Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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.


27 Comments

Something to smile about

These days, in order to make people feel better and less isolated, everyone is sharing things that make them smile. It’s sort of a trend.

But Trent has been collecting smiles for months, maybe years, and this week, crazy as it’s been, is no exception.

A bit of yellow points toward spring.

So as the week has run it’s excruciating course I’ve been on the lookout for something to smile about. And this morning, as I was staring out the window at my bleak, brown yard I smiled.

Because my goldfinches are turning yellow.

He knows he’s looking quite dapper.

It’s proof that no matter what the humans in this world do, what destruction we bring down on our own heads, mother nature just keeps moving along.

Spring will come regardless of whether we’re ready or not.

Some of us were wearing our bed-head look this week. Understandably.

Might as well just sit back, watch and smile.


46 Comments

We could use a smile

Things have gotten kind of crazy here in the States. No matter which side of the virus crisis argument you stand, it’s gotten crazy. I feel like I need to write something about all of this, but I also think we all need to stop and take a deep breath and maybe even smile.

This guy is a red-bellied woodpecker, showing off his red belly.

So, for now, I’m going to go for the smile.

Yesterday I took my neighbor out to my favorite park to feed the birds. She and her husband have just moved into the neighborhood and I’ve told them about the experience of having wild birds land in your hand.

The usual suspects stopped by for a snack.

This week we both had time to spend out there, and the timing was good. The sandhill cranes are back and the red-winged blackbirds arrived just a couple days ago.

This couple greeted us soon after we got out of the car.

Both are hungry.

I told her that the blackbirds wouldn’t come sit on our hands, they are always interested in the food happenings but will usually wait around until we move off and then go in for the leftovers. Just as I was saying this a huge blackbird landed on my hand.

“Thanks, Lady, this peanut is irresistible!”

I guess they were really hungry, because several of them swarmed around for a treat. I’ve never had them come in like that before, and it was pretty cool.

Of course the cranes were intent on getting lunch too. As we were feeding the little birds these two sauntered up the path behind us.

The cranes that welcomed us to their park stopped by to see if we had anything good.

We had seen them over by the parking lot, but apparently they were interested enough in us to follow us as we made our way into the woods.

We wandered through the woods, over hills and across streams. Just about everywhere we stopped little birds came flying. It was so much fun!

On our way back to the car I noticed these three coming to see us at a fast jog.

“It’s a race! Whoever gets to those ladies first gets the best treats!”

They were absolutely beautiful, look at the colors in their heads…

They almost look fake.

…and in the feathers on their back. The sun wasn’t even out and they still glowed.

Stunning!

Speaking of bird heads…I was speaking of those right? Look at these two closeups of the crane heads….one of them had more feathers making the red part look like a heart.

A heart shaped forehead.

And the other in this particular pair didn’t have similar facial feathers at all.

A more streamlined face.

I wonder if one is a female and one is a male…or is one just different?

Now, a turkey head…well…these are just weird. I think Dr. Seuss designed the turkey.

“What you looking at lady?”

Anyway, we had the best time, and we were serenaded out of the park by another pair of cranes in conjunction with our new best friends, the three turkeys!

Do you see them? They’re both screeching. The turkeys behind us were gobbling. It was pretty intense.

My neighbor shared our stories with her husband and he wanted to experience it all for himself. So this morning we headed back out. Today we had blue skies and big puffy white clouds and a lot of wind.

We were met by the parking lot greeter cranes.

Nom nom nom…

And then we ventured back into the woods. At first it took a lot to entice those little birds to come out of the trees for a treat.

“I’m not sure I’m coming down there, people!”

But eventually we found a spot with lots of the little guys and we spent a long time letting them flit around us looking for good stuff.

“Thanks, mister!”

And of course a pair of cranes came wandering up to see if we were worth investigating.

“Good stuff hiding under these leaves!”

So we had two days of smiles this week which, thankfully, eclipsed all the news on television. I guess things will probably get worse before they get better, but as long as we have retreats like this to escape into, we’ll get by just fine.

The sun always comes back.

I hope you are all finding something to smile about too. If you do, share them in your blog and link back to Trent’s smile post. He’ll post a recap on Monday of everyone’s smile.

These days sharing smiles is something of a public service.


19 Comments

Visiting rural Norway

The red barn in all that green caught my eye.


The flowers were similar to what we have here in Michigan, but that’s just about all that was. We took several day trips exploring the Southern end of Norway, all of it pretty rural.

I especially enjoyed a car trip where our host graciously stopped whenever I asked so that I could pop out and take photos.

I thought this was an abandoned house along the coast, but it’s a new build, just meant to look old.

I’m sure by the end of the day he was quite ready to park the car at home! But just look what beautiful places we saw!

Boat garages near a boat ramp.

