Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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The zen of snow blowing

Early morning light shows promise.

Last night we got five or six inches of fluffy snow. Early in the morning, taking Katie out for her first foray into the yard I noticed, even in the dark, how beautiful everything looked. With no wind, and the sun just beginning to edge up into the sky, I could tell it was going to be a great day for blowing out the driveway.

What you say? No one enjoys snow removal?

Well, on a pretty morning, under bluing skies, with fluffy white poofs of snow hanging on the spruce trees and white birch glowing, being outside for any reason is just about perfect.

It’s going to be a pretty day!

And blowing snow out of the driveway is sort of peaceful. There’s a rhythm to it, up and down, back and forth. Mindful more than mindless, as I try not to spray snow and perhaps stones on my husband’s truck parked in front of the house.

There’s a beginning, a middle and an end which lends itself to a sense of order. You can see progress. You can get as creative or as efficient as you want. Sometimes creative is efficient.

The first run down the driveway determines all the rest.

So I cleaned up the driveway, and then, since I was already dressed for it, Katie and I went out to explore the back yard.

Hurry up mama!

We had a great time running around and looking for pretty stuff. Five inches of snow is the perfect amount for a sheltie to bury her head searching for treasure.

It’s right HERE mama!

I always wonder what she thinks she’s going to find under there. Apparently it’s something wonderful.

Darn, I was THIS close to finding it!

The yard was so pretty it was hard to go back inside.

Snow piled up on everything.

But Katie felt that since she had posed for me several times and since I hadn’t thought to bring any treats outside with me, well, we should probably head back to the house.

Race you!

So we did, but not without one last look back at the yard, dressed in it’s winter finery.

Sooooo pretty!

Almost makes staying north all winter worth it.

Typical winter in Michigan.

Almost.

We’ll come out to play again today sweetie.


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How much fun can a girl squish into a sunny day?

Katie here!

Hey, hey, hey, hey!!!!! Guess what? I am bored! For the last two years mama has taken me to warmer places to visit friends (and my beloved Reilly the Cowspot Dog) and to race around on the beach and hang out at my lake house and stuff.

Me, my boyfriend Reilly and his little brother Denny at the beach in Florida a couple years ago!

This year? Nothing.

Plus here in Michigan it’s been snowing and raining and sometimes it’s so cold I have to wear the dreaded booties! There’s hardly any time when it isn’t just yucky outside, and you know how important being outside is to me.

Before I got to explore mama made me sit for this picture.

Outside is my favorite place to be bar none. Well. Except when I’m in front of my full supper dish, then that’s my favorite place to be. But other than supper there’s no better place for this sheltie girl to hang out than outside with it’s wonderful smells and cool breeze.

I liked this bridge but mama said the shadows made it hard to photograph.

And sun. I haven’t seen the sun in a million years. Oh wait. We had one day last week when it stopped snowing and raining and freezing and the sun came out! Mama said we had to get cracking because we didn’t want to waste a single second of it!

Just me and my shadow.

So we jumped in my car and we raced to one of my parks. I don’t go to this one very often, it’s sort of not on the way to anywhere, but mama said we also had to go to a store that was near it, so it all worked out great.

Hey mama, you didn’t forget the treats, did you?

No one was out there, so we took a meander around to see what there was to see. Nothing amazing, but still it was pretty. I had fun mostly because she didn’t take too many pictures, and because I didn’t have to wear those stinking booties, and because she let me sniff stuff while she was busy taking pictures of not me.

Yes, mama, I will sit on this red bench for you. But hurry up, we’re wasting sunshine woman!

Mama already posted a couple of pictures from that walk, but I figured you really needed the sheltie perspective.

Then after we were done with the park mama took me to a store! I got to sniff all over, except for the cat side, cause they had a bunch of cats out in crates to get adopted and she figured I didn’t need to upset them. And she didn’t want to fall in love with a cat.

I agree mama should never fall in love with a cat!

Hey mama! Don’t you think I need a life jacket for next time we go on a boat ride?

I walked up and down the dog food aisles more than once, there were good sniffs there, but mama kept telling me that the food I picked out wasn’t good for me.

This smells especially good mama!

Well duh mama. The food you pick out for you isn’t always healthy either! And no one yanks on your collar and pulls you away! It’s OK for me to just smell the yumminess!

Mama let me walk around the store a long time, but the only thing she bought was some stuff for my arthritis. Yep, I’m an older princess now and I groan a little bit when I lie down at night. Mama already got me some meds to go with my breakfast, but a little something for the evening might be just the ticket.

I like the fox, but mama says I have too many toys already. Silly mama.

