Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Working on the backlog

Husband bought me a new camera lens for my birthday. No it’s not my birthday yet, he’s just an early shopper. I have all sorts of ideas about where I should go to try it out, but I’ve been reigning myself in because I had hundreds of images waiting to be processed while I struggled with my editing function.

As the sun came up in the east, the birds began to move.

Or lack thereof.

But now I’m back on a roll and I’ve spent a couple hours (OK more) sorting through the hundreds of images I have of my last trip to the Shiawasee National Wildlife Refuge a couple weeks ago. (I think you’ll enjoy these images more if you’re looking at them on a large screen.)

Looking to the west, with the sun rising behind me, the meadows began to glow. And more birds flew overhead.

You got to see a few of the images, straight out of the camera, in a previous post. And to be honest most of these images didn’t need much editing other than cropping to get closer to the interesting stuff.

The refuge is just over an hour away from me and I like to get there prior to sunrise, because, especially when the birds are migrating, there is so much noise and movement in the early morning moments.

A kingfisher came to sit right above me, surveying the water below.

The first time I visited I was about 30 minutes too late. That morning I could see waves of sandhill cranes flying away while I was driving down the last road, still about half a mile away. This time I got there half an hour before sunrise.

Way cropped and shot in low light, so quite noisy, but look at his colors! He caught breakfast right in front of me.

When I first got out of the car at the parking lot the sky was relatively quiet, and I wondered if I had missed them again. But moments later…well…it was incredible.

Just two of hundreds.

I stood in the parking lot watching wave after wave of noisy sandhill cranes fly by. I began to wonder how so many large birds could be sleeping in the refuge, and where in the world they were all going.

As the sun came up the undersides of the birds, the cranes, geese and ducks began to glow.

Magic.

It was pretty wonderful, and I hadn’t even left the parking lot yet. In fact I thought if that was all I did, stand in a parking lot, watching and listening to these birds, that was enough to make me smile.

Follow the leader.

Finally I made myself move on, though the birds were still flying overhead. And not far down the road I saw this group beginning it’s morning stroll. I loved how the electrical lines and the fur on some of their ears glowed with the early light.

There were about a dozen of them.

The further into the refuge I got the higher the sun rose. My objective was to get to the viewing platform, two miles from the parking lot, sometime before lunch. 🙂 I don’t move along very fast when I have my camera.

Loud singing added to the morning din.

Last fall when I was here the waterways were filled with ducks, but this time the waterways were pretty quiet. Still, the reflections were pretty stunning.

Reflecting as I walked.

And I could hear the cranes out in the open wetlands. So I moved along.

I don’t know what this tree was, but the chickadee was eating parts of the buds.

On the way I met a man coming back who pointed out a tree, surrounded by water, where eight eagles of assorted ages were sunning themselves. If he hadn’t pointed it out I never would have seen it.

A perfect place to enjoy the sun.

It wasn’t on the way to the viewing stand, but it was worth the extra walk to go out on a dike to get the best shot I could. My lens wasn’t long enough to get close, so some of these shots are pretty cropped. But you get the idea.

Such huge birds!

They watched me walk out on that dike across from them, and eventually the two mature adults and a couple of the kids flew off to another tree, further away. A couple of the teenagers weren’t bothered by me and hung out in the tree. You know how teenagers are.

We’re out of here, lady!

After the eagle adventure I made my way back and then on to the viewing platform. From there I could see across the wetland.

Incoming!

There were hundreds of sandhill cranes and ducks and seagulls out there, and wave after wave of them coming in for a landing.

It was pretty noisy.

Move over, I’m coming in!

Again I wasn’t really close enough, nor did I have a big enough long lens (though that would have been pretty heavy to carry all the way back there!) so these are really cropped. But take these images and expand them by 10 and you’ll get the idea what it was like. Everywhere there were cranes.

I saw this flock of male woodducks too.

And on the other side of the dike, in a body of water, were swans.

Swans flying west, cranes flying east.

It was all pretty amazing. I stood there a long time taking picture after picture, all of them, it turns out, pretty much the same, but it felt like I was in a snowglobe with cranes rather than snow filling the air.

