Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


Red bird

Aunt Vi’s funeral was Tuesday. She looked beautiful, and though I know she was no longer there, I have to think she’d have been pleased by how pretty she was.

Pink was her favorite color.

She was so ready to move on to her next chapter that I could only feel relief for her. Still, it was hard walking past her for the last time at the end of the service. “I’ll see you soon,” I thought, words I’d often used as I left after visiting.

It was hard, too, to leave her at the cemetery, amid the piles of snow scraped from the ground to make room for her pink casket.

It was so cold that day.

She hated to be cold, and at the last nursing home she took advantage of having her own thermostat to keep her room toasty warm. Tropical, I used to tell her. “Are you too warm dear?” she’d ask me. “No, I’m just fine,” I’d tell her as sweat ran down my back.

It felt wrong to leave her in the cold now.

I knew she wasn’t really there, that she was already celebrating with family and friends, someplace filled with light and music and love and completeness. I knew this, but still.

A beautiful resting place for a beautiful lady.

And then, during the luncheon, all of us sitting in the rec room of the apartment building she had lived in for over twenty-five years, someone across the table from me exclaimed “Look! A cardinal!”

Sitting in a tree just outside the large windows sat a lone cardinal, staring intently at the goings on inside.

“You know Vi really loved cardinals,” I remarked. “She called them red birds.” The red bird outside moved to a different tree, still watching the people inside.

Maybe…just maybe.

The next day Katie-girl and I headed to Alabama in an effort to get away from the snow and cold. Midway on the trip we stopped in a tiny little town in Kentucky at a riverside park to stretch our legs. I took a short video of us walking along the river and posted it on Facebook. A nephew noted that he heard a cardinal in all the bird chatter I captured. Hmmmm…

I stopped by the cemetery on my way out of town the day after the funeral. The flowers hadn’t frozen.

And today on our final day of driving, at the last rest stop of the trip, Katie and I were walking along the top of a ravine. The sun was shining and we were enjoying it’s warmth when a cardinal swooped down low to a branch very near us and began to sing.

“OK!” I said, under my breath. “OK! I believe you!” And then the bird flew off into the trees. Mission accomplished.

She said she’d try to send me a sign that she was alright. I’d say she got her message across.

Loud and clear.

Buddy and all her birds are with her now.




Snow attack on the back yard.

It’s snowing here in lower Michigan. Nothing surprising about that, it is after all early February. They say we’ll get five or more inches and that it will snow all day.

Maybe all weekend.

With the weather forecast in mind I stopped at the grocery store on my way home last night. I and about a hundred of my best friends shopped mindlessly, wandering up and down the aisles not sure what I wanted, not sure what I had at home, just sure that I needed something.

Goldfinch scans his food options.

Pushing my shopping cart across the parking lot into the wind driven snow I noticed a woman in a car driving out of the lot. Something about the way she held her head, or her haircut, something about her made me think, for a moment, that it was Janet Yellen. Her last day as Chair of the Federal Reserve was just last week.

Sometimes things are just upside down.

Obviously, now that she had time, she needed to stock up before the snow arrived just like me. It didn’t occur to me that it was highly unlikely she’d be in my town in rural Michigan on a snowy Thursday night.

This much snow makes me want to drink too.

No, the reason I discounted the whole idea was that certainly Janet Yellen doesn’t shop for her own groceries.

Snow can be very isolating.

Or does she?

It’s warmer in a crowd.


A day at the park

Katie here! I had the best day yesterday!

You know how I’ve been stuck in this house for a gazillion years? And when I did go out it was so cold that mama made me wear those silly booties? Well, I’ve been telling mama off. Repeatedly.

This is a lot of snow mama!

I’m doing my best to make her life miserable and it must have worked because yesterday mama bundled me into the car really early. I was suspicious at first because we hardly ever go anywhere that early unless it’s to the vet or the groomer or camp.

So I was sitting in my crate in the back of the car being very very quiet(so that she’d forget I was back there and maybe not take me somewhere bad) when I smelled my park! Well! I got all exited and started barking and pawing at my crate. Mama told me to be patient.

Right mama. I’m a sheltie, remember?

It was cold and windy out but mama and I walked around my pond so that I could make sure everything was good there. I hadn’t been to my park in a very long time, and you know how things can get out of hand if you’re not there to supervise.

Checking out my pond at my park in the early morning light.

It turns out things were just fine in my park and I wanted to stay longer but mama said her face was freezing and we had to go back to the car. Halfway back I refused and sat down. After all I am a princess, and this was my park. I wasn’t ready to leave.

