Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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So they aren’t forgotten

Something horrible happened in this beautiful place.


We’ve all seen them, those markers of loss by the side of the road. Do you wonder about the person they represent? When a new one appears do you feel a sudden stab of emotion?

I do.

Sometimes these memorials act as reminders to drive safely.

I think I’ve always unconsciously noticed the markers, but ever since my dad was killed on a Georgia freeway I’ve been more aware.

And more curious.

I don’t know who this was, or what it symbolizes, but I nod hello when I go by.

Because I know we as a family wanted the spot that dad died be marked. A life changing event happened there and it seemed wrong that the road returned to normal almost immediately after. That thousands of people passed by and no one knew what an extraordinary place it was.

Somehow you want people to know.

Sadly, turned left in front of a truck.

So for a few years I’ve stopped at roadside memorials, wherever it was safe to do so, and taken a picture to document the name and dates.

The driver lost control, she was ejected from the vehicle.

And back at home I’d try to find something out about that person. Sometimes I’d find a report of the crash, or the obituary.

See the gash at the bottom of the tree? I think she became an angel right here.

And then, each time I passed the memorial I’d remember that person, sort of an acknowledgement of their existence, a bit of sorrow at the way they left.

State trooper hit by vehicle pulling a trailer, dragged to his death.

I think that’s what the families want, to keep their loved one alive in the minds or hearts of people.

It’s not always a religious symbol.

I feel sad for all of them, but none so much as the young ones. The young drivers, the children who happened to be in the vehicles.

A young driver, he crossed the center line on a curve.

There seem to be so many of them.

Nothing permanent, just left the flowers from the funeral. Motorcycle hit a deer, then a car hit him.

So what, are you asking, did we do at the site of the crash that killed dad? It’s on a very busy piece of freeway, about an hour west of Atlanta, right at a truck weigh station. We knew we couldn’t safely stop there for much more than a moment.

Some crashes happened so long ago, but family never forgets.

So we concocted a plan.

We bought three bags of daffodil bulbs, loaded up into the car with a pic and a shovel and drove there one rainy afternoon. We pulled over as far as we could, piled out of the car, hacked a hole in the soil, tossed the bulbs in and covered them up as fast as we could while cars and trucks streamed by.

Some are so recent.

In the fourteen years since, I’ve rarely been in the South at the right time of year, and never have I taken the more than hour drive from the lake over to the crash site to see if they’ve survived.

The loss of small children breaks my heart.

But last spring I went.

And the road was still as busy, several lanes of trucks and cars flying by. Lots and lots of trucks on all sides of me. I couldn’t really take a long look. But out of the corner of my eye, as I passed the site I saw something.

Waiting in the dying light to offer solace.

Just a simple flash of yellow, there below the guardrail.

I’m not sure how many daffodils were in bloom, I think more than one. To be honest it could have been a yellow solo cup, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that for a brief moment, driving down that freeway, my heart sang and I smiled.

So many stories lost.

So if the daffodils really bloom, there along the highway every spring, then I have to think a few other people have noticed them as they speed past. And maybe they smiled too, and wondered at their meaning.

And I think dad would have enjoyed the beauty and mystery of that.

Hope.


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A photo a week challenge: Attitude

Angry bird

WordPress stopped sending out weekly photo challenges, and though I didn’t post each time they had a suggestion, I did enjoy trying to fulfill the challenge when I could.

Nancy Merrill Photography is sending out challenges now, and when I saw this week’s I knew I had one particular image that showed a certain amount of attitude.


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Living on the lake – summer storm

Once upon a time (this afternoon) Katie and I were sitting on the back porch just watching the lake. Not reading a book, not napping, not looking at a phone or a computer screen.

Just watching the lake

It was a beautiful sunny day when suddenly…

A cool thing about being on a lake is that it’s always changing. From moment to moment the light changes, the wind ruffles the surface, a fish jumps, a bird swoops, clouds gather, thunder threatens.

Wait a minute. Thunder threatens? Why yes, almost every afternoon in this magical place a thunderstorm pops up.

