Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


WordPress Photo Challenge: Trio

We got the first snow of the season yesterday. It came on the heels of record breaking heat and a wonderful extended fall. Yesterday it snowed steadily all day; the skies grey, the snow coming down relentlessly for hours. This morning I measured 12 inches (30.48 centimeters) of wet heavy snow covering everything, but the skies are brilliant blue and our world is stunning.

I had planned on driving out into the country to find something of three to photograph for the challenge this week. Something that would represent trio. But while I was shoveling the driveway I happened to glance up, and saw, against the bright blue sky, three roof lines all outlined in snow.

I couldn’t resist.

Three roofs, two triangles.

Three roofs, two triangles.

And once I saw the image on a screen I recognized another couple of trios in the shapes of triangles.

It wasn’t the shot I thought I was going to get. But something about the symmetry, the clean lines, the simple fact of three, something about all that makes me smile.

I hope you smile too.

You can see other representations of ‘trio’ at the original WordPress post, or catch a couple of my favorites here, here and here.

Look around. Where are the trios in your life? Care to share? Post your photos on your blog, and link back to the WordPress challenge. I look forward to seeing what you find!


It’s all about the birds

Boardwalk begins the walk.


This week I spent some time at Kensington Metro Park, one of my favorites around here. I walked around one of the natural areas that prohibits bikes, joggers and dogs. I know, I know. But don’t worry – Katie forgave me when I took her to her own park later in the day. She’s good like that.

The walk around the lake is just under 2 miles and though it was a cool November day, all the leaves had long since fallen, there was still a lot going on. Want to see? Well come on! (And click on any photo to see it larger with detail.)

The walk starts out on the boardwalk near the road. Right away I could see there was a sandhill crane couple standing out along a point. I thought all of the cranes had left the area, heading to warmer climates. But I was wrong. These two were standing in the water right near a bench where people sat to enjoy the view.

Walking near the shore.

Walking near the shore.

While I stood taking pictures several people walked up. The cranes just tilted their heads and watched us. They are so used to being photographed they don’t mind as long as you don’t move too fast. Eventually I moved along, taking the path around the lake. Just a little bit further along the lake edge I came across crane couple #2.

Going for a stroll.

Going for a stroll.

These two were a little more skittish. They moved away from me when I stepped up close to the shoreline. They were in a more secluded location and probably hadn’t had as much attention that morning as the first pair. One of them turned and faced me as if to you….”What you looking at?”

You lookin at ME?

You lookin at ME?

I reassured them that I thought they were beautiful, then I tiptoed back up to the path and moved along.

Back among the trees each time I stopped to take a picture I heard the flurry of wings around my head. There were always chickadees flitting around. The park has all sorts of signs telling people not to feed the wildlife, but I’ve seen, almost every time I’ve been there, people standing still holding out their hands which are filled with sunflower seeds. The chickadees, being such brave little birds, have been accustomed to getting a treat when people stop and stand still.

Hey LADY!!

Hey LADY!!

They expected something from me. I had to apologize to them; I hadn’t brought anything with me.

Further along I came to a hill with a fence and some shrubs still bright green and covered in some sort of red berries.

Follow the path.

Follow the path.

Then I noticed a bird hopping around among the green leaves. What was that? Could it be? Can you tell?

Can you tell what this is?

Can you tell what this is?

I saw the topknot on it’s head, but it wasn’t a female cardinal. It was a cedar waxwing! I only see those in the spring and in the fall, if I’m lucky, when they are migrating through the area. They have a bright yellow strip at the end of their tails, and red bars on their wings, and that’s how I knew for sure what I was seeing.

Can you see the tail?

Can you see the tail?

I stood there fascinated, watching the bird hop around picking red berries off the shrub. Then I began to wonder. Where were the rest? These birds travel in flocks and I’ve never seen only one. There are always several more.

Pretty under side of the bird.

Pretty under side of the bird.

I could only find one other bird among all the leaves. Finally I gave up looking, put my camera away and began to move. The shrub eruppted as dozens of waxwings flew up into the higher trees. It was magical and I laughed out loud.

