Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Watch out world, Katie’s back in town!

Katie here! Let me tell you, I’ve had an adventure! I’m not quite sure how I feel about it, but that’s because I’m under the influence of drugs. These drugs make me feel warm and fuzzy….wait, I’m always warm and fuzzy….well anyway, the drugs make me sleepy and mama just gave me another one so I have to type fast before I lose all motivation.

When I first got home.

This adventure all started back in December when I went in for my usual “you’re a very healthy dog Katie” inspection. Usually I’m in and out of there and good to go for another year. Which is good cause I don’t really like going to the vet. That guy pokes me in very private places, you know?

Anyway, this time when my folks got my bloodwork back my liver numbers were all crazy high. The vet said it was nothing he was worried about, cause “old dogs have leaky livers.” Huh. First off, who is he to call me old? And second off, mama knew better and asked for an ultra sound of my liver and gallblader. And you know what he said? He said mama shouldn’t worry about it because “what are you going to do if you find something, she’s 14 years old.”

Then he sent us home noting I was surprisingly healthy for an old dog.

WELL!

My first nap at home post surgery.

Mama and daddy weren’t happy about this at all, so when we got home mama and I took a walk up the street to visit a neighbor who had a vet quite a ways away that he liked a lot. Mama had never considered going to her because she was located so far away, but she thought maybe we needed a second opinion.

So in January mama, daddy and I went way over near Lansing and I got poked and prodded some more. The vet talked to my folks over the phone and mama asked for an ultrasound and the vet said “Absolutely!” and did one right then! She saw the beginning of problems with my gallbladder, and put me on a bunch of meds to treat that and my liver numbers.

Can I get something to eat, mama?

Mama and daddy had quite the process figured out for the next three months, getting all those pills into me at the right times but they had it down. And every month I went back over to Lansing and had another ultrasound and more blood work. The liver numbers were going down but the vet was worried about my gallbladder and told mama and daddy to watch me very carefully, and if I seemed like I was in pain they were to get me to an emergency vet in a big hurry. Cause that would mean my gallbladder was getting dangerous.

So guess what? Last Tuesday night I threw up my dinner without fanfare, right in back of mama who was washing dishes in the kitchen sink. She seemed a bit worried, but the vet had changed some of my meds and the folks thought maybe something didn’t agree with me.

Then the next morning I threw up my breakfast, and mama hadn’t put any of the offending medcine in it. She waited a bit and offered me another small breakfast which I gobbled down and promptly threw up. Then I took a long drink of water and threw that up too.

And then, just to make my point, I started quivering.

I’m actually not that unhappy in my cone. But I keep smashing it into the back of mama’s legs.

Mama and daddy looked at each other and started throwing on shoes and coats and grabbing my meds and stuff and the next thing I know we’re in the car and mama and daddy look stressed.

So I end up in the doggie hospital. They took me inside, away from my parents, and mama had tears in her eyes and kissed me on the nose while the nice lady held me,and then I didn’t see mama again for forever! And all the time that mama and daddy were lost they were poking and prodding me and doing more ultrasounds (which meant they shaved my tummy again!!) and I swear no one was feeding me!

They called mama and daddy that evening and told them I needed that bad gallbladder out of there right away, so on Thursday morning some people came and took me away and I got really sleepy and when I woke up my tummy was cold and I didn’t feel well at all!

Sometimes, though, I give mama the stink-eye. Just because I can.

I stayed there for two whole days. Let me tell you, there’s no rest in the hospital! They’re always checking something, and I was hooked up to all sorts of stuff, I even had a tube down my nose. I guess they did that while I was sleeping cause no way would I have let them even try. A tube down my nose is not a look for a princess!

I was sad and scared and I didn’t feel very well, and my tummy hurt and stuff. I thought mama and daddy were lost forever and I was going to have to stay in this place with all these very nice, but nosey people. But one day a lady came along and put a leash on me and we went for a walk and all of the sudden I was outside. That scared me too, cause I didn’t know where we were going, and so far this adventure hadn’t been very fun.

Mama saw me coming out the door, lagging behind the nice lady, and she jumped out of the car and ran up to the front of the building and let me see her. At first I wasn’t sure if it was really her. After all she had been lost for a hundred days! And she was wearing a mask. But then I realized she was there and I started trotting, although wobbly, toward her. The nice lady smiled and said I was a good girl but I didn’t listen to her, I just wanted to get to mama!

