Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


17 Comments

Last one of the season.

I picked Katie up from camp on Monday. Can you believe the people there say she never barks at all? Me either.

She made up for it by telling me off the entire thirty minute drive home. And then barking at her dad and me off and on the rest of the day. She was pretty wound up. So after one restless night at home we set out for one last camping trip in the north.

Since it’s after Labor Day here in the United States, most people don’t think about camping and campgrounds are pretty empty, especially during the middle of the week. But it was going to be a beautiful couple of days, with highs in the 70s (23 C) and lows at night in the mid 50s (11 C). Plus the skies were supposed to be clear, and better yet, there would be no moon.

Perfect to make another attempt at taking pictures of the night sky.

I made one attempt during our drive across the Upper Peninsula last week, when we stopped along the way at an Inn right across the street from Lake Michigan. My husband was good enough to go out into the night with me even though he was tired from driving.

Natural and man made light brighten the night sky.

Turns out we had fun, though I didn’t get exactly what I was hoping for. My Wordless Wednesday post was one that I thought was sort of successful with it’s Milky Way high in the sky and the grasses in the front. Not entirely right, but not bad. And the image above was the best of what I got during our walk along the boardwalk.

So I was hoping for another opportunity as Katie and I headed north on Tuesday. Conditions should be perfect, and I had a sweet little lake in mind. With fewer people camping I had a better chance at getting a camp site right along the lake, and Katie and I scored a great site.

Do you see the little doggie back there?

There were only three other couples camping, each spaced far from the other. The weather was perfect. Katie and I went on several walks around the campground after we set up the tent. She was thrilled to be there, prancing along with her nose to the ground.

“Hey mama! There’s still wildflowers blooming over here!”

And then as evening arrived, we sat on the shore of our little lake and enjoyed the fading light.

It was a peachy kind of evening.

Still, it was a long time until the stars came out, and Katie got impatient and restless. I ended up going to get the car and parking it at the boat ramp so that she could nap while I worked. She was good with that.

Finally, after nine p.m. the sky was a midnight blue. I was hoping to get some images of stars reflected in the still water, but that didn’t really work out. I wasn’t high enough above the water to truly see many stars reflected. And the milky way wasn’t over the lake like I had hoped. But it was still pretty.

It was a pretty spectacular night.

I think if I had waited around a few more hours it might have moved on over the lake. But Katie was sleeping in the car and I wanted to be sleeping too. So after an hour of attempting to get the image I was envisioning, I settled for what I had and we went back to camp. None of the images were perfect. This one shows the tremor from me pressing the button to open the shutter. I can’t find my remote clicker thingy. And I think my tripod isn’t stable enough for this. Or maybe it’s just me not tightening it up enough.

Anyway, once back at our site, surrounded by tall dark trees, I looked up. It seemed like there were more stars right above my tent than all across the entire lake. I had to set the camera back up again.

Could have looked at this all night.

Even Katie seemed impressed. She waited quietly next to my feet as I clicked away. Sometimes she knows it’s not all about her.

And in the morning, after checking out the misty lake, watching a bald eagle snatch a fish out of the water, and happy with my nighttime experiment, we packed up and headed home.

A beautiful morning.

It was going to get warmer, and Katie’s not so good with heat these days. Plus sleeping in my own bed seemed pretty enticing. Katie did not agree and turned her back on me as I was taking the tent down.

“If I don’t look at you then it’s not happening.”

She tried to protest by refusing to get in the car after everything was packed.

“I’m not going with you mama!”

But when I asked her if she wanted a treat…well….she decided she’d come along after all.

“Well OKAAAAAY then!”

Yea, she’s a good girl, my Katie.

“No star is prettier than me mama!”


14 Comments

Not fair mama!

Katie here. I’m at ‘camp.’ And let me tell you there’s nothing about it that reminds me of camping.

And mama is off having fun.

Not fair mama!

I’m posting a pic from our last trip together in the hope it makes her feel bad and come home and spring me from this joint!

