Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


Hunting the bluebird

There’s so much beautiful down here in Alabama. Spring is here, things are blooming, mostly the sky is blue and the sun shines and even when it rains it’s just moving spring deeper into my soul.

And I realize that I haven’t shown you much of that.

Watching from afar

So I started looking at the hundreds of images I’ve grabbed during the almost four weeks Katie and I have been here. There are so many to share with you.

Swallow or bluebird, who’s going to get the gourd?

Today I’ll focus on the bluebirds that are flitting around all over around here. There’s nothing happier than a bluebird, and when you catch that glint of intense blue you just have to smile.

Mrs. Bluebird joins the show

I’ve found out they’re not that easy to capture. They like to sit between you and the sun so all you have is a silhouette. I swear they plan it that way.

Sometimes the sun doesn’t shine.

In this post I’m sharing some of the successful shots, and some that didn’t turn out quite the way I’d wish. But once in awhile, oh once in awhile, you’ve got the sun on your side and that blue just glows.


And that motivates you to try again.

Mrs. contemplates a new home.



Red bird

Aunt Vi’s funeral was Tuesday. She looked beautiful, and though I know she was no longer there, I have to think she’d have been pleased by how pretty she was.

Pink was her favorite color.

She was so ready to move on to her next chapter that I could only feel relief for her. Still, it was hard walking past her for the last time at the end of the service. “I’ll see you soon,” I thought, words I’d often used as I left after visiting.

It was hard, too, to leave her at the cemetery, amid the piles of snow scraped from the ground to make room for her pink casket.

It was so cold that day.

She hated to be cold, and at the last nursing home she took advantage of having her own thermostat to keep her room toasty warm. Tropical, I used to tell her. “Are you too warm dear?” she’d ask me. “No, I’m just fine,” I’d tell her as sweat ran down my back.

It felt wrong to leave her in the cold now.

I knew she wasn’t really there, that she was already celebrating with family and friends, someplace filled with light and music and love and completeness. I knew this, but still.

A beautiful resting place for a beautiful lady.

And then, during the luncheon, all of us sitting in the rec room of the apartment building she had lived in for over twenty-five years, someone across the table from me exclaimed “Look! A cardinal!”

Sitting in a tree just outside the large windows sat a lone cardinal, staring intently at the goings on inside.

“You know Vi really loved cardinals,” I remarked. “She called them red birds.” The red bird outside moved to a different tree, still watching the people inside.

Maybe…just maybe.

The next day Katie-girl and I headed to Alabama in an effort to get away from the snow and cold. Midway on the trip we stopped in a tiny little town in Kentucky at a riverside park to stretch our legs. I took a short video of us walking along the river and posted it on Facebook. A nephew noted that he heard a cardinal in all the bird chatter I captured. Hmmmm…

I stopped by the cemetery on my way out of town the day after the funeral. The flowers hadn’t frozen.

And today on our final day of driving, at the last rest stop of the trip, Katie and I were walking along the top of a ravine. The sun was shining and we were enjoying it’s warmth when a cardinal swooped down low to a branch very near us and began to sing.

“OK!” I said, under my breath. “OK! I believe you!” And then the bird flew off into the trees. Mission accomplished.

She said she’d try to send me a sign that she was alright. I’d say she got her message across.

Loud and clear.

Buddy and all her birds are with her now.




Snow attack on the back yard.

It’s snowing here in lower Michigan. Nothing surprising about that, it is after all early February. They say we’ll get five or more inches and that it will snow all day.

Maybe all weekend.

With the weather forecast in mind I stopped at the grocery store on my way home last night. I and about a hundred of my best friends shopped mindlessly, wandering up and down the aisles not sure what I wanted, not sure what I had at home, just sure that I needed something.

Goldfinch scans his food options.

Pushing my shopping cart across the parking lot into the wind driven snow I noticed a woman in a car driving out of the lot. Something about the way she held her head, or her haircut, something about her made me think, for a moment, that it was Janet Yellen. Her last day as Chair of the Federal Reserve was just last week.

Sometimes things are just upside down.

Obviously, now that she had time, she needed to stock up before the snow arrived just like me. It didn’t occur to me that it was highly unlikely she’d be in my town in rural Michigan on a snowy Thursday night.

This much snow makes me want to drink too.

No, the reason I discounted the whole idea was that certainly Janet Yellen doesn’t shop for her own groceries.

Snow can be very isolating.

Or does she?

It’s warmer in a crowd.


Wordless Wednesday




Surprise visitors

It’s been a weather roller coaster here in lower Michigan. We’ve had record breaking cold, with temperatures well below zero (-17.77 C) and lots of blowing snow. Then this week we had one glorious warm day with temps topping 50 (10 C) followed the next day by plummeting temperatures and more snow.

Crazy, but not unusual.

During one of the cold days, in between snow showers, Katie and I ventured out for a walk up the road. I was attempting to get her to hurry up while she looked for pee-mail from all her doggy friends when I heard a chirping from a tall spruce tree nearby. It didn’t sound familiar, so I searched the tree, trying to see what was making the noise.

Much to my amazement a pair of birds shot out of the tree, chased each other over my head, and then disappeared across the street. I wasn’t even sure what I had seen, but they sure looked like bluebirds. I’d heard that sometimes bluebirds overwintered around here, but I’d never seen proof before.

Hmmmm….interesting. But maybe just a fluke. Or maybe I didn’t really see bluebirds at all.

