Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Camping makes us smile, no matter where we are

I don’t know how it happens that a week can slip away before I realize it. But here it is Saturday morning, almost afternoon, and I still haven’t posted a smile for Trent’s Weekly Smile compilation. If you haven’t read his weekly smile post from Monday yet you should. He has the most beautiful foxglove flowering over there.

So anyway. Katie and I have been sleeping in the tent in our backyard almost every night for the past week. It’s been beautifully cool with clear skies and she loves it, even though some nights I am kind of cold.

Katie here, this is my “I’m going camping!” smile!

She starts prancing around the back door and whining as soon as the sun even begins to think about heading for the horizon. I’m never ready to go to bed that early and sometimes I just ignore her, in which case she’ll sigh in disappointment and go to sleep somewhere else.

Once I’m ready to head to bed I change into several layers of clothing, grab her leash and wake her up. When she sees me dressed in sweats and holding her leash she gets so excited and she happily pulls me across the back lawn to our tent.

Silly girl.

But it’s not just her, I’m pretty happy to be sleeping outside too. She gets me up every morning between 3 and 4:30 and we head back to the house where she settles in to snooze with her dad and I go back out to the tent to finish my own sleeping. Those three hours of early morning sleep are usually my best sleep each night.

Hey mama, are you awake yet? Cause I’d like to go pee please.

Who’d have thought that sleeping in a tent on a narrow sleeping pad would garner a great night of sleep!

Katie and I put the tent away yesterday afternoon in preparation for a few days of bad weather. They predicted 60 mph winds and potential hail. Of course, as usual, the weather people got overly excited and all we got was a little rain. But it is going to be much warmer this week, so we’ll probably stay inside with the air conditioning for a few days. But when we get the tent back out both Katie and I are going to smile!

Guaranteed.

Me and my tent!


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Smiling in the night

Katie and I have been camping, though it’s just been in the backyard during these Covid-19 days. She starts crying and circling near the backdoor around 8 every evening, so excited to sleep in her tent. Of course that means she goes to bed early.

Mama was a little slow.

So she gets me up between 3:30 and 4:30 every morning. We wander back into the house after she does her jobs, and then, usually, I go back out to the tent to finish sleeping.

Sleeping under the stars.

But the past two nights I’ve spent about an hour taking pictures of the night, honing my night photography skills before I head back to sleep.

The neighbor’s house with a couple planets above.

Last night was really, really cool.

I was taking a picture of the house with a band of clouds and a couple stars overhead. The camera, sitting on it’s tripod was going through the 25 seconds shoot and then the lengthy noise reduction process, and I was staring at the sky directly above me while I waited. And the most spectacular shooting star blazed across the sky. No, it didn’t cross into my picture, darn it, but I saw it and that made me smile.

A layer of clouds was beginning to obscure the stars.

The next shot I pointed the camera straight up, knowing there wouldn’t be another shooting star right there, but wondering what I’d capture. And while the camera was going through it’s process I was watching the cloud bank climb higher in the sky just above the house.

And that’s when I saw the oddest thing.

The sky above.

A line of small dots, lights about the same size and brightness as a star, were moving from south to north, right above the cloud bank, quite fast, but slow enough for me to blink a couple times, adjust my glasses, and process that I was seeing something strange. I had time to consider whipping the camera back from it’s upward image capturing, and to swear at myself for moving it away from the house in the first place, but not long enough to actually do anything but watch, fascinated, until they all moved off into the clouds.

There were probably at least 20 lights, a long straight line of them, then a break and then 5 or 6 more. It was 4:20 in the morning. I’d been shooting the sky since about 3:45. I wasn’t sleepy and I wasn’t hallucinating. I don’t know what they were, but I’m hoping someone else saw them too and has an explanation.

Meanwhile, I’ve figured some more stuff out about night photography and someday I hope I’ll be able to stare at the stars and whatever else is up there from a more exotic location than my backyard.