This stupid cone doesn’t slow me down getting to my food, no siree!

Then daddy was there too and everyone seemed very happy and very emotional all at the same time and I told mama to hurry up and get me in my chariot cause I needed to go home! So she did, and she sat with me in the back to hold me cause I wouldn’t lay down. I insisted on standing up the whole way, watching the traffic and smelling the air of freedom blowing in the open window.

It was glorious!

And at home I checked out my house and then asked daddy for something to eat and then I flopped down on my favorite pillow and zonked out for a bit and then I got up and asked for more to eat and then I followed my people around and tried to find a comfortable spot and then I got up and asked for more food…and so on and so on and so on.

Mama says it was a very long first night.

But today is day two at home after being sprung from that camp (which doggies, let me tell you, stay away from the doggie hospital camp, it’s definitely no fun!) and I’m feeling lots better. Mama and daddy are figuring out a new set of pills and I’ve been getting multiple small meals. Personally I think they could make those meals a lot bigger, but I’m still working out the new rules around here.

Mama and daddy say they are glad I got rid of that troublesome gallbladder, they sure didn’t want me to die with a burst gallbladder! What a horrible way to go! And now, after I rest for a couple weeks, we can plan a real adventure. One that doesn’t involve anyone prodding me or taking my temperature in unmentionable places, or giving me a bath or making me wear this stupid hat.

Sometimes if I’m really zoned out and if mama or daddy can sit right there and watch me I get to nap without the cone.

Mama says this is too long, so I need to quit. Plus I’m really tired. I think she slipped me another one of those pain pills that makes me feel good, but oh so sleepy. She says she needs a break. I don’t understand why, it’s not like she had her gallbladder out!

And mama says I need to remember to thank all of you for the kind thoughts and comments and prayers you sent. They made me and her and daddy less scared while we were separated. It’s good to know you’re not alone, you know?

So thank you all, very very much.

For now I’m signing out. Another nap looms on my horizon. Darn drugs anyway.

Love, your Katie-girl, still a very healthy senior princess.

This is not a fashion statement designed for a princess, mama!


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Our girl update

I’m sure Katie feels all the love and prayers you’ve been sending her. She always knew she was a celebrity, though sometimes her mama felt she carried that a bit too far, especially in her demands regarding treats durng photo shoots.

But I digress.

By the time I got to the park it had begun to rain.

I just had a call from the doctor in charge of ICU where Katie is recovering. They are going to begin weaning her off of the IV pain meds and get her on oral meds today.

They offered her some chicken this morning and she just about bit their fingers off as she scarfed it down. I laughed and told the vet that Katie would eat chicken all day long if she was offered it. That she’s all about her food.

Artsy-fartsy last of winter’s pretty.

She has gone for a short walk, and they will get her out more today. She might be able to come home tomorrow. The vet sounded a little surprised at that, maybe she thought a 14 year old would be more frail.

Every small thing should be celebrated.

The vet doesn’t know Princess Katie like we know Princess Katie, does she. Katie is a strong little girl, and very stubborn. She always gets what she wants.

It didn’t look at all like spring on this trail.

I imagine what she wants about now are her own pillows (note plural, a princess must have multiple pillows) and her own water bowl and her own food and especially her own people.

Oh…and her squirrels. She doesn’t ever want to be derelict about her squirrel warning responsibilities.

Kind of like a squirrel’s tail. But not.

We, Katie’s subjects, are gratefull for your love and support. It’s been a difficult couple of days, but it was easier with all of your messages. I’ll make sure Katie reads your well wishes when she gets home; I know she’ll want to tell you all about her experience herself.

In fact she’s probably asking them for a laptop as we speak.

We have a lot to be thankful for.

Images in this post are from a walk I took yesterday afternoon after we knew she was doing OK. I walked a short nature trail at a park near me, sat on a bench and took a deep breath and said thanks to the universe that we get to keep our girl for awhile longer.

Grateful for the light in the midst of the storm.


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Our girl

On this beautiful spring day our girl, the Princess Katie, is at an emergency vet clinic having surgery to take our her gallbladder. They will also biopsy her liver while they’re in there, as her bloodwork shows a marked increase in values that are worrisome.

Our backyard this morning.

I had planned on putting the tent up yesterday afternoon, and spending last night with her camping in our backyard. We’re having unseasonably warm weather and she’s been a bit listless. I thought she’d enjoy a night outside.

Hopeful yellow everywhere.

