Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


A glimmer of possibility

Wednesday afternoon the sun came out and temperatures rose into the 50s F (10s C). The snow began to melt, birds were singing, and spring felt within reach.

“Can we please go outside, mom?”

Little Penny, experiencing her first spring day, was ecstatic. And, because she wanted to be outside exploring her yard, she began to ask to go outside.

Our first picture together.

And just like that a corner has been rounded in our potty training effort.

Wednesday afternoon she began going to the back door and whining softly. Once, when I didn’t move fast enough to suit her, she pawed at the door.

Trying to engage the puppy in the reflection.

I’m pretty ecstatic too.

We’ve gone a whole day without a potty accident in the house. She’s napping at the moment, exhausted by all the tours of the yard, the grasses pulled, the gardens explored.

“Hey mom! This grass smells great!”

I’m grinning as I type, because I can tell she’s going to be an awesome dog.

Oh, I still miss my Katie-girl. I will always miss her, and Bonnie before her, and Daisy before Bonnie. As I walk around the yard, little Penny dancing on the end of her leash I talk to Katie.

She sits when she’s interested in something. We didn’t train her to do this. I spent years trying to get Katie to sit when a car drove by.

“See your little sister, baby-girl? See how she’s running and grinning and having the best time in your yard? Isn’t she cute? She’s got so many adventures in front of her, doesn’t she, sweetie. You keep watch over us, Katie-girl, and thanks for guiding us to this little one. She’s going to be special, just like you.”

I think this piece of grass needs to be pulled up, mom. Don’t worry, I’ll handle it.

Yep, this one’s a fire cracker, all bundled up energy, bursting into zoomies at the slightest instigation, never complaining, always happy, and definitely smart.

“Can we please go out again, mom?”

There’s going to be some stories to tell, no doubt about it. I can’t wait to get started. I think she’s pretty amped up too.

We had a really good day today, didn’t we mom!”


Introducing a Pretty Penny

Katie here. I know you haven’t heard from me much since I crossed the bridge.

My sister Payton and me.

But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been working. Mama asked me awhile back if I’d help her and daddy find a little sheltie girl. She said they had been real lonely without me and she knows shelties are a working breed, so she thought maybe I’d work at finding the perfect little girl for them.

And guess what? My half sister Payton’s human mom knew a breeder who knew a breeder, and last night mama and daddy picked up my little sister! Meet Penny!

This was her first evening, sitting on my sofa. She was a little overwhelmed.

She’s nine weeks old and just the cutest little thing! And you know what? I’m not even jealous like I used to be when mama or daddy paid attention to anyone else but me. Living here across the bridge teaches us lots of lessons, and one of those is that our folks’ hearts are expandable and there’s always plenty of love for every doggie.

Her first meal at my house….eating from one of my many bowls. I guess it’s her bowl now.

I’m really happy for mama and daddy….and I promise to supervise things to make sure they teach her all the stuff I taught them when I was there. You know. Like my one picture one treat rule. That’s probably the most important thing Penny needs to enforce because you know how mama is with that camera of hers.

Little puppy in a big new world.

But she also needs to knows it’s OK to get mama up at 4 a.m. if she feels like it, cause mama will get up with just the tiniest little whine. Mama is a softie.

Penny, some of her siblings and her mom at her breeders house.

And she needs to know that daddy likes to cuddle on the sofa some, and even if she’s not in a cuddle mood (you know I was not a cuddle bug) she should snuggle with him a little bit cause it makes him feel good.

Checking whether daddy has anything good to eat

And that’s her most important job … to make mama and daddy smile. In return they’re going to show her such a good time! Oh the adventures! And the walks at all my parks! And school, I need to tell her about all the treats she’ll get at school. And the lake house, she’s going to love the lake house! Why, she might even get to meet some of you! I sure loved my visits, you guys are the best!

Notice how these photos are blurry? Mama was using her phone and Penny doesn’t stay still very much!

