Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Thankful

One of my brothers flew into town last Wednesday, and on this last night of our Thanksgiving weekend I am thankful for all the family time I’ve had these past five days.

Thanksgiving yummy food and big smiles.

My husband, brother and I spent Thursday with my dad’s sister, my aunt, talking about people from generations before, and eating traditional Thanksgiving fare.

The rest of the weekend we hung out around home, watching the nature in my backyard…

Hey! Are you guys going to share any holiday treats with me?

…and today I took him out to Kensington to experience the bird in the hand phenomenon.

Artsy-fartsy bird in the hand image.

All of it was so much fun.

I’ve got my eye on a treat!

He goes home tomorrow, his own dog is anxiously waiting for him, but Katie sure loved having another admirer in the house. We played together in the new snow a couple of times, and she was all smiles.

Uncle Paul took this picture of me. He didn’t know about my treat policy, but I let him off with a warning.

I’m not looking forward to telling her that her new loyal subject won’t be around to wait on her after tomorrow.

I think I’m late leaving for a warmer climate. Maybe I’ll hitch a ride with that Paul guy.

She and I are both going to miss him.

See ya later, Uncle Paul! Come back any time!


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Escape to the lake side

Here it is Saturday already, and I’ve inadvertently left you hanging on my last two posts. Wednesday many of you wanted to know, “What IS that?”

What??

and in the post before that you wondered where I went on my little mini adventure.

From a crispy but beautiful morning.

Both posts were related to the same adventure I was inspired to take last weekend, on our one completely sunny day so far this year. After so much rain, snow and dark skies I eagerly set out early Saturday morning anticipating bright blue skies and endless sun, looking for something magnificent to photograph.

But, as those of you who have been reading know, I got tangled up in beautiful frost before I made it more than a couple miles away from the house. Not a bad thing, you understand, but it certainly slowed me down.

So nice to see sunlight!

My first stop was Katie’s park right in my own town, where the tall grasses were shining. The Wordless Wednesday post was in the parking lot there, a car had driven over the unplowed lot, probably the day before, and then deer had crossed that track. In the early morning light what was concave appeared to be convex and I couldn’t resist capturing the image.

As to where I went next? Well, I had no destination in mind, and even though the sky was bright blue and there was still a little snow on the ground, as I drove nothing in particular caught my eye. So I kept going.

Surely I can find pretty stuff on a day like this!

Eventually I found myself half way to my favorite lake, so I went for it and headed for Warren Dunes State Park, someplace I’ve always wanted to visit.

I’ve always liked images of sand and snow. Blue sky doesn’t hurt either.

It’s down near the Michigan/Indiana border, quite near Chicago. I didn’t know what to expect, but the first sight of the giant dune sure made me smile.

It’s a long way to the top.

I watched families as they trudged up the dune or ran back down. Everyone was having a lot of fun on a chilly but sunny Saturday afternoon.

A long line of trees led to the water.

Of course I couldn’t be at Lake Michigan and not walk on the beach, even though the sun was beginning to descend and the shadows were growing longer.

Pretty patterns.

So I headed down the beach, just for a bit, so that I could say hello to my lake. There weren’t many people out there, the wind was picking up and my fingers were chilled. But I know there’s always something pretty to photograph when you’re walking on a Great Lakes beach.

A chilly afternoon on a beautiful beach.

And of course there was.

Ripples in the sand, driftwood, and the brilliant sky.

Soon enough, though, I knew I should head for home. I hadn’t seen the St. Joseph lighthouse, something I really hoped I would have time for, but it was 30 minutes further south, the wrong direction. I checked to see what lighthouses might be north of me and found one near Saugatuck, not so far away. I put it in my phone and headed out.

Not real, but still pretty.

Turns out it was a replica of a lighthouse, tiny, being used for educational purposes. But it was still photogenic. As was the giant tug boat moored next to it.

All prettied up in festive holiday colors.

