Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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How to peel a butternut squash

Basic ingredients.

Every week, before I head to the grocery store, I thumb through my vegan cookbooks, looking for something interesting to make. This week I thought I’d make a “Vegetable Stew with North African Spices” from a recipe in Forks Over Knives. I bought all the ingredients and then they sat in the fridge for almost the entire week. And do you know why?

Because one of the main ingredients was peeled and cubed butternut squash.

Let me tell you, I’ve peeled squash before and it’s no fun. The skin is tough, the shape is challenging and my vegetable peeler isn’t up to the task. So every day I’d think about making that stew and then I’d choose to do something else. Something that didn’t involve peeling a butternut.

None of these tools really worked well.

Today I finally decided to stop procrastinating and get it done. Plus I had no other food in the house.

It took a variety of knives as well as my vegetable peeler. It was hard. I stopped in the middle to go online to see if there was a better way. Two YouTube videos later I realized that there are no secrets. Except that you can buy this stuff already peeled and cut up. It costs a bit more the guy on the video said.

Really.

Back to work for me. I’m struggling with the bottom half of the squash, peeling off chunks of skin when suddenly the whole thing squirted out of my hands and flew across the kitchen slamming into the floor over by the fridge. Katie looked at me, frozen in place and then started toward the potential snack.

I screamed “NO!” and racing around the wastebasket I beat her to it. There were seeds splattered everywhere. She hovered near as I scrambled to pick them all up. I didn’t want her to ingest the sharp seeds and she’s a good girl, especially when her mama’s screaming at her, so she held her ground and I got it all cleaned up. Don’t tell anyone, but I rinsed that squash off and kept on going.

I wasn’t about to start over.

Finally I got the squash peeled and began to slice it up. Thirty minutes had passed. I was hungry and the sliced squash looked a lot like cheese. I wished it was.

Cheese…right? No? Rats.

After the hard work of peeling squash the rest of the recipe came together easily. Chopped onion, celery, carrot to start.

Looks like the beginning of every soup I’ve ever made.

Add the spices – paprika, cumin, coriander, cinnamon. Grate the ginger, mince the garlic. Peel a potato and a turnip, chop those up. Pour in some vegetable stock and at the end add a little mint.

Pretty except for those floating turnip pieces.

I was worried as it simmered. It didn’t really look like a stew, it resembled soup at best, with slices of turnip floating on the top. I don’t even like turnips. I had nothing else prepared for dinner, so it was this….or go get a sandwich from Subway.

Did we?

I held out hope.

And guess what? I liked the flavor even though I didn’t put in the pinch of saffron because I couldn’t find it in my spice drawer. I know I bought some because I remember how expensive it was! Eventually I looked online to see if there was a substitute but couldn’t discern anything about it other than it had a ‘subtle flavor.’ I figured maybe if it was subtle no one would miss it and I was right.

Yummy!

But who knows, maybe it would be amazing with saffron.

In the end it was OK, just like it was, but I kept thinking that the flavors would really compliment beef stew meat. And once I mentioned that, my husband enthusiastically agreed. What to do. Should I stay true to the vegan recipe? Or supplement it with…gasp….beef?

All I can say for sure is that I will never, ever, peel another butternut squash. Next time I’m buying that stuff already cubed. No contest. As for the beef…well…what would you have done?

Sorry, my vegan friends.


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Hilltop summer afternoon

Katie here.

Pretty flowers mama. Now can I have a treat?

I don’t suppose it actually qualifies as an adventure, but after spending weeks and weeks doing nothing at all I’ll take what I can get. Sometimes even a Princess can’t be picky.

You’ve all seen mama’s fun with her family, and I liked it a whole bunch when my Uncle and Aunt came to visit me. But I didn’t get to go on any adventures and then she went away for ten whole days! That’s about 70,000 days in dog years!

So you can see why I’ve been bugging mama to take me somewhere now that she’s back home. Somewhere mama! She keeps promising but nothing ever happens. Why I even had to raise my voice today to get her attention! And trust me, a sheltie-girl like me knows exactly how to do that!

This is not the way to treat a Princess!

