Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Out like a lion or hungry birds

Not surprisingly we had snow on March 31st. This is Michigan after all, where winter doesn’t go quietly.

We only got this much snow, but it sure was pretty!

Oh no, winter around here is much more sneaky than that.

After beautiful days earlier in the week those pesky weather people predicted snow, and they were right. It started Friday evening, by Saturday morning the yard was stunning. And when the sun peeked through the clouds (for only a few minutes, but still) it was spectacular.

A moment of sun early in the morning made it all sparkle.

I told Katie I arranged for snow just for her Gotcha Day. I don’t think she bought it, but she was kind enough not to laugh.

I’d rather not sit here mama, can we go back inside now?

Even she seemed to think it was pretty cold, wet and windy when we toured the yard. She said snow was not enough to get me off the hook for the lack of celebration on her big day. I had to promise something special for later. I think camping might do it, but don’t tell her.

Seriously mama, I’m cold and wet.

Meanwhile the birds were crazy. I have so many cute shots of them crowding around the feeders, that they will have to be in a separate post.

It was crazy around the feeders!

And of course Katie will be posting about her day and her expectations for future adventures. I might be in a bit of trouble there. We’ll see.

Waiting his turn at the feeder. Classy gent.


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Define spring

The calendar says winter is over. But those of us living in Michigan, and I suspect, other northern states know better than to trust a date on the calendar. Around here we look for more definite signs that spring is poking around and considering hanging out with us for awhile.

For me robins bouncing around in my front yard is hopeful, but not really true evidence of the season changing; we’ve been known to have them stop by in the middle of winter. In fact I think I have a picture somewhere of a very disgruntled robin sitting in my heated birdbath during an icy snowstorm.

Gotta get your bath in when you can.

Up here it’s not really spring until I’ve hear the red-winged blackbird’s cry. It’s a distinctive sound, one you can’t confuse for anything else. That’s why I was grinning last week, because the blackbirds were robustly announcing their arrival. This week they are busy daily cleaning out my bird feeder, they must not have stopped anywhere for lunch on their trek home to me.

Singing for his supper.

Then there are my goldfinches. Though many hang around all year the bright yellow males turn to an olive green in the winter. And in the spring they start sprouting patches of brilliant yellow again, a heralding of sorts that warm spring days aren’t far away.

It’s starting to get yellow around here.

This week the goldfinches are turning a decided yellow. I’ve been hanging out by the windows just watching them power eat thistle seed. Every day there seems to be more yellow showing.

Do you have any more food in there lady?

Some of them have turned almost totally yellow already. Proof positive that winter is losing it’s hold over us, even though it snowed again today.

Can’t hide my colors now!

Daffodils are pushing up from the cold ground. I saw buds on a bush yesterday. The limbs of the forsythia bush seem to have a golden glow though there are no blossoms or even buds yet.

I’m not so gullible to think it’s time to till the garden or plant those annuals yet. Way too early up here. And I know that every year we have a significant snowfall in April.

What do you mean this isn’t the last of the snow?

But I also know that last snow won’t need shoveling because it will melt by mid afternoon. And the sun will grow warmer and finally, finally the frogs will begin to peep.

And then it will be spring.

More evidence.


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The zen of snow blowing

Early morning light shows promise.

Last night we got five or six inches of fluffy snow. Early in the morning, taking Katie out for her first foray into the yard I noticed, even in the dark, how beautiful everything looked. With no wind, and the sun just beginning to edge up into the sky, I could tell it was going to be a great day for blowing out the driveway.

What you say? No one enjoys snow removal?

Well, on a pretty morning, under bluing skies, with fluffy white poofs of snow hanging on the spruce trees and white birch glowing, being outside for any reason is just about perfect.

It’s going to be a pretty day!

And blowing snow out of the driveway is sort of peaceful. There’s a rhythm to it, up and down, back and forth. Mindful more than mindless, as I try not to spray snow and perhaps stones on my husband’s truck parked in front of the house.

There’s a beginning, a middle and an end which lends itself to a sense of order. You can see progress. You can get as creative or as efficient as you want. Sometimes creative is efficient.

The first run down the driveway determines all the rest.

So I cleaned up the driveway, and then, since I was already dressed for it, Katie and I went out to explore the back yard.

Hurry up mama!

We had a great time running around and looking for pretty stuff. Five inches of snow is the perfect amount for a sheltie to bury her head searching for treasure.

It’s right HERE mama!

I always wonder what she thinks she’s going to find under there. Apparently it’s something wonderful.

Darn, I was THIS close to finding it!

The yard was so pretty it was hard to go back inside.

Snow piled up on everything.

But Katie felt that since she had posed for me several times and since I hadn’t thought to bring any treats outside with me, well, we should probably head back to the house.

Race you!

So we did, but not without one last look back at the yard, dressed in it’s winter finery.

Sooooo pretty!

Almost makes staying north all winter worth it.

Typical winter in Michigan.

Almost.

We’ll come out to play again today sweetie.


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Weather swings through Michigan

Morning light.