So there. I got to see the bridge too, just a couple weeks ago. It was really cool. And now she’s off up north somewhere cavorting around with daddy and I’m stuck here.

Let me tell you, she better have a real good excuse for dumping me at camp. Cause just any little ole reason isn’t going to cut it with me.

And you can be darn sure I’ll be getting her up even earlier unless she makes amends.

Signing off for now.

Your gal (but not my mama’s gal) Katie.


18 Comments

How to smash a whole lot of stuff into one weekend.

I’m retired, so one day is pretty much like another. Weekends have no real significance, and Monday is now my favorite day of the week because most of you go back to work and I don’t have to.

Welcome to the 2018 Woodward Dream Cruise!

I know. That’s just cruel.

But then again sometimes weekends are filled with so many fun things that I actually am sorry to see them end. Like this past one.

It started out with me volunteering on a campaign for a woman who is running for Congress in my district. Our district has been represented in Congress by one party for as far back as I can remember. This year there’s a serious contender, a woman with military experience, who has worked for the Pentagon and was willing to sit with my husband and I for over an hour discussing truck safety issues.

It’s unique.

She’s got my vote.

So, though I am not political and have never worked on a campaign before, Saturday morning found me sitting in a small stuffy room with several other people my age, all of us peering through our bifocals at our laptops as a young campaign worker explained the data entry project we volunteered to help with.

Good to have a matching umbrella to ward off the sun.

She was so patient with us as we fumbled through connecting to their WiFi, stumbled over the password, then tried to understand the data entry program. Never once did she roll her eyes, though I have to admit I did at least once.

Lots of color and detail.

Turns out she had just graduated from high school, and was taking a gap year before she went to college just to work on this campaign. Amazing. She was nineteen and had the ability to make us not feel stupid when we asked questions as we worked through the huge pile of reports filed with information from volunteers out canvasing neighborhoods.

It wasn’t restricted to just cars.

Her enthusiasm was contagious and we willingly worked past the time we originally committed to get the job done.

And to reward myself for sitting in that small room straining my eyes for hours I took myself to the Woodward Dream Cruise that was happening in a town not so far away.

There was plenty for sale if you caught the car bug.

If you’re asking what that is, well, you’re not from around here.

In the old days, on Friday and Saturday nights the locals would drive their muscle cars up and down Woodward Avenue, through and between several towns. These days, for one weekend every August, people come from all over the country, some bringing their antique muscle cars, to do the same.

Muscle from the old days.

The streets are lined with people who enjoy watching the beautiful cars go by. Parking lots are filled with more of the vehicles.

Lots of money in this lot next door to the Porsche dealership.

They’re everywhere.

Back in the neighborhood a few blocks away from the main drag.

I fell in love with this pair of vehicles.

There’s a sort of elegance that most cars today lack. I guess we’re more functional and less stylish these days.

I enjoyed wandering around, though I walked less than one mile down Woodward Avenue, and spent maybe an hour there. I loved taking pictures of old cars, the lines so beautiful, the colors so vibrant.

Hard to miss this one!

Anyway. That was Saturday. Sunday a college friend and I went kayaking at my favorite park.

Spending Sunday morning on a lake. Perfect.

We rented kayaks there, for only $8 an hour. We told the (very) young lady there we’d be out for an hour at most, after all we were old. She smiled politely.

Pretty.

We were out for 2 hours and I’m not even sore this morning. Pretty good for a couple of old broads!

Two hours later the skies began to cloud.

And I slept out in the backyard in the tent all weekend too, getting geared up to take at least one camping trip this summer…before summer slides away!

Katie says she hasn’t gone on one camping trip all summer. She says that’s unacceptable. I have to agree.

Stay tuned.

These looked fun too, maybe next time!


30 Comments

Still looking

I should have been driving home from Alabama with Katie-girl this week, but instead I flew home on Monday evening and met with my primary care physician on Tuesday. My husband, who had driven home a few days earlier, flew back to Alabama on Sunday to get me to the Atlanta airport and drive the princess home.

