Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Nancy Merrill’s A photo a Week Challenge: Yellow

If this challenge were later in the year I’d have all sorts of yellow forests to share with you. But, given this is mid-August, I’ll just scour the backyard and see what I can come up with.

Of course there’s always these hungry guys.

You’re interrupting my lunch , lady!

And over in the zinnia garden there’s this moth…

A moth shows off his pretty colors while sitting on a yellow zinnia.

…and as I was focused on the moth, this butterfly showed up.

Never lighting on any particular flower for long it was hard to capture his image.

It’s also the Dream Cruise weekend here, where hundreds of vintage cars are driving up and down Woodward Avenue. There’s a bit of yellow over there too.

They don’t make cars like this anymore.

In fact, if I looked through my files there’s probably way more yellow then I imagine. But let’s just focus on the yellow of late summer.

It’s a special time of year.

Sunflowers in August flaunt their yellow.


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Smile of the week.

When I got home from the latest camping trip this week I noticed the zinnia garden in the back yard was in full bloom.

Our little zinnia patch in full bloom.

Can’t frown around a big ole patch of zinnias, in fact every time I notice them out there I break out into a great big smile.

Brilliant color makes me smile.

What made you smile this week? Write a post, link it to Trent’s and join a merry band of smiling people from all over!


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Some of my favorites

I’ve been camping, two different camp sites, six nights total. My goal was to figure out more about night sky photography…

This is at the top of a very long, very steep sand dune. There are signs at the top warning people not to run down because it’s so difficult to get back up. There’s a $3,000 fee to get rescued. Still, a whole cross country running team was climbing back up when I was there.

…but of course I didn’t sit around all day just waiting for it to get dark.

I saw lots of pretty stuff way up in northern Michigan. I took fewer photos than I would normally because I was looking for things I hadn’t shot before.

On a quick hike in the tip of Michigan’s little finger the sun hit these maple leaves and mesmerized me.

Sill….sometimes I couldn’t help myself, even if I’d seen it, shot it, and filed it before.

But today I think I’ll just share with you my four favorite images from this trip.

The tart cherry trees are still heavy with ripe fruit. I caught these red coated trees, standing with military precision, and had to go back for this shot. I walked down a long farmer’s lane, hoping not to get kicked off his land, and as I got halfway to my target I found a field filed with wildflowers. So I pushed my way into the middle of that field and shot the flowers in front of the trees. This image made me smile really wide, even before I saw it on a larger screen.

None of them were the image I was hoping to get, but that’s still out there and I’ll try again.

One evening I went up to the Mackinaw Bridge. I hadn’t been successful getting the stars, so I figured I’d concentrate on the bridge lit up. It was a wonderful evening. This was 15 seconds, F22, ISO 100.

That’s one of the fun things about photography, there’s always something more to accomplish.

My campsite at the Pigeon River Forest. I was too scared to wander away from my tent at night. But it was pretty there too.


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Still smiling

Trent coordinates a smile a week blog post, asking people to share something that’s made them smile each week.

Well, currently I’m in one of my happy places.

Pt. Betsie on a windy wet afternoon.

And it sure makes me smile.

The Coast Guard on patrol.

What made you smile this week? Post about it and link up to Trent’s blog, he’ll recap on Monday.

Lots to smile about this week!


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Smiling on the run again

I’ve got this road race coming up at the end of August. It seemed like a good idea when I registered and paid the pretty hefty fee months ago. But now August is sneaking up on me and I’ve been away from home for weeks at a time not training.

Oh, I took running clothes with me wherever I went. I’m sure they were quite comfortable sitting nice and secure inside my luggage.

Meanwhile, I need to get back on track. I’ve given myself permission to walk as much of the ten mile race as I need to. I’ve never run the whole thing, and I’ve run this race a bunch of times over the years. But still it would be nice to finish in a reasonable time. At least within the same day. Walking is sooooo slow!

A running friend and I are planning on doing the race together, at least part of it. Funny, we are both worrying about whether or not we can stick with each other. She’s training by running 4 minutes, walking 1 minute. I’m training by running a quarter mile, walking a quarter mile.

I think my run portion likely is about 4 minutes, though I’m not sure. It’s a proven fact that it is impossible to do math in your head while you’re running and this morning I was trying to divide my average time into quarters to get some idea of my pace. I definitely know that my walk portion is way longer than her one minute walk break.