Thank you little guys!  It was fun!

Thank you little guys! It was fun!

I kept moving along, rounding the back of the lake. The sun began to peak out through the clouds and the sky got brighter. It was a wonderful thing to be walking in the quiet woods on what used to be a work day. I felt very lucky to be there.

Who wouldn't want to be walking here?

Who wouldn’t want to be walking here?

And do you know what I found just a bit further up this beautiful path? You guessed it! Crane couple #3!

Enjoying the sun.

Enjoying the sun.

I’m sure these aren’t either of the couples I saw on the other side of the lake because I hadn’t heard any cranes flying. They can’t seem to keep quiet when they fly, almost always making an eerie screech while they are in the air. This couple didn’t want to be photographed at all, so I only took a quick shot of the two of them together. And this one of one of them headed my way to find out why I was interrupting their quiet time.

Yes I know I'm pretty.

Yes I know I’m pretty.

I said I’d move along, and he seemed fine with that.

When I was close to the beginning of my walk I realized I hadn’t hit the 2 mile mark yet, so I decided to walk over to the nature center before heading to my car parked in their lot. I figured I could use the steps and it was now a full-on beautiful afternoon and I was in no hurry to drive home. And as I approached the back of the museum I saw what I thought was a statue of sandhill cranes. There were three of them, the parents and a juvenile.

Cranes are EVERYWHERE!

Cranes are EVERYWHERE!

And then one of them moved! They were eating birdseed from under the bird feeders. A whole family, right up next to a building with people inside staring out at them. I started to laugh. Silly but opportunistic birds.

Years ago it was rare for me to see one pair of cranes in the park. Back when I used to run there every Saturday I never saw any. Now they seem to be much more plentiful; this summer I have seen many families of cranes, both in this park and near where I live. I wonder if there really are more of them, or if they’ve just moved into more populated areas.

And so this is not all about birds, while at the nature center I walked down to the pond.

You got anything to eat lady?

You got anything to eat lady?

I call this shot “Carp with Oak Leaf” and I think if it were painted in oil it would be a classic. Or something.

As I headed up to the car I ran into one more crane.

Not looking at that sign.

Not looking at that sign.

I think he was making a point of not looking at the sign. No one reads those anyway.


Pretty bittersweet

Pretty bittersweet


Katie’s pretty good weekend

Katie here!

Wasn’t it a beautiful weekend? We had sunshine and I got to be outside in my pen a bunch! I love sitting out guarding my backyard against those pesky squirrels. OK, sometimes I fall asleep for a few brief moments, but trust me, if anything tries to cross my backyard I’m alert instantly!

Not napping.  Just resting my eyes.

Not napping. Just resting my eyes.

And you know what else? On Saturday my mama took me to my park! It was so much fun! It was only 44 degrees out (6.66 C) and I was a completely different dog than the last time we went! No laying down in the shade for me! Oh no. I trotted around that park at high speed, stopping to sniff on occasion, but mostly trotting along happy to keep my mama sprinting. (Revenge is sweet, right?) She kept making me stop so she could take pictures of stuff. Stuff that was not me! Who would do that? I mean I am the most photogenic thing around, right?

Afternoon reflections.

Afternoon reflections.

Well OK, I concede that the park was pretty that day even though the sun was mostly under clouds. No one else was out there and mama let me walk along without her some of the time while she took pictures. I figured we’d make record time on the almost one mile around the park, which was good because the sun was starting to go down and we didn’t want to be there after dark.

The light is going.

The light is going.

So I’m hurrying her along and we’re almost back at the car when suddenly the sun comes out! And you know what my mama did? She started taking pictures of me! Cause she said that the low late afternoon sun made my fur really pretty. What do you think?

Yes I know.  I'm beautiful.

Yes I know. I’m beautiful.

I think she was right. I sat and stood for her just like a good model for awhile, and then I reminded her that I hadn’t had my supper yet, and a super model demands to be paid. My preference for payment is in treats, but since she didn’t bring any I figured it was within my rights to demand we go home and get supper. I’m sure you agree.

