Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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We could all use a smile.

Reflecting on current events.


Trent, over at his blog trentsworldblog has decided that we could all use a smile, so he has resurrected his weekly smile post in which he invites us all to post each week about something that has made us smile, and then link back to him.

I think he’ll post a recap, but I need to go back and read the instructions (you’ll find those at his Weekly Smile blog).

There’s gold in the woods. And a bit of peace.

As I sit watching the horrific news out of Pittsburgh this morning I have to admit I was feeling guilty for feeling good after my short trip to northern Michigan.

Sometimes you just need to walk away.

For me going into the woods is like living on my own personal private island. No TV, no email, maybe a bit of blog producing, but that’s all about looking through images I’ve just taken and then letting the fingers do their thing.

No stress there. Usually no tears.

The logging museum shows life in a simpler time.

And yet the world carries on even while I’m not noticing. Pipe bombs get mailed. Mass shootings happen. Candidates snipe at each other. No one tells a complete truth.

Is there really only one way?

Who even knows what the truth is anymore.

Sometimes a person needs the welcoming woods.

As Carol says in her latest post, we’re all probably overloaded. By everything.

So I think Trent’s idea is wonderful. Let’s look for at least one thing that has made us smile this week.

No television out here.

For me, it was being in the north wandering among the last bit of fading color. I was only there for a little more than one day, and it was drizzling rain most of the time.

Still. In the last few minutes before I climbed back in the car to head home the sun burned through a layer of cloud and the woods glowed.

It was just for a moment.

Glowing in between the raindrops.

But it made me smile.

Follow the path for soul renewal.


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Nancy Merrill Photo Challenge: Reflection

When this week’s prompt showed up in my email on Thursday I knew exactly where I’d find my shot, luckily just a few miles up the road from my hotel room.

A mirror finish on this lake reflected the dock as well as the golden trees.

This is Glory Lake, one of two small lakes at Hartwick Pines. Though there was no sun Friday morning I still gasped as I turned the corner and saw the reflection.


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Short and sweet

I’m on a quick ‘up north’ trip with a friend. We wanted to make a specific destination in time for sunset, figuring the lowering sun would enhance what remaining color was hanging on the trees.

It was sunny when I left home, but as I headed north more and more clouds accumulated. I wasn’t worried, I figured the sunset would be more interesting with clouds.

But as I pulled within four miles of our destination the sky turned a blank grey and it began to rain. Fog floated up between the trees.

Not looking good for finding color.

I figured trekking through a wet field to the top of a hill in the rain to see the nonexistent sunset was going to be a waste of time. But I’ve learned to never give up, especially when you’re so close. So we trekked.

And as we began to top the hill I knew we were right to make the trip; I could see color out there in the fog.

See what’s over the hill?

And when we got to the top?

Stunning, even in the rain.

Amazing.

It’s supposed to be sunny here tomorrow and we’ll have a few hours to explore before we head home.

Can’t wait to see what we find.

On the road again.


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What’s down that path?

Dow Gardens was started in 1899 by Herbert Dow, founder of The Dow Chemical Company. The Gardens, originally developed on eight acres of flat, sandy land, provided a creative outlet for Herbert Dow and his interest in agriculture and design. He created gardens, ponds and hills according to a simple philosophy that we still follow to this day: “never reveal the gardens’ whole beauty at first glance.” –from the Dow Gardens website.

When I left you last, during our Walktober, we were about to explore a winding path in the Dow Gardens.

A curvy stroll.

Didn’t you wonder where it went? It’s just one of many secret garden rooms at the Dow Gardens in Midland Michigan.

The elevated walkway we visited for our Walktober sits in Whiting Forest, right next door to the gardens, and in fact the $5 ticket to the elevated walkway also got us into the gardens. So of course we went, even though by then we had already walked a lot, and it was getting colder and wetter.

Not letting a little cold rain stop us!

And we were not disappointed, not at all. The first frosts of the winter season had already done their damage and the formal flower gardens were just memories, but this place is designed to intrigue even when flowers are no longer blooming.

The original land was flat and only eight acres, but the garden now has all sorts of hills and knolls, with pathways, bridges and ponds tucked into the landscape covering one hundred and ten acres.