She looked at orthopedic beds too, but I wasn’t interested. I thought the fox toy would be more fun. I’m not all that old yet. Though when we finally got home I did fall asleep on my sofa for a long time.

I told mama it was just a power nap.

Still young enough to pose on a stump for my mama!


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Smiles this week were harder to find.

Everything looks pretty against a blue sky.

Trent suggests we share a smile each week. Well, here the week is almost over and I haven’t even thought about what I might have smiled about.

I’m sure there’s something.

The weather sure wasn’t good, going from bitter temperatures to freezing rain and then back to blustery snow and gale force winds. Yep, it’s been wonderful here in Michigan.

But yesterday we had sun. And temperatures in the 20s. Katie and I actually got to go for a walk together in one of her parks.

Sunshine made the river glow.

That made me smile. And when we got home Katie sank into a peaceful, happy sleep. That made me smile too.

zzzzzzzzzz…


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A peek at summer fun

Charming retro, and just the perfect size!


The past two winters Katie and I escaped to the South for several weeks. My Facebook memories tell me that it was today, two years ago, that she enjoyed her first run on the beach in Florida.

This year we didn’t go, and Katie, for one, wants to know why. The weather here hasn’t been conducive to park exploration and she’s bored, bored, bored! I’ve tried to make her understand that summer is coming, but I haven’t succeeded, probably because I’m not sure myself.

So this week I took myself to the annual RV and Camper Show. It happens in February to give us hope that someday soon we’ll be back out in the woods, enjoying a campfire, maybe roasting a marshmallow or two.

High tech camping.

Katie didn’t get to go, but I brought back these pictures so that she knows there is hope. There were all sorts of recreational vehicles and campers there. Some of them were way too huge…

This felt like it was 3 stories high!

…and some were oh so tiny.

Just room for a bed in there.

Some still let you have a tent experience….

Tent/trailer combo.

and some of them were fancier than our house.

Two bedroom, two bath.

But no, we aren’t going to buy any of these, we’re sticking to our trusty little blue tent. It was fun to look, but Katie and I are happy with what we have.

I love my tent mama!


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Weather swings through Michigan

Morning light.


February weather in Michigan is always unpredictable. Though it’s a short month it can often feel like the longest month of the year. This week we’ve gone from the Polar Vortex to temperatures in the 50s, from shoveling snow to flooded yards.

One morning Katie got me up early and I thought the light outside seemed an odd color. I was right. The sun was coming up and the low lying clouds were a color I’d never seen before.

Looks like some weather blowing in.

And that day, as I watched the sky get more and more interesting, I knew I needed to get somewhere with open spaces.

Early afternoon and the clouds start to break.

So I drove to Indian Springs, a park not too far away, with trails that wander over hills covered in tall grasses.

A dramatic sky always gets my heart rate going.

I should have worn boots because the trail was muddy, but wet feet didn’t dampen my enthusiasm for the sky that day.

And then yesterday we woke to ice. Rain fell on the cold ground and froze. Katie and I skated (figuritively) out to see what was what. We escaped the worst of it, but there was still a thin coating of ice on everything.

I loved the ice on the red twig dogwood shrubs.

It was all beautiful and Katie enjoyed wandering while I was busy getting shots of twigs and needles and leaves covered in ice.

Still lots of color even in winter.

She was content as long as I promised at least one shot of her. She is, after all, a princess, and used to being the center of attention.

I’ll sit for one portrait mama. But there are things I need to sniff, so hurry up.


I don’t know what the weather has in store for us the rest of the week, but I hope it’s just as photogenic as these past few days have been.

Winter shapes.

Katie says she’s up for an adventure.

Ice dripping.


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Smiling in spite of the Polar Vortex

Trent, from Trent’s World, reminds us that we all have much to smile about. Each week he asks what made us smile, and surprisingly, even with -14F temperatures (-25.5C), and wind chills in the -50s (-45C), I find myself grinning.

This afternoon I bundled up, (sweatshirt with hood pulled up over the hat I was wearing, coat with hood pulled up over that, long underwear, heavy socks, boots and heavy gloves) and ventured out to put more birdseed in the feeders.

Though it is still very very cold, today the wind has subsided a bit, and we have sunshine! If you’re inside it’s just beautiful!

The sun came up this morning on another brutally cold day.

While I was out there scattering seed I felt, rather than really saw, a fat bird fly just over my head. I turned around to see what it was and saw the brilliant blue of a male Eastern bluebird, the sun glinting off his wings. He landed in the redbud tree at the other end of the house.

Of course I scurried back inside, urging Katie the dog to hurry up too. Grabbing my camera I tried to walk nonchalantly back toward the door, hoping she wouldn’t want to go back outside. She likes to explode from the door out onto the deck which always scares all the birds and squirrels away.

