Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


Amy, I wish I’d met you

11009088_10205100625969024_489318963090749460_nAmy.  Twenty-seven, pretty, interesting, artistic, and by the looks of pictures on her Facebook page and blog, always smiling.  I hear she was getting married in May.   I never met her, never read her blog or asked her to friend me on Facebook.   She was the friend and fellow blogger of a blogger friend of mine.  Social media certainly makes the world smaller, and yesterday evening when my friend posted a short piece about Amy leaving a hole in her heart, about how she would be missing her friend, I wondered, so I clicked the link to Amy’s blog. There was a recent post and nothing seemed amiss.  That made me wonder more so I started searching for information on Amy and her city.  I found a short, one paragraph article about a six vehicle pileup with one fatality.  A female.

And I knew.

Today, almost exactly 24 hours after that crash I read an article that included parts of the initial police report.  All six vehicles were being merged into the left lane by State Police because of an accident up ahead.  Amy was driving third in line behind two SUVs.  There was a pickup behind her and behind that vehicle were two semi trucks.  Amy and the two vehicles ahead of her had moved over to the left lane and slowed.  The pickup behind her was in the process of moving over and had slowed.  The semi behind the pickup tried to move over but couldn’t slow down fast enough, and hit the pickup, spinning it into the median.  The semi behind the semi involved in the first crash hit that first semi, then slammed into Amy’s car, spinning it, then rammed into it again, on the driver’s side door, bounced off of her car, and hit each of the two vehicles ahead of Amy, then ran up an embankment and hit the bridge.

How fast do you think that second semi had to have been going to hit the first semi, Amy’s car twice, two other cars and still make it up the embankment to strike the cement bridge?  It was snowing yesterday afternoon, terrible weather they say.  I’m sure the truck drivers will use the weather card while explaining the  reason they couldn’t control their vehicles.  But these are professional drivers.  We expect more from them.  They, of all drivers, should know that bad weather requires everyone, especially big heavy trucks, to slow down.  If that second truck had been going slower he might have run into the back of the first semi, but would he have hit Amy twice?

Amy, just like my father who was killed in a crash almost identical, absent the snow, did nothing wrong.  She successfully slowed and merged.  She had nowhere to go.  She was killed because someone else made a mistake.  And it’s a mistake that is happening across this country every single day.  Four thousand people die in crashes with commercial trucks every year.  Yesterday Amy was one of them.

I thought about Amy all day today.  And as I drove home into a sky going purple with evening I thought about her family, her boyfriend, the wedding that won’t be, the future that ended so abruptly, the art she won’t make, the children she won’t have.  I didn’t realize I was crying for her until I tasted my tears.

I became involved with the Truck Safety Coalition when my dad was killed.  We offer comfort and information to families who have suffered the unthinkable.  I know right now Amy’s family is reeling with grief.  Her friends are in shock.  Her fiance is in a black hole.  I know this is not the time they want to think about what they should be doing to preserve evidence, what they will need to fight for justice for Amy.  But they need to know.   I wish I could hold them all in a big hug and gently help them through these first horrible days, weeks, months.  Years.

I might never get to do that.  But I do want them to know that when I’m working on these issues, when I’m in DC talking to elected officials and agencies and reporters I’ll be holding Amy in my heart right next to my dad.  Amy has given me one more reason not to give up.

Amy.  I wish I had met you.  But you can be sure that I’m not going to forget you.  The work we do to advance safety on our roads is done to honor Amy and my dad, and all the others killed and injured in crashes with commercial trucks.  We are their voices and we are not going away.

Rest in peace Amy.  The world is a little less special without you.

I can see that.  Even though I never met you.


Weekend concert

Most of you know that I play in a local community band.  Each year in February we attend a community band festival in a town about an hour away.  Community bands come from all over to perform for 3 adjudicators who give us feedback on our work.  For those of you that have been in a high school band, it’s like going to band festival.  Without the sight reading part thank goodness!  It’s exciting and fun and stressful all rolled into one music filled day.

And this Saturday is the day.  We’ve been working really hard on the UFO Concerto by Johan de Meij.  The piece is in 5 movements and we’re doing the first two.  You can listen to some of it here.  The first movement runs, on this particular recording, from 00.0 until 5 minutes and 9 seconds.  It’s really beautiful.  But what I really want you to hear is the second movement…starting at 5 minutes and 9 seconds and going until 10 minutes and 49 seconds.  It’s crazy and it’s taken awhile to grow on me.  But I found myself humming this at work on Tuesday.

Believe it or not.

