Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Park season

Let’s get going mama!

Katie here.

Hey! I bet you figured out that when mama and daddy went to Washington DC I didn’t get to go. Nope. I got left at ‘camp’ and I think I got gypped. Mama and daddy got to eat out at fancy restaurants and got to see the monuments and got to go to the zoo and I got to….well…I got to eat my dinner on time every night. I didn’t even have to bug anyone to get it! Not like here at home where I have to remind mama loudly and persistently every single day that it’s almost supper time!

Anyway…

Mama said it was too hot in DC for me, she told me I wouldn’t like it, but I think she was just telling stories to get me to feel better. On the other hand, it’s been really hot here too, way too hot for me to have any adventures at all.

But yesterday it rained real hard and I had to bark at the ceiling for a long time. After I made the rain go away it was a lot nicer outside. Mama and I even slept in our tent in the back yard! I love to sleep outside and I didn’t get mama up until 5:00 a.m. She was pleased cause usually I’m getting her up somewhere between 3:30 and 4:00. Every day.

And this morning mama was cold! That hasn’t happened in a couple of weeks. She said it was a good morning for a walk at my park! Did I want to go?

Come on mama!! It’s a great morning at my park!

Did I! Of course I did.

I cried at the front door until she hurried up and got herself together and off we went. We even got to go in daddy’s truck! I used to be afraid of his truck because it makes a different kind of noise, but I’m a big girl now and I love to ride up front with mama. She doesn’t let me do that very often cause she says I’m not safe up there, but once in awhile I get lucky and there isn’t any gas in my chariot.

We got to my park while the grass was still damp, early in the morning, and so we were surprised to see a Little League tournament going on. Tiny little kids in cute little uniforms filled all four softball fields. So we went to the other end of the park and walked the other way around.

Sigh. I had to stand on this bench. Again. She makes me do this almost every time we come here.

Mama was sort of worried about me because I was walking really slow. But she let me have as much water as I wanted, and let me walk without being on a leash and I just wandered at my speed. At one point she asked me if I wanted to go back, maybe I didn’t want to go all the way around the park.

I told her she was crazy, I wasn’t going to turn around now that I was finally out there! I just needed to go slow as befit my advanced age. I’ll be twelve in December you know, so that makes me eleven and a half. Almost as old as her.

Nothing interesting back here mama!

Besides, going slow I got to sniff everything. Some of it twice. Mama said that was OK, it had been a long time since I’d been there, and who knew when it would be cool enough to come back. She said she didn’t have anywhere to be, so she let me take as long as I wanted.

Of course, in return I had to pose for the typical photos. But she gave me a treat for each pose, so I was good with it.

The pond is looking good today mama.

It took us over an hour to go a little less than a mile. Mama says we’re not going to win any races and I had to remind her she’s not training for any races anyway. Sometimes mama forgets she’s not a young pup herself.

Besides, the delay wasn’t all my fault. Mama sneezed at one point and I had to take several minutes to bark at her. After all it’s my responsibility to make sure she’s OK after she sneezes like that.

Bad mama! No sneezing allowed!

When we finally got back to the front of the park I sat on a hill and watched the little kids play ball. I have always loved to do that, even back when I was little too. I like to see the kids run around the bases and sometimes there’s a treat or two or ten lost in the grass that I can snitch.

You think they’ve got any treats over there?

I wanted to get closer to the action but mama said no. I thought she was being mean, but then I realized I was getting sort of tired and needed to take a nap, so we headed back to the car.

Come on mama, time to go home!

Mama says we’re going on a big adventure pretty soon. I don’t know what she’s talking about but it better not include being left at ‘camp’ again. I’m staying vigilant, but if any of you guys know what’s up please let me know.

A girl’s got to have an escape plan ready.

Katie here, signing off for now….zzzzzzzz….

Shhhhhhh…don’t wake the sheltie.


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Yellow flower photo shoot

It looks like yellow waves mama!


Katie here. I know, I know, you’ve probably been wondering where I’ve been. Well I haven’t been doing anything exciting, that’s for sure. Mama has been busy with her camera and taking a lot of pictures that are not me. I don’t know why. Surely there is nothing as beautiful as me. Mama is fickle and I usually just ignore her.

But sometimes a princess has to speak up and I think it’s about time that I point out the lack of adventure around here. Totally unacceptable.

You’ve got a treat over there…right?

Mama did take me over to my park a couple of times this spring. She likes to do a photo shoot of me in the pretty yellow flowers. She says most people don’t like these flowers but she thinks I look beautiful sitting in the middle of a huge field of yellow.

