Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Trent’s World, the Weekly Smile

Looks like a front is going through.


The day before the midterm elections feels stressful. I feel like I can’t turn the TV on, can’t check social media. Too much conflict, too much negativity.

On my way home from an early morning run to the grocery I noticed dramatic clouds. And me with no camera.

Barns and cloudy skies make me smile.

I hurried home, but the drama was gone by the time I unloaded and put away the groceries.

Still, the sky was interesting. And I was restless.

The seasons are changing, the crops have been harvested.

So off I went, camera in my lap, to see what I might see. Sure it would never be the extraordinary sky I saw earlier. But you never know what you’ll find.

At first I was disappointed, mostly muddy grey skies, not the dramatic navy blue ribbons I’d seen before.

Time to hunker down for winter.

But when I got out of the car on a dirt road to grab a shot of a barn I saw the whole sky above me and actually said out loud – “Wow!”

This was my ‘wow’ moment.

And that inspired me to keep looking. And you know me…

Everywhere you looked was something wonderful.

…looking for barns amid wild skies makes me smile.

Couldn’t resist this one.

What made you smile lately?

Well yes, she makes me smile too.


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We could all use a smile.

Reflecting on current events.


Trent, over at his blog trentsworldblog has decided that we could all use a smile, so he has resurrected his weekly smile post in which he invites us all to post each week about something that has made us smile, and then link back to him.

I think he’ll post a recap, but I need to go back and read the instructions (you’ll find those at his Weekly Smile blog).

There’s gold in the woods. And a bit of peace.

As I sit watching the horrific news out of Pittsburgh this morning I have to admit I was feeling guilty for feeling good after my short trip to northern Michigan.

Sometimes you just need to walk away.

For me going into the woods is like living on my own personal private island. No TV, no email, maybe a bit of blog producing, but that’s all about looking through images I’ve just taken and then letting the fingers do their thing.

No stress there. Usually no tears.

The logging museum shows life in a simpler time.

And yet the world carries on even while I’m not noticing. Pipe bombs get mailed. Mass shootings happen. Candidates snipe at each other. No one tells a complete truth.

Is there really only one way?

Who even knows what the truth is anymore.

Sometimes a person needs the welcoming woods.

As Carol says in her latest post, we’re all probably overloaded. By everything.

So I think Trent’s idea is wonderful. Let’s look for at least one thing that has made us smile this week.

No television out here.

For me, it was being in the north wandering among the last bit of fading color. I was only there for a little more than one day, and it was drizzling rain most of the time.

Still. In the last few minutes before I climbed back in the car to head home the sun burned through a layer of cloud and the woods glowed.

It was just for a moment.

Glowing in between the raindrops.

But it made me smile.

Follow the path for soul renewal.


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This is a test, this is only a test.

Rain made all the colors seem more intense.


Robin over at Breezes at dawn coordinates a walk each October called Walktober. People from all over the blogasphere participate by taking a walk, by themselves or with others, and then posting about the walk with or without pictures, linking back to Robin’s original Walktober post. Then at the end of October (or whenever she can find the time after that) she puts out a post with links to everyone’s Walktober posts and we get to visit and read all about them.

It’s so much fun to read about people taking walks in areas so different (and sometimes so similar) to our own places. I always look forward to October and one of the reasons is because I love doing Robin’s Walktober!

Lots of color out there if you look for it.

Of course right now I can’t find her post with this year’s dates, but you can read more about the idea of a Walktober at this post she did in 2014. This year the dates will be slightly different, and I’m sure she’ll let me know what they are. Then I’ll fix this blog and tell all of you!

EDIT: Robin says her Walktober dates are October 14 through the 28th. But if you want to walk sooner, go for it, and just wait to write that blog and link it to her when she posts on October 14th. And if you need to go later, let her know, she’s flexible and will wait (within reason) for your walk!

Even though water was dripping everywhere it was a pretty day for a walk.

So anyway, Saturday was a rainy sort of day. Lots of downpours in the morning, and then sprinkles through the rest of the day. I couldn’t stand being inside, so I took myself to my favorite park after the worst of the rain had stopped.