What makes this Saturday even more stressful, other than this being a very difficult piece to play, is that the composer is one of the adjudicators!  And to top it all off, he’s the one that will be meeting with us after our performance to give us his perspective on how well we played.  Yes indeed.  I have never played anything knowing the composer was in the audience, much less knowing he’s going to critique us after!

So what I need from you guys is a whole lot of strong good luck, musical vibes headed over to Okemos Michigan at 9:00 a.m. this Saturday.   We’ve worked hard, but a little extra luck can’t hurt!

I’ll let you know how it goes.



WordPress photo challenge: Rule of Thirds

Some of you have heard about the rule of thirds; the placement within a composed photo of the point of interest near the intersection of lines drawn dissecting the  entire image into thirds.  It’s one way of adding interest to a photo.    Katie the sheltie-girl and I went out to see what we could find that was fun and interesting.  And though I took plenty of photos of her sitting dutifully in her lower right corner, the photo I like best out of all of them was this, a hurriedly composed shot, with only one chance to get it before he moved out of sight.


Going for a walk

Going for a walk

It was the man’s orange hat that caught my eye just as I was putting Katie back in the car.  I rushed her back out into the parking lot and grabbed the shot.  This is not a classic rule of thirds image as the rest of the image surrounding the subject is not empty.   If I’d had more time I’d have raised the camera a bit and had less snow, (you know, about a third of the photograph) in the foreground.    But I only had one split second, and I like the result.

If you go to the original challenge post you’ll see an absolutely beautiful redbud leaf and the description of doing the rule of thirds while also focusing on creating a bokeh, that interesting and beautifully blurred background.  I messed around at home trying for something similar.  This is as close as I got before the afternoon sun sank and my kitchen reverted to uninspiring.

Orange afternoon light.

Orange afternoon light.

This also is not classic.  The background isn’t blurry enough and the subject is certainly taking up more than a third of the foreground.  I’ll be trying this technique again. But still.  I like the color and the warmth and the light.

The fun about these photo challenges is that they make me think a little bit about how to answer creatively before I run out to find the actual image.  I like the adventure of  finding new photos, trying new things, and the challenge both gets me out of the house with the camera (and sometimes the dog) and makes me see the world around me in a slightly different way.   Today while driving I was looking for something that divided into thirds.  This morning at the grocery store I was looking for something interesting for a an indoor bokeh.

Without the photo challenge I’d probably have spent the afternoon doing laundry, and how fun is that?  For more fun rule of thirds images go here, here, here and here.

And this one too.

Katie’s kind of miffed that she’s not the star of this post.  But she’ll get her turn.

She always does.

Never ignore a princess.

Never ignore a princess.



Just a thought.

Driving back from an appointment today, listening to news radio, I heard a piece on the dangers of TV binge watching.    You know, the latest kick happening in the past couple of years of watching a whole series in one day or weekend.  Sitting in front of the TV for hours at a time.  The research, done by the University of Michigan, points out that binge watching is often associated with depression and can lead to obesity and heart disease similar to other bad habits including overeating.

I don’t think I’ve ever sat down and consciously watched a whole season of anything.  But I do know this past snowy, cold, windy, nasty Saturday I lay on the sofa and watched several segments of “What Not to Wear” on TLC, back to back to back to…well…you know.  I loved that show.


Right after the piece about the risks of binge TV watching was a very long advertisement read by one of the news anchors for Exfinity,  a division of Comcast Cable.  It was selling the app that would allow you to download all your favorite shows and movies so that you could watch anytime from anywhere even if you were offline.   If you were traveling you could watch.  If you were waiting somewhere you could watch.  If you were bored with your dinner partner I guess you could watch.

Ironic.  I wonder if program directors ever pay attention to what ads go where.

Apparently not.




WordPress photo challenge: Symmetry

If you go to the original post you’ll see inspirational photo which is gorgeous…and looks just like shots we took of a similar fort in Maine this past summer.  Friday I had lots of ideas about things to photograph that show symmetry.  I had plans for heading out on Monday, a holiday from work, to see what I could see.  But it’s 5 degrees Fahrenheit (-15C) right now and it’s going to get colder the rest of this long weekend and the wind is blowing making it even worse.   So it’s very possible I won’t be going anywhere.  I figured this would be yet another photo challenge that I missed because I just can’t get out of the house with my camera.

Then I looked out my kitchen window, watching the wind whip snow across the back yard.  And I saw it.




I have no idea what sort of animal would make tracks like this.  It looks like a giant turtle pulled itself up to the bird feeder and then back out to the woods.  But it’s certainly not turtle weather at the moment.  Here’s a closer image.  What do you think made these?


Two aliens?

Two aliens

Maybe it was Winnie the Pooh’s mysterious Heffalump, but whatever it was I like the symmetry.

