Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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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.


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Trent’s Weekly Smile or A Bird in the Hand

During the holidays I’ve lost track of Trent’s Weekly Smile challenge, but surely there are things to make me smile this week. After all Christmas was just this past Tuesday.

Come along with me, there’s got to be something to smile about down here!

Still, I was feeling kind of blue, typical for me around this time of year, with the anniversary of my dad’s death on the 23rd. And this year I had the loss of two people I’d call friends, one in his 80s who was a big supporter of our community band, another a friend from almost forty years ago, someone I haven’t seen in many years but still count as a friend. Both died this week of cancer before Christmas had a chance to arrive.

So early this morning I headed out to my favorite park with my new camera, intent on figuring some camera stuff out while searching for a smile. This park never lets me down.

Even though it’s winter there are still colors here.

My goal was to figure out the manual settings on the new camera, how to set the aperture, the iso, the shutter speed. I’d read the manual and I’d searched youtube. Still, though it made sense while I was sitting on the sofa, I hadn’t been successful on the fly once in the woods.

New ice.

Maybe without Katie to distract me I could figure it out today.

I hadn’t intended to grab images of the birds eating out of my hand this time. You’ve seen those before.

Sure, I’ll pose next to these berries for you lady. That will be one seed please.

But I did have a pocket full of seed, hoping to lure them to me so that I could get good photos of them in their ‘natural’ habitat.

Got anything for breakfast lady?

But darn they were cute on my hand too. They were so hungry! I think I was the first human out there and as soon as I started down a trail they’d be swarming overhead.

Wait your turn!

So I set the camera back to auto and tried to get those iconic ‘eating out of my hand’ shots.

Back off titmouse!

One thing I noticed is that it was harder to get a clear focus. I think I’ll need to work on that. And I haven’t figured out how to fire off a bunch of shots at once yet. So I missed a lot of stuff. But I still had a blast.

Does this seed make me look fat?

I didn’t spend too much time feeding the birds at the beginning of the trail, I dropped some seed and moved along, and around the next corner was the flock of turkeys.

Nom nom nom nom.

I tossed them a bit of seed and kept on walking. The birds were following me and making a fuss so I stopped and took a video with my phone just to show people how crazy it was. And while I was doing that a male cardinal showed up.

Surprise!

This has never ever happened. I’ve had a cardinal here and there that was interested in the fact I was feeding the birds, but they’ve always been too shy to hop up on the hand themselves. They generally waited till I tossed some seed on the ground and moved away.

Good seed lady!

This guy startled me, I’d been focusing on the little birds and suddenly my hand was full of a big red bird!

He sat there and ate until he finished all the seed. I talked to him, stopped the video and clicked through some stills, he tipped his head and looked me in the eye, then casually selected another seed.

Yep, I’m pretty from all angles.

He was obviously king of the birds, because all the little birds waited on the ground or flew around my head while he was eating. One chickadee was braver than the rest and did a fly-by and grabbed a seed without stopping. Everyone else waited respectfully.

Meandering makes me smile too.

Finally he finished the seed, nodded at me and flew off across the swamp. I couldn’t stop grinning.

And that’s my smile for the week. A cardinal sat on my hand for a long time. Maybe he was sent from Aunt Vi, or my friends who have recently moved on. Maybe he was just a hungry bird. I don’t know and it doesn’t matter.

These guys are still hanging around. They make me smile too.

I couldn’t ask for a better smile, it’s one I’ll remember forever.

And when I got home this little bit of nature was napping on our deck.

I hope the images here made you smile too.

Magical.


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A Christmas visit to pay respects

This afternoon, with the sun popping in and out of high clouds, I visited the nearby veterans cemetery hoping to find images that remind us all how important the people resting here were and still are.

The sky couldn’t decide between clouds and sun.

When I first arrived the sun was hiding and the images seemed flat. Still, there were stories to imagine as I read headstone after headstone.

Everybody here has someone missing them.

There are so many buried here, with room for thousands more. It’s a peaceful place way out in the country, surrounded by farmland, far away from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Still there’s a bit of Christmas tucked among the stones.

A wreath stands among the white headstones.

Some sections of the cemetery had wreaths placed against each stone, other sections had what looked like more personal decorations, perhaps placed by family members.

Some holiday cheer in a solemn place under dark skies.

I was just about to leave, not pleased with the images I had, when the sun come out, spotlighting the edges of the lines and lines of stones.

Sunlight changes everything.

Then a gun salute went off somewhere on the other side of the cemetery, and taps was played as another soldier began eternal rest. And the sun continued to shine, showing this place in all it’s beauty.

The sky clears.

If you have a similar cemetery near you, take some time and explore it, even if you don’t have family or friends there. There are many stories on the headstones, each one telling us a bit about the person resting below.

Notice this young man died at 24 years old, and the stone just to the left and back one row was a WWII vet, dying in the same month and year, but with so much more life lived.

We owe them at least a bit of time. I think you’ll find it a beautiful experience, especially this time of year.

Wishing you all joy and peace this holiday season.

Merry Christmas Mr. Kirchoff.


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Sharing the light

On this last night the Jewish Hanukkah I wanted to share an image:

I borrowed it (with permission) from Daily Musings at A Day in the Life.

I share it with hope that we can all become more tolerant. I believe that all religions are variations on the same theme and that we are not so very different.

Let this year be the year we begin to objectively listen to each other.


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I could use a bit of heat, light and holiday spirit

It’s been almost a week since I posted last. It’s not that I haven’t thought about it and all of you. Ideas for posts have slipped through my mind. Bits and pieces of stuff most instantly forgotten.

Fleeting morning light.

I’m distracted and I don’t know why. Could be that it keeps snowing and it’s cold. Could be that we haven’t had more than a few hours of sun in over a week. Maybe it’s the 7 day forecast which shows more snow coming.

And did I mention the cold?

Winter arrived early.

I have no plans for Christmas other than to take the dog for a walk somewhere fun. Unless it snows. Or maybe because it snows. She likes snow.

Me? I don’t think I like snow all that much any more. I remember as a kid having fun building snow forts and sledding down hills and ice skating on the lake. But these days I hurry the dog along on her walks and when she’s outside doing her business.

Quit being a drama queen mama, it’s not that bad.

It’s cold.

Why is it that when you’re traveling and it’s cold it’s fine, it’s part of the adventure. But when you’re home and scraping ice and snow off the windshield in the early dark morning it’s just about too much to bear?

Sometimes snow, sometimes fog. Sometimes both.

Alabama calls me.

But I’m trying to be a responsible adult and I have commitments here in Michigan that I need and want to honor. The most pressing of those being the Christmas concert I’m playing tonight at a local high school. I made a commitment at the beginning of the season to play a certain number of concerts. The dates were provided at the start.

To bolt for warmer temperatures now would be wrong.

Katie says she likes the cold and I should get over it. Katie doesn’t scrape the windows of a car whenever she wants to go to the park.

Can we go play now?

Maybe I should work on my Christmas cards to lift my holiday spirits. On the other hand so far we’ve received only three cards, one from our stock broker, one from Katie’s kennel, and one from an exceptionally organized friend.

It’s possible I’m not the only holiday spirit deprived, disorganized and distracted person out there.

Holiday spirit from another year.

If you need a holiday boost and you’re local, stop by the Clarkston high school tonight about 7 and hum along to some music in a warm auditorium.

I promise any snow you see there will be fake, but the holiday spirit will be real.

Happy Holidays!