Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Musings

I’ve been thinking, since I’ve been injured, about how hard life can be when you have a disability.

I broke my little finger Saturday. Seems a small injury, but it’s wrapped up in a cumbersome cast that engulfs most of my right hand. And the same fall re-injured an older wrist problem on my left hand, so there’s a splint over there too.

It all makes me pretty useless.

For example, I was talking to my brother and sister-in-law who were concerned about my fall, with the phone propped awkwardly between my two useless hands, when I realized fibers from my cast on my right hand had become attached to the velcro on the splint around my left hand, essentially gluing my hands together. I kept talking while sort of waving the whole mess at my husband, silently asking for help.

Ridiculous.

Last night I couldn’t get my socks off. Neither hand could grasp the back of a sock much less had the strength to pull. I finally used the toes of one foot to push the sock off the other. Then repeated the maneuver.

And don’t even ask how taking a bath while one arm is encased in a garbage bag works. Turns out you can’t hold a washcloth or soap with that hand at all, which makes washing the opposing side of your body pretty much impossible. But hey, I had a nice warm soak which felt pretty wonderful.

Yesterday, the day after the injury, the dog asked to go out very early in the dark morning like usual. She doesn’t care about her mama’s finger. I got my shorts almost wrestled on using one hand but I couldn’t get the zipper up, the shorts were hung up low on my hips. Well, it was 3:30 and dark out, I figured I didn’t need them zipped.

Then I couldn’t get my sweatshirt on, my bound up hands didn’t fit through the cuffs. I left the sweatshirt hung up on my hands and half way over my shoulders. Obviously that didn’t zip either.

By then Katie was hopping up and down in anticipation and I couldn’t get the leash attached to her collar using my only my left hand. After much groaning and improvising, and some sweat, I managed, though my hand was starting to throb.

Katie and I wandered the yard, me hoping my shorts stayed up and for no cars to come by, her enjoying the cool morning breeze. I was looking up at the stars, thinking about nothing much when I realized I should probably be watching my feet instead. I couldn’t afford to trip, over Katie or a piece of sod. I didn’t have a spare hand to catch my fall. The Cheshire cat smile of a moon illuminated our path as we carefully made our way back to the house.

Today I’m in sweats and an oversized t-shirt and Katie walks the house dragging her leash. My hand doesn’t hurt as long as I keep up with the Tylenol and don’t bang it into things like walls or cupboard doors.

I didn’t bother with socks.

I have appointment tomorrow with a surgeon. I’m looking for good news. Meanwhile I’ll keep improvising.

I’m grateful this isn’t permanent.


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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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Conflicted

I don’t want to talk about this and maybe that’s the problem. Maybe no one wants to really talk about this, to leave our own biases behind and talk and then listen without interruption to the other side of the debate.

I wasn’t exposed to guns growing up. My parents didn’t hunt, I didn’t have any friends that hunted. I have cousins that hunt but I was never actively involved. The closest I’ve been was to walk by deer hanging in the back of a pole barn, and though the first time was startling, I didn’t have an objection, knowing they used every possible part of the deer as a food supply for their family and friends.

Tree peony at it’s peak.

Still, I’m not personally comfortable with guns. And sometimes that bothers me, because I don’t know how to understand both sides of the gun debate. I’ve even considered taking a lesson or two, in order to know what it feels like to shoot a gun. Though that feels a bit intimidating.

But I do question the need for the average citizen to own automatic weapons. And yes I know I don’t even know the differences between them. But weapons that allow a shooter to pull off multiple shots a minute, kill and injure so many in the first moments of an attack, well, I just don’t think those should be in the hands of anyone but active military.

Blue thoughts this morning.

We hear the arguments against banning assault rifles every time the topic comes up. The constitution gets waved and we’re reminded it guarantees gun ownership. And besides, we’re told, these weapons are already on the streets and we’d never get them away from the bad guys anyway.

But I don’t think the writers of the constitution, when they were giving us the right to bear arms, knew anything about the devastation created by an assault rifle. I doubt they could even imagine such a thing. Moreover, banning a certain type of weapon or accessory doesn’t ban all weapons, doesn’t take away a person’s right to bear arms.

And if we don’t begin somewhere, don’t attempt to make our country safer, then what?

Geranium looking for a bit of light.

