Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Escape to the lake side

Here it is Saturday already, and I’ve inadvertently left you hanging on my last two posts. Wednesday many of you wanted to know, “What IS that?”

What??

and in the post before that you wondered where I went on my little mini adventure.

From a crispy but beautiful morning.

Both posts were related to the same adventure I was inspired to take last weekend, on our one completely sunny day so far this year. After so much rain, snow and dark skies I eagerly set out early Saturday morning anticipating bright blue skies and endless sun, looking for something magnificent to photograph.

But, as those of you who have been reading know, I got tangled up in beautiful frost before I made it more than a couple miles away from the house. Not a bad thing, you understand, but it certainly slowed me down.

So nice to see sunlight!

My first stop was Katie’s park right in my own town, where the tall grasses were shining. The Wordless Wednesday post was in the parking lot there, a car had driven over the unplowed lot, probably the day before, and then deer had crossed that track. In the early morning light what was concave appeared to be convex and I couldn’t resist capturing the image.

As to where I went next? Well, I had no destination in mind, and even though the sky was bright blue and there was still a little snow on the ground, as I drove nothing in particular caught my eye. So I kept going.

Surely I can find pretty stuff on a day like this!

Eventually I found myself half way to my favorite lake, so I went for it and headed for Warren Dunes State Park, someplace I’ve always wanted to visit.

I’ve always liked images of sand and snow. Blue sky doesn’t hurt either.

It’s down near the Michigan/Indiana border, quite near Chicago. I didn’t know what to expect, but the first sight of the giant dune sure made me smile.

It’s a long way to the top.

I watched families as they trudged up the dune or ran back down. Everyone was having a lot of fun on a chilly but sunny Saturday afternoon.

A long line of trees led to the water.

Of course I couldn’t be at Lake Michigan and not walk on the beach, even though the sun was beginning to descend and the shadows were growing longer.

Pretty patterns.

So I headed down the beach, just for a bit, so that I could say hello to my lake. There weren’t many people out there, the wind was picking up and my fingers were chilled. But I know there’s always something pretty to photograph when you’re walking on a Great Lakes beach.

A chilly afternoon on a beautiful beach.

And of course there was.

Ripples in the sand, driftwood, and the brilliant sky.

Soon enough, though, I knew I should head for home. I hadn’t seen the St. Joseph lighthouse, something I really hoped I would have time for, but it was 30 minutes further south, the wrong direction. I checked to see what lighthouses might be north of me and found one near Saugatuck, not so far away. I put it in my phone and headed out.

Not real, but still pretty.

Turns out it was a replica of a lighthouse, tiny, being used for educational purposes. But it was still photogenic. As was the giant tug boat moored next to it.

All prettied up in festive holiday colors.

It wasn’t what I was hoping for, but what the heck, it was still an adventure, so after a couple shots I headed toward where I thought the freeway to home should be.

I was wrong, and ended up lost in Holland, which turns out to have several murals painted on the sides of it’s downtown businesses. I only stopped for one, because it had a parking lot where I could park and get my bearings, study the map, and set a true course for home.

One mural in Holland, there were more.

Early that morning I set out to find some barns, always a goal of mine on any adventure. I didn’t find any on the way over to the lake, not because they weren’t there, I suppose, but because my heart needed something more.

The last light of day made the barns glow.

Satisfied by a visit to my lake, I found several, all red, on my trip back home.

Worth stopping for.

Since last Saturday we haven’t had another day that was all sunny. No bright blue sky, no warming rays.

Just waiting for me to find it.

But I know we will again someday. And I hope, when the sun shines, I’ll be off on another adventure.

There’s always my lake.

You just never know where or when.

Every sunset promises a new tomorrow.


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First there was frost

Saturday was predicted to have sun, the first day of sunshine this year. I needed to get out of the house, where I’d been stewing since Wednesday, the day our Capitol was stormed.

The early morning road was calling my name.

I planned on taking a little photo road trip, to parts unknown. But first I couldn’t resist shooting some images close to home. I was headed out of town when I passed Katie’s park and noticed the hills were all silver with frost.

Our local library, next to Katie’s park, with preservation hills behind it.

Turning around I tromped around a field of grasses, noticing how their details were more beautiful with the beading they were sporting.

Everything was etched in sparkles.

I got pretty cold, and time moved on without me while I was there, still only a couple miles from home.

Early morning light always makes me smile.

Eventually I made myself leave, the sun was rising and I hadn’t gotten anywhere yet. But only another mile down the road I had to stop again.

One of my go-to places where I can see the open sky.

