Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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New laptop practice

It’s here! The new laptop is here! And husband spent all night setting it up so that I can take it with me on a little trip this weekend.

I should have made more cookies for him.

This morning I uploaded the last series of photos taken the day the laptop died. They’ve been sitting patiently in the camera ever since.

This was way back in October mama!

Katie thought you’d like to see a couple shots of her, given it’s been so long since she’s been online. She figures you need a Katie fix.

And she’s seen my suitcase so she’s alternating between excitement and pouting while she’s attempting to figure out if she gets to go.

No she doesn’t.

But don’t tell her that.

Can we go play now mama?

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Seriously it’s already Christmas

I’m headed up north soon to attend a photography workshop. To say I’m excited would be an understatement. It’s up north. And photography. What’s not to love?

So, anyway, I went shopping today for a couple of things. Waterproof boots, mittens, warm socks. Things every up north photographer should already have to shoot outside in the winter at night. I guess it’s not officially winter yet, but it will feel like it when I’m north of here, especially in the dark.

It feels like it at the mall too. I don’t do a lot of shopping and haven’t been out to a store aside from the grocery store in weeks. It was something of a shock to my system. Christmas music is blaring from the speakers, the store windows are decorated. Santa is already sitting on his big throne and there’s a line of little kids and parents waiting.

The few stores that were empty last time I was there are filled with seasonal merchandise now. There’s even a gift wrapping store. Complete with holiday paper and bows and people eager to make your gift festive.

The whole thing was sort of overwhelming. But I left with my purchases, one pair of socks and some mittens, whistling Christmas music. And I turned to the ‘all Christmas music’ station on the car radio for the drive home.

Guess it tis the season whether we’re ready or not.

PS: No laptop yet, and my photos are held hostage on an external drive that I suppose I could learn how to use. OR – you could use your imagination and visualize Santa and kids and decorations and music. Whatever you come up with will be perfect. I have faith in you.


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In between. And food.

My laptop died almost three weeks ago. Though I’m relying on my phone to stay in touch I feel a bit adrift without the laptop’s warm weight on my lap in the evenings. Luckily my husband was able to save the contents of the laptop’s brain, and the pictures and documents are now resting comfortably on a external hard drive. A new laptop has been ordered and might show up next week. Or not. I don’t know how to download the photos I have on my camera to the desktop, though I think I did that back in 2014 when I was also without a laptop for an extended period of time.

I have figured out how to download to the desktop photos I’ve taken with my phone and posted on Facebook.

There is comfort in that, because long gone are the days that I seem to be able to write without photos. Hence the lack of posts lately. The requirement for photos in a blog is kind of thought provoking. Have we lost the ability to read without pictures?

When I first began to blog, in 2006, there were only words. I took more time over what I posted back then. I chose my words more carefully, let them paint the picture. Now I just place the fingers on the keyboard and see what happens. Most of the time it’s the images that inspire the words.

Occasionally it’s the other way around.

Speaking of inspiration, it’s been more than a year now that I’ve been attempting to cook vegan or at least vegetarian for a few of our meals each week. Sometimes (OK, often) I post pictures of the dishes I make. One of my favorite things about cooking this way is the color in the food.

I post on Facebook about a lot of things. Katie the dog, family, seasons, weather, truck safety. But the pictures that get the most comments, and the most discussion among commenters are those of the food. Day before yesterday I had over 30 comments over a meal I made that my husband didn’t like. People were on both sides of the argument. I even copied the recipe and mailed it off to someone. I hope she tries it.

Why do you think that food is such a conversation starter? Why not gun control or mental health? I get that those got lots of conversation too this past week, but food seems to guarantee a comment, a conversation, a reaction from my FB friends.

So until I can come back and blog again, hopefully on my new laptop, with my archive of photos at my fingertips, here’s a picture of food to get you talking.

Enjoy!


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Washington in review

It was unexpected and unplanned, but our trip to Washington DC was important. I meant to write on Tuesday evening, after we watched the morning confirmation hearing on the nominated Administrator to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). But after the hearing we spent the afternoon in meetings with ours and other Senators offices and by the time we limped back to the hotel I was too tired to write.

And I meant to write about our experiences on Wednesday evening, and on Thursday night after our appointments on the Hill but each evening turned into a night of note writing from the day’s work and preparation for the day ahead. No time to write about the experience for you.