Do we just continue down the road we’re on now, where every few months people, sometimes dozens of people, lose their lives for no apparent reason? People just doing their jobs, running their errands, going to school, seeing a movie, enjoying a concert? Attending their place of worship?

Do we just continue to watch the news, see their faces through a fresh sheen of tears, while inside giving thanks that it wasn’t someone we knew, no one from our family? And do we just keep saying, sometimes out loud, that someone ought to do something? And then let it slide from our mind as we go about our daily lives?

Virginia Beach victims, photo from the internet.

What will it take for people in this country to have an honest discussion about the whole problem. Not just the guns, I realize there’s a problem with our mental health system too, but guns can not be left out of the equation.

What will it take for all of us to leave our comfort zone behind, leave our assumptions and personal histories behind, what will it take for us to face this uncomfortable place where we sit across from family and friends with opposing views and just talk.

And then come up with some viable first step.

My bleeding heart is fading among the forget-me-nots. I am not immune to the irony of that.

Sandy Hook with it’s children and teachers lost should have been everyone’s last straw. That tragedy should have been the catalyst for change, but even that loss wasn’t enough for most of us to be brave.

It’s complicated. Change is hard. But this morning, as I wandered my gardens looking for a peace I didn’t find, I grew convinced we have to try.

Can we find the light?

Because how many lost is the magic number, how many shattered families are too many, what does it take for us to grow up and do the hard work to become a responsible nation?

Can’t we be the adults here and sit down with someone we know holds opposing views and talk? I think we have to.

It would be a start.

Forget-me-nots remind us to never forget.


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Running toward the past

Once upon a time, more than two decades ago, I joined a online group of women who wanted to run. I met some of them out at Kensington, my favorite park, and that first day we walked and ran around the lake, eight miles. We walked the uphills and ran the downhills and had a great time talking.

Today I ran behind this guy for quite awhile, but at 3 miles I turned back and he kept going.

Over the years we’ve run plenty of training runs either together in person or together in cyberspace. Plenty of races too, including several half and full marathons. We’ve even been on a few road trips to do races, those are the most fun!

And after each race or long run I’d post my ‘nature report,’ things I’d seen along the way. Even in marathons I could usually remember one thing from each mile to comment on in my race report delivered to our common website after I was home.

The cowslips and most of the trillium are gone, but I found a few still blooming.

Then, ten years ago I ended up with a stress fracture in my right foot, training for a local half marathon, and the running, for me, stopped. I stayed in touch with the group though, cheering on those who were still running, celebrating life events like children’s weddings and the birth of grandchildren too.

The group is much smaller now, but they still support my attempts to get back to running. On my 60th birthday I met some of them for a race in a small town several miles away. Some of them did a half marathon, I did the 5K and then waited to cheer them in after their race. (If you want a giggle, read the post at the link above.)

I don’t know what this is, it was about knee high, all these blossoms are connected to one stem.

Still, even after that I didn’t get back into the running groove. And time moved on.

I miss my friends, I miss the comradery of preparing for a race together, even if it is online. I miss writing my nature reports.

There’s quite a bit of this, reminds me of perennial geranium in my garden.

So a couple of months ago I registered for a local race. It’s a 10 mile race in Flint Michigan at the end of August, and I used to run it all the time – I think the first time I ran it was 1990. In the past decade I’ve run the 5 mile event, and I’ve walked the 10 mile, but I haven’t really trained to run the long, hot and humid race.

And now that I’m registered, well, I have to get cracking. So for several weeks I’ve been trying to get out the door every other day at least for a long walk. And in this past month or so I’ve been adding running bits.

This little whippersnapper passed me a couple of times. Then she’d walk and I’d pass her.

At first just a quarter within each mile. Sometimes not even that. Some days are just walk days. But this week I had a four mile run/walk where I ran the middle two quarters of each mile back to back. A half a mile each mile run.

OK, so run might not be exactly the right word. It’s not that I’m fast. But still.

Then she got further ahead and when I went around the next corner she was long gone.

Some weeks are better than others, and I’m worried that I’m nowhere near ready to do 10 miles, but I’m trying not to get injured, so I’m going slow.

I’ll be traveling a lot this summer which always makes it more difficult for me to train. But I hope that we’ll be doing lots of walking and somehow I’ll stay in shape.

Hot and sweaty but still smiling.

Once I get in shape of course.