But we found out yesterday that she’s listless for more scary reasons than just being bored.

One strong blossom sitting alone.

She’s in surgery now. She (and we) would appreciate any good thoughts you have to spare. She’s a senior girl, but she’s one of the strongest seniors I’ve ever met.

Hope shines.

If any dog can get through this at her age, she can.

Pure love.

Our girl.

UPDATE: 11:30 am She’s out of surgery, in ICU, they are waking her up now. She did good, some biopsies were taken and are off to the lab. Now we wait for those reports. She’ll stay in the hospital for another day or so. Can’t wait to kiss her nose again.


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The internal debate

The debate churned within me as I watched the news last night and again today.  Another mass shooting, the second in the last seven days.  I watch the talking heads and the famlies from previous shootings arguing their positions on gun control.  I note, again, how similar their fight is to ours trying to get safety regulations in the trucking industry.

Let me say right up front that I’m supportive of at least discussing some gun control legislation. And that I don’t understand the entire complicated issue. But I do know the pain that family and friends carry with them as they walk the halls of Congress trying to get something, anything done.

Sandhill cranes in early morning light.

And who better to talk about possible soultions than the people that have born the brunt of the issue.

I don’t understand why any civilian needs guns designed for warefare. But mostly I don’t understand when purchasing a gun why a background check is a problem. So I’d like to close that loophole, even for private sales. Yes I get that a background check might not have changed anything in many of the mass shootings over the years. But there’s nothing to prove background checks haven’t averted mass shootings either.

It’s like truck safety. It’s hard to prove that we’ve saved lives. But I have to believe that the successes we’ve had at holding back bigger, longer trucks have saved lives, that getting onboard recorders to manage hours of service has saved lives. That just talking about safety around trucking issues with our friends and families has saved lives.

And geese too.

Just like background checks, we’ll never know whose life has been saved because a truck crash didn’t happen. We’ll never know how many live are saved because a background check kept a gun from someone ‘having a bad day.’

I know that someone intent on doing harm will get a gun regardless of regulations. Just like a driver, intent on making a profit can drive longer hours on less sleep and at greater speeds. But regulations keep the majority following safety protocols. And that saves lives.

Remnant

Think back, those of you my age or older, to when there were no seatbelt requirements. When they started being required we protested. They infringed our freedom to drive with wild abandonment. (It was the 60s after all.) But seatbelts saved lives and eventually we adjusted.

Background checks on all gun purchases can save lives, and those of us that want to own guns can adjust.

I know, I know, change is hard.

So what was the internal debate I’ve been struggling with? It was whether to bring this topic up at all. But two mass killings in a week are hard to ignore. One mass killing should be hard to ignore. Our government needs to stop sticking to party lines and have an honest debate.

Reflections

I think we are more than ready to talk about this. And we deserve that discussion.

Pictures today are from a several mile walk I took yesterday at the Shiawasee Nature Preserve. They are straight from the camera, without any editing, because my Lightroom library is still full and useless. I chose these to share with you now, because I don’t know when I’ll be able to edit again. And I didn’t want you to miss a bit of beauty during all the horrific news these days.

Sunrise

Let’s hope it’s a new day in Congress.

PS: I think you’ll have to click on these images to really see them, they seem pretty small in the finished product! Darn WordPress anyway. 🙂


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Selma musings

Staring at the map from here in central Alabama I searched out places to explore nearby. Right away I noticed that Selma was only a couple hours away.

Why did I not know this? Why have we never visited before?

Selma on a pretty Wednesday afternoon.

Wednesday, predicted to be a day filled with sun sandwiched by days of rain, seemed to be the time to go to Selma. So I did.

Armed with a map of Alabama for backup I memorized my route, I-85 to Montgomery, then highway 80 into Selma. I didn’t really figure how much time either leg would take, just went for the ride. I’m retired, I can take my time.

The trip started in grey fog, cold and damp.

I passed miles and miles of cotton fields, shorn of last year’s crop, waiting in the damp fog for spring.

Let me tell you, there’s a whole lot of nothing between here and Selma. Even the southern part of Montgomery wasn’t particularly interesting. Though I did see a miles long line of cars there, waiting, I’m guessing, to get their vaccines, complete with sheriff’s cars, lights flashing, managing the crowd.

That brought me back to reality. I’d been hanging out at the lake, no national news, sort of losing track of what was going on out in the rest of the world. That line of cars, all those people waiting, woke me up to the fact that things are still crazy dangerous.