Walking around under the dripping trees I was glad I wore my raincoat. I kept my camera under the coat most of the time. Oh who am I kidding. I was shooting pictures most of the time.

The trees haven’t really taken on their fall colors yet, but in the wetlands there was quite a bit of color. The bright reds and oranges showed off in the dim grey light of a rainy afternoon.

The boggy areas of the forest were just beautiful.

I had a pocket full of sunflower oilers too, to share with any birds that might be hungry. At first I didn’t hear any, but eventually, as I was taking pictures of some soggy berries I heard the familiar flutter of wings near my head.

I got really wet trying to get this image.

I’ve posted pictures of the birds in my hand before, so this time I’m sharing those that were either just landing, or just taking off. Though these images aren’t as clear as some, I find the energy in them interesting. I figured you would too.

Come get something little one!

It was mostly chickadees and titmice that showed up. They’re the bravest of the little birds out there in the woods. Other times I’ve had woodpeckers and nuthatches land on my hand too.

Incoming! Or maybe Outgoing!

These little guys were pretty soggy from the rainy day, and there was another batch of thunderstorms coming in so I didn’t stay there very long. In fact I had dropped my handful of seed on the path and moved on, taking pictures of the storm clouds moving fast across the horizon when I heard more fluttering near my ear.

Time to run for the car.

I looked up and this little titmouse was standing on a railing near me. I told him there was a bunch of seed just down the path, but he wanted something directly from me.

Hey lady! You’re keeping the good stuff in your pocket aren’t you!

So of course I offered him a little bit.

And this nuthatch showed up after I had emptied my pocket onto the ground. But he got his fair share even though he was late to the party.

Hey! I heard there was free food around here!

It was a lovely, if damp, walk but it wasn’t my Walktober. Oh no. It was just a warmup, a good place to walk out my frustrations about things outside the woods. And I figured you’d enjoy coming along with me, even if it wasn’t an official walk.

Katie was quite put out that she didn’t go, so this morning I took her out to two of her own parks. She says every time I take myself for a walk without her I have to compensate her with walks in two parks.

I guess I better not leave her home very often. She’s debating whether she’ll do the official Walktober. Last year she did. She got hers in way before I got around to mine, but she’s like that. She says if you’re not early you’re late. Little stinker.

Anyway….I hope you all will consider going for a walk and sharing it with us this month! I’ll let you know the dates as soon as I hear from Robin. It’s a lot of fun and we all are looking forward to seeing something from your part of the world!

And if you live near me…well….I’ll meet you in the woods!

Dripping still.


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De-Politicizing. Is that a word?

Sunshine captured in fall petals.


Saturday morning I went out for my second shift of door-to-door canvassing, getting the word out about my chosen candidate for Congress. She’s closing the small gap that existed a few weeks ago between her and the incumbent. According to his polls he has a 2 point lead. According to her polls she has a 4 point lead.

I think neither team can claim victory yet.

Everything’s looking good at my park mama!

And so I and my canvassing partners hit the streets again. I hoped more people would be home on a Saturday morning versus the Sunday afternoon we worked last weekend. I was disappointed.

Lots of color at Katie’s park.

We knocked on 38 doors and talked to perhaps 10 or 12 people. But this time the people were more welcoming, more ready to listen to our story. And that made it a nicer day. Still, it wasn’t fun or comfortable.

Canvassing is definitely not something I want to do on a regular basis.

This little guy must have worked hard to get up on this big rock. We didn’t disturb him.

I don’t know how far we walked because my Fitbit died earlier this week, but it felt like a long, long way. The distance between houses was greater, the lots bigger, the roads had more hills.

Will pose for treats.

But it was a beautiful day, as many of the people we talked to mentioned. Most of them seemed to appreciate that we had given up a pretty morning to walk their neighborhood. A few people told us to have a good day as we left their porches. One wished us luck.

Standing tall.

And even the guy that opened his door with the statement “if this is political I don’t want to hear it.” laughed when I told him to remember the middle aged women slogging through his neighborhood when he was making up his mind at the polls on election day.

I think he’ll remember us. I hope he remembers us in a good way.