Today I did six miles, at my favorite park, trying to get a feeling for my speed, or lack of it. I tried to find the stopwatch on my phone app, but realized pretty quickly that I can’t actually see my phone apps without my glasses. So I don’t know if I’ll be able to stick with Betty at our race, but I’ll work between now and then to run her style, 4 minutes of running, one minute of walking.

We’ll see how it goes.

Meanwhile, here’s a montage of pretty things I saw on this morning’s run/walk.

So…how does all of this fit Trent’s weekly smile? Well, it felt great to be back at my favorite park, one where I used to run long every Saturday with a multitude of running friends. Lots of beautiful things to see, so I took photos during my quarter mile walks.

During one of those walk breaks a beautiful doe stood just behind a bush, she stared at me, I stared at her. Would have been an amazing photograph, but my phone didn’t have enough storage to take one more image. So she and I just watched each other for a long time. Made my mile 5 extra long, but extra special. So it all balances out.

I think I was smiling the whole six miles. In fact I was so happy to get the six miles done that I pulled into a cupcake place on the way home and bought a lovely lemon creme cupcake.

No I did not!! But I did look longingly at the cupcake place as I drove past. Hope the thought of a lemon cupcake made you smile!

But really, please write a post about what you’ve smiled about this week and link to Trent’s blog. He’ll recap all the smiles next Monday. It’s always good to begin Monday with a bunch of smiles!

Can’t wait to see yours!


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I’ve been waiting mama

Katie here!

I know for a fact you’ve been missing me, cause I haven’t been able to blog for months and months! OK. Weeks. But it feels like forever!

I’m bored mama!

There are a lot of reasons why I haven’t blogged, most of which have to do with the fact I haven’t done anything fun in ages. It’s not fair. Mama has been gallivanting all over the world.

And where did I get to go?

Seriously bored, mama.

I got to go to the kennel, that’s where I got to go! I seriously don’t understand why mama thinks that’s an adventure. I mean, while she was climbing mountains in Norway and the Hill in D.C. I was napping in my cell, um…room at the kennel.

Don’t get me wrong, they treat me fine there, but it’s definitely not an adventure.

I don’t think this is the kennel!

So yesterday, when mama got up early and started hustling around I got sort of nervous and went to hide somewhere, hoping she’d forget I was around. But that never works, and it didn’t work this time either.

A pretty river runs through the park.

I ended up in my crate in the car and we drove for almost an hour. I was definitely nervous when she opened the door, but you know where we were?

We were at Deuce’s house!

This is my friend Deuce!

Boy oh boy, I haven’t seen my buddy Deuce in a long time! This was way better than the kennel!

Being at a park is way more fun then the kennel or the groomer or the vet!

And then we all went, Deuce, his mom and mama and me, to one of his parks! It’s a perfect little park, just my size and it’s all shade.

Deuce and I spent a long time sniffing stuff, he’d be up front doing the scouting for us, then I’d come along and sniff the good stuff that he marked for me. It worked perfectly.

We’ll sit next to each other but we’re not thrilled about the interruption to our sniffing.

Of course along the way the moms had to make us pose for pictures. I swear, I try to use my new deafness as an excuse not to follow directions but darn mama uses hand signals so I end up posing for her.

We saw a couple deer in the park, a mama deer and her baby. My mama only got good pictures of the mama deer, after we moved on we looked back and saw the mama licking the baby’s face. It was so cute, but there was too much brush between us to get a good picture. Mama was still glad she saw it through.

You can see the two, mom and baby, looking at us, even though the photo isn’t in focus.

After we made one tour of the park I still felt good so we walked around it again. This time we noticed the numbers and we found the number 12 for me, cause I’m 12 years old!

Look! They’re celebrating my age!

The vet a couple weeks ago said I looked real good for my age and I have to agree I’m fabulous.

So anyway, that’s my adventure, and I’m grateful to my Aunt Karen, Deuce’s mom, for inviting us over to his park and for being patient when I was a little slow.

Sitting in a spot of sun for mama.

Though to be honest, it wasn’t always my fault. Don’t forget, I had mama attached to me and she has that darn camera that slows her up all the time. She’s always taking these artsy-fartsy pictures.

Mama is fascinated with light.

