Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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The zen of snow blowing

Early morning light shows promise.

Last night we got five or six inches of fluffy snow. Early in the morning, taking Katie out for her first foray into the yard I noticed, even in the dark, how beautiful everything looked. With no wind, and the sun just beginning to edge up into the sky, I could tell it was going to be a great day for blowing out the driveway.

What you say? No one enjoys snow removal?

Well, on a pretty morning, under bluing skies, with fluffy white poofs of snow hanging on the spruce trees and white birch glowing, being outside for any reason is just about perfect.

It’s going to be a pretty day!

And blowing snow out of the driveway is sort of peaceful. There’s a rhythm to it, up and down, back and forth. Mindful more than mindless, as I try not to spray snow and perhaps stones on my husband’s truck parked in front of the house.

There’s a beginning, a middle and an end which lends itself to a sense of order. You can see progress. You can get as creative or as efficient as you want. Sometimes creative is efficient.

The first run down the driveway determines all the rest.

So I cleaned up the driveway, and then, since I was already dressed for it, Katie and I went out to explore the back yard.

Hurry up mama!

We had a great time running around and looking for pretty stuff. Five inches of snow is the perfect amount for a sheltie to bury her head searching for treasure.

It’s right HERE mama!

I always wonder what she thinks she’s going to find under there. Apparently it’s something wonderful.

Darn, I was THIS close to finding it!

The yard was so pretty it was hard to go back inside.

Snow piled up on everything.

But Katie felt that since she had posed for me several times and since I hadn’t thought to bring any treats outside with me, well, we should probably head back to the house.

Race you!

So we did, but not without one last look back at the yard, dressed in it’s winter finery.

Sooooo pretty!

Almost makes staying north all winter worth it.

Typical winter in Michigan.

Almost.

We’ll come out to play again today sweetie.


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How much fun can a girl squish into a sunny day?

Katie here!

Hey, hey, hey, hey!!!!! Guess what? I am bored! For the last two years mama has taken me to warmer places to visit friends (and my beloved Reilly the Cowspot Dog) and to race around on the beach and hang out at my lake house and stuff.

Me, my boyfriend Reilly and his little brother Denny at the beach in Florida a couple years ago!

This year? Nothing.

Plus here in Michigan it’s been snowing and raining and sometimes it’s so cold I have to wear the dreaded booties! There’s hardly any time when it isn’t just yucky outside, and you know how important being outside is to me.

Before I got to explore mama made me sit for this picture.

Outside is my favorite place to be bar none. Well. Except when I’m in front of my full supper dish, then that’s my favorite place to be. But other than supper there’s no better place for this sheltie girl to hang out than outside with it’s wonderful smells and cool breeze.

I liked this bridge but mama said the shadows made it hard to photograph.

And sun. I haven’t seen the sun in a million years. Oh wait. We had one day last week when it stopped snowing and raining and freezing and the sun came out! Mama said we had to get cracking because we didn’t want to waste a single second of it!

Just me and my shadow.

So we jumped in my car and we raced to one of my parks. I don’t go to this one very often, it’s sort of not on the way to anywhere, but mama said we also had to go to a store that was near it, so it all worked out great.

Hey mama, you didn’t forget the treats, did you?

No one was out there, so we took a meander around to see what there was to see. Nothing amazing, but still it was pretty. I had fun mostly because she didn’t take too many pictures, and because I didn’t have to wear those stinking booties, and because she let me sniff stuff while she was busy taking pictures of not me.

Yes, mama, I will sit on this red bench for you. But hurry up, we’re wasting sunshine woman!

Mama already posted a couple of pictures from that walk, but I figured you really needed the sheltie perspective.

Then after we were done with the park mama took me to a store! I got to sniff all over, except for the cat side, cause they had a bunch of cats out in crates to get adopted and she figured I didn’t need to upset them. And she didn’t want to fall in love with a cat.

I agree mama should never fall in love with a cat!

Hey mama! Don’t you think I need a life jacket for next time we go on a boat ride?

I walked up and down the dog food aisles more than once, there were good sniffs there, but mama kept telling me that the food I picked out wasn’t good for me.

This smells especially good mama!

Well duh mama. The food you pick out for you isn’t always healthy either! And no one yanks on your collar and pulls you away! It’s OK for me to just smell the yumminess!

Mama let me walk around the store a long time, but the only thing she bought was some stuff for my arthritis. Yep, I’m an older princess now and I groan a little bit when I lie down at night. Mama already got me some meds to go with my breakfast, but a little something for the evening might be just the ticket.

I like the fox, but mama says I have too many toys already. Silly mama.

She looked at orthopedic beds too, but I wasn’t interested. I thought the fox toy would be more fun. I’m not all that old yet. Though when we finally got home I did fall asleep on my sofa for a long time.

I told mama it was just a power nap.

Still young enough to pose on a stump for my mama!


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Weather swings through Michigan

Morning light.


February weather in Michigan is always unpredictable. Though it’s a short month it can often feel like the longest month of the year. This week we’ve gone from the Polar Vortex to temperatures in the 50s, from shoveling snow to flooded yards.

