Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Camping makes us smile, no matter where we are

I don’t know how it happens that a week can slip away before I realize it. But here it is Saturday morning, almost afternoon, and I still haven’t posted a smile for Trent’s Weekly Smile compilation. If you haven’t read his weekly smile post from Monday yet you should. He has the most beautiful foxglove flowering over there.

So anyway. Katie and I have been sleeping in the tent in our backyard almost every night for the past week. It’s been beautifully cool with clear skies and she loves it, even though some nights I am kind of cold.

Katie here, this is my “I’m going camping!” smile!

She starts prancing around the back door and whining as soon as the sun even begins to think about heading for the horizon. I’m never ready to go to bed that early and sometimes I just ignore her, in which case she’ll sigh in disappointment and go to sleep somewhere else.

Once I’m ready to head to bed I change into several layers of clothing, grab her leash and wake her up. When she sees me dressed in sweats and holding her leash she gets so excited and she happily pulls me across the back lawn to our tent.

Silly girl.

But it’s not just her, I’m pretty happy to be sleeping outside too. She gets me up every morning between 3 and 4:30 and we head back to the house where she settles in to snooze with her dad and I go back out to the tent to finish my own sleeping. Those three hours of early morning sleep are usually my best sleep each night.

Hey mama, are you awake yet? Cause I’d like to go pee please.

Who’d have thought that sleeping in a tent on a narrow sleeping pad would garner a great night of sleep!

Katie and I put the tent away yesterday afternoon in preparation for a few days of bad weather. They predicted 60 mph winds and potential hail. Of course, as usual, the weather people got overly excited and all we got was a little rain. But it is going to be much warmer this week, so we’ll probably stay inside with the air conditioning for a few days. But when we get the tent back out both Katie and I are going to smile!

Guaranteed.

Me and my tent!


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Smiling in the night

Katie and I have been camping, though it’s just been in the backyard during these Covid-19 days. She starts crying and circling near the backdoor around 8 every evening, so excited to sleep in her tent. Of course that means she goes to bed early.

Mama was a little slow.

So she gets me up between 3:30 and 4:30 every morning. We wander back into the house after she does her jobs, and then, usually, I go back out to the tent to finish sleeping.

Sleeping under the stars.

But the past two nights I’ve spent about an hour taking pictures of the night, honing my night photography skills before I head back to sleep.

The neighbor’s house with a couple planets above.

Last night was really, really cool.

I was taking a picture of the house with a band of clouds and a couple stars overhead. The camera, sitting on it’s tripod was going through the 25 seconds shoot and then the lengthy noise reduction process, and I was staring at the sky directly above me while I waited. And the most spectacular shooting star blazed across the sky. No, it didn’t cross into my picture, darn it, but I saw it and that made me smile.

A layer of clouds was beginning to obscure the stars.

The next shot I pointed the camera straight up, knowing there wouldn’t be another shooting star right there, but wondering what I’d capture. And while the camera was going through it’s process I was watching the cloud bank climb higher in the sky just above the house.

And that’s when I saw the oddest thing.

The sky above.

A line of small dots, lights about the same size and brightness as a star, were moving from south to north, right above the cloud bank, quite fast, but slow enough for me to blink a couple times, adjust my glasses, and process that I was seeing something strange. I had time to consider whipping the camera back from it’s upward image capturing, and to swear at myself for moving it away from the house in the first place, but not long enough to actually do anything but watch, fascinated, until they all moved off into the clouds.

There were probably at least 20 lights, a long straight line of them, then a break and then 5 or 6 more. It was 4:20 in the morning. I’d been shooting the sky since about 3:45. I wasn’t sleepy and I wasn’t hallucinating. I don’t know what they were, but I’m hoping someone else saw them too and has an explanation.

Meanwhile, I’ve figured some more stuff out about night photography and someday I hope I’ll be able to stare at the stars and whatever else is up there from a more exotic location than my backyard.

And then I’ll really be smiling. Guaranteed.

Edit: I found out what it was! Elon Musk’s SpaceX Starlink Satelite Train. You can put in your data and find out when it will be flying near you!

Gee, I always miss the good stuff.


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I’m turning into an old fart

When my brothers and sister and I were growing up we pretty much ran around the neighborhood, the woods or spent our time out on the lake. But there was one place we didn’t run, and that was our next door neighbor’s yard. Though our neighbor had two kids of his own he wasn’t really kid friendly.

