Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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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.


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Bird brained

When I left you at Kensington last week I promised to show you some of the craziness happening in their giant heron rookery. The heron babies are now teenagers and I think they’ll be flying free any day now.

How many youngsters do you see in the image below?

Here’s a shot of just one side of the rookery. You can click on any picture in the blog and make the image bigger, I’d do that if I were you to see all the detail. And do this on your desktop or laptop or something with a bigger screen than your phone.

I don’t know either, I think around fifteen. I sure would like to see a few of them leave the nest for the first time. Talk about suspense!

I’m so certain they’ll be leaving soon that I went back to the park, even though it’s 40 minutes away from where I live, the morning after my last post. And the morning after that.

I was hoping to see an adult feeding the teenagers. I’ve seen it once before and those young adults can get pretty aggressive with mom or dad. I remember thinking that somebody was going to fall out of the nest there was so much tugging and pushing going on.

Some testing of the wings, getting ready for takeoff?

But the second morning I got there a little late, more like brunch than breakfast, and I think I missed all the action. There was some sibling pushing and showing off, but mostly everyone was just waiting for the next meal to show up.

Yep, it’s pretty boring around here.

There was one flyover of an adult heron. That was exciting for those of us waiting on the boardwalk. After all there are only so many pictures you can take of a bunch of herons standing in a tree.

Accompanied by a harassing redwinged blackbird.

I was about to give up, figuring all the adults were napping after feeding their hungry broods earlier in the morning, when a mama or a daddy showed up to a very excited youngster.

One very happy camper waiting in the nest for a snack.

Everybody else, in the neighboring nests, had their hopes dashed again.

Disappointment down below.

Yep, now things were getting interesting up there!

Hey Jerry! Look at that!

But that was it for the excitement; I figured I was too late to see the show, so the next morning, when Katie got me up at 4:30 I stayed up and got out to the park before the moon had even set.

It was a lovely morning. Doesn’t look like anyone’s awake up in that tree yet.

The light was wonderful.

The usual suspects were standing around waiting for a meal to arrive.

In fact I was so early, and so sleep deprived that I forgot to check the camera settings.

I like this shot anyway, even if it was an accident.

Which is how I got the above image. My ISO was still set at 100 which is nowhere near high enough for the low morning light and a sandhill crane flying right by me.

Meanwhile a heron landed at the very top of the tallest tree in the rookery.

Make way, I have arrived!

He (or she) appeared to be giving a lecture to the captive audience below.

Pay attention kids, I have things to tell you about the world out there.

He or she sat up there for a long time.

“Talk, talk, talk, these older folks don’t have a clue.”

After awhile the kids all started looking elsewhere for a snack.

“Hey! Is that mom coming this way?”

And finally he or she gave up and flew away.

“You can’t tell this younger generation anything.”

After all that excitement it was quiet again. I decided to take myself for a walk to see what else I could find. Want to come with me? I’ll try to keep it short as you might be bird-fatigued already.

Oh, there was this other artsy-fartsy image I kind of liked, though it wasn’t what I intended.

Sort of Edgar Allen Poe, though this isn’t a raven.

I fed a jay from a bit of seed I had in my pocket.

“Thanks lady, most people ignore us jays cause we won’t come sit on your hand like those annoying little birds.”

He seemed to appreciate it.

And there was a plump female bluebird way up in a tree watching everything.

“What’s going on over there?”

I had a red-winged blackbird follow me down the path and perch noisily in a tree about 3 feet from my face while I was changing from my long lens to something shorter. I asked him what he wanted and he looked at me like I was crazy. Of course. He wanted something to eat. So I offered him a bit of seed and he came down and took both peanuts and flew off. Little pig. No picture of it, but you can imagine.

Rounding the next corner I saw a sandhill crane couple looking beautiful in a meadow.

Posing like she’s getting her senior year photo taken.

She and her mate and I got up close…

“If I show you the top of my head can I have another treat?”

…and personal.

Such pretty birds!

They were both interested in having a little after breakfast snack…

This feels somewhat scary, their beaks are so big, but they are very gentle.


…though only one wanted to take the seed directly from me. I left some on the ground for both of them to share and moved on down the path.

“Bye lady! Thanks for sharing!”

There were other things in the forest that were calling my name.

“Hey! You got anything left after those big birds held you up?”

I began to move along faster, I’d already been out there longer than I expected. But it was such a lovely morning and I knew how lucky I was to be able to walk in the woods instead of hunker down at a desk on a Monday morning.

Sure beats going in to the office!

Retirement is a wonderful thing.

Yep, nice to get out of the house and spend the morning in the woods.

