Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Where the antelope play

I left you last in the wide open spaces of Monument Valley, where you can see for miles across a desert spiked with rock formations that lend themselves to imaginative interpretations.

Kind of looks like a fort, doesn’t it?

And what’s the opposite of wide open spaces? Why slot canyons, of course!

Don’t you just want to go inside and see what’s in there?

A slot canyon is exactly what it sounds like, a narrow canyon formed by wind and water, winding it’s way through rock.

You’ve probably seen photos taken in slot canyons, the orange, reds and greys swirling rock and light together. The images look like modern art.

The sunlight coming down from the top illuminates parts of the canyon.

And if you’re a photographer or a painter you’ve wanted to see one of these for yourself.

One of the largest ‘rooms’ in the canyon.

I know I’ve always wanted to.

The colors all swirl around each other.

So I was excited when we were able to book a tour to one of the Antelope Canyons near Page, Arizona.

It looks like the set of some sci-fi movie.

I didn’t really know what to expect.

I couldn’t do this with a paintbrush, much less with wind and water.

But we were lucky, our group was small and our guide was all about photography. He stopped us at several places and told us where to look for the iconic shot.

Every corner we rounded caused new gasps of wonder.

He even suggested camera settings and took a few pictures of each of us using our cameras.

The texture was unbelievable.

I wasn’t sure what I got until that evening when I downloaded the images. There were a few that made me stop and say ‘oh’ and then grin.

I can’t tell if I was shooting straight up, or along a wall. Doesn’t matter, it was beautiful in every direction.

I hope they made you grin too.

You’re smiling…right?

And for absolutely sure, if you’re near Page you need to get yourself booked on a tour. Try to go in the off season so you get a smaller group, but go, no matter when you can go, just go.

Do you see the heart?

Camera or no camera, you’re going to be in awe as you walk through these canyons. And you won’t forget it, guaranteed.

All that rock carved into beautiful shapes and hidden away waiting to be found.

One more post about this Southwest trip is coming up. Stay tuned.

What’s over there?

Meanwhile…Katie-girl, we’re coming home soon sweetheart. I’ll make it up to you I promise.

One last look.


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We’re in the West!

Sometimes when you’re off exploring you get so overwhelmed with new sights that you just don’t know where to start. And that’s where I am right now.

On a drive up toward Roosevelt Lake north of Phoenix.

We’re in Arizona. Well, technically right this minute we’re in Colorado, but I have to get you caught up, and that means starting in Arizona. The images here are from the end of last week, starting in the Phoenix area where we visited friends.

Roosevelt Lake, on a beautiful sunny day.

We took a drive north of Phoenix, up toward Roosevelt Lake, driving through all sorts of terrain. The lake was beautiful, but the most beautiful that trip was this bridge.

Such a perfect reflection!

I liked that the ducks were swimming and messing up the glassy surface of the lake too.

A duck swims through the reflection.

After we visited for a couple days, we headed north for some exploring. We stopped at Montezuma’s castle, in Camp Verde, Arizona, where down a short walkway you could see the cliff dwelling sitting high up in the white stone. This dwelling was built and lived in by people from about 1100 to 1425.

Montezuma’s Castle, a cliff dwelling set along a beautiful river.

Then we traveled a few miles to Tuzigoot National Monument, another Indian ruin, this one sitting high on a hill.

Way up on that hill is the ruin of another Indian community.

We had perfect weather to explore the stone structure…

Lots of rooms in this multi-layered structure.

…and enjoy the views.

Long vistas, and no snow!

And finally, that day, we visited Montezuma’s well, a small lake that is fed fresh water from deep in the earth beneath the pond. Centuries ago it was a special place for gathering of the Indians from all over the region.

Fresh water coming up from the bottom, leaches out through the rock into a river below.

We were lucky enough to talk with a young man there whose people used to come there to pray and dance. He says they still do during certain times of the year.

There were cliff dwellings at the well too.

Since then we’ve seen a sunset in the desert, visited the Petrified Forest over the span of two days, wandered in the painted desert and crossed into Colorado.

Just can’t wait to get on the road again.

Oh and we spent one night in Winslow Arizona….had to get the iconic picture of that!

“Standin on a corner in Winslow Arizona…”

I haven’t even looked at the past two days worth of pictures, much less picked out some for you…but I will. We’ve seen some spectacular scenery and you’re not going to want to miss it!

Stay tuned.

Iconic Arizona


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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.


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Still smiling

I have a lot going on, some of which you’ll undoubtedly read about next week. But I didn’t want this week to get away without smiling.

Now I know you’ve seen my ‘through the window’ bird shots just last post.

Look at all the detail in her feathers. There are little white hearts in there, perfect for February and Valentine’s Day.

And I know she’s just a starling, though as a European starling I guess she is rather exotic.

But since I’d never seen one before, and since she stops by every day now to get some lunch, and since I think she’s just so darn cute I thought you wouldn’t mind seeing her again.

A girl’s got to be nimble to get the good stuff here at the bottom.

Because she makes me smile every time I see her chowing down on that suet.

Who say’s I’m chowing, lady? I’m daintily having brunch.

Oh…and these guys make me smile too.

I like the bird flying away in the background.

And this one…

Maybe she won’t notice me way over here.

And even this one.

Just pretend I’m a bird, OK lady?

What made you smile this week? Post about it and link to Trent’s smile post and he’ll recap on Monday!

Waiting in line for lunch.


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Bad bird photos

It’s not that the birds are bad. No, the birds are, as always, just being birds. It’s the images I got of them that are bad. But I have an excuse.