I'm hungry mama!

I’m hungry mama!

So we head toward the car and guess what? There were four deer coming into my park!

They're infringing on my park!

They’re infringing on my park!

Well! I knew I had to defend my mama and my park so I barked and barked and barked and barked and they wandered off into the meadow toward my pond. I took care of them! They were too afraid to come toward us. Now I knew I deserved my dinner!

I took care of them mama!

I took care of them mama!

So off we went back to my house. When we got there I noticed that there was a great sunset that we would have seen if we had stayed at the park. Oh well. That’s the price you have to pay when you’re working with a super model. Am I right?


Missed it!.

It was a perfect weekend. I know I complain about my folks a lot, but this weekend they really came through and let me do a lot of fun stuff. I’m definitely going to need to take a nap now, in order to rest up for tomorrow. I hear it’s going to be another pretty day.

I think another park is in my future.

I can't wait!

I can’t wait!


Not trucks

It's a grey day mama.

It’s a grey day mama.

I want to write about something that doesn’t have anything to do with trucks. I feel like I’ve been immersed in truck issues for such a long time that there’s no way out. And in reality that’s true, there is no way out, I know I’m in that fight for the long haul. But sometimes I need to think about, do something, different. To let that truck stuff go for a little bit.

Trouble is today, when I came up for air, the weather outside was frightful. We’ve had a wind advisory all day with gusts up to 50 miles per hour. And rain. Plus it’s cold, and I don’t really like being cold. So Katie-girl and I have spent an entire day inside thinking about things we could be doing but not doing many of them.

It’s not as though I don’t have a long list of things I should do. Starting with cleaning. And organizing. And cooking. Not to mention practicing; the next community band concert is December 1, only a few very short weeks away. But I have only managed to nap today.

We weren’t raised in my family to be nappers so I’m struggling with the thought that I could spend an entire day in a chair watching the rain hit the windows, the light, what little of it there is, move across the yard, checking Facebook and email, reading blog entries. Falling asleep reading a book.

Morning light before the storm.

Morning light before the storm.

I want to write about something that doesn’t have anything to do with trucks. Something colorful and vibrant. Happy. But I seem to be in some sort of grey funk that matches the weather. Even Katie-girl seems to understand and gives up asking me to play after a little while. She’s asleep at my feet at the moment.

Tomorrow. Well tomorrow I will get myself up and go for a walk. After that perhaps I’ll write something that doesn’t have anything to do with trucks.


Thank you

The road is long and hazy.

The road is long and hazy.

The Senate and House versions of the transportation bills are going to a conference committee soon to hammer out their differences. Once that is done the final bill will be sent to the President. The Senate version has the 33 foot double trailers in it. The House transportation bill does not. Earlier in the year we came within 1 vote of getting the 33s out of the Senate version; so close, but still a loss.

Now the Wicker motion, which asks the Conference Committee to mandate a safety study on the double 33 foot trailers prior to making them legal across the country, was our last chance of even stalling the implementation of the longer trucks on our roads.

The good news is that we won!

The Senate voted 56 to 31 to approve the Wicker motion. This sends a strong message that the Senate is not happy with allowing 33 foot doubles drive across the country. There are 39 states that don’t allow double trailers longer than 28 feet. The transportation bill, if approved as it is currently written, would override all those states laws and allow 33 foot doubles in all states.

Thank you to everyone out there that contacted their Senators yesterday in an effort to push safety ahead of profits. The opposition argues that 33 foot trailers are safe, and that they will only run on interstate highways. I don’t know how they know the trailers are safe, as there haven’t been any safety studies. And last time I checked we all drive on interstates, so that argument is useless.

So we won this one. But the battle is not over. The bills are still going to Conference, and there’s no guarantee that the safety study will be mandated. Senator Boxer said she would carry the Senate message to conference. We hope she keeps that promise. On the Conference committee are many Senators that voted No to the Wicker motion. And there are many Senators that voted Yes. It’s pretty evenly split, almost down party lines.

