Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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The greening

Taking a walk in the Jacksonville arboretum.

There’s nothing more special than watching your world transform from winter brown to brilliant spring green. But sometimes those of us in the north get impatient while Mother Nature takes one step toward sunlight and falls two steps back into sloppy slushy cold.

Peeking out to see the sun.

So you can’t blame a person for skipping all of those last moments of winter and retreating to warmer climes. Like Florida. And that’s what I’ve done.

Magnolias are in bloom here.

A friend in Florida wanted to take a short vacation, but her two dogs couldn’t go with her, and she wasn’t comfortable putting them in a kennel.

Whimsical tree.

And on a whim she asked me if I’d consider coming down to house sit with her lovely pooches. My calendar was open for the proposed dates. Hmmmm… let me think…would I like to stay in the cold north and continue to watch winter fighting it out with spring?

Cedar stumps create sculpture covered in moss.

Or would I like to walk barefoot on a sunny beach, watch palm trees sway against blue skies.

Pops of color everywhere if you look.

Let me think about that.

Spiderwort grows wild here.

So here I am, hanging out with two sweet boys, enjoying the sunshine and the warmer temperatures. Sure tomorrow is going to be stormy and we’ll be stuck inside all day.

Pretty shell-like fungus hides in the shade.

But that’s OK. It’s almost guaranteed not to snow.

It’s called Christmas licen, bright red on tree trunks.


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Beautifully unwanted

Yesterday we experienced hail, sleet, and a tiny bit of snow but mostly cold driving rain fell all day. It was a no good kind of day through and through. And this morning I woke to this.

Early morning blue light shows off the overnight snow.

It was the ‘blue hour’ when Katie-girl decided we needed to go outside. I couldn’t help but try to capture the magic that surprised me once we got outside.

Wet snow covered every detail.

And then, as the sun came up I saw how truly beautiful, but truly unnecessary, it all was. From the warmth of our living room I framed the backyard, ornamented by some Florida seashells on the mantel.

Cold and warmth represented.

I liked the juxtaposition, not the snow.

Still, it was stunning, and on my way to an appointment in town I couldn’t help but park and dart out to take a picture or two.

No matter how boring the scene, the snow made it prettier.

Or three.

I knew it wouldn’t last long and by the time I got back home it would be gone. No chance to take Katie for a walk in it, no time for formal portraits against the black and white art of Mother Nature.

Swampy wetlands looked beautiful against the black and white of the trees beyond.

No, just a few clicks with the camera on my phone in the early morning light would have to do.

Even muddy dirt roads look good decorated with fresh sticky snow.

It was beautiful and it was gone within the hour. I hope that’s the last of our snow for this season.

Spring green of the willow competes with stark white of yet another snowfall.

Our grass has greened, the trees are budding and our early spring flowers are in bloom.

No early morning golfers today.

Time for winter to let it go.

Just stop.

But it’s Michigan, so I’m not betting on it.

Waiting patiently for summer.


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Birding around

I have all these photos, taken during our March 31st snowstorm and now it’s feeling warmer and the snow is long gone and if I don’t post these soon I never will.

Yes, the snow is gone, at least down here in Southeast Michigan. Not to say it won’t be back. But at least we’re not still covered in snow like our friends to the north.

Last week we a were enjoying a beautiful day when I noticed this out my kitchen window…

“Seems a little small, lady. Do you have anything with three bedrooms and two baths?”


…and the next day the view out my kitchen window looked like this:

“Brrrrr….I should have migrated South.”

I spent much of the morning sitting in my nice warm living room taking pictures of frantic birds landing on the feeders.

“It’s a smorgasbord!”

Eventually I put the camera on a tripod, sat on the sofa, and used my phone to release the shutter in order to get these shy gold finches.

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It was so much fun!

I never know exactly what I’m going capture when I’m trying to shoot birds. Sometimes I’m surprised when I download everything and take a look. This one made me laugh.

Take off!

I know professional bird photographers spend hours and hours preparing for a particular bird shoot…and it takes a bit of luck too. I feel pretty lucky that I can sit here and watch all these little guys stop by for a visit.

I hope you enjoyed my birds as much as I do!

If we’re lucky this was the last snowy day around here for awhile.


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Out like a lion or hungry birds

Not surprisingly we had snow on March 31st. This is Michigan after all, where winter doesn’t go quietly.

We only got this much snow, but it sure was pretty!

Oh no, winter around here is much more sneaky than that.

After beautiful days earlier in the week those pesky weather people predicted snow, and they were right. It started Friday evening, by Saturday morning the yard was stunning. And when the sun peeked through the clouds (for only a few minutes, but still) it was spectacular.

A moment of sun early in the morning made it all sparkle.

I told Katie I arranged for snow just for her Gotcha Day. I don’t think she bought it, but she was kind enough not to laugh.

