Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Our girl

On this beautiful spring day our girl, the Princess Katie, is at an emergency vet clinic having surgery to take our her gallbladder. They will also biopsy her liver while they’re in there, as her bloodwork shows a marked increase in values that are worrisome.

Our backyard this morning.

I had planned on putting the tent up yesterday afternoon, and spending last night with her camping in our backyard. We’re having unseasonably warm weather and she’s been a bit listless. I thought she’d enjoy a night outside.

Hopeful yellow everywhere.

But we found out yesterday that she’s listless for more scary reasons than just being bored.

One strong blossom sitting alone.

She’s in surgery now. She (and we) would appreciate any good thoughts you have to spare. She’s a senior girl, but she’s one of the strongest seniors I’ve ever met.

Hope shines.

If any dog can get through this at her age, she can.

Pure love.

Our girl.

UPDATE: 11:30 am She’s out of surgery, in ICU, they are waking her up now. She did good, some biopsies were taken and are off to the lab. Now we wait for those reports. She’ll stay in the hospital for another day or so. Can’t wait to kiss her nose again.


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Gotcha Day

Hi you guys! It’s me, Katie! Guess what, guess what, guess what?!?!?!?!

Today, Wednesday March 31, is my Gotcha Day! For those of you that don’t know, it’s sort of like a birthday but it’s the anniversary of the day that a doggie (or a cat I suppose, though really do cats truly celebrate anything?) moved into his or her forever home.

Here we are on my Gotcha Day at one of my parks!

Fourteen years ago today I picked mama and daddy to be my furever parents. Don’t tell them but I think I got a good deal. I mean seriously, look at the wonderful life full of adventures that I’ve had so far!

OK, so this past year has been pretty passive, no real adventures at all, but on the other hand they’ve been home with me just about every single day. And to be honest, that’s all I really want, to be near mama and daddy all the time.

Mama says my park still matches my furs, not much green around here yet!

Lately, even though they’re home more, it’s harder for me to keep track of them. I don’t hear them moving around as well as I used to, and if I rest my eyes for a moment they disappear. I have to go hunt them up all the time — they’re usually just in another room, but sometimes it takes me a long time to find them and I start to panic. I think there should be some kind of rule that they have to wake me up if they leave the room.

I’ve told mama off a few times when I couldn’t find her right away. Also when she left me home with daddy and went on an adventure without me. Not fair, but I guess she deserves some mom-time once in awhile. Even I admit I’m sort of high maintenance.

There was hardly anyone out here! I guess that’s cause it was Wednesday, and not everyone is retired like mama.

Today mama took me to a park to celebrate my Gotcha Day. It was pretty perfect, cool with a wind that made mama wish she had worn gloves. We didn’t walk very far. Mama said I could walk wherever I wanted and I did, but turned around sooner than she expected.

I say, no sense over doing, right? Plus mama took me to the park late in the afternoon and it was getting close to supper time. A princess like me doesn’t like to be late to dinner.

Mama likes it when my furs glow.

Anyway, I enjoyed my quiet Gotcha Day. In 2018 I was adventuring down south on my day. You can read about it while I dream about it. It was pretty cool, but I’m thinking I’ve maybe outgrown those big adventures now. I’m much more mature, if you know what i mean.

Surprise! It’s spring in tiny little ways!

I hope you had a great day too and that you spent some time outside enjoying spring (or fall if you’re from the Southern Hemisphere!). Mama says she knows it’s spring now because the skunk cabbage is coming up!

Whatever mama.

Skunk cabbage coming up! Another sign of spring!!!


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When all you can do is take a walk

I was lucky enough to get my first covid vaccine yesterday. Health workers at the clinic were congratulating people as they were being injected. The air crackled with optimisim. I felt optimistic too.

Hey everybody, what’s that up there?

But this morning, with a very sore arm and unable to sleep I began to scroll through Facebook. I got tangled up in reading about Georgia’s new voting rules, put into effect by it’s governor yesterday. Feelings of optimisim began to fade.

I know I’m beautiful.

This isn’t going to be a political post, suffice it to say I don’t see how these new rules can be viewed as anything but voter supression. But I know there are others out there with different opinions.

Anyway. I got so depressed scrolling that I finally just up and left the house. I wasn’t sure where I’d go, but I ended up where I usually go when I’m needing some alone outside time.

I really want to come get a treat, but I’m too cool to sit on your hand.

We had torrential rains this morning, but the rain was letting up as I got to Kensington. Because the weather had been so bad there were very few other people there. The wind was brisk, the air heavy with the last of the rain.

It was cold.

I kind of felt like I shouldn’t head out on a hike around the lake. After all, what would I see? But I dug out my hat and gloves and, putting my head down, headed out anyway. Going home didn’t seem a good option.

The titmouse grabs a treat while Mr. ‘too cool to sit on your hand’ watches.

