Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Paddle away the blues

Sometimes being here at the house my parents built without them gets a little sad. Though it’s beautiful here it’s also filled with lots of memories.

Savoring the stillness.

Everywhere.

So the other evening, feeling a bit melancholy, I took a little paddle upstream. The evening was warm and still.

Mountains of clouds.

I spent a little time just sitting near the green trees, floating in the water, the clouds reflected all around me. It was just what I needed to fix my blues.

Green reflected in green.

Being a weekday it was quiet, all the weekend lake lovers had to go back to their jobs and city lives. But as I was paddling back to the house a big pontoon boat slid by me creating large waves that gently rocked my kayak. I waved at them. They waved back at me.

Rocking in warm waters.

Southern living. It’s a good thing.

The day’s clouds produced no rain for us. This time.

I headed home to wait for the evening’s sunset.

Perfect.

Pretty in pink.


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Lake dogs

Katie here. I thought I should share an observation I’ve made while living down here in Alabama at the lake.

Dogs around here don’t seem to be bothered by getting their feet wet!

Jet ski dog

Huh.

Why just yesterday I saw several dogs out on the water. I guess they are not all princesses like me.

Kayak dog

As close as I want to get to the water is along the lake shore or maybe on the dock. Yesterday I did run along the shore for awhile, cause my mama and her sister and brother were swimming and I wanted to keep an eye on them.

Paddle board dog

And while they were swimming I barked and chased the waves that dared to splash on my rocks, then I ran to the neighbor’s boat ramp and barked some more; I even got my feet wet there!! Accidentally of course…that one stupid wave was bigger than I thought.

Pontoon boat dog. I think this might work best for a princess like me.

Anyway, yesterday was Saturday and lots of dogs were out on the lake with their people. I guess they were enjoying the water. So I figured I should maybe give it a try. So I asked and my people said I could come along on a boat ride they were planning.

This is the way to travel!

You may remember that I’ve been in a boat over at my Uncle’s place two times before. But that was back when it was a lot cooler outside, and not on a weekend when there were hundreds of thousands of boats out there making waves!

It was a beautiful day so I guess I can’t blame all those boats for being out there.

OK. Maybe I exaggerate a little bit. There were probably only a couple hundred boats out there, and it’s a big lake. Still…it was really bumpy.

I can look adorable even in a bumpy boat!

I was pretty much OK. Sometimes I sat up near the front between my dad and Uncle. A bunch of the time I sat next to my mom or my Aunt. But it was really windy back there.

This is not a good look mama!

If I felt nervous I’d just lean up against mama or my Aunt’s knee and they’d pet me, and then I felt pretty safe.

Sometimes a hand is all a doggie needs to feel a lot safer.

It was nice to be out there…

The fire tower has a flag on it now!

…but as soon as we pulled back into my part of the lake I knew I was almost home and I went to stand up near my Uncle and dad…

A little to the port side Captain!

…to help guide the boat back into the boat lift you know.

I’m pretty sure they were glad they had me along, but to be honest, I was happy to be back with all four of my paws dry and firmly on the ground.

I’m not sure exactly what all those other dogs see in the spray and the waves and the wet! But I guess I’m happiest when I’m next to my people. And if that means I’m in a boat, well, that’s just fine with me.

Signing off for now, First Mate Katie-girl. Boat dog extraordinaire.

Me and my mama chilling out on the boat.


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Living on the lake – summer storm

Once upon a time (this afternoon) Katie and I were sitting on the back porch just watching the lake. Not reading a book, not napping, not looking at a phone or a computer screen.

Just watching the lake

It was a beautiful sunny day when suddenly…

A cool thing about being on a lake is that it’s always changing. From moment to moment the light changes, the wind ruffles the surface, a fish jumps, a bird swoops, clouds gather, thunder threatens.

Wait a minute. Thunder threatens? Why yes, almost every afternoon in this magical place a thunderstorm pops up.

…it turned into a dark and stormy afternoon!

Today we heard it way off to the north, but getting closer. And across the way dark clouds gathering high above a house.