We weren’t allowed to walk across his yard to play with kids that lived on the other side of him. We weren’t allowed to skate on the part of our lake that was behind his house. We couldn’t even touch his grass in order to take his dog back home when it wandered over into our yard to visit our guinea pig. (Robbie the collie and Barney the guinea pig had a very strong friendship.)

That was all fifty years ago.

From our gardens.

This week I found, on our lawn next to our driveway, a large deposit from what must have been a very big dog. I was incensed. This is not the first time we’ve been the recipient of doggie gifts that are not Katie’s. I’ve ignored it when it’s at the further corners of our yard which is bordered on two sides by roads. But a month or so ago the deposit was left right next to our mailbox. And this week it was right next to our driveway.

It was sort of in my face, and I found myself turning into my childhood neighbor, but with no one around to yell at.

So I made a sign, and posted it right next to the offending pile. It said “Who left this? NOT OK! Pick up after your dog.”

The porch pots are vivid.

Of course no one admitted to being the offending human. I don’t blame the dog, though if it could read I’m sure it would take it’s business across the street to avoid me. I picked up the pile after a couple days, and put the sign away. I’m sure I’ll need it again.

But that incident alone didn’t make me think I was turning into an old fart. Oh no, there’s more.

Yesterday I was moving mulch from a very big pile which is sitting in the driveway, to a sweet little spot in our front yard under the trees, and nestled in among the hosta.

Gonna need a bigger wheelbarrow.

I could feel the drop in temperature every time I tipped a wheelbarrow of mulch onto the ground under the trees. A little microclimate exists there, so cool and green. I thought how nice it would be to have a chair there, a place to sit and watch the world go by on the street.

Which solidified the old fart notion.

Our elderly neighbors (defined elderly because they are older than me) used to sit in chairs in their garage and watch the comings and goings of the neighborhood. They have a lovely deck on the back of the house, looking into their pretty backyard edged in woods, but I don’t think they ever sat back there. No, they sit in their garage on sunny afternoons and watch the street, and us.

And now, here I am, thinking how nice it would be to sit in the front yard and watch the street.

Cool relief.

Yep I’m an old fart, not going to apologize. I figure I can sit under my tree in a comfy chair on my nice soft mulch and watch people walking their dogs down my street. And if they or their dogs get too close I’ll be able to tell them to get off my grass.

Somewhere in the cosmos I think my childhood neighbor would finally laugh.


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It’s hard to smile

This week it’s been hard for me to find something to smile about.

So many families with broken hearts this week.

The news was filled with awful things. The virus killing over 100,000 Americans. The protests and violence stemming from the death that reminds us of other similar deaths.

No, this week I didn’t feel much like smiling.

And then my silly girl wouldn’t sit pretty for a picture and I had to smile…just a little.

Reminding us to stop and smell the flowers.

Yes, this week I looked really hard for something to smile about.

Oh, all right mama. I’ll look at your silly camera. Sort of.

And I found it right here at home.

I hope I made you smile too!


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The case of the purple tick…or why you should wear your glasses in the shower

You know when you’re growing your grey hair out, how your hairdresser tells you that you should use this purple shampoo once in awhile? You don’t? Well let me tell you, there’s a lot more to understand about having grey hair than I realized when I made the decision to stop having it colored way back in October.

But that’s not what this post is about.

Late yesterday afternoon I suddenly couldn’t stand being in the house a minute longer.

Not to say it’s not pretty in my own yard.

I’ve been good about staying home, only going out for groceries. Yes I did take Katie to the woods for a walk one day — we saw no one else on the damp, drizzly forest trail. And four weeks ago I took a drive by myself to photograph barns, another instance when I just couldn’t stay here for another moment.

I’m bored too, mama.

Yesterday I just had to go somewhere so I went to a local park, the one where nature trails wander up over grass covered hills. Getting there around 7:00 p.m. I thought the sky looked interesting. Maybe there would be a sunset worth watching.

Wandering up the hill into the evening light.

I had fun just wandering around. Especially when I found a patch of little lupine hidden among the tall grasses. With the sun slowly lowering the blossoms were lit in the prettiest light. I spent some time walking through the grass, crouching down as I tried to get that light just so.

It was hard to get down close enough to show the light showing through the petals.

And then I walked the rest of the way up the hill to see what the sun and clouds had planned for their last show of the evening.

Turned out the sun slid behind a tall pillar of cloud long before sunset officially arrived. And there wasn’t really much color. Still I took a few shots before I wandered back down toward the car.

Not much of a sunset after all.