And I’m glad I went for that walk. Pictures here are straight from the camera today, none are edited. They aren’t anything you haven’t seen from me before, but they are a few of my favorites, and the reason I began to smile even in the rain, even with my sore arm.

Well hi there!

Even if the country still seems terribly divided, even if covid is spiking in my state again.

And by the time I left the park four hours later the sun was breaking through the clouds and the sky was blue. I even put my gloves back in my pocket.

Cutest little titmouse ever!

Kensington succeeded at raising my spirits, as it always does. I hope each of you has a place like this to go when you have a bad day. And if you don’t, I hope these images help just a little.

I’m happy to share them with you.

Turns out it was a beautiful day!


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Don’t miss this waterfall!

On my drive north from Alabama last week I took a quick (or not so quick) detour 50 miles east of my route home to see Burgess Falls. Husband and I had been to see it several years ago in the middle of a summer when there was significantly less water flowing than this time of year.

A little waterfall on the hike back to the big one.

It rained hard the evening and night before I drove over to the falls, and it has been raining for months in the Southeast. There was a squishy walk of about a mile back to the falls. I didn’t mind, there were plenty of pretty things to see along the way. Plus I knew I had hours of driving ahead of me. A little walk would be just the thing.

Everything was damp and green and muddy.

The river was roaring, over it’s banks and moving fast. Just like all the other rivers I’d crossed the day before and would cross on my trek north.

My first clue that the waterfall would be ferocious.

I remembered, as I walked, our last visit to this park where we had trekked down a steep metal staircase, and then climbed over boulders to sit at the base of the falls. I was pretty sure that wouldn’t be possible, judging from the volume of water rushing down the river.

And I was right. See those boulders and trees down there in the river? That’s an island and we sat on those rocks and watched people swimming in the pool below the waterfall.

So much water. And the noise!

You wouldn’t want to be out there now. Still, some steps led down ‘to the falls’ so I went down to see what was what.

Wonder what’s down there?

Personally I think those stairs should be closed. It leads you right to the top of the falls where it would be so easy to slip and fall into the raging river.

Teenagers throwing sticks into the water. I couldn’t watch.

I scurried right back up, and told the family at the top who were contemplating the trip down not to do it, it wasn’t worth the climb, and it was too dangerous for their kids.

Other than that I enjoyed my brief time at the falls, and I’d go back again when some of the water dries up. I’m sure there will be plenty of repair work to do before it’s safe to go down to the bottom again.

It was worth getting a little muddy.

Regardless of the water flow this is one stunning waterfall and worth a detour to see it! And I got to see a few barns on the way over there.

Couldn’t resist stopping for this one.

And some more cows.

Cows and their barn.

So even though it added a few hours to my trip home I think it was all worth it. That’s the best part about a road trip –turning left instead of right once in awhile.

Such a pretty place, Tennessee.


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Torn

I’m back in Michigan, and it’s lovely here, with sun and blue sky, a bit of white snow left on the ground. It might get to 50F this afternoon.

My last night at the lake the sky finally cooperated and provided a worthy sunset.

Still.

The fact that it was a foggy morning made it somewhat easier to leave.

In Alabama it was beginning to warm up too, daffodils were blooming, and when the sun broke through the rain clouds we enjoyed temperatures in the 70s.

For weeks, this trip, I passed this field and remembered one year when cows where there and how photogenic the spot was. But I never saw any cows there until the day I was leaving town.

My last day in Alabama I sat on the deck and enjoyed listening to the birds singing. The brown thrush were chasing each other around the yard. Blue birds were flitting everywhere. Robins sang in the morning and ducks and geese gathered in the lake.

I took tiny little two lane roads that curled through the mountains as I headed north. The better to find interesting things to photograph.

It would have been wonderful, after almost a full month of rain, to sit there for a few more days.

There were a lot of interesting places along the way.

Still.

You don’t always have to have a structure to make an image interesting. Especially with fog.

My husband and my Katie-girl were in Michigan and I’d been gone a long time. I felt somewhat guilty lounging around in the South while my husband dog-sat the demanding princess.

So many old, abandoned homesteads tucked in the hills.

Still.

I think about all the families whose dreams moved on to somewhere else.

My sister and brother are in the South and I hadn’t seen either of them in more than two years, so it was great to spend weekends with them, painting with my sister, going on a boat ride with my brother. It would have been nice to stick around and spend more time with them.

So many barns hanging on.

Still.

So many decisions to make.

My girl, who lives in the moment, had spent enough moments without her mama. She must have felt like she’d never see me again.

A high point in Alabama. Plus the sun started to break through the fog.

Still.

Lots of barns still in use.

There were more adventures to be had in the south.

I turned around to get this, because of the car.

Still.

A cozy barn nestled in the hills.

