Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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It’s hard to smile

This week it’s been hard for me to find something to smile about.

So many families with broken hearts this week.

The news was filled with awful things. The virus killing over 100,000 Americans. The protests and violence stemming from the death that reminds us of other similar deaths.

No, this week I didn’t feel much like smiling.

And then my silly girl wouldn’t sit pretty for a picture and I had to smile…just a little.

Reminding us to stop and smell the flowers.

Yes, this week I looked really hard for something to smile about.

Oh, all right mama. I’ll look at your silly camera. Sort of.

And I found it right here at home.

I hope I made you smile too!


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Truck Drivers want to spend the holiday with family too

So much of what I write about trucks talks about their affect on us in cars. Trucks plowing into the back of slowed traffic. Trucks representing such a high percentage of crashes in construction zones. Fatigued truck drivers. Distracted truck drivers.

But did you know that driving a commercial truck is the most deadly job in the United States? The Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks it as #1 on the list of dangerous jobs in 2018.

In fact, in 2018, 831 truck drivers died on the job. Many of these were truck on truck crashes, or individual trucks going off the road for a variety of reasons. But there were plenty of truck/car crashes too.

In 2018 almost 5,000 people died in truck related crashes. The numbers have been trending up since 2009. The stresses of driving a truck intersecting with the stresses of driving a car never end well for those in the car. And the guilt and grief most truck drivers experience when there’s a crash, particularly a fatal crash, can be overwhelming.

Recently I found a few articles about trucker suicide. The drivers are caught in the middle, between the shippers that want their goods moved quickly, the trucking company that wants the goods shipped profitably, the loading docks that are overbooked, road construction everywhere, and people driving cars much too close — not leaving enough space for trucks to maneuver safely. And to top it off they are paid by the mile. Every delay costs them money.

It’s hard to make a living on the road.

For those of us working on safety issues 2019 was a busy but frustrating year. We pushed four bills, each addressing a different issue, the objective of each to make our roads safer for everyone – truck drivers included. It was hard to feel like we made much progress, politics being what it is today, but we were out there sharing ideas and pushing safety and people on the hill and out in our communities listened. That’s a beginning.

But we all know that every moment we are out there pushing for safety more people, people in cars and people in trucks, are dying. Every delay in our work costs someone his or her life. On average 13 people a day are dying in truck crashes.

Next year, 2020, we’ll be working hard again. If you’re still thinking about donating to our cause, here’s the link. We’d appreciate it. Our work is so important and we can’t do it without your help.

And if you know a truck driver, give them a hug and ask them to stay safe. Spread the word among your family and friends during this holiday season about driving safely around trucks. Remind everyone that safety advocates are working to make the roads safer for everyone, truck drivers included.

Because they want, and deserve, to go home to their families too.

Dedicated to my dad, killed by a tired trucker Dec 23, 2004.

Ten years before.


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Hope = smiles

This week I had plenty of reasons to smile. After all I’m retired; I don’t have to get up in the dark and drive on congested construction strewn roads to work and then do it all again the next day.

That in itself makes for automatic smiles.

Visiting Lansing, the Capitol of Michigan, on a cold Sunday afternoon.

But if I had to pick one thing that made me smile this week it would be Sunday afternoon when my husband and I attended the ceremonial swearing in of our new Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin.

I keep insisting that I’m not political, I don’t like politics, I don’t have the patience for all the talk and lack of action, for the arguing, for the lack of empathetic listening, the insensitivity. I hate that neither party even tries to hear an opinion outisde their own dogma.

But this year the candidate challenging my district’s incumbant Congressman caught my attention. She actually sat down with my husband and me and listened intently to our truck safety issues. So I became involved in her campaign, canvasing and talking politics to strangers, which was very scary for me. She won by 13,000 votes and attending her ceremonial swearing in made me smile.

Photo from Slotkin’s webpage. Senator Stabenow, Congresswoman Slotkin and her husband, retired Colonel David Moore.

Presiding over the ceremony was Michigan’s Senior Senator who has also been very open to our issues, which made me smile broader.

But the biggest smile during the event was reserved for the Sexton High School choir who sang for us. A group of young people, diverse in ethnicity and culture, sang of hope and change to a huge ballroom filled with mostly middle aged white people.

Lansing’s Sexton High School Choir rocked it!

They sang from their hearts and we listened with ours, knowing that we were on the cusp of change for our district, filled with hope for a more responsive government. And when they finished we rose in a standing ovation before their last note ended, which made them smile.

“If you want to make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and then make a change.”
(lyrics from Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror)

After the event, while we were all milling around talking I noticed one of the young singers standing behind me. I turned around and told him how beautiful the music had been. He nodded his head respectfully, then burst out into a wide grin and swallowed me up in a hug.

Seems smiles were the order of the day.

The gears of change grind slowly.

What’s made you smile? Tell us about it and link to Trent’s blog, he’ll recap for us next Monday!

Note: Follow the link above about Elissa to read a short article about the ceremony which contains a few quotes from her speech. I think they’ll give you hope too.

Something to smile about in Lansing last Sunday.


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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.