Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Pretty stuff from up north for your viewing pleasure

Katie did a good job describing our latest camping trip. But she left out some of the pretty shots, probably because they didn’t highlight her. You know how she is. So here’s a few of the other pretty things we saw up there. Well. She didn’t see all of it, because she napped a lot.

Hope you enjoy!

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Camping is awesome – even in the rain

This is my campsite!

This is my campsite!

Katie here. What? You thought mama likes camping in the rain? I guess she’s not opposed, as long as it’s a nice gentle rain that stops by morning and then the sun comes up and dries everything out before we have to pack it into the car. That kind of rain.

But of course that’s not what happened.

I’m getting ahead of myself though, let me start at the beginning. Last Monday we drove all the way over to Leelanau State Park; it’s way up at the tip of the little finger of Michigan, just north of Northport, one of mama’s favorite towns.

We went there so that we could visit a bunch of people, some of whom had never met me! The first person we hung out with was Karen, a friend of mama’s from years ago. They used to work together in the Upper Peninsula in the 80s. We had dinner at her house and mama and I ran up and down the 46 stairs to the beach a bunch of times while mama took pictures of the sunset that night.

I'm not scared of these stairs mama!

I’m not scared of these stairs mama!

Mama has figured out that I’m not exactly telling the truth when I say I don’t do stairs. I ran down those 46 stairs no problem each time. And the first time back I forgot, and ran up halfway before I asked to be picked up! Bummer! Mama’s on to me now!

Sunset light makes me extra beautiful in my beach chair.

Sunset light makes me extra beautiful in my beach chair.

That night her friend came up and camped with us at our site. It was fun to have her hanging out with mama, though I have to admit I went to bed as soon as we got back to camp while mama and her friend drank wine and talked.

The next day mama and I went into town and visited Dog Ears Books in Northport. I didn’t get to meet the resident dog Sarah, because she wasn’t in that day, but I got to meet Sarah’s person Pamela, and I got to wander all over the store with my mama as she picked out a few books.

I like this store!  Support your independent book seller!

I like this store! Support your independent book seller!

We visited the marina too. I enjoy walking out on the docks and looking at all the beautiful boats. I imagine what it would be like out on the big lake on a sunny afternoon.

This one's for sale mama, want to buy it for me?

This one’s for sale mama, want to buy it for me?

It would be perfect as long as my mama remembered to bring the treats. Which she forgot a lot on our walks during this camping trip. Just saying.

Back at our campsite mama noticed a big beautiful cloud out over the lake. This park doesn’t have a beach, just a lot of bushes that grow in the water. So mama hiked out through those bushes and into the water to get a picture of the beautiful cloud and some sailboats.

The 'path' back to camp.

The ‘path’ back to camp.

She figured her feet would get wet, but that was OK. When she finally came back to camp I had to say “I told you so mama!” because of course she got more wet than she expected. Mama never pays attention when she’s trying to get a good picture. Silly silly mama.

Really mama?  You couldn't keep your shorts dry?

Really mama? You couldn’t keep your shorts dry?

She changed her shoes and her shorts and spent the rest of the day moving the wet things around the campsite, following the shifting sun. When we went to bed they were still pretty damp.

That night the whole campground was full! Most every single site had one or more tents in it. We had lots of crazy screaming little kids on one side of us and a whole big group of teenagers on the other side. It was a lot more noisy than before. But I was tired from all our exploring so I went right to sleep.

Peterson Park has a giant tree!

Peterson Park has a giant tree!

Mama had hoped she could try some star photography, so she set her alarm for 1:00 a.m. so she could go out and check the sky. Of course she got me up then too, to go do my jobs. She thought that by doing that I might let her sleep later than 6 a.m. It’s always good to have hope.

So at 1:00 we were outside, mama checking the sky, me checking for pee-mail. She said the sky wasn’t good for star shooting; to the west it was totally dark and there were clouds and stars just above us. Out over Lake Michigan it looked dark…like fog. Or something.