Eventually I was driving through an area with strip malls, empty commercial spaces and tiny brick houses. Up a slight rise and I realized, with a quick intake of breath, that I was going over the bridge.

Suddenly I realized where I was.

The bridge where on March 7, 1965, Bloody Sunday, marchers for civil rights were met with violence. The bridge where just last year John Lewis’s body, in it’s casket, paused for a national moment of reflection.

I held my breath as I drove slowly over it and into the town itself.

I took these images after I had parked and walked back over the bridge. I walked over the bridge a total of 3 times, the light just kept getting better.

I parked near the bridge and walked back over it, stopping to take pictures of the backside of town, and of the river.

The Alabama River was still that morning. So was the backside of Selma.

There’s was a moment, at the top, where I had to stop and just be. I imagined what it must have been like, sounded like. Felt like. It seemed like a sacred place, even with cars speeding by only a foot away.

If these steel beams could talk.

Then I walked around downtown a bit. It’s in a sad state of disrepair. The whole place needs a huge cash infusion.

Closed for covid? Or closed forever?

I don’t know why there aren’t tours to be had. (Though there was one young man who offered to give me a tour.) Why there’s not a 1960 diner with chocolate malts or strong coffee.

No diner, but you can get a haircut!

Why there’s not a welcome center with a documentary playing around the clock in a little theatre off the main display hall.

Jubilee headquarters.

There is an interpretive center a few miles away, but I doubt that contributes to the revenue of Selma itself, and of course it was closed due to covid anyway.

A pretty staircase to nowhere.

There’s some beautiful old buildings, some are kind of restored, some are in disrepair.

I don’t think they had a room available. But not because they were busy.

There are several huge beautiful churches.

The Blue Jean church.

There was a bit of eccentric art here and there.

This poor little ghost was the character in a local author’s books, and moved around town as part of a promotional effort several years ago.

In fact there was an air of eccentricity over most of the town.

After market additions to this souped up chevy.

I found a couple of pretty places.

A Rotary Club park, with mural and benches where buildings once stood.

But mostly what I felt was sad. Sad that this piece of history is only acknowledged on anniversaries, or this past year, the death of John Lewis.

I hope this Board of Education building doesn’t reflect the condition of the school system. But it might.

Sad that I grew up during the period of racial tensions (the ones back then, they’re still going on, I know.) and I didn’t really have any idea.

I didn’t see a lot of evidence of living the future.

Sad that, if I’m honest, I still don’t really have any idea.

A little park, also falling into disrepair, at the beginning of the bridge.

The town seems stuck in 1965, it’s moment of fame, but there are people living here that have been left behind, just like people in small rural towns all across the country. People in big cities too, if we’re being honest. Places where money and technology just don’t reach.

I agree, the name of the bridge needs to be changed if this town is ever going to move forward. Doesn’t have to be the John Lewis Bridge, but that would be nice too.

It’s a huge problem with no easy answers. But if more people visited Selma, found ways to spend some money here, maybe at least one historical place would begin to move forward, respecting the past but moving into the future.

Sagging under neglect.


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What matters in the end

Yesterday was Inauguration Day. Depending on where you stand it might have been a wonderful, uplifting day or it might have been a tragedy. I have thoughts about all that swirling around in my head – they may or may not spill out eventually.

But that’s not where my head or heart are today.

Because, you see, last night, after a day where the world focused on the big picture, after the sun set in a show we haven’t seen here in years, once the world went still, my neighbor left this earth quietly, his departure marked only by family.

The end of an extraordinary day.

I tell you this not because it was a tragedy, though they will miss him fiercely, but because it reminds me this morning of what is important. It’s not the arguments over real or imagined fears, it’s not the friendships destroyed by political influence, it’s not cabinet appointments or policy changes.

What’s important, really, are the relationships we all have, with our family members, with our friends, with our neighbors. Those are what need to be protected, those are fragile, those will not last forever. Those are what we must work on now.

Last night the birdhouse our neighbor made for us many years ago fell from it’s tree. And last night our neighbor broke free, no longer in pain, no longer confused, no longer in tears.

God speed Jack, Katie and I will miss sitting on your front porch in conversation, or near the end, in communal silence, watching the world go by. She looks toward your house when we’re out on walks and will still tug me toward your driveway. Thanks for always giving her an ear scratch. She’ll miss your, “Whatcha doing girl?”

So will I.


