order to get back home for the evening rehearsal, our concert is next week. I was sad to leave such an amazing show of force, but my smile was pretty broad knowing I had some great shots stored and ready for review.

I’d be smiling even more if I could get Lightroom to work. I seem to have lost my tool bar with the import and export buttons. So all of these photos are unedited, just the way they came out of the camera. A little tilt to the horizon here and there can’t be fixed. But I figured you’d enjoy seeing them anyway. And maybe, if I figure Lightroom out I’ll show you some more.

Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy the images I posted just as much as I enjoyed shooting them. But I hope you’re dryer than I was.

I followed the storm all the way home.


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Walktober- city style

One of my favorite things about October is Robin’s Walktober post where she invites all of us to get out and take a walk and then shares them all with the blogosphere. And here it is the middle of October already and I haven’t posted about my October walk yet.

Let’s go see what’s just past those planters!

Sure, I tried last week, drove an hour north only to find the trail I wanted to explore closed. And sure I could have taken you to any number of local parks, but I’ve dragged you out to those parks numerous times over the years.

I wanted to do something different. And since the color around here is only beginning I decided not to wander into the woods, rather I’d go in the opposite direction – literally – and travel about an hour south to the city of Detroit.

Detroit’s skyline, as seen from Belle Isle state park, in the middle of the Detroit River.

Sunday morning I drove down, avoiding the freeway as everything is under construction. That worked fine as I got to see many beautiful churches, all filled with people coming and going. Someday I’d like to do a post about the churches on Woodward Avenue.

This church is down near the river.

The Riverwalk has lots of fun stuff, including a nature themed carousel…

I want to sit on the heron!

…small waterfalls…

It was a little chilly to play in the water on Sunday.

…places to meet your friends and enjoy a drink…

This place would be hopping on a warm summer evening.

…and plenty of comfy chairs to sit and watch the river traffic go by.

A good spot to sit and watch for a freighter.

Down at one end is General Motors’ headquarters, a combination of tall glass circular towers. It’s one of Detroit’s skyline landmarks.

It used to be called the Renaissance Center…the Ren Cen for short and some of us still call it that.

They’ve added a glass enclosed ballroom to the back of it with a stunning view of the river and Windsor, Canada sitting on the other side.

Built years apart, the two meld together into a beautiful facade.

The General Motors building sits next to Hart Plaza, a central park that hosts lots of music and art festivals during the summer. There’s several permanent pieces of ‘art’ located at the plaza.

Not sure what this is supposed to represent.

Most of them I’ve never understood. OK. I’ve never understood any of them.

Maybe this is the circle of life?

But down by the river there is a piece of sculpture here in the plaza that makes more sense.

Looking toward freedom.

It’s a sculpture honoring the Underground Railroad. The people are looking and pointing toward Canada across the river. It was dedicated in October of 2001.

Come this way!

Turning my back on the river I looked at the city. It beckoned me, so I decided to walk a few blocks and see what there was to see.

The city’s skyline includes more than just the Ren Cen.

Turns out there are a lot of shapes and colors just steps away from the Plaza…

All angles and straight lines.

…and not all of them were modern.

The Wayne County Building is from another era.

There’s an elevated train that circles the city. I liked the way it curved against the square shapes of some of the architecture.

And look! A bit of fall color too!

Historic buildings were reflected in the glass of those more modern.

Reflecting on history.

Just about everywhere I looked there was something interesting. And I was only a block from the river.

All these angles caught my eye.

I headed back toward the river, and watched the People Mover above against another iconic building.

Moving on up.

Then I was back at General Motors headquarters. The sun was glinting off the glass, flags blowing in the stiff wind.

What’s inside?

Don’t you wonder what’s inside all this curving glass? Nothing about a Walktober says it has to be outside, right? Let’s go in!

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Back outside, I headed east again toward my car. Not everything is all shiny and modern. But things are getting better in the city of Detroit, and getting better doesn’t mean forgetting where we came from.

Different shapes, different eras.

No, there’s still lots of work to be done in the city. New neighborhoods are sitting next to the relics from another age.

The renaissance is not complete.

But it’s not scary anymore to be down on the riverfront. And that’s promising. I hope you enjoyed our walk and that you’ll come visit Detroit someday. We have more to show you!

Smiled at this bar door.