The wind has now covered up the tracks; I was lucky to notice it when I did.  If you’d like to see some other images of symmetry, try here, here, here and here.  Or go to the original post and look at all that have been submitted so far.  The challenge lasts for a week, so check there again later and you’ll see even more!

What’s symmetric in your life?  I hope it’s a warmer image than mine.  I, for one, am thoroughly done with all the winter snow and wind.  I’d like to photograph a symmetric field of corn or the symmetry of a dahlia blossom.  I might still go and try to find some colorful symmetry.  We’ll see.

How about you?  Can you find a bit of symmetry somewhere around you?


Happy Valentines Day!

Katie here.  Guess what?  Mama saw all the dogs on Facebook dressed up in Valentine garb and she got all wistful.  Cause she knows better than to dress me up in any hat or glasses or dress or anything.  I won’t stand for it!  No siree.  Unless maybe she has a crown.  I’d consider that I suppose – if it’s real gold.  With jewels.


I am somewhat of a camera hog.  I know when my mama gets the camera out that I should look real pretty and turn my head just so and smile.  That usually gets me a treat.  But last night when my mama brought out this heart boa I was kinda scared at first.  Then she put it on my pillow and said ‘touch!’ and I did and I got a treat!  And we did that for a little bit until I was touching it on my own, and sniffing it and pushing my face into it and mama said she thought I was ready for my closeup.

Whatever that means.


Glamor girl

Glamor girl


So what do you think?   I’m a cover girl in front of the fire on Valentines Day!  I wasn’t afraid of the boa at all!  And as soon as I heard that camera click I was up and sitting in front of my mama for my treat.  Because I know the most important part about this modeling business.

No glamor shots without pay.

Don’t you know.


Where's my treat mama?

Where’s my treat mama?


Exercising with Aunt Vi

I went to visit Aunt Vi this afternoon.  She’s 99 and able to live in her own apartment with a little help doing the cleaning and laundry and grocery shopping.  She hasn’t been outside for anything other than doctor appointments for a good long while and she’s getting a bit of cabin fever.  She has her bird Buddy as company; we tried to get him to come out and play so that I could get a picture of him on her shoulder but he wasn’t having anything to do with me.  I guess he’s camera shy.

Come out and play!

Come out and play!


We talked a lot about the old days, the early years of her marriage and stories of when she worked at the local hospital.  She remembered getting off work late at night after a snow storm and not being able to find her car in the parking lot.  I guess in those days there was no such thing as a remote start.  We laughed about her having to dig through the snow with her hands to open the truck and retrieve the shovel so she could dig herself out of the parking lot.  She shook her head in wonder at the things she used to do when she was younger.

I shook my head in wonder too.

She was having a good day, so she showed me the exercises she does every day to stay loose.  Standing up and hanging onto her walker she did knee lifts.  Twenty on each side.  I told her I wanted to take her picture doing those and  she laughed and sat down.  Then she made me do them.  I was not as graceful and luckily there are no pictures of that either.  I did manage to get a couple of her using her stretchy bands.  She works her legs….

Keeping the legs in shape.

Keeping the legs in shape.

…and her arms every day.


Strong arms!

Strong arms!

I realized she’s doing more exercise than I am, even though I’m the one carrying the Fitbit in my pocket.  I feel guilty.

I’ve often wondered what a 99 year old thinks about as she sits in her apartment watching the world go by day after day.  Turns out she thinks a lot about the old days, her son, her sisters and brothers, her parents.  The same things we think about when we take the time to sit down and reflect.  She says she doesn’t plan anything out in the future, she just enjoys today.  I said that was a lesson for all of us to learn – to just enjoy today.

She says she’s tired and frustrated that her body doesn’t work the way it used to.  She’s not used to accepting help and it still bugs her that she has to.  But she’s grateful to be living on her own in her apartment, and she’s happy that she has friends and family that visit.   Still, she knows there’s not much to look forward to and sometimes she gets pensive.  She’s had a hard but good life filled with family and love and laughter, but there are only two of her original siblings left now.  She’s said so many goodbyes.

Telling stories of the past.

Telling stories of the past.

I wonder what I will remember most when I’m 99 and looking back.  I wonder what will be the most important accomplishments, the favorite memories, the things I will laugh about, what stories I will tell.  I wonder if I will be able to carry 99 as well as she does.  I don’t know, she’s set the bar pretty high.  I had a good visit with her this afternoon.  We’re lucky she’s still around to tell the family stories.  And if she keeps on exercising she just might be around to tell us about the good old days for years to come.

I certainly hope so.


Meet Buddy




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