Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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WordPress Photo Challenge: Door

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Family Farm Barn Door

Windows and doors…some of my favorite things to photograph.  I like this photo because it’s on the family farm, and because it shows the ingenuity of farmers who use what’s available to create hardware that works.

Look around.  What doors do you take for granted that carry memories and beauty to you?  Share them with us.  Meanwhile, you can see the entries so far at the original post.  Or see a few of my favorites (so far, it’s early, this challenge lasts until next Friday) here, here and here.    Please take a moment and look at these, they are special.

I’m sure there will be more I like as the week goes on, and I might find another door or two of my own to share.    We’ll see.

 


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It’s hard to hear the frogs when the freeway roar is so loud

Private camp site

Private camp site

Katie and I camped out last night.  In the backyard.   I know, I know, only a crazy woman and her crazy dog would choose to sleep in the damp and cold only yards from a comfy king sized bed.  Right?

Well call us crazy.

The moon was full and beckoned us out into the dark around 11:30.  We trooped through the already dewy wet grass carrying all the essentials, pillows, blankets, flashlight, phone, Katie tugging at the leash.  It was her first backyard camping adventure of the season and she knew exactly where she wanted to be.

 

I'll keep watch mama!

I’ll keep watch mama!

On her pillow in her tent guarding her yard.

I have a romantic notion about sleeping in the backyard; I like to listen to the frogs in the pond across the road.  There are at least a couple of different kinds including the bull frogs’ deep voices and I love to hear them in the evening from the deck.  Falling asleep to the frog choir always seems like such a lovely idea.

The reality, however, is that I am constantly surprised how loud the freeway is at night.  It’s a mile away but across a lake from us and I guess that magnifies the sound.  Because what I don’t notice much during the day is suddenly a deafening roar in the middle of the night.   Still, how many loud cars and trucks and motorcycles would be roaring down the freeway at 3 in the morning?

Turns out quite a few.

So many in fact that I really couldn’t hear the frogs at all.   Katie-girl and I are going to have to go on another camping adventure in a real campground very soon.  Hopefully far away from a freeway.  Before she settled in for her morning nap today she urged me to start planning.  A girl needs her outdoor time.

Don’t you know.

Morning moon hanging on

Morning moon hanging on

 


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There’s still hope

Last week I let you know about an amendment attached to an important bill in the Senate Appropriations Committee that would make our roads more dangerous.  Senator Shelby from Alabama offered the amendment replacing 28 foot double truck trailers with 33 foot double trailers.  The 33s would be legal across the country, even in states that have shorter limits on the length of truck trailers.

If you followed the fight on the Hill or comments attached to that post you’ll know that the Shelby amendment passed by one vote.  So 33 foot trailers are now in the bill that will be considered by the full Senate when everyone gets back to Washington after the 4th of July break.

This was a big disappointment for our group who are working hard to make our roads safer.  We believe that 33 double trailers are not as safe as 28 foot double trailers which are less safe than single trailers.   I’ll be honest.  We took a couple days to feel discouraged; but this week we’re back to work.

Now that our Senators are home in their districts for a few days we are visiting their local offices, talking to their staff about what happened in the Senate Appropriations Committee.  We’re talking about the dangers of 33 foot double trailers and  passing out statistics, studies, and personal stories.   We’re asking the Members to please vote for any amendment presented that would remove the 33 foot double trailers from the bill, and if that doesn’t happen to vote NO on the entire bill.

Really.  Vote NO on the bill in it’s entirety.

Voting no on an important bill that is necessary to move our country forward is counter intuitive for us and the Senators alike.  But aside from the trucking issues within this bill there are other controversies as well.  It’s possible the bill will not move forward.  It’s possible it will move forward but not in the present form.  It’s possible we will win this battle because of other problems, other fights, that we aren’t even aware of.

We don’t know.

Yesterday husband and I drove an hour to meet with the regional managers of our two Senators .   I’m always nervous when preparing for a meeting with our Congressional members.  I don’t know why.   I guess because we grew up looking up to these people and they still seem intimidating.  And I suppose I’m also nervous because I’m asking such important things of them; things with such huge consequences.  Of course I shouldn’t feel nervous, I’ve never been treated with anything but interested respect.

That’s a lesson in itself.

On our way down to the big city I saw a State Trooper SUV from the commercial truck inspection team that had pulled over a truck.  That always makes me smile, because I’m glad inspectors are out on the road.   I know that one in five trucks pulled over for inspection are taken out of service because the vehicle is too dangerous to be on the road.   I took the sighting as a sign that everything would be OK at our meetings.   And as we got close to the city I saw a big orange truck, my sign for dad saying hi, and I knew for sure things would go well.

And they did.

