Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


That moment

Ann Arbor was given another gift last night in their symphony’s performance of “Absolut Russian,” a program filled with formidable Russian composers.  We were treated to Borodin’s “Polovtsian Dances” complete with a 150 member choir, and the lush and romantic “Romeo and Juliet – Fantasy Overture” by Tchaikovsky.  Both pieces were stunningly beautiful in complete different ways.

But what I  really want to share with you is the opening piece, “Symphony No. 10 in E minor” by Dimitry Shostakovich.  Shostakovich (1906 -1975) was composing music in Russia during the reign of Joseph Stalin.  Some of his music was censored but Symphony No. 10,  scored shortly after Stalin’s death in 1953, made it past the censors. Only after it did would he reveal that the four movements represented, in order, the victims of tyranny, Stalin himself, the attempt at suffocating individual spirit, and ultimately liberation.  (Interpretation from program notes written by Edward Yadzinsky.)

Maestro Arie Lipsky gave a talk prior to the concert.  He introduced Symphony No. 10 by saying the first movement was long, and moved from sadness to anger to hopelessness.  I looked at my husband, rolled my eyes, and said “Great” just what I need!  But where there is anger and sadness there must always be hope, and in this piece you just have to wait for it.

My favorite movement, and coincidentally the shortest, is the second movement which represents Joseph Stalin himself.  I imagined a chase scene as I listened, the brass, as Lipsky said, chasing the fleeing strings.  Perhaps the original interpretations was that Stalin was chasing artists.  Listen to the intricacies of the music for yourself; what do you hear?

There are so many interesting and integral parts to No. 10 and they all come together in the fourth movement, building to a breathtaking and triumphant ending.  The clip I found for you of the second half of the 4th  is five minutes of music and then several minutes of applause.  Please watch it, you’ll be transported to the center of the symphony and you’ll feel the energy and the joy.  Then imagine hearing it live.  Breathtaking.  And as the woman behind me said as we were on our feet applauding; “That was exhausting!”

But after all, what I really wanted to tell you about isn’t even in the music.  I wanted to tell you about that moment that happens at the instant something as glorious as this piece ends.  It’s a moment when every musician is transported to the height of emotion, just as the applause begins, when musicians and maestro are still connected, eyes locked, instruments quiet, muscles still tensed.  There is a moment when the baton is lowered but the relationship is extended between musicians and conductor for just a second or two more.   It’s a private moment between people who recognize something beautiful has just been set free.

I witnessed that moment Saturday night, as Maestro Lipsky stood still, then lowered his arms,  nodded his head once in an acknowledgement of exquisite beauty, placed his hand over his heart and bowed slightly to his orchestra.  And they all grinned right back at him.

The music that night didn’t make me cry, didn’t send shivers across my shoulders.  Instead it sucked me in and spit me out — I was grateful to be there.   But that moment, the passing of silent love and respect between the orchestra and their leader, that moment filled my eyes with tears.





She owed me

sunKatie here.  So most of you know that my mama works all day during the week but the weekends are supposed to be for me.  Just me.  Well, sometimes me and my daddy, but mostly me.  Well this weekend my mama went to work on Saturday morning!  She had me so confused!  I thought I had miscounted the days and it was only Friday!  But I was pretty sure I didn’t count wrong, and besides she didn’t take her lunch bucket, so I was suspicious.    I kind of thought she might be cheating on me!  But when she came back from work she didn’t smell like any other doggies, she smelled like she does every night, so I figured she had to go to that work thingy.

The rest of Saturday afternoon and evening I made her life miserable just to make her pay.  I wanted attention, attention, attention!  I wanted to play!  I wanted my supper!  And how about a treat mama?  Want to play in the tunnel?  Huh?  Huh?  HUH!?!?!  Yep I made her nuts.   And just to be really sure I made my point I got her up at 3:30 in the morning so we could go outside and wander around in the soggy yard and sniff stuff.  My mama really likes to sniff stuff in the middle of the night.  Yep.  I’m a good girl.

So this morning when she asked if I wanted to go on an adventure I knew she had gotten the point and I said “YES PLEASE MAMA!  HOW ABOUT RIGHT NOW?!?!”   And away we went!  We went down to Ann Arbor because mama wanted a photograph of something for some photo challenge.  I’m sure you’ll all see that soon.  I was bored during that part cause she parked and left me in the car.  Geeze!  Then she got lost on the way to my park and it took a gazillion million years, so I told her off.  She said she was sorry.  Mama should focus more.

Finally we got there!  Not much snow and lots of good sniffing!  And the sun came out too, it was perfect!  Some of you saw the video of us walking along the boardwalk with the birds singing.  That was the cleanest I was.  After that we were in mud and leaves and ice and snow.

