Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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The canals of Detroit

Kayaks waiting for us to begin our adventure.


Did you even know that Detroit has canals? Me either, and I live only an hour north of the city. But I saw an advertisement months ago on Facebook for kayak tours of the canals and I thought it looked interesting.

I know, I know. An advertisement on Facebook? But a friend of mine, someone I haven’t seen in a lot of years, agreed in a comment that it looked fun, and she made all the calls to get us a reservation.

Safer to do this while still on land than once we were on the water.

So Sunday was the day and of course there were thunderstorms predicted. Our early morning 3 hour tour was delayed until afternoon, and in the end that worked out just fine.

We arrived at the marina located just off the Detroit River slightly before scheduled takeoff. We got our life vests fitted and our safety lecture, and then we were in the water.

A quick meeting with one of our guides…

We started the tour by paddling around an island, originally built out of swamp land in the 1920s for wealthy people to live in big houses away from the city. Now it’s mostly filled with homes built in the 1990s.

…and we’re off!

But there are still a few of the original homes left. Like this 30,000 sq foot 2 bedroom mansion built for the Fishers, part of the General Motors team way back when…

The Fisher mansion is in disrepair but seems to be under renovation.

…and some smaller homes, also built in the 20s. Most of the homes built during that period burned in a big fire in the early 70s because the bridge to the island hadn’t been built large enough to carry Detroit city fire engines.

A couple of the smaller original homes.

After we circled the island we headed out to the Detroit River.

Headed into some serious paddling now.

The river is a busy shipping channel, connecting the Great Lakes and lets ships get, eventually, to the Atlantic Ocean. We were told to stick together, not go too far out into the river, but stay away from the wall along the shore, where waves would be slapping and bouncing back at us.

Almost immediately we saw a huge freighter coming our way. We were in no danger, but the size differential between it and us was hard to ignore.

That’s one mighty big ship.

And right behind that ship was another, bigger, deeper more foreboding ship. I knew they’d both be kicking up some serious wake and I was eager to turn off the river back into the safety of a canal.

Another huge ship coming our way.

There was already some serious chop going on and I didn’t really want to ride out any huge waves in my little orange kayak. Soon enough we turned away from the big water and into the relative calm of another canal.

This is much more relaxing!

Turning the next corner we found ourselves in a small community of river homes complete with boat houses. Most of them looked like they’d been around a long time.

Those boathouses might need a little work.

But other boat houses seemed in better repair. And some even held beautiful vintage wooden boats.

High tech garages for beautiful old boats.

We paddled through more older waterfront homes…

Pretending we’re gliding through Venice.

…and then had something of a traffic jam under a bridge.

Some confusion about who has the right of way.

Out the other side of the bridge, around another corner and past more boat houses we headed back toward the big river.

The locals tell us the water is very high this spring.

The sun was beginning to break through the clouds as we entered the Detroit River again. To the east of us the skies were still dark…

Let’s not go toward the storm.

…but to the west of us the sun was shining and the water sparkling.

Even the water got more vibrant when the sun came out.

But the wind had picked up and the water was even more choppy than before. There was little time for taking pictures. I had to try, though, because the Detroit skyline was right there and just stunning with big puffy white clouds overhead.

It turned into a beautiful day!

And then, just as everyone was getting tired paddling into the wind we turned one last time into the safety of the canals.

Back where we started, all too soon.

We had a wonderful time. We saw some really interesting houses and boats. We were challenged on the river. And the sun came out at the last minute to make it all look brilliant.

A pop of color on the beautiful water.

I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. I guess you can’t always dismiss those ads on Facebook. Sometimes they turn out to be pretty darn cool.

This one sure did.

Fun stuff.


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Park season

Let’s get going mama!

Katie here.

Hey! I bet you figured out that when mama and daddy went to Washington DC I didn’t get to go. Nope. I got left at ‘camp’ and I think I got gypped. Mama and daddy got to eat out at fancy restaurants and got to see the monuments and got to go to the zoo and I got to….well…I got to eat my dinner on time every night. I didn’t even have to bug anyone to get it! Not like here at home where I have to remind mama loudly and persistently every single day that it’s almost supper time!

Anyway…

Mama said it was too hot in DC for me, she told me I wouldn’t like it, but I think she was just telling stories to get me to feel better. On the other hand, it’s been really hot here too, way too hot for me to have any adventures at all.

But yesterday it rained real hard and I had to bark at the ceiling for a long time. After I made the rain go away it was a lot nicer outside. Mama and I even slept in our tent in the back yard! I love to sleep outside and I didn’t get mama up until 5:00 a.m. She was pleased cause usually I’m getting her up somewhere between 3:30 and 4:00. Every day.