Toys at the beach were settling in for the night.

My Tuesday appointment was filled with questions and few answers. But he took me seriously, as I knew he would, and got me into a cardiologist’s office on Thursday when normally it would be weeks before I’d be seen.

The cardiologist took me seriously too, and arranged for me to go to the emergency room of the local hospital, armed with a list of tests he wanted. The emergency room hopped to attention when I arrived.

Only a few people were still in the water as the sun set.

More tests, some repeats of things I had done in Alabama, others more detailed and intense were done. I spent seven hours in a small room in emergency, when not being wheeled to tests on other floors.

They gave me good pain drugs too, so I was happy and comfortable. I read an entire book. I think.

But in the end there were no answers. No reason why my back and chest hurt when I’m active. I’m comfortable when I’m resting on the sofa, or sleeping overnight. But getting up and dressed, going to the grocery store, even walking to the end of the driveway still bring on the pain.

It was a pretty evening.

Making a simple dinner tonight made me hunch over the sink and gasp.

So. The local doctors, and I saw 5 of them on Thursday, think I should try an over the counter ibuprofin and see what happens. So far that hasn’t done much of anything at all.

But we’ll see.

Perhaps the bird had the best view.

(PS: Images are of a sunset over a local lake, on an evening when I was feeling sad, a few days before my husband and dog made it back home safe and sound. I’m sure Katie will have a lot to say soon. She’s resting up now for an early morning wake-up call.)


29 Comments

The cricket in the drain

Saturday a bit of a pain in my back became worse and associated pains in my chest began to bother me. I couldn’t assume any longer that picking up the dog was the problem, so I headed for a local emergency room.

I didn’t really think it was much of anything, figured they’d run some tests, tell me it wasn’t a heart attack, that perhaps I had strained something. I thought they’d send me on my way after a few hours.

Instead they admitted me for observation.

The view wasn’t stellar.

Far from home and my own doctor, in a town near our lake house and with no family nearby, I began to stress. Katie was home alone and I was stuck in an ER, about to be wheeled upstairs to a hospital.

I called one of my neighbors who sprang into action, checking on Katie and arranging for her to have a sleep over with them and their dog Dixey. Katie enjoyed her sleep away from home with one of her best doggy friends.

Mama, on the other hand, got no sleep at all.

I’d had an EKG, a chest xray and blood drawn down in Emergency. They did more blood drawing upstairs, hooked me up to a heart monitor and left me alone for awhile with instructions not to get out of bed.

Eventually a doctor showed up and asked all the same questions they’d asked downstairs, but in more detail. She asked how my parents had died and I explained about my mom. She asked about dad and I told her the short version of dad’s truck crash death. She got quiet.

Then she said 4 years ago her daughter and her ex-husband and his girlfriend were in a bad crash. The girlfriend died, and her daughter sustained a traumatic brain injury. She showed me her 10 year old daughter’s picture, attached to the back of her hospital ID. We talked about the long road ahead of a brain injury patient. We looked each other in the eyes as we both spoke of our fear of being on the road these days. Then she said – “Do you hear that cricket?” I did. She investigated my bathroom, and said she thought it was in the shower drain. I said there could be worse things in a shower drain and we laughed and she left.

Around 10:30 I asked if the big light above my head could be turned off so that I could get some sleep. An aide came and turned off the light and I tried to settle down. Minutes later a LP showed up to take my vitals. Blood pressure, temp, heart rate. Did I need anything? No…just some sleep. She asked if I wanted her to take away the dinner tray which contained a pile of unknown shredded meat and a completely round scoop of white supposed to be mashed potatoes.

No thank you.

I said please do, adding that I ate the carrots. She said she’d note that and added that when she gave birth to her daughter at this hospital the food was so terrible that her mother-in-law brought her three meals a day from outside. We laughed

Someone came in for more blood. She said she was called the vampire ad said I had nice veins. We laughed. Then she asked if I had a cricket in the room? I said yes, she was keeping me company.

Sleep was elusive as I worried what all this meant.