I hope that the Senators spend the time needed to really think about the safety of the American public. Safety is not partisan. I can’t stress that enough. Safety has to trump profits.

I might need you to contact your Senators again. Meanwhile, below is a list of the Senators and how they voted on the Wicker motion. Remember a YES vote means they want the Conference Committee to mandate a safety study of 33 foot double trailers. A NO vote means they do not want a study, and instead want the 33 foot double trailers to remain in the bill.

If your Senator voted YES please take the time to go to their webpage and send them a thank you email. If they voted NO, consider sending them a polite email expressing your disappoint in their decision.

And THANK YOU for reading to the end of this, and for caring about safety, and for always supporting me and my safety family of victims and survivors.

We know we do not stand alone.

Results – Vote on Wicker motion:

Y 56
N 31
NV 13

Alexander N
Ayotte N
Baldwin Y
Barrasso N
Bennet Y
Blumenthal Y
Blunt N
Booker Y
Boozman N
Boxer NV
Brown Y
Burr Y
Cantwell Y
Capito N
Cardin Y
Carper Y
Casey Y
Cassidy N
Coats Y
Cochran Y
Collins N
Coons Y
Corker N
Cornyn N
Cotton N
Crapo NV
Cruz NV
Daines N
Donnelly Y
Durbin Y
Enzi N
Ernst Y
Feinstein Y
Fischer Y
Flake Y
Franken Y
Gardner NV
Gillibrand Y
Graham NV
Grassley Y
Hatch N
Heinrich Y
Heitkamp N
Heller NV
Hirono Y
Hoeven N
Inhofe NV
Isakson Y
Johnson NV
Kaine Y
King Y
Kirk N
Klobuchar Y
Lankford N
Leahy NV
Lee N
Manchin Y
Markey Y
McCain Y
McCaskill Y
McConnell N
Menendez Y
Merkley Y
Mikulski Y
Moran N
Murkowski N
Murphy Y
Murray Y
Nelson Y
Paul NV
Perdue Y
Peters Y
Portman Y
Reed Y
Reid Y
Risch N
Roberts N
Rounds N
Rubio NV
Sanders Y
Sasse Y
Schatz Y
Schumer Y
Scott N
Sessions N
Shaheen Y
Shelby N
Stabenow Y
Sullivan N
Tester N
Thune N
Tillis Y
Toomey Y
Udall Y
Vitter NV
Warner NV
Warren Y
Whitehouse Y
Wicker Y
Wyden Y


Emergency – Truck Safety, we need your help right now!

The Senate and the House versions of the Transportation Bill will be going to conference, probably this week. The Senate version allows for 33 foot double trailers to drive across the country. This policy change didn’t come from any safety studies, didn’t have any hearings, and isn’t even anything that most truck companies are requesting. It’s something that a few companies, notably FedEx and UPS, have managed to get attached to an important bill.

The Teamsters representing many drivers, law enforcement, safety advocates, environmental groups, biking organizations and pedestrian groups oppose longer double trailers. Thirty-three foot double trailers will require 22 feet longer to stop, and will require a 6 foot wider radius to make it around a corner. The back trailer won’t track the same as the front trailer when turning.

Here’s part of the email I got tonight from The Truck Safety Coalition:


November 9, 2015

The House and Senate multi-year transportation reauthorization bills contain several provisions that deteriorate truck safety and many missed chances to improve safety. The process of reconciling these two bills falls to the appointees on the Conference Committee who will be meeting soon.

Prior to Conference, Senators and Representatives may offer instructions to conferees, which must be approved by a majority of the respective chamber. Senator Wicker will be offering a Motion to Instruct [Senate] Conferees to include language that would require the Department of Transportation to study the safety impacts of Double 33s before requiring most states to allow these longer trucks on their roads. It is critical that this vote passes.”