And this morning mama was cold! That hasn’t happened in a couple of weeks. She said it was a good morning for a walk at my park! Did I want to go?

Come on mama!! It’s a great morning at my park!

Did I! Of course I did.

I cried at the front door until she hurried up and got herself together and off we went. We even got to go in daddy’s truck! I used to be afraid of his truck because it makes a different kind of noise, but I’m a big girl now and I love to ride up front with mama. She doesn’t let me do that very often cause she says I’m not safe up there, but once in awhile I get lucky and there isn’t any gas in my chariot.

We got to my park while the grass was still damp, early in the morning, and so we were surprised to see a Little League tournament going on. Tiny little kids in cute little uniforms filled all four softball fields. So we went to the other end of the park and walked the other way around.

Sigh. I had to stand on this bench. Again. She makes me do this almost every time we come here.

Mama was sort of worried about me because I was walking really slow. But she let me have as much water as I wanted, and let me walk without being on a leash and I just wandered at my speed. At one point she asked me if I wanted to go back, maybe I didn’t want to go all the way around the park.

I told her she was crazy, I wasn’t going to turn around now that I was finally out there! I just needed to go slow as befit my advanced age. I’ll be twelve in December you know, so that makes me eleven and a half. Almost as old as her.

Nothing interesting back here mama!

Besides, going slow I got to sniff everything. Some of it twice. Mama said that was OK, it had been a long time since I’d been there, and who knew when it would be cool enough to come back. She said she didn’t have anywhere to be, so she let me take as long as I wanted.

Of course, in return I had to pose for the typical photos. But she gave me a treat for each pose, so I was good with it.

The pond is looking good today mama.

It took us over an hour to go a little less than a mile. Mama says we’re not going to win any races and I had to remind her she’s not training for any races anyway. Sometimes mama forgets she’s not a young pup herself.

Besides, the delay wasn’t all my fault. Mama sneezed at one point and I had to take several minutes to bark at her. After all it’s my responsibility to make sure she’s OK after she sneezes like that.

Bad mama! No sneezing allowed!

When we finally got back to the front of the park I sat on a hill and watched the little kids play ball. I have always loved to do that, even back when I was little too. I like to see the kids run around the bases and sometimes there’s a treat or two or ten lost in the grass that I can snitch.

You think they’ve got any treats over there?

I wanted to get closer to the action but mama said no. I thought she was being mean, but then I realized I was getting sort of tired and needed to take a nap, so we headed back to the car.

Come on mama, time to go home!

Mama says we’re going on a big adventure pretty soon. I don’t know what she’s talking about but it better not include being left at ‘camp’ again. I’m staying vigilant, but if any of you guys know what’s up please let me know.

A girl’s got to have an escape plan ready.

Katie here, signing off for now….zzzzzzzz….

Shhhhhhh…don’t wake the sheltie.


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Yellow flower photo shoot

It looks like yellow waves mama!


Katie here. I know, I know, you’ve probably been wondering where I’ve been. Well I haven’t been doing anything exciting, that’s for sure. Mama has been busy with her camera and taking a lot of pictures that are not me. I don’t know why. Surely there is nothing as beautiful as me. Mama is fickle and I usually just ignore her.

But sometimes a princess has to speak up and I think it’s about time that I point out the lack of adventure around here. Totally unacceptable.

You’ve got a treat over there…right?

Mama did take me over to my park a couple of times this spring. She likes to do a photo shoot of me in the pretty yellow flowers. She says most people don’t like these flowers but she thinks I look beautiful sitting in the middle of a huge field of yellow.

Well of course I do mama. I look beautiful no matter where I’m sitting, and I thought all my loyal fans would like to see some of the photos featuring me instead of some anonymous birds.

The crab apples are almost ready to bloom too!

I know mama likes to take pictures of birds, but truly, don’t you think she should stick with me?

Anyway, we had fun over in the field filled with yellow flowers, and mama has promised me an adventure real soon. In fact she says I’m going on my adventure this afternoon.

It’s such a pretty day, let’s stay here for awhile!

Wait a minute.

I’m going on my adventure? Why isn’t she going on my adventure? I’m not sure I like the sounds of this at all. If you get a phone call from a payphone it’s probably me. I’m counting on you to come save me!

You’ll come save me….I’m just sure of it!

After all, a Princess knows she can depend on her loyal subjects. Right!!??

I’m counting on you!