The coastline was rocky but far more level than further inland. There were a lot of farms, complete with beautiful little (and sometimes large) barns and rolled bales of hay that looked like large marshmallows dotting the countryside.

Another seaside village just begging to be photographed.

Another day trip took us to this scenic seaside village full of white houses, so cute I could hardly stand it.

White houses, red roofs, the town shone even without the sun that day.

I especially liked this little boat garage.

Stormy skies didn’t diminish the color here.

And then there was our walking tour of Farsund, a larger town quite near where we were staying.

We had a pretty day to walk the town.

With it’s steep roads and even more steeply pitched roofs, it reminded me of towns in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Farsund is a sea port.

I enjoyed getting a closeup look at this place. So many pretty things to notice.

No air conditioning required in Norway.

I haven’t shown you nearly enough…

An alpaca farm near the coast.

…there’s so much to see.

The village of Faed, tucked up against the mountains was where my husband’s grandmother was baptized.

I haven’t even shown you the lighthouses, the churches or the mountaintop. I don’t think I can share it all.

Color reflected.

I hope, if you get a chance to go you don’t hesitate to grab the opportunity to see this beautiful country.

The only sunset I saw, but it was spectacular.

Meanwhile in the next post I’ll show you lighthouses. Or churches. Maybe a little of both.

We’ll see.

The Lista lighthouse.


13 Comments

Flowering Norway

A swath of lupine.

We traveled back across the Atlantic on Tuesday, crashing into a deep sleep Tuesday night. Wednesday was devoted to Katie, picking her up from camp, exploring the yard, neighborhood and house with her, as she confirmed everything was as it should be.

And now, finally, I have time to show you some more of Norway.

The sound of bees feasting was everywhere.

I took over 2800 pictures. Not all are great, but a whole lot of them were pretty good. It’s hard to take a bad picture in scenic Norway, and I ended up with 675 images of our time there that we put on thumb drive for the family.

Just like at home, daisies flourished.

Still, I can’t share 675 images with you here, I think WordPress would implode under the weight of it all.

So. How to give you a glimpse of Norway’s beauty? What to focus on? I guess I will have to break it up in multiple posts; today I will focus on plants.

A buttercup looks away during an evening walk.

We arrived in late spring and noticed that quite a lot of what was blooming there was blooming at home too. Lupine and buttercups, daisies and peonies, roses and foxglove were all thriving. When we left hydrangea was beginning to open and sweet smelling honeysuckle climbed the mountainsides.

So many beautiful roses graced homes in every village.

We took long walks on back country roads, along fjords and up mountains. Everything was very very green, moss cloaked old rock fences and ferns clustered against huge boulders.

Cool green envelops aged stone walls.

Much of the time it was damp, though I got to wear shorts a couple of days, and we made it out in the boat once between wind and rain storms.

I don’t know what this is, but it was everywhere along the roads.

But that’s for another post.

Foxglove glows against the rocky mountainside.

For now I hope you enjoyed the foliage of Norway.

Hydrangea just starting to show it’s colors.

Soon I’ll post more about sites along the coast, hoping to show you quintessential rural Norway.

Stay tuned.

Lots of thistle too.


23 Comments

A taste of Norway

We’re still away, and there is little time to blog, but I’ve been working on editing several hundred photos and I thought maybe you’d like to peek.

Our home away from home.

We are exploring southern Norway, following my husband’s family history. It’s beautiful country.

Near the site of my husband’s great grandfather’s home. What a view he had in the early 1900s!

It’s hard not to fall in love.

Small communities dot the coast. I wonder what it would be like to live here.

We will be home soon. I’ll write at least one post about our experiences. I don’t know how I’ll pick the photos.

Following the coast looking for sweet images. They were everywhere.

There’s just so much to see.

This looks like a peaceful spot.

I’ll catch up on your blogs when I get home. I fall asleep every night before I can make much of a dent in my email.

But it’s a good sleep.


24 Comments

A smiley kind of week

Trent hosts a weekly smile blog where he invites people to share something each week that made them smile, then link to his blog so that he can send out a recap on Mondays.

That alone makes me smile.

But this week there are plenty of things I smiled about and it’s hard to choose just one to share. For example, my tree peonies bloomed. Their flowers only last for a day or two and if you’re not quick you’ll miss them all together.

Katie and I were quick this year.

And as you know Katie and I went north for a few days to camp along the shores of Saginaw Bay, on the west side of Michigan’s thumb.

Lots to smile about there.

And this morning I made music with many of my Clarkston Community Band members at the opening of our local Farmers’ Market.

We sat out in a parking lot under the hot sun and played for three hours. It was a blast. I’m pretty sure the top of my feet are sunburned even though I put unscreen on, but at least that will be proof we’ve finally moved into summer arsound here. Another reason to smile!