So mama sighed and picked me up and carried me to my car. Mama does not play fair.

I was sad thinking that all the fun was over, but no! Mama took me to another park! There was a fenced area and no other doggies in it so mama let me run without my leash! I haven’t run in a very long time!

I don’t know why I have to stand on these things, but if it makes mama happy…

And then mama found a tennis ball! Oh boy my eyes lit up and I told her to throw the ball woman!

Throw it, throw it, throw it mama!!!

I wouldn’t actually pick up the ball, after all who knows what mouth that ball had been in, but I’d chase it and circle it and then run back to mama with a grin and make her go get it and throw it again.

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It was a very very fun game, and we played it for a long time. Then we walked around the park a little bit and I met a new friend. This is Louie. He and I sniffed each other and decided we could be friends. But Louie’s dad was calling him and Mama said it was time to go home and check on stuff.

Louie ignoring his dad.

Stuff? What stuff mama?

Well! When we got home there were trucks in our driveway! And lots of people coming and going! What was going on? I needed to be here to supervise! Let me at em mama!

Mama said we were getting a new furnace and that’s why she and I left so early, so that they could all work without my interference. Interference? Really mama?

Anyway, I got to supervise the last 5 hours of the furnace installation and all the people said I was a very good girl. I watched them go in and out, and I checked things out regularly. It appears they did a very good job, but it wouldn’t have been as good without me there to make sure things were done properly.

I’m watching you guys!

So I didn’t get any of my usual naps in yesterday. I figure that’s the sacrifice I have to make when my family needs me to oversee a project. Today I’m taking the whole day off….wait…what’s that you say mama? That today is going to be the warmest day in weeks? That we shouldn’t waste it inside? That we should maybe go to another park?

Well OKAY then mama! Let’s get moving woman, no time to waste! The princess demands her chariot…um…car…be brought around front for her next adventure.

Talk later people, I’ve got places to go.

Your Katie-girl.

This might be a bit much mama.


Katie’s fashion statement

The latest style in boots.

Katie here.

My mama travels too much and she hardly ever takes me! Doesn’t she know it’s all about me? I try to remind her every single waking moment (and some that aren’t waking!) of every single day.

My mama is not listening to me.

Why, she was gone (without me!) almost the whole month of December! She was gone for Christmas! And she slept through New Years Eve. I tell you, mama is no fun.

So now that she’s home she says it’s too cold to go out and have an adventure. She says maybe we’ll go tomorrow.

I don’t even know what a tomorrow is.

But one thing my mama did do for me this week was take me to a store and buy me boots! I was so excited to be out doing something that I wiggle-butted all over the store and could hardly stand still when she asked me to stand on the measure my foot thingy.

I’ll model my new boots for you.

Good thing I’ve had like over ten years of school because I finally realized she was saying “KATIE! Stand stay!!” So I did, and we picked out the perfect sized boots for me.

But then she put them on me! OH DOG! That was an ordeal! The first time she had some upside down and she didn’t make the velcro tight enough and I took two high kicking steps and threw them right off of my feet.

Then I stood and looked at her and dared her to try again.

Mama went and sat down to think about things. And she went online and asked a bunch of you guys for advice. Good thing too because sometimes mama doesn’t think things through very well on her own.

Anyway, the next time she tried to put those boots on she had my dad help. One of them held me and the other put the boots on and cinched them up real tight.

I did not like the boots! I walked around trying to kick them off. Mama and daddy laughed at me. I was humiliated. I put my head down and tried to look miserable but then daddy asked if I wanted to go outside.


Well of course I wanted to go outside! I love outside! I love the cold! I love the snow! I love everything about outside!

I’ll wait for you up here mama.

So we went out and I forgot all about the silly boots and I pranced down to the mailbox with my dad. I was so happy! Then we went to my pee room (daddy shovels out a special place for me to do my business because the snow is too deep right now.) and I did my stuff pretty fast and then I pranced inside and mama helped me get the boots off and everybody was happy and I got a treat!


Now I have this whole boot thing figured out. Sometimes I forget that I like them, and I do a back foot high kick right at first but most of the time I let mama or daddy put them on with no objection and I wait patiently by the door, all four boots locked and loaded, while they put on their coats and hats and gloves and boots. It takes them a lot longer to get ready than it takes me. Mama and daddy are super slow.

So now I think we should be able to go for an adventure, right? But mama says it’s still too cold to be outside very long. I have to agree. This morning she filled the birdfeeder and I waited for her on the deck. She took forever and I finally went back to the door and barked to be let in.