Around the other side of the lake I saw a complete sandhill crane family. Dad was standing guard and mom and baby were off in the tall grass. I didn’t get a good shot, but this is the baby, all legs and long beak.

Pretty baby, as soon as it got too far away from it’s mom it scurried to catch up. Dad never took his eyes off them except to shoot me a look.

Almost back to the rookery I stopped to contemplate this plaque on a bench.

Born 6 days after me, died one week after my wedding day.

It made me realize all over again just how lucky I am.

Then, back at the rookery where there was more horsing around and wing flapping.

“My wings are bigger than your wings!”

But there didn’t seem to be much else going on so I decided to head home. I didn’t get the shots I had come for, no parents feeding their youngsters. None of the teenagers took a leap into adulthood and flew away.

“Come back any time, lady!”

But I saw a lot of really interesting and pretty things. And, as always when I walk in the woods, I came away grateful.

Isn’t this swallow beautiful?

And that made me smile.

Contemplating the good life.


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Multiple objectives on a walk in the park

Katie gets me up early every day and today I should thank her because I used her motivation to head down to Kensington, my favorite park, which is about 40 minutes south of where Katie and I live.

The woods was full of light and dark images. Should this be the “one” for the weekly photo challenge? No…I don’t think it’s quite right.

You’ve been on walks with me there before – would you like to come along on this one? Are you sure? It’s going to get a bit long, but there are benches strategically placed along the way in case you’d like to stop for a bit.

This is a pretty bench, should I convert it to black & white for Cee’s challenge? No, I don’t think this is the perfect bench shot yet.

Speaking of benches, that was one of my photo objectives because benches is the subject of Cee’s Black & White photo challenge this week. And Nancy’s Photo a Week Challenge is all about light and dark.

Plus I needed something for Trent’s weekly smile challenge.

Surely that drop of early morning mist will make you smile.

So I headed into the woods hoping I could find beautiful things that would satisfy those three challenges. Because when you go into the woods you just never know what you’ll find…but you know you’ll always find something.

This is light and dark, but so much like my Wordless Wednesday post, maybe it’s not ‘the one.’

Truth be told I headed to the most remote trails first thing this morning hoping that I’d see some deer and maybe even some fawns. I got to the park at 7:30 and almost wished I’d arrived earlier, though it was hard to keep an eye out for deer when the path was so full of roots and rocks just waiting to trip me up in the dark, damp woods. I sure didn’t want to fall, so I was being extra careful.

Lots of places for a person like me to trip.

But I did catch this doe. (6/6 edit: Let’s thank Linda for noticing that this ‘doe’ has the beginning of antlers! You can enlarge photos by clicking on them, and apparently she did! This is a he, so I’m changing all the shes and hers to hes and his) He seemed to be alone and I wondered if he had a baby or two somewhere nearby. I only got one opportunity to get his picture, then he dashed away. I liked how the light made his ears pink. I looked hard for a fawn hidden somewhere near but I didn’t see one.

Get your shot lady, I’m not sticking around!

Eventually the soft forest trail turned into a sort of mowed pasture path. The grass was long and wet. I stopped and tucked my pants into my socks and sprayed my ankles with deet. I’d never been on this part of the trail and I was curious what might be ahead.

Turns out the path went right by this small pond with it’s accompanying….bench.

A good place to rest if you have bug spray.

Yes, I thought to myself, now this is the perfect bench for Cee’s Black & White challenge. I stayed there for a bit, trying different angles, but eventually the mosquitoes made me move along. Mosquitoes are like that.

After a couple of miles the trail headed back and reconnected with the more popular paths. I figured I wouldn’t see any more deer. But I was wrong.

She was busy watching another woman who was coming toward me on the path.

A woman talking on her phone was coming toward me and she captured the doe’s attention.

I edged closer.

I cropped this so you could see her eyelashes. She looks surprised but she didn’t mind me at all.

She let me take as many photos as I wanted as long as I didn’t move fast. In fact it seemed like she was posing.

Did you get my good side?

She was definitely a nursing mom, but I didn’t see a fawn hidden anywhere nearby, and she didn’t seem nervous, so maybe it was napping further away.

Continuing on I heard a rustling in a pile of last year’s oak leaves. I expected another chipmunk or squirrel, there had been dozens of them rushing around the forest floor.

Mr. (or Mrs.) Snake went slithering off in search of breakfast.

Still looking for a perfect light and dark image, I noticed these ferns. Very pretty. Definitely light and dark there.

I liked the deep color and the repeated pattern, but it’s not ‘the’ image.