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All those extras

An evening walk.


For the past three weeks I’ve been walking a bit every day…part of a challenge to walk for 365 days, each day sharing on Facebook a photo of something I’ve seen.

I don’t think it’s a formal challenge, not something a whole lot of people are doing. It certainly hasn’t gone viral. But it intrigued me, and I figured it would get me out the door.

Plus you know me. I like to find things, big and small, to share with you when I go for walks.

I know you’re not all friends with me on Facebook – some of you probably aren’t on Facebook at all. So maybe you haven’t seen the images I’ve posted there. I guess I could put together a slide show of the first 24 days or so….

A patch of trillium hidden back in the woods.

…but this post was meant to talk about the photos that didn’t make the cut. After the first day I decided to limit myself to posting on Facebook only one photo per day for the challenge. I’m posting my favorite one out of the inevitable batch I’ll have taken on each walk.

Crab apple blooms bright in the evening light.

It turns out, not surprisingly, that I can’t take just one photo on a walk. Even when all I have with me is my phone.

Early spring oak leaves show subtle color.

And now I wonder what I should do with the extra photos. Are they destined for obscurity, never to be seen by anyone but me?

Hungry horse down the road.

All the photos on this post were leftovers, extra images, not used, but not unloved.

What do you think I should do?

Evening light shines through new maple leaves.


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What I did on Mother’s Day

I’m not a mother, unless you count Katie-girl and she doesn’t recognize holidays. My own mother has been gone almost fourteen years, and though I miss her every day, this year I just didn’t have a traditional Mother’s Day post in me.

So I went out to my favorite park to spend some time among the birds that she loved. I feel like I got to spend some time with her while I wandered the woods and wetlands.

It’s a green spring here in Michigan.

There were lots of people, large groups, families, mostly noisy people there on this nice Sunday after days of rain. I wasn’t expecting to see much in the way of wildlife. But I was wrong.

I saw so much I don’t think I can share it all with you in one blog. So maybe I’ll just share with you a few (define few) of my favorites and not try to take you along on the whole walk.

While I was taking pictures of shaggy hickory bark I heard wings fluttering near my head. It was this little guy being quite persistent about wanting a treat.

Hey lady!

I held out my hand and he hopped right down. He was thoroughly disgusted that I didn’t have anything for him.

Seriously? Is this some kind of joke?

He flew off and sat on a branch talking to me. OK, OK I said, reaching into my pocket for a bit of seed.

Thanks lady!

You win.

But the highlight of this walk were the pileated woodpeckers. I saw one as soon as I turned off the main path. I heard him first and I stopped to look.

Looking for lunch.

I got to show the family walking behind me this amazing bird. He didn’t seem skittish and I watched him for a long time before moving on.

The family, now ahead of me, was excited to see a herd of deer not too far off the path. I didn’t expect to see anything when I got further up the path, but there they were.

All these people are interrupting my lunch!

I was looking for trillium, a flower that blooms in the woods here in Michigan. Around the next corner I saw a few, smaller this year than usual, but still pretty. I crawled down a steep creek bank to get an image…

Small white blossoms shine among last years leaves on the forest floor.

…then climbed back up the bank to sit on a bench and enjoy the scenery. As I flipped through the photos I’d taken so far I heard a pounding. What was that? I looked around and found a pair of pileated woodpeckers flitting around down along the creek. I crept up closer and watched.

There must have been good stuff in that stump.

They didn’t stay anywhere for long, and I have a lot of really bad images of blurry bird parts. But finally one of them stopped long enough for an unobstructed view.

A good spot to rest for a moment.

I sat there a long time, watching them and smiling. Eventually I realized a little friend had ventured up on the stump next to me. Begging for a bit of a treat.

Looks like he’s had plenty of treats already today.

Of course I tossed him a seed or two. Or three.

Just being in the woods was fun, even when there weren’t any birds to entertain me. The spring is so green, and everywhere I looked there was something interesting.

Tree art.

Time was passing and I felt like I needed to head back to the car. I was as far away as you could be and still be on the nature trails. I picked up my pace, intent on getting home to make dinner. Once again I heard fluttering near my head. This time it was a nuthatch wanting my attention. They’re usually a bit shy, though I’ve had them eat out of my hand before.

Got any more lady?

I held out a few seeds and the nuthatch flew in and grabbed one and then quickly flew off to some fallen trees. He did this a couple times, returning to my hand so quick that I didn’t think he was eating the seed. And then I saw him doing this.

No one will find it under here!

