Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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A little attention please!

Katie here.

First of all, how long has it been since you’ve heard from me? I asked mama very politely to please go back and look and has she done it? No! But I can tell you it’s been very very long time in dog years.

Mama! I never get to do anything fun!

And it’s not as if I have nothing to share with you, why it’s been…well…come to think of it, it’s been quite boring around here! Mama and daddy are around more than usual and you’d think that would spice things up a bit but in reality having them around so much just interferes with my naps.

I haven’t been anywhere special since I went to the vet and got my teeth cleaned way back in the middle of March! That was no fun, they pulled six teeth! Mama felt really bad. I made sure to mope around for a day to make her feel extra sad.

The most exciting thing I do is sit around in my yard on my princess pillow.

But I bounced back because I am a sheltie and shelties definitely bounce.

Anyway, since then not to much has gone on. Mama took me to my park (finally!) last week. It was really windy and cold. I thought it was perfect. Most of the pictures in today’s blog are from that walk.

I’m getting a little shaggy with no spa day in sight!

Mama said I looked extra beautiful in the breeze because I haven’t been able to go get my furs cut. Don’t tell anyone, but that’s just fine with me. I am not enamored with the whole bath thing. I would like to get my nails done though.

This sure feels good!

Mama tried to get photos of me when the wind was coming from all directions and my fur was going in all directions too. She said it wasn’t easy.

How often you gonna try for the perfect wind-swept image mama?

Mostly she says it’s not easy because I have that one shot, one treat rule, right? So I’d keep getting up and coming over to her for my treat just when she was going to get the perfect shot. So she says.

They planted daffodils at the entrance to my park!

Being deaf has it’s advantages you know. Not hearing mama say “STAY!” is one of them. Oh yea, she uses the hand signals too, but I figure her broken finger makes that signal void. You know what I mean?

This is a really pretty park, I don’t know why mama needs to lollygag around taking pictures though.

So other than that walk it’s hasn’t been very exciting. It’s getting warmer and mama is busy weeding and stuff. I’d just as soon hang out in the house. If she wants to go sit on my deck, well that’s good, I’ll go do that. Mama says that’s more fun anyway.

It’s kinda nice right here on my deck!

And she went camping last night, out in the yard. I didn’t want to go do that either. Made mama very sad. So to cheer her up I agreed to go to my park this morning and see my Aunt Karen and her boy Deuce and go for a little walk together.

Boy was I in for a surprise! Meet Ace! Deuce has a little brother! This is the only picture you will see of the two of us together.

Ace is a 10 week old cocker spaniel.

Let’s just say maybe we’re not going to be best friends. At least not right now. I imagine he’ll grow up to be OK, after all, his brother Deuce is one of my best friends! Maybe I’ll go for another walk with him when he’s about seven. Yea. Seven is a good age.

Mama took a bunch of pictures of him. I was sort of jealous…I’m sure you’ll see all sorts of cuteness in an upcoming blog.

Ace, during a brief moment of stillness.

But remember…I’m the princess and I get final say on what she posts…so if he’s too cute I might have to get out my veto pen. Of course she’d have to use it, I don’t have thumbs.

Mama said we might go back tonight when it’s cooler and do my dandelion photo shoot. I don’t know about that. We’ll see how she’s planning on paying me.

Anyway, that little guy about wore me out and I need some serious napping. I think I’ll send mama out to weed some more.

Talk later, your park advisor and senior puppy mentor, Katie-girl

Me today at my park, before I knew there was a little guy coming on my walk!


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Breakfast – the most important meal of the day

After a few days of nothing but clouds and rain it was a relief to see the sun rising this morning. Apparently the birds in my backyard were happy too, as the feeder was as busy as Grand Central Station during the morning commute.

Not a great picture, but it makes the point that there was much coming and going this morning!

Everybody was flying in to grab a seed, though most of them were chased out by the next wave of incoming.

He would have stayed longer but at least he got some ‘to-go.’

The little birds, the chickadee, titmouse and nuthatch were mostly rousted out by bigger birds.

Scored one seed, will be back for more when it’s quieter.

Meanwhile, on the deck, someone else is getting a drink.

Always something good to drink here.

And another was just watching all the goings-on.

It’s way too busy for me on that feeder!

I was standing in the breakfast room, trying to get shots around all the distractions, lots of feeders, the dog in her pen, the railings were all things the camera wanted to focus on rather than the birds themselves.

But, regardless of my shortcomings, the birds kept on giving me fun images, even if most of them were never going to be stored on my memory card.

Incoming!

The comings and going were constant.

Next!

Just when one bird got comfortable and was enjoying breakfast another, usually larger and often noisier, swooped in and took over.

The biggest of all was this guy.

A large male grackle arrives late to the meal but manages to get a seat at the table.