Just after midnight the RN came in to check on me. We talked about shelties, her mom used to raise them. We talked about how smart they were. I said I was looking forward to sleeping past 4 a.m. because my sheltie was having a sleepover at the neighbors.

Twenty minutes later someone was in to do vitals again. My back continued to ache, the chest too. I couldn’t get comfortable in the narrow bed, wired to the heart monitor. I was worried about my dog. Feeling lonely.

I listened to the cricket singing in the bathroom and wished I was back at the lake.

12:30 a.m., maybe 1, a young man showed up for yet more blood. He turned on the bright light, but that was OK, I was still awake. He asked if I was from Alex City, I said no, I was from Michigan. He said, “Oh, you’re my mom’s age so I thought maybe you knew her.” He couldn’t get any blood the first two times he tried….he apologized for the bruise I was going to have. Then he tried my hand and got barely enough. I said that was the third blood draw, and I’d been told there would be three as they tested for enzymes indicating a heart attack. He said he was sorry, but he’d be back for more around 3:30 or 4.

Great.

I settled back to try to sleep. The cricket continued to sing. The RN came in to see how I was. Not so good. She went and got a nitro patch for my chest pain. A side effect, she said, was headache. Twenty minutes later my head was throbbing so bad that it hurt to touch the pillow.

I rang the bell for help.

The RN returned, listened to my complaint and said she’d see if she could give me a Tylenol for the headache. The night shift doctor showed up and asked me more questions, then prescribed an extra strength ibuprofen to be administered through my IV. The RN brought that in about 2 a.m.

Heaven.

I curled up and fell into a deep sleep which lasted until almost 3:30. I was so disappointed when I woke, the sleep had been so warm and good. I tried to will myself back to sleep. But the blood guy was taping on my door. So I gave him more blood and we discussed why they needed so much, and why there was a cricket singing in my bathroom. I said the cricket was now my friend, and we laughed. Ten minutes later he was done and I curled back up again, attempting sleep.

It wasn’t two more minutes when someone else was knocking on the door and wheeling in another cart. She was a perky lady, dressed in pink who sing-songed her “Good Morning!” brightly to me. I grunted and glared at her. She was here to do another EKG; this one would be my ticket out of the hospital if it was good, so I didn’t want to be rude and send her away. But seriously? Who thinks that 3:45 a.m. is a good time to do an EKG? She said she had 5 of them to do that morning and I was the first one.

Lucky me.

I asked her if she tag-teamed the blood guy and knew that I was already awake, and she said, “Oh no dear, I have to cover this whole hospital, I can’t be following him around.” And then she said “Hey…do you hear a cricket?”

Once she had her test done and had merrily danced away the young woman doing vitals, who hated the hospital food, arrived to take my blood pressure and temp again. Now near the end of her shift she was much less talkative, but she did mention that she heard a cricket.

Later the RN checked in on me asking how I was feeling. I said the back and chest pain were gone and the headache had been reduced to a more manageable pain. Mostly due to lack of sleep. She said she’d leave me alone. It was almost 5:00. Light was beginning to seep through the fog outside my window.

I gave up and turned on the TV to watch the news.

Looks like a good day to get some answers.

My friend the cricket wasn’t singing anymore. I guess her work keeping me company was done and she was settling in to get a good day’s sleep. I wished her well. Because I now knew something she probably already knew. There’s no sleeping if you’re spending the night at a hospital.

And what caused all that pain? We don’t know. I didn’t have a heart attack, but there are many questions left unanswered. There are probably questions I don’t even know to ask yet. But I will. I’m headed north to see my doctor, and I’m packing all those test results with me.

I hate leaving the lake, but it will be here for me when I return. And I’m grateful to wonderful neighbors on both sides of us that took care of me and my dog when I needed help. That’s the South for you. Even in the hospital people shared their lives and laughed with me. Every one of them cared about me and each was concerned that I was away from home.

I appreciate them all. Especially my best friend the singing cricket in the drain. I hope she’s comforting whoever is in that room tonight.