I didn’t see any beavers, but obviously they were somewhere around.

I wish you all could come with me when I go back there some day. You never know what you’ll see. It probably won’t be filled with cranes (I don’t think) but there will be something else interesting.

Such a beautiful place.

Guaranteed.

And a barn.


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Technology frustration

It’s my own fault. I don’t like technology, I feel like I don’t understand enough, and I avoid figuring stuff out until stuff breaks and I’m stuck having to do something.

I feel like I’m half a generation out of step with the world. I can read instructions, and think I know what I’m supposed to do, but I can never quite execute it. That’s how I ended up with an A- on a coding class I took my last semester of grad school. I spent hours slaving over the homework, and got it all turned in, but each assignment was a marathon of agony.

She was showing off her best side.

Thank goodness the final grade was based so heavily on homework and not the final hands-on exam which I managed to get my name on but not much else.

Anyway. I’m still without Lightroom, my editing software. I’ve used up the 20 GB alloted storage just since last July when I purchased it. I don’t even need their stinking storage, I store all my photos on my laptop. Which had to be updated because I used up all the storage on my previous laptop too.

I think I have purchased the wrong version of Lightroom. There’s one called Lightroom Classic that doesn’t put your images into the cloud. So there would’t be a limit. But that’s not where I am.

Nom, nom, nom.

So my options are to delete the library in Lightroom, which also deletes those images from my files on my laptop, or buy more storage.

Of course as I explore these options I note that I can’t even figure out how to buy more storage. I’ve followed their links several times trying to find out what the next steps in storage might cost and I get absolutely nowhere. I’ve even followed the links through their help buttons and end up in the same nowhere place.

Just because this shot makes me smile. And I could use a smile.

I could start over and purchase Lightroom Classic…and just let my current version sit there, but I have to keep paying each year to keep what I have. Otherwise I guess they delete me. And my images, which deletes them from my files on my laptop. This infuriates me, as they don’t own those images.

But I digress. I could look for something entirely different that is more user friendly. Though I am not sure it’s not just me and I might struggle with any editing program. For example, one of my readers suggested a free program she uses called Fotor. I looked that up and there are versions for different Windows operating system. I don’t know what I have. So I tried to look that up by googling “How do I know what Windows I have?” and the explanation was so complicated I couldn’t even get through it.

This week in Michigan.

Which leads me back to this post. Any ideas or suggestions, preferably written in Grade 4 English, would be appreciated. Meanwhile I’ll keep adding photos straight from the camera to my posts.

It’s the least I can do in appreciation for your support.

Thanks everybody, sometimes mama just needs a little help.


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Reading obituaries

Who else does this? I’ve always read obituaries, especially back in the days of paper newspapers. I remember the Sunday editions had pages of them and I read them all. I particularly focused on those people close to my age, tried to figure out what killed them, so as to reassure myself that something like that couldn’t happen to me.

A little over a year ago I looked up someone’s obit, I can’t remember who, but it was someone from my hometown. I ended up at the website of the local funeral home, a funeral home that’s been in town forever, whose family owners went to the church I attended as a kid.

A flock of wood ducks.

I signed up for an email notification whenever they have another person’s obituary. I’ve found that a lot of people that went to my church as a kid have now passed through this particular funeral home.

It’s an odd feeling when I see the notification in my emails. I always take a deep breath before I click on the link to see who it was. Lots of times it’s not someone I know, not a name from my childood, not a friend of my parents, or worse, a friend of mine. But sometimes it is someone I know’s parent or sister or brother, or child.

Beaver damage.

Sometimes it’s not anyone I know, but after reading the obituary I sort of wish I had known them. Today there were three, and a couple of them struck me. The best obit opening line I’ve ever read showed up today:

“Michael XXXX, age 73 of Howell Michigan, passed away on the golf course after a frustrating double-bogey on March …” Even though I’m not a golfer I smiled as I read that first sentence. And if you can make people smile while reading your obituary, well, you’re a pretty special person in a pretty special family.