I left Katie on the porch and went down to the lake to get a better look. She was not happy to see me approaching danger. But she stayed up on the porch and worried.

I’ll wait up here mama, but I don’t like it.

It got darker and darker. The wind picked up from the northwest.

It’s blowing hard up here!

Waves developed and Katie just couldn’t stay on the porch any longer. She rushed down to the shore to bark at the bad waves! She was so fast that I couldn’t get a clear shot of her.

Stand back mama! I’ll get these waves out of here!

She ran out onto the dock to bark even harder at those waves posing a threat to her mama.

These waves haven’t heard the last from me!

And the winds slowed, and the waves leveled out and Katie was a happy girl.

Mission accomplished mama!

And then the rains came and we ran for the house. We watched the storm blow from the comfort of our living room and picture window. Katie continued to bark at all the thunder overhead.

I guess that storm wasn’t quite over, was it mama?!

And soon the storm blew away, and the sky began to lighten.

Just a summer shower now.

And the sun came out and made the world bright again.

Dripping sunlight.

And Katie said…

You can count on me!

… “I told you I’d handle it mama.”

The end.

Wednesday’s storm.


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A day at the lake

One early morning duck enjoys the quiet.


After two and a half days of driving Katie and I were content to spend Sunday just watching the lake. There was so much going on in our little corner of the world.

I think the birds are used to having the yard and water to themselves and they went about their busy schedules as if we weren’t watching. We stayed still up by the house and just observed.

The swallow gourds out in the water had huge spiderwebs spun the night before and filled with fishflies. A male bluebird liked to sit up on top and survey his kingdom, and a female bluebird was busy taking fresh bugs into the top left gourd.

The morning sun lit up one of the bird apartments.

When the wind picked up, huge parts of the fly filled spider web fell into the water and fish leaped out of the water to grab the gourmet treat. It was quite a spectacle and one I wish I had captured. You’ll have to imagine it.

Later large blackbirds flew at the remaining webs, grabbing some of the stuck flies for themselves, in between being bombarded by the bluebird couple who apparently thought the bigger birds were attacking their nest. No pictures of that either.

After the bird epic slowed down I decided to kayak up the creek. At the end of our slough is a cyprus forest. It was a quiet paddle, still early morning.

Paddling toward my favorite trees.

I love these trees, and this morning the light was pretty, playing across the texture of their trunks.

The sun on the trunk made pretty patterns.

The water is high here, there has been so much rain, and I could have explored further up the creek. But I thought about snakes hiding up in the trees and turned around.

Kind of spooky back there.

It was good timing anyway, as I was pulling back into our dock the sound of boat engines and people laughing slipped up over the hills. The lake was waking up. I smiled and headed back inside to my girl who was napping happily in the air conditioning.

Time for fun in the sun.

Later in the day the clouds settled in, and the wind picked up. Quickly Katie and I gathered up lawn chairs and dragged the kayak into the boat garage.

Clouding up. But still beautiful!

And then the rains hit.

Rain slams across the lake.

And just as quickly the rain blew away and the evening settled down quietly as did Katie and I.

After the rain the lake settles into evening.

Just a typical day on the lake in Alabama. Wonder what tomorrow will bring?

Summer greens.


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Birding with a friend

Yesterday I got to go on a dog-less adventure with a friend. It rare that either one of us spends time at a park without our girls, but today it was all about the birds. With our pockets filled with bird seed and cameras slung around our necks we headed out to my favorite park on a perfect morning under clear blue skies to see what we could see.

Almost immediately we noticed a trio of sandhill cranes snacking, not far from the trail, in a grassy wetland meadow that had been burned by the rangers days before. I especially liked how they blended with the lines of the grass stubs.

If it weren’t for that red head patch I might have missed seeing this guy.

It didn’t take them long to notice us and head our way. They were expecting breakfast and I guess they can’t read the signs up in the parking lot — “Do not feed the cranes.” Since they were almost as tall as we were we decided not to begrudge them a bit of the seed in our pockets.

After breakfast preening.