…it turned into a dark and stormy afternoon!

Today we heard it way off to the north, but getting closer. And across the way dark clouds gathering high above a house.

I left Katie on the porch and went down to the lake to get a better look. She was not happy to see me approaching danger. But she stayed up on the porch and worried.

I’ll wait up here mama, but I don’t like it.

It got darker and darker. The wind picked up from the northwest.

It’s blowing hard up here!

Waves developed and Katie just couldn’t stay on the porch any longer. She rushed down to the shore to bark at the bad waves! She was so fast that I couldn’t get a clear shot of her.

Stand back mama! I’ll get these waves out of here!

She ran out onto the dock to bark even harder at those waves posing a threat to her mama.

These waves haven’t heard the last from me!

And the winds slowed, and the waves leveled out and Katie was a happy girl.

Mission accomplished mama!

And then the rains came and we ran for the house. We watched the storm blow from the comfort of our living room and picture window. Katie continued to bark at all the thunder overhead.

I guess that storm wasn’t quite over, was it mama?!

And soon the storm blew away, and the sky began to lighten.

Just a summer shower now.

And the sun came out and made the world bright again.

Dripping sunlight.

And Katie said…

You can count on me!

… “I told you I’d handle it mama.”

The end.

Wednesday’s storm.


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The canals of Detroit

Kayaks waiting for us to begin our adventure.


Did you even know that Detroit has canals? Me either, and I live only an hour north of the city. But I saw an advertisement months ago on Facebook for kayak tours of the canals and I thought it looked interesting.

I know, I know. An advertisement on Facebook? But a friend of mine, someone I haven’t seen in a lot of years, agreed in a comment that it looked fun, and she made all the calls to get us a reservation.

Safer to do this while still on land than once we were on the water.

So Sunday was the day and of course there were thunderstorms predicted. Our early morning 3 hour tour was delayed until afternoon, and in the end that worked out just fine.

We arrived at the marina located just off the Detroit River slightly before scheduled takeoff. We got our life vests fitted and our safety lecture, and then we were in the water.

A quick meeting with one of our guides…

We started the tour by paddling around an island, originally built out of swamp land in the 1920s for wealthy people to live in big houses away from the city. Now it’s mostly filled with homes built in the 1990s.

…and we’re off!

But there are still a few of the original homes left. Like this 30,000 sq foot 2 bedroom mansion built for the Fishers, part of the General Motors team way back when…

The Fisher mansion is in disrepair but seems to be under renovation.

…and some smaller homes, also built in the 20s. Most of the homes built during that period burned in a big fire in the early 70s because the bridge to the island hadn’t been built large enough to carry Detroit city fire engines.

A couple of the smaller original homes.

After we circled the island we headed out to the Detroit River.

Headed into some serious paddling now.

The river is a busy shipping channel, connecting the Great Lakes and lets ships get, eventually, to the Atlantic Ocean. We were told to stick together, not go too far out into the river, but stay away from the wall along the shore, where waves would be slapping and bouncing back at us.

Almost immediately we saw a huge freighter coming our way. We were in no danger, but the size differential between it and us was hard to ignore.

That’s one mighty big ship.

And right behind that ship was another, bigger, deeper more foreboding ship. I knew they’d both be kicking up some serious wake and I was eager to turn off the river back into the safety of a canal.

Another huge ship coming our way.

There was already some serious chop going on and I didn’t really want to ride out any huge waves in my little orange kayak. Soon enough we turned away from the big water and into the relative calm of another canal.

This is much more relaxing!

Turning the next corner we found ourselves in a small community of river homes complete with boat houses. Most of them looked like they’d been around a long time.

Those boathouses might need a little work.

But other boat houses seemed in better repair. And some even held beautiful vintage wooden boats.

High tech garages for beautiful old boats.

We paddled through more older waterfront homes…

Pretending we’re gliding through Venice.

…and then had something of a traffic jam under a bridge.

Some confusion about who has the right of way.

Out the other side of the bridge, around another corner and past more boat houses we headed back toward the big river.