And now here it is Sunday night and the passion I felt during the week is ebbing and though I’m not as tired as I was, I somehow feel reluctant to try to capture it all, to put it down, because I don’t think I can make you understand just what it all means.

But I’ll try.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is a part of the Department of Transportation (DOT). It issues and enforces regulations that rule the way trucks move across the country. They set the hours that can be driven, monitor safety issues like sleep and the mechanics of the vehicles, and handle many other things. They are very important to our work at the Truck Safety Coalition.

After almost a year of this Administration an Administrator for the FMCSA has finally been nominated. We at the TSC wanted to hear what he had to say, so we attended the confirmation hearing. Mr. Martinez said a lot of the right things. He comes from New Jersey, heading their Department of Motor Vehicles. He doesn’t know anything about trucks, but he seems to be committed to safety. So I’m willing to give him a chance to show us with actions.

After the hearing my husband and I, along with a staff member of TSC, met with the transportation staff at each of my Senators’ offices. We talked about things that have been left hanging at the DOT since the beginning of the year, other things in the works that have been repealed by the current Administration.

The rest of the week was spent in a similar fashion, going from meeting to meeting in either Senate or House offices, looking for support of our safety causes. We talked about the successful side underride crash tests. We are looking for support of legislation to make underride guards mandated. And we found people that are interested in the developments. It’s progress.

At each meeting I pull out the picture of my dad, Bill, and the picture of what his car looked like after his crash. I look into dad’s eyes and silently promise him that we won’t give up. We won’t give up even though I’ve been making these trips to Washington D.C. for thirteen years. Sometimes multiple times a year. In one of our last meetings of this week I told the staffer that my dad comes with me on every trip to D.C. The staffer looked confused but dad and I smiled at each other.

My husband and I ate dinner one evening in the lower level of Union Station, near the Capital. Tired, and standing just outside the diner sliding out of my dress shoes and into my running shoes, feet aching, I noticed some signs just above the counter where people were enjoying their dinner.

“Excellent food.” ” Bill eats here.”

Yes, why yes he did. Because he’s always with me when I’m in D.C. And everywhere else too. We made some progress during this past week. We talked to lots of people, even some that are usually on the other side of our arguments. There’s interest in saving lives on both sides of the aisle.

Stay tuned. I’ll keep you apprised of developments. There may come a time when I’ll need you to call your Representative and/or Senator and ask for their support on proposed legislation. Meanwhile we’ll keep fighting the fight, talking about safety and trucks and our roads to everyone that will listen.

Dad was always all about safety. He still is. I guess I am too.


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I’m helping mama

Katie here. Just call me helpful, but mama has been a little stressed out. I guess something called a laptop (what the heck is that? I thought I was the only one allowed in her lap??) died. Mama didn’t cry or anything, and I don’t think there was a funeral, but she seems stressed.

I try to distract her by asking her to pay attention to me. Me me me me! Every morning when we get up I get her to make me a big breakfast and then I bug her to take me out, go for a walk, give me a treat, take me out, go for a walk, give me a treat…repeat. You doggies know the routine, right?

That way she’s not so stressed over that stupid laptop. I can tell it’s working too. This morning she took me for a walk in the neighborhood for a long time. Even though it was very very cold out. Now I’m working on getting her to take me to a park. Or three.

I personally think cold weather is good for her, but she says she has to find her gloves. Mama is a wimp.

Mama says change is hard.


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Cookie memories

I was at the grocery store this week and saw these.

Instantly I was transported more than 50 years back to a time I was five years old.

Oh I know they didn’t have mini Nilla Wafers back in 1961. But they had the original, larger version. I remember the yellow box and the taste. And I remember walking with my dad as we set out on an adventure the afternoon before my first day of kindergarten. I suppose we had something to drink too, but I only remember eating the cookies as dad and I tromped along the route I’d be taking the next day, and each day after, during my first year of public school.

We lived just over one mile from the school and I had to cross two big streets. Or so my mom told me later, I don’t remember crossing any streets at all. I do remember being late to school one morning and being scolded by the crossing guard at the last corner before the school. I’d been playing in mud puddles along the way and lost track of time.