But I guess it’s true that the squeaky dog gets the grease! (And I’d like mine to be bacon please mama!) After barking at her for hours she finally took me to a park today! And I even got to ride in dad’s truck! Mama says not to get excited about that, I only got to ride in the truck because our car is broken.

Whatever mama.

So we went to a park not too far away and I sat under a picnic table for awhile, just sniffing the park air. It’s definitely different and better than my own backyard air. Lots and lots of interesting things to smell at the park!

You done reading yet mama?

Then mama got done reading and said we were going to walk up this big mountain! Really mama? Remember I’m ten and a half, a senior doggie you know!

Hey mama! Running down this hill is fun!

But it was OK. We stopped along the way and mama took pictures of me in the pretty flowers.

And once we got to the top there was a lovely breeze blowing and I got to run around off leash! Mama says that’s because we could see where all the other people and doggies were from up there and we had the mountaintop all to ourselves. (OK, it’s not really a mountain, it’s just a sledding hill, but it’s huge compared to me!)

You called?

Mama took lots of pictures of me up there and on the back of the hill when we walked down the other side. We even sat in the grass together and just chilled out. I acted like a puppy, all excited to spend time with her, just her and me.

I’m just going to walk over here, OK mama?

Now I’m doubly excited because I got her to set up the tent in the backyard! I supervised while she put it up and made sure she put in my favorite pillows just for me. It’s going to be a beautiful night and I’m going to spend it hanging out with my mama. I can hardly wait for it to get dark outside.

This is my tent. I let mama share it though.

Gee, now that I think about it, I guess I don’t have so much to complain about after all.

It was a good day mama!


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WordPress Photo Challenge: Collage

When my brother and sister visited me a couple of weeks ago we picked pie cherries.

It’s a family tradition; we’ve picked cherries at this orchard since we were little kids. And just like years ago we managed to eat a fair amount of the tart jewels as we worked to fill freezer bags in preparation of pies to come.

A perfect summer day – in collage – from my family to yours.


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4th of July parade…of a different sort.

Uncle Sam waits for everyone to show up.


How many of you went to a 4th of July parade this year? I suppose if you don’t live in the United States the odds are slim that you did, but if you live over here maybe you got to enjoy some patriotism on wheels! Or hooves as the case may be.

Time to check your phone before the start.

I was extra lucky. I was in the South, on a lake that just happens to have some very patriotic water lovers. Every July on the 4th a huge community of jet skies and boats circles part of the lake at full speed.

This year I got to shoot images of them as they went by. It was a big group, probably more than a hundred total.

Fully decorated!

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

First there was the gathering of everyone. The waiting for the prompt 10:00 a.m. start. The chatting with friends. The smiles. The admiring of costumes and decorations.

Waiting and watching.

The increased anxiety for me.

You see we had been out on the lake the day before, talking to friends, telling them I’d be out there shooting. We told them to look for us and come by as close as they could.

We told them to smile.

Festive balloons.

I hoped I wouldn’t let them down. I’d be sitting in a boat moving up and down over choppy waters. They’d be out in the middle of the chop, moving fast across my bow.

Gathering for the run.

Anything could happen.

It was a beautiful day, bright blue skies, puffy white clouds, beautiful water. Perfect for a parade.

It’s gonna get crazy out there!

At two minutes to ten they took off. We high-tailed it to the other side of the lake and a particular point near where we planned on anchoring.

They’d have to go around us.

I was as ready as I could be. Extra batteries. Extra memory chips. And advice on shooting action shots from my friend Heather, aka Snap Happy Gal who does phenomenal work. You should visit her web site.

How did it turn out? Well, it was a blast. Here’s a slideshow of some of my favorite shots.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It was a perfect parade. I didn’t notice the waves much while I was shooting. But when I took the camera away from my face and saw the waves heading toward me I sort of freaked. They looked at least 3 feet tall! They looked like they’d swamp the boat! I scrambled toward the back of the boat a couple of times, but we stayed sea-worthy.

It was an honor to photograph these people enjoying their holiday. I especially liked to capture the families that were riding the waves together. My brother has posted some of these photos to a lake Facebook page. I will post more soon.

I hope you enjoyed my representation of a 4th of July lake parade. But honestly? You should have been there.

On the lake. Can’t get better than that!