Set the phone camera on ‘selfie’ and held it under the may-apple leaves, shooting up.


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Don’t take your hands for granted

Monday this week I went for a long walk. I’ve been trying to do that more often, and even though it was cold and very windy I decided I was going to stick with the plan.

Out at the park there was about a mile and a quarter out in the open before the bike path turned into the protection of the forest. I held my hood over my face, bent my head and tried to walk that part as fast as possible.

Once in the woods things were decidedly better and I began to enjoy myself, glad I had stuck with the plan. Still winter hasn’t let go of us here in Michigan and there were dark, seemingly just wet, spots on the path that I skirted because I knew, with temps below freezing, that they’d be slippery ice.

The plan was to walk 6 miles, and just before the 3 mile turn around there was a very large and very wide dark patch. With steep declines on either side of the bike path there was no good choice for going around. Reminding myself that I needed to be careful, not wanting to fall way out there in the woods all by myself, I inched my way across what seemed to be just wet pavement.

And suddenly I noticed that both my feet were up in the air in front of me. And just as suddenly I was flat on the path.

After a quick check that nothing seemed broken I rolled to my knees and crawled to dry pavement. The only thing that hurt were my hands, and those weren’t that bad.

I felt lucky.

Back at the car I posted pictures of the walk, checked my emails and prepared to drive home. But steering hurt my hands, and they were getting worse. I drove home slowly, using my forearms and elbows. My husband wrapped both hands in Ace bandages and I took a bunch of pain relievers to get some sleep, hoping the next day things would feel better.

But things weren’t better in the morning so we went to the doctor who took xrays, proclaimed no broken bones, and prescribed splints and heavy duty pain relief. And now I’m in day three of wearing splints.

I miss my hands.

I had a good friend in college, and for almost 30 years after, who had rheumatoid arthritis. Her hands were in a permanent curve, and she used both of them for simple things like holding a mug, or opening doors. These past three days I am the same, and I’ve been thinking about her a lot.

Michelle was eternally happy, she was a bit older than the rest of us and we used her as a mom substitute. She was the best listener and I wonder, now, if she realized how silly our young problems were. She kept on enjoying her life, though she was in constant pain, until lung cancer, probably caused by the meds she had to take, claimed her 15 years ago.

This week, though the splints make life more difficult, I appreciate the lesson my injured hands have taught: Don’t take hands for granted, they are under appreciated and needed for almost everything.

I’m hoping to be out of splints and back to normal by the end of the week. I’ve got a concert to play on Tuesday.

And I’m pretty sure I can’t do that without my hands.


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My name is Dawn and I’m an email hoarder

I know I have a hard time throwing things away, especially if there’s even the most remote connection to someone or some event that I enjoy. Just look around my house and you’ll know I have a little problem.

But I’ve just discovered I’m an email hoarder too.

This week I got a warning from the god of gmail telling me that I was almost out of space and I either had to make space or buy more space. I didn’t know there was a limited amount of storage in gmail land, but the notice did remind me that lately I haven’t been keeping up and whole days go by when I don’t read or delete them.

Maybe, if I’m honest, several days of any given month go by with unread and unsorted messages.

Oh I’m not ignoring all of you. Well. I guess I am sort of. I do scan the list of emails daily, looking for a imminent crisis or a class I might enjoy, or an invitation to something fun, or a catchy blog post title.

Even then I sometimes just star it so I can find it later.

So I wasn’t that surprised to look at my gmail account and see I had over 9,000 emails sitting there taking up space. I figured if I hadn’t gone back to read them and nothing terrible had fallen out of the sky to dampen my day I could just delete a few thousand of them without looking.

I find it’s easier to toss things out if I don’t look.

So for the past few days I’ve been deleting, in batches of 100 because I don’t want to delete all 9000 emails – there are more recent ones I might want to read. Really. But then I realized that all of these ‘deleted’ emails were sitting in the TRASH, and my numbers of stored messages wasn’t going down, it was just getting reorganized.

The warning at the top of my email account said one of the ways I might lighten the load was to empty the trash. Sure. But I couldn’t find TRASH in the long list of stuff on the left. And I didn’t have the patience to dink around looking. I remembered from a long time ago that you had to do something more than just scroll, but I couldn’t remember exactly what.

So I kept deleting from the back of my email list and figured eventually the gmail garbage truck would come by and empty my trash.