I think I am the dirtiest I have ever been!  Feels wonderful! Mama never lets me get this bad, don’t know why she isn’t worried about it this time.  It’s not like I have a groomer appointment for next Friday or anything.  Do I mama?  Hey!  Mama!!  So anyway, we walked back into the hills and even climbed up to the top of this big hill.  Those leaves were slippery, but I found the best way up and mama followed.

I climbed to the top!

I climbed to the top!

Then we had to get down, so we walked down the ridge on this set of stairs.  Do you know what?  I won’t do stairs at home but I had no trouble hopping down these.  I’m hoping mama didn’t notice that I’ve been scamming her.

Really big stairs, no problem!

Really big stairs, no problem!

We stopped at a bench along the river and mama sat for a long time and watched the water go past.  I don’t know what she was doing, but she seemed to need to do it, so I stood around in the snow and let her.  I figured since she brought me on this excellent adventure I could at least let her have a moment of peace.   Then she tied me to the bench and went down to the river to take a picture of the rock out in the middle of the water!  Well!  I did not like that so I barked at her but she said it was too steep and dangerous for me to go with her, and besides if she fell in the river I was supposed to call for help.  Oh.  Well OK then.


Lots of water flowing now.

Lots of water flowing now.

After that we walked back to the car and I let this young couple pet me and talk about the lady’s sheltie she had when she was a kid.  She was nice.  She knew all about letting me get to know her first before she reached out to touch me.  She was a smart lady, and I liked her, but I’m glad I’ve got my mama.  She mostly tells people I’m too shy when they want to pet me so I don’t have to worry about it.

We had a wonderful time at the park.  I’m sort of feeling bad that I gave her so much trouble on Saturday night.  But not that bad.

It got me what I wanted.  Right?


Me and mama are a team.

Me and mama are a team.


Winged signs of hope

About this time every year I get so tired of it all.  Tired of the snow and cold and slush and wind and dark and…well…those of you that have ever lived up this way know.  I looked back at the blog for a few years and guess what?  Regardless of how easy or difficult the winter was, about this time of year I’m just over it and I start searching for signs that winter is over and spring has moved into my little part of the world.  Now I can’t guarantee that this winter is over, but here are a few things I’ve seen or heard in the past two days that might give us all a little hope.

Friday evening as I got home and went inside to gather Katie for our trek to the mailbox there was the sound of a robin singing somewhere near.  The light was bad but I searched the tops of trees and found a dark roundish bit of shadow that I believe was Mr. Robin.   This winter I spotted a robin at our bird bath, looking decidedly disgruntled with the snow.  Maybe yesterday’s was the same one, just a little happier.

Cold and hungry

Cold and hungry in January

This morning as Katie and I were out in the predawn darkness I heard a sound up in the neighbor’s oak trees that I’ve never heard before.  I couldn’t place it, and each time I looked toward the sound (which was coming from multiple trees) all I could see was a blue jay.  Couldn’t be, I thought, and went on my way.  This afternoon I went online and looked for some video of blue jay sounds.  Listen to the first few seconds of this.  Did you know blue jays make this sound?  I sure didn’t.  I wonder if it’s something they do in the spring?

Later in the morning as I drove to work a sandhill crane flew overhead.  Just one, which made me a little sad — I hope the spouse is somewhere near in a nest.  Still, it’s good to know at least one has come back for the summer.

And then the absolutely positively sure fired proof it’s spring – when I got home from work this afternoon the red winged blackbirds were decimating my bird feeders.



I hadn’t even heard them yet this year, and that’s usually my first sign.  But there they were, a whole flock of them hungrily scratching at the ground under the feeder.  They seemed a bit frantic.  These birds eat so much so fast that sometimes in the fall I stop filling the feeder until after they’ve left for the season as the rest of my birds can’t get near it to eat.  But they are a sure sign it’s spring, so today, in appreciation, I’m filling it back up just for them.

And for this guy.

Also hungry

Also hungry



A walk in the woods honoring our friend Norwood

Katie here.  I want to tell you about a very special dog named Norwood.  Every morning he and his mom went out for a run or a walk, and they posted the weather report from their hometown and a picture of Norwood being…well…Norwood.  No matter what kind of mood my mama was in, Norwood always made her feel good.  He had lots of special skills and one of them was making people smile.

Norwood makes a snow angel.

Norwood makes a snow angel.

My mama and lots of other people called him Dude for short because he was such a goofy guy.  And fun.  And very very happy.