Pretty afternoon light makes me smile.

I’m pretty sure I got my 10,000 steps in on Saturday because as soon as I got home I hugged my dog and began the process of de-poiticizing my brain and body. Working the kinks out, relaxing the shoulders, stretching the aching calf muscles.

Mostly I de-politicized by bundling Katie into the car and immediately heading out to her park where we walked along her pond and sniffed the pee-mail left by other dogs.

Peaceful.

Well. She did the sniffing. I mostly took photos. As you’ve probably guessed, all the photos here are from our Saturday afternoon together.

But the strain of doing something so outside my sense of normal required me to take Katie to two parks Saturday afternoon. After visiting her local park we drove down to Kensington, my favorite park, for a short walk among tall trees and along the lake shore.

Still posing for treats.

Katie thought she was in heaven. Two parks in one afternoon! She couldn’t stop smiling even though it did mean her supper was late. She made me pay for that later, but I was just glad to be out there so it was all good.

Red and green working together. Congress should take note.

Katie-girl is very good at de-politicizing her mama.

Balancing reflections.

The work will continue, there’s no letting up now, but whether or not I will canvass again is a question I’ll have to answer once I’m home from our impending trip to DC.

Politics. I just can’t avoid it. Wish I could.

I’m here for you mama.


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2020 soup musings

I made soup yesterday, roasted tomato and basil.

The beginnings.

As I was opening a can of tomato paste I noticed the expiration date was in 2020.

March 2020 will probably be pretty interesting.

Given the political climate at the moment, I wonder what the world will look like in 2020.

Somehow I can’t quite imagine it.

The onions, pepper and potato work up a sweat while the tomatoes roast.

So I sighed and finished the soup.

Torn basil finishes it up.

It turned out really good.

I hope 2020 turns out really good too.

Yum. Soup and cheesy garlic bread.


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Grief gets all mixed together.

Today, in fact this entire week, has been filled with sad images on television.

Here in Detroit it’s been a week of celebrating the life of Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, who died two weeks ago. There’s been days of public viewing, with lines of people stretching for blocks, all waiting in heat indexes over 100 degrees to pay their respect. Her funeral is tomorrow. Local news stations seem to broadcast little else.

And Senator John McCain died last Saturday and the national news has been filed with his story, work and funeral arrangements. I watched his Arizona funeral today. One of the television pundits commented, as we watched the family file in, that she couldn’t imagine how his seven children were feeling at the loss of their father.

I silently noted that she must not have lost a parent yet. Because if she had she’d know how easy it is to imagine how they feel.

“You didn’t have your dad as long as you’d like, but you got everything you need from him.”*

Watching them during the service, and especially as they followed the casket back out after I was right back at my mother’s funeral, and at my dad’s a few months later.

I know the feeling of standing, knees weak, at the pulpit and staring out over a standing-room-only crowd wondering if I could get the words out. I remember how it felt to smile after, shaking hands, accepting hugs, while all the time feeling totally numb.

“This I promise you – you know you’re going to make it when one day you see an image of your dad and a smile touches your lips before a tear fills your eye.”*

I know the feeling of disbelief. I know that it feels like you’re walking through mud, how the days each last an eternity, yet fly by too quickly. How that final goodbye shreds your insides.

And then this afternoon, on a highway out in New Mexico, a semi truck had a tire malfunction and crossed the median, striking a Greyhound bus head on. There are multiple deaths. Even more injuries. Families are even now receiving that phone call.

The cycle of loss never ends.

Today I seem to be enveloped in grief. Old grief for my family, new grief at recent national losses. Stabbing grief at the knowledge that more families are, tonight, beginning their own personal trek through darkness.

But I know what Joe Biden knows. That tomorrow will be a new day and the sun will shine again. And those of us that feel the pain this deeply are the lucky ones. Because we knew true love.

And true love never dies.

*Quotes above are paraphrased from Vice President Biden’s eulogy for John McCain today. They touched something inside of me, because he was exactly right.