We walked about three campsites down the road so I could pee, and then mama felt weird being out there alone so late, and she tugged me back to our site. I didn’t want to go back into the tent but she insisted. And as she turned around inside to zip the door shut she noticed that the young tree on the other side of the road suddenly bent over in strong wind! That seemed odd because it hadn’t been windy when we were out there. And it wasn’t windy where our tent was only a few feet away.

So she watched. The tree whipped around, over and over, the waves began to crash, but the wind was louder than the waves. Mom was worried. Then the rain hit.

It came down in sheets, hard against the tent. Mama hoped the weight of us inside would hold the tent down. She worried about what she might have left outside. Like her shoes. And the tent bag. And who knows what else. I slept through the whole thing.

It rained hard from 1:10 a.m. until 6:00 a.m. Mama stayed awake through most of it worrying. But at 6:00 it seemed to stop, and she had to go to the bathroom (I guess listening to all that water will do it to some people!) so she woke me up and we crept outside. Things seemed to be OK. Her shoes were soaked, but other than that we were good. So we headed to the toilet. We were halfway there when the rains came back. Mama debated what to do. Go back to the tent? Or keep going? She decided what the heck…we were going to get wet either way, so we kept going. By the time we got to the toilet it was just pouring. We got soaked!

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz...

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

Back at our site she gave up trying to keep anything inside dry, we just dove back into the tent. I was a mess. Mama was a mess. She dried me off with our last dry towel. Turns out I thought that was fun, almost like a game, so I made mama laugh even though she was dripping wet too. We went back to sleep. Well. I went back to sleep. Mama lay there worrying about how she was going to pack up the campsite in this pouring rain. She had to be out by 11:00 a.m.

Then guess what? The rain stopped at 8 a.m.! Really! It just stopped! Mama had already decided that she was going to pack up at 8, regardless. So she got up and got moving fast. I got put in my crate just to keep me from tracking more mud into the tent. I was not happy.

Not fair.

Not fair.

I am never happy when she packs up our tent. It’s my tent and I want to stay longer! Even if everything is soaked! It’s not fair that she put my in my crate in the car where I couldn’t see anything. But she says it’s just faster without me running around after her barking and getting under her feet.

I don't want you to pack up mama!

I don’t want you to pack up mama!

I guess she’s right, because she got everything packed in an hour. We stopped on our way out to toss the garbage in the bin. It was about 9:10 when she popped out of the car to toss the garbage. The rain began again in earnest at 9:11. I swear, we were soooo lucky to get it all packed up in that one hour.

Through the rain we drove south around Traverse Bay, and then north along the other side. We were going to visit Gerry up near Eastport. I met Gerry a couple of years ago, along with her dogs the Cowboy and Miss Sadie. She lives near the water too and has a lot of stairs up to her house.

I'm not walking up all these steps mama!

I’m not walking up all these steps mama!

Once again I had no trouble going down the steps but I made my mama carry me up every.single.time. After all, I am a princess.

Once inside her house I noticed immediately that there was a sofa! And I spent most of the evening napping on it, or Gerry’s chair. And mama and I got to sleep in a real bed! Gerry was very nice to offer us her spare room, especially since everything we had was wet!

Hey mama!  A sofa!

Hey mama! A sofa!

I had a great time at Gerry’s house. We went for walks through the woods and we visited her neighbor and I got to nap while they were talking. I napped a lot on this trip. I think that’s one of the best parts about camping, all the naps.

What?  I was just resting my eyes!

What? I was just resting my eyes!

The next day we went for one more walk and then it was time to head home. I don’t know about mama, but I was exhausted!

Sure is pretty 'up north!'

Sure is pretty ‘up north!’

We stopped at my favorite park in Greyling, and a couple of rest stops, but most of the way home I was asleep. Don’t tell mama, she thinks I’m vigilant all the time.

At the little park in Greyling.  It's not raining!

At the little park in Greyling. It’s not raining!

It took mama two days to get everything totally dried out once we were home. I’m already asking her when we’re going again, but she says she’s tired. She slept a lot yesterday. Even more than me! I suppose I should let her rest for at least a couple more days before I bug her about our next adventure. Maybe we could stay in a hotel. I have to admit I did like sleeping on the bed that last night. We’ll see. I can always count on my mama to come up with something fun.

