Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.



Carson‘s family, including his little sister Mandy, missed Carson so much after he went over the Rainbow Bridge that they went out and got a puppy.

Meet Charlie.

You’ve got big feet to fill little buddy!

I’ve only visited with him once, but I look forward to getting to know him. He’s just a little guy, but he’s already mending broken hearts around here.

Welcome to the neighborhood sweet boy!

Charlie and his big sister play.




Katie here!

I am livid! And depressed. Oh man, I’m just all wound up because my mama cheated on me! Oh yes she did, and she can’t explain this one away either.

I looked up the definition of cheat, just to make sure I was accurate, and this is what the Urban Dictionary said: “Someone who is in a committed relationship and breaks the trust of his or her Katie-girl by getting physically or emotionally involved with another dog.”

OK, I edited the definition just a bit. But she still cheated.

Three boy dogs and a car – that’s just asking for trouble.

What you say? You don’t think mama would ever do something like that? That she loves me with all her heart and I’m the most important dog in her whole world?

Well. I have proof.

Yesterday, at approximately 11 hundred hours a car drove up to our house. A nice lady (I remember her from visiting her farm last year) got out of the car and petted me and she smelled good and I liked her right away. (She’s a regular treat dispenser, ya know what I mean?)

Well, I guess mama isn’t actually TOUCHING them.

I gave her a tour of my lake house and then she and mama went back outside and I wasn’t allowed to go with them. Huh! Something is up. But I didn’t see or hear anything so I waited expectantly. I figured I was due another treat.

Then mama came back inside and got her camera and I still didn’t get to go with her. That’s definitely a sign that something’s amiss. Usually I am the center of all her photography and if she’s not shooting beautiful me, then, I ask you, what is she taking pictures of?

This is my tower. Mama should only bring other dogs here if I give written permission.

But I heard the car drive away and my mama didn’t come back in the house, so I settled down to wait (not nap, people, wait!) by the door.

I’m not going up there!

Eventually she came back and do you know what? She smelled like boy dogs! More than one boy dog! I think my mama is cheating on me with more than one dog! And these aren’t the harmless neighborhood dogs either! I know all their smells and she’s usually with me when they come around.

That’s a tall tower!

So…while she was sleeping last night I snuck on her laptop and found pictures! I have proof people! She went up the mountain without me (that part is just fine) and took the nice lady and her three boy dogs!

And then, the worst part is she brought them back to the house and they got to explore my back yard! And I didn’t even see them out there because I was waiting (not napping!) by the door on the other side of the house!

HEY! That’s MY lake!

What do you think I should do? Should I kick my mama out of the house? Or should I go find a new mama and a new lake house with my own special bed and special dinner bowl and my own special food and treats and toys?

I think this is the one I have to worry about the most. You know how mamas fall for younger guys.

I need advice and I know you guys are just the ones to tell me what to do. You can comment here, but do it quick cause mama will be awake soon and you know she’s always on her computer. I don’t want her to find out she’s been caught.


Not yet anyway.

PS: Mama woke up. She says to go to this blog to read about the other point of view.


Best of Carson

“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” – Khalil Gibran

Hi there!

For many years one of the joys of spending time here at the lake was a neighboring dog named Carson. We’ve watched him grow up from a soft fluffy bundle of joyous energy …

OK, I’ll hold still for your photo lady. But be quick about it!

…to a soft fluffy sophisticated man about town of eleven.

You’ve been taking my picture for years! I just keep looking better!

Carson liked to visit everyone in the neighborhood, and he seemed to know when we were in town, showing up by the door to check in with us, sometimes meeting us at the car when we unloaded luggage. Each time he asked for an ear rub or a tummy tickle.

That’s a good spot lady!

He wouldn’t decline a treat if you happened to have one on you…

nom nom nom

…but mostly, for Carson, it was about a little loving, a little play. And the lake.

My favorite place to be – my lake!

His favorite thing to do was to walk along the shoreline, knee or chest deep in the water, hunting for those pesky minnows. When he found some he’d pounce on them and then grin.

There’s one over THERE!

All summer you could find him in the water. And year-round you could find him on a neighbor’s porch, getting some loving.

Hey Katie-girl…want to PLAY?

Katie wasn’t too sure about him visiting us. It wasn’t that she was afraid of him. But he was so big…and when he barked it was with one deep baritone WOOF! She always jumped.