SO…Senator Wicker is going to offer a motion that the DOT study the safety of double 33 foot trailers. It has to be voted on by the Senate. Below is a list of Senators that need to be contacted and asked to vote YES on the Wicker Motion on the multi-year transportation reauthorization bill. If you see one or both of YOUR senators, could you please call them or email them tomorrow (Tuesday) and ask them to vote YES on the Wicker motion?

I’d appreciate it very much.

Here’s more of the email:

“Please take the time to call and email Senators’ offices below, and urge them to vote YES on Senator Wicker’s Motion to Instruct Senate Conferees, which would require the Department of Transportation to study the safety impacts of Double 33s before federally mandating these longer, more dangerous trucks.

*PLEASE DO NOT FORWARD OR COPY & PASTE THE CONTENTS OF THIS EMAIL, please use your own words to make the points.


· DOT recommended no change to truck size and weight due to insufficient data.

· Double 33s will be 10 feet longer than double 28s; they will be 91 feet in length.

· Longer trucks make merging and passing more difficult.

· Double 33s have:

o A six foot wider turning radius

o 33% increase in low-speed off-tracking

o A 22 foot longer stopping distance (nearly the length of two cars).”

Here’s the list of Senators that need to be contacted:

Remember: Urge Senators to Vote YES on Wicker Motion to Instruct Senate Conferees to Require Safety Study of Double 33s in Multi-Year Highway Bill THIS IS THE LAST CHANCE TO DEFEAT DOUBLE 33s!


Mark Kirk (IL)

· 202-224-2854


Ron Johnson (WI)

· 202-224-5323


Pat Toomey (PA)

· 202-224-4254


Kelly Ayotte (NH)

· 202-224-3324


Lisa Murkowski (AK)

· 202-224-6665


Rob Portman (OH)

· 202-224-3353


Thad Cochran (MS)

· 202-224-5054


Richard Burr (NC)

· 202-224-3154


David Perdue (GA)

· 202-224-3521


Bill Cassidy (LA)

· 202-224-5824


Dan Coats (IN)

· 202-224-5623


Joni Ernst (IA)

· 202-224-3254


Deb Fischer (NE)

· 202-224-6551


Jeff Flake (AZ)

· 202-224-4521


Johnny Isakson (GA)

· 202-224-3643


John McCain (AZ)

· 202-224-2235


Tom Tillis (NC)

· 202-224-6342


Michael Bennet (CO)

· 202-224-5852


Maria Cantwell (WA)

· 202-224-3441


Amy Klobuchar (MN)

· 202-224-3244


Gary Peters (MI)

· 202-224-6221


Bernie Sanders (VT)

· 202-224-5141


Debbie Stabenow (MI)

· 202-224-4822


Martin Heinrich (NM)

· 202-224-5521


Angus King (ME)

· 202-224-5344


Joe Donnelly (IN)

· 202-224-4814


Heidi Heitkamp (ND)

· 202-224-2043


Tim Kaine (VA)

· 202-224-4024


Mark Warner (VA)

· 202-224-2023


This is what a double 33 looks like.

A double 33 parked in DC.

A double 33 parked in DC.

Think about it on the road with your family. Then call you Senator. If your Senator is NOT on the above list, it’s OK for you to call them anyway. They need to know this is important, and that the majority of the American public doesn’t want longer, heavier trucks on our roads.

Help me keep these trailers off our roads.

I appreciate all your efforts. I can’t begin to tell you how much.


WordPress photo challenge – Ornate

This is part of the ceiling of a concert hall inside the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor Michigan. We were there last night listening to the Ann Arbor Symphony. It was another magical night.


I don’t have much that is ornate here at home, but there’s a lot out there in the world that fits that description. You can see other interpretations of ‘ornate’ at the original post. And you can see a few of my favorites (so far), here, here and here.

Share a little bit of the ornateness in your life; link your post to the WordPress challenge so we can all see. I look forward to it!


Truck safety update

This has been a big week in the truck safety world. I’ll bring you up to date.