He was hiding the seed for future meals! I think anyway, maybe he was just doing aerobics. Each time he took a seed he flew to a different spot, depositing the seed and then rushing back for more. Such a little clown.

And while he was doing that, as I was standing there in the woods, interrupted on my rush home, I saw out of the corner of my eye this couple:

I’m just guarding my woman.

They were just across the creek. She was busy eating and he was busy showing off. There were several turkeys over there, but he was the only one obviously in a relationship.

I turned and headed back toward the parking lot. On the way I ran into another cute little woodpecker. He didn’t really want his picture taken so he moved around behind the old cattail reed he was working on.

You can’t see me. Right?

But I’m patient and eventually he worked his way around the stalk, intent on getting to something.

I’m not going to look at you lady!

I was almost back to the boardwalk and I figured I’d check out the heron rookery. Turns out it was really quiet, but there was plenty of other things to look at there, including some beautiful lily pads…

Colors everywhere, even in the water.

…and this guy.

Just doesn’t seem like a comfortable way to nap.

Most of the birds I saw during the day were making noise. That’s how they got my attention, whether they wanted it or not.

Singing her heart out.

But some were pretty camouflaged while looking for good stuff.

What’s that over there?

Until one of them looked up to see who was watching them.

You looking at us?

It was such a beautiful day, this Mother’s Day, I hope you got to see or do something fun, with family or on your own. I realize how lucky I am to have such a wonderful place to explore with my mom.

I know she loved it there as much as I did.

I’ll pose for you lady! I brought my own lunch!


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Epic fight

Cee has a black and white photo challenge out right now – “Through a window.” I’ve already been doing that a lot, looking through a window, so I figured this would be an easy one.

This is MY jelly!

And just today at the oriole feeder outside my window I captured a prolonged fight among hungry birds. You might even say they were angry birds.

Really? What gives you the right to yell at ME?

But in the end, though I deliberately left part of the window frame in the shot just to use one of them in the black and white challenge…

I’m telling you, all I said was that it was MY jelly!

…I couldn’t bring myself to take the color out.

Guess I’m going to have to find another window.

Angry birds are lonely birds.


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Benefits

Katie here!

If you’re Facebook friends with mama you know she’s working on a new challenge. She calls it her #365project. Seems like mama always has some project going on but most of the time I ignore it because it’s not about me, and, as I’m a princess, I believe it should always be about me.

Come on! We’re going for a walk!

But this project is brilliant! It makes mama go on a walk every day and post a picture on Facebook of something she saw. Think about it. A walk every day!

Even before the leaves come in there’s plenty of pretty in the woods.

And guess what? Sometimes mama takes me along with her! I’ve been to more parks in the past 13 days (today is day 14 of her project) than I’ve been in months! Why this week alone we’ve been to three parks!

It’s a perfect day for a walk!

I tell you, mama should get involved in stuff like this more often! I can’t believe my luck, though yesterday we didn’t get going until late in the day and it was too hot for me.

It’s hot mama, can we go back?

We only got a few hundred yards into the woods when I turned around to go back to the car and air conditioning. Mama said that was OK, we still got a walk in. She’s a good egg, my mama.

Earlier in the week we were at one of my parks and mama was busy taking pictures of pretty things that were not me! Most of the pictures in this blog post are from that walk. It was rainy and cool, perfect for a Sheltie Princess.

We had time to enjoy the reflections on the quiet lake.

Also perfect because no one else was out there and I got to walk off leash. When mama was busy taking pictures of not me I got to wander around. Mama didn’t worry, because she knows I won’t go very far away from her.

I’ll wait over here mama.

We saw lots of pretty stuff, even on a gloomy rainy day. It was one of my best walks ever!

The willow trees announce spring.

Mama said she was a little worried about taking on this 365 day walking project, but she’s been enjoying herself, and I love the fact we get to go go go! You might want to try it too. Don’t let the big number overwhelm you. Take it one walk at a time.

And if you’ve got a Princess (or Prince) at home, bring them along too. It’s good to spend time together outside exploring.

This path looks interesting.

You’ll both enjoy it!

Less talking, more walking mama!


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Goodnight moon

Katie and I experienced a magical moon one morning not so long ago. It wasn’t quite full, not anymore, but like a flower that’s just past it’s prime it was still beautiful.

The sun, emerging from sleep on the opposite horizon, made the clouds surrounding the waning moon glow in pinks and purples.

And then the clouds began to overtake the moon.

I watched as it silently slipped behind the curtain.

And just like that the day began and the moon slid into an early slumber.

Goodnight moon.