The locals tell us the water is very high this spring.

The sun was beginning to break through the clouds as we entered the Detroit River again. To the east of us the skies were still dark…

Let’s not go toward the storm.

…but to the west of us the sun was shining and the water sparkling.

Even the water got more vibrant when the sun came out.

But the wind had picked up and the water was even more choppy than before. There was little time for taking pictures. I had to try, though, because the Detroit skyline was right there and just stunning with big puffy white clouds overhead.

It turned into a beautiful day!

And then, just as everyone was getting tired paddling into the wind we turned one last time into the safety of the canals.

Back where we started, all too soon.

We had a wonderful time. We saw some really interesting houses and boats. We were challenged on the river. And the sun came out at the last minute to make it all look brilliant.

A pop of color on the beautiful water.

I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. I guess you can’t always dismiss those ads on Facebook. Sometimes they turn out to be pretty darn cool.

This one sure did.

Fun stuff.


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Park season

Let’s get going mama!

Katie here.

Hey! I bet you figured out that when mama and daddy went to Washington DC I didn’t get to go. Nope. I got left at ‘camp’ and I think I got gypped. Mama and daddy got to eat out at fancy restaurants and got to see the monuments and got to go to the zoo and I got to….well…I got to eat my dinner on time every night. I didn’t even have to bug anyone to get it! Not like here at home where I have to remind mama loudly and persistently every single day that it’s almost supper time!

Anyway…

Mama said it was too hot in DC for me, she told me I wouldn’t like it, but I think she was just telling stories to get me to feel better. On the other hand, it’s been really hot here too, way too hot for me to have any adventures at all.

But yesterday it rained real hard and I had to bark at the ceiling for a long time. After I made the rain go away it was a lot nicer outside. Mama and I even slept in our tent in the back yard! I love to sleep outside and I didn’t get mama up until 5:00 a.m. She was pleased cause usually I’m getting her up somewhere between 3:30 and 4:00. Every day.

And this morning mama was cold! That hasn’t happened in a couple of weeks. She said it was a good morning for a walk at my park! Did I want to go?

Come on mama!! It’s a great morning at my park!

Did I! Of course I did.

I cried at the front door until she hurried up and got herself together and off we went. We even got to go in daddy’s truck! I used to be afraid of his truck because it makes a different kind of noise, but I’m a big girl now and I love to ride up front with mama. She doesn’t let me do that very often cause she says I’m not safe up there, but once in awhile I get lucky and there isn’t any gas in my chariot.

We got to my park while the grass was still damp, early in the morning, and so we were surprised to see a Little League tournament going on. Tiny little kids in cute little uniforms filled all four softball fields. So we went to the other end of the park and walked the other way around.

Sigh. I had to stand on this bench. Again. She makes me do this almost every time we come here.

Mama was sort of worried about me because I was walking really slow. But she let me have as much water as I wanted, and let me walk without being on a leash and I just wandered at my speed. At one point she asked me if I wanted to go back, maybe I didn’t want to go all the way around the park.

I told her she was crazy, I wasn’t going to turn around now that I was finally out there! I just needed to go slow as befit my advanced age. I’ll be twelve in December you know, so that makes me eleven and a half. Almost as old as her.

Nothing interesting back here mama!

Besides, going slow I got to sniff everything. Some of it twice. Mama said that was OK, it had been a long time since I’d been there, and who knew when it would be cool enough to come back. She said she didn’t have anywhere to be, so she let me take as long as I wanted.

Of course, in return I had to pose for the typical photos. But she gave me a treat for each pose, so I was good with it.

The pond is looking good today mama.

It took us over an hour to go a little less than a mile. Mama says we’re not going to win any races and I had to remind her she’s not training for any races anyway. Sometimes mama forgets she’s not a young pup herself.

Besides, the delay wasn’t all my fault. Mama sneezed at one point and I had to take several minutes to bark at her. After all it’s my responsibility to make sure she’s OK after she sneezes like that.

Bad mama! No sneezing allowed!