But maybe it’s not exactly right for the challenge.

Moving along, still on the lookout I noticed this perfect dandelion sitting in a puddle of sun.

The light made the seeds glow against the dark background. Still…it’s not quite what I wanted.

But I’ve done a post about dandelions. And I was hoping to find something new.

Definitely light and dark. Hmmmm…maybe it’s the one.

Meanwhile I was pretty much smiling the entire walk, but these guys, grooming themselves and oblivious to me made me grin.

You’d think we could get some privacy here.

And the light off this opening blossom made me smile too.

Pretty in yellow.

But what would be the perfect light and dark image for Nancy’s photo challenge? There were so many to chose from.

In the end I loved this one. One of the first images I took at the beginning of my walk when the sun was barely up…the dew lining the edges of the leaves.

This one met two objectives – light and dark and it made me smile.

After I got out of the woods I wandered over to the boardwalk that lines the lake where a giant heron rookery lives. The baby herons are now teenagers and huge! Mom and dad herons are very busy trying to feed their demanding children. There is a whole lot of activity, and even though I had already met my objectives I couldn’t help but stop for awhile and watch the goings on.

But this is already long enough. If you want to see the craziness that was visible from the boardwalk you’ll have to wait for the next post. In fact I’m thinking about going back tomorrow morning, getting there earlier and spending more time watching the rookery and the lake that surrounds it.

Wait. What? You say you want to see the herons now? Well here’s a taste.

Incoming parent, hungry teens wait for lunch!

But there will be more. I promise. You never know what I’ll come back with!

Very cool tree art.


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It’s National Sheltie Day!

Katie here. (What? You were expecting someone else to tell you about my national day?)

Mama woke up this morning crying and she’s not sure why. Maybe it’s because of all the bad news lately. She’s quite sensitive, my mama, and things like protests turned violent, and people dying, and stores being burned down on top of so many people sick and dying from the virus, well, sometimes it’s just too much.

Let’s celebrate mama!

Lucky for her today is National Sheltie Day! Of course the only reason she knows that is because it turned up in her Facebook memories from last year. To be honest, she’s not even sure there really is a National Sheltie Day, she has suspicions that it’s all made up by someone short and furry in her household.

Ahem.

But I assured her this morning that it was real. I am very persuasive, so she said she’d take me to one of my parks to celebrate and I was all excited. We went to a little park not far from home and I was so happy when I got out of my car!

I sniffed my way up and down the smaller hills at the beginning of the trail.

Yep, something very interesting walked here not long ago.

But when we got to the top of the first big down hill (and uphill on the other side of the creek) I stopped. I looked at mama and she looked at me. She asked me if I wanted to keep going and I wouldn’t move, even when she gave my leash a little tug. She asked me if I wanted to go back to the car and I wouldn’t move, even when she gave my leash a little tug in that direction.

I don’t know, mama, that looks like a really big hill to come back up!

She said we could just stand there awhile if I wanted to. So we did. We stood at the very top of that hill and just listened to the birds and watched a chipmunk scurry in the underbrush. Finally mama asked me again which way I wanted to go and I turned around and headed back to the car.

I saw mama look one last time over her shoulder at the trail. She said her eyes weren’t really wet, she said a bug just flew into them. But I know the truth.

The truth is that it was 62 degrees outside (16.6 C), too hot for this little sheltie girl to want to wander up and down big hills. The truth is that I’m 13 and a half now and walks have to be shorter then they used to be. The truth is that even though I get excited at the thought of an adventure, the actual adventure sort of wears me out.

Thanks for understanding, mama.

Mama and I both know the truth and that was no bug in her eye.

But I’m still smiling, I had a very nice, though short, walk in the woods to celebrate me and my National Sheltie Day. And when we got home mama gave me a frozen banana and peanut butter treat and that made me smile even more!

No matter what, I’ll always be your beautiful girl, huh mama.

Signing off for now, it’s time for me to take my power nap, your elder stateswoman, Katie-girl.

Whatcha done for me lately, mama?


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It’s hard to smile

This week it’s been hard for me to find something to smile about.

So many families with broken hearts this week.

The news was filled with awful things. The virus killing over 100,000 Americans. The protests and violence stemming from the death that reminds us of other similar deaths.

No, this week I didn’t feel much like smiling.

And then my silly girl wouldn’t sit pretty for a picture and I had to smile…just a little.

Reminding us to stop and smell the flowers.

Yes, this week I looked really hard for something to smile about.

Oh, all right mama. I’ll look at your silly camera. Sort of.

And I found it right here at home.

I hope I made you smile too!