Talkative robin.

And this man was someone five years younger than me that I would have enjoyed talking to:

“Mxxx strongly believed in education. He earned Masters Degrees in Economics from Indiana State University, Business Administration from Lewis University, and Information and Library Science from Wayne State University. He was a volunteer at the Salvation Army and the Livingston County Democratic Party. He was passionate about politics, the Chicago White Sox, and the music of Bruce Springsteen.”

I wish everyone’s obituary shared such interesting and fun bits of information. I’ve often thought I’d like to write obituaries. During such a stressful time I would want families not to have to come up with it on their own. And the help from funeral homes isn’t always much more than a fill in the blank option.

I would want families to look back at that obituary and know it summed up their loved one just exactly right. A last gift to the family I guess.

Anyway…how many of you read stranger’s obituaries and consider whether they were lucky to live a full life, how many of you feel grateful for your own life when you read an obituary for someone your age, or someone who seemed to have so few loved ones left.

Or am I just odd? Maybe you shouldn’t answer that.

Reflections.

Pictures today are from my walk last week at the Shiawasee Wildlife Preserve. I still don’t have editing capabilities, so I looked for images that you could enjoy straight out of the camera. They don’t have anything to do with obituaries, but that’s OK. I know you can deal with it.

And somewhere along the line I started getting my captions in the picture, which is sort of OK, except it darkens the picture. And I haven’t figured out how to get the captions out of there. Or even to delete the whole image. So you’ll have to image that these are decent pictures with interesting colors and stuff.

Seriously WordPress, don’t you realize we already have a lot on our plates?


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This week’s noisy smile

It’s been a crazy winter, right? Some parts of our country have seen snow where no snow is expected. Other parts are flooding, or fighting wildfires. I think we’ll all be glad to say goodbye to this winter, and for me, the first true sign that spring is right around the corner is the sound of the red-winged blackbird.

Hmmmmm…this peanut looks good.

It’s a distinctive cry that I haven’t heard around my house yet this year. Other people, not so far away from me, are hearing them already and have for awhile. My Facebook memories say that it was on this date when I heard them first last year.

I’ll just fluff myself up and let out my best territory protection scream. I’m sure the girls will be flocking to me in no time.

Today it’s too windy to hear much of anything here, but yesterday was a beautiful morning and I headed out to Kensington where I almost always find something beautiful or exciting or just fun.

I’ve picked out the perfect patch of cattails to build our home. Now I just need to find the perfect sweetie.

I found all of that in the massive flocks of red-winged blackbirds all screeching for a mate, while flocking to food, hanging on to swaying cattails, or flying up into trees to sing even louder. Their combined sound was almost overwhelming.

I can’t find the ladies anywhere! And trust me, I’ve looked!

But it sure made me smile!

I guess I’ll just keep singing.


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Smiling

Things are beginning to get back to normal here. At least as far as Katie is concerned.

If this is all the snow around here, it must be spring…right mama?

She and I went for a walk at her favorite park this afternoon. She hadn’t been there in more than a month.

Are you going to carry me across this big, cold puddle?

We had sunshine, but it was still chilly out. Just the way she likes it.

I guess maybe it’s not quite spring after all.

I’m pretty sure, when she wasn’t busy sniffing out the best smells, she was smiling.

I sure love my park!

So was I.

Can’t beat a walk in my park!


32 Comments

Torn

I’m back in Michigan, and it’s lovely here, with sun and blue sky, a bit of white snow left on the ground. It might get to 50F this afternoon.

My last night at the lake the sky finally cooperated and provided a worthy sunset.

Still.

The fact that it was a foggy morning made it somewhat easier to leave.

In Alabama it was beginning to warm up too, daffodils were blooming, and when the sun broke through the rain clouds we enjoyed temperatures in the 70s.

For weeks, this trip, I passed this field and remembered one year when cows where there and how photogenic the spot was. But I never saw any cows there until the day I was leaving town.