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First there was frost

Saturday was predicted to have sun, the first day of sunshine this year. I needed to get out of the house, where I’d been stewing since Wednesday, the day our Capitol was stormed.

The early morning road was calling my name.

I planned on taking a little photo road trip, to parts unknown. But first I couldn’t resist shooting some images close to home. I was headed out of town when I passed Katie’s park and noticed the hills were all silver with frost.

Our local library, next to Katie’s park, with preservation hills behind it.

Turning around I tromped around a field of grasses, noticing how their details were more beautiful with the beading they were sporting.

Everything was etched in sparkles.

I got pretty cold, and time moved on without me while I was there, still only a couple miles from home.

Early morning light always makes me smile.

Eventually I made myself leave, the sun was rising and I hadn’t gotten anywhere yet. But only another mile down the road I had to stop again.

One of my go-to places where I can see the open sky.

There’s some wide open farm land there, and an old farm, that if you look closely, is falling into dumpy disrepair. I’m sure it won’t be there forever, and I’ve always meant to stop and capture it.

Somebody’s farm in the early morning light of a new day.

So I did.

Plus, where I happened to stop there was this fence…

The fence was glowing as the sun was rising.

…with barbed wire along the top. All of it incrusted with frost.

More time went by and the sun moved higher. If I was going to find more pretty stuff I needed to get moving.

Should I go that way? Or the other way?

But where did I go? What did I find?

I guess you’ll have to wait until the next post to find out.

At least the blue sky prediction turned out to be true!


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Feeling sad for my buck

Our visiting buck walked through the backyard this morning.

Not more pictures lady!

He’s not putting any weight on his left front foot, so he limps slowly as he moves through the yard. I remember thinking his front leg was folded weirdly in the images I shot a couple evenings ago.

Stopping to look both ways before he crosses the road.

When Katie and I went out to do snow photography later in the day we could see his tracks, one foot dragging. When he runs, though, you wouldn’t know he’s injured.

Startled by some people walking on the road he heads for the woods.

I know it’s the same buck that visited with his girl earlier in the fall. In those photos I noticed a big bloody gash on his back hip. Today I got a shot of him from that side and there’s definitely a healed over wound back there.

Over exposed so I can see the wound on his back right haunch.

I hope his leg doesn’t hurt too bad, but I think it might, and that makes me sad.

I’m sorry, big guy.


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Sixteenth anniversary

Early in the morning, sixteen years ago today, dad went home to be with mom.

Studying a map. But there’s no roadmap to heaven.

We said, sadly, that she sent a semi-truck to collect him; she’d been gone five months and they hadn’t been apart for that long since the early days of their marriage when dad got drafted into the army.

1954, he’s in the army now.

So today my family and I think about him. And them. And wish it all could have been different.

1961, the whole family.

But there is comfort knowing they are together for always.

The way I like to think of them, laughing and happy.

When mom came down and collected him that morning, sixteen years ago, I imagine he was glad to see her but worried about leaving all of us.

1990, still had fourteen years of marriage ahead of them.

So I’ll remind him, you both raised us well, rest easy; we’re doing just fine.

See you both again someday.

50th wedding anniversary on Lake Michigan.


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Shenanigans on my deck

I’ve started putting some seed along the deck railing for the birds, and by default the squirrels.

The downside is that they are making a mess and I’ll have to go clean up after them soon. The upside is that they make me smile every day. And seriously, who doesn’t need a few smiles during these scary times?

We’ve been slowly getting over the virus, though both husband and I still have difficulty taking a deep breath.

I tried playing my clarinet a couple weeks ago but didn’t have the air to do it. Maybe that would have been the case after weeks of not playing anyway. Or maybe it’s the result of covid. It would probably be good respitory therapy to play a little every day even though it sounds, well, to be honest, bad.

I’ve been reading too much facebook, too many dog friends have crossed over the rainbow bridge lately. In particular, Sarah the bookstore dog, who I’ve met a few times and who was always glad of a head scritch and posed for me without demanding a treat. I will miss her.

And Nico, a sheltie I’ve never met in person but who showed up in my FB feed every morning with a greeting and sweet semi-worried face. I will miss him too. And the other shelties, so many, including Dallas and Dakota, I will miss hearing about all of them.

2020 has been a year of loss and I don’t suppose all that will just stop on New Years Day. But there are bird and squirrel shenanigans happening daily on my deck and there are vaccines on the way.

All told there is reason to hope. And even smile.