Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Never stop

Day one of our Sorrow to Strength conference was a success, but oh so emotional as the 30+ families each shared the reasons they were attending. Survivors relived their crashes, tears often streaking down their faces. Families of those lost did the same. No one was judgemental. No one was impatient as we let those emotions flow.

And at the end, when our large, sad and somewhat soggy family was all talked out, one of the volunteers passed out bracelets she had made. One for each person, placed into hands still holding damp tissue.

She chose the hummingbird, she said, because they never stop.

Just like us.


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In the heat of the moment – Washington DC

A press conference a couple years ago.

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We’re headed to Washington DC today, to attend over the weekend and into next week, the 8th Sorrow to Strength conference. Many of you know that I’m a volunteer for the Truck Safety Coalition, that I’ve been working with them on truck safety issues ever since my dad was killed by a tired trucker in December of 2004.

Every other year a lot of families, all whose lives have been forever changed by truck crashes, meet in DC to provide support to each other and to lobby for safer truck regulation.

Tami, a good friend now, lost multiple members of her family in a truck crash and resulting fire.

It’s hard.

But it’s good too, to reconnect with people we’ve come to know and to meet the new families, fresh in their grief.

At another press conference, fighting double 33 foot trailers.

I’ll let you know more about it next week, if I have time to post, or after we get home if I don’t.

Safety is no accident.


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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.


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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.


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Nancy’s photo challenge: View

We’re still in Norway but our trip is coming to an end soon. In the meantime, here’s a view from the top of a mountain…

…overlooking the fjord where we’ve been staying.

That’s Farsund you see in the distance. It’s a cute little city with about 9,000 people, shops, a marina and a great waterfront.

This week’s photo challenge was perfectly timed , given I’ve been enjoying some pretty extraordinary views while here. I’ll post more soon.

Stay tuned.

Our host’s view of us.


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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.


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Hanging in the rain…and fog…and cold…and…

Katie here. I know you can hardly stand waiting to hear all about my adventure, but I had to wait until mama trimmed my paws. You know how hard it is to type when your nails are too long.

One of my favorite things to do is hang out under the picnic table. Never know what you’ll find under here.

Plus, we got home from our trip way last Friday but this is the first time I’ve been able to kick mama off her laptop long enough for me to write to all of you.

Sometimes mama forgets I’m the princess.

We had a great view!

But other times, like last week, she does things just for me, like taking me camping in my tent but way up north instead of in my own backyard. I just love doing that. This time we went up into the thumb of Michigan, and camped at a Michigan State Park called Port Crescent.

Mama reserved our site way back in January, so that we could have a spot right on Saginaw Bay. It was awesome. OK, yes when we first arrived on Tuesday afternoon it was a trifle windy. So windy that mama wasn’t sure she’d be able to get the tent up by herself. I told her I wasn’t about to help her, as a princess doesn’t do manual labor.

Mama was hoping for no rain.

She got it up but was afraid to try to put up the rain fly. She said that would be like handling a giant kite in a tornado.

Eventually the wind died down a little, plus it looked like rain, so mama gave it a shot and, using the wind to her advantage, got it up and over the tent. Turns out this made the wind try to lift the whole tent up into the air.

It was really windy, but I wasn’t afraid of those waves!

Mama got out the heavy duty stakes and pounded them deep into the ground.

Then she and I got inside the tent to help hold it down. The wind was amazing, making the tent walls shudder and the waves, only feet away, roar. Then on top of the wind and waves the rain began to pour down. Rain on a tent can be pretty relaxing, but not when it’s coming down sideways!

You want me to help you hold the tent down mama?

It was a pretty noisy night, but I slept through most of it. Mama said she stayed awake shivering and finally put on more socks and long underwear and her winter coat and a hat and mittens so that she could get some sleep around 1 a.m.

Guess mama isn’t built for cold. I thought it was the perfect sleeping temperature.

The next morning the wind had died down, the bay was calm when we ventured out about 5:30. I don’t know why mama was so grumpy, it was beautiful! She should thank me for getting her up to enjoy it.

Early morning blue hour. She would have missed this without me. She never gives me enough credit for the good stuff.

We walked down to a little beach and looked at the water for a bit, then mama said after breakfast we were going to go visit Grindstone City. Well, I don’t know what that is, but I’m always up for an adventure.

A nice morning…but is that fog?

Mama said it was a tiny town up on the very tip of Michigan’s thumb that used to make grindstones, and lots of the old grindstones are still up there scattered around. She’d been there twice before, once with my dad about 10 years ago, and once with her dad so many years ago she can’t count.

She was confident she knew where it was.

Hurry up mama, I think the fog is closing in!

So off we went. First up we visited the marina at Port Austin, the town just up the road. It was really pretty, which, from a princess point of view isn’t always a good thing, cause mama makes me pose in front of a bunch of stuff. All the time. Boring mama!

A pretty spot to sit on a day without fog maybe.

Anyway, while we were there the fog blew in, and it blew in really fast! By the time we left you could hardly see anything. Mama, however, noticed a few barns as we drove further north looking for Grindstone City. She was so busy looking at the barns that she sort of lost track of where she was.

Lots of barns in lush green hills!

At one point she stopped to look at a map. I don’t know why she had to do that. I mean, I asked her, how hard can it be to find the furthest northern point of a thumb? It’s like right there on her hand, right? (Joke mama, joke!)

