Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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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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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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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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I’m not old

Katie here.

I’ve got it mama!

One evening this week I was moving from the floor onto one of my beds in the living room and as I settled in mama told daddy I looked old.

Really mama?!

Almost got that one!

I was sleeping! And I decided to get more comfortable. I wasn’t even really awake, not looking my best, not figuring I had to impress anyone. Besides, who’s calling who old anyway!

Throw it again mama!

And let me remind you that you and I played a rousing game of snowball out in the backyard that afternoon. Isn’t it possible that I was just tired from all the extra leaping and spinning and running in the snow? Did you think of that?

I’m a snow ninja!

I thought not.

Let me check out that snowball mama!

So before you go and start talking about how old I am and how you’re worried about me and stuff, just remember I have proof cause daddy took photos. You wanted to go inside before I did.

I was THIS close!

Just saying.

Mama. Geeze.

Got it!


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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!


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Release

Contemplating this past week.


It’s been a long and reflective week, beginning Saturday morning when I woke to hear the news that former President Bush had died. My first response was a deep sadness for his family, particularly for his children. My second thought was joy that he was reunited with his beloved Barbara and daughter Robin.

I guess that’s typical, the intertwining of sadness with joy during times like this, the emotions washing up and even overlapping as you maneuver your way through the tasks that must be done to celebrate a life.

Being retired I was able to watch the last journey of the President’s body from lying in state at our Capital to the beautiful ceremony at the National Cathedral and then his flight to Texas and the train ride to his library and final resting place in Houston.

A bit of joyful color in the bleak winter landscape.

And I watched his children and their spouses as they stood time after time watching the transfer of the coffin, on and off planes and the train, into and out of buildings, up and down stairs, all the while being watched by an entire world. Showing their grief or holding it in. Probably exhausted and moving on adrenaline. It’s a lot to ask of anyone, to have such a prolonged and public goodbye.

I’m glad they had a private time together when they said their last goodbye at the library. And I hope today, the day after all the ceremony is done, I hope today they are spending time with each other quietly remembering, laughingly remembering, wistfully remembering.

Looking for simple beauty.

This holiday season will be the first without their parents. To lose booth of them within the same year is so hard. So much change in such a short time, celebrations will never be the same. This year, for sure, will have sad undertones.

But there’s that sneaky joy that will infiltrate too. At times when they least expect it they’ll hear Barbara or George’s voice, telling a story, singing a silly song, laughing at an old joke. They’ll see them in the food they prepare, family favorites or maybe not, if broccoli is on the menu.

But I like broccoli mama!

And little by little, over the months and years there will be more joy and less sad. And best of all, while the sadness recedes, their parents, grandparents, great grandparents will never be far away.

Today as I watch a gentle snow fall and listen to Christmas music I realize that it’s the same for all of us during the holidays. The losses are always there, but the love is always there too.

Let the light shine on you.

My wish for the Bush family is that they spend these precious days together in privacy and peace, certain of the gratefulness of their nation and of the love they will always share within their family. I wish for them a release from the tension and pressure of such a long and public goodbye.

Let your joy show through.

And I wish, for all of you, peaceful holidays too.

Live in the moment.


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Trent’s weekly smile

I’ve been debating what to use for this week’s smiling post. It’s been snowing off and on all week, wet sticky snow that hung around long after it fell.

There was one morning with a bit of sun that just touched the treetops and then it was gone.

We got a lot, and it’s early. Most of us weren’t finished with fall yet. We complained, talked about going South.

What are you talking about mama? I LIKE snow!

And yet.

Katie has been acting like a puppy in this, our first real snow, of the season.

Hurry up mama! There’s more snow over HERE!

So I’m taking the advice of my sheltie-girl and I’m going to go with the flow and say that, believe it or not, this week the snow made me smile.

More than once.

Even without the sun it was still pretty.

And because I’m retired and didn’t have to drive in it I smiled even wider.

Katie is a wise little girl. I should take her advice more seriously.

Headed straight into winter.