She just didn’t know what to make of him, but the rest of us? We loved Carson. It didn’t matter that he didn’t belong to us, we all just loved him.

Is he still back there mama?

Carson was most famous for being the softest dog any of us had ever touched. And he smelled good. Yes he was a dog, and yes he loved to wade in the lake, the muddier the better, but he always started each day smelling good.

You still taking pictures lady?

I imaged he took a shower with his person each morning because he always used to smell like Irish Spring soap. This last week he smelled like some other shampoo, but he still smelled too pretty to be a boy.

Everybody loved Carson, the dog that smelled so good.

Sunset is my time to head for home. See you tomorrow lady!

Sadly Carson crossed the rainbow bridge this week, suddenly and without warning. I’m so glad he stopped by a couple times since I’ve been here this trip so that I got some Carson loving.

My last Carson loving.

But man. We are all so going to miss him. I look for him every time I leave the house, he was so often sitting on my porch. I look for him along the lake shore. I listen for his bark.

We’ll always remember you sweetie!

I am more than sad. But I’m trying to remember that I was lucky to know him.

Somehow it’s not enough.

Who wouldn’t love this face?



“Happy Birthday Wolfie”

Yesterday was Wolfgang Mozart’s 262nd birthday, and what better way to celebrate than to spend an evening with the Ann Arbor Symphony enjoying their Mozart Birthday Bash.

Did you know Wolfgang wrote his Symphony No. 1 at the ripe old age of eight? And that Mozart had a favorite pattern of notes, three notes rising, the fourth falling, which were included in both his first symphony, written as a child, and his last, Symphony No. 41, a symphony he probably never heard performed before his death at age 35?

I didn’t know any of that either.

Last night we learned all that and were privileged to hear both Symphony No. 1 as well as Symphony No. 41. And though you could clearly hear his childlike interpretation of music in the first, it was much more intricate that I could have imaged at age eight.

And Symphony No. 41? The fourth movement was my favorite, the most intense, the most intertwined, the most triumphant. It’s eight and a half minutes long. Get a cup of tea or coffee and settle back to listen, it will be time well spent. There’s so much going on in this movement, let it take you where it will.

Now, take a moment to listen to the first notes of Symphony No. 1. The juxtaposition between that first symphony and the very last symphony movement he ever wrote was breathtaking. Isn’t it amazing what he created within his short lifetime?

And on top of all that, the evening’s guest soloist, Chad Burrow, performed Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A Major. On a basset clarinet. Be still my heart.

All in all it was a special evening for this clarinetist.

As I sat listening to the symphony building up to the final moments, the music swelling, the entire hall entranced, I gazed up, lost in the music, and wondered. On this birthday was Mozart’s music being played all across the world? Were there concert halls and high school auditoriums and living room stereos playing Mozart in celebration? And was he listening from somewhere, tapping his toe, smiling a bit wistfully, happy to hear his work, glad not to be forgotten?

I like to think he was.

So, as Maestro Lipsky said last night – Happy Birthday Wolfie. Thank you for your gift to us all. I hope you enjoyed the Ann Arbor Symphony’s gift to you.

I know we did.





Ambush: Make a surprise attack from a concealed position.

I’m trying to declutter the house in preparation for the painter. We’ve lived here a long time, and, I guess I haven’t put things away as promptly as I might have.

I thought I’d start with the guest bedroom – how hard could it be to sort through the stuff piled on the dressers in there? I was sure most of it could be tossed.

But under the piles of old sheet music, bad clarinet reeds, the patterns for sweaters I might have wanted to knit once upon a time, the maps of campgrounds and parks I’ve visited, under all that detritus, was a stack of Christmas cards.

I know I keep Christmas cards way too long. They sit in a basket on the kitchen counter until the next holiday season comes along. And then I have to just toss them all at once, I can’t look through them or I won’t be able to heave them into the trash. So why would a stack of Christmas cards be sitting on a dresser in a guest room?

I shouldn’t have looked.

They are from 1997; cards and holiday letters from many people who are long gone. Cards from people who are gone from my life because relationships faded, divorces happened, or they moved and we just lost touch. And an awful lot of them have died, including one of my best friends, my adopted up north grandma, my father-in-law (that’s him in the center), my sister-in-law, and my own parents.

Merry Christmas, circa 1997

So I’ve sorted through the stack, and have saved the very special hellos and happy holidays, the handwritten notes and newsy letters of those that have gone ahead, and tossed the rest into the trash. But, man, being ambushed by so many memories sure took the wind out of my cleaning sails.