It wasn’t what I was hoping for, but what the heck, it was still an adventure, so after a couple shots I headed toward where I thought the freeway to home should be.

I was wrong, and ended up lost in Holland, which turns out to have several murals painted on the sides of it’s downtown businesses. I only stopped for one, because it had a parking lot where I could park and get my bearings, study the map, and set a true course for home.

One mural in Holland, there were more.

Early that morning I set out to find some barns, always a goal of mine on any adventure. I didn’t find any on the way over to the lake, not because they weren’t there, I suppose, but because my heart needed something more.

The last light of day made the barns glow.

Satisfied by a visit to my lake, I found several, all red, on my trip back home.

Worth stopping for.

Since last Saturday we haven’t had another day that was all sunny. No bright blue sky, no warming rays.

Just waiting for me to find it.

But I know we will again someday. And I hope, when the sun shines, I’ll be off on another adventure.

There’s always my lake.

You just never know where or when.

Every sunset promises a new tomorrow.


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Sharing sheltie smiles

Hey everyone! Katie here, checking in to see how all your new years are starting out. I have to say that mine has been stupendous! Cause we got snow both Saturday and Sunday! Fresh, pretty, light, beautiful, photogenic snow!

So many things to sit in front of!

Well, not as photogenic as me, but still pretty. And of course mama said we had to get right out in it so as to enhance the photogenic-ness of our yard. On Saturday I wasn’t sure I wanted to go.

It’s pretty nice out here, mama.

But once I got out there and realized that mama and I were going for a walk in my yard and she wasn’t just leaving me in my pen, well, then I decided I’d have a good time!

I kept posing for her, even when she was trying to get a photo of some stupid leaf. I’d just go around in front of her and sit. Repeatedly. Even after I figured out she hadn’t brought any treats for me.

I wonder if anyone over THERE has any treats?

Eventually she got the idea and took some pictures of me before she went back to her artsy fartsy stuff. I swear, I don’t know why anyone would want to look at anything besides me.

Mama kept looking over my shoulder at this stupid leaf. She thought it was cool.

Then on Sunday, oh my, oh my, oh my…this is what we woke up to!

Isn’t this amazing??!

It was even more beautiful than Saturday’s snowfall! Mama and I just couldn’t wait to get out there with the camera.

Let’s go exploring!

I was less interested in posing for her Sunday. After all, I’d sat for a bunch of pictures on Saturday and gotten zero treats. I figured she wasn’t any more organized Sunday morning and I was right.

What? I’m not sitting in front of this bush, I did that yesterday and it netted me nothing.

But I did grant her a picture or seven dozen. Sigh. You just can’t get mama to stop taking pictures, even when there are much more interesting things to do. Like breaking up sticks. I found this perfect stick and went right to work on it.

This stick is oversized and needs to be reduced in length. Pronto.

Mama said, ‘stop baby, you don’t want to hurt your teeth.’ But I kept on working on that stick because it needed to be broken up into little tiny bits.

Yep, it’s a pesky stick, that’s what it is.

It’s my purpose in this world to break up sticks. And protect mama from squirrels, but a girl has priorities and Sunday morning it was all about stick breakage.

Come on you stubborn stick!

So mama kept shooting pictures and I worked on that stick until it was nothing but stick dust.

Take THAT you stick!

And then I thought maybe mama was laughing at me, and I was not happy.

What? You think this is funny woman? You don’t know what I sacrifice to make you safe from stick assult!

I expected to get a treat for my bravery in defeating the dangerous stick.

I would like extra treats please.

Mama felt bad about almost laughing (and also about not bringing treats), so she asked me if I wanted to chase a snowball or three. Really mama!?!?!

I’m ready mama!

Throw it, mama, just throw it!

I’ve got it mama!

It’s mine, mine, mine!

Everybody back off, this one is mine!

You can’t get away from me, snowball! I will chomp you with my teeth!

I’m a natural, I tell you!

Here comes the world famous stick breaker and snowball chompper!