There’s some wide open farm land there, and an old farm, that if you look closely, is falling into dumpy disrepair. I’m sure it won’t be there forever, and I’ve always meant to stop and capture it.

Somebody’s farm in the early morning light of a new day.

So I did.

Plus, where I happened to stop there was this fence…

The fence was glowing as the sun was rising.

…with barbed wire along the top. All of it incrusted with frost.

More time went by and the sun moved higher. If I was going to find more pretty stuff I needed to get moving.

Should I go that way? Or the other way?

But where did I go? What did I find?

I guess you’ll have to wait until the next post to find out.

At least the blue sky prediction turned out to be true!


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Sharing sheltie smiles

Hey everyone! Katie here, checking in to see how all your new years are starting out. I have to say that mine has been stupendous! Cause we got snow both Saturday and Sunday! Fresh, pretty, light, beautiful, photogenic snow!

So many things to sit in front of!

Well, not as photogenic as me, but still pretty. And of course mama said we had to get right out in it so as to enhance the photogenic-ness of our yard. On Saturday I wasn’t sure I wanted to go.

It’s pretty nice out here, mama.

But once I got out there and realized that mama and I were going for a walk in my yard and she wasn’t just leaving me in my pen, well, then I decided I’d have a good time!

I kept posing for her, even when she was trying to get a photo of some stupid leaf. I’d just go around in front of her and sit. Repeatedly. Even after I figured out she hadn’t brought any treats for me.

I wonder if anyone over THERE has any treats?

Eventually she got the idea and took some pictures of me before she went back to her artsy fartsy stuff. I swear, I don’t know why anyone would want to look at anything besides me.

Mama kept looking over my shoulder at this stupid leaf. She thought it was cool.

Then on Sunday, oh my, oh my, oh my…this is what we woke up to!

Isn’t this amazing??!

It was even more beautiful than Saturday’s snowfall! Mama and I just couldn’t wait to get out there with the camera.

Let’s go exploring!

I was less interested in posing for her Sunday. After all, I’d sat for a bunch of pictures on Saturday and gotten zero treats. I figured she wasn’t any more organized Sunday morning and I was right.

What? I’m not sitting in front of this bush, I did that yesterday and it netted me nothing.

But I did grant her a picture or seven dozen. Sigh. You just can’t get mama to stop taking pictures, even when there are much more interesting things to do. Like breaking up sticks. I found this perfect stick and went right to work on it.

This stick is oversized and needs to be reduced in length. Pronto.

Mama said, ‘stop baby, you don’t want to hurt your teeth.’ But I kept on working on that stick because it needed to be broken up into little tiny bits.

Yep, it’s a pesky stick, that’s what it is.

It’s my purpose in this world to break up sticks. And protect mama from squirrels, but a girl has priorities and Sunday morning it was all about stick breakage.

Come on you stubborn stick!

So mama kept shooting pictures and I worked on that stick until it was nothing but stick dust.

Take THAT you stick!

And then I thought maybe mama was laughing at me, and I was not happy.

What? You think this is funny woman? You don’t know what I sacrifice to make you safe from stick assult!

I expected to get a treat for my bravery in defeating the dangerous stick.

I would like extra treats please.

Mama felt bad about almost laughing (and also about not bringing treats), so she asked me if I wanted to chase a snowball or three. Really mama!?!?!

I’m ready mama!

Throw it, mama, just throw it!

I’ve got it mama!

It’s mine, mine, mine!

Everybody back off, this one is mine!

You can’t get away from me, snowball! I will chomp you with my teeth!

I’m a natural, I tell you!

Here comes the world famous stick breaker and snowball chompper!

Making a run for it.

Well, geeze, mama, if you’re going to throw it way over there….I’m not going to go get it. You can find it yourself.

Really, mother?

And so the game was over. Mama failed miserably at making sure I could catch that last snowball. Sometimes she forgets I’m a princess and a princess should never miss. Therefore the princess servant should make sure to only toss things that are catchable.

Sometimes mama forgets.

After all these years I should not have to explain this to her. Again.

Anyway, don’t tell her, but I had a fabulous time and when we went inside I happily spent time pulling tiny snowballs out of my furs and depositing them all over the house so that my folks could enjoy the full meaning of winter wonderland even while they were inside.

Good thing I’m beautiful.

They haven’t thanked me for that yet, I’m sure it’s just an oversight on their part.

Mama says she guesses she’ll write about the pretty snow in her own post. She says I have hijacked this one and it’s all about me. As usual.

Me and my yard.

Well of course it is, mama.

I always say you should give the people what they want. Right? That way a sheltie-princess can share the smiles…another life purpose, but don’t tell mama. It would ruin my image.

Smile!