Even cement bridges end up looking interesting. Don’t you want to go see what’s up those steps?

There’s a definite Asian influence in parts of the park…

I loved these round steps, and the red bridges.

…and lovely old trees everywhere.

The big heavy limbs of this tree were their own art.

Though the flower gardens were gone to frost, there was still color just about anywhere you looked.

A big old maple tree next to the herb garden where I spent time smelling lemon verbena. Heavenly.

There were ponds reflecting beautiful landscape…

Even on a rainy day this was stunning.

…and stairs leading to the next hidden glade.

This just begged to be climbed. So we did.

And then, just to add to the whole experience, there’s the house.

This is just one angle of it, there’s a whole lot of house you can’t see from here.

We know we’ll be back to take the tour of the house. It looks fascinating.

I’ve only shown you a fraction of what there is to see in these gardens. And you’re seeing it on a dreary cold dank day. Imagine it when the sun is shining. Or in the spring when the flowering trees are in bloom, or in midsummer when the secret gardens are at peak. Or in winter when the trees hiding their secrets show off their profiles as a distraction.

It’s only an hour from me, but even if you’re further away, it’s worth a trip. Come on up and visit Michigan and while you’re here, stop for a few hours or an entire day at Dow Gardens!

No matter the season you, like us, won’t be disappointed.

There’s a few statutes too.


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Washington recap

Some of you have been wondering exactly what we do when we go to DC to work on truck safety issues. And now that I’ve brought that up I suppose there are some of you newbies to the blog that wonder what truck safety issues I’m talking about. So here’s the short version of the story.

We had dinner along the river at sunset our last night in DC.

My dad was killed almost fourteen years ago by a tired trucker. He was stopped in traffic on a freeway in Georgia, headed to the Atlanta airport, when a semitruck, being driven by a relatively new driver hit him from behind going 65 miles per hour. He died, they say, instantly.

The driver said he had fallen asleep.

The driver was over the number of hours he should have been driving, had been driving all night. The crash happened around 6 in the morning on a straight piece of highway. Police, ambulances and firetrucks were already there, working on a previous crash. Everyone had slowed down and stopped as they worked their way around the existing crash.

The semi driver didn’t see any of that.

After dinner we went for a walk.

Once we got over our initial shock and began to learn the truth we found that the problem was much bigger than just our crash. In the fourteen years since I’ve met dozens of people who have either survived such a crash, being hit from behind by a truck driven by tired or distracted drivers, or have lost loved ones in crashes that sound exactly like my dad’s.

And that’s why I go to Washington regularly.

We talk to the staff of Representatives and Senators. We ask for legislation to fix some of the loopholes. We ask for support of legislation that is already pending that will make the roads safer for all of us in passenger cars and for the drivers of big trucks too.

A new building, made of green glass. I thought it was stunning.

We talk to agencies in the Department of Transportation; to staff and management of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, to the people at the National Transportation Safety Board, to different departments within the DOT, all of whom are responsible for different aspects of road and vehicle safety.

Sometimes we talk to truck manufacturers and trailer manufacturers. Some of them are moving forward with safety technology even though the government is all wrapped up in studying stuff and not willing to mandate safety.

We spent a long time watching this fountain as it changed colors.

This past week we had a meeting with the FMCSA Administrator. He is new this year and is facing an uphill battle to get much of anything done. What else is new in Washington, right? He said a lot of the right things, but the reality is that very little will change.

Maybe nothing will change.

I’m not sure they’re even studying much of anything now. I looked at those (mostly) men, sitting in their expensive suites and wondered how much money they made to get absolutely nothing done. They talked a lot about what they were doing and why things were hung up.

We talked a lot about how frustrating it is to work on issues for decades without seeing movement. They mostly didn’t look us in the eyes.

There were lots of pretty lights.

And while we were there we met with a few Senators and Representatives’ staffs. They aren’t doing much either, but they listened politely.

Studying our notes before meeting with Minority Leader Pelosi’s staff.

It’s not enough. I’m tired of getting symbolically patted on the head and told they’re sorry for my loss. I’m way beyond needing to make them cry. Unless it’s to cry when their boss loses their next election.

Time to vote people. Vote your heart. Vote for people who might be willing to work on the hard issues, and maybe even be willing to work with people from other political leanings.

