Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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A fleeting moment

Yesterday started out with fog but ended up warm with sunshine filling my space.

It was 70F with sun by the end of the afternoon!

Like most evenings since I’ve been here, there wasn’t much of a sunset even though there were a few floaty clouds overhead.

Wispy bits float by

The sun quietly slid below the horizon while I was busy talking on the phone.

Evening falls on a fine day.

It was a good way to end a day I’d spent mini adventuring. More on that in another post.

This morning, just like a certain sheltie-girl who will remain nameless, the light woke me at 6 a.m. The strange glow in the room had me leaping out of bed searching frantically for my clothes and then the camera.

Because this was outside:

This hasn’t been edited. This was the color I wasn’t sure I was seeing.

The whole world was orange and I knew it wouldn’t last.

It looks like a sepia photo from my grandmother’s time.

Sure enough, after only a minute or two the grey fog began to creep in, damp on my cheeks and the camera lens.

The fog moves in, obliterating the light.

And the whole world changed to grey.

Turned to black and white.

But wasn’t that orange moment worth getting up early for!

Katie says that would be a lesson well learned.

I have faith the light will return.

Edit: If you want to see an extraordinary sky, check out this post from 3 years ago about now when I was down here with Katie-girl.


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Feeling a bit suspicious

Katie here. I had to borrow daddy’s ‘puter cause I can’t find mama’s laptop. To be truthful, I can’t find mama either.

Morning

But I don’t want to admit I’ve lost her. After all, it’s my job to know where she is all the time. And trust me it’s not easy, especially with my propensity to nap and her propensity to wander. Mama’s always moving around on me. I rest my eyes and when I open them again she’s in some other part of the house.

Only this time I looked in all her favorite places and I can’t find her!

Clouds

I think she’s playing hide and seek with me, and I think she seriously needs to cut it out! There must be a secret room somewhere in this house, and I’m going to find it.

Right after I rest my eyes.

Barn

So anyway, it’s a good thing I can find my dad. He’s been really good about taking me on walks and making my supper and stuff. But I still wonder where mama is.

Visitor

Hey! I just had a thought! Do you think she’s off adventuring without me? No, that can’t be it. Mama would never leave me behind.

She’s not off taking pictures of stuff that’s not me is she?

Artsy-fartsy

Making new friends?

Horses

Exploring new places? Or…..no this couldn’t possibly be it….she’s not off exploring some of my favorite places without me.

Road

Is she?

Reflections


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Take a walk with me. But bring the map.

As you know I’m in Alabama. You’d think it would be warm being in the South, and it sort of is. It’s warmer than up where I came from. But it’s not really warm.

Looking at both sides.

I arrived late Friday night. Saturday was cold and rainy, but Sunday the sky brightened and turned into big puffy white and grey clouds and it got way up into the 60s! I just knew I had to take advantage of the weather, so I headed over to Smith Mountain.

The beginning of the fire road around the mountain. One of Katie’s favorite places to walk. Mine too.

You’ve heard me talk about Smith Mountain before. You can climb up the mountain and then climb up a fire tower that sits on top of the mountain and you have a glorious view of Lake Martin.

From another year, another hike up the mountain.

It’s one of my favorite things to do, but I didn’t do that on Sunday.

No, Sunday the parking lot was full of cars when I arrived and I didn’t want to deal with a fire tower filled with masked or unmasked people. Plus I wasn’t in the mood to climb the mountain.

So I took the walk around the base of the mountain. It’s one of Katie’s favorite places to walk, a big fire road that circles around to the back of the mountain.

The water is low, but the area behind the mountain is still beautiful.

She and I never tried to go all the way around the mountain, because I wasn’t sure if the road actually did that and I didn’t want to get stuck with her and have to make her walk all the way back. So we usually turned around on the backside of the mountain.

She was never happy about turning around.

Little stuff caught my attention too.

So this time I thought I’d just see if the road (which I used as a trail, though it is not part of the trail system, went all the way around. It made sense that it might end up right back at the parking lot.

Lots of interesting shapes and colors.

I was so confident I didn’t look at the map posted at the beginning. I figured it would all work out. I also didn’t take any water. And I accidently left my phone in the car. But I had my camera, so all was good. Right? Of course right!

Such pretty colors on Sunday!

I stopped and got lots of pictures, and when I got to the spot where Katie and I always turned around I figured since the road/trail continued, a nice wide path that had obviously been used, I’d just keep going too.

Hmmmm, are the clouds looking kind of stormy?