And if you’re wondering how the paint decision is going, I went back to Lowe’s and got four more samples this morning.

It’s complicated.

More of the same.



Lights on!

As the snow floated gently down Rochester welcomes visitors to a spectacular evening of lights.

I haven’t felt particularly festive this year, but that’s not all that unusual. I did put lights on a tree in the yard, one particular smallish spruce tree, and I like the sense of that, the one tree lit in the dark. Sort of sign of hope I guess. But other than that one little tree I haven’t done anything to decorate around here.

Unlike a small town about 30 miles away, a town that goes all out at this time of year. A friend suggested we go one night this week with our cameras. I’m glad she did, because after we tromped around admiring the lights last night I am in a decidedly more festive mood.

Can’t stop taking pictures!

It would be hard not to be, don’t you agree?

The town puts on an amazing light display, and people come out in droves to walk the streets and admire the colors and the window displays. I’ve always liked taking pictures of commercial windows, particularly if there are people enjoying themselves inside. It’s a little slice of life.

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I particularly liked how the lights on buildings across the street reflected in almost all of the window scenes I shot.

There was so much to enjoy, including little details like the lights shining in my friend’s camera lens…

Hope she got the shot with me in the way!

…and the ornaments on the trees lining the streets.

Holiday colors were everywhere.

It was hard to know where to look. So I looked everywhere.

Reflections on the holiday season.

Even the parked cars got in on the show.

Blue reflects blue.

And then, on my drive home I came across a mall with the trees all lit up. Even though it was way past my bedtime and my toes were cold I just had to stop.

Another winter wonderland!

Mesmerizing isn’t it!

Pretty in pink. For at least a mile.

So if you don’t quite have the holiday spirit, stop and peruse these lights of Rochester Michigan. And if you live close enough, visit and walk among the lights yourself.

Sending you holiday greetings.

They’ll be up and shining bright until New Years. Merry Christmas to you all.

Late night pretty.


1 Comment

Thank you

Thank you for all the kind comments, here on the blog, on Facebook and in my email, supporting my effort to raise funds for the Truck Safety Coalition. We really are facing a difficult 2018, in many different ways. But it helps a whole lot to know there are so many caring people standing behind our work.

You won’t know, just as we’ll never know, how many lives are saved because of the work of the Truck Safety Coalition. But I can assure you that every dollar you send us goes to fight the good fight. And somebody, somewhere, will never know they escaped a tragic crash because the truck had a mandated electronic log, or sported a stronger rear guard, or even had a side guard. Maybe the driver wasn’t tired because she was following the hours of service rule. Maybe someday higher minimum liability insurance will cause insurance companies to monitor truck companies and charge higher premiums to those that don’t follow safety standards. Maybe your dollar will help us convince shippers to only use safe carriers. These are all issues we’re working on, issues we wouldn’t be able to tackle without your support.

So thank you again for your support, both financial and emotional. They’re both important as we all travel the roads together in 2018.



Playing with the night

Ok, OK. I’ll show you a couple of my failed night images from last weekend’s trip to Traverse City. My excuses are many, most I blame on the cold wind, rain, and sleet. And fumbling fingers, and bad eyes.

It was a dark and stormy night.

And remember, none of this is the fault of our instructor. She would have gone to the same locations in the same weather and found something much more worthy of your perusal.

The photos here are after I’ve messed with them a bit in Lightroom. I can’t show you the original images because they were shot in RAW and apparently WordPress won’t allow them. They’re probably too big. Or something. Plus when I went back to change the originals into JPEGs in Lightroom they had been replaced with the edited versions and it’s just too much work to go upload the originals and try again. I’ve barely figured out how to get this far.


We started out at the Traverse City marina where the waves were crashing over the end of the pier and the rain was beginning to drive sideways.

That first image up at the top was at the marina. I was pointing at nothing in particular, trying to figure out my camera settings and I accidentally set off the shutter. It turned out very very orange, but the neat thing about shooting in RAW is that when you go to edit it you can change the white balance. So I did. Plus I tweeked a few other things…still, it’s a weird shot and not one I’d normally show you.

The person in the left corner is another of our students, wearing his red headlamp. I liked the reflection in the puddle. That’s about all I liked in this one.

Shortly after that shot I was messing around with the camera, thinking I might get some wave action when a Traverse City Police officer drove up, while my shutter was open, to find out what kind of fool was out in that weather. So this is what I got.

