Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Practice

This post is going to try to figure out how to insert other types of pictures. The old WordPress let you do collages, and small images, and place them to the left or right. The new blockhead WordPress, so far, hasn’t let me do any of that.

So here goes.

Nope that didn’t work….but I can make headings….

And I can add a picture and words in the same block…

And I found a sort of collage, see above on the right. I don’t know why it ended up there…or why it’s all crunched together when I preview it, it’s not that way in the edit mode…but that’s the way of WordPress’s blockhead new program. I wonder if I can find other things.

And you know what else? I can’t figure out how to eliinate an image I insert. Once something is there I can replace it with something else…but not eliminate it totally. Well. That’s odd. And annoying.

Forest.

Even a child knows how valuable the forest is. The fresh, breathtaking smell of trees. Echoing birds flying above that dense magnitude. A stable climate, a sustainable diverse life and a source of culture. Yet, forests and other ecosystems hang in the balance, threatened to become croplands, pasture, and plantations.

I can add an image inside an image, but I didn’t choose the forest, it got chosen for me.

I don’t know….all I’ve figured out is that there’s a lot more to find if I take the time. But not everything works the way I think it should.

I guess I need to keep digging.

The randomness is intentional, because that’s the way I feel about the “new” WordPress.


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Chasing the stars again

Every year I reserve a camping spot somewhere up north for mid-August in the hopes of being in a dark place to wittness the meteorite showers. Almost every year I am foiled.

Drove right through farm country.

Back in March I booked the last campsite at Port Crescent State Park which has a Dark Sky Park just a couple miles down the road from the campground.

But the sky didn’t look promising.

Of course, booking in March for August means you have no idea what the weather will be like once you’re there. And of course this year, while last week was clear with no chance of rain, this week, when the meteorites should be peaking, is forecast to be hot and stormy.

Harvesting in the heat.

A great debate ensued as my departure date grew nearer. Should I cancel or should I go north and see what happens? The debate grew more interesting when I received an email from the state park indicating there would be no restrooms, due to a sewer problem. Right. Stormy and no bathrooms.

Heavy skies, but lots of barns.

The answer seemed obvious. I should cancel, especially since they’d refund my registration money.

Do you see the red/orange left on the barns? I thought it looked great with the orange lilies below.

So I went anyway.

When the soybeans turn yellow this will be stunning.

The drive up was not encouraging. The skies were overcast, then filled with heavy clouds.

This little barn, with the queen anne’s lace, is one of my favorites from the trip north.

But my navigation system, instead of sending me up the freeway, took me on all backroads. Right through farm country. Filled to overflowing with barns.

The cows didn’t seem to be uneasy about the weather. Of course they get to see stars every clear night.

So. Even if I didn’t get to see meteroites or stars or anything I was after, I’d be sure to catch a few barns. So it was a win, right?

I liked the yellow stripped field against the purple clouds and the white windmills.

Well sort of. Just before I left I was messing around with settings, reading my manual and moving through the menus. I did something so that every image was severely overexposed. And I couldn’t figure out how to fix it.

Barns and windmills and perhaps sugar beets.

So I drove north frustrated with the weather and my camera, and the fact I couldn’t find my Kindle so nothing much felt right.

Held up by the vines.

But I added almost 2 hours to the 3 hour drive, because, well, barns.

Barns were everywhere. But so were the clouds.

And when I finally, FINALLY, made it to the lake the sky was clearing.

The cool blue sooths me.

There just might be a chance that my very first night I’d get the shots I’ve been dreaming of.

Might see some stars tonight!

Unless…

Not much of a sunset. But there is hope for the night sky.

Well, you’ll have to wait and see.

Saw this guy as I headed to my car for the trip to the Dark Sky Park.


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Reaching for a smile

I took this photo last month on my way to meet my college roommate for a couple hours of peaceful kayaking at Kensington Metro Park.

The light caught my eye.

For whatever reason I never looked at it once I downloaded all the images from that day. I guess I was focused more on our time together and the water.

But I turned around to get this image, early that Sunday morning, and I think it deserves some time in the spotlight, because it definitely made me smile that day (I think I may have squealed. Out loud.) and again today after I found it in my archives.

This week I’m feeling some anxiety, so I was having trouble finding a smile. I don’t think it’s wrong to reach back a little when grasping for smiles, do you? We’re all lucky if we have those memories to grab when we need them.