I bet she is.

I’ll be back.


10 Comments

Ever wonder what there is to do at the lake?

Yes it’s peaceful here on the lake. You might even say it’s tranquil. Nothing to do but watch the weather move overhead.

A summer storm blows through almost every afternoon.

Perhaps take a morning paddle.

Headed out to the mountains.

Maybe toward evening take the ski boat out to the big waters to see the sunset.

This particular evening there were many facets of a single setting sun.

If you go way out there you need to sit awhile and soak it all in.

The other side of the lake had less color but just as much drama.

But mostly you putter around close to the house, perhaps exploring just up the creek in the canoe.

Let’s go see what’s over there.

And sometimes, if all your siblings and their significant others show up at the same time…well…you just need to goof off.

Having fun on the lake one warm evening.

No matter what advanced age you achieve…when you’re all together you can still be kids.

One…two…three…JUMP!

And that’s what I’ve been up to this week after the 4th of July. Katie and I will be heading north soon. She says she likes the lake house and wouldn’t mind staying here the rest of the summer. But I remind her that we have camping (and weeding) to do and so she says she’s OK with going home too. As long as the northern house has an air conditioning vent for her to sleep on she’s not so particular.

Stay tuned as our adventure continues.

One of my favorite spots.


17 Comments

Happy Birthday United States!

Shaping up to be a pretty night on the lake.

Last night I got to enjoy a wonderful show of colorful fireworks from a boat floating on the warm waters of a beautiful lake. We left the house about an hour before sundown, but the sky was already turning the thunderclouds pink.

Pink clouds herald what’s to come.

And as we motored out to join hundreds of other boats the pink just kept getting deeper…

Lots of boats already out there.

…and deeper…until this was the sky we floated under as we waited for the man-made show to start.

Nature’s fireworks competed with anything man could shoot into the sky.

Soon enough the sun slid below the horizon, turning the sky midnight blue. Hundreds of people sitting in softly rocking boats settled in to wait for the show.

Blue hour on the lake.

I don’t have a lot of fireworks images. I was in moving boat with little light. Plus it was just so much fun to watch without trying to capture it all.

This was the clearest image of the few I took.

You can use your imagination to fill in the big booms and the bright lights.

A windy rainstorm was blowing in and above the bursting fireworks pinkish heat lightening was showcasing the clouds in huge arcs. In the middle of the show, over the boat’s radio, came a severe weather alert warning of strong winds and possibly hail. We began to consider heading for home.

Abstract photo of boats heading home after the show. Taken from our rocking boat.

We were lucky, though, the storm held off for a couple of hours. The fireworks were able to finish with a grand finale, and we made it back to the house with time to eat pie on the back deck before the rains poured down.

Heat lightening filled the sky after the last of the fireworks faded, and boats began scuttling for home.

It was a lovely evening and I thank Captain Carl for taking us out to see man and God’s lights fill the sky.

Happy birthday America!


13 Comments

Lake living – the view from here

Sometimes the clouds just glow.


I am sitting in the living room, keeping one eye on the big picture window that overlooks the lake and the other on my computer screen. With any sign of movement out there the window gets my entire attention.

The doggy jet ski just went by!

I mean, what’s the point of living on the lake if you’re not watching it? Early in the morning the first thing I do every day is check the lake and the sky above it to see whether there’s anything interesting yet.

Morning earlier this week when the moon was full.

There almost always is.

Woman and her dog take a paddleboat ride while fish jumps in joy.

In fact, my Facebook friends are probably tired of getting that early (and sometimes not so early) morning image of the lake outside my window. But I never tire of it.

Summer slide waits for storm clouds to dissipate.

Oh sometimes, perhaps once every couple of days, I leave my picture window and get out on the water. Sometimes we fly out to the ‘big water’ in the ski boat to see what’s new. Perhaps to bob in the warm water and watch the sunset unrestrained by landscape.

Sunset on the ‘big water.’ Picture taken by my sister from our boat.