My last day in Alabama I sat on the deck and enjoyed listening to the birds singing. The brown thrush were chasing each other around the yard. Blue birds were flitting everywhere. Robins sang in the morning and ducks and geese gathered in the lake.

I took tiny little two lane roads that curled through the mountains as I headed north. The better to find interesting things to photograph.

It would have been wonderful, after almost a full month of rain, to sit there for a few more days.

There were a lot of interesting places along the way.

Still.

You don’t always have to have a structure to make an image interesting. Especially with fog.

My husband and my Katie-girl were in Michigan and I’d been gone a long time. I felt somewhat guilty lounging around in the South while my husband dog-sat the demanding princess.

So many old, abandoned homesteads tucked in the hills.

Still.

I think about all the families whose dreams moved on to somewhere else.

My sister and brother are in the South and I hadn’t seen either of them in more than two years, so it was great to spend weekends with them, painting with my sister, going on a boat ride with my brother. It would have been nice to stick around and spend more time with them.

So many barns hanging on.

Still.

So many decisions to make.

My girl, who lives in the moment, had spent enough moments without her mama. She must have felt like she’d never see me again.

A high point in Alabama. Plus the sun started to break through the fog.

Still.

Lots of barns still in use.

There were more adventures to be had in the south.

I turned around to get this, because of the car.

Still.

A cozy barn nestled in the hills.

There are adventures to be had in the north too.

Solidly facing a new day.

So here I am, enjoying sunshine while wearing a coat, tickling the princess tummy, feeding my birds, watching the squirrels. And it’s good.

Some grey barns are by design, not by age.

Still….

Photos in this post are from my last evening at the lake, and my drive north.

Kinda missing this place now.


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Mama’s in the doghouse

Hey people! Katie here, and boy do I have a story to tell you. After I’m finished I’m sure you’ll agree with me – mama should be in a very long timeout.

So as you may know, cause I told you a long time ago, mama’s been missing. I have spent hours of my precious time looking for her. Even though I had daddy with me, and he was feeding me and all, I still felt it was my responsibility to find mama.

You’re going to make my breakfast, right mama?

Shelties are super vigilent, as you know.

So I’ve been looking and looking, in all her favoite spots, which to be honest aren’t that many. There’s her bed. And her sofa. Hmmmm….I think that pretty much covers her favorite places. But just to be sure I even checked in the closets and the bathrooms and in the backyard and the garage and I couldn’t find her. Daddy says she wasn’t at any of my parks either.

So I mostly gave up, though I’e been sleeping with one eye open just in case.

What do you mean I have to wait a minute?

Then yesterday, daddy and I were making the rounds in the yard while I made a decision as to the perfect pee spot when a car drove up and stopped! Daddy picked me up right away and the car drove into my driveway! Then daddy put me back down and told me to go check it out.

It might be a maurader! Someone to steal my supper! I ran up the driveway and saw somebody get out of the car! But the sun was in my eyes and I couldn’t be sure….so I kept running toward that person the better to tell them off about parking in my driveway without my special sheltie permit.

You have apprently forgotten I AM A PRINCESS!

And when I got close enough to see, I was soo excited cause it was MY MAMA!!!!!

I barked and barked and wriggled all over and mama picked me up and held me tight and kissed my head and I wriggled some more and then she put me down and I ran around her feet and barked and barked.

Mama barely got in the door when I started barking at her again. I had a lot to tell her.
So she sat down on a chair in the foyer and told me she would listen to me for as long as I felt necessary to tell her off. I think she was being perfectly fair, so I only barked at her for a few more minutes and then I went over and asked dad if I could please have my supper. Dad told me to go ask mama, but I told him she was pretty useless and unreliable and I was counting on him for sustenance.

Get your priorities straight, woman!

Daddy sighed and went and started my dinner. This morning I had to bark at mama some more in order to get breakfast. The pictures on this post are from my morning performance. I think you will agree it’s Oscar worthy.

I also think you should agree that mama should be put in a very long timeout considering she got herself lost for about a gazillion million years and she hasn’t sufficiently explained herself yet.

She obviously needs remedial training.

What do you think?

Nom, nom, nom, nom.