Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Feeling guilty

I went out to my favorite park today. It was the first sunny day we’ve had in a long time, and the blue skies drew we outside. I felt like I’d be safe at the park, especially on the nature trails where I don’t usually see a lot of people during the week.

I miscalculated.

But before I get into that let me tell you about the most extraordinary thing that happened while I was in the woods. I had followed a popular trail half way around a lake. Every corner seemed to have more people and I wanted to find a quieter place in the trees, so I veered off onto an old, unmarked cross-country ski trail. I figured wherever it ended I’d recognize where I was and find my way back to the car. And no one else was walking that trail.

When I was quite far back into the woods, I noticed three red bellied woodpeckers screeching and chasing each other among the top of very tall trees. I stopped to watch. They stopped and watched me. In all my years visiting this park I’ve never had a red bellied come to my hand. Sometimes they’re interested, and they always take advantage of any seed I drop, but they’ve never landed on my hand.

Bet you can guess what happened today!

Yes, I was looking the other way, watching a chickadee decide whether to come in for a treat when I felt something with considerable weight land on my hand. I looked out of the corner of my eye and couldn’t believe what I saw. I had to really look, and I had plenty of time because he was sitting there eying me and considering which seed he wanted. He sat there and ate every single peanut out of my palm, leaving all the oilers, before he flew off.

I have no pictures because I had my long lens on the camera, too long to catch a shot of him sitting on my hand.

I refilled my hand and waited. I saw him, or one of his friends, come in for more treats from a long and high way off. He swooped down at what seemed to be breakneck speed, aiming directly for my hand, and landed with quite a bit of force. And once again we watched each other, eye to eye, as he swallowed down every peanut there.

He flew up on this tree after his snack.

Well! I decided if they were going to be this assertive I was changing my camera lens and grabbing a shot. But of course by the time I got the short lens on the camera they were long gone.

Still. It’s something I’ll never forget and I hope you can imagine.

Back to my miscalculation.

I figured the number of people at the park would be similar to most other weekdays that I’ve been there. But the parking lots were full. There were families with kids screaming and running everywhere. There were lots of individuals quietly walking too, but overwhelmingly there were groups of people tromping around the trails. It was noisy. It was crowded.

It felt like a Saturday, and then I realized that it might as well be a weekend day. Kids were no longer in school. People were off work. There will no longer be a difference between weekdays and weekends. I felt a small pang at the loss of my quiet weekday mornings at my favorite park.

And then I realized that none of us should have been there. That maybe we do need to close the parks. I know that people have been cooped up for a couple weeks, that kids are going crazy and need to expend some energy. But maybe that should be done in their own back yard.

And that’s where I’ll be staying into the foreseeable future.

Yesterday in the United States almost 1000 people died of the virus. The day before it was just over 900. When these kinds of numbers were being reported in Italy I couldn’t fathom the enormity. Now that enormity is here. Here in the states 5,713 people are dead, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

So I realized, as I left my favorite park, that maybe I won’t be back any time soon. I will miss it. But it’s important that we all stay home. All of us. Stay home. That’s the only way we will get through this.

And on a lighter note, I had a successful grocery store venture this morning, though I spent twice what I would usually spend because I’m hoping not to go back for at least two weeks.

And look what I found!

Mama! I don’t know why you’re so excited about that…it’s not edible or anything.

But today’s post is not about the toilet paper…it’s about the realization that a stay-at-home order means just that. Stay at home. Don’t go to the park to walk. Walk around your neighborhood or your yard if your neighborhood is too busy. If your yard is too small then walk around your house. But stay away from everyone else.

It’s going to be hard. But we’re strong. We can do this.

We have to.

Time to clean up our act.


35 Comments

Spring is out there just waiting for us

I’ve been feeling a little mind-numbing cabin feverish after staying inside for days on end. Grey skies, and yesterday’s almost two inches of rain haven’t help.

This morning started out shrouded in fog, but the sun burned it off and suddenly it was a glorious day. Fifty-nine degrees warm, blue skies and big puffy clouds.

On our search for a park to explore.


Katie insisted we go to a park. I thought that was a pretty good idea too. Some time outside would be just the ticket to clear our heads.