She says she has lots of pretty photos to show you and she’ll do that sometime if I ever finish this blog which she says has gotten way too long. Obviously she forgets I’m the princess of the house.

My mama. Secretly I think she likes camping a lot too.

Even when it rains.

Traverse Lighthouse!

Traverse Lighthouse!


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Katie and the big yellow moon

Imported Photos 03690
It all started with Katie as most things do in this household. Rightfully so she adds.

She had to go out; it was about 6:30 in the morning. No sense arguing with her, best to just roll with it. Rub your eyes and find your pink clogs and shuffle with her out the door, down to the end of the driveway to her favorite spot for leaving early morning pee-mail.

Glancing over your shoulder as she snuffles along you see the moon is setting. And you remember you have a brand new tripod and wouldn’t this be a great time to try it out.

But she is still snuffling, she hasn’t chosen her exact spot yet. There is something that smells good over there by the day lily. Really good apparently.

You tug on her leash, urging her to hurry up. Sniff sniff…meander… sniff some more.

Finally she is done and you both sprint for the house, your mind trying to remember where you last saw the tripod. The camera. Most importantly your glasses. Her mind wondering what glorious adventure we are heading toward.

Gathering up all three you fumble attaching the camera to the tripod. Got it finally. Hurry – the moon is going down!

Outside as you tiptoe carefully across the dew slick deck Katie prances and pulls expecting an adventure. She has to go with you because if you left her in the house she’d bark hysterically and spouse is sleeping. Smart spouse.

The grass is flooded with dew. Your pajamas are instantly soaked, the pink clogs slip off your feet forgotten. Katie gets put, much against her wishes, in her pen to watch you from a safe enclosure. And so you don’t have to handle the leash while figuring out the tripod as the moon slips faster and faster toward the tree tops.

Because the moon is so low you have to go behind a line of spruce trees planted on the side of a hill. Out of Katie’s sight. She puts up a small protest. You tell her to shhhhhhhh!

The hill makes setting up the tripod harder. You can’t remember which way to turn this and that. The camera is heavy and you can’t find the knob to tighten the center post and it keeps slipping. You hold it with your hand, bend down and squint through the lens. Your glasses slide off your head and fall into the wet grass.

You grab them up, refocus the wandering lens and shoot, then try to check the image but you can’t see because your glasses are smeared with dew and fingerprints and bits of recently mowed grass.

You refocus everything including your brain and try again. Click

Imported Photos 03685 CROPPED 3

And from behind you comes the unmistakable smell of a visitor. Odious would be the term.

You gather up your camera atop the unwieldy tripod and race on bare feet to get the dog and you both gingerly run across the slippery deck into the house where you begin to laugh and she looks at you like you are crazy.

Which is pretty much certifiably true.

Imported Photos 01638


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WordPress Photo Challenge: Fun

Katie and I are just back from our latest camping adventure. So I have lots of images of fun. And Katie or I will be sharing them soon.

Meanwhile, as we were exploring Northport’s marina we noticed these two kids having fun climbing the giant limbs of a huge tree.

Imported Photos 00310 cropped

You can check out other interpretations of fun by going to the link above and looking through all the comments. Or you can check out a few of my favorites, here, here and here.

And stay tuned for the stories of our latest fun adventure. Coming to a blog near you very soon.

Imported Photos 00048


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Remembering our friend Ludo

We knew him as a puppy. Follow the link to read his first post, introducing himself to all of us. What a cutie! He was one of our first blogging doggy friends eight years ago. We loved reading about his adventures with his mum and dad and his rabbitdog siblings.

Ludo Ludwig Van Puppy

Ludo Ludwig Van Puppy

We watched him grow up — into a handsome, fun loving, adventuring dog. He loved his Mum and TNP (his dad) so very much. In fact he got to attend their wedding!

Ludo loves on his dad.

Ludo loves on his dad.

And he came to love his little brother Arran too, even though we all know little brothers can be a bit of a bother sometimes.

Ludo and his little brother Arran.

Ludo and his little brother Arran.