Well of course I do mama. I look beautiful no matter where I’m sitting, and I thought all my loyal fans would like to see some of the photos featuring me instead of some anonymous birds.

The crab apples are almost ready to bloom too!

I know mama likes to take pictures of birds, but truly, don’t you think she should stick with me?

Anyway, we had fun over in the field filled with yellow flowers, and mama has promised me an adventure real soon. In fact she says I’m going on my adventure this afternoon.

It’s such a pretty day, let’s stay here for awhile!

Wait a minute.

I’m going on my adventure? Why isn’t she going on my adventure? I’m not sure I like the sounds of this at all. If you get a phone call from a payphone it’s probably me. I’m counting on you to come save me!

You’ll come save me….I’m just sure of it!

After all, a Princess knows she can depend on her loyal subjects. Right!!??

I’m counting on you!


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WordPress Photo Challenge: Place in the World

The photo challenge this week is all about place – where do we go when we need comfort or to feel creatively challenged?

Many of you can probably guess where my place is, whenever I can get there I love to be on the shores of my Lake Michigan.

But sometimes it’s not possible to travel the four hours to get to my lake. Lucky for me I have a park not so far away that provides similar inspiration and comfort. You’ve seen me visit Kensington Metro Park frequently too.

Isn’t it amazing that a person can feel a special connection to more than one place in the world? I feel very lucky.

What’s your special place? Where do you feel most at home? Is it a nature filled place or a city close to family or somewhere in between? I look forward to seeing your place!


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What I did on Mother’s Day

I’m not a mother, unless you count Katie-girl and she doesn’t recognize holidays. My own mother has been gone almost fourteen years, and though I miss her every day, this year I just didn’t have a traditional Mother’s Day post in me.

So I went out to my favorite park to spend some time among the birds that she loved. I feel like I got to spend some time with her while I wandered the woods and wetlands.

It’s a green spring here in Michigan.

There were lots of people, large groups, families, mostly noisy people there on this nice Sunday after days of rain. I wasn’t expecting to see much in the way of wildlife. But I was wrong.

I saw so much I don’t think I can share it all with you in one blog. So maybe I’ll just share with you a few (define few) of my favorites and not try to take you along on the whole walk.

While I was taking pictures of shaggy hickory bark I heard wings fluttering near my head. It was this little guy being quite persistent about wanting a treat.

Hey lady!

I held out my hand and he hopped right down. He was thoroughly disgusted that I didn’t have anything for him.

Seriously? Is this some kind of joke?

He flew off and sat on a branch talking to me. OK, OK I said, reaching into my pocket for a bit of seed.

Thanks lady!

You win.

But the highlight of this walk were the pileated woodpeckers. I saw one as soon as I turned off the main path. I heard him first and I stopped to look.

Looking for lunch.

I got to show the family walking behind me this amazing bird. He didn’t seem skittish and I watched him for a long time before moving on.

The family, now ahead of me, was excited to see a herd of deer not too far off the path. I didn’t expect to see anything when I got further up the path, but there they were.

All these people are interrupting my lunch!

I was looking for trillium, a flower that blooms in the woods here in Michigan. Around the next corner I saw a few, smaller this year than usual, but still pretty. I crawled down a steep creek bank to get an image…

Small white blossoms shine among last years leaves on the forest floor.

…then climbed back up the bank to sit on a bench and enjoy the scenery. As I flipped through the photos I’d taken so far I heard a pounding. What was that? I looked around and found a pair of pileated woodpeckers flitting around down along the creek. I crept up closer and watched.

There must have been good stuff in that stump.

They didn’t stay anywhere for long, and I have a lot of really bad images of blurry bird parts. But finally one of them stopped long enough for an unobstructed view.

A good spot to rest for a moment.

I sat there a long time, watching them and smiling. Eventually I realized a little friend had ventured up on the stump next to me. Begging for a bit of a treat.

Looks like he’s had plenty of treats already today.

Of course I tossed him a seed or two. Or three.

Just being in the woods was fun, even when there weren’t any birds to entertain me. The spring is so green, and everywhere I looked there was something interesting.

Tree art.

Time was passing and I felt like I needed to head back to the car. I was as far away as you could be and still be on the nature trails. I picked up my pace, intent on getting home to make dinner. Once again I heard fluttering near my head. This time it was a nuthatch wanting my attention. They’re usually a bit shy, though I’ve had them eat out of my hand before.

Got any more lady?

I held out a few seeds and the nuthatch flew in and grabbed one and then quickly flew off to some fallen trees. He did this a couple times, returning to my hand so quick that I didn’t think he was eating the seed. And then I saw him doing this.

No one will find it under here!