Mama said she thought we had gone too far in the fog and needed to turn around. So she was looking for a place to do that when she saw a sign for this.

We had this place all to ourselves.

It’s Pointe Aux Barques Lighthouse, built in 1847. In 1849 Catherine Shook became Michigan’s first female lighthouse keeper when her husband drowned. The current structure was built in 1857. It began to rain as we were exploring, so we didn’t stay long, but it was fun to walk around and imagine what it must have been like back in the day. The fog and rain made our imagination even more vivid!

Still, we hadn’t found Grindstone City! Mama referred to her map again and set off confidently. And this time she was right!

Grindstone City must be around here somewhere!

We pulled into town and stopped at one of only a few commercial buildings. Signs said the best ice cream in the world was served there, but it wasn’t open.

No ice cream today!

I wasn’t disappointed cause I never get ice cream anyway. Mama said it was OK because she was too cold and wet for a frozen treat.

Really old.

So we headed off to look for a particular peninsula where she knew there used to be some abandoned grindstones. Plus when she was there with daddy years ago she had thought that I would like to explore it someday. And there, just around another corner was the place she remembered!

This looks interesting mama!

We pulled up and she noted that there were lots and lots of families of Canadian geese, complete with dozens of babies. She told me maybe we wouldn’t be walking out to the end of the point after all, as geese can be pretty aggressive when they’ve got the babies around. But as soon as she got me out of the car they all slid noisily into the water.

Guess they know not to get in the face of a princess.

Let’s get sniffing mama!

So off we went. Mama liked this one tree across the way and spent a lot of time trying to get a shot of it. There were tons of swallows flying and she started laughing cause she couldn’t get a shot of the tree without a bird flying into the image.

A bird flies through the frame.

I was too busy sniffing the ground, looking for grindstones to bother with birds. And way out at the end of the point I found one!

There’s a grindstone out there!

We spent a long time out there, mama found all sorts of things to photograph. And I liked being out in the wind and the fog and the rain. Kind of made my fur curly, but I figure it’s a look. Right?

Right?!

Anyway, by the time we got back to camp I needed to take a long nap. Unfortunately our campsite had a whole bunch of wood chips that liked to stick to my fur. It didn’t bother me, but mama spent a lot of time sweeping out the tent and muttering.

A princess needs her nap.

Wednesday night mama slept in all her clothes including hat and mittens again. She actually googled for nearby hotels but there weren’t any. I, on the other hand, slept great.

Don’t bug me mama.

Thursday morning I managed to let mama sleep until about 6. It was a beautiful morning and she was happy to see what she thought might be sun touching the tops of the trees. And soon we had evidence that finally we were going to have a nice warm sunny day. Perfect for camping even though it was our last day there.

Tall cottonwood trees shaded our site.

We went south a little bit and explored the Albert E Sleeper state park. Mama hadn’t wanted to stay there because their campground is on the other side of the main road. Mama says it’s more fun to be right on the water.

Another park with no one around.

I reminded her it probably would have been warmer at night to be in the woods instead of on the water, but she said the sun on the water Thursday was worth all those nasty nights of shivering.

Sunshine on the water makes us happy.

Whatever mama.

No one was at the Sleeper state park at all. There were lots of trees and it was pretty…

Lots of parking available!

..but there were also lots of signs like this. Which we ignored since no one was there.

Let’s go see what’s over the dune quick before anyone notices!

We walked down to the beach and I got my picture sort of on it…without really touching their precious sand. I figured I’d rather just hang out at my campsite and watch the water instead of worrying about being busted breaking the no dog rule.

So that’s what we did.

Kids and their dog play in front of our site. I stayed dry on shore as befits a princess.

And Thursday night there was the prettiest sunset. The people in the next site brought their kayaks and went out to enjoy the sunset. Of course mama took their picture ( a few dozen pictures actually) and she sent them the best shots yesterday.

A romantic paddle at sunset.

She took a few of me too.

This was a perfect day mama!

And then it was Friday morning and time for us to head home. I was sad, it was going to be another beautiful day and I didn’t want to leave. But mama said camping in the state parks on the weekends is just not fun, too many people, too much noise, and besides, she was sort of missing her bed at home.

You always do this mama! Where is my tent!?!?!

I didn’t understand that exactly, cause I was sleeping in my own bed. Mama brought it with us, per my demand. Doesn’t matter to me where it is as long as mama is nearby.

Anyway mama packed up Friday morning, and I supervised. Then we took the long way home and mama took pictures of a few more barns.

A bird on a barn with a bird.

We made it home in time for dinner, and then mama unpacked the car and did the laundry and put stuff away. I took a nap.

I’m ready for us to go again real soon, but mama says she might need to take a little break. She says it’s nice to sleep without putting on four layers of clothes, and huddle under three blankets. She also enjoys sleeping without sand and wood chips in her bed.

I don’t know why she looks at me when she says that.

I miss my campsite by the water mama!

So that’s the story of my adventure. We had a lot of fun, that last day of sunshine sort of eclipsed all the rain and wind and fog and cold. Almost. I hope our next adventure is a little bit warmer, but not too warm. You know how a sheltie princess enjoys being cool.

Mama will just have to suck it up.

I can’t wait to get back out there!