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Goodbye Senator

Regardless of whether you’re a Republican, a Democrat, an Independent or none of the above, tonight you have to feel some sadness at the passing of Senator John McCain. A decent man who tried to solve problems through bipartisan support, he repeatedly spoke up against the inertia that is Congress. He was frustrated, as many of us are, by today’s political wheel spinning, by the lack of progress, by the rhetoric.

Maybe now we should take a moment and think about the lessons he was trying to teach us. That regardless of our own beliefs it’s always important to listen, really listen, to an opposing viewpoint. That we need to remember the art of compromise. That we can’t solve anything without support from both sides of the aisle

That not everyone across the aisle is an enemy.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, in his memory, we all try to be more open, more accepting of differences, more willing to try to understand opposing viewpoints. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, in his memory, members of Congress pull back on the rhetoric and work together to solve issues for the good of the country.

And wouldn’t it be wonderful if, in his memory, we all stepped up our attempts to be decent human beings. Regardless of political leanings.

Seems to me that would be an appropriate thank you for a life well lived.


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How to smash a whole lot of stuff into one weekend.

I’m retired, so one day is pretty much like another. Weekends have no real significance, and Monday is now my favorite day of the week because most of you go back to work and I don’t have to.

Welcome to the 2018 Woodward Dream Cruise!

I know. That’s just cruel.

But then again sometimes weekends are filled with so many fun things that I actually am sorry to see them end. Like this past one.

It started out with me volunteering on a campaign for a woman who is running for Congress in my district. Our district has been represented in Congress by one party for as far back as I can remember. This year there’s a serious contender, a woman with military experience, who has worked for the Pentagon and was willing to sit with my husband and I for over an hour discussing truck safety issues.

It’s unique.

She’s got my vote.

So, though I am not political and have never worked on a campaign before, Saturday morning found me sitting in a small stuffy room with several other people my age, all of us peering through our bifocals at our laptops as a young campaign worker explained the data entry project we volunteered to help with.

Good to have a matching umbrella to ward off the sun.

She was so patient with us as we fumbled through connecting to their WiFi, stumbled over the password, then tried to understand the data entry program. Never once did she roll her eyes, though I have to admit I did at least once.

Lots of color and detail.

Turns out she had just graduated from high school, and was taking a gap year before she went to college just to work on this campaign. Amazing. She was nineteen and had the ability to make us not feel stupid when we asked questions as we worked through the huge pile of reports filed with information from volunteers out canvasing neighborhoods.

It wasn’t restricted to just cars.

Her enthusiasm was contagious and we willingly worked past the time we originally committed to get the job done.

And to reward myself for sitting in that small room straining my eyes for hours I took myself to the Woodward Dream Cruise that was happening in a town not so far away.

There was plenty for sale if you caught the car bug.

If you’re asking what that is, well, you’re not from around here.

In the old days, on Friday and Saturday nights the locals would drive their muscle cars up and down Woodward Avenue, through and between several towns. These days, for one weekend every August, people come from all over the country, some bringing their antique muscle cars, to do the same.

Muscle from the old days.

The streets are lined with people who enjoy watching the beautiful cars go by. Parking lots are filled with more of the vehicles.

Lots of money in this lot next door to the Porsche dealership.

They’re everywhere.

Back in the neighborhood a few blocks away from the main drag.

I fell in love with this pair of vehicles.

There’s a sort of elegance that most cars today lack. I guess we’re more functional and less stylish these days.

I enjoyed wandering around, though I walked less than one mile down Woodward Avenue, and spent maybe an hour there. I loved taking pictures of old cars, the lines so beautiful, the colors so vibrant.

Hard to miss this one!

Anyway. That was Saturday. Sunday a college friend and I went kayaking at my favorite park.

Spending Sunday morning on a lake. Perfect.

We rented kayaks there, for only $8 an hour. We told the (very) young lady there we’d be out for an hour at most, after all we were old. She smiled politely.

Pretty.

We were out for 2 hours and I’m not even sore this morning. Pretty good for a couple of old broads!

Two hours later the skies began to cloud.

And I slept out in the backyard in the tent all weekend too, getting geared up to take at least one camping trip this summer…before summer slides away!