Yesterday afternoon husband glanced out the kitchen window and exclaimed “bluebirds!!” Out on our heated birdbath were two of them, all puffed up against the cold, taking their time while sipping their beverage of choice.

By the time I got the camera there was just one, and I had a dirty window and a screen between me and a clear shot. Still. How could I resist? I only had one shutter click before he flew away, and it was very very underexposed against the brightness of the snow. The original image is just about black.


I call this my impressionistic bluebird.

Today we have sunshine, though it’s still very cold. Katie and I were looking out the back window, debating whether to go out and play in the snow when I saw a chunky bird fly toward the house. It swooped in toward the deck, but I couldn’t see where he landed because the blinds were down on that side of the room. Darn! It looked like a very fat bluebird!

I crept around the corner of the room to a door with open blinds. There were three bluebirds sitting on the heated birdbath! Again I had to shoot through the dirty glass and a screen door. And the light was a problem too.

Drink up little guys!

Still, what joy to see bluebirds on this cold winter day!

I sat and watched them drink and chatter to each other for a long time. And then they flew off — looking for lunch I suppose.

Come back anytime!

I guess I’m going to have to figure out what they eat and make sure I have some of that here for them, since obviously they plan on sticking around for awhile at our hot springs bird spa extraordinaire.

May a bluebird of happiness fly into your world this winter weekend, and may you be lucky enough to notice!

Everybody’s welcome here.


Wordless Wednesday





It’s been cold up here and I’ve been hibernating in the house. The day before yesterday we finally got to double digit temperatures (Fahrenheit and above zero!). Sitting on the sofa, camera by my side I was watching the lake when this big guy stopped by to look for lunch.

I got to see him run up and down the tree, then fly past my window. He was really cool in flight, maybe someday I’ll catch that too.

And yesterday on a walk down the street I got only two driveways away when I heard a soft chirping. I looked up and saw this:

A whole flock of something. Can you guess? Does this help?

Yes you are correct! A huge flock of cedar wax wings! Those in the tree were resting after a big lunch. Lunch was a buffet on a tree full of red berries.

I cropped the heck out of that shot, and I liked the artsy form it took on when I tried to get the bird’s colors to show.

I think I saw a bald eagle when I was out too, but it was way too far away for me to be sure. I’ll be here another day, and I’ve seen them fly down the shore before, so you never know.

Stay tuned.



WordPress Photo Challenge: Textures

I loved the silky textures of the jay’s feather caught in the prickly branch of a bayberry bush.

This is such an interesting challenge – texture is one of the things most photographers notice, and there are so many options to showcase here.

Want to see more? Just go to the link above, or, if you’re time challenged, here are a few of my favorites. So far.



Bird encounters of the close kind

Out at my favorite park on a whim, no birdseed in my pockets, I wander the perimeter of the swampy lake on a hot humid August evening. Every time I stop to watch something a flurry of small birds hovers around my head hoping for handouts. Sorry, I’ve got nothing on me little guys!

Soon I come across this guy standing near the boardwalk.

Are you looking at ME?!

There had been a thunderstorm just before I arrived, and this great blue heron was preening and rearranging his feathers. Probably watching the shallows for dinner too.

He didn’t like that I was walking so close, even though I was moving quietly. I knew he would be rising up in flight at any moment so I set my camera on sport the better to take a series of shots in a hurry.

Ready for takeoff!

Still I couldn’t keep him in the frame, and he’s hard to see against the waterlily filled background.

I’m outta here lady!

He flew over to the island filled with the rookery where he probably was born. He was not a happy camper, squawking all the way.

Can’t get a moments peace around here.

I continued on my way, up a path on the far side of the lake. There’s a bench out there with a view of the rookery. I thought I’d sit a bit and see what happened next.

Sitting on the little wooden bench about 5 feet from the shore, out on a little point of land, I was focused on these two egrets fishing for their supper…

Fresh sushi hiding under those lily pads!

…when suddenly I realized there were two sandhill cranes just to the left of the egrets. And before I could fully register that thought they both lifted up and flew. Right at me.

Not a great shot, but they surprised me!

I kept shooting, but it was hard to see them against the busy backdrop of the lily pads on the lake.

Can you see them?

And they kept flying right for me, landing on the shore in front of me!


I sat still on the bench, my camera clicking away. Both of them started up the bank toward me, moving at a good clip.

Well, hi there!

The second one stopped for a minute to shake like a dog. Guess he or she had a wet landing.

Getting the feathers straightened out.

Meanwhile the one in the lead was walking right past me, close enough I could have reached out and touched it.

Didn’t pause or even look at me.

But I didn’t. He or she was on a mission – both were focused on where they wanted to go. I kept shooting images as they walked past me and on up the path.

Hurry up! The dinner buffet is over there!

They settled in not far away, both of them pulling something off of bushes along the path.

Nom, nom, nom…

I sat quietly watching them stretch their necks up to eat. They moved to the other side of the path and continued eating.

Let’s check over here.

It was just the three of us out there on that point of land enjoying the dinner hour. They didn’t care one bit that I was there, and I enjoyed watching them forage.

And then? Well, then my memory card filled up.

So I quietly walked away while they were still eating. I was smiling. How lucky was I to be sitting there when they decided to drop in for supper.

It was just a whim to visit the park after looking for barns and clouds. It was just a whim to walk along the rookery, to walk out to that spit of land, to sit on that bench for a bit.

Wow. Sometimes it really does pay to follow your heart.



Wordless Wednesday