So we headed out to find a park without a lot of people. The first one we drove by had four cars in the lot so we kept on driving. We ended up at her regular small park, only one car there so we unloaded anticipating a lovely walk.

At Katie’s park.

Katie was wriggling with excitement.

As we began our exploration the wind began to whip, but we didn’t let that stop us. We were outside and it was wonderful! There was so much interesting stuff to see.

A huge fungus on the side of a tree.

Katie was more patient than usual with me taking pictures of things not her. I guess she knew it had been awhile since I’d been out too.

I’ll wait for you, mama, take your time.

As we turned the second corner I noticed to the west skies looked a little dicey. I left Katie out on the path and walked through some brush to get a clear shot of a pretty stunning sky.

Uh oh. Maybe we better get a move on.

She waited patiently. She’s such a good girl.

I’m keeping my eye on you mama!

I told her maybe we needed to pick up the pace. She told me not to worry and continued her slow nose work. I figured she was probably right.

Because we got so much rain yesterday a lot of the path was either covered in water or a muddy mess. Surprisingly my girl pranced right through both, never once asking to be carried.

Not to worry, mama, I can handle it!

Either she’s matured or she was so excited to be out there she didn’t care.

We saw all sorts of evidence of spring, but the wind was picking up and the dark clouds were overtaking us, so we decided to skedaddle to the car.

Trees are in bud now, just waiting for some warm weather to burst into leaf.

It’s a good thing we did, the wind is really whipping now, and Katie is asleep on the hearth here at home.

Clouds overtake us.

The rain should arrive any minute — I’m glad I followed her advice this morning or we’d have missed our opportunity to enjoy the brief minutes of sun.

You should follow my advice more often mama!

We hope you get out there too, we’re sure it will do you a world of good.

Just let me know when you want to explore, I’m ready to show you around!


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What now?

I used to knit – when I was a kid I belonged to a knitting 4-H club. Once a week mom drove me to this lady’s house. I remember where it was and that her name was Marie Coddington, but I don’t really remember any of the other girls. I think we knit for an hour, and she helped us with any problems we had. Every year I entered a sweater in the 4-H fair. I still have them, in a container in the basement.

And then, when I lived in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan as a young, just out of college worker bee, a woman I worked with taught me how to crochet. It was faster than knitting and I made a lot of afghans.

I liked to work on the ones that were made all in one piece – as they got larger they kept me warm in my upstairs drafty flat during the long winters. I also liked that they kept my hands busy making it more difficult to snack. You could call it the crochet diet.

It worked.

This past winter I got sort of antsy, and wished I had something to knit. A FB friend knits a lot and I asked her for ideas. She sent me a couple of links to patterns, and I chose a shawl with sections of light airy loops between sections of the garter stitch, the easiest stitch there is and the first one you’re taught as a beginner.

Then I found a local yarn store and fell in love with something they called ‘crazy yarn,’ skeins of yarn that the manufacturer spun together using somewhat relatable remnants. No telling what colors in what amounts would be inside that skein!

It was fun watching the colors escape and meld together into a shawl. I finished it last night.

And now I don’t have a project to keep my hands busy on these cool spring evenings. No way to avoid the siren call of snacks in the cupboard as I sit inside respecting the call for social distancing.

And no yarn store open as far as the eye can see either.

My hands miss their busywork. I need to find something else to start and an online source for materials. I’ve found out that shawls are a “thing,” and some are easy to do. Maybe I’ll do another.

Anyone have suggestions?


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Snowy interruption

Katie here.

I’ve decided you all need a diversion from the anxiety and stress that seems to be overwhelming us. I’ve thought about this quite a bit and what I think you need is……ME!

I’d like to go outside please.

So I’m going to postpone my afternoon nap and tell you all about what’s going on here in my kingdom. I know you’ve been wondering.

First of all let me tell you that mama and daddy and I are all fine, though I’ve had a bit of a worrisome time this week. You see, several weeks ago mama scheduled me to have my teeth cleaned. She and daddy had noticed I didn’t always smell so good, and once in awhile I pawed at my nose. But the vet was busy and I couldn’t get a senior appointment until this past Wednesday.

Throw the snowball already, mama!