Katie says she hasn’t gone on one camping trip all summer. She says that’s unacceptable. I have to agree.

Stay tuned.

These looked fun too, maybe next time!


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365 walks

I’m walking a challenge along with Robin over at breezes at dawn and who knows how many other people, each taking a walk every day for an entire year and posting on Facebook (and maybe other places too) each day one photo of what we’ve seen.

It was a great morning for a walk.

I’m a little over 100 days into it. In the beginning it was a bit intimidating, thinking about three hundred and sixty-five walks. But Robin made a good point. Nothing in the rules said how long the walk had to be. And as long as I don’t think about how many I have left to do, as long as I just think about today’s walk, well, it’s all good.

Some days I go for a walk down the road and through my neighborhood. Some days I drive to a park and walk a trail in the woods or a bike path along a lake shore. Once, in bad weather, I took myself to the mall for my walk. No matter where I go there’s always something interesting or pretty or both to capture.

The goldenrod is starting to bloom.

And some days it’s just Katie and me walking around the backyard. She likes those days best lately because it’s been way too hot for her to take a longer walk at any of her favorite parks. She says this will be a great challenge in cooler October or November or even December when the snow will start to fly.

Husband and I stayed out late last night, unusual for us, at an election party where we got to watch the returns come in and cheer when our candidate won the local primary. I’d never done that before, sit with a group of strangers hoping that it all turns out, cheering when it does. I hate politics but this year perhaps the need to become involved will supersede my need to avoid conflict. We’ll see, it certainly is fodder for another blog.

Joe Pye is tucked into all the wet places.

Anyway, I went to bed well after midnight, and Katie was up at her usual 3:30. It was tempting to try to go back to sleep on the sofa after she got the attention she was craving. And I did for a couple hours.

But while it was still morning and the air was reasonably cool I headed out to a park with the intent to walk four miles. I don’t know why four. It just seemed like a nice round number.

Leaning into the sun.

I didn’t want to go. I wanted to crawl back into bed, but Katie was in a mood and I was tired of arguing with her. All in all, the choice between hanging out with a needy dog and going for a walk turned out to be easy.

Leaves already turning?

What a beautiful day! From the parking lot there’s a mile long downhill through a meadow before the bike path turns into the woods. I got a lot of nice pictures out in the open, and then another nice group deeper in the woods. That’s what makes this a great park to walk in…until you have that mile long uphill back to the car.

A splash of unexpected color.

I had a lot of things to think about on this walk, and I hummed (quite loudly as there was no one else there) songs from Fiddler on the Roof, a musical I was lucky enough to see on Saturday evening. If I were a rich man….. A blessing on your head, mazel tov, mazel tov…Tradition!….Anatevka….

I wondered, as I did Saturday night, what kind of welcome Tevye, Golda and their two young daughters would find if they were to arrive in the United States today. Would they be granted entry given their town had been forcibly evacuated? Would the young girls be separated from their parents?

I hate to imagine what might happen to them today. But I also know that their passage to America and their life here wouldn’t have been easy in the early twentieth century either. That’s what makes politics hard; there are so many variables to every decision and policy.

Anyway.

As I walked I tried not to mourn summer. I missed so much of the Michigan summer when I was in Alabama, and suddenly it seems like school is starting and corn is ripening and goldenrod is blooming and summer is almost over.

Bursts of gold in the meadow.

I scolded myself for not being in the moment. After all there are still three weeks of August. And even though there was subtle signs everywhere of the impending fall, there was still plenty of green. Dark green, lime green, green glowing in the sun, green hiding deep in the woods, it’s definitely still summer here.

Light shining through.

Mostly.

So this long, rambling post is sort of a stream of consciousness thing, wrapping everything that’s been going on into one long walk. Talented kids putting on a wonderful performance on Saturday, dedicated people campaigning with all their hearts for a candidate they feel is better than who we have now, all morphed together on a golden Wednesday morning.

There were butterflies everywhere. And me with only my phone for a camera.

Four miles flew by and no concrete conclusions were reached.

Guess I’ll have to go on another walk tomorrow.

Darn.

Two miles out, two miles back.