One morning Katie got me up early and I thought the light outside seemed an odd color. I was right. The sun was coming up and the low lying clouds were a color I’d never seen before.

Looks like some weather blowing in.

And that day, as I watched the sky get more and more interesting, I knew I needed to get somewhere with open spaces.

Early afternoon and the clouds start to break.

So I drove to Indian Springs, a park not too far away, with trails that wander over hills covered in tall grasses.

A dramatic sky always gets my heart rate going.

I should have worn boots because the trail was muddy, but wet feet didn’t dampen my enthusiasm for the sky that day.

And then yesterday we woke to ice. Rain fell on the cold ground and froze. Katie and I skated (figuritively) out to see what was what. We escaped the worst of it, but there was still a thin coating of ice on everything.

I loved the ice on the red twig dogwood shrubs.

It was all beautiful and Katie enjoyed wandering while I was busy getting shots of twigs and needles and leaves covered in ice.

Still lots of color even in winter.

She was content as long as I promised at least one shot of her. She is, after all, a princess, and used to being the center of attention.

I’ll sit for one portrait mama. But there are things I need to sniff, so hurry up.


I don’t know what the weather has in store for us the rest of the week, but I hope it’s just as photogenic as these past few days have been.

Winter shapes.

Katie says she’s up for an adventure.

Ice dripping.


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Smiling in spite of the Polar Vortex

Trent, from Trent’s World, reminds us that we all have much to smile about. Each week he asks what made us smile, and surprisingly, even with -14F temperatures (-25.5C), and wind chills in the -50s (-45C), I find myself grinning.

This afternoon I bundled up, (sweatshirt with hood pulled up over the hat I was wearing, coat with hood pulled up over that, long underwear, heavy socks, boots and heavy gloves) and ventured out to put more birdseed in the feeders.

Though it is still very very cold, today the wind has subsided a bit, and we have sunshine! If you’re inside it’s just beautiful!

The sun came up this morning on another brutally cold day.

While I was out there scattering seed I felt, rather than really saw, a fat bird fly just over my head. I turned around to see what it was and saw the brilliant blue of a male Eastern bluebird, the sun glinting off his wings. He landed in the redbud tree at the other end of the house.

Of course I scurried back inside, urging Katie the dog to hurry up too. Grabbing my camera I tried to walk nonchalantly back toward the door, hoping she wouldn’t want to go back outside. She likes to explode from the door out onto the deck which always scares all the birds and squirrels away.

She says that’s the point.

But of course she wanted to go out too. So obviously there was no bluebird in the tree by the time I got out there. I was sad, but still smiling. Just having seen him was pretty amazing.

Back inside I switched back to the short lens and was turning to put it away when I saw him. The bluebird was back, drinking out of my heated birdbath.

I crept around to the window. The light was bad. There were reflections in the window, and I could barely see him over the top of the recliner. Plus his head was in the birdbath. Still. If this was the only shot I’d get of him, I was smiling.

Pretend you can tell this is a bluebird.

I tried to move to a better angle to reduce the reflections. Katie took that as an invitation to storm the recliner, barking excitedly, sure that if mama had her camera out there was something out there!!! The bluebird flew away. Katie got scolded.

I figured I’d stand there for a bit and see if he came back. I was staring out one window, looking in the direction he had gone. Nothing. I decided to focus on the birdbath so I’d be ready if he arrived. I turned the camera back to the original window.

And found three bluebirds sitting there, quietly drinking.

Yummy water you’ve got here lady! We like it icy cold!

The images I got were still bad, dark and backlit with sunshine and brilliant snow, and there were still reflections in the window. But there were three bluebirds at my birdbath!

The reflections really didn’t matter.

Do you guys think it’s a bit chilly here in Michigan? Maybe we should have migrated.

After cropping and lightening and working to get rid of the reflections I had a somewhat barely passable set of images. Not great images…

This is a really bad picture but I love how the one on the right is all puffed up and they look like grumpy old men.

…but oh my….it’s still freezing cold outside…and I can’t stop smiling.

Yep, it’s a regular water bar for bluebirds around here.


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Coasting down Michigan’s western shore

Last Sunday a friend and I drove north and west to see Point Betsie with it’s lighthouse in winter. We were hoping to see some waves and some ice, and we saw a bit of each.

Taken by my friend, look how she caught that wave action!

On Monday we meandered under a blue sky down the western coast of Michigan, enjoying the shore and beaches at several parks along the way.

Lake fog danced on the relatively warm water in the single digit air temperatures.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to show you some of the beautiful sights we saw. There are so many it’s hard to choose what to share.

The view was worth the climb!

We stopped across the river from Frankfort early in the day and admired their tugboats…

Tugboats waiting for spring.

…and the lighthouse against the dark sky.

The white buildings pop against the darkening sky.

Then we drove up to a bluff overlooking the harbor and the sun came out. I was a bit scared to drive up the steep, snow covered road, but the view was absolutely worth it.

From up on the bluff.

The early light made the lighthouse glow out there in the blue lake.