Ludo liked to take us along on his vacation adventures, and through him we got to see a lot of the Lake District in the UK. His parents were always careful to choose dog friendly locations including restaurants and hotels. Ludo was a very very lucky boy; he got to visit some of the most beautiful country I’ve ever seen.

Ludo shared stunning country with us all.

Ludo shared his stunning country with us all.

And it was always special to see it through his eyes.

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And did I tell you he won awards in agility? He loved to run and jump, especially with his mum.

Ludo could fly!

Ludo could fly!

He even got to go camping at agility events! Katie says she’s glad Ludo got to camp, it’s a truly special thing to do with your folks.

Camping is so much fun!

Camping is so much fun!

Ludo enjoyed holidays too. Especially Crispmas. He liked to celebrate with his family and always wished us good holiday cheer. Crispmas just won’t be the same now.

Ludo and Arran and the rabbitdogs pose for Crispmas.

Ludo and Arran and the rabbitdogs pose for Crispmas.

But most of all Ludo loved running along the sea, getting his furs salty and wet. Chasing his ball. Chasing the waves.

Just chasing life.

Gotta get those waves!

Gotta get those waves!

Ludo only got to live eight years. It wasn’t enough for any of us, especially for his mum Dee and his dad Richard. Though we knew he was fighting cancer we all hoped he could stick around a few more months. Years maybe if we were lucky. But it was not to be and Ludo went on to his next adventure beyond the rainbow bridge last month.

Hurro!  It's me Ludo!

Hurro! It’s me Ludo!

Ludo carefully taught Arran all the important things about being a sheltie. How to ask for treats, to get the best belly rubs, to chase a ball. How to tilt a head for the best effect and make the humans smile. And now he’s taught us, once again, how to smile through our tears.

Any treats up there?

Any treats up there?

Eight years was not enough. We all wanted to watch Ludo’s antics forever. We all wanted the bad cancer stuff to go away. But he had become uncomfortable and his parents made the oh so difficult decision to let him fly. Now he’s running, forever free, by his beloved sea chasing the waves and barking with joy. It’s the way I’ll always remember Ludo.

He’s not so far away. He’s right there in our hearts where we can visit him whenever we need a glimpse of his silly handsome face.

Handsome birthday boy.

Handsome birthday boy.

Thank you Ludo, for sharing your life with us. And thank you Dee and Richard for facilitating that sharing. Ludo was magical. And magic lasts forever.

Hugs.

See you again someday sweetie.

See you again someday sweetie.

Note: All photos were taken by Dee or Richard. Wedding photo taken by their professional wedding photographer.


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Healthy menu report

My husband and I have been exploring the vegan/vegetarian lifestyle this summer. It’s not an easy transition, and I’ve written about it before. This week we really made an attempt to eat more plant based food, so I thought I’d tell you how our experiments turned out.

I worked mostly from two sources, the China Study Quick & Easy Cookbook and the Thug Kitchen Cookbook*.

First up was wholewheat penne with fresh herbed tomato corn salsa.

Fresh corn and tomatoes.

Fresh corn and tomatoes.

Looks pretty doesn’t it! The salsa was made with fresh corn cut from the cob and tomatoes out of the garden. A perfect meal to make this time of year up here in Michigan.

The salsa was good on it’s own; tossed with the hot pasta it made a nice meal – but it wasn’t filling enough. I was hungry a couple of hours after we ate. I think this dish would be good cold and as a side, along with something else to make up a meal.

Then we tried quinoa for the first time. The recipe, also from the China Study Cookbook, included white beans and kalamata olives and lemon juice.

The recipe made a huge amount. Next time I’d halve it, and probably double the amount of navy beans. But it turns out this stuff is good cold the next day so I managed to make a dent in it. We both liked the quinoa and I’ll be looking for more recipes that use it.

Pretty yummy!

Pretty yummy!

For this meal I also made carrot fritters, from a recipe I’ve had for a few years, and fresh local corn. It was a great meal.

Midweek we noticed that our garden had produced one eggplant. We had one plant with multiple blossoms, but only one developed into a fruit. It was getting pretty big and I decided I needed to do something with it.

So I googled ‘eggplant recipes’ and found one for eggplant lasagna from Real Simple magazine. It looked a bit intimidating, using fresh tomatoes and broiling the sliced eggplant.