I hope you have found your smile (or maybe even multiple smiles!) this week. Thank you, Trent, for reminding us to keep looking for them!


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Midsummer morning

I feel as if summer is sliding away from me, days turning into minutes, weeks into moments. Yet it’s only the beginning of August, there’s plenty of summer left, especially for a retiree. Right? Being retired is enough to make me smile, but my walk on a midsummer’s morning made me absolutely grin.

The dreaded first sighting of goldenrod.

I was out at my favorite park this past Thursday, while it was still July, while I could still consider it mid-summer, and yet I felt fall encroaching.

Beautiful, but I’m not ready for leaves turning yet.

I went with my biggest lens, the better to see birds in their natural space versus standing on my outstretched palm.

But of course I did have a few birds in my hand. Can’t not do that.

But what I found instead was a whole forest filled with youngsters. And I don’t mean the busses of preschoolers that arrived as I was leaving. Thank goodness.

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

I have so much to show you from my walk in the woods, I don’t know if I should break it up into two posts, or if you’ll have the patience to read one long post.

Joe Pye is beginning to bloom.

I don’t even know if I have the patience to write one long post.

The grasses are maturing.

You can always scroll through and just look at the pictures. I have a feeling the words will be minimal anyway.

Wild grapes are beginning to pink.

I got to the nature center early in the morning, but on the drive through the park I noticed my favorite willow tree island had a beautiful swan. So after I parked I walked back along the bikepath to capture her as she preened.

Was she using the water as her mirror?

Notice the grey pile of fluff off to the right? That is her baby, or maybe more than one, I couldn’t really tell. Her partner is swimming behind the island, couldn’t see him well either.

Her little one (or more) are well hidden in the shade.

But she (I’ve decided it’s a she, I really don’t know) sure was taking her time getting beautiful that morning.

Looking stunning that morning.

Then I walked back to the parking lot at the nature center to get the rest of my gear, and found this exhausted and hungry mama, right beside the bike rack.

Eating at the parking lot salad bar.

With my long lens I was able to get quite close without interrupting her breakfast.

And beside her, on the other side of the bike rack, were the normal crane parking lot greeters, getting spruced up for their shift of collecting the lot fee from everyone arriving to enjoy the trails.

Hurry up Henry, we’re going to be late for work!

Lucky for me I got there before they clocked in.

So I headed into the woods…

The bridge to the woods.

…and met this guy right away. He already had breakfast so I didn’t offer him anything more.

You’re not going INTO THE WOODS, are you?!

It was right about then that I noticed a sense of fall seeping into air. I shook it off and ventured further into the dark cool green, and interrupted two moms and their little ones having some breakfast of their own.

Family brunch interrupted.

I stood there a long time watching them watching me.

Mama and her mini-me.

This little one was intensly curious about me.

Should I run or should I stay?

And then I heard a titmouse, just over my right shoulder, angrly asking why I wasn’t providing a snack. So I handed off a peanut and moved on.

Hey Lady! Fork over the peanut! I know you have one!!

I only saw one other person my entire walk in the woods, and that was another photographer.

I see something right over there…

As soon as he got down from the bench and moved on this mama came out of the brush.

Is he gone yet?

I took a different trail and moved deeper into the woods. The long lens wasn’t really the right choice with so little light. But I didn’t want to stop to change it because you just never know what you’ll see.

Oops, thought it was another deer!

Or how far away it might be.

Way over there on that ridge is another exhausted mama, chewing her cud and watching me.

But the mosquitos were beginning to follow me. I pictured myself running out of the woods with a swarm of bugs trailing me, sort of like a Bernstein Bear cartoon. I moved faster.

After clambering over a downed tree that crossed the trail I was shooting an image of a tree damaged in the recent storms where the fresh wood had a similar color to deer, confusing me for a moment…

Kind of the same color as the deer roaming these woods.

…when out of the corner of my eye I saw more of that reddish brown.

Another mama and her baby hoping to have an undisturbed meal.

These two didn’t seem to realize I was there. Until mama did.

Lady, you need to move along now.

The baby didn’t seem too bothered by me at all, but I went on down the trail so they could enjoy mama/baby time alone. Plus I was beginning to get hungry myself, it had been a long time since my own breakfast, and I was still deep in the woods with a long walk back.

See you later, lady!