There are adventures to be had in the north too.

Solidly facing a new day.

So here I am, enjoying sunshine while wearing a coat, tickling the princess tummy, feeding my birds, watching the squirrels. And it’s good.

Some grey barns are by design, not by age.

Still….

Photos in this post are from my last evening at the lake, and my drive north.

Kinda missing this place now.


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Take a walk with me. But bring the map.

As you know I’m in Alabama. You’d think it would be warm being in the South, and it sort of is. It’s warmer than up where I came from. But it’s not really warm.

Looking at both sides.

I arrived late Friday night. Saturday was cold and rainy, but Sunday the sky brightened and turned into big puffy white and grey clouds and it got way up into the 60s! I just knew I had to take advantage of the weather, so I headed over to Smith Mountain.

The beginning of the fire road around the mountain. One of Katie’s favorite places to walk. Mine too.

You’ve heard me talk about Smith Mountain before. You can climb up the mountain and then climb up a fire tower that sits on top of the mountain and you have a glorious view of Lake Martin.

From another year, another hike up the mountain.

It’s one of my favorite things to do, but I didn’t do that on Sunday.

No, Sunday the parking lot was full of cars when I arrived and I didn’t want to deal with a fire tower filled with masked or unmasked people. Plus I wasn’t in the mood to climb the mountain.

So I took the walk around the base of the mountain. It’s one of Katie’s favorite places to walk, a big fire road that circles around to the back of the mountain.

The water is low, but the area behind the mountain is still beautiful.

She and I never tried to go all the way around the mountain, because I wasn’t sure if the road actually did that and I didn’t want to get stuck with her and have to make her walk all the way back. So we usually turned around on the backside of the mountain.

She was never happy about turning around.

Little stuff caught my attention too.

So this time I thought I’d just see if the road (which I used as a trail, though it is not part of the trail system, went all the way around. It made sense that it might end up right back at the parking lot.

Lots of interesting shapes and colors.

I was so confident I didn’t look at the map posted at the beginning. I figured it would all work out. I also didn’t take any water. And I accidently left my phone in the car. But I had my camera, so all was good. Right? Of course right!

Such pretty colors on Sunday!

I stopped and got lots of pictures, and when I got to the spot where Katie and I always turned around I figured since the road/trail continued, a nice wide path that had obviously been used, I’d just keep going too.

Hmmmm, are the clouds looking kind of stormy?

Eventually I got to a spot that said “To the tower this way,” and “To the parking lot this way.” Bingo! The parking lot was only .4 miles away! (disclaimer, I was already sort of tired and was disappointed it was .4 miles away, I figured it should be around the next corner.)

This looks promising!

So I kept going on the nice wide path, covered in pine needles. Which got narrower and narrower and there were no more signs and it didn’t seem to be going in the direction that I thought the parking lot should be.

Eventually I saw a pink mark on a tree, and I thought “GOOD! At least I’m on some sort of trail. Maybe I can figure out where this goes!”

Is this trail really going anywhere I want to go?

But shortly after that I saw houses off in the distance where there should be no houses, and water on my left when it should have been on my right. And I knew this was not going to get me to the parking lot. Plus I’d been walking a long time and surely had traveled .4 miles by now.

So I turned around and went back and eventually crossed a trail that had a blue mark painted on a tree and I figured maybe that was a good sign (if I’d looked at the map I’d have known I needed to stay on blue!) Using the sun as a guide for which direction I was going I headed out, hoping it was toward the parking lot.

Maybe THIS is the right way.

A fisherman came the other way and I asked him how far to the parking lot (acting like I KNEW I was on the right path) and he said about half a mile. Sigh. But at least I knew I’d get there eventually!

I see a car!!

When I finally made it to the parking lot I smiled a lot, and then I studied the map, and figured I had taken some of the blue trail, some of the fire road, some of the pink trail and a whole lot of who knows what. I wasn’t at all sure where I’d been, but it sure had been pretty!

When I finally got home I had sweated through my shirt, sweatshirt and jacket. I opened all the windows, and enjoyed the lovely breeze.

After a long drink of water I decided to download the pictures, and noticed that the memory chip that belongs in my camera was sitting on the kitchen table. Which meant it wasn’t in my camera during that walk. Sigh. Double sigh.

I was really sad.

Monday it was very cold, no sun, sleet and rain. No walking around the mountain for me.

But Tuesday, oh Tuesday was bright and sunny! Not a cloud in the sky. I set out for the mountain, determined to retake the best of the pictures I’d gotten on Sunday. And ready to figure out the right way to walk around the mountain.

OK. Here’s the map. I’m sure you’d have had no trouble figuring this out. But most of the fire road isn’t even ON this map.