Eggplant in place of noodles.

Eggplant in place of noodles.

But I followed along and it turned out great. Next time I might double the recipe (though that would take a long time, to broil slices of two really big eggplants!) so I could make it in a 9×13 pan v.s. the 8×8 pan that only really made 4 small servings. Either way I’ll definitely make this one again even though I’ll have to buy the eggplant at the grocery store.

Tonight we had black lentil tacos with jicama slaw. That had to wait until I could find jicama. I had never heard of it before, though lots of people seem to enjoy it regularly. I finally found it at a local grocery store, one I don’t normally visit – I guess it pays to change up your habits.

Jicima slaw and herb salsa.

Jicima slaw and herb salsa.

Anyway…these tacos were somewhat complicated. The slaw, made up of jicama, carrots and cucumbers plus rice vinegar and lime juice, needed to be made ahead and refrigerated for a bit before dinner. And I made the herb salsa which had cilantro, green onions, basil, orange juice and rice vinegar, ahead too, just to be safe.

I couldn’t find black lentils…so I used green that I found at my local Kroger store. They seemed to be the same size as the ones in the photo that accompanies the recipe in the Thug Kitchen Cookbook, so I hoped they’d cook similarly, and they turned out fine. I think regular lentils would have worked too.

Looked kind of scary.  But it was good!

Looked kind of scary. But it was good!

The “meat” for the tacos is made up of the lentils, mushrooms, a little soy sauce, apple juice and sesame oil. Add a little cabbage, the jicima slaw, and the herb salsa, roll it all up and enjoy!

They were a bit messy eating, but really really good! There was a tang from the slaw and salsa that went well with the mushroom/lentil combination. I might add just a pinch of salt next time.

So….we had a good week. I’d make most of these dishes again. They weren’t really all that difficult, though I’m noticing I’m really slow at this type of cooking. It’s just a lot more chopping of fresh vegetables than I’m used to. Plus I stop to review the recipe more frequently than I would on things I’ve made for years.

And it takes a ton more planning. I need to know at the beginning of the week what we’re eating in order to make sure I have the ingredients here. I can’t just wander the grocery store and see what looks good if we eat this way. I did find it interesting that the last time I shopped I didn’t go near the meat counter, nor up and down most of the aisles. I was in produce and the aisle that has dried beans. I was in and out in what felt like moments.

At the moment, on days we’re eating plant-based, the meal seems to be the focus of my day as I plan and worry, chop and stir, check and recheck. Worry some more. I’m sure I’ll get better at this, and we’ll find our favorites that I’ll make more than once. Each time will be easier. Right?

Broil the egplant, puree the tomatoes.  Lick the spoon on the ricotta cheese.

Broil the egplant, puree the tomatoes. Lick the spoon on the ricotta cheese.

We’ll see how this all turns out. I don’t think we’ve totally converted to vegan. After all, that eggplant lasagna had loads of cheese. I love cheese. Still, those tacos tonight were pretty darn good…and there wasn’t a bit of cheese anywhere.

I think if we eat plant based a couple of times a week we’ll be improving our health. And moving forward maybe the number of vegetarian or vegan meals will increase. Either way, red meat has taken a vacation around our house.

Mostly anyway.

Garden goodness.

Garden goodness.

*Note: The language in the Thug Cookbook will probably be offensive to many. Just a warning.


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Happy Birthday Mom

At Gulf Shores AL

At Gulf Shores AL

Your birthday snuck up on me again this year. I used to know it was coming, used to shop for the perfect card to send, used to plan exactly which day to drop it in the mail so that it arrived on your day.

Used to.

Now I’m more likely to realize it’s August 11 when I hear on the news about the Perseid meteor showers which always lit up the sky on your birthday. Like your own personal fireworks.

Happy 88th birthday Mom. It’s been twelve years since I’ve mailed a card to you. But I’m sure you know that we’re thinking about you on this and every day. I bet you knew we were all together last week at the home you and Dad built. We had a good time at the lake.

But it would have been better if you’d both been there too.

High School Senior

High School Senior

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