Tragically he had to go to the Rainbow Bridge last week, way before his time.  It wasn’t anything anyone expected, least of all his mom, and now people all over the world are all weepy eyed.  Mom cried all day at work on Thursday; she just told people she had a cold, cause how can you explain crying over a dog you’ve never met?  But that’s Dude for you, brightening everybody’s life every morning and leaving a big gaping hole now that he’s gone.

Norwood and his mom ran trails in the woods.  In the winter his mom wore snowshoes and the Dude wore his boots.  He loved loved loved running in the woods.  So after he had to go his mom asked us all to take a walk in the woods to honor Norwood.

He loved to run with his mom Debi.

He loved to run with his mom Debi.

And yesterday that’s just what my mama and I did.  It was a beautiful warm sunny winter day with blue skies and white snow.  Norwood would have loved it.  We walked along a packed trail between the towering trees  listening to the silence.  And we thought of Dude and how he’d be running back and forth ahead of us, just grinning like everything.   I didn’t once pull any of my princess tricks, we walked in respectful silence most of the time, and just enjoyed being together.  I even did my special running recall in honor of the Dude.  And because my mama had treats.

I can fly!

Here I come mama!

Mama says we’re glad we went out to the woods to think about Norwood.  He will always be a very special dog and we aren’t ever going to forget him.   We won’t forget his goofy grin, and his multi colored boots or his florescent collar.  We won’t forget how he loved to go on adventures and how much he loved his mom.  And we won’t ever forget how lucky we were to know him just a little, here on the internet.  We know we didn’t know him as well as some people that got to meet him in person, and certainly not as well as Debi, his mom, but still weren’t we lucky to enjoy him while we could.  My mama’s heart is breaking for Norwood’s mom and all his special friends.  I know when it’s my time to go to the bridge he’ll be one of the first dogs I’ll look for, cause he’s just so much fun.

Until then I will think of the Dude every time my mama and I take a walk in the woods.  Right now I gotta go comfort my mama.  She’s getting all weepy eyed again.  The Dude can do that to a mama.  Anyway, don’t worry about your mom Norwood, everybody’s sending her lots of hugs.  We’ll look out for her, just like you did.  You run free Dude.

Man, we’re going to miss you.

Portrait of the Dude.

Portrait of the Dude.

PS:  The pictures of Norwood were taken by his mom, Debi Horvath.


WordPress photo challenge: Orange

Oddly enough this week’s photo challenge is ‘orange.’  It’s ironic, because I used orange as a unifying color in a photo challenge a couple of weeks ago.  So of course I can’t use my photo of oranges from that post.  And that would be too obvious anyway.  So I spent Saturday and a bit of Sunday scouting out orange things that represent life here in Michigan in March.  When there aren’t any orange things blooming.


Once I started looking for orange I found it everywhere.  From my toast in the morning, to the bittersweet vine on a bush down the street, to the orange snow fencing everywhere, the gumballs at the mall, the lights on the side of a restaurant, the Detroit Tiger English D, the New Balance shoe in a shop window, to the ever present orange barrels, orange is everywhere!  And the orange car?  I followed it for a few miles before it turned into a Wall-mart parking lot.  Then I circled the lot until the driver went inside.  Couldn’t resist showing you an orange car, right?  Cars + Michigan.  Can’t beat that.


You can see other interpretations of orange here, here and here.  And I bet, if you look around, you’ve got a little bit of orange somewhere near you!  It’s nice to look for some color during these last long days of winter.  Show us what you found!


Kids say it like it is

This box has no calories.

This box has no calories.

Heading out of the grocery store this morning I had my $4 ready for the girl scout cookie table waiting at the entry.  It’s that season when moms and little girls wait by the chilly front doors near a table filled with overpriced snacks.  Sometimes I plan my shopping for times I think there won’t be kids with big hopeful eyes selling stuff, but this morning I was on a mission.

It was early, and there was only one very young girl standing uncertainly in front of the table.  She wouldn’t look at me and seemed shy, so I thought I’d engage her.  As her mom smiled from behind the table I asked her:

“How much for one box of thin mints?”

The girl looked up, frowned and turned her back to me.  I only realized she was pointing when she said.

“It says on the sign.”

And then she sighed.

I gave my four dollars to the embarrassed mom and scurried out of the store with my cookies.

Old people need the obvious pointed out to them.

Yes we do.






WordPress photo challenge: Reward

If you look at the latest Wordless Wednesdays on this blog you’ll understand why this is a reward.


You can see other interpretations of ‘reward’ at the original challenge.  Or stop by here, here, here and here.

And don’t miss this one.  It’s the kind of place I’d use as a reward myself.

What’s a reward for you?  Have you treated yourself lately?

It’s time.


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