This bridge was beautiful too in a sort of patriotic way.

It’s the only way we’re going to start making a difference.

While we were in the FMCSA meeting on Wednesday the 2017 truck related deaths and injury numbers came out. Four thousand seven hundred and sixty-one people died. That’s up 9% from 2016.

That’s staggering. And it’s why I continue to go to DC.

So now you’re up to date. Pictures were taken on our last evening in the city, using my cell phone. Not quality pics, but they do give you a glimpse of the pretty side to the city.

Working hard to save lives.


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Last one of the season.

I picked Katie up from camp on Monday. Can you believe the people there say she never barks at all? Me either.

She made up for it by telling me off the entire thirty minute drive home. And then barking at her dad and me off and on the rest of the day. She was pretty wound up. So after one restless night at home we set out for one last camping trip in the north.

Since it’s after Labor Day here in the United States, most people don’t think about camping and campgrounds are pretty empty, especially during the middle of the week. But it was going to be a beautiful couple of days, with highs in the 70s (23 C) and lows at night in the mid 50s (11 C). Plus the skies were supposed to be clear, and better yet, there would be no moon.

Perfect to make another attempt at taking pictures of the night sky.

I made one attempt during our drive across the Upper Peninsula last week, when we stopped along the way at an Inn right across the street from Lake Michigan. My husband was good enough to go out into the night with me even though he was tired from driving.

Natural and man made light brighten the night sky.

Turns out we had fun, though I didn’t get exactly what I was hoping for. My Wordless Wednesday post was one that I thought was sort of successful with it’s Milky Way high in the sky and the grasses in the front. Not entirely right, but not bad. And the image above was the best of what I got during our walk along the boardwalk.

So I was hoping for another opportunity as Katie and I headed north on Tuesday. Conditions should be perfect, and I had a sweet little lake in mind. With fewer people camping I had a better chance at getting a camp site right along the lake, and Katie and I scored a great site.

Do you see the little doggie back there?

There were only three other couples camping, each spaced far from the other. The weather was perfect. Katie and I went on several walks around the campground after we set up the tent. She was thrilled to be there, prancing along with her nose to the ground.

“Hey mama! There’s still wildflowers blooming over here!”

And then as evening arrived, we sat on the shore of our little lake and enjoyed the fading light.

It was a peachy kind of evening.

Still, it was a long time until the stars came out, and Katie got impatient and restless. I ended up going to get the car and parking it at the boat ramp so that she could nap while I worked. She was good with that.

Finally, after nine p.m. the sky was a midnight blue. I was hoping to get some images of stars reflected in the still water, but that didn’t really work out. I wasn’t high enough above the water to truly see many stars reflected. And the milky way wasn’t over the lake like I had hoped. But it was still pretty.

It was a pretty spectacular night.

I think if I had waited around a few more hours it might have moved on over the lake. But Katie was sleeping in the car and I wanted to be sleeping too. So after an hour of attempting to get the image I was envisioning, I settled for what I had and we went back to camp. None of the images were perfect. This one shows the tremor from me pressing the button to open the shutter. I can’t find my remote clicker thingy. And I think my tripod isn’t stable enough for this. Or maybe it’s just me not tightening it up enough.

Anyway, once back at our site, surrounded by tall dark trees, I looked up. It seemed like there were more stars right above my tent than all across the entire lake. I had to set the camera back up again.

Could have looked at this all night.

Even Katie seemed impressed. She waited quietly next to my feet as I clicked away. Sometimes she knows it’s not all about her.

And in the morning, after checking out the misty lake, watching a bald eagle snatch a fish out of the water, and happy with my nighttime experiment, we packed up and headed home.

A beautiful morning.

It was going to get warmer, and Katie’s not so good with heat these days. Plus sleeping in my own bed seemed pretty enticing. Katie did not agree and turned her back on me as I was taking the tent down.

“If I don’t look at you then it’s not happening.”

She tried to protest by refusing to get in the car after everything was packed.

“I’m not going with you mama!”

But when I asked her if she wanted a treat…well….she decided she’d come along after all.

“Well OKAAAAAY then!”

Yea, she’s a good girl, my Katie.

“No star is prettier than me mama!”