February weather in Michigan is always unpredictable. Though it’s a short month it can often feel like the longest month of the year. This week we’ve gone from the Polar Vortex to temperatures in the 50s, from shoveling snow to flooded yards.

One morning Katie got me up early and I thought the light outside seemed an odd color. I was right. The sun was coming up and the low lying clouds were a color I’d never seen before.

Looks like some weather blowing in.

And that day, as I watched the sky get more and more interesting, I knew I needed to get somewhere with open spaces.

Early afternoon and the clouds start to break.

So I drove to Indian Springs, a park not too far away, with trails that wander over hills covered in tall grasses.

A dramatic sky always gets my heart rate going.

I should have worn boots because the trail was muddy, but wet feet didn’t dampen my enthusiasm for the sky that day.

And then yesterday we woke to ice. Rain fell on the cold ground and froze. Katie and I skated (figuritively) out to see what was what. We escaped the worst of it, but there was still a thin coating of ice on everything.

I loved the ice on the red twig dogwood shrubs.

It was all beautiful and Katie enjoyed wandering while I was busy getting shots of twigs and needles and leaves covered in ice.

Still lots of color even in winter.

She was content as long as I promised at least one shot of her. She is, after all, a princess, and used to being the center of attention.

I’ll sit for one portrait mama. But there are things I need to sniff, so hurry up.


I don’t know what the weather has in store for us the rest of the week, but I hope it’s just as photogenic as these past few days have been.

Winter shapes.

Katie says she’s up for an adventure.

Ice dripping.


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I’m not old

Katie here.

I’ve got it mama!

One evening this week I was moving from the floor onto one of my beds in the living room and as I settled in mama told daddy I looked old.

Really mama?!

Almost got that one!

I was sleeping! And I decided to get more comfortable. I wasn’t even really awake, not looking my best, not figuring I had to impress anyone. Besides, who’s calling who old anyway!

Throw it again mama!

And let me remind you that you and I played a rousing game of snowball out in the backyard that afternoon. Isn’t it possible that I was just tired from all the extra leaping and spinning and running in the snow? Did you think of that?

I’m a snow ninja!

I thought not.

Let me check out that snowball mama!

So before you go and start talking about how old I am and how you’re worried about me and stuff, just remember I have proof cause daddy took photos. You wanted to go inside before I did.

I was THIS close!

Just saying.

Mama. Geeze.

Got it!


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Photography makes me fat

I admit, the title of this post wormed it’s way into my brain during sleep last night. It made perfect sense then, but it’s less clear in today’s snowy morning light.

I weighed myself yesterday because my knees, hip and legs ache most of the day and night. I particularly notice my knees when I’m carrying the dog, an extra twenty pounds on top of my own extra poundage.

Snow is on the way.

In my sleep I analyzed the situation. I rarely take long walks anymore. When I do walk, even on short neighborhood strolls, I almost always have a camera, though sometimes it’s just my phone. There is always something to stop and take a picture of.

Always.

So the walk turns into a photo shoot. Very few calories are expended while leaning over a mushroom or shooting up into trees.

Let’s go for a walk before it snows more mama!

I wear my Fitbit and religiously note the dismal number of daily steps. Even knowing I’m barely moving doesn’t get me off the sofa. It’s just so warm and snugly there. And here comes winter in full force. Record breaking cold is on the way. More snow. Little sunlight. The odds or me taking more steps slips lower.

But! We have a perfectly good elliptical in the basement. It’s been there for years and I’ve used it twice. It’s hard. It’s boring. But I have no excuse, something has to change, probably more than one something.

Darn. Change is hard.

Don’t stop visiting us lady!


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Coasting down Michigan’s western shore

Last Sunday a friend and I drove north and west to see Point Betsie with it’s lighthouse in winter. We were hoping to see some waves and some ice, and we saw a bit of each.

Taken by my friend, look how she caught that wave action!

On Monday we meandered under a blue sky down the western coast of Michigan, enjoying the shore and beaches at several parks along the way.

Lake fog danced on the relatively warm water in the single digit air temperatures.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to show you some of the beautiful sights we saw. There are so many it’s hard to choose what to share.

The view was worth the climb!

We stopped across the river from Frankfort early in the day and admired their tugboats…

Tugboats waiting for spring.

…and the lighthouse against the dark sky.

The white buildings pop against the darkening sky.

Then we drove up to a bluff overlooking the harbor and the sun came out. I was a bit scared to drive up the steep, snow covered road, but the view was absolutely worth it.

From up on the bluff.

The early light made the lighthouse glow out there in the blue lake.

Further down the coast Ludington’s shoreline held lots of lovely sights. Even with all the wonderful white snow and blue water, this was one of my favorite shots:

Shadows mimic fence.

And this, the ice on the railing, deserves some attention too.

Ice interest.

So many pretty things to see, I put together a little slide show.

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Our last stop was Muskegon State Park where the views weren’t as stunning, but still very interesting.

A lonely tree on a lonely beach.

We had such a fun time wandering the coast of Michigan even though we didn’t get it all done. That just means we have something to anticipate some weekend when the sun shines and the lake glows.