Making a run for it.

Well, geeze, mama, if you’re going to throw it way over there….I’m not going to go get it. You can find it yourself.

Really, mother?

And so the game was over. Mama failed miserably at making sure I could catch that last snowball. Sometimes she forgets I’m a princess and a princess should never miss. Therefore the princess servant should make sure to only toss things that are catchable.

Sometimes mama forgets.

After all these years I should not have to explain this to her. Again.

Anyway, don’t tell her, but I had a fabulous time and when we went inside I happily spent time pulling tiny snowballs out of my furs and depositing them all over the house so that my folks could enjoy the full meaning of winter wonderland even while they were inside.

Good thing I’m beautiful.

They haven’t thanked me for that yet, I’m sure it’s just an oversight on their part.

Mama says she guesses she’ll write about the pretty snow in her own post. She says I have hijacked this one and it’s all about me. As usual.

Me and my yard.

Well of course it is, mama.

I always say you should give the people what they want. Right? That way a sheltie-princess can share the smiles…another life purpose, but don’t tell mama. It would ruin my image.

Smile!

Outdoor lights make people smile too, so I have decreed that they will stay lit until spring.


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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.


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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.


40 Comments

Snowy interruption

Katie here.

I’ve decided you all need a diversion from the anxiety and stress that seems to be overwhelming us. I’ve thought about this quite a bit and what I think you need is……ME!

I’d like to go outside please.

So I’m going to postpone my afternoon nap and tell you all about what’s going on here in my kingdom. I know you’ve been wondering.

First of all let me tell you that mama and daddy and I are all fine, though I’ve had a bit of a worrisome time this week. You see, several weeks ago mama scheduled me to have my teeth cleaned. She and daddy had noticed I didn’t always smell so good, and once in awhile I pawed at my nose. But the vet was busy and I couldn’t get a senior appointment until this past Wednesday.

Throw the snowball already, mama!

With all this virus stuff mama considered canceling, but she decided she didn’t want to wait because she was going to head down to Alabama soon and I needed white teeth for that! And the vet said even though I’m 13 now I was a very healthy 13, so we went ahead with it.

Well! Let me tell you, I don’t like going to the vet and I especially don’t like it if mama or daddy don’t stay me! Mama isn’t too keen on it either; she says she cried after she dropped me off.

This is WAY more fun than going to the dentist!

And when she came back to pick me up I wasn’t even happy to see her. I was all doped up and stuff and feeling really sad. She took me home and worried about me all that night.

Turns out they had to take out six teeth! This was unprecedented! Mama had no idea there was such a problem in my mouth! Even the vet who looked at me in January didn’t see that much! They took out 4 back molars and two incisors. I had my teeth cleaned every year, and last year was the first time any tooth came out and that was just a little one up front that fell out on it’s own.

Stand back! I’ve got it!

Mama hasn’t looked in my mouth yet, she’s giving me lots of personal space because she feels so bad for me. They’re soaking my food until it’s very soft, and I’m on antibiotics and pain pills for the rest of this week.

I’m milking it for all it’s worth too, mama didn’t even put me in my crate this week when I woke her up real early every morning and wouldn’t let her go back to bed. She feels sorry for me, don’t you know. And she sort of feels like a bad mama that she didn’t realize how bad my teeth were.

Running in circles in the snow is pretty fun!

Actually, today I feel pretty good, my face isn’t swollen any more and I played out in our fresh snow. Mama threw some snowballs and I chased them. Well, I chased four of them, and then I told mama that was enough and walked back to the deck.

She smiled, but was kind of sad.

I think I’ve had enough, mama.

Mama says to tell you that she and daddy are being careful and so far they are both just fine. And we’re not going to Alabama, it’s just not safe for mama and me to drive that far. Mama is sad about that too. Me, well I’ll be just fine once I get paid in treats for putting this post together.

And once I can get back to my afternoon nap.

Keeping one eye on the mama.