Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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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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The weekly smile is buried in snow.

Trent hosts a collection of smiles each week. People post on their own blogs, describing things that made them smile that week, and link their posts to his. On Mondays, a day when we could all use a few smiles, Trent posts a recap so that we can all visit everybody else. It’s a nice way to start the week.

So this week, in Michigan, we got snow. Record breaking snow, more snow this early in the season than we’ve ever received in the history of our weather.

Sure it was pretty, but nothing to smile about.

Did we smile?

Well, not so much, not after the first “Oh it’s so pretty” wore off. My husband went out three times during the day to clear the driveway. And then he went and bought a bigger snowblower.

We all wanted to fly away.

To add more drama to our lives, this week we’re having drywall put up in the garage, so the car had to stay outside. In the accumulating snow.

Is this supposed to be fun mama?

I took his truck with four wheel drive to my morning physical therapy appointment. Driving in blowing snow, through snowdrifts, and finding out, after the appointment, that there was no snow scraper in the truck meant I was still not smiling.

My feet are cold. This is not fun.

And Thursday and Friday we had painters doing the inside of our house. Katie and I were relegated to one bedroom with the door closed so she didn’t end up a painted dog. She wasn’t smiling.

Camping makes me smile, but not in the snow!

And when Katie is unhappy everyone is unhappy. So most of Thursday and some of Friday she and I explored her parks.

About time you found me a park where they plowed the path!

And then the sun came out. Which made us all smile!

Now this is perfect weather mama!

After two long days of exploring cold, snow covered parks, we spent last night playing hide the sheltie-girl.

You can’t hide from me mama!

And the smiles continued.

What made you smile this week? Share it with us! Those of us up here in snow country could use more smiles.

Adventures always make me smile mama!


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Snow infringes yet again

April 15th of this year we had snow. It seemed way too late to be getting so much of the wet white stuff. Sure it was pretty. But really, winter around here is long enough without it lingering on.

Our back yard on October 30th.

So our warm season seemed even shorter this week when on October 31st we got the first snow of the season. Yes, Halloween night, when kids from around the neighborhood should be enjoying a house-to-house foraging for candy, we were enduring wind, sleet and snow.

The snow made the colors pop.

Needless to say no one came to our front door.

But in the morning we enjoyed the beauty the night’s storm left behind. We still have quite a bit of color here, leaves had only just turned when they were coated with snow.

Fall and winter, mixing it up. Unfortunately we know which will ultimately win.

It made a pretty juxtaposition, the warm colors of fall against the stark coldness of winter.

The ginkgo tree begins to lose her leaves, the maple has hardly any left.

Katie and I went out to explore the backyard. Lots and lots of pretty things there.

Kind of like a Christmas card.

She wasn’t even jealous that I wasn’t paying attention to her, she was having such a good time following smells.

Mama, I kind of like this snow.

It was pretty cold, the snow stayed around for most of the day, but by the next day it was gone. We’ll enjoy a few more days of sun before winter comes back for a longer visit.

Add a little ice to the mix.

Katie says we should get out there and enjoy every one of the good days. Cause she knows how it is when the snow is higher than she is tall.

The last hurrah.

And it’s not fun.

Sad sunflower.


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Exploring

Katie here. I know, I know, you’re expecting more photos of mama and daddy’s latest trip. Trust me, there are definitely more in mama’s files.

But geeze! Have you all forgotten about me?

Come walk with me in my backyard!

I’ve spent an awful lot of time at camp this summer. Don’t get me wrong, they treat me great there, but it’s not the same as being under mama’s feet. So since I’ve been home I’ve become something of a Velcro dog, never further than a foot or two from mama.

I kind of love my backyard!

Today I asked her if we could please take a tour around my yard, so I could make sure that everything was still copacetic out there, given I haven’t been around much, and mama said “OK baby girl! Let’s go explore the yard!”

Mama’s abstract of my fur.

We stopped at my zinnia garden which replaced my tomato garden of years past. I have to say I like tomatoes much better than silly flowers. I may be a Princess, but flowers don’t do a thing for me. Give me a ripe cherry tomato any time. Especially one I can pick off the vine for myself.

I ask you – how are these flowers better than tomatoes?

I’ve put in an Executive Order for tomatoes next year.

Way in the back of the yard daddy has been trimming trees. Do you see me in there?

I’m in there, hiding from mama!

How about now?

I’m right here mama!

Mama took so many pictures that I finally just laid down in the nice cool grass. No sense trying to rush her when she’s got that camera in her hand.

Yep, might as well take a break.

Mama also says to tell you her finger is healing. The bruising is all gone but the doctor says the bone hasn’t healed completely yet. It’s only been three weeks but mama says it feels like she’s been injured forever. She went to her first physical therapy session today.

She says it’s going to be a long fall.

I told mama that Fall is my favorite season!

Anyway, I enjoyed my wander around my yard. Things look OK, so I feel justified in taking a nap now. Never used to be that the backyard was equated with an adventure, but hey, I’m a senior, adventures can happen anywhere!

Yep, everything is good over here.

Talk later, mama says more travel photos are on deck next.

Zzzzzzzzzz…


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Backyard birds are so much fun to watch

You know I like to go out to Kensington Metropark and hang out with the birds there. But I have to say that my own backyard has some pretty fun sights too. This past weekend I wasted spent quite a bit of time just sitting and watching what was going on right here at home.

See the red bellied woodpecker? Right below her (or him) is the juvenile.

Turns out there is a whole lot going on! In particular I enjoyed watching this red bellied woodpecker feeding his or her youngster. I have to admit I’ve never noticed young woodpeckers before. I don’t know if I’ve just never seen them, or if I mistook them for some other kind of woodpecker.

Here, have a bit of lunch sweetie.

Either way, this was obviously a juvenile being fed by a parent.

The youngster moved to a more open branch and I hoped the parent would feed it there, but being a teenager, the younger bird became impatient and flew off before mom or dad returned with more seed.

Though I wish the leaves of the birch tree they were sitting in hadn’t obscured the youngster’s head I’m still really glad I noticed this action going on just outside my kitchen window.

Well good, the little whippersnapper is gone. I get to eat this seed all by myself!

And of course the hummingbirds. They are really active at the feeder now, perhaps fueling up for their long trek across the Gulf of Mexico this fall.

Is this the only thing on the menu, lady?

Sometimes I’ve seen them over in the zinnia garden too. I can understand the allure of having a fence to sit on while eating.

Yum. WAY better than that empty caloried sugar water she serves at the house.

Kind of like going to a fancy restaurant v.s. a fast food place.

We have lots of goldfinches and titmice and cardinals and all the rest too. They are eating me out of house and seed, but I don’t mind.

This is MY orange, everyone else go find your own.

Seems a small price to pay for all the entertainment they provide.

Incoming!