I’d rather not sit here mama, can we go back inside now?

Even she seemed to think it was pretty cold, wet and windy when we toured the yard. She said snow was not enough to get me off the hook for the lack of celebration on her big day. I had to promise something special for later. I think camping might do it, but don’t tell her.

Seriously mama, I’m cold and wet.

Meanwhile the birds were crazy. I have so many cute shots of them crowding around the feeders, that they will have to be in a separate post.

It was crazy around the feeders!

And of course Katie will be posting about her day and her expectations for future adventures. I might be in a bit of trouble there. We’ll see.

Waiting his turn at the feeder. Classy gent.


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Define spring

The calendar says winter is over. But those of us living in Michigan, and I suspect, other northern states know better than to trust a date on the calendar. Around here we look for more definite signs that spring is poking around and considering hanging out with us for awhile.

For me robins bouncing around in my front yard is hopeful, but not really true evidence of the season changing; we’ve been known to have them stop by in the middle of winter. In fact I think I have a picture somewhere of a very disgruntled robin sitting in my heated birdbath during an icy snowstorm.

Gotta get your bath in when you can.

Up here it’s not really spring until I’ve hear the red-winged blackbird’s cry. It’s a distinctive sound, one you can’t confuse for anything else. That’s why I was grinning last week, because the blackbirds were robustly announcing their arrival. This week they are busy daily cleaning out my bird feeder, they must not have stopped anywhere for lunch on their trek home to me.

Singing for his supper.

Then there are my goldfinches. Though many hang around all year the bright yellow males turn to an olive green in the winter. And in the spring they start sprouting patches of brilliant yellow again, a heralding of sorts that warm spring days aren’t far away.

It’s starting to get yellow around here.

This week the goldfinches are turning a decided yellow. I’ve been hanging out by the windows just watching them power eat thistle seed. Every day there seems to be more yellow showing.

Do you have any more food in there lady?

Some of them have turned almost totally yellow already. Proof positive that winter is losing it’s hold over us, even though it snowed again today.

Can’t hide my colors now!

Daffodils are pushing up from the cold ground. I saw buds on a bush yesterday. The limbs of the forsythia bush seem to have a golden glow though there are no blossoms or even buds yet.

I’m not so gullible to think it’s time to till the garden or plant those annuals yet. Way too early up here. And I know that every year we have a significant snowfall in April.

What do you mean this isn’t the last of the snow?

But I also know that last snow won’t need shoveling because it will melt by mid afternoon. And the sun will grow warmer and finally, finally the frogs will begin to peep.

And then it will be spring.

More evidence.


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The misadventures of a Katie-girl

Katie here. HEY! It’s not my fault if I had a few unsettling adventures around here. It’s not like mama takes me anywhere fun after all.

Happy at my park.

First I thought I was going on an adventure and I ended up at camp for a whole week while they were off frolicking in Florida. I like Florida, I’ve been there three times, I love to run on the beach and stuff. Plus my boyfriend Mr. Reilly is there. So I don’t get why I couldn’t go with them.

Me, my boyfriend Mr. Reilly and his little brother Denny on our first beach adventure way back in 2017!

So I showed them. The morning after I got home I talked mama into taking me on a walk. She was tired cause she just flew home herself, but she felt guilty (as she should) for making me stay at camp, so she took me up the street.

Me in my yard, which is not an adventure mama!

I was doing my sheltie prance, butt wagging, sniffing all the good stuff like usual when suddenly I slowed down. Mama thought that was odd. Then I turned around and looked at her and threw up! And then I threw up two more times!

Then I just lay down in the middle of our street and I started to quiver all over.

I told mama not to show anyone my tummy!!

Mama said that was not normal. And even though we were only about four houses away from home she called my dad and he came and got us. Then she called the vet.

So the next car ride I get was to the vet! This is not an adventure mama! They poked me and looked in places no princess should allow, and they took my blood. I didn’t give permission for any of this, but I felt kinda miserable so I couldn’t argue much.

I guess my backyard is better than nothing.

The vet couldn’t come up with anything, but mama had a sinking feeling cause I had an episode just like this in 2015, also one day after being sprung from camp. We didn’t figure out anything then either.

I finally convinced mama to take me to my park.

So the next day I was feeling all happy again, but mama put me on a low fat wet food for awhile just to see. Boy that was good! And when I stayed happy for several days mama did a bad thing.

She scheduled me to get my teeth cleaned, and while I was out she asked them to do an ultrasound of all my innards!

So the next week I find myself at the vet again! This is so not fair, especially because this time daddy left me there! Mama couldn’t even come because she fell on some ice and had both hands and wrists wrapped up in splints and she didn’t feel so good herself.

I would like to say, for the record, that mama’s fall was not my fault!

My park needs my inspection more regularly!