More often it’s just me and my little kayak that venture out, either in early morning or late afternoon. Sometimes even as the sun is going down, always in search of something beautiful.

An evening paddle.

The lake never disappoints me.

Early night boat wake as the last of the sunset disappears.

So I’m sharing random photos of life on the lake. Just things I’ve seen and captured, moments in time all revolving around sky and water and weather.

Crazy skies over a lake playground.

Sometimes I’m sitting at the house, watching the world go by.

Two guys in their kayaks enjoy a summer day.

Sometimes I’m out in the water letting the sky point the way.

Late evening light as we head home in the boat.

I don’t think there’s a better way to live than on water, any kind of water. A river, a pond, a lake, an ocean. Water changes all the time. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve gone to get the camera (which is rarely far from me) and by the time I get the lens cap off the light has changed, the boat has moved, the sun or moon has ducked behind a cloud.

Just as I’m typing this the sky changed from bright blue with white clouds piling up to pouring down rain. Honest…it was sunny as I was typing the previous sentence and now I can’t see across the lake. Good thing I went down to the dock and got the last image down at the bottom of the post when I did.

An afternoon swim is always good too.

The moment is lost.

A little rain cools things off and never sticks around for long.

I’m always sad for an instant, but then remember that I was thrilled to have seen it at all. Sometimes I even go for a walk or a paddle without a camera, just to prove to myself that I am capable of enjoying the sights without recording them all.

Clouds and water make for a perfect evening.

But that’s very hard for me. I seem to see almost everything as a series of images. Sometimes I can’t help myself but to point out something to the people I’m with. The angle of a tree, the light behind a building, the shape of a cloud.

Trees frame a visitor to our dock.

My family usually just nods and smiles as they indulge me. So here I am, sharing with you, these random water and sky images. Because I can’t help myself.

I hope you’ll indulge me too.

Clouds gather every afternoon before our daily rain.


16 Comments

When truck safety visits the lake

Heading out before the sun sets.

As most of you know I volunteer for a nonprofit that works on truck safety issues. It’s made up of volunteers, most of which have either survived a crash with a large commercial truck or have had family or friends killed in a crash with a truck.

We get together in Washington D.C., usually to fight some piece of legislation that we feel will make our roads less safe than they are now. And every other year we meet there for a conference called Sorrow to Strength where we learn how to make change and where we spend days in meetings with our Members of Congress and the DOT and other agencies that make or enforce rules surrounding trucks.

It’s pretty stressful.

We’ve often talked about wanting to spend time with each other when we’re not working, not talking endlessly about our losses, not overcome with grief, not walking up and down Capitol Hill until our feet ache to match our hearts.

Lots of big puffy white clouds began to turn pink.

Three years ago some of us were able to meet in Maine. We had a wonderful time sitting around eating lobster and talking around a campfire until late into the evening.

Huge mounds of cloud build up to the South.

And this past weekend a few of the volunteers came here to Lake Martin. It felt good to be together in a less stressful place. It felt good to host them in Dad’s home. It was like having a big family reunion. In fact it was a family reunion, because these people are my truck safety family. They are people who know better than anyone what it’s like to get that call. What it’s like to be in the car.

What it’s like.

We ate too much and lazed around in the sun. We hung out together, thankful that we have each other while wishing we didn’t belong to the family at all.

And then they all turned pink.

Swimming, water skiing, just floating in the warm waters of the lake was so much fun. Even climbing the mountain and then the fire tower in the Alabama heat was fun. There were hugs and lots of laughter, and even a few tears when my sister played Amazing Grace on her bagpipes at sunset.

Headed back North the sky was entirely different.

We took pictures, of course, of us goofing off in the water, climbing the mountain and the fire tower, eating and laughing. But I need to maintain everyone’s privacy, so rather than show you those photos I’ve used last night’s sunset images throughout this post.

Floating in pink and gold.

I was out in my kayak and the sky was amazing. Sort of like spending the weekend with my truck safety family.

Simply amazing.

And then the moon came up.