Outdoor lights make people smile too, so I have decreed that they will stay lit until spring.


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Comfort music

Christmas is right around the corner, and people are talking about how they’re not ready, have so much more to do, cooking, shopping, wrapping. I smile in sympathy but I don’t really get it. Especially this year.

This barn and other outbuildings are on land that is for sale, zoned commercial. So it won’t be here for much longer. I’m glad I got an image to preserve it.

Even without covid my family is small and doesn’t travel that much. We don’t do so much for Christmas anymore, though Thanksgiving is a big deal. I mailed the couple of boxes I needed to more than a week ago. I bought the ingredients for our simple Christmas supper last week.

The barns on this particular barn hunt came in many colors.

The thing I’m looking forward to most is a Christmas nap. I wonder if that shows my age? Still, it can get a little sad when the world seems hyped up and you aren’t. So yesterday I decided to go out looking for a few barns. Sort of a comfort photo hunt of sorts.

Not something you see every day, a blue barn.

And along the way I listened to XM radio, station 73, Traditional Holiday, humming along to music that my folks would have listened to back in the 50s, and some that we listed to in the 60s and 70s too.

I liked the red tractor in front of this red barn. I turned around to get it.

I remember my mom commenting that she wished they played Christmas music for awhile after the big day because she didn’t have time before it to listen. I feel lucky that I have all the time in the world to enjoy these oldies.

I want to go back when the light is better and see if I can figure out what was painted on this barn.

People like Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Torme, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, Eartha Kitt, Perry Como, Bing Crosby, Peggy Lee, Rosemary Clooney and Jo Stafford, groups like The Four Seasons and The Supremes, instrumentals from the likes of The London Pops, Percy Faith and Oscar Peterson.

It was a gray and rainy day. This farm seemed to sit so naturally in the landscape.

I heard so many pieces that we’ve played at our own holiday concerts, and I could imagine, and remember what it felt like to play again. The music did what music is intended to do, lifted my spirts and I arrived home after a couple of hours of Christmas music and barns smiling.

My favorite capture. A photogenic green barn!

I hope you are all smiling too, no matter what your holidays will look like. Here’s to spending time together, in person if it’s safe, virtually if it’s not. And here’s to looking forward to 2021. May it bring us all more smiles than frowns.

Classic


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Birthday celebration

Katie here.

Guess what, guess what, guess WHAT?? This was my birthday week! I turned fourteen on Tuesday, and since no one made any big deal about it I decided that I’d extend it to the whole week.

Wanna come on my birthday walk with me?

The better to give mama and daddy a chance to make me a cake. Or something.

But here it is Friday night and so far no signs of any cake. Or ice cream for that matter. No presents either, unless you count the little goodie bag my groomer gave me for Christmas.

We had a pretty day with some sunshine.

Oh yes, you heard me right. The groomer. Mama actually scheduled a spa day during my birthday week! Obviously mama doesn’t know me very well. Some doggies might like going to the spa and getting a bunch of attention and all gussied up and stuff.

I, however, am not one of those doggies.

I hate getting wet, and in case you’re not aware, a spa day involves a bath. Which is definitely wet. And I don’t like getting brushed either, and there’s a whole lot of that at spa day. And don’t get me started on nails. I double hate getting my nails trimmed.

The groomer puts these bows in my furs. I don’t know, I think they’re sort of silly.

So all in all, spa day is not my cup of tea. I’d have liked a camping trip in the woods and lots of sniffage on my birthday. And if I’m honest mama did try. She took me to one of my parks on Tuesday and we walked almost a mile up and down the hills and she let me sniff as much as I wanted.

There were lots of hills. We were either going up or down all the time.

Toward the end she even carried me up the biggest hill. She says I need to lose a pound or two. I did not point out that perhaps the extra heft was her own.

Ahem.

Anyway, most of the pictures in this post are from my birthday at my park. We had a good time, mama and me. We always do when we’re in the woods together.

I don’t mind going DOWN the hills at all.

Mama said she had ordered snow for my birthday but it didn’t arrive on time. She said something about the post office being messed up. Personally I think maybe she ordered it late, mama doesn’t always have the best sense of time you know.

But that’s OK, because you can guess what eventually showed up!

He mama! Look, it’s SNOW!

Yes, my snow arrived, and it was just the right amount, not too much that she had to shovel my poop room, but enough that it was fun to walk around. Mama and I stopped at a little dog park to walk in the snow before I got dropped off at my groomer’s house.

We had the dog park all to ourselves, so I tried out the equipment.

I didn’t know, when we were at the park, that I was headed for a bath. So I had a real good time wandering around. No one else was there, so mama and I got to run around, I even chased an old tennis ball she found.