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The case of the purple tick…or why you should wear your glasses in the shower

You know when you’re growing your grey hair out, how your hairdresser tells you that you should use this purple shampoo once in awhile? You don’t? Well let me tell you, there’s a lot more to understand about having grey hair than I realized when I made the decision to stop having it colored way back in October.

But that’s not what this post is about.

Late yesterday afternoon I suddenly couldn’t stand being in the house a minute longer.

Not to say it’s not pretty in my own yard.

I’ve been good about staying home, only going out for groceries. Yes I did take Katie to the woods for a walk one day — we saw no one else on the damp, drizzly forest trail. And four weeks ago I took a drive by myself to photograph barns, another instance when I just couldn’t stay here for another moment.

I’m bored too, mama.

Yesterday I just had to go somewhere so I went to a local park, the one where nature trails wander up over grass covered hills. Getting there around 7:00 p.m. I thought the sky looked interesting. Maybe there would be a sunset worth watching.

Wandering up the hill into the evening light.

I had fun just wandering around. Especially when I found a patch of little lupine hidden among the tall grasses. With the sun slowly lowering the blossoms were lit in the prettiest light. I spent some time walking through the grass, crouching down as I tried to get that light just so.

It was hard to get down close enough to show the light showing through the petals.

And then I walked the rest of the way up the hill to see what the sun and clouds had planned for their last show of the evening.

Turned out the sun slid behind a tall pillar of cloud long before sunset officially arrived. And there wasn’t really much color. Still I took a few shots before I wandered back down toward the car.

Not much of a sunset after all.

And that’s when the storm front moved overhead. The sky darkened and became absolutely beautiful with tall white clouds the center of attention against the black ones following close behind.

A bench to sit and watch the show.

I took a lot of pictures of that combination, the black and white clouds hovering low over the rolling hills. The darker it got the more dramatic the sky became.

It became a dark and stormy night.

And the more the mosquitoes swarmed. The swallows began to fly lower, scooping up the bugs and the sky grew darker and I hurried to the car, making it to cover just before the rain set in.

I was pleased with the pictures I had, but less pleased, later that night when I found two ticks, one on my leg, and one on my neck. Well darn. I’m not sure those lupine shots were worth it!

One last look before I ran for the car.

The rest of the night, and all day today I kept thinking I felt things crawling on me. Finally I decided to take a hot shower and before I got in I remembered that purple shampoo I’m supposed to be using once in awhile. It’s been more than awhile since I used it, so I grabbed it out of the cupboard and shampooed up, wondering why grey hair needs purple shampoo. And then I felt it. A little bump, right on top of my head. About the size of a tick.

Sorry, I have no pictures of ticks.

Frantically I squeezed it between two fingers and put it on a shelf where I tried to see what it was. Not wearing glasses I couldn’t see anything. I turned off the water, stepped out of the shower and tried to grab my glasses from the vanity. That movement made the purple shampoo drip into my right eye. It stung. Now I really couldn’t see anything.

Dripping all over the floor I grabbed a towel and tried to clear up the stinging eye, but no luck. And whatever it was was still lurking in the shower. So I put my glasses on and using one eye went back into the shower to examine the ‘bug,’ hoping it hadn’t crawled away.

These yellow flowers are all I ever get to see.

Turns out it was a bit of dried up purple shampoo, from the bottle that hadn’t been used in longer than awhile.

Well that’s a relief. Apparently the cost of the walk in the hills was only two ticks, I guess those pictures were worth it after all. But next time I take a shower to make sure I’m tick free I’m going to put my glasses somewhere I can reach them without getting out of the shower.

And maybe not use the old purple shampoo.

Yep, stuck in the yard, no adventures for me.


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Influenced

Walking Katie-girl on this warm, almost muggy, Saturday morning I noticed a perfectly formed, fluffy, dandelion seed thingy.

Lots of people don’t like these guys.

I instantly thought of fellow blogger Mike who has taken many wonderful shots of dandelion fluff, and I knew I needed to go home and get the camera.

Katie disagreed.

But after some back and forth and compromise on both our parts, I convinced her to turn around. Once I deposited her back in the house I trotted, with my camera, back down the street. I figured, being it was early, I could get a few shots before the neighbors got going and no one would wonder what I was doing in their ditch.

Kind of cool in black and white.

It sort of worked out, but by the time I was done their garage door was open and they were peering out at me. Once they noticed the camera they just nodded and wandered back inside. I think they’ve seen me out and about before.

But I bet they went out to the ditch later to see what in the world I’d be so interested in.

Yep, the lowly dandelion puff ball is beautiful when you stop and look.