I had dad’s picture in my folder, looking up at me, reminding me why we were there.  And because we weren’t in crazy busy DC we got a lot of face time with the regional managers.  Both asked good questions, engaged with us, told stories of their own and seemed genuinely empathetic.  They will pass our opposition to the 33 foot double trailers in the Appropriations Bill on to their Senators.

We did the best we could to convince them that safety has to come before profits, that longer trucks are less safe.  That everyone is in danger, including the drivers of the trucks.   We listened, too, to their concerns about the bill, about truck safety, about commerce.   The only way to a solution is to understand the other side.

Whatever happens now I can say we did the very best we could.

To those of you in the States, have a wonderful 4th of July  holiday weekend with family and friends.  Stay safe if you’re on the water, if you’re watching fireworks and when you’re on our roads.

We want you all back safe and sound come Monday morning.

 

 


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Elasticity of time

Fields of summer

Fields of summer

I’ve been retired a month now.  My hope before I left work was that time would unfold in the slow dreamy way summer days did when I was a kid.

You remember those days don’t you?  Warm summer days when you got up with the morning light and lingered over breakfast, wandered outside later in the day, climbed a few trees, goofed off with neighborhood kids, stayed out late into the evening chasing fireflies.

Each day stretched out indefinitely.

Retirement started out that way.  The first few days, perhaps the first week, seemed to last forever.   Even now most of the day I don’t know what time it is, and that’s fine with me.  And I’ve long since lost track of what day of the week it might be.

But time is speeding up now, just as my grandmother told me, years ago, it would.

Suddenly it’s Tuesday, another weekend ended, another week already moving along, a whole month gone since I last commuted to work.  Midsummer and the 4th of July are right around the corner.   Somehow a quick after lunch nap stretches into early evening, a few minutes reading on the deck out back and the morning is gone, check Facebook and the sun drops below the horizon without warning.

Time seems to be an elastic band snapping back at me with intensity, a pendulum swinging toward the future at increasing speed.  The world seems to be screaming past, daring me to catch a ride, to fling myself up into the speeding vehicle moving toward something unknown.  But I’m dragging my feet, hanging on to the golden sun, the misty mornings, the glowing fireflies.

I’m hanging on, trying to slow time down.  Just for a little bit longer.

Golden summer marches on.

Golden summer marches on.

 


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WordPress Photo Challenge: Muse II

Muse:   a spirit or source that inspires an artist. 

Family farms have always inspired me.  Especially those that are in wide open spaces, surrounded by the crops they grow.

Early morning light on barn.

Early morning light on barn.

My mom’s family has farmed for four generations.  I guess that’s where I get my appreciation for the beauty that is farmland.

Amber waves of grain.

Amber waves of grain.

Farms are always changing, as the grain ripens, the soybeans turn yellow, the corn puts out tassels.

Corn is knee high by the 4th of July.

Corn: knee high by the 4th of July.

Slow down, don’t speed through farm country the next time you’re there, take a moment to look.  It’s where your food comes from.

And it’s beautiful.

Barn for sale.

Farm for sale.


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WordPress Photo Challenge: Muse

This week’s photo challenge is to show something you photograph regularly, something that inspires you to take more photos.  To show us muse.

Pretty clouds...and a sheltie.

Pretty clouds…and a sheltie.

For me it’s often the sky.  Prior to retirement I had a window at work on the top floor and regularly posted ‘window weather’ photos taken on my phone of the clouds, rain, and sun streaming by.

Now that I’m not working I have to go a bit further to find that wide open sky.  But it’s still one of my favorite things to photograph; it changes frequently, it can be beautiful or dramatic; sometimes both.  I’m always watching the sky, early morning, midday, and late into the evening.  You never know what you’ll see.

Oh.  Yes there’s also the sheltie-girl Katie in this shot, another muse.  I have a few thousand photos of her in her many different moods.  Today, as you can see, she’s a very happy girl.  Because she loves to run, and because she knows I have treats.

You can see other interpretations of ‘muse’ at the original post.  Or if you like, check out a few of my favorites, here, here and here.

And don’t miss this one.

 

What’s your photographic muse?  You have time to show us, just post a photo on your blog and link to the original post.  I can’t wait to see!

Katie-girl.

Katie-girl.

 

 


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I got a box in the mail!

Katie here!  Boy you guys sure are lucky!  You get to hear from me two times in one week!

Guess what?  I got a box from my friend Callie this week!  I knew right away it was for me because my folks never get anything cool in the mail.  I think they mostly get bills and stuff — I know for sure they are never as excited as I am when the mail truck goes by.

So anyway, my mama let me sniff the box so that I could guess what was in it.  I was pretty sure there were treats cause I could smell them.