I tried not to stop anymore as I booked it out of the deep woods. Except when I saw something interesting. Or fun. Or both.

This says late summer to me for sure.

But mostly I was trying to get back into the open where the breeze would keep the bugs from swarming around my head. Yes, I had applied bug spray before I left the car, but not on my hands, because I knew I’d be feeding birds. I guess that made me fair game for the mosquitos.

Bet you didn’t know crocodiles lived in the woods!

Back out in the open I had a nuthatch and a chickadee makeing big noises about getting a treat, but they wouldn’t come down to my hand. I finally figured out that maybe they were this year’s young, and not quite confident about the whole process of coming in for a snack.

Tell me how this works again, lady?

But eventually they both came down, after doing a fly over or two to check me out.

This peanut is almost as big as me!

The sky was getting dark and I figured it would soon rain, so I headed back to the car. Climbing the stairs to the parking lot I could hear people, cars and busses.

Change of shift for the swallows.

I was glad I’d gotten my walk in the woods finished before the masses arrived. Time to head back home to the princess who would just be getting up from her morning nap.

Earlier in the morning there were deer and cranes. Now bikes rest while their people explore.

It was a good midsummer day all around.


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National Sisters Day

Hey! Katie here!

Guess what? (You’re never going to guess.)

Nothing better on a nice breezy afternoon than a snooze on the deck.

Don’t I look cute? Yes? Well you know what? That’s not me!

This isn’t me either!

Surprise!!! I have a half sister and she lives kinda near me too! She and I share the same dad. She’s twelve years old, and she and her mom have done obedience together, just like me and my mom. Well, not just like, Payton and her mom were much better at it than we ever were!

Both of us hanging out while the folks talked.

Payton’s mom found us when we were listed in the catalog for one of our obedience trials. She contacted mama right away, but for some reason we’ve just never made the time to get together.

Here we are! Surprise!

But, as you know, time keeps marching on and the moms decided if we were going to meet we better hurry up and make a date. So on Saturday mama and daddy and I went over to Payton’s house!

The moms set us up together and than my mama motioned us to come so she could take a picture, but Payton didn’t get released by her mom so she sat still like a good girl. I am smiling because I think I won the race!

I was sort of scared, cause I thought we were going to the vet. The vet is pretty much the only place I go these days, and it’s never good news for me when mama and daddy are both up early and moving quickly through the house.

It’s like I have a mini-me!

I shook and panted the whole way over there (which took about a gazillion hours in dog time) but when we got there and daddy got me out of the car I could tell right away that we weren’t at the vet! It didn’t smell like vet at all!

Who’s got the treats people?

And then these nice people came out to pet me and I liked them both right away, and then we went around to the deck and there was this little sheltie girl. My goodness she is beautiful! (Of course she is, she looks like me!)

Payton got to run her own race for a treat. I told her I’d sit this one out.

She’s smaller than me, but she has a big personality. We touched noses and then sort of sniffed each other and then we pretty much ignored each other. That’s how shelties roll you know.

Isn’t she beautiful?

So the parents sat and talked for awhile and Payton and I mostly napped. Then we all decided to go for a walk on their land. Payton is so lucky! She has lots of acres to explore right there at her house! We walked on a beautiful mowed loop, most of it was in the shade so I liked it a lot!

It’s hard to tell us apart from behind too.

Of course mama had her camera. She kept making Payton and me sit for photos. I told Payton about my one shot one treat contract with mama. Payton doesn’t have any such contract with her folks, but I definitely think she should. She sits still way too long if you ask me. Personally I won’t stand for too much of mama’s photography foolishness, it gets in the way of me smelling all the good stuff.

Payton’s yard is just wonderful! I’d love to walk there every day!

Anyway, after we went for a walk we sat on the deck a bit longer, and then Payton’s mom went and got Payton’s little sister who had been waiting in the house all this time. Her name is Tally, and though she’s younger than Payton she’s a whole lot bigger!

I thought Payton’s mom was bringing out treats, so I went to the door to wait. Boy, I was surprised!

She’s a beautiful Gordon Setter and she’s as tall as the table! It must be fun to be her, she can help herself to her own treats! Personally I think shelties are height-challenged, but obviously we make up for it in cuteness.

Tally has the most beautiful eyes.

Anyway, it was getting time to go, so I went over to Payton’s dad and jumped on him to say goodbye. And to check if he had any treats of course.