With all this virus stuff mama considered canceling, but she decided she didn’t want to wait because she was going to head down to Alabama soon and I needed white teeth for that! And the vet said even though I’m 13 now I was a very healthy 13, so we went ahead with it.

Well! Let me tell you, I don’t like going to the vet and I especially don’t like it if mama or daddy don’t stay me! Mama isn’t too keen on it either; she says she cried after she dropped me off.

This is WAY more fun than going to the dentist!

And when she came back to pick me up I wasn’t even happy to see her. I was all doped up and stuff and feeling really sad. She took me home and worried about me all that night.

Turns out they had to take out six teeth! This was unprecedented! Mama had no idea there was such a problem in my mouth! Even the vet who looked at me in January didn’t see that much! They took out 4 back molars and two incisors. I had my teeth cleaned every year, and last year was the first time any tooth came out and that was just a little one up front that fell out on it’s own.

Stand back! I’ve got it!

Mama hasn’t looked in my mouth yet, she’s giving me lots of personal space because she feels so bad for me. They’re soaking my food until it’s very soft, and I’m on antibiotics and pain pills for the rest of this week.

I’m milking it for all it’s worth too, mama didn’t even put me in my crate this week when I woke her up real early every morning and wouldn’t let her go back to bed. She feels sorry for me, don’t you know. And she sort of feels like a bad mama that she didn’t realize how bad my teeth were.

Running in circles in the snow is pretty fun!

Actually, today I feel pretty good, my face isn’t swollen any more and I played out in our fresh snow. Mama threw some snowballs and I chased them. Well, I chased four of them, and then I told mama that was enough and walked back to the deck.

She smiled, but was kind of sad.

I think I’ve had enough, mama.

Mama says to tell you that she and daddy are being careful and so far they are both just fine. And we’re not going to Alabama, it’s just not safe for mama and me to drive that far. Mama is sad about that too. Me, well I’ll be just fine once I get paid in treats for putting this post together.

And once I can get back to my afternoon nap.

Keeping one eye on the mama.


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Something to smile about

These days, in order to make people feel better and less isolated, everyone is sharing things that make them smile. It’s sort of a trend.

But Trent has been collecting smiles for months, maybe years, and this week, crazy as it’s been, is no exception.

A bit of yellow points toward spring.

So as the week has run it’s excruciating course I’ve been on the lookout for something to smile about. And this morning, as I was staring out the window at my bleak, brown yard I smiled.

Because my goldfinches are turning yellow.

He knows he’s looking quite dapper.

It’s proof that no matter what the humans in this world do, what destruction we bring down on our own heads, mother nature just keeps moving along.

Spring will come regardless of whether we’re ready or not.

Some of us were wearing our bed-head look this week. Understandably.

Might as well just sit back, watch and smile.


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We could use a smile

Things have gotten kind of crazy here in the States. No matter which side of the virus crisis argument you stand, it’s gotten crazy. I feel like I need to write something about all of this, but I also think we all need to stop and take a deep breath and maybe even smile.

This guy is a red-bellied woodpecker, showing off his red belly.

So, for now, I’m going to go for the smile.

Yesterday I took my neighbor out to my favorite park to feed the birds. She and her husband have just moved into the neighborhood and I’ve told them about the experience of having wild birds land in your hand.

The usual suspects stopped by for a snack.

This week we both had time to spend out there, and the timing was good. The sandhill cranes are back and the red-winged blackbirds arrived just a couple days ago.

This couple greeted us soon after we got out of the car.

Both are hungry.

I told her that the blackbirds wouldn’t come sit on our hands, they are always interested in the food happenings but will usually wait around until we move off and then go in for the leftovers. Just as I was saying this a huge blackbird landed on my hand.

“Thanks, Lady, this peanut is irresistible!”

I guess they were really hungry, because several of them swarmed around for a treat. I’ve never had them come in like that before, and it was pretty cool.

Of course the cranes were intent on getting lunch too. As we were feeding the little birds these two sauntered up the path behind us.

The cranes that welcomed us to their park stopped by to see if we had anything good.

We had seen them over by the parking lot, but apparently they were interested enough in us to follow us as we made our way into the woods.