And then I’ll really be smiling. Guaranteed.

Edit: I found out what it was! Elon Musk’s SpaceX Starlink Satelite Train. You can put in your data and find out when it will be flying near you!

Gee, I always miss the good stuff.


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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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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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Spring’s light always makes me smile

It’s that time of year when even the air seems green. Winter has finally given up and spring has enveloped us in it’s welcome warmth.

I know this isn’t in focus but I loved it so much I couldn’t delete it.

I’ve been watching things pop up in the gardens — I swear if I stood there I’d be able to see them growing!

Do you see anything weird in these hosta leaves?

How about now? Do you see what I thought was a frog? 🙂

And the light! The light in early mornings and late evenings is golden.

Evening light makes the last of the daffodils glow.

I can’t help but grab the camera and run outside when I notice that special light. It’s only there for brief moments and then it’s just a memory.

Morning light on apple blossoms.

Lots of mornings I have Katie-girl to thank for getting me out there early enough to see the first golden light.

I’d have missed this morning flight if it hadn’t been for Katie.

Yep, the light in May is definitely a reason to smile around here. What made you smile this week?

Morning light as seen from the tent. Double reasons to smile!


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Just one more smile

It’s raining today, a steady rain, soaking into our dry, dusty soil. That’s a good thing and made me smile this morning because I’ve been pulling weeds for days (that’s how I know our soil is dusty) and husband has been hauling mulch around the yard for days too. Rain makes me smile because I don’t have to feel guilty not going out and doing more.

So I’m mostly sitting inside watching traffic go by and working on a set of four or five little paintings that will be headed to Norway.

But before I start those I did this one.

Isn’t it adorable?

I was weeding yesterday and pulled up an acorn that had sprouted a little oak tree. I thought it was so beautiful, so intricate yet so simple, that I brought it inside and put it in a glass of water so I could study it again. This morning I drew it and then colored it in — I smile every time I look at it.

And then I looked up from smiling at the little oak tree and saw this:

I think it’s the female orchard oriole, though I haven’t seen her before. She was very focused on what’s left of the oranges. Notice her proprietary foot on the fruit.

I took several pictures of her, at at one point the camera was collecting itself after a series of shots and when the shutter opened up again she was gone and in her place was this one:

This is the female baltimore oriole. She too was very focused on the fruit even though I put jelly in the feeder earlier in the day. Notice she’s standing on what’s left of an orange quarter.

And I made a note to self: Females eating in the pouring rain obviously know what’s better for them. They both focused on the bits of fresh fruit and ignored the sugar. Can’t say the same of the males who have spent all day eating jelly. Just saying.

OK. That’s four smiles for today. So far.

These make me smile too.


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Smiling so early this morning

I have many things to smile about this week and it’s only Tuesday morning!

First, of course, there’s Katie-girl who makes me smile most days even when she’s getting me up to go out into the pre-dawn morning. Which lately has been very cold to boot.

We couldn’t decide whether to laugh or cry this morning about 6 a.m.

And I have what now appears to be multiple orioles at my feeder. Last night there was a series of orioles usurping each other, including the orchard oriole who I hadn’t seen for several days.

This guy is pretty nervous about being photographed.

But the biggest smile today happened just moments ago. I was taking bed sheets off sensitive perennials in my garden, covered last night to protect them from frost and this morning’s snow. It was early, the rising sun was melting the last bits of snow and warming the air. As I pulled the sheets away from the tender shoots I caught a flash of yellow in my red crab apple tree.

Just a goldfinch I thought, but something wasn’t right about the shade of yellow, and I looked again.

A rounder shape, black and white stripes…he hopped along the branches of the crab apple, just a few feet from my head…then he popped out to the end of the branch and the sun lit up his yellow throat.

And me with no camera.

I stood still and we eyed each other. He tilted his head to get a better view of me. I whispered a “thank you sweetie,” to him. We stood that way for a long time and then he flew into the neighbor’s yard.