Also they were blocking the path and we had to pay the toll in order to move along. I think it’s a racket they have going there, but I’m not going to report them, because it was a wonderful experience to be this close.

Stunningly elegant.

I wouldn’t want you to think we spent all day with the cranes. We moved one way on the path and they went the other way, looking for their next patsy and another handout.

Further into the woods we were approached by several chickadees and a titmouse or two. We stopped to share our provisions with them all.

Choosing the perfect seed.

Some of them were quite choosy, and took their time picking out the perfect seed. Others barely touched down before they were off with their prize.

I’m outta here!

Directly over my head was a curious woodpecker. We thought he might come down and join the banquet but he stayed up in the tree watching me. When he turned a certain way the sun caught the bright red cap on his head. He made me smile and I dropped the seed in my hand to get a quick image of him.

Whatcha got down there lady?

I’m sure that made him smile too because after we moved on he enjoyed the meal I left behind.

Some of the birds were harder to spot than others; this blue heron sat silently in the reeds watching us go by. He wasn’t in the mood for birdseed. If we’d had fresh fish in our pockets things might have been different.

See him off in all those cattails?

Our trail followed the shore of a lake which is teeming with birds and wildlife. In the center of the lake is an island with a rookery, the tops of the trees filled with huge nests, inhabited year after year by a large group of herons

The heron condos are full up this year.

I need a longer lens to really get a good look, but you can see how fascinating it is to watch the comings and goings of the adults as they prepare for the arrival of the young ones. Later in the season it gets even more fun to watch the teenage birds try out their wings.

Maybe it was the noise at the rookery that sent that other heron off to stand among the weeds for a little peace and quiet. Understandable.

Heading out to get lunch. Or just to find a peaceful place for a nap.

Back on the boardwalk and almost back to the car we came across these guys.

Dancing to their own beat.

There were several of them all lined up, mostly staring up at the sky. I’m not sure if they were watching for the space shuttle to go by overhead, or were doing some sort of mating dance. Either way I enjoyed watching them. Look at all their colors shining in the sun!

And just so you don’t think we ignored anything without wings…

Thanks for the treat lady!

…here’s a couple of non-bird things we ran into. Not literally. Cause this guy is not someone I want to get that close to.

Whatever kind of snake this is, it’s the biggest one I’ve ever seen.

So now you’ve seen the most interesting things we saw yesterday. We were only going to be out there for a coupe of hours, but it was so much fun that we ended up staying well into the afternoon. It was a perfect way to spend a spring day.

Even though we didn’t spend it with our dogs.

Thanks for the grub ladies, come back any time!


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Stormy weather

Yesterday the evening weather guy mentioned a large storm front through the middle of the state. I glanced up to see his weather map featuring a bright red and yellow streak bisecting Alabama. And moving rapidly toward me.

I got up to look outside.

Oh my. Grabbing the camera I ran downstairs and out to the dock.

Spellbinding

What an amazing cloud, with even darker skies to the north. I felt the wind coming down the lake, the waves changed direction and the chop crashed into the side of boats and rocked against the shore. Not so far out there I could smell the rain. I managed to get a few shots as the cloud moved rapidly from north to south, and then I ran as fast as I could back up the hill and into the house.

The rain slashed across the windows as I climbed the stairs to a freaked out Katie-girl. We watched the storm together for a bit and then just as fast as it arrived it was over. Whoa, I said to the dog pressed tight to my side. What the heck was that?! Don’t know, mama, she said, but let’s not do that again any time soon.

OK sweetie. That’s a deal.


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Took time to notice

Ann, over at her blog The Year(s) of Living Non-Judmentally, posted recently about noticing the things around us. I used to do that, notice little things, when I was a runner. I don’t run anymore, but on a good day I can still notice pretty or interesting things.

Yesterday was a good day, and I thought I’d show you a few of the things I noticed. They made me smile, I hope you smile too.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Hey!

What about me, mama? Aren’t I pretty?

Why yes baby, yes you are.

I thought so. Geeze…


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Mountain dog continuing saga

Katie here!