Mom said for years that she felt like a terrible mother making me walk all that way alone. But she had three more children at home, my sister aged three, my brother aged two and another brother just a few months old. Even if she could get all four of us bundled up to go out I don’t think she had a car. I only remember us having one car, and dad needed that to get to work.

I think about the stress of a young mother sending her child out into the world every day, worrying about her safety, no cell phones, no notice of whether or not I made it to school, no information at all until she saw me reappear in the afternoon. Kind of unimaginable.

Mom thought she was a terrible mother for a lot of things that she had no control over. I wonder if other mothers of that period felt the same way. I wonder if mothers today feel something similar too. Even with the technology available now.

I told her often, once I was an adult, that she wasn’t a terrible mother. I hope she believed me.

And I hope she knew how glad I was that she made dad and me that little snack to enjoy as we headed out on our adventure so many years ago. Nilla wafers. Lots of memories wrapped up in that little package on the grocery store shelf.

Yep. I bought the package and enjoyed a few of the familiar sweets on my drive home.


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Trees and color and sky oh my!

I drove down a side road to turn around and look what I found.

People go north around here to ‘leaf peek;’ to drive and wander while enjoying the fall colors that are usually stupendous in northern Michigan each year.

Looking for color, but can’t ignore the lake!

This year the color is a bit muted, a bit late, sometimes not there at all. Everyone has a theory about why that is.

Still pretty green back in the woods.

Maybe it’s the lack of rain earlier in the year. Or the above normal temperatures.

I found these way back on a dirt road while looking for a lake. Never found the lake but that was OK.

Maybe it’s because we haven’t had a frost yet.

Even without a lot of color I just had to stop at this field.

Maybe it’s all of that and more.

These maple trees made us stop and take notice.

For me, heading up north is usually about the Lake, and last week was no exception. But we did spend one day wandering the interior of the peninsula, looking for color where we could find it.

Color hides everywhere, even underfoot.

If you look you’ll see it’s there. Sometimes brilliant…

Glowing.

..sometimes more demure.

Shades of neutral fungus.

But it’s definitely there.

I hope you have the opportunity to get out and enjoy whatever’s around you too. Take a wander and share what you find with us!

Around here it won’t be long until winter descends. We need to make the best of these warmer temperatures while we still can!

A little blushing pink tucked underneath.


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It’s October – let’s walk!

It was a windy day.


I’ve been on lots of great walks this month. Casual walks around the neighborhood, fun walks with Katie the dog, beautiful walks through the autumn woods. I could have done a Walktober post about any of them.

But this week I’ve been in a very special place that I thought was perfect for Robin’s challenge to share a walk with her readers.

So let’s take an October walk in northern Michigan along the beach of Lake Michigan, one of the Great Lakes, and as far as I’m concerned one of the most beautiful places in the world.

I arrived ‘up north’ late in the afternoon and after a bit of chit chat we headed down to the water. For me it’s all about the lake.

It was a windy day and the lake was racing toward the shore, big jade green waves and pounding foam.

Rollicking waves danced.

The water was high, leaving very little beach to walk and sometimes we had to leap back up on the dune to keep our feet dry. We’re weren’t always successful.

It’s dryer up here.

Along the way we saw remnants of the summer just past. A pretty boat resting after weeks of riding the waves…

A day of rest.

…a bench hoping to be used a few more times this season…

Come sit for a bit.

…the artwork of people who have walked the beach before me.

A mini stonhenge with evening light.

The sun was getting lower, bathing everything in a warm golden light. Nature’s artwork on the landscape was evident too.

Shadows and lines.

The grasses waving in the wind began to glow, and we knew it was time to turn back.

The grass began to glow in the evening light.

Walking toward home, into the wind, we watched the sun lower and the sky warm the tips of the waves and the water swirling on the packed sand.

Rose gold on the beach.

The light made everything glow.

Pretty in pink.

We watched the entire sunset as we walked, making it back to the house after dark. I felt so lucky, lucky to spend an afternoon walking with a friend near my lake in mid-October. Lucky to hear the lake roar, to see the leaves changing, even lucky to get my feet wet as the waves raced to shore.

See you tomorrow sun!

I hope you can imagine yourself there with us. It’s a very special place that I am pleased to share with you all. And thank you Robin for coordinating the annual Walktober. It’s a wonderful way for us to see such wonderful places.

I can’t wait to see your Walktobers soon!

Friends