Frankly, if the focus isn’t me I don’t think it’s worth taking up the pixels.

Am I right or am I right?

Talk later, your park girl Katie.

I think I deserve a treat.


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The illusive camping birds plus a robin or three

I like site #16 at our local state park because it’s always filled with birds, many of them different than the birds that visit my feeders at home.

A yellow warbler hides in plain sight.

Camping there this week without Katie to distract me or them, I sat quietly through most of a day, camera in my lap studying how they worked the shrubs for food. There was wild cucumber as well as wild grapes winding their vines all over, and though the fruit wasn’t ripe, they seemed to be enjoying it.

I don’t know if this is the same bird, see the black around it’s eye?

This little yellow warbler worked his (or her) way up and down the branches, picking off green fruit as it went.

Giving me the cold shoulder.

I couldn’t get a good image, because it never stayed still, and mostly hid behind at least one layer of leaves. It would pop out for an instant and then be hidden again.

Incoming!

I tried for hours.

While I was concentrating on the little yellow bird I noticed a robin hopping around near my feet. Sometimes he’d stop and stare at me, and I realized I had a big container of blueberries open in front of me.

Hey lady! You got anything good over there?

Did he want one?

Well of course he did! Obviously he has been successful begging campers before.

Nom nom nom

The whole three days I was there a robin stopped by and begged for a treat. I don’t know if it was the same one, but at least once there were several be-bopping around.

Thanks lady!

And I had this visitor, I don’t know what this is, but he (or she) stopped by a couple of times.

He’s got a dark patch on his head that you can’t really see here.

And this one….this one seemed interested in the blueberries and chased a couple of them down when I tossed them his way. But he didn’t eat any of them. I don’t know what he is either.

About the same size as a robin, but slimmer. Maybe because he doesn’t eat blueberries.

At one time there was a perfect shot, he flew up on top of my tent with a small insect in his mouth, but of course my camera was over on the picnic table so I just watched him as he watched me.

Maybe a young something?

None of these bird pictures are great. I have excuses, the light was low, the birds were fast, I didn’t have the right ISO or shutter speed. But it was good practice for me and I’ll try again soon.

Meanwhile if you know what those last two birds are, let me know!

Site #16.


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It’s all about the light. Plus other camping tales.

We returned from D.C. a week ago today. I was so exhausted, so overwhelmed by crowds of people everywhere we went, that I needed some quiet time.

So I booked a campsite at the nearby state park for three nights, avoiding the weekend deliberately because no matter where I’ve camped sites fill up with crazy people starting Thursday afternoon.

Luckily for me my favorite site, #16, was open for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

Site #16 is kind of sweet!

It’s my favorite site at this state park because it’s almost entirely surrounded by trees and underbrush, making it much more private than most of the sites.

I didn’t even take Katie, I was that tired. I planned on sleeping long in the mornings and doing nothing more than walk in the woods, read books and take naps.

Morning light deep in the woods.

Most of that happened.

When I checked in on Monday evening the ranger warned me that there were a “bunch of teenagers in site 12.” I wasn’t that worried, I figured there would be some laughing and squealing and music during the evening but my experience has been that everyone sort of settles down at 10 p.m. when quiet hours begin.

Not so much with these teenagers.

A bit of bee balm reaches for the light.

They were playing rap loudly when I arrived, and continued that throughout the evening, and well after midnight. Sometime during the night I heard a sound like a bunch of metal pipes falling. Then lots more laughing and yelling. Eventually, around 1:30, the music stopped and silence prevailed.

Early the next morning as I silently walked through the campground on my way to a walk in the woods I saw this.

Oops. One side of their camper collapsed.

I laughed, even while hoping no one was hurt.

My walk was wonderful, four miles took me two hours, caused by the hilly trail…and the fact I was taking pictures, practicing the manual settings that I learned last Sunday at my lavender field photo shoot.

Trees reaching for the light too.

The morning light was wonderful, sliding sideways through the trees. So many things were pretty that I had to stop often. That’s my excuse for my slow time. I’ve found it’s always good to have a camera around to use as an excuse when you’re just moving slow from lack of sleep. Most of the photos here are from that walk.

Don’t forget to look down sometimes, lots to see there as well.

Tuesday night a marauding groundhog woke me as he was snuffling around my tent for about an hour. Then coyotes howling far away kept me from falling back asleep. Still…that’s what camping is all about.