I can’t wait to watch her grow up, she’s going to be a looker, but in her own way, you know? Mama really believes every sheltie is different and it’s her job to find out what each one is most passionate about. Me? I was passionate about food, um, camping, but Penny might love doing something else.

Mama and daddy will let her try different things, and Penny will decide what she thinks is the most fun. Because fun is what it’s all about, right? That was another of my rules, that mama and daddy provided me fun adventures, and I recommend Penny strictly adhere to it! It’s important for her to ask them every single day what fun thing they have planned. Otherwise they get lazy, you know. She needs to keep after them for their own good.

Dreaming about all the fun she’s going to have.

Anyway, I know you guys will give her a resounding welcome, she’s going to fit right in. Yep, this is going to be fun to watch, and you can be sure I’ll be watching over her and my folks just to make sure things go well.

A princesses work is never done. But I don’t mind one bit.

Welcome to my world, pretty Penny! Welcome to your world!

Looking out the back door at her backyard.


Wise soul

I went for a walk this morning, down a neighborhood road I haven’t ventured since Katie left. The road we took our last walk on that day. She and I went up to the first neighbor’s mailbox and then turned around at our usual spot, I remember she met a snapping turtle laying eggs that morning and I let her watch for a bit.

So many memories on that short piece of asphalt.

I went past our turn-around this morning, unleashed from an elderly dog, up the road further and around the corner where she and I had rarely ventured.

“Oh sweetie-girl” I thought.

“It’s OK, mama,” she replied, “next time it won’t hurt so much.”

She’s a wise one, that Katie-girl. Yes she is.


Looking for art on a grey day

I wasn’t ready to go home after I visited the Veterans’ Cemetery, so I headed over to a park I don’t get to very often.

I thought maybe I’d wander the trails a bit and see what was there. But when I arrived I was drawn, as usual, to the pier that runs out into the small lake.

It was a cold day, still grey, but I was having fun using the wide angle lens, and that kept me from noticing the cold for awhile.

I took several wide shots of the scenery, but noticed a lot of smaller stuff I thought was interesting, so once I got the big picture out of the way I went back to the car to warm up and change the lens.

Mostly I was interested in the weed and grass reflections in the still, frozen water alongside the pier.

I particularly liked this clump of grass.

And these curves had me too.

I spent a long time out there on the pier, so I didn’t get to the trails. That’s my excuse anyway.

You see, Katie and I used to come here once in awhile and walk the trails…and as I looked toward the woods where we had explored I knew I wasn’t ready to go back without her.

She would have loved the cold, and would fit right in with all the reddish browns I saw that day.

Sure do miss my girl.


Random, possibly Christmas-y, bits of thought

Anyway, I was reading Quaint Revival’s latest post about all the snow she’s getting over in Wisconsin, and she said it was beginning to look a lot like Christmas…which led her into thoughts about how those lyrics happened to be written and a request for someone to find out for her. Which, being a want-to-be librarian I felt compelled to do.

I think Santa is on some sort of exercise program.

She thought maybe the lyrics were written by Meredith Wilson in 1951 as he sat beside a pool, hopefully under warm skies. But Wikipedia says it probably was written in Yarmouth, and when I google that I can only find Yarmouth Maine, or Yarmouth British Columbia, neither of which sounds very warm, even in midsummer!

Looking for her Christmas gift. Or a peanut, whichever’s available.

But looking for this information did remind me that we played this very piece of holiday music at our recent concert, so I went to listen to it again. Well, actually, I went and listened to it for the first time. Music sounds very different when you’re sitting in the middle of the band than it does when sitting in the audience, and I haven’t taken time to listen to our concert until now. (I recommend listening to this with a good set of earphones…it sounds a LOT better with earbuds than just using your laptop speakers.)

Holiday music always makes things better.

Last Sunday I had a couple friends come for lunch and painting. Well, truthfully, they brought most of the lunch (roasted tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches) and most of their own painting supplies too. After we ate the yummy lunch we settled in to paint Christmas cards. It was so much fun to experiment together. Plus it increased my stock of cards waiting to be mailed out to unsuspecting friends and family. I should do this on a larger scale next year!