When we finally got back to the front of the park I sat on a hill and watched the little kids play ball. I have always loved to do that, even back when I was little too. I like to see the kids run around the bases and sometimes there’s a treat or two or ten lost in the grass that I can snitch.

You think they’ve got any treats over there?

I wanted to get closer to the action but mama said no. I thought she was being mean, but then I realized I was getting sort of tired and needed to take a nap, so we headed back to the car.

Come on mama, time to go home!

Mama says we’re going on a big adventure pretty soon. I don’t know what she’s talking about but it better not include being left at ‘camp’ again. I’m staying vigilant, but if any of you guys know what’s up please let me know.

A girl’s got to have an escape plan ready.

Katie here, signing off for now….zzzzzzzz….

Shhhhhhh…don’t wake the sheltie.


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Saying goodbye to WordPress Photo Challenges

I’ve enjoyed doing the WordPress Photo Challenges over the years, but this week, with no explanation, they have decided to stop. The last photo challenge is to post your all time favorite photo.

Well that’s not going to happen. Even if I found the time to sort through thousands of images I’m fairly certain I don’t have an all time favorite.

Broken heart and tears.

So I’ll post an image I took yesterday. It represents my broken heart and feeling of loss.


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Yellow flower photo shoot

It looks like yellow waves mama!


Katie here. I know, I know, you’ve probably been wondering where I’ve been. Well I haven’t been doing anything exciting, that’s for sure. Mama has been busy with her camera and taking a lot of pictures that are not me. I don’t know why. Surely there is nothing as beautiful as me. Mama is fickle and I usually just ignore her.

But sometimes a princess has to speak up and I think it’s about time that I point out the lack of adventure around here. Totally unacceptable.

You’ve got a treat over there…right?

Mama did take me over to my park a couple of times this spring. She likes to do a photo shoot of me in the pretty yellow flowers. She says most people don’t like these flowers but she thinks I look beautiful sitting in the middle of a huge field of yellow.

Well of course I do mama. I look beautiful no matter where I’m sitting, and I thought all my loyal fans would like to see some of the photos featuring me instead of some anonymous birds.

The crab apples are almost ready to bloom too!

I know mama likes to take pictures of birds, but truly, don’t you think she should stick with me?

Anyway, we had fun over in the field filled with yellow flowers, and mama has promised me an adventure real soon. In fact she says I’m going on my adventure this afternoon.

It’s such a pretty day, let’s stay here for awhile!

Wait a minute.

I’m going on my adventure? Why isn’t she going on my adventure? I’m not sure I like the sounds of this at all. If you get a phone call from a payphone it’s probably me. I’m counting on you to come save me!

You’ll come save me….I’m just sure of it!

After all, a Princess knows she can depend on her loyal subjects. Right!!??

I’m counting on you!


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All those extras

An evening walk.


For the past three weeks I’ve been walking a bit every day…part of a challenge to walk for 365 days, each day sharing on Facebook a photo of something I’ve seen.

I don’t think it’s a formal challenge, not something a whole lot of people are doing. It certainly hasn’t gone viral. But it intrigued me, and I figured it would get me out the door.

Plus you know me. I like to find things, big and small, to share with you when I go for walks.

I know you’re not all friends with me on Facebook – some of you probably aren’t on Facebook at all. So maybe you haven’t seen the images I’ve posted there. I guess I could put together a slide show of the first 24 days or so….

A patch of trillium hidden back in the woods.

…but this post was meant to talk about the photos that didn’t make the cut. After the first day I decided to limit myself to posting on Facebook only one photo per day for the challenge. I’m posting my favorite one out of the inevitable batch I’ll have taken on each walk.

Crab apple blooms bright in the evening light.

It turns out, not surprisingly, that I can’t take just one photo on a walk. Even when all I have with me is my phone.

Early spring oak leaves show subtle color.

And now I wonder what I should do with the extra photos. Are they destined for obscurity, never to be seen by anyone but me?

Hungry horse down the road.

All the photos on this post were leftovers, extra images, not used, but not unloved.

What do you think I should do?

Evening light shines through new maple leaves.