The Senate Version of the Transportation Authorization Bill has been passed for several weeks. It contains a dangerous federal increase for double trailers from 28 feet to 33 feet. The House version of the Authorization Bill doesn’t have the 33 foot trailers, but several other dangerous amendments were being offered. The House bill had more than 200 amendments to be voted on and approved in order to be attached to their bill. We were interested in about 15 of the amendments. A few were offered in support of safety efforts, the majority were things we opposed, things that were advantageous to truck companies, but dangerous for everyone driving the roads.

For some of Tuesday and the majority of the day on Wednesday my husband and I along with many other Truck Safety Coalition volunteers and staff watched the House of Representatives on CSPAN, following the arguments, urging on our supporters, holding our breath as votes were cast, smiling broadly when something we needed passed, sighing in defeat when many more votes didn’t go our way. Facebook messaging and the phone kept us connected when things got confusing.

By the end of the day on Tuesday we were all exhausted and many of us were feeling pretty discouraged. But we shouldn’t be. We won a couple of huge battles.

We stopped Representative Ribble (from Wisconsin) who had an amendment increasing the federal maximum weight on large trucks in all states from 80,000 pounds to 91,000 pounds. He has consistently tried to get truck weight increased, with multiple amendments on multiple bills in the past. Once again the politicians heard the public. Overwhelmingly Americans don’t want bigger, heavier trucks on the roads they share. We keep saying that loudly and clearly and this time we were heard. The amendment was defeated 236 no to 187 yes with both Democrats and Republicans saying no.

Additionally an amendment offered by Rep. Rooney (Florida) to allow the gross weight on certain trucks hauling livestock to be as high as 95,000 pounds if a special permit was purchased for $200 was defeated, 240 no to 185 yes, again both Democrats and Republicans said no.

And an amendment to increase the weight of car haulers, offered by Rep Mica (Florida) was withdrawn because there was not enough support from others in the House.

All of this good stuff happened near the beginning of the process and we were feeling pretty happy. But then things started to unravel. The amendment we supported that would ask for a study before a teen driver pilot program was put in place was turned down. An amendment that would remove hurdles placed on a study the DOT had been planning to do regarding minimum liability insurance was defeated. Several amendments specific to certain states allowing for exemptions in size or weight were approved.

Our emotions began to get the better of us. We’ve worked so hard to gain what seem like common sense rules. It was hard to be defeated again and again. But we have to remember that the fight is not over just because the House of Representatives has put together a bill that isn’t perfect. As one of the House Members stated – “I thought when I was elected 4 years ago I could come to Washington and tell everyone my good ideas and they’d all recognize them as good ideas and we’d get things done. But then I got here and found out lots of people had different thoughts on what was a good idea. It’s all so much harder than I thought it would be.” He isn’t someone on our side of the issues, but his comment is relevant to all of us.

It’s all so much harder that any of us thought it would be.

The House passed it’s version of the Transportation Authorization Bill on Thursday. What happens next?

Well, the House version and the Senate version have to go to conference where the differences between them will be hammered out. That’s where we have another chance at gaining a few more inches, or feet, or maybe even miles toward safety.

The encumbrances on the DOT study to discern the cost/benefit of increasing minimum liability insurance is not in the Senate version of the bill, so we might have a chance of getting rid of it. The 33 foot trailers are not in the House version of the bill, so again we might have a chance of getting rid of those too.

When we know more we’ll share it with all of you. You can help us by calling your members of Congress to express your disappointment in the lack of attention to safety in these bills. Though we made some progress we are still fighting against the deep pockets of the trucking industry. And we aren’t so innocent to believe that Representative Ribble won’t try again to get heavier trucks federally mandated.

We have to stay vigilant. The American Trucking Association actually said that there was nothing unsafe in any of the amendments they had pushed. Apparently they think it’s perfectly safe to allow young inexperienced drivers to handle even heavier, longer trucks with only minimal insurance.

We don’t think that’s a good idea. So we took a day off to rest and now we’re going to get back to the fight. We can’t lose track of the fact that once again we kept heavier trucks off most of our roads. That alone will save lives. Saving lives and reducing the number of injuries is all we’re asking for.

Seems simple, doesn’t it.

Stay tuned.


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