But this morning I got mad looking at that warning, so I sat down with a cup of tea and a buch of determination and asked the internet – “Where is the trash in my gmail, and how the heck do I empty it?”

That internet is so smart! It popped right up with the answer, as it appears I am not the only one that couldn’t figure this out. I had 8,000 items in my trash which I quickly deleted permanently. The message warning me about space restrictions is gone.

And my tea isn’t even cold yet.

But I have to say if Google wasn’t trying to sell everybody more space don’t you think TRASH wouldn’t be hidden? Shame on you Google. Taking out the trash shouldn’t have been such an effort.

Even for this technically challenged senior citizen.

I put this pretty picture here as a reward for slogging through my rant. 🙂


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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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Photography makes me fat

I admit, the title of this post wormed it’s way into my brain during sleep last night. It made perfect sense then, but it’s less clear in today’s snowy morning light.

I weighed myself yesterday because my knees, hip and legs ache most of the day and night. I particularly notice my knees when I’m carrying the dog, an extra twenty pounds on top of my own extra poundage.

Snow is on the way.

In my sleep I analyzed the situation. I rarely take long walks anymore. When I do walk, even on short neighborhood strolls, I almost always have a camera, though sometimes it’s just my phone. There is always something to stop and take a picture of.

Always.

So the walk turns into a photo shoot. Very few calories are expended while leaning over a mushroom or shooting up into trees.

Let’s go for a walk before it snows more mama!

I wear my Fitbit and religiously note the dismal number of daily steps. Even knowing I’m barely moving doesn’t get me off the sofa. It’s just so warm and snugly there. And here comes winter in full force. Record breaking cold is on the way. More snow. Little sunlight. The odds or me taking more steps slips lower.

But! We have a perfectly good elliptical in the basement. It’s been there for years and I’ve used it twice. It’s hard. It’s boring. But I have no excuse, something has to change, probably more than one something.

Darn. Change is hard.

Don’t stop visiting us lady!


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Resolution, bucket list, or….??

As usual this January there’s been a lot of talk about resolutions, bucket lists, and goals. Some people are setting expectations while others are happier letting 2019 evolve organically.

It was 51degrees in January, the sheep were loving the sun.

I’m still contemplating the whole issue.

I definitely don’t like resolutions, have never kept one in my life. But I do think that I would like to have a written idea of things I want to do this year.

Not a cloud in the sky.

Not a ‘to-do’ list per se. But something in writing to remind me of good (or who knows, maybe not so good) ideas. Things that occur to me as I’m reading, or driving, or dreaming, that I might forget over time.

Nothing that I have to do. Just things that I think I’d like to do. Or maybe something I might like to explore. Or even something I just want to research while I decide if it’s bucket list worthy.

Winter can wear a barn down.

Some people object to the term bucket list, inferring it’s a list of things to get done prior to death. I can see that. Maybe I’ll rename it. Maybe it can be “My list of interesting, fun and stupendous stuff to try in 2019.’

Yea. That sounds better.

No snow protects these fields. Yet.

So, what’s going to be on this list of stupendous stuff? I’m still working that out, but it’s beginning to occur to me that it can be ever changing. After all, stupendous doesn’t reveal itself only in January.

Sweet little barn sits alone.

Photos for this post were done today as I was practicing with my new long lens. I didn’t find a lot of barns on this exploration, but enough to get the feel of it.

I’m pretty sure some of my stupendous list will revolve around learning more about what this new camera can do.

And to find more barns.

Sunshine, new camera and barns.


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2019 Bucket list

Donna, over at My OBT (My One Best Thing), put together her 2019 bucket list.

What a great idea!

Blue sky and clouds, perfect for contemplation.

Of course this kind of thing takes some thought. She has 14 items, I don’t know if I have that many things I’d like to do or accomplish in 2019.

Which makes me wonder if I’m being lazy. Or maybe I’m just enjoying retirement’s freedom to do anything or nothing at all.

Evening light is good for contemplation too.

Anyway…

What should be on my bucket list for 2019? Things that are substantial enough to be noticed, but not unattainable.

Ideas are incoming!

I’m not at all sure I can get that list together before tomorrow, the first of January, the beginning of 2019. But I think early January is a good goal.

What’s on your 2019 bucket list?

2019, a long and winding road.