But mostly I’d like to point out that mama did not get me anything for my birthday. So I’m wondering what you guys think I should do. I’ve seen her wrapping presents for Christmas, and I checked the other night and I don’t see anything for me in that stack either.

I don’t know how to look much cuter!

Should I go on strike? Should I whine and pant and make her go outside and then inside and then outside again all day every day until she makes amends? I’m very good at that, but I’m concerned that she won’t realze I’m trying to make a point, cause I do that every day anyway.

I want to come inside RIGHT NOW!

So I leave it up to you, my fans, to give me good ideas. What should I do to make mama take me to the store and let me pick out something for myself? I’m sure if we all put our heads together we can come up with a stupendous plan!

You’ve got some good ideas, right?

PS: This got posted late tonight because I had to wait till mama went to bed to get on her laptop. She’s always on that thing, plus I don’t want her to know I’m complaining. Never complain about the hand that feeds you and all that.

I can’t believe she took a picture of this oak leaf stuck on my cute behind.

Am I right? I know I am.

Talk later, your birthday girl Katie.

Mama DID make me frozen banana treats for my birthday. I guess she’s not all bad.


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Choices

For months I’ve been watcing a Facebook page filled with wonderful professional and amature photographs of Michigan birds and wildlife. Lots of them have been taken at Kensington, my favorite park, and each time I see something amazing that was shot there I vow to get myself out the door.

The sun was up by the time I got out to the park, but the fog off the lake was still hanging around.

But every morning this week when I’ve considered heading out, I’ve yawned and rolled back over to sleep a couple more hours.

The lighting gave everything a vintage look.

Friday the weather guy said that next week it will be colder and rainier and maybe even snowier than the wonderful weather we’ve been enjoying. I figured if I was going to get going I better get going.

So I did.

Reflections were nice along the shore.

Now my problem is that I have over 300 photos taken on my 3.5 mile walk through the woods. I saw so many different things, any one set of photos could be a blog post. Should I try to share it all with you? Or just a tiny bit? Maybe it will turn into multiple blogs.

Guess we won’t know until I start posting. I will say that you might want to click on the images, because there’s a whole lot of detail you don’t want to miss, especially if you’re reading this on your phone.

If I hadn’t made the choice to get off the sofa I would have missed the golden light that filled my first stop at the park. I stayed there for several minutes, then drove over to the nature trails.

The usual parking lot attendants were apparently off duty, hanging out down near a pond.

When I arrived there the parking lot was half full and I knew I was later than I like to be. I considered heading out in my typical direction, but decided at the last minute to focus on the trails at the back of the park. So I made the choice to turn right instead of left, and almost instantly noticed a whole lot of photographers, complete with very expensive gear, pointing their cameras up.

It was a pretty day to be out with a camera.

When you come across a gagle of photographers it’s best to look where they’re looking. So I did. And this is what I saw first:

A female red tailed hawk, enjoying the morning sun.

I didn’t know what it was for sure, but I knew it was really big and beautiful. Most of the photographers were frustrated because the branches of the tree were hiding her face. I just climbed over a bench and a fence near the nature center to get a different angle.

Then someone said there was another one around the next bend in the trail. Over there were even more photographers, all pointing their huge lenses at a very sleepy, obviously well fed male.

He and his tree were both really beautiful against the blue sky.

I took plenty of pictures, thrilled to be there, in the right place at the right time for once.

He watched the people below him and seemed amused.

I just about skipped back to check on the female, getting a shot from behind that was OK, but not as interesting as this shot from below her.

She’s all puffed up against the chill.

And then she tucked her head under her wing for a quick nap.

Not concerned by all of us at all.

So much excitement and I hadn’t even started my walk yet! So I reluctantly left the big birds and headed out toward the back of the park.

The light was so pretty that morning as the fog burned off.

And almost immediately ran into the merry band of turkeys.

This was the first one I saw. There were probably 10 more wandering in the trees near the trail.

I kept taking pictures because they were so pretty. They weren’t paying much attention to me, and there was a young family complete with kids running around that was approaching from my left. I wanted to get my pictures taken before they arrived.

Look at the difference in coloring between these two!

The family was coming and I wondered if they realized these big birds can be pretty assertive if they figure out you have food.

Isn’t he stunning?

I figured I’d move on before they figured out I had seed in my pocket.

I thought you might want to see these colors up close.

I turned right to go up a path that would connect me with the trail in the back, leaving the birds behind. I was concentrated on this cute squirrel…

Hey lady! Quick, look behind you!

…when I hear multiple pairs of feet rushing toward me.

Hey!!!! Wait for us!!!