He was hiding the seed for future meals! I think anyway, maybe he was just doing aerobics. Each time he took a seed he flew to a different spot, depositing the seed and then rushing back for more. Such a little clown.

And while he was doing that, as I was standing there in the woods, interrupted on my rush home, I saw out of the corner of my eye this couple:

I’m just guarding my woman.

They were just across the creek. She was busy eating and he was busy showing off. There were several turkeys over there, but he was the only one obviously in a relationship.

I turned and headed back toward the parking lot. On the way I ran into another cute little woodpecker. He didn’t really want his picture taken so he moved around behind the old cattail reed he was working on.

You can’t see me. Right?

But I’m patient and eventually he worked his way around the stalk, intent on getting to something.

I’m not going to look at you lady!

I was almost back to the boardwalk and I figured I’d check out the heron rookery. Turns out it was really quiet, but there was plenty of other things to look at there, including some beautiful lily pads…

Colors everywhere, even in the water.

…and this guy.

Just doesn’t seem like a comfortable way to nap.

Most of the birds I saw during the day were making noise. That’s how they got my attention, whether they wanted it or not.

Singing her heart out.

But some were pretty camouflaged while looking for good stuff.

What’s that over there?

Until one of them looked up to see who was watching them.

You looking at us?

It was such a beautiful day, this Mother’s Day, I hope you got to see or do something fun, with family or on your own. I realize how lucky I am to have such a wonderful place to explore with my mom.

I know she loved it there as much as I did.

I’ll pose for you lady! I brought my own lunch!


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Benefits

Katie here!

If you’re Facebook friends with mama you know she’s working on a new challenge. She calls it her #365project. Seems like mama always has some project going on but most of the time I ignore it because it’s not about me, and, as I’m a princess, I believe it should always be about me.

Come on! We’re going for a walk!

But this project is brilliant! It makes mama go on a walk every day and post a picture on Facebook of something she saw. Think about it. A walk every day!

Even before the leaves come in there’s plenty of pretty in the woods.

And guess what? Sometimes mama takes me along with her! I’ve been to more parks in the past 13 days (today is day 14 of her project) than I’ve been in months! Why this week alone we’ve been to three parks!

It’s a perfect day for a walk!

I tell you, mama should get involved in stuff like this more often! I can’t believe my luck, though yesterday we didn’t get going until late in the day and it was too hot for me.

It’s hot mama, can we go back?

We only got a few hundred yards into the woods when I turned around to go back to the car and air conditioning. Mama said that was OK, we still got a walk in. She’s a good egg, my mama.

Earlier in the week we were at one of my parks and mama was busy taking pictures of pretty things that were not me! Most of the pictures in this blog post are from that walk. It was rainy and cool, perfect for a Sheltie Princess.

We had time to enjoy the reflections on the quiet lake.

Also perfect because no one else was out there and I got to walk off leash. When mama was busy taking pictures of not me I got to wander around. Mama didn’t worry, because she knows I won’t go very far away from her.

I’ll wait over here mama.

We saw lots of pretty stuff, even on a gloomy rainy day. It was one of my best walks ever!

The willow trees announce spring.

Mama said she was a little worried about taking on this 365 day walking project, but she’s been enjoying herself, and I love the fact we get to go go go! You might want to try it too. Don’t let the big number overwhelm you. Take it one walk at a time.

And if you’ve got a Princess (or Prince) at home, bring them along too. It’s good to spend time together outside exploring.

This path looks interesting.

You’ll both enjoy it!

Less talking, more walking mama!


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Birding with a friend

Yesterday I got to go on a dog-less adventure with a friend. It rare that either one of us spends time at a park without our girls, but today it was all about the birds. With our pockets filled with bird seed and cameras slung around our necks we headed out to my favorite park on a perfect morning under clear blue skies to see what we could see.

Almost immediately we noticed a trio of sandhill cranes snacking, not far from the trail, in a grassy wetland meadow that had been burned by the rangers days before. I especially liked how they blended with the lines of the grass stubs.

If it weren’t for that red head patch I might have missed seeing this guy.

It didn’t take them long to notice us and head our way. They were expecting breakfast and I guess they can’t read the signs up in the parking lot — “Do not feed the cranes.” Since they were almost as tall as we were we decided not to begrudge them a bit of the seed in our pockets.

After breakfast preening.

Also they were blocking the path and we had to pay the toll in order to move along. I think it’s a racket they have going there, but I’m not going to report them, because it was a wonderful experience to be this close.

Stunningly elegant.

I wouldn’t want you to think we spent all day with the cranes. We moved one way on the path and they went the other way, looking for their next patsy and another handout.