He made quite a show, puffing up when he saw anyone else attempt to move in on him…

Don’t even try it!

…and giving the evil eye if the puffing up didn’t work.

The ‘look’ usually worked.

Still, a foolish little goldfinch wasn’t paying attention.

La, la, la…happy little goldfinch coming in for brunch.

He made a couple of circles, surveying the situation.

Maybe if I circle behind him I can squeeze in.

He wasn’t about to give up.

Maybe from this angle…

But in the end the poor guy had to concede that he was no match for the huge and boisterous crackle. After all, there are other feeders out there.

Never mind. I wasn’t that hungry anyway.

So in the end, for that moment anyway, the bully grackle won.

And I’ll eat my fill before I leave too.

But the little birds are very patient and once the big guys left, they happily settled down to the leftovers.

Looks like it’s all clear. Let’s eat!


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Spring is bustin’ out all over

Motivated by the fact I promised a running buddy that I’d walk a virtual 5K while she ran a half marathon this coming weekend, I went out to a local park on Monday to see how walking further than from the couch to the fridge would feel.

Before my walk Tuesday I stopped by the pond to see how my favorite line of trees looked in the morning light.

I haven’t been out there to walk on the bike path since I did the CRIM race back in August. The race where I fell at the end and broke my finger. A finger injury seemed a good excuse not to exercise for, well, eight months. Or so.

I won’t lie and say it was easy, but it wasn’t really hard either. Monday I only walked 3.1 miles, the length of a 5K, just to see what my time was. Yep…moseying along at my comfortable pace it took me an hour. I’m not really in race condition, but at least I was out there. Right?

I don’t know why I took this picture other than the lights for the parking lot which is over the hill looked cool coming out of the grasses. And the sky was neat too.

And while I was out there trying hard not to take pictures with my phone, which slows me down but also makes me happy, I noticed that spring was just about to pop and I wished I had my regular camera. So right then and there, before I turned around at the 1.5 mile marker I decided I’d go back the next day, Tuesday, with my camera and go just a little bit further.

I enjoy the sky bouncing off the top of this hill almost every time I walk at this park.

Because, you see, I saw cowslips in bloom along a stream at the 1.25 mile marker, but they weren’t in a spot that was easy to reach. And I knew, at mile 2.1 there was a marsh that would be full of them. And a photo of those cowslips (also known as marsh marigolds) was my goal.

Other stuff also caught my eye.

Of course I saw plenty of other pretty things on my way back into the woods. Plenty of things that were (almost) as good as marsh marigolds in bloom in the morning sun.

Lots of these little guys along the edge of the woods.

In fact, I’m sharing a few of them here. Surprise!

Tuesday I went early in the morning, around 8, and it was a bit nippy, but I warmed right up as I walked. There’s a 1 mile walk down a big hill, out in the open that’s always colder than it is once you get back into the woods. I just pulled my hands into my sleeves when I wasn’t shooting an image. Which turned out to be rare moments.

The light was really nice, making the skunk cabbage glow.

I like the open part of the path, even though it runs next to a road, because you get to see hills with golden grass and a view of the sky.

Once you’re in the woods there’s not a lot of sky to see, but there are oh so many other things to notice if you take the time. I’m always reminding myself how lucky I am to have several parks like this near.

Lots of these guys too, just beginning to open up their umbrellas. Which is good, because it’s going to rain tonight.

There were a few people out, mainly on bikes, or jogging. A few other walkers, but everyone was very careful to keep their social distance. We just smiled and nodded at each other as we went by.

These two guys were the nosiest people! I heard them coming from miles away. Talking loudly while riding fast, they were soon out of earshot again.

I didn’t see anyone else out there with a camera. They all seemed to be out there for exercise. Hmmmm….I thought maybe I’d get exercise credit…but my phone, which was tracking my walk, sounded more and more condescending as the walk went on.

These two women had five dogs between them. I’ve seen them out there before, all the dogs did great, only one growled at me. 🙂

“Total distance is 1 mile, total time is 21 minutes, 9 seconds.” Well that’s a little slow even for me. But my excuse was that I took a couple pictures of the hills, and the sky, and well, you know.

I LOVED this view across the wetlands, the red twigged dogwood and the birch and the clouds. I had to crawl through bushes to get it. Worth it though.

“Total distance is 2 miles, split pace is 25 minutes 49 seconds.” Maybe I should pick up the pace, but that mile is my favorite mile back in the woods and the sun was shining off the old beach leaves.

Now SHE gets points for exercising.

“Total distance is 3 miles, split pace is 35 minutes 58 seconds.” Well, there were the cowslips in the third mile. I spent a lot of time there. So really, I wasn’t walking that slow. Really.

Bet you never knew a swamp could look so pretty!