I studied the map again before I started out. I even took a picture of it in case I needed it out in the field. I am a slow learner, but I eventually figure it out. The fire road isn’t on the map, but it connects two sections of the blue trail and you need to stay on the blue trail to get back to the parking lot…except when it’s a white trail. Either way, DO NOT GET ON THE PINK TRAIL.

Tuesday was windy, with no clouds. The tall pines were waving in the breeze.

And just before I started I checked my camera to make sure the memory card was in there. And remembered this new camera has 2 slots for 2 memory cards. And guess what? There were two memory cards in there.

It was a beautiful day, not as warm as Sunday, so I wore my winter coat.

Which means there was probably a memory card in the camera on Sunday. Which means that the pictures I took on Sunday were probably on that other card. Which means that I really didn’t have to walk around the mountain again.

Pretty stuff everywhere. But pay attention to where you are this time.

Except I really wanted to prove to myself that I could figure out the right trail.

So I did.

And here’s what I learned. It might apply to life in general too.

When you come to an choice of paths to take and there are no signs, and one path seems easier, wide and sunny and covered with soft pine needles, and the other path looks tough, uphill, rocky and narrow, take the harder path, and look for signs that you’re on the right one.

This is where I made my mistake on Sunday. See that path to the left? I never saw it. The sign that says parking lot .4 miles? It has an arrow that points slightly UP. The correct path is the one on the left. The easy path is the one on the right. But that takes you to the PINK trail! WRONG WRONG WRONG!

The easier path will never get you where you need to go.

And that’s the truth. Every place I had to make a decision, if I took the easier choice I never saw a blue (or any) mark on a tree denoting the correct trail. So I’d backtrack and try the other option and there would be that comforting mark.

Even when it seems like you need to be a mountain goat, follow the harder path, it’s the right one.

Every single time if I took the harder option I soon learned I was on the right trail.

Keep your eye out for trail markings, those blue rectangles mean you’re heading in the right direction.

Let that be a lesson for us all.

If you just look there are always signs to point you on your way.

And may you always find your way, following your own personal markers in life.

Signs of spring.

PS: Happy birthday, Dad. I’m at your house, adventuring in some of your favorite places. I know you’re with me. But you would have looked at the map first. I know. Lesson learned. 🙂


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I’m turning into an old fart

When my brothers and sister and I were growing up we pretty much ran around the neighborhood, the woods or spent our time out on the lake. But there was one place we didn’t run, and that was our next door neighbor’s yard. Though our neighbor had two kids of his own he wasn’t really kid friendly.

We weren’t allowed to walk across his yard to play with kids that lived on the other side of him. We weren’t allowed to skate on the part of our lake that was behind his house. We couldn’t even touch his grass in order to take his dog back home when it wandered over into our yard to visit our guinea pig. (Robbie the collie and Barney the guinea pig had a very strong friendship.)

That was all fifty years ago.

From our gardens.

This week I found, on our lawn next to our driveway, a large deposit from what must have been a very big dog. I was incensed. This is not the first time we’ve been the recipient of doggie gifts that are not Katie’s. I’ve ignored it when it’s at the further corners of our yard which is bordered on two sides by roads. But a month or so ago the deposit was left right next to our mailbox. And this week it was right next to our driveway.

It was sort of in my face, and I found myself turning into my childhood neighbor, but with no one around to yell at.

So I made a sign, and posted it right next to the offending pile. It said “Who left this? NOT OK! Pick up after your dog.”

The porch pots are vivid.

Of course no one admitted to being the offending human. I don’t blame the dog, though if it could read I’m sure it would take it’s business across the street to avoid me. I picked up the pile after a couple days, and put the sign away. I’m sure I’ll need it again.

But that incident alone didn’t make me think I was turning into an old fart. Oh no, there’s more.

Yesterday I was moving mulch from a very big pile which is sitting in the driveway, to a sweet little spot in our front yard under the trees, and nestled in among the hosta.

Gonna need a bigger wheelbarrow.

I could feel the drop in temperature every time I tipped a wheelbarrow of mulch onto the ground under the trees. A little microclimate exists there, so cool and green. I thought how nice it would be to have a chair there, a place to sit and watch the world go by on the street.

Which solidified the old fart notion.

Our elderly neighbors (defined elderly because they are older than me) used to sit in chairs in their garage and watch the comings and goings of the neighborhood. They have a lovely deck on the back of the house, looking into their pretty backyard edged in woods, but I don’t think they ever sat back there. No, they sit in their garage on sunny afternoons and watch the street, and us.

And now, here I am, thinking how nice it would be to sit in the front yard and watch the street.

Cool relief.

Yep I’m an old fart, not going to apologize. I figure I can sit under my tree in a comfy chair on my nice soft mulch and watch people walking their dogs down my street. And if they or their dogs get too close I’ll be able to tell them to get off my grass.

Somewhere in the cosmos I think my childhood neighbor would finally laugh.