Further down the coast Ludington’s shoreline held lots of lovely sights. Even with all the wonderful white snow and blue water, this was one of my favorite shots:

Shadows mimic fence.

And this, the ice on the railing, deserves some attention too.

Ice interest.

So many pretty things to see, I put together a little slide show.

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Our last stop was Muskegon State Park where the views weren’t as stunning, but still very interesting.

A lonely tree on a lonely beach.

We had such a fun time wandering the coast of Michigan even though we didn’t get it all done. That just means we have something to anticipate some weekend when the sun shines and the lake glows.

Oh, and just for me, we stopped along the way for a photo of a barn.

Every road trip needs at least one barn.

I’m looking forward to our continued adventure. It’s nice when you can make something out of a cold winter weekend in the north.

Colors out of this world.


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Check it off the stupendous list

Visiting Point Betsie during the winter is on my list of stupendous things to do in 2019.

Tucked into the sand dunes along the shores of Lake Michigan.

Today I had the opportunity to do just that — and it was beautiful.

At home we had snow yesterday, the most we’ve had in one day so far this winter season, so a trip across the state was in question.

The path down to the beach shows the first glimpse of the turquoise lake.

But by this morning the falling snow had stopped and the sun made it glitter as a friend and I took the chance and drove across the state toward Lake Michigan and Point Betsie, a little over four hours away.

The wind was flinging waves over the breakers.

Though there was little new snow falling, the wind was brisk, and the temperatures were in the single digits. I don’t even want to think about about the wind chill.

The sun tried to break through but ultimately lost out to the clouds.

Trust me it was cold. I could barely get the car door open once we arrived at the lighthouse. We sprinted down to the shore – the lake was it’s typical turquoise.

The lighthouse was beautiful, but the ice coating the land around it prohibited us from exploring too close. That and the chilling wind howling off the lake.

The view looking south, away from the lighthouse, was stunning too.

To the south the light was diffused, the colors muted.

We stayed on the beach for only a few minutes before we ran back to the car, fingers frozen.

My friend heading back to the car, I was right behind her!

Was it worth it to drive over four hours to spend less than 10 minutes enjoying the view.

You bet it was!

Safe and sound at the hotel.


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Hope = smiles

This week I had plenty of reasons to smile. After all I’m retired; I don’t have to get up in the dark and drive on congested construction strewn roads to work and then do it all again the next day.

That in itself makes for automatic smiles.

Visiting Lansing, the Capitol of Michigan, on a cold Sunday afternoon.

But if I had to pick one thing that made me smile this week it would be Sunday afternoon when my husband and I attended the ceremonial swearing in of our new Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin.

I keep insisting that I’m not political, I don’t like politics, I don’t have the patience for all the talk and lack of action, for the arguing, for the lack of empathetic listening, the insensitivity. I hate that neither party even tries to hear an opinion outisde their own dogma.

But this year the candidate challenging my district’s incumbant Congressman caught my attention. She actually sat down with my husband and me and listened intently to our truck safety issues. So I became involved in her campaign, canvasing and talking politics to strangers, which was very scary for me. She won by 13,000 votes and attending her ceremonial swearing in made me smile.

Photo from Slotkin’s webpage. Senator Stabenow, Congresswoman Slotkin and her husband, retired Colonel David Moore.

Presiding over the ceremony was Michigan’s Senior Senator who has also been very open to our issues, which made me smile broader.

But the biggest smile during the event was reserved for the Sexton High School choir who sang for us. A group of young people, diverse in ethnicity and culture, sang of hope and change to a huge ballroom filled with mostly middle aged white people.

Lansing’s Sexton High School Choir rocked it!

They sang from their hearts and we listened with ours, knowing that we were on the cusp of change for our district, filled with hope for a more responsive government. And when they finished we rose in a standing ovation before their last note ended, which made them smile.

“If you want to make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and then make a change.”
(lyrics from Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror)

After the event, while we were all milling around talking I noticed one of the young singers standing behind me. I turned around and told him how beautiful the music had been. He nodded his head respectfully, then burst out into a wide grin and swallowed me up in a hug.

Seems smiles were the order of the day.

The gears of change grind slowly.

What’s made you smile? Tell us about it and link to Trent’s blog, he’ll recap for us next Monday!

Note: Follow the link above about Elissa to read a short article about the ceremony which contains a few quotes from her speech. I think they’ll give you hope too.

Something to smile about in Lansing last Sunday.


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Sunshine makes me smile

Sunshine makes everything prettier.


We’ve had days and days of dark sky, rain and cold wind. Though we haven’t had snow or even temps as cold as usual for early January, it’s been pretty miserable.

And then the sun came out.

Hurry mama! We have to enjoy the sun while it’s here!

The temperatures climbed into the fifties and it smelled like spring. For a brief moment I felt the unfurling of joy at the thought winter was over.

And then I remembered it was only January and I laughed at myself.

Moss glowing deep in the woods.

We had two lovely days of sunshine and warm temperatures. That and my Katie-girl made me smile.

What made you smile this past week?

Smiling in January.