Further into the woods we were approached by several chickadees and a titmouse or two. We stopped to share our provisions with them all.

Choosing the perfect seed.

Some of them were quite choosy, and took their time picking out the perfect seed. Others barely touched down before they were off with their prize.

I’m outta here!

Directly over my head was a curious woodpecker. We thought he might come down and join the banquet but he stayed up in the tree watching me. When he turned a certain way the sun caught the bright red cap on his head. He made me smile and I dropped the seed in my hand to get a quick image of him.

Whatcha got down there lady?

I’m sure that made him smile too because after we moved on he enjoyed the meal I left behind.

Some of the birds were harder to spot than others; this blue heron sat silently in the reeds watching us go by. He wasn’t in the mood for birdseed. If we’d had fresh fish in our pockets things might have been different.

See him off in all those cattails?

Our trail followed the shore of a lake which is teeming with birds and wildlife. In the center of the lake is an island with a rookery, the tops of the trees filled with huge nests, inhabited year after year by a large group of herons

The heron condos are full up this year.

I need a longer lens to really get a good look, but you can see how fascinating it is to watch the comings and goings of the adults as they prepare for the arrival of the young ones. Later in the season it gets even more fun to watch the teenage birds try out their wings.

Maybe it was the noise at the rookery that sent that other heron off to stand among the weeds for a little peace and quiet. Understandable.

Heading out to get lunch. Or just to find a peaceful place for a nap.

Back on the boardwalk and almost back to the car we came across these guys.

Dancing to their own beat.

There were several of them all lined up, mostly staring up at the sky. I’m not sure if they were watching for the space shuttle to go by overhead, or were doing some sort of mating dance. Either way I enjoyed watching them. Look at all their colors shining in the sun!

And just so you don’t think we ignored anything without wings…

Thanks for the treat lady!

…here’s a couple of non-bird things we ran into. Not literally. Cause this guy is not someone I want to get that close to.

Whatever kind of snake this is, it’s the biggest one I’ve ever seen.

So now you’ve seen the most interesting things we saw yesterday. We were only going to be out there for a coupe of hours, but it was so much fun that we ended up staying well into the afternoon. It was a perfect way to spend a spring day.

Even though we didn’t spend it with our dogs.

Thanks for the grub ladies, come back any time!


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Neither here nor there

Katie here, continuing my travelog. Mama and I are headed home to daddy, and today is our second day of driving. All day. Yesterday I wasn’t very good about being in the car for so long, but I can explain!

Which looks better? Me or the mountains?

No one told me that we were driving home! I thought we were just going to the beach or the park and I didn’t understand that I’d be cooped up in the car all day! So I kept asking mama if we were there yet and by the end of seven hours she was about over the whole travel with Katie-girl thing.

So she says.

What a pretty day to travel!

Today I was a lot better, though by the last hour I did throw a bit of a fit. After all, my supper was more than 2 hours late! I had to remind mama that it was unacceptable to hold up a princess’s supper.

Anyway, we drove a little bit of the Blue Ridge Parkway on our way north. Not a lot of it, mind you, cause mama is on a mission to get home, but we got to see a little bit of it. She loves the layers of blue.

Perfect!

Me too, I could sit and look out over the view for a long time. Or until someone gives me a biscuit.

Enjoying the view.

Speaking of which, I’ve been snacking on treats Reilly’s mom packed for us. My guy even gave me heart biscuits! He’s a special guy, my Reilly.

Thank you Reilly sweetie!

Mama is really enjoying watching spring unfold all over again. It was spring weeks ago in Alabama and now that we’re in Kentucky we get to see the redbud and dogwood trees blooming all over again.

Isn’t this pretty?

And the deciduous trees are just budding out, with red and peach and orange and lime green making the mountains just glow in the sun. Mama couldn’t get a good picture of it cause she was driving. But the image below she took when we were at the Kentucky welcome center. The trees were on the other side of the freeway, and the light wasn’t as perfect as she’d seen when she was driving, but you can kinda see how beautiful it is here this time of year.

Can you see all the colors ?

Tonight mama is worried and is watching the weather channel. It looks like tomorrow we’ll be driving right into a bad storm. She can’t decide if we should get up early and try to beat the storm home, or if we should stay here for another night. But she says it would probably be two more nights because Saturday afternoon all the way into Sunday looks bad.

I don’t know what we’re going to do. Mama says we should get some sleep and see what tomorrow looks like. I personally think we should go back to our lake house, but mama says she has stuff to do in Michigan.

Glad we had a good day, cause tomorrow is going to be different.


Stuff to do? I thought she was retired!

Signing off….your travel guide Katie-girl.

Just another photo of me. Mama just won’t quit.