Thanks for the great morning, Payton’s dad!

Then Payton and I both checked in with my dad.

We both need a treat before I hit the road, daddy!

It was the best day ever! I haven’t had fun like this since the whole covid thing happened to you humans! Visiting Payton was way more fun then vet visits or the groomer, and certainly better than camp!

Yep, we had a great time together. Especially when there were treats.

Who knew I had a sister? And Payton’s mom says today is National Sister Day, so I knew I needed to tell you guys all about mine! She’s sweet and beautiful and smart, just like me.

Mama sometimes got us confused when we wandered by her. Hee hee!

I sure am glad the moms organized the playdate, it would have been very sad if I never got to meet my sister. I hope I get to go on another walk with her later in the fall.

I think the moms love us very much.

Until then, sister, you keep your folks in line and I’ll do the same with mine. I hope I see you again soon!

I’m telling you Payton, one picture, one treat. You gotta let your folks know who’s in charge!

Love you lots,

your sister Katie.


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Smiling on a hot summer evening

The county fair is back. The fairground is in my tiny town, a little over a mile from the house. When Katie and I camp in the backyard during fair week we can hear the monster trucks, the announcer, the fireworks, the roar of the crowd.

What do you think is the best part about a fair…the food? Or the rides?

The noise doesn’t bother me, it’s only for one week and it’s the epitome of summer in the midwest. I have so many memories of the county fair, not this one, but the one we used to go to when we were kids.

Food? Or rides?

Which pretty much is exactly like the one I wandered this week. Big barns full of rabbits, goats, chickens, cows, and sheep waiting with their young person for their turn in the ring to be judged. Another barn full of sewing, knitting, canning, flower arrangements, and artwork, each a project of some young person, some with ribbons already attached.

Maybe the best thing is the games, though nobody really wins anything. Do they?

I was a 4-H kid in the 60s. I knit, mostly because I hated sewing which seemed to be my other option. Each year I entered a misshappen sweater at the fair. I think sometimes I won a ribbon, but I don’t remember.

The excitment that only the young can experience on these things.

I also don’t remember riding the midway rides, though I’m sure we did. We probably had some number of rides budgeted. We sure didn’t have free reign to ride as many and as often as we wanted.

I bet their hearts were beating fast while they swung in the darkness.

This year I noticed that there were bracelets available that let you into everything at the fair. All the rides, the shows, and who knows what else. They were $25.00 each.

How many funnel cakes can you buy with $25?

I don’t think I’d be able to ride enough to make that purchase worthwhile. Not without throwing up at least once. And there’s no way my folks would have sprung for a wrist band, even if there had been such a thing back then, for all four of us kids.

The Sizzler sizzled into the night.

Nope, I’m sure we could pick out one ride that we wanted to do and that was probably it.

Maybe the best part of a fair is just spending time with your friends.

But I do remember a booth where you could drop paint onto a spinning canvas, then you got to take your creation home. I had that painting for years. That was probably 50 years ago and it’s the most vivid memory I have of the county fair growing up. It still makes me smile.

I think I could ride this one.

We don’t go to the county fair every year these days, even though it is right in our town. And of course last year there was no fair.

Or maybe not.

So it’s been a long time since I’ve gone. But this year it seemed like a celebration of the return of something fundamental, and I looked forward to going back for a walk around.

There’s no calories in cotten candy. Right?

Wednesday evening turned out to be the moment, and I arrived just as the sun was going down on a hot afternoon.

This ride might be safe for me.

Most of the families with little kids looked exhausted. Many of them were leaving, but the young people were just arriving. I was there to mess around with the camera once it got dark and the midway lit up.

At least you could get your vegetables.

It’s not a big fair, it takes only minutes to see everything. But with each round I made I saw different images. I should have had a tripod, but I didn’t want to haul anything extra.

Ride this one before you eat any of the fair food.

All of these shots were handheld, most of the time letting the camera choose the ISO. Sometimes I delibertaly made the exposure longer to blur the lights. That was the most fun, just to see what came through.

Add the moon and it was a pretty special night.

Mostly I was there to have some fun, just like all the rest of the folks standing in lines for rides and food. It’s just my idea of fun involves more about the camera and less hanging upside down from a midway attraction.

Round and around they go.

But if I was 50 years younger I might just have tried those flying swings. I think even my stomach could have handled that.

Best view at the fair.