I thought this sign was pretty. Plus it helps me remember how to spell Cherokee.

Early yesterday mama was complaining that it was cold. Really really cold. I checked and it was a balmy 36F (2.22C) when we went out to explore the yard around 4 a.m. I don’t know what she was complaining about, it was perfect if you ask me, but she never asks me. At 4 a.m. she mostly grunts.

Anyway, she was messaging with a friend later in the morning and mentioning how cold it was and then it hit her. Cold. Sheltie. Hiking in Alabama. She figured out she shouldn’t waste such a good opportunity to take me somewhere fun. And, because she’s a good mama, she hopped right off her comfy sofa and bundled me up in the car and away we went!

Her friend Jamie told her last week about this cool trail called the Cherokee Alpine Trail not too far from where we’re staying. So she looked it up and decided we’d explore it!

Turquoise waters on a sunny day.

My goodness, what a beautiful place! Though I had to ask mama why we drove for like 20 minutes so that we could have a view of the lake when we have a view of the lake from home? Mama said to hush. But it was really really windy and cold up there, so we headed to the woods as fast as we could.

Hurry up mama, let’s get to the hiking part of this adventure!

The whole Alpine Trail is 4 miles and mama says even though it was refreshingly cool four miles would be too much for us, so we decided we’d just go part of the way and see how it went. Mostly it went downhill.

This is the last time I’m posing mama!

Mama was kinda worried that we’d have a long climb to get back to the car, but I told her what did she think it would be, seeing as we were on top of the mountain at the parking lot? Nowhere to go but down!

Watch your step mama! I’ll wait for you!

She was trying to hold my leash and hang on to her camera and not slip down the pine straw covered path. Eventually she just let go of my leash and let me trot down at sheltie speed while she bumbled her way down behind me. I had to wait for her a bunch, but I didn’t complain. You have to be patient when you’re hiking with a senior citizen.

Isn’t this the best fun mama?

We got down to the bottom of the mountain and I got to play on the lake shore at a pretty little beach. I just loved it!

Worth coming all the way down here, right mama?

I ran and ran, back and forth, barking at the waves and grinning the whole time. Mama told me they were just teeny tiny waves but I wanted to show them who was boss so I told them off. Mama did a lot of eye rolling.

I got the zoomies on the beach!

Then she said we had to head back up the mountain. It felt like we had already walked a gazillion miles and she was worried I’d get tired. I didn’t want to go back the way we came and pointed out that the sign said the parking lot was the other way anyway, and only .6 miles away!

Ahem…mama…I think we should go this way.

Good thing I can read. Mama would have taken the long way back!

The trail went up and down and all around through the woods. Sometimes it was just stuck on the side of the mountain and you had to watch where you were going. Mama let me walk it without her hanging on to me. That works best for us. That way I’m not dragging her along too fast.

This is a good spot to rest while I’m waiting for my mama.

Mama said I was a mountain goat. I think that’s a compliment.

When we finally got back to the car mama checked the map again cause it felt like we walked all four miles, but darn it, it really was just a little over one mile. I think miles should count double if they are straight up or straight down, don’t you?

Back on top of the mountain again!

On our drive home we got sorta lost. The GPS said to turn left but some guys were paving the road so we went straight and eventually the GPS took us on a little road that just got smaller and smaller.

Go ahead and take the long way home, mama, I’ll be resting my eyes in the back.

Mama was starting to say bad words and she didn’t even breath when we had to go over a rickety one lane bridge. But she got to see a barn so that made her feel lots better even though it took us twice as long to get home as it did to get to the park.

Obligatory barn photo.

When I got home I took a really long drink and then wiped my face on mama’s bed. And then I took a nap.

What you lookin at?

What a great day! I think the temperature in Alabama should never go above 43 degrees. I’m sure everyone would agree that it’s better to be cool than hot. Am I right?

Maybe I should try to get that on the next ballot. It would probably be the least controversial issue there!

Talk later, your Mountaineer Princess-gal Katie.

A little wind in my furs.