We wandered through the woods, over hills and across streams. Just about everywhere we stopped little birds came flying. It was so much fun!

On our way back to the car I noticed these three coming to see us at a fast jog.

“It’s a race! Whoever gets to those ladies first gets the best treats!”

They were absolutely beautiful, look at the colors in their heads…

They almost look fake.

…and in the feathers on their back. The sun wasn’t even out and they still glowed.

Stunning!

Speaking of bird heads…I was speaking of those right? Look at these two closeups of the crane heads….one of them had more feathers making the red part look like a heart.

A heart shaped forehead.

And the other in this particular pair didn’t have similar facial feathers at all.

A more streamlined face.

I wonder if one is a female and one is a male…or is one just different?

Now, a turkey head…well…these are just weird. I think Dr. Seuss designed the turkey.

“What you looking at lady?”

Anyway, we had the best time, and we were serenaded out of the park by another pair of cranes in conjunction with our new best friends, the three turkeys!

Do you see them? They’re both screeching. The turkeys behind us were gobbling. It was pretty intense.

My neighbor shared our stories with her husband and he wanted to experience it all for himself. So this morning we headed back out. Today we had blue skies and big puffy white clouds and a lot of wind.

We were met by the parking lot greeter cranes.

Nom nom nom…

And then we ventured back into the woods. At first it took a lot to entice those little birds to come out of the trees for a treat.

“I’m not sure I’m coming down there, people!”

But eventually we found a spot with lots of the little guys and we spent a long time letting them flit around us looking for good stuff.

“Thanks, mister!”

And of course a pair of cranes came wandering up to see if we were worth investigating.

“Good stuff hiding under these leaves!”

So we had two days of smiles this week which, thankfully, eclipsed all the news on television. I guess things will probably get worse before they get better, but as long as we have retreats like this to escape into, we’ll get by just fine.

The sun always comes back.

I hope you are all finding something to smile about too. If you do, share them in your blog and link back to Trent’s smile post. He’ll post a recap on Monday of everyone’s smile.

These days sharing smiles is something of a public service.


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A roller coaster week

Katie here. You might have noticed that mama hasn’t posted in a week. That’s like 7 weeks in dog math, and almost unprecedented! I’ve been noticing a distinct lack of smiles on mama’s face too, so I decided I needed to take action.

A little snow always makes the world look better.

And this morning, when it started to snow I knew just what I had to do.

I had to get mama off the sofa and out into the snow! Cause who doesn’t like snow? I mean, what’s not to like? It’s white and clean and fluffy. Mama says it’s also cold. And wet. And a precursor to mud.

Yep, a little bit of snow makes everything look better.

Mama tends to get a bit negative toward the end of winter.

Anyway, we went out and explored the backyard. It was simply beautiful, even mama had to agree. And it wasn’t all that wet and cold either. I thought maybe, just maybe, mama would smile.

While mama was busy with her camera, I was busy breaking up sticks. It’s a never ending job.

And she did lighten up a bit when she was focused on that silly camera of hers and all the pretty things in the yard.

Pretty in white.

Including me, of course.

Just the perfect amount of snow to play in.

But you know what really got her to smile? It was these little green nubby things she found in one of her gardens.

Huh…green made mama smile!

And the three red winged blackbirds that sang to us just as we headed back inside. She said that was really worth smiling over!

Though I have to say I should get more credit. Cause really, a sheltie in the snow? That has to make you all smile!

Admit it. I just made you smile.

PS: Mama says that she was feeling very sad because a friend’s sheltie crossed the rainbow bridge Monday and he was just about exactly my age and she feels really really sad for his mom and human brother. Mama almost didn’t let me post today because she was worried it might make the mom even more sad. But I said that we could send our love to her this way, and if she ever needs a sheltie hug I’m available. I hope she’s doing OK, though I know her eyes are probably leaking right now. I wish I could make it all better for her.

Thinking about our friend on this snowy morning.


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Music decompression smile

You know how astronauts, when they come back to earth, need a period of time to adjust to their normal lives again? Though I haven’t been orbiting the earth that’s how I feel now that I’m back in Michigan after twelve lovely days in the sun.