Did I tell you that mama’s super slow? Sigh.

She says maybe tomorrow we’ll go to the park. I guess I’ll have to wait and see.

Stay warm everybody. And if your toes are cold have your mama take you to a store to buy you some boots! I’m sure you’ll look as stylish as I do!

Talk later….your fashionista girl Katie.

Standing on the deck is not all that exciting mama!


Day two on the shore of my favorite Lake

This morning, the day after Christmas, started out just like yesterday ended; blowing snow and roaring wind and waves. I was somewhat discouraged to face another full day inside. Still….the lake was beautiful, though often obscured by bands of incoming snow.

Not a good morning to lounge on the deck.

I began a new book. Checked social media. Checked the fridge. Filled the cat bowl with fresh food and water. Took a nap. Watched some cooking shows on PBS, and then learned how to paint a happy little tree with Bob Ross. By early afternoon the wind had died down a tiny bit and I pulled on the coat, hat, boots, gloves and grabbed the camera to go down to the lake and see what was what.

Each little weed is covered in ice and pressed snow.

For all the blowing and noise of the night there really was very little snow left on the dune. But each little stem of the dune grasses was coated in a hard covering of ice and snow.

And the rope, which would be used to help me climb back up the dune looked permanently frozen, but beautiful.

Not so helpful now.

The wind really hadn’t died down very much after all, I was just out in between snow bands. It was frigid, (only 7 degrees F, -13 C) so cold I couldn’t really see through my view finder, especially squatted down low to see those little ice clad weeds. The horizons on those shots were almost 45 degrees! Good thing I found the straightening tool in Lightroom!

I only lasted outside for a total of 7 minutes. And I didn’t risk climbing down the dune to the water. But I got outside and I feel much better for having tried. I might even attempt a drive to town. But probably not, as that would entail removing ice from the car windshield. Tomorrow might be a better day for that adventure.

So, until I get out to find something new to capture, stay warm everybody!



First snow!

I wish I could be as enthusiastic as Katie about the first snow of the season.

Really mama? It’s snow. I should be running, not sitting here getting my picture taken again!

I know that people in the South had much more snow than we’ve received. I guess I should be thankful that we don’t have more.

That’s better mama!

But I also know this is only the beginning of the long winter in Michigan.

Let’s do that again mama!

Katie thinks it’s about time there is snow to play in.

I think it’s time for a treat!

Of course she’s not going to shovel the driveway.

Silly girl.

This is my woods mama!



Katie here. No I’m not the surprise…you knew I’d pop up again sooner or later. I’ve been mostly resting since we got home from our grand adventure. I still get my mama up really early every morning, but then we go back to sleep. She seems to need more sleep these days. Guess she’s getting old.


Yesterday afternoon it started to snow. Mama made me go sit in it.

Really mama?!

She thought I looked pretty with the snow on my fur. I thought she was being ridiculous. I mean, when it rains I don’t make her go stand around outside do I? Oh. Well, yes I do, come to think of it.


Mama was surprised that so much snow had stuck around when we got up this morning. It was all over the tops of trees, but didn’t seem to get to the shrubs underneath. She says it was really pretty and we ran outside to take pictures.

Hey mama, come on out, the snow is great!

Well. She took pictures, I spent the time sniffing stuff, checking to make sure it was all safe you know. But when she called me to COME! I ran right over to her. I love doing that because, as you all expect, mama has a treat for me. Sometimes I run with my eyes closed, dreaming about that luscious treat.

Running for joy in the last snow of the season.

Mama was fascinated with how the snow emphasized the shapes of the trees…

Birch branches outlined in fresh snow.

…sometimes, she says, you don’t notice things like this until the snow points them out.

Look at all the cool shapes out there!

And then do you know what happened? The sun came out! Man oh man that sure made stuff even prettier!

Blue sky and fresh snow…with a little bit of cloud action.

Look at all the colors!

A special moment in time.

The green of the pines and the yellow of the forsythia buds next to the white shrouded birch trees was spectacular! I almost didn’t notice but mama pointed it out to me. She’s good like that.

But my feet were getting wet and cold and I was hungry. After all I’d only had one tiny treat and it was way past time for breakfast. So I made her take me inside. But that didn’t keep her from taking more pictures as the hungry birds stopped by for breakfast too.

Incoming chickadee!

I guess having a little spring snow isn’t all that bad, mostly because I know it will be gone by this afternoon.

Already melting.

And this weekend is shaping up to be warm and sunny. I’m going to get mama to take me to my park. Or maybe a couple parks.

A girl can hope anyway.

Waiting for summer.