Apparently they had figured out the lunch lady was leaving. It was sort of intimidating to have they rush me like that, so I threw two handfuls of seed as far as I could away from me, and race walked (casually of course) to the next corner and turned into the woods. Luckily brush blocked me from their view and I got away.

So what do you think I found in the woods? I guess you’ll have to wait, because this is long enough already. And there’s so much more to see.

Stay tuned.

What? How does this relate to the woods??


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Shenanigans on my deck

I’ve started putting some seed along the deck railing for the birds, and by default the squirrels.

The downside is that they are making a mess and I’ll have to go clean up after them soon. The upside is that they make me smile every day. And seriously, who doesn’t need a few smiles during these scary times?

We’ve been slowly getting over the virus, though both husband and I still have difficulty taking a deep breath.

I tried playing my clarinet a couple weeks ago but didn’t have the air to do it. Maybe that would have been the case after weeks of not playing anyway. Or maybe it’s the result of covid. It would probably be good respitory therapy to play a little every day even though it sounds, well, to be honest, bad.

I’ve been reading too much facebook, too many dog friends have crossed over the rainbow bridge lately. In particular, Sarah the bookstore dog, who I’ve met a few times and who was always glad of a head scritch and posed for me without demanding a treat. I will miss her.

And Nico, a sheltie I’ve never met in person but who showed up in my FB feed every morning with a greeting and sweet semi-worried face. I will miss him too. And the other shelties, so many, including Dallas and Dakota, I will miss hearing about all of them.

2020 has been a year of loss and I don’t suppose all that will just stop on New Years Day. But there are bird and squirrel shenanigans happening daily on my deck and there are vaccines on the way.

All told there is reason to hope. And even smile.


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A little barn magic

A few weeks ago husband and I were over near Lansing Michigan picking up a leftover campaign sign and I noticed the area was full of beautiful barns. And me with no camera. So I vowed that one day I’d go back and see what I could gather for my collection.

Yesterday was sunny, and I didn’t have any commitments, so it seemed like the perfect barn collecting kind of day.

On the way over there I passed a barn I showed you last summer. It was so pretty in the morning light that I had to stop and grab another couple shots. I’m sure you won’t mind seeing it again either.

This is one of my favorite barns because it’s off by itself and it has this tree and photogenic fence. Plus there’s somewhere safe to park.

The hardest thing about hunting for barns is that you might see them, off across a field, or down a road, but there’s often no safe place to park. I love lonely dirt roads where you have time to park on the road, stand just outside your car and grab a shot before anyone else comes along.

Yesterday wasn’t like that.

No, yesterday almost all the roads were paved, and some of them were way too busy to be stopping. No shoulders either, though I generally don’t like parking on the shoulders of a busy road and will forgo the image if that’s the only parking option.

But some roads, though paved, were totally empty. And it helped that I was out there early, searching for the morning light, before too many people were up and about.

Sometimes the whole farm, shot from across their field, and on a side road, is pretty too.

I love farms. Even when I can’t get the shot I am always glad I saw it.

I caught the morning light glinting off this orange equipment out of the corner of my eye. I turned around and went back for it.

But I’m also aware these are people’s homes and maybe they wouldn’t be happy to have a barn stalker driving back and forth in front of their property. Not sure how they’d feel about me parking in their driveway and walking down their lane to get a better angle.

So I don’t do that.

Sometimes all I can get is a quick, crooked shot almost out of the frame, fixable once I get home.

I guess most people would be happy that someone found their barns, mostly old and sometimes falling down, beautiful. But I don’t know how I’d answer the question, “What are you going to do with the picture?” if they asked. Because the answer really is, ‘nothing, I just like looking at them.”

This was on a dirt road, with manicured lawn all around the outbuildings.

I do. Last night I made a slide show out of several images I’ve taken over the years and sat quite contentedly watching them go by. I can’t remember where some of them were, but I sure like looking at them.

Overgrown by trees, it was still a pretty barn.

Yesterday I could have used a few clouds in the sky to add interest. Some of my favorite barn shots are those with big fluffy white clouds hanging low over red or grey barns. But I had to settle for crystle clear blue sky yesterday.

My favorite barn from yesterday’s adventure, and the reason I went back after seeing it weeks ago.

Oh darn.

This one is hanging on, fighting gravity.

I had fun, spent a few hours driving around in the country, and grabbed a few beautiful barns for my collection.

Barns aren’t always red. This one glowed and I had to go back and forth a few times because it was on a busy road. By then the cows that were in the yard had moved off for breakfast. You’ll have to imagine them there.

Kind of a perfect morning.

All barns are beautiful