Katie says she wants to tell you all about our camping trip, so you’ll have to wait just a little bit for that. She’s a slow typist lately. She blames me because I haven’t trimmed her feet in awhile and the extra long fur tends to obscure the keyboard.

Oh! And on our drive up there and back I got to see a lot of barns! You know how that makes me smile!

So let me count. The flowers in the garden, the trip up north, camping, barns, music…it’s just too much to number! What have you smiled about this week? Write a blog and link it to Trent’s and we’ll all be able to smile together.

Katie had a lot to smile about too!


22 Comments

Singing in the rain and other smiles

Early in the morning the sun begins to poke through.


On my list of fun and stupendous things to do in 2019 is to run or walk the 10 mile Crim race in Flint this coming August. I know it’s something I can walk, barring some sort of injury, but walking takes forever and I’m sure I’m going to want to run some of it.

So I’m trying to stick to a training schedule of sorts.

I’ve narrowed it down to one day a week of trying to run faster, (Don’t laugh) one day of running longer, and one day of just getting some miles in.

Lots of these in bloom today.

Today was my longer run day, and the plan was to do 8 miles at my local bike path through the woods park. Usually I kind of dread the ‘long run’ days, but this morning I woke up excited to see how it was going to go.

It’s done now and I thought maybe you’d wonder how it went, so I’ll tell you, mile by mile. Come on, let’s get started.

It’s a long and winding path.

Mile one started out a bit slow. My excuse is that I was several yards away from the car when I realized I was still wearing my glasses. For a moment I thought about leaving them on, but sweat and running and glasses just doesn’t work for me, so I turned around and tossed them in the car. I’m sure that’s why that first mile went a little long even though it’s almost all downhill, and I usually use it as my shakedown run, checking to see what parts of my body are not into running and might give me a bit of grief. This time there was just a tiny, vague twinge in my right knee.

All systems go!

A bit of fungus art.

Just past the one mile marker I was startled as a grackel (bird) exploded out of a tree and across the path right in front of me. I had been looking for my (as I tend to call him) Mr. Bluebird who has regularly sat in that tree watching me go by. Last time I was out there Mrs. Bluebird sat there and observed my slow progress. I guess they’re both busy right now with babies.

And beyond the two mile marker I stopped quickly to examine the wet tracks of something that had crossed the path not long before my arrival. Maybe a dog, but more likely a coyote. Though I’ve seen them before and they never bother me, I picked up my pace, from a slow hobble to what I like to call hobble+.

See those dark spots? Wet paw prints from something.

Shortly after the three mile marker I ran into two chipmunks goofing off, chasing each other on the path. I decided to call them Chip and Dale. They were having a lot of fun until they noticed me. Then they stood up on their hind legs and watched me. I stopped to watch them. Then I moved closer to try for a picture and they streaked off making all sorts of chipmunk noises to warn the woods about the big noisy clomping person out on the path. Their warning was at least three times as big as their little bodies!

A couple of people on bikes enjoying the morning.

The beginning of mile four goes through some deep woods, one of my favorite parts of this path. Less wet than before, so fewer mosquitoes, but still pretty, and shady for those summer runs. By the end of the mile, though, the woods give way to open meadow with a bit of a breeze that I enjoyed. I had a hard time deciding what to wear this morning, and ended up with shorts and a long sleeve technical shirt. It was a damp 52 when I started my run. Turns out long sleeves were a mistake, I should have worn a tank top even though I feel fat in tank tops.

The sky got a little worrisome.

I was watching the sky as I ran through the meadow, making note of ominous clouds way off to the west. As I hit the four mile marker I felt the first drop of rain. Of course. I was the furthest from the car that I could be. Wouldn’t matter if I turned around and went back or kept going forward, the distance would be the same. I kept going and smiled at a woman on a bike going the other way. We both shrugged our shoulders as if to say….”What are you gonna do when it rains, right?” I figured if she hustled she could make it back to the car before the rain truly hit. Me? Well, I ratcheted it up to hobble++.

During mile five I concentrated on getting along faster. That one rain drop had been a warning, and I knew it could be a downpour at any moment. But I stopped to take a picture of a swath of yellow flowers down in a swampy area. I don’t know what the flowers are, but I was pleasantly surprised by two duck-like birds that rose up out of them when I took my shot. I don’t know what they were either. They were the size of ducks, but were both dark. I didn’t stay to try and figure it out. Time was ticking, the clouds were rolling, and the mosquitoes were swarming every time I stopped.

Don’t know what that yellow stuff is. If you look close you can see some blurry birds flying out of the swamp.

Mile six put me back at what I now affectionately call chipmunk junction. As I approached I saw several chipmunks running from one side of the path to the other, chasing each other and having a good time. They began to scatter as I got close, but I think there were at least six of them. Lots of warnings went up as I hobbled through, and I’m sure they were glad to see the backside of me.