Hmmm....what's in here?

Hmmm….what’s in here?

But look what was on top of everything!  A NEW TOY!

What's this??

What’s this??

I was so excited I just about grabbed it out of the box myself, but my mama pulled it out and put it on the floor where I gave it a very through inspection.  Once I figured out that it squeaked I adopted it as MY TOY and proudly showed it off.

Mine mine mine mine!

Mine mine mine mine!

 

And you know what else was in there?  A game!  I love games!  Mama never got me one but I showed her!  I thought it was really cool and played with it for a long time, cause when you figure it out you get treats!

Let's see...how does this work?

Let’s see…how does this work?

I’m pretty sure my mama cheated and put bits of my supper in there instead of giving me more food, but I liked it anyway.  It was fun!

OK Mama, I'll pose with everything.

OK Mama, I’ll pose with everything.

 

AND there was a bag of treats! (I know, it’s not in the picture, mama messed up!)  I was so excited about my toy and my game I almost forgot all about the treats, but they are very very yummy.  Mama promises to bring some with us when we go to the park.  Usually she just brings a stupid bag of stale kibble, so this will be a big improvement for me!

Thank you so much Callie, you are a very thoughtful friend!  Everything (including the colorful poop bags for mama) was wonderful and fit for a princess!  I’m sorry I wouldn’t play with you when we visited last weekend.  I’ll try to be less a princess and more a girlfriend next time we come down.

Talk later girlfriend!  I’m going to go see if mama wants to give me one of those treats right away.

Yuuuummmy!

Thank you Callie!

From your pal Katie.

 


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Truck update

I want to take a moment and bring you all up to date on the assault on safety happening right now in Congress.  It’s happening quietly as summer blooms and everyone has other, more relaxing, things on their minds.

Let me explain.

Congress is trying to finish up on an Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2016.  It’s a huge bill and one that has to be resolved soon.  The House has already put together their version and now it’s over on the Senate side.

You might remember I talked about the House amendment that would “de-fund the study (mandated in a previous bill) that would determine if the minimum required level of liability insurance a commercial carrier has to have is enough.  The level is currently at $750,000 and hasn’t been updated since 1980 even though medical costs have skyrocketed since then.  We fought to get that amendment taken out of the House bill, but it was approved by a wide margin.  Amazingly members of the House didn’t even want a study to be done.

Now the bill is in the Senate and there are several problematic provisions including one that allows truckers to drive up to 82 hours per week and of course the delay regarding the minimum liability insurance.  But worse is an amendment that will likely be offered as early as today by Senator Shelby of Alabama.

Senator Shelby is asking that Congress approve increasing 28-foot double trailers to 33-foot double trailers.  That’s an additional 10 feet (5 on each trailer).  This will mean the trucks will require an additional 6 foot rider turning radius and they will need an additional 22 feet to stop.  Studies show that double 33s performed worse than double 28s in avoidance maneuvers.  This adds to the risk of death and injury to any of us sharing the roads with these larger and potentially heavier trucks.

I spent time yesterday afternoon calling members of the Senate Appropriations Committee to ask that they vote NO on the Shelby Amendment.  I started with the 15 Republicans on the committee as they are more likely to side with the trucking industry.  It’s an uphill battle; no one wants to talk to someone not in their district.  But neither Michigan Senator is on this committee and in order to be heard I have to get other Senators’ offices to listen to me.  I have to remind them that as members of the Appropriations Committee they are supposed to be representing all Americans, not just those in their district.  Generally they concede enough to put me through to someone’s voice mail.

It’s frustrating.  If these provisions stay in the bill they will be signed into law by the President.  Our roads will become even less safe than they are now.  We’ve been fighting to lower the maximum hours of service allowed, we’ve been fighting to get minimum insurance increased, and we’ve been fighting against bigger, longer, and heavier trucks.  We’ve made progress, but it’s like climbing a sand dune.  One step up, then long slides down.

The trucking industry is now using large important bills that have to be passed, like the Appropriations Bill, to insert their agenda.  It’s the only way to get anything passed in the political environment we face today. But safety issues don’t belong in a larger unrelated bill.  That in itself is another battle.

I know this got long.  I have to get going now, I have some more Democrats to reach this morning before they head into session.  I’ll let you know how it goes.  Our lives are depending on the outcome.

Literally.


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WordPress Photo Challenge: ROY G. BIV

Do you know what Roy G Biv is?  I didn’t.   It stands for red, orange,yellow,green, blue, indigo, and violet, the colors of the rainbow.  Yesterday I went over to my local nursery to find examples of those colors.  You can see other interpretations at the original post, or see a few of my favorite shots here, here and here.   And don’t miss this one, it’s wonderful!

 

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