Seems like birds infiltrate all aspects of my life.

We have a little bit of snow, enough to make things look pretty, but not enough to interfere with driving. Not that I’m driving much. One of the benefits of retirement is not having to go out unless I want to. When it’s cold and snowing I rarely want to. And though I miss my Katie-girl soooo much, I am kind of glad to roll over in bed and go back to sleep in the dark early hours of these winter mornings.

“I used to put up with an awful lot, mama.”

Speaking of not traveling, we’re staying home this Christmas. We have had invites to holiday gatherings, but this year we just can’t quite make ourselves wander out. Twenty Twenty-two has been a long, hard year for us. Instead of going out this year I’ll fix some of the family mealtime favorites, and we’ll snuggle up on the couch to enjoy the quiet.

I look forward to seeing these guys every year.

Though it might not be entirely quiet. We’re going to have a houseguest for awhile, a little 10 year old doggie will be staying with us while his mom is visiting family out of town. We’ve practiced him being here without his mom a couple of times and I think he’s going to settle in, but he sure does love his mom.

“Does this peanut make my head look flat?”

I saw a movie trailer this morning for something staring Tom Hanks. There was a year, a long time ago, when my husband and I watched several movies, unusual for us, realizing later that all of them were Tom Hanks movies. You know, Castaway, Green Mile, Saving Private Ryan. This movie is called something like A Man called Otis. While I was watching the trailer something felt familiar…and then I remembered one of my favorite books, A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman, about an elderly man who’s quiet life is interrupted by a family that moves in next door. I think the movie is based on this book, and I think I really need to go see it. Maybe during the Christmas holiday week, as a gift from me to me.

Sometimes Christmas feels like this.

I did get out to feed the birds at Kensington this morning. A lot of the photos in this post are from that visit. I didn’t look at the weather, or even the temperature before I left home when it was still dark. By the time I got to the park the wind was blowing the snow sideways. Not surprisingly no one else was around.

“I don’t eat out of hands, lady. But if you’ve got a spare peanut I’d enjoy it.”

I went out to the boardwalk to see if I could entice the Queen to my hand, but she wasn’t having any of it. In fact none of the birds were willing to get too close, though they were happy enough to come to the railing if I’d leave my treats and back off.

“Not today, lady, not today.”

I wandered in the woods a little, to get out of the wind, and even there things were very quiet. And then I stood still and waited.

“My turn!” “NO IT’S NOT! It’s MY turn!”

And soon enough I heard the flutter of wings and saw, through the trees, the fast moving little bodies of hungry birds. So fun. Even though my hands were freezing and my toes were freezing I stood around out there for a long time.

“Hey Lady! I’m waiting patiently over here!”

I stood there just smiling and watching them, all puffed up against the cold.

“Puffing up helps you keep warm lady, you should try it.”

Merry Christmas to my little birds, and to all of you too. May you all enjoy this holiday season, in whatever way seems right for you this year.

And here’s hoping 2023 is amazing.


Happy birthday to me!

Angel Katie here.

Yes, you read that right, it’s me! I’ve been wanting to visit, but mama said she needed a little time so I’ve been waiting. Impatiently. Just because I’m over the Rainbow Bridge doesn’t mean I’ve learned patience. Nope, I’m the same demanding princess I’ve always been, but I figured I’d cut mama and daddy a break, cause they’ve been through a lot.

I’m not totally self centered!

Sending my love to all of you!

But today is my birthday, people! I’m sweet sixteen, and I figured what better time to check in with you than on my birthday! I was kind of hoping there’d be presents, but when you think about it, I don’t really need anything wrapped up pretty – – here on the other side of the bridge I get whatever I want, whenever I want it.

As befits a princess, don’t you know.

Do you happen to have a treat for me?