Anyway, I got all sleepy and stuff and when I woke up I didn’t feel so good and my tummy was cold! Mama and daddy came to get me and I was sort of happy but kinda confused. The vet said he didn’t see anything on the ultrasound, but he’d send it off for a better look by an expert.

All I wanted to do was get out of there.

I watched two sandhill cranes very carefully. Not going to chase them though, cause they are bigger than me!

I got home and I slept and slept and slept. But when I went out to do my business my #2 was liquid. And you know what? It’s been four days now and it’s still not right. But the vet said the ultrasound didn’t show anything abnormal.

Sigh.

Mama and daddy are talking about my poo all the time now and deciding what to do. They have even cancelled their next adventure because they don’t want to send me back to camp. Score one for Katie!

They say they might have to take me back to the vet. Uh oh. Minus one for Katie!

Trying to look cute so they don’t take me to the vet again.

Somehow that’s not a win for me, ya know? So I’m doing my best to produce a normal poo for them so we can get on with some fun stuff. Mama did take me to my park yesterday for a short walk around the pond. That’s where most of these pictures come from. It was a beautiful day and I was very very very happy to be there.

We didn’t get to walk all the way around the park because mama’s hands are still wrapped up and her mittens don’t fit. She is a wimp!

Mama says if I straighten up my act (and if her hands ever heal) we’ll do something fun cause spring is almost here. Heck I told her, I like cold weather, we need to be out there enjoying it right now!

All that poo talk made me sleepy.

So that’s what I’ve been up to. I hope all of you are having a much better end to your winter than mama and me. She says to watch out for black ice. I say to watch out for car rides to the vet!

Talk later, I got stuff to do now….maybe even a #2!

Your gal Katie.

I’m outta here people! I’ve got adventures to plan!


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Don’t take your hands for granted

Monday this week I went for a long walk. I’ve been trying to do that more often, and even though it was cold and very windy I decided I was going to stick with the plan.

Out at the park there was about a mile and a quarter out in the open before the bike path turned into the protection of the forest. I held my hood over my face, bent my head and tried to walk that part as fast as possible.

Once in the woods things were decidedly better and I began to enjoy myself, glad I had stuck with the plan. Still winter hasn’t let go of us here in Michigan and there were dark, seemingly just wet, spots on the path that I skirted because I knew, with temps below freezing, that they’d be slippery ice.

The plan was to walk 6 miles, and just before the 3 mile turn around there was a very large and very wide dark patch. With steep declines on either side of the bike path there was no good choice for going around. Reminding myself that I needed to be careful, not wanting to fall way out there in the woods all by myself, I inched my way across what seemed to be just wet pavement.

And suddenly I noticed that both my feet were up in the air in front of me. And just as suddenly I was flat on the path.

After a quick check that nothing seemed broken I rolled to my knees and crawled to dry pavement. The only thing that hurt were my hands, and those weren’t that bad.

I felt lucky.

Back at the car I posted pictures of the walk, checked my emails and prepared to drive home. But steering hurt my hands, and they were getting worse. I drove home slowly, using my forearms and elbows. My husband wrapped both hands in Ace bandages and I took a bunch of pain relievers to get some sleep, hoping the next day things would feel better.

But things weren’t better in the morning so we went to the doctor who took xrays, proclaimed no broken bones, and prescribed splints and heavy duty pain relief. And now I’m in day three of wearing splints.

I miss my hands.

I had a good friend in college, and for almost 30 years after, who had rheumatoid arthritis. Her hands were in a permanent curve, and she used both of them for simple things like holding a mug, or opening doors. These past three days I am the same, and I’ve been thinking about her a lot.

Michelle was eternally happy, she was a bit older than the rest of us and we used her as a mom substitute. She was the best listener and I wonder, now, if she realized how silly our young problems were. She kept on enjoying her life, though she was in constant pain, until lung cancer, probably caused by the meds she had to take, claimed her 15 years ago.

This week, though the splints make life more difficult, I appreciate the lesson my injured hands have taught: Don’t take hands for granted, they are under appreciated and needed for almost everything.

I’m hoping to be out of splints and back to normal by the end of the week. I’ve got a concert to play on Tuesday.

And I’m pretty sure I can’t do that without my hands.


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Two photo challenges in one

This week Cee’s black & white photo challenge is to get an image of an isolated object, and Nancy Merrill’s A Photo a Week challenge asks us to post a black and white image.

So this is a two for one kind of post.

I like black & white images that have clean delineation, almost graphic art. I really liked the light making the wing look like modern art. I thought about focusing more on the goose and less on the background.

I think there’s a way to mask out the goose and then smooth out the water behind it. But I haven’t figured that out yet. Doing that would make this even more like graphic art.

I don’t know though, I sort of like the reflection/shadow that is included in the first image.

What do you think?

Oh, there was this guy out there that day too.