With two miles left to go a few more raindrops cooled my face. Just a gentle rain, as if someone knew I was hot and tired. I slowed my hobble down and smiled. And then I heard the slow flapping of something big off to my left. Something with really big wings was taking off, though I couldn’t see it. I figured it was a hawk, or maybe a crane. But a few minutes later two beautiful blue herons flew right overhead, low and slow, they were just beautiful. I smiled wider. And then, for the rest of that mile I whistled “Moon River” from our concert last Tuesday night…and eventually that made me laugh…the incongruity of a hot, sweaty, slightly overweight, middle aged woman hobbling slowly through the woods whistling while smiling at the birds.

Tempting to sit for a spell…but it’s going to rain.

When I hit the 7 mile marker, with only one mile left to go, I stopped for a second and itched the mosquito bite behind my right knee. Then I took a big breath and contemplated the long hill before me, that last mile, mostly up, and started the slow process of getting back to my car.

And out of the woods came my Mr. Bluebird, just a quick flit out to the path, a bank of brilliant wings, and he was gone. But I smiled to see him and picked up my pace.

When I hit the steepest part of the hill I upped the game to hobble++, smiling all the way. At the top of the hill, with a quarter mile to go, two flickers flew ahead of me, the white triangles on their behinds showing me the way. I stomped in celebration on the 8 mile mark painted on the path and skipped the short bit back to the car as rain beginning to fall in earnest.

Hurry! The rain is coming!

I beat the storm with my own two feet, no bike required. The lessons learned from this run? Well, definitely that two motivators are mosquitoes and impending weather. Summer is closing in fast, no doubt about it and I’m going to have to get faster…

…because I know from experience it’s hard to outrun a black fly.

Lots of these in bloom today too.


25 Comments

Running toward the past

Once upon a time, more than two decades ago, I joined a online group of women who wanted to run. I met some of them out at Kensington, my favorite park, and that first day we walked and ran around the lake, eight miles. We walked the uphills and ran the downhills and had a great time talking.

Today I ran behind this guy for quite awhile, but at 3 miles I turned back and he kept going.

Over the years we’ve run plenty of training runs either together in person or together in cyberspace. Plenty of races too, including several half and full marathons. We’ve even been on a few road trips to do races, those are the most fun!

And after each race or long run I’d post my ‘nature report,’ things I’d seen along the way. Even in marathons I could usually remember one thing from each mile to comment on in my race report delivered to our common website after I was home.

The cowslips and most of the trillium are gone, but I found a few still blooming.

Then, ten years ago I ended up with a stress fracture in my right foot, training for a local half marathon, and the running, for me, stopped. I stayed in touch with the group though, cheering on those who were still running, celebrating life events like children’s weddings and the birth of grandchildren too.

The group is much smaller now, but they still support my attempts to get back to running. On my 60th birthday I met some of them for a race in a small town several miles away. Some of them did a half marathon, I did the 5K and then waited to cheer them in after their race. (If you want a giggle, read the post at the link above.)

I don’t know what this is, it was about knee high, all these blossoms are connected to one stem.

Still, even after that I didn’t get back into the running groove. And time moved on.

I miss my friends, I miss the comradery of preparing for a race together, even if it is online. I miss writing my nature reports.

There’s quite a bit of this, reminds me of perennial geranium in my garden.

So a couple of months ago I registered for a local race. It’s a 10 mile race in Flint Michigan at the end of August, and I used to run it all the time – I think the first time I ran it was 1990. In the past decade I’ve run the 5 mile event, and I’ve walked the 10 mile, but I haven’t really trained to run the long, hot and humid race.

And now that I’m registered, well, I have to get cracking. So for several weeks I’ve been trying to get out the door every other day at least for a long walk. And in this past month or so I’ve been adding running bits.

This little whippersnapper passed me a couple of times. Then she’d walk and I’d pass her.

At first just a quarter within each mile. Sometimes not even that. Some days are just walk days. But this week I had a four mile run/walk where I ran the middle two quarters of each mile back to back. A half a mile each mile run.

OK, so run might not be exactly the right word. It’s not that I’m fast. But still.

Then she got further ahead and when I went around the next corner she was long gone.

Some weeks are better than others, and I’m worried that I’m nowhere near ready to do 10 miles, but I’m trying not to get injured, so I’m going slow.

I’ll be traveling a lot this summer which always makes it more difficult for me to train. But I hope that we’ll be doing lots of walking and somehow I’ll stay in shape.

Hot and sweaty but still smiling.

Once I get in shape of course.

Set the phone camera on ‘selfie’ and held it under the may-apple leaves, shooting up.