Wednesday I spent most of the day at my site, trying to get a decent picture of a yellow warbler that was flitting around. I didn’t end up with a great picture, but I’ll show you what I got in the next post.

Such fun stuff to see no matter where you look.

Then…Wednesday night. I really really wanted to get a good night’s sleep on my last night camping. But that wasn’t going to happen, because across the street, out of my sight, but right on the other side of the narrow park road, two huge campers were parked. Their many children were loud all day, but that was fine. The moms yelled, loudly, at the kids all day long, but that was OK too.

What wasn’t Ok was that after the kids went to bed the four adults sat around a campfire and discussed loudly most of the world’s ills. I am guessing what they were talking about, because it sounded like an Eastern European language, but it was obviously something they were very passionate about.

Touch-me-not with morning dew.

The four of them talked louder and louder, talking over each other excitedly. It woke me up at 1:30 and went on until almost 5 a.m. At one point I got up and walked to the end of my driveway, listened a bit and realized they weren’t talking louder than they had been all day. Maybe this was just the way they talked. Sure they’d been drinking, but they weren’t sloppy drunk.

A peaceful morning doesn’t always mean a peaceful night.

Maybe it was just the night air that made it sound like they were sitting around my fire. I went back to bed, drew the blankets up over my head and tried to imagine that their voices were just the sounds of bullfrogs singing.

The frogs actually were singing, but I couldn’t hear them over my neighbors talking.

I don’t know what this is, but it was very cool.

So, night three of little sleep. The first night I told myself not to let six teenagers ruin camping for me. But with two out of three nights ruined by rude noisy people I wonder if maybe camping has lost it’s appeal.

I don’t know. Maybe I should try again somewhere further away from the city. Maybe I should have called the night ranger. Maybe I should have just gone over there and asked them to pipe down.

What would you have done?

Twisted logic?


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Just imagine the smell…and the smiles

Trent, over at Trent’s World urges us all to post one smile a week, because we could all use a smile now and then. I’m been absent these past few weeks, not because anything terrible has happened, or because I couldn’t think of any smiles. No, I haven’t posted a smile in awhile because I’ve been so darn busy, or out of town, or forgetful.

Maybe all of the above.

Breath in deeply and try not to swoon.

But this week I can’t but help sharing a smile. Specifically a very sweet, heavily perfumed smile. The kind of wide smile that happens when you see fields and fields of lavender in bloom.

Which is exactly what happened to me.

For a moment I thought I’d been transported to France.

I signed up weeks ago, long before our D.C. trip, even before the Norway adventure, for an evening photo shoot in a lavender farm located about an hour away from me.

Then I forgot all about it.

Peddling some lavender.

Good thing I put it on the calendar in ink, just to remind me, otherwise I’d have missed this heavenly opportunity altogether. And that would have been a shame, because I couldn’t stop grinning the whole evening.

Smells yummy.

Imagine.

Ready to make some lavender honey.

A small group of photographers and a whole lot of lavender, lining up in rows, topping hills, glowing in the sun.

Some of our class having fun out in a field.

Alive with bees and butterflies, the purple heads nodding in the breeze or reaching for the sky.

Rows and rows and rows of lavender.

Did you know there’s white lavender too? Me either.

And a few other photo worthy things as well. Some of them were placed there by the lavender farm itself, as points of interest for photographers.

Waiting for a rider.

Some of them were just growing wild along the edges of the fields.

Trying to blow free.

All of it was just wonderful.

Evening sun made the orange pop.

There was so much to see, let me insert a little slide show here.

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As the sun went down we were reluctant to leave. But we had our lavender shots and all that was left was to capture the sunset. So we did.

Lavender sky over lavender fields.

I can’t fully explain what a treat this was, and I thank Bob Ditommaso, a professional photographer who teaches great classes, for putting these opportunities out there for us.

That’s Bob in the blue shirt.

It was a fun evening, I met some great people and I finally figured out how to capture images totally in the manual mode on my new camera. That’s been so frustrating for me and I was grateful for the “aha!!!” moment I had out there in the lavender.

If you want to understand your camera better, and you’re in the Detroit area, take a class from Bob, and then join him and some other great students for one of his meetups.

Guaranteed to be phenomenal.

Phenomenal lavender too.