Total distance is 4 miles, split pace is….not worth telling you about.” 🙂

Anyway, maybe I can’t claim this walk was exercise, but I can claim that it was a lot of fun and I got some beautiful images. Including the one that posted yesterday for Wordless Wednesday. I’ll wait while you pop over there to check it out if you haven’t seen it yet.

I got serenaded (or warned off) by a lot of these guys.

I was almost back at the car when I heard the crane. They make a very distinctive sound. I couldn’t see him, but I got my camera ready, and darn if he didn’t come my way. He went to the east of me, quite a ways away and I got some shots, but nothing spectacular. Still he made me smile.

Then he did a big u-turn and flew back toward me, right over my head! It was really, really cool.

What? You thought I’d put a picture of the crane here?

So that was the end to my 4 point something mile walk. I felt like the whole thing was a huge success, regardless of my turtle speed. Oh…and the cowslips, the marsh marigolds? Did I get a shot of them?

Sun shines on forest gold.

Well of course I did. And I hope they make you smile as much as they did me.

Almost guaranteed that they will.

Last year’s beech tree, this year’s moss both glow.


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What’s there to smile about?

I think we’re in week 5 of our stay-at-home executive order. Maybe it’s week 6. All the days run together into an endless week highlighted by a trip to the grocery store dolled up in mask and gloves. The order was set to expire at the end of April, but Friday the governor extended it until May 15th. I think that will make it 8 weeks total.

Isn’t this a beautiful barn?

But as she extended it she also loosened it a bit, allowing golf and boating, and letting people go to their up north cabins. Still no nonessential retail stores, though curbside delivery is OK, no sit down restaurants, no movie theaters, no dog groomers, no hair salons. But we can move around more as long as we continue to practice safe distancing.

This one is beautiful too, and there were a bunch of horses in the pasture next to it, but it was on a busy road and I took this through the windshield, no time to compose something better.

So I felt legit driving around in the country, by myself, looking for my favorite things – barns. Getting out and looking for interesting things to photograph isn’t exactly essential to most people. But it’s starting to feel that way to me.

All business on the front, derelict in the back.

I didn’t go far, just barely north and west, far enough to get out of town and into flat farmland, but not so far that I felt like I was taking advantage of any leniency in our guidelines. And not so far that I’d have to fill up at a gas station.

This one was cute.

The sky wasn’t very interesting, there was a storm headed our way and I had hoped for more, but at least it wasn’t raining. And since it was our first day of “freedom” the roads were busier than I’d hoped.

Old wagon compliments old barn.

It’s hard to get pictures of barns if there’s traffic. Finding a great barn that also has parking is nearly impossible. If I’m on empty dirt country roads I can just stop in the middle of the road and grab a shot. Not so easy to do on a paved busy road.

Almost interchangeable with the last one.

Still I got several interesting barns to add to my collection. And yea, I caught you smiling while you looked at these. Barns are almost guaranteed to produce smiles, unless you’re the one that has to muck out the stalls.

So I’ve been told.

I turned around to get this one, loved the patina on it.


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Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Outside ways to move up or down

I had planned, today, to head out with my camera into some rural area and see what there was to see. But it’s raining and the sky is dead grey.

I am not inspired.

Wandering through my emails I found this week’s black and white photo challenge from Cee. Outside ways to move up or down.

Hmmmm…I think about looking for parking garages with outside ramps, freeway ramps, the stairs at a local park. I look at the grey drippy light outside.

I am still not inspired.

Heading up to visit the National Police Memorial one evening.

And then I remember being in DC a couple months ago and all those moving stairs to and from the metro. Definitely a way to move up and down, and pretty stunning in black and white.

If you have better weather head on out and see what you can find for Cee’s challenge. You can link to her post (see my link above) and we’ll all enjoy seeing what you saw.

Another cool stairway..but it’s inside so it doesn’t count.


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What season is it anyhow?

Mostly content to stay at home these past few weeks, I started to feel camera withdrawal yesterday. It was warmish out, bright blue sky, big puffy white clouds, the kind that would look lovely hanging above a red barn or two.

Ah, that’s the ticket. Puffy clouds in a pretty blue sky.

But, here in Michigan, we’re still under a stay-at-home order. We’re supposed to stay put unless we’re going to the grocery or the pharmacy. Darn. I don’t have any drugstore needs that are close to barns.

I think it’s still legal to go to a park and walk. But somehow that seemed like too much work and I stayed inside and painted little postcards instead. As I sat at home watching the sun set amid big puffy clouds, listening to the weather report I began to regret my decision.

Not much snow over winter, but plenty of rain this spring.

This morning, still in bed, but staring at the dark ceiling and listening to the wind tear by the house and the rain pound on the roof I figured I had lost my opportunity for a park walk. Just because the park didn’t have barns, I told myself, was no reason not to get off my behind and go see what there was to see.