And that’s when the storm front moved overhead. The sky darkened and became absolutely beautiful with tall white clouds the center of attention against the black ones following close behind.

A bench to sit and watch the show.

I took a lot of pictures of that combination, the black and white clouds hovering low over the rolling hills. The darker it got the more dramatic the sky became.

It became a dark and stormy night.

And the more the mosquitoes swarmed. The swallows began to fly lower, scooping up the bugs and the sky grew darker and I hurried to the car, making it to cover just before the rain set in.

I was pleased with the pictures I had, but less pleased, later that night when I found two ticks, one on my leg, and one on my neck. Well darn. I’m not sure those lupine shots were worth it!

One last look before I ran for the car.

The rest of the night, and all day today I kept thinking I felt things crawling on me. Finally I decided to take a hot shower and before I got in I remembered that purple shampoo I’m supposed to be using once in awhile. It’s been more than awhile since I used it, so I grabbed it out of the cupboard and shampooed up, wondering why grey hair needs purple shampoo. And then I felt it. A little bump, right on top of my head. About the size of a tick.

Sorry, I have no pictures of ticks.

Frantically I squeezed it between two fingers and put it on a shelf where I tried to see what it was. Not wearing glasses I couldn’t see anything. I turned off the water, stepped out of the shower and tried to grab my glasses from the vanity. That movement made the purple shampoo drip into my right eye. It stung. Now I really couldn’t see anything.

Dripping all over the floor I grabbed a towel and tried to clear up the stinging eye, but no luck. And whatever it was was still lurking in the shower. So I put my glasses on and using one eye went back into the shower to examine the ‘bug,’ hoping it hadn’t crawled away.

These yellow flowers are all I ever get to see.

Turns out it was a bit of dried up purple shampoo, from the bottle that hadn’t been used in longer than awhile.

Well that’s a relief. Apparently the cost of the walk in the hills was only two ticks, I guess those pictures were worth it after all. But next time I take a shower to make sure I’m tick free I’m going to put my glasses somewhere I can reach them without getting out of the shower.

And maybe not use the old purple shampoo.

Yep, stuck in the yard, no adventures for me.


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Spring’s light always makes me smile

It’s that time of year when even the air seems green. Winter has finally given up and spring has enveloped us in it’s welcome warmth.

I know this isn’t in focus but I loved it so much I couldn’t delete it.

I’ve been watching things pop up in the gardens — I swear if I stood there I’d be able to see them growing!

Do you see anything weird in these hosta leaves?

How about now? Do you see what I thought was a frog? 🙂

And the light! The light in early mornings and late evenings is golden.

Evening light makes the last of the daffodils glow.

I can’t help but grab the camera and run outside when I notice that special light. It’s only there for brief moments and then it’s just a memory.

Morning light on apple blossoms.

Lots of mornings I have Katie-girl to thank for getting me out there early enough to see the first golden light.

I’d have missed this morning flight if it hadn’t been for Katie.

Yep, the light in May is definitely a reason to smile around here. What made you smile this week?

Morning light as seen from the tent. Double reasons to smile!


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Just one more smile

It’s raining today, a steady rain, soaking into our dry, dusty soil. That’s a good thing and made me smile this morning because I’ve been pulling weeds for days (that’s how I know our soil is dusty) and husband has been hauling mulch around the yard for days too. Rain makes me smile because I don’t have to feel guilty not going out and doing more.

So I’m mostly sitting inside watching traffic go by and working on a set of four or five little paintings that will be headed to Norway.

But before I start those I did this one.

Isn’t it adorable?

I was weeding yesterday and pulled up an acorn that had sprouted a little oak tree. I thought it was so beautiful, so intricate yet so simple, that I brought it inside and put it in a glass of water so I could study it again. This morning I drew it and then colored it in — I smile every time I look at it.

And then I looked up from smiling at the little oak tree and saw this:

I think it’s the female orchard oriole, though I haven’t seen her before. She was very focused on what’s left of the oranges. Notice her proprietary foot on the fruit.

I took several pictures of her, at at one point the camera was collecting itself after a series of shots and when the shutter opened up again she was gone and in her place was this one:

This is the female baltimore oriole. She too was very focused on the fruit even though I put jelly in the feeder earlier in the day. Notice she’s standing on what’s left of an orange quarter.

And I made a note to self: Females eating in the pouring rain obviously know what’s better for them. They both focused on the bits of fresh fruit and ignored the sugar. Can’t say the same of the males who have spent all day eating jelly. Just saying.

OK. That’s four smiles for today. So far.

These make me smile too.