She says that’s the point.

But of course she wanted to go out too. So obviously there was no bluebird in the tree by the time I got out there. I was sad, but still smiling. Just having seen him was pretty amazing.

Back inside I switched back to the short lens and was turning to put it away when I saw him. The bluebird was back, drinking out of my heated birdbath.

I crept around to the window. The light was bad. There were reflections in the window, and I could barely see him over the top of the recliner. Plus his head was in the birdbath. Still. If this was the only shot I’d get of him, I was smiling.

Pretend you can tell this is a bluebird.

I tried to move to a better angle to reduce the reflections. Katie took that as an invitation to storm the recliner, barking excitedly, sure that if mama had her camera out there was something out there!!! The bluebird flew away. Katie got scolded.

I figured I’d stand there for a bit and see if he came back. I was staring out one window, looking in the direction he had gone. Nothing. I decided to focus on the birdbath so I’d be ready if he arrived. I turned the camera back to the original window.

And found three bluebirds sitting there, quietly drinking.

Yummy water you’ve got here lady! We like it icy cold!

The images I got were still bad, dark and backlit with sunshine and brilliant snow, and there were still reflections in the window. But there were three bluebirds at my birdbath!

The reflections really didn’t matter.

Do you guys think it’s a bit chilly here in Michigan? Maybe we should have migrated.

After cropping and lightening and working to get rid of the reflections I had a somewhat barely passable set of images. Not great images…

This is a really bad picture but I love how the one on the right is all puffed up and they look like grumpy old men.

…but oh my….it’s still freezing cold outside…and I can’t stop smiling.

Yep, it’s a regular water bar for bluebirds around here.


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Photography makes me fat

I admit, the title of this post wormed it’s way into my brain during sleep last night. It made perfect sense then, but it’s less clear in today’s snowy morning light.

I weighed myself yesterday because my knees, hip and legs ache most of the day and night. I particularly notice my knees when I’m carrying the dog, an extra twenty pounds on top of my own extra poundage.

Snow is on the way.

In my sleep I analyzed the situation. I rarely take long walks anymore. When I do walk, even on short neighborhood strolls, I almost always have a camera, though sometimes it’s just my phone. There is always something to stop and take a picture of.

Always.

So the walk turns into a photo shoot. Very few calories are expended while leaning over a mushroom or shooting up into trees.

Let’s go for a walk before it snows more mama!

I wear my Fitbit and religiously note the dismal number of daily steps. Even knowing I’m barely moving doesn’t get me off the sofa. It’s just so warm and snugly there. And here comes winter in full force. Record breaking cold is on the way. More snow. Little sunlight. The odds or me taking more steps slips lower.

But! We have a perfectly good elliptical in the basement. It’s been there for years and I’ve used it twice. It’s hard. It’s boring. But I have no excuse, something has to change, probably more than one something.

Darn. Change is hard.

Don’t stop visiting us lady!


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Can’t help but smile

Trent hosts a weekly post soliciting smiles. Since I believe we could all use a smile, I try to participate. This past week I’ve had lots and lots to smile about, much of which’ve blogged about and includes a cold Great Lake and snow and ice.

Can you see the birds hidden among all that fruit?

But this morning back at home the dog wanted to go out, a much less glamorous event than shooting a lighthouse glowing in the morning light. Plus it’s cold here, 10 F (-12.22 C) with a brisk wind. I wasn’t eager to traipse around in the yard.

I usually catch their yellow bellies, or the red tips to their wings…

After I bundled up we headed out to do her job. I was urging her to hurry, she was dawdling as usual. Then I heard it. The sound of a bunch of birds somewhere behind me.

I turned my head and saw a flash of yellow in our crab-apple tree. And a distinctive shape.

…but for me the defining bit of a cedar waxwing is the yellow strip along the tail. (Thank you Mr. Waxwing for showing us your colors!)

I grabbed the dog up in my arms and ran for the house and my camera. I had to change lenses. The dog was mystified. Racing back outside I told the dog to “STAY!” on the porch and I crept closer to the tree.

See the red tips at the end of the wings?

I was in such a hurry I didn’t consider my depth of field, and I have many blurry shots of nothing in particular. And even the ‘good’ images aren’t sharp, but the slightly blurry edges adds to the magic of the moment. Or so I’m telling myself.

Hungry in this cold weather, they stopped on their travels to visit my buffet.

Cedar waxwings fly through here as they migrate. I only see them once or twice a year, if at all, and those times it’s only a singular event. They don’t hang around. If the dog hadn’t decided she wanted to go out, if she had continued her nap, I never would have seen these.

So…that’s what made me smile today!

Hard to see even when I crop the image!