As you know, I’m across the bridge with a lot of my doggie friends, and we’re having a real wonderful time exploring and napping and getting treats and stuff. It’s pretty crazy. If I feel like playing in the snow, it snows! And if I’d rather nap in a pool of sun, well, the sun shines and warms me to the perfect temperature. I’m never hot! I’m never cold! And I never, ever, have to wear those silly boots that mama and daddy used to put on my feet!

Not wearing those boots, nope, not doing it.

Oh, and I get to chase stuff over here! There’s squirrels and chipmunks and even cats! OK, I don’t get to actually catch any of them, it’s just a fun game after all, but I get to run as much as I want! And I never get tired! And if I do feel like a little snooze there’s big huge puffy sofas with piles of pillows for me to lounge on. You might remember that I was something of a pillow hog at my house, and up here I get as many pillows as I want!

My pillow, mama, back off.

Most important is that I feel great! No tummy aches, no achy hips or feet, no silly gall bladder to worry about. And I love eating again, it’s one of my favorite things to do. I never gain too much weight and there’s no yucky prescription food. Our suppers are yummy, succulent meals prepared specially for each of us. I told them I didn’t want any chicken and rice, I’m focused mostly on cheese and roast beef with an occasional side of cabbage, my favorite vegetable. Sometimes I pick a cherry tomato right off the vine, they’re always warmed by the sun, sweet and juicy, and always in season! It’s simply amazing.

It fact, it’s almost perfect. Perfect, of course, would be if all of you, and especially mama and daddy, were here with me. But I know it’s not time yet, so I’ll wait…somewhat impatiently… because, well, I’m me.

I’ll stop by for a visit again some day, but until we can be together again, I have some advice for you. Run through the snow, eat a cherry tomato and sleep with as any pillows you can get. I guarantee you’ll be smiling every day.

Merry Christmas everybody!

Signing off for now,

Your Angel Katie-girl


Foggy glow

It all started, as things often do, with an early morning appointment.

For years Katie-girl got me up extra early and while we were outside doing her business I’d usually witness beautiful but fleeting things. Geese or swans flying low with bellies glowing in the early light. Full moons dipping below the branches of our trees. A fox slipping silently through the woods. The flick of a deer’s white tail. Wisps of fog dancing on the pond.

But I haven’t been out in the early morning light lately.

Last week, once our 7:30 a.m. oil change was completed, my sister and I were driving home just as the sun was trying to break through the fog. It was beautiful, and we looked at each other and said….”Where can we go to get pictures of this?”

And…lucky for us we were only one exit away from one of my favorite parks, Holly Recreation, where Katie and I used to camp and wander the trails.

I felt a twinge of grief as I contemplated visiting one of her parks without her. But as we entered the park I realized the best place for pictures would be down near the lake and there was a parking lot Katie and I hardly ever used that would work perfectly for morning fog photos.

I felt relieved. I could be in the park, but not in Katie’s favorite part where I would feel her loss the most. Progress ,on this grief journey, is often made with tiny steps.

We parked and walked up and down that section of the road, taking pictures of the sun rising above the water, and the fog through the trees.

The reflections were gorgeous and we probably looked like crazy old ladies as we giggled and called back and forth to “come here and look at this!”

And when our fingers were frozen and our feet were soggy we climbed back into the car laughing as we cranked the heat up and scrolled through the images on our phones, each one better than the one before.

You can’t beat a good morning adventure – Katie taught me that over and over and over again. I like to think she was with us that morning, saying “I told you mama! You have to get out of bed early in the morning to catch the best stuff!”

I know, little girl, I know.


Colors trigger memories

The maple trees around here are turning colors. They are brilliant reds and oranges and golds this year.

Out on the main road is this little pond. It puts on a show every fall.

Each year I notice how beautiful they are, each year I think the colors are the prettiest ever.

In our small local cemetery the sun focused on a single branch.

Just like this year.

But today I also feel tinges of sadness as fall progresses because my little girl, the one who loved fall and who believed the trees turned color just for her isn’t here to enjoy it.

Our empty backyard.

Katie looked so beautiful in fall colors.

Her colors.

She’s everywhere I look.