Oh, and just for me, we stopped along the way for a photo of a barn.

Every road trip needs at least one barn.

I’m looking forward to our continued adventure. It’s nice when you can make something out of a cold winter weekend in the north.

Colors out of this world.


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It’s my birthday!

Katie here. Mama said it was OK for me to hijack her blog cause it’s not every day that it’s my birthday. I know I get spoiled every day, but that’s not the same thing. That’s just what’s due me as a princess.

Obviously.

We got sunshine!

But today, Saturday December 15, is my birthday! I am now a big mature girl of 12. Mama says I am too old for cake and ice cream and presents and that I should be happy to just go to my park for a birthday walk.

Does she think I’m going to buy that?

Whatcha mean no presents mama!

Well…going to a park for a walk is my most favorite thing to do. But geeze, mama already took me to two different parks this week. So she’s going to have to up the ante a bunch to make it a special enough walk to qualify as my birthday adventure.

Do I get an extra treat for standing up here?

The pictures I’m posting today are from our two walks. One was last Tuesday when we had our one day of sun. Mama said we shouldn’t waste it and we hurried right over to my park.

It was extra cold that day so I was very very happy. I trotted around that park like I was a puppy! I love it when it’s cold out. Mama? Not so much.

Yep, the pond’s frozen. Must be winter now.

She was wearing about 50 thousand layers and she was still cold, but she let me sniff wherever I wanted and we stopped to take a lot of pictures (of course).

Mama says it’s very hard to take a selfie with a sheltie. I personally think it’s very hard to take a selfie with a mama.

What’s that over there mama?!

Then on Thursday we woke to new snow all over my yard and mama said we shouldn’t waste that either, so she bundled me up in the car early in the morning before it all melted.

Are you going to make me sit in front of a bunch of stuff again today mama?

I was scared. Usually when we go somewhere in the morning I end up at the vet or the groomer or camp. But this time we ended up at a new park!

There was a nice wide path that had been mowed and it moved through the woods which were covered in the new, wet and sticky snow. It was beautiful!

It was hilly too, mama said we did the equivalent of 6 flights of stairs!

But not as beautiful as me!

I don’t know what I’m getting for my birthday, but mama got a new camera for an early Christmas present and Thursday was her first time taking pictures with it. Of course most of them were of me.

Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.

Personally I don’t think she needed a new camera to take pictures of beautiful me. I look good no matter what camera she uses. I can’t help myself.

Which way should we go mama?

But anyway. We had a great time walking through the snow even though the sun didn’t shine until we got home. Mama says that figures. I don’t know what that means but I hope it means we get to go out again soon.

Come ON mama! You are sooooo slow!

Like today, for the promised birthday adventure. Maybe even without the silly camera.

A princess can only hope!

Happy Birthday to ME!


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Release

Contemplating this past week.


It’s been a long and reflective week, beginning Saturday morning when I woke to hear the news that former President Bush had died. My first response was a deep sadness for his family, particularly for his children. My second thought was joy that he was reunited with his beloved Barbara and daughter Robin.

I guess that’s typical, the intertwining of sadness with joy during times like this, the emotions washing up and even overlapping as you maneuver your way through the tasks that must be done to celebrate a life.

Being retired I was able to watch the last journey of the President’s body from lying in state at our Capital to the beautiful ceremony at the National Cathedral and then his flight to Texas and the train ride to his library and final resting place in Houston.

A bit of joyful color in the bleak winter landscape.

And I watched his children and their spouses as they stood time after time watching the transfer of the coffin, on and off planes and the train, into and out of buildings, up and down stairs, all the while being watched by an entire world. Showing their grief or holding it in. Probably exhausted and moving on adrenaline. It’s a lot to ask of anyone, to have such a prolonged and public goodbye.

I’m glad they had a private time together when they said their last goodbye at the library. And I hope today, the day after all the ceremony is done, I hope today they are spending time with each other quietly remembering, laughingly remembering, wistfully remembering.

Looking for simple beauty.

This holiday season will be the first without their parents. To lose booth of them within the same year is so hard. So much change in such a short time, celebrations will never be the same. This year, for sure, will have sad undertones.

But there’s that sneaky joy that will infiltrate too. At times when they least expect it they’ll hear Barbara or George’s voice, telling a story, singing a silly song, laughing at an old joke. They’ll see them in the food they prepare, family favorites or maybe not, if broccoli is on the menu.

But I like broccoli mama!

And little by little, over the months and years there will be more joy and less sad. And best of all, while the sadness recedes, their parents, grandparents, great grandparents will never be far away.

Today as I watch a gentle snow fall and listen to Christmas music I realize that it’s the same for all of us during the holidays. The losses are always there, but the love is always there too.

Let the light shine on you.

My wish for the Bush family is that they spend these precious days together in privacy and peace, certain of the gratefulness of their nation and of the love they will always share within their family. I wish for them a release from the tension and pressure of such a long and public goodbye.

Let your joy show through.

And I wish, for all of you, peaceful holidays too.

Live in the moment.