Eventually I got to a spot that said “To the tower this way,” and “To the parking lot this way.” Bingo! The parking lot was only .4 miles away! (disclaimer, I was already sort of tired and was disappointed it was .4 miles away, I figured it should be around the next corner.)

This looks promising!

So I kept going on the nice wide path, covered in pine needles. Which got narrower and narrower and there were no more signs and it didn’t seem to be going in the direction that I thought the parking lot should be.

Eventually I saw a pink mark on a tree, and I thought “GOOD! At least I’m on some sort of trail. Maybe I can figure out where this goes!”

Is this trail really going anywhere I want to go?

But shortly after that I saw houses off in the distance where there should be no houses, and water on my left when it should have been on my right. And I knew this was not going to get me to the parking lot. Plus I’d been walking a long time and surely had traveled .4 miles by now.

So I turned around and went back and eventually crossed a trail that had a blue mark painted on a tree and I figured maybe that was a good sign (if I’d looked at the map I’d have known I needed to stay on blue!) Using the sun as a guide for which direction I was going I headed out, hoping it was toward the parking lot.

Maybe THIS is the right way.

A fisherman came the other way and I asked him how far to the parking lot (acting like I KNEW I was on the right path) and he said about half a mile. Sigh. But at least I knew I’d get there eventually!

I see a car!!

When I finally made it to the parking lot I smiled a lot, and then I studied the map, and figured I had taken some of the blue trail, some of the fire road, some of the pink trail and a whole lot of who knows what. I wasn’t at all sure where I’d been, but it sure had been pretty!

When I finally got home I had sweated through my shirt, sweatshirt and jacket. I opened all the windows, and enjoyed the lovely breeze.

After a long drink of water I decided to download the pictures, and noticed that the memory chip that belongs in my camera was sitting on the kitchen table. Which meant it wasn’t in my camera during that walk. Sigh. Double sigh.

I was really sad.

Monday it was very cold, no sun, sleet and rain. No walking around the mountain for me.

But Tuesday, oh Tuesday was bright and sunny! Not a cloud in the sky. I set out for the mountain, determined to retake the best of the pictures I’d gotten on Sunday. And ready to figure out the right way to walk around the mountain.

OK. Here’s the map. I’m sure you’d have had no trouble figuring this out. But most of the fire road isn’t even ON this map.

I studied the map again before I started out. I even took a picture of it in case I needed it out in the field. I am a slow learner, but I eventually figure it out. The fire road isn’t on the map, but it connects two sections of the blue trail and you need to stay on the blue trail to get back to the parking lot…except when it’s a white trail. Either way, DO NOT GET ON THE PINK TRAIL.

Tuesday was windy, with no clouds. The tall pines were waving in the breeze.

And just before I started I checked my camera to make sure the memory card was in there. And remembered this new camera has 2 slots for 2 memory cards. And guess what? There were two memory cards in there.

It was a beautiful day, not as warm as Sunday, so I wore my winter coat.

Which means there was probably a memory card in the camera on Sunday. Which means that the pictures I took on Sunday were probably on that other card. Which means that I really didn’t have to walk around the mountain again.

Pretty stuff everywhere. But pay attention to where you are this time.

Except I really wanted to prove to myself that I could figure out the right trail.

So I did.

And here’s what I learned. It might apply to life in general too.

When you come to an choice of paths to take and there are no signs, and one path seems easier, wide and sunny and covered with soft pine needles, and the other path looks tough, uphill, rocky and narrow, take the harder path, and look for signs that you’re on the right one.

This is where I made my mistake on Sunday. See that path to the left? I never saw it. The sign that says parking lot .4 miles? It has an arrow that points slightly UP. The correct path is the one on the left. The easy path is the one on the right. But that takes you to the PINK trail! WRONG WRONG WRONG!

The easier path will never get you where you need to go.

And that’s the truth. Every place I had to make a decision, if I took the easier choice I never saw a blue (or any) mark on a tree denoting the correct trail. So I’d backtrack and try the other option and there would be that comforting mark.

Even when it seems like you need to be a mountain goat, follow the harder path, it’s the right one.

Every single time if I took the harder option I soon learned I was on the right trail.

Keep your eye out for trail markings, those blue rectangles mean you’re heading in the right direction.

Let that be a lesson for us all.

If you just look there are always signs to point you on your way.

And may you always find your way, following your own personal markers in life.

Signs of spring.

PS: Happy birthday, Dad. I’m at your house, adventuring in some of your favorite places. I know you’re with me. But you would have looked at the map first. I know. Lesson learned. 🙂


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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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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.