I figured today wouldn’t be the day.

But by early afternoon I noticed blue sky and big white puffy clouds. Huh. So it was only 28 degrees (-2.22 C) and there was a stiff wind, so what, right? Blue skies and puffy white clouds called for a camera adventure.

So I bundled up and headed to a park only 6 miles from me that isn’t usually busy. Plus it has my favorite line of photogenic trees.

But 2 miles from the park I noticed ahead of me what looked like a dust storm. Maybe a farmer was plowing a field? No, of course not. This was not dust. It was snow!

Things did not look promising heading into the park.

The park I was going to visit, the one where I was going to walk nature trails to the top of a hill and photograph blue sky and puffy clouds, was in the middle of a snow squall!

I almost kept on driving, right past the entrance. But I figured I was out there, I could see what might be worth photographing, preferably from the car. And then I’d just go home where obviously I should have stayed in the first place.

I sprinted from the car to the shelter of the nature center to get my obligatory image of the line of trees I so enjoy.

I didn’t even realize the heron was flying and in the image until I looked at it later.

It was still snowing. A heron flew over my shoulder and landed on the opposite side of the pond. He kept moving away as I approached and of course I didn’t have my long lens on the camera.

Can you see him standing over there? Wrong lens on the camera, this is a cropped version, and he’s blending into the rushes at the edge of the water.

So I gave up on him and headed up the hill.

Why look! Is that blue sky I see?

And as I did the sky brightened and the blue sky returned along with beautiful clouds. Behind me the snow clouds were still producing, but on the nature trails the sun was shining.

Snow clouds are just over the ridge.

You never know what will happen if you just show up. Sometimes you have to make a decision which way you’ll go. But as long as you make the best decision you can, with the information you have, well, you’ll be just fine.

Either way will work out.

As soon as I was safe and warm back in the car it began to sleet.

The wind picked up and sleet pounded the windshield.

And on the drive home I saw more snow clouds coming from the west.

Spring in Michigan is a mixed bag. Every year.

Yep, I had a sliver of an opportunity to get out there and enjoy the sun. I’m sure glad I took it, even if it’s obviously not really spring around here yet.

Just that one fleeting moment of sunshine.

On the other hand, maybe it is.

Greening proof.


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The band of five bullies

Looking for a smile, I’ve been observing my birds as they go about their daily struggle to find food. Though it’s really not such a big struggle in my yard, the feeder is pretty well stocked most of the time.

Hurry up lady!

The struggle seems to be the hierarchy of who gets to eat first when fresh seed has been put out.

I’ll take my fair share now. And yours too.

The little birds, the goldfinches, now sporting their bright summer dinner attire, and the titmouse, the chickadees and the sparrows all sit up in the trees and sing their alerts when I’m out filling the feeder. The bravest among them will swoop down and grab something before I’ve even gone inside.

These two lovebirds weren’t interested in the feeder. They needed to get a room.

They have to hurry because shortly after I’m in the house the band of five arrives with intimidating calls and flashes of bright blue wings.

Alert! We have arrived, all move aside, we are hungry!

Yes, I have some bullies the control my bird feeder. There are usually five of them, and they take over daily. Today I attempted, from inside the house, to capture them in full drama mode.

I didn’t capture everything, and I was shooting through a dirty window in low light and should have done a couple things with the settings but there wasn’t time.

We do not wait in line!

And to be honest, in the thrill of the moment I forgot anyway.

I’ll try this again, maybe if I spend more time outside on the deck they’ll get used to me and I can eliminate the dirty window part of the whole adventure! Today it was too cold and windy. We got a snow squall just after I took these.

Incoming!

But, given the virus, I figure I’ll have a lot more days at home to try again.

Jays are not the only bullies.


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Maybe it’s the sun

Yesterday I was dejected as I watched the snow fall. Everything seemed overwhelming and sad and hopeless. I didn’t brush the dog. I didn’t work on a painting. I didn’t cook much of anything.

The pictures I took of snow falling only made me feel worse.

But this early morning, sitting on the sofa in the dark (because Katie wanted me up and I always do what Katie wants) I watched a couple of videos of a water color artist doing loose, flowing flowers and whimsical birds. She was already making me feel better when I noticed it was growing light outside.

And the light was golden.

And there was light.

And the sky was blue and filled with puffy navy and white clouds and the birch trees glowed. And Katie and I went out to take a picture and revel in the fresh air.

I need a grooming appointment, mother! But I’m still happy to be home with you!

And we didn’t mind that there was ice on the deck and tiny bits of snow in the grass. We were happy to be out there, content to be safe at home, and oh so grateful for the sun.

Content to sit in a patch of sunshine.

We hope you have a contented day too.

Happy smells blowing in the wind.