I’ve never seen this bird before and he’s not in my Michigan bird book. But I went online and found him.

https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/yellow-throated-warbler

He was absolutely stunning, and he’s not supposed to be in Michigan. The site says it’s even unusual that he’d be in northern Ohio. I wish I’d had the camera, but probably if I’d lifted a camera to my eye he’d have been frightened off and I wouldn’t have had those long moments with him. So I’ll keep him in my memory and be grateful I saw him at all.

Oh, another smile, also early this morning:

It’s what’s left of the infamous flower super moon of earlier in the month. It’s not full but it’s still beautiful.

Two smiles in one day and it’s barely 9:30 in the morning. Can’t wait to see what the rest of the day has in store for me!


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Can’t help but smile

May is my favorite month here in Michigan. The grass greens up, the spring flowers bloom, the trees begin to leaf out in that pretty spring lime green, the weather isn’t hot, or dry, or cold, and it doesn’t (usually) snow.

You may need to open this on a bigger screen to see the love birds in the redbud tree.

There’s so much potential. The gardens are still in the planning stages, stuff hasn’t died or rotten on the vine yet. The deer haven’t eaten all the greens, the ground hog hasn’t eaten the green beans and there are big, juicy tomatoes on the vines in our anticipatory imaginations.

And my summer birds come back to the feeder.

This week the orioles came in for the summer. I put my feeder up after reading that others in my area had seen them. Four hours later the first male baltimore oriole tentatively checked it out.

Is that grape jelly down there?

I was thrilled and couldn’t stop smiling.

Hope you got my good side, lady!

They are such beautiful birds, it’s hard to miss those colors as they fly through the yard. And it’s hard to miss their anxious call too, that loud crackling sound they make when they’re unhappy about something. I always know when they’re in the trees above me as I’m filling the feeders.

This year I have another visitor to the oriole feeder too. I’ve never seen an orchard oriole before, in fact I never heard of them until a couple years ago when a friend in New York state mentioned having them.

Orchard orioles are a darker, rusty orange.

He is very skittish and I’ve only been able to grab pictures once – I was already standing still in the house taking pictures when he arrived. If he’s at the feeder and I move to pick up my camera he flies off. So, for now I’m sitting still when they arrive and just enjoying them.

I was out in the yard yesterday afternoon and saw the baltimore oriole, the orchard oriole and a goldfinch sharing the feeder. I think they were taunting me because I didn’t have my camera. It sure was beautiful to watch though.

But this morning, the early morning sky was lighting up just the tips of the trees and I was outside trying to capture the magic…

The sun lit, just for a moment, the very tips of the trees across the street.


…when up over my head, high up in the birch tree I heard that now familiar call.

Hey lady! Go back inside, you’re making me nervous and I want my breakfast!

Good morning Mr. Oriole! Welcome to my yard and the grape jelly in your newly filled feeder! Have a good day!

Geeze, I thought she’d NEVER go inside! I was starving up there in that tree!

I know he will. Little stinker.

What’s that over there?


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Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Outside ways to move up or down

I had planned, today, to head out with my camera into some rural area and see what there was to see. But it’s raining and the sky is dead grey.

I am not inspired.

Wandering through my emails I found this week’s black and white photo challenge from Cee. Outside ways to move up or down.

Hmmmm…I think about looking for parking garages with outside ramps, freeway ramps, the stairs at a local park. I look at the grey drippy light outside.

I am still not inspired.

Heading up to visit the National Police Memorial one evening.

And then I remember being in DC a couple months ago and all those moving stairs to and from the metro. Definitely a way to move up and down, and pretty stunning in black and white.

If you have better weather head on out and see what you can find for Cee’s challenge. You can link to her post (see my link above) and we’ll all enjoy seeing what you saw.

Another cool stairway..but it’s inside so it doesn’t count.