Not to say there’s never any sun here. But it seems to be rare. And it hasn’t stopped snowing since we arrived home. Today the windchill temperatures will be in the single digits, and the driveway needs to be cleared of last night’s snow. Perhaps we can just wait until it melts sometime in April.

I’m still battling the major cold I got while I was out there enjoying the sun. I’m not blaming Arizona for my cold, I figure I got it on the plane ride home from Washington DC the week before. I almost always get some sort of sniffle after I fly, but this one is a doozy.

I’ve been taking over the counter drugs every four hours for more than a week. The cough is low in my chest and the tickle in my throat is constant. I should buy stock in Kleenex and my nose is raw.

I’m pretty miserable.

We took the red-eye flight home from Phoenix on Sunday night. Our plane left at midnight and we arrived in Detroit at 5:00 a.m. By the time we got our luggage and got out to the car we were looking at driving home in rush hour traffic. Yep, that was fun.

I got a couple of hours of sleep at home, then went to pick up the Princess from camp. I hoped that she would be exhausted from all the fun she had and we could all settle down to a long winter nap.

I was wrong.

So anyway, by the time Tuesday night’s community band rehearsal came around I was really dragging. And I still couldn’t breath well, was still taking drugs to function. And I hadn’t practiced in almost two weeks. I really wanted to stay home.

But have I told you that we have a concert in one week?

So I went, not expecting to be able to stay the entire two hours. Uncertain if I could even play. And guess what?

The music filled me up with such peace. Even the hard parts. We didn’t sound too bad, and though there are definitely places we each need to work on before next Tuesday, some of the time we sounded quite beautiful. And my head cleared and my throat stopped hurting and I only coughed once.

That’s the power of music.

So this is a long post to relay a simple idea. If you’re feeling down, emotionally or physically, if you’re stressed and tired and worn out, if you need to get through another cold, dark, snowy day, well…play some music. Whether it’s on the radio, or your mobile device or an actual instrument or your very own voice, play some music.

It’ll make you smile. And that’s the first step to feeling better.

Guaranteed.


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Snow princess

Katie here.

So. Mama and daddy were away again and I spent a whole week at camp. But you know what? It wasn’t so bad. The girls love me there, I even got a kiss from one of them when I left. And they had to wake me up when mama came to get me, so I guess I can’t say I was all that stressed.

This is my backyard. Aren’t I beautiful?

Still, I milked it for all I could get on Friday when they brought me home. I talked a lot about how tough I have it, and I got a few extra treats because I made them feel guilty.

I’m very good at that.

And because mama felt really guilty about being gone a whole week she ordered up a couple days of snow for me. I love snow. Mostly, the past couple days I have been content to lay in front of my backdoor and watch it fall. That way I could keep an eye out for any marauding squirrels too. Sort of multitasking.

Time to get my feet in my snow!

But today the sun finally came out for a little bit and mama woke me up from my nap to ask if I wanted to go out and play in the yard. I wasn’t sure I really wanted to go, but she said she was going out with or without me.

Really? You’d consider going out there without me? I don’t think so mama!

I got this, mama!

I found a lot of really cool stuff. Like sticks that needed breaking up into small pieces.

Yep, this stick is history!

I even tried to break up a bigger stick but mama said I was being too ambitious and she was right.

This stick looks promising mama. Oh wait…it’s really long.

So I chased the snowballs she threw instead. I got quite wound up doing that.

I got it, I got it!!

Mama says all this new snow makes me look like I need to go to the groomer. I told her to pay attention and throw the snowball.

This one won’t get away from me!

I love this game, it’s my favorite thing in the whole winter world.

Did it go over there?

Mama’s not that good at throwing the snowball and taking pictures at the same time. You should see all the shots she deleted!

Well, obviously she should have deleted this one too! Geeze mama! Have you no decency?

But she still got a lot of cute images of me. I told her it’s not that hard to do but she says it’s not that easy either.

Yep, you can’t get any more cute than me!

All in all my little adventure in my own back yard was a whole lot of fun! I’m glad mama woke me up for a romp in my snow.

Throw it again mama!

Snow and supper, two of my favorite things. I hope it keeps snowing forever!

Talk later, your Snow Princess, Katie-girl.

Snow. The next best thing to supper.