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Busy busy busy but in a fun way.

Proud to be an American.


Oh the benefits of retirement! For the past week we’ve had two of my siblings visit and instead of me heading off to work while they go exploring I’ve been able to enjoy the beautiful weather and fun sights right along with them. Each day we did something different, and if I weren’t headed out again today I’d try to show you all of it. But, given limited time, and your limited patience, I’ll just share with you the day we spent in Detroit. As you’ll see, it was a long and varied day.

Our first stop was Belle Isle, a park on an island in the middle of the Detroit River. There’s a giant fountain on the eastern edge of the island and it’s very beautiful, but when I looked at my images once we were home I was fascinated by this shot – the spikes of water shooting up into the blue sky.

Look closely at the ribbons of water.

The shot doesn’t show the whole fountain, but you can see that anywhere.

There’s a beautiful glass arboretum on the island. We stopped to visit, but it was only open Thursday through Sunday. We were there on a Tuesday.

Historic building glowed when the sun came out from behind clouds.

Still, it was beautiful and the grounds around it are gorgeous.

Then we drove over to the far east end of the island and wandered through a beautiful grassy meadow…

Such a beautiful day.

…where we found a functioning lighthouse. Another historic building, just beautiful in the sun, standing majestic under the shifting clouds.

Been standing there for years warning ships that an island lives in the middle of the river.

After spending several hours on the island we went back to the city and parked along the waterfront. It’s been developed into a beautiful walkway, part of which travels behind General Motors’ headquarters.

People working here have a pretty cool view from their offices.

From the Riverwalk we watched ships travel the river between Great Lakes.

Afternoon light made this ship glow.

Across the river is Windsor, Canada. We waved, and her flag waved back.

Up in town, Joe Lewis’ fist waited to great us.

Showing the strength of Detroit.

It was a beautiful day, the day after hundreds of thousands of people had been at Hart Plaza, right where we were standing, enjoying the fireworks. Already the plaza had been cleaned up.

Such pretty colors, the sky and the flags.

Then we took the People Mover, an elevated train, over to Greektown for dinner.

All aboard!

Along the way we saw a lot of the city, and watched progress being made on another new building.

Getting it done.

We had a great dinner at Greektown and then headed back to the river and the car.

Waiting for the train and enjoying the view, all the way across the river to Windsor.

Detroit is on the move…we enjoyed our visit, but we had to move on too. My Fitbit recorded 19,000+ steps. Our feet were tired, our bellies were full, time to head for home. Another great day of retirement was in the book.

I’m looking forward to the next adventure!

Skyline from the train.


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Nothing to see here

What to say, what to say. There’s nothing happening around here, yet I feel a need to share photos with you. Photos of regular life in summer here in Michigan.

Little League at Katie’s park under a summer sky.

The grass is growing, the birds are sucking down food from the feeders, trees are fully leafed out and the afternoon skies are often filled with clouds.

It’s been pretty amazing.

Though we’ve seen lots of storm clouds we’re really short on rain. The yard is already turning brown. Watering the gardens will soon be a daily if not twice a day ritual. We’re not even to July yet.

No rain in these clouds.

It’s finally warm enough at night to camp and Katie and I have been on one adventure, but plan on scheduling a few more before the leaves start to turn. It’s still an adventure if it’s scheduled – right?

Hey mama! No rainfly!

For now we’re enjoying the air conditioning and watching the oriole feeder right up next to the window. Lots of things besides orioles visit.

Got any more oranges lady?

They all apparently watch for me to fill the feeder and then rush in to get their share. Or more than their share, depending on their size and boldness.

There you go Mr. Woodpecker!

The flowers have been beautiful so far this season. But now we’re moving into the dry heat of summer so we’ll see. A lot will depend on our watering habits.

Lantana smiles every day.

Really, so little to say, so much to show you. Guess I need to take you on a more formal walk sometime. Lots of beautiful places to go; what would be your choice? A lake? A woodsy park? The back yard? A bike path?

Wonder where that path goes?

All good choices, but each will require me to leave my comfy chair. And I can’t do any of them until I get some weeding done.

Still weeding is better than working a job…so I can’t complain.

Katie can, and does, but it’s all in fun.

Hey mama!