From the backside of this large-ish brown speckeled bird, can you tell what he or she is?

I was grabbing quick shots of birds that I wanted to identify — birds that are not usually at my feeders or standing still in my yard here in lower Michigan.

Sharing the feeder with a bluejay so you can get an idea how big the brown bird is.

I was shooting from across a room because I couldn’t get close to the window in fear of scaring them away. And of course the windows are filthy.

Blury, but you can see the shape of the head. From the beak I thought maybe woodpecker, but young red bellied woodpeckers (about this size) have white stripes across the back. If you look close there is an adult red bellied woodpecker on the other side of that suet.

On top of all that the light was bad both days.

Today this guy showed up. What kind of hawk do you think it is?

But still, there’s enough here to identify these two…right? So….I need help…any ideas what they are?

Dirty windows, bad light and extreme cropping doesn’t hide how beautiful he or she is.


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Behind the fog

I’m up early this Saturday morning because, as usual, Katie is up early. But I can’t place the blame solely on her; before she demanded breakfast I was already awake.

A dreary day is brightened by a visitor.

Katie and I wander the dark yard after her morning meal, looking for the perfect spot. It feels warm, at 36F (2.22C), though of course it is not. Fog drifts above the melting snow, drips from the trees sounding loud in the silence that envelops an early Saturday morning.

My mind is in a fog too.

I heard from a high school friend last night that the latest treatment for her cancer hadn’t worked, tests results are in and she and her doctors are moving on to another type of chemo. I don’t know how many different treatments she’s tried in this past year, but this is by far not the first failure.

When I received her text I told my husband and he sat down heavily with a sigh. “So many…” he said then drifted off into silence. We have several friends in different stages of treatment for cancer.

I remember my Dad, years ago, saying that the Christmas letters they received had morphed from talking about their marriages, to their jobs, to their kids, their kids graduations, marriages, grandchildren, and by the end of his life Christmas letters were filled with health issues. But I thought my folks were lots older than I am now when all that health stuff started.

Puffed up against the cold he knew he looked magnificent.

But when I think about it…no…they were just about our age. When did our lives and schedules begin to revolve around doctor appointments? How did we slide so effortlessly into this place where our own mortality stands starkly in front of us?

Heavy thoughts for so early in the morning but maybe early morning is the best time to contemplate the wholeness of life.

Katie grabbed a toy when we got back inside, offering it to me, wanting a bit of play before she wandered off for her morning nap. She reminds me that there is still fun and goodness and hope in all our lives.

Coming in close to offer comfort.

She’s snoring now and I’m sorting through yesterday’s photos. Some people believe cardinals represent visits from our loved ones. I can’t prove that one way or the other, but this morning I find comfort and smiles and a bit of hope all rolled into these shots.

Today I will think about my friends and their struggles and hope that the sun comes out for a bit wherever they are, that the fog lifts and hope shines and a cardinal wings it’s way into their lives too.

A bit of a snack before heading out.


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And then there was sun, so we all smiled

Katie here! Ha!! I bet you forgot all about me! Here it is January 21 and this is my first post of 2020!

Blue skies always makes it seem warmer out there.

Mama says I shouldn’t get my fur in a wad, that people aren’t really thinking about me anyway, that I’m not that important, and seriously why don’t I go take a nap.

Sometimes mama can be a bit insensitive.

I told her that may be but I bet everybody out there needs a smile by now, January being so cold and long and stuff. Why I heard it got down to the 40s in Florida! Heavens! 🙂

I bet this dock is a lot busier in July mama!

So today, with the sun shining on fresh white snow and the sky a deep blue, I told mama that we needed to go for a real walk, not just down the driveway to the mailbox. And do you know what she said?

She said “You are absolutely right baby-girl (she calls me baby-girl when she knows she was wrong but she doesn’t want to apologize.) And the next thing I know I’m at a park!

Limbs reaching toward the sky.

Hot diggity dog! I love going to parks when it’s cold out. I just prance my little hiney right down the path. Mama didn’t even take too many pictures (though to be honest, can there be too many pictures of me?)

A nice wide path sure was fun to walk (and sit) on!

We couldn’t go down mama’s favorite paths, deep in the woods, cause now that there’s snow those are all cross country ski trails. I told mama she could rent some skies for her and me and we could still go up and down those hills and she said if we did that it would be a sight to behold. Plus we’d probably break something important. Like our legs.

So we just walked where the signs said we could.

Winter walkers go left please.

Mama thought it was sort of boring, but I thought it was perfect. A nice, plowed path for me to trot on, lots of pee-mail to read. Can’t beat that.

Then mama said she wanted to go up this hill where some people with snowshoes had hiked. I said “no way mama! Why would I want to tromp through deep snow? You try walking through snow that comes up to your chest!”

Let’s go see what’s up there!

She just laughed and kept on walking so I scampered up the hill to make her happy. I even let her take a picture or two. The things I put up with just to make mama happy.

You’re right, mama, it IS pretty up here!

Anyway, I figured you’d need a Katie fix by now. I hope this made you smile. If it did, or if you smiled about something else this week, write a post and link to Trent’s blog. He’ll do a recap of all the weekly smiles next Monday.

Come ON, mama! Let’s get going, you’ve got plenty of pictures already.

Meanwhile, if the sun is shining make sure you get outside even if it’s only for a little bit. It makes the winter go by faster, and even though winter is my favorite season, I like to see mama smile more, so I’m rooting for spring to arrive any time now.

Signing off for now, your smiling sheltie-girl Katie.

I need my supper and a nap now!