And then there was light.

The original image was completely blown out by white light. So I found it interesting to see that I could push that much light back and still see something. Even though, once again, it wasn’t a shot of anything I really liked.

Still trying to get a shot of the waves crashing over the concrete barrier we tried to use headlights from our own car shining out over the bay.

Caught a little bit of a wave.

It didn’t really work, but still, after editing, it kind of tells you how cold and wet it was that night. The only warmth is the red light shining from my neighbor’s headlamp.

After we gave up on the marina we drove way out to a lighthouse. By the time we got there it was snowing wet sleety flakes. And the wind had picked up.

Oh joy.

It was difficult to face into the wind coming off the lake and take pictures of the lights of Traverse City to the south. So we focused, out of self preservation, on the unlit lighthouse behind us.

Standing in all kinds of weather.

I set the camera up, choosing 28 seconds of exposure, and someone lit the lighthouse up with a pen light for a moment. It’s called light painting. It’s not perfect, and my lens had drops of water on it. But it was fun.

This image doesn’t begin to convey how cold and windy it was out there that night. By the time we headed back to the car we were all soaked through our many layers of clothes.

But my goodness it was fun!

I want to try again some night when it’s not 28 degrees (-2.22 C) with driving snow. Some night when the stars are out and the air is fresh with spring would be good. I’m already scouting out locations.

And I’m beginning to mess around with Lightroom. Between the instruction I received last weekend, and a book I have I’m starting to make sense of it.

My favorite lighthouse

I haven’t found the straightening tool, and I’m having trouble figuring out how to import just one photo instead of the entire folder. And I know there’s oh so much more that I haven’t found yet.

But I’ve started. And that’s the hardest step in any learning process.

It’s a long road.



Just a typical day

Not every day in retirement is an adventure, but the simple days are OK too. This morning Katie and I woke up to another beautiful October day. Blue sky and the moon just going down.

Hello moon!

We wandered a bit around the yard. She likes to check in with her tomato patch, just in case a spare cherry tomato falls off the vine don’t you know.

Guarding her tomatoes from marauding squirrels.

And of course it did.

Then a wander under the white pines at the back of our yard. Such a pretty place that we hardly ever visit, I don’t know why.

Can we camp under here mama?

But she said that really wasn’t enough of a walk, so she arranged to go to the park with her friend Deuce.

They posed under duress.

The mamas felt like a walk in the woods too, so it all worked out.

The light was beautiful!

We even tried to walk on the beach but the sun was getting too hot, and besides, they have this sign there.

They thought this was a silly rule.

Which we ignored.

That sign didn’t me ME, did it mama?

No, not every day has to be an adventure, but when you’re retired adventure can turn up any day!

Hey mama! This leaf is as big as I am!



Katie’s Walktober

Katie here. Mama says she’s going to go on something called a Walktober. I was not exactly sure what that was, but I heard the word “walk” and I wanted to make sure I was included. Because mama should never go on any walk without me!

This is my friend Deuce.

I asked her what a Walktober was and she told me all about Robin’s blog and how everyone was going to take a walk in October and post about it, and then Robin would do a wrap-up post with links to everybody’s walk at the end of the month!

Mama said the dates were originally Oct 1 through Oct 18, but now Robin has extended it to Oct 28!

We don’t sit real close to each other. We each like our personal space.

Mama says she hasn’t decided where she’s going to do her Walktober, but, as usual, I’m way ahead of her. I went on my Walktober last weekend with my friend Deuce and his mom. Oh yea…my mama was there too.

We went to a park I’ve never seen before! Oh my! I do love new places! I guess I get that from mama, who also loves to explore. This new park was in the woods, so there was shade everywhere! And a beautiful river ran right through the middle of it!

Such a beautiful day!

I loved being cool while I explored, and I of course loved being in the woods. There were all these beautiful trees, and lovely new smells.

I’m 10 years old! So nice they have a sign for me!

It wasn’t a very big park, so mama and Deuce’s mom decided we’d just go around on the trail twice. I didn’t even notice. I loved being there. I even jumped a log without touching it. Mama said I looked like I was flying.

I can fly mama!

Then she made me do it two more times because she wanted to get a picture. Figures.

I felt really good on this walk. We walked way over a mile, and I even ran a race with Deuce! He won, but that’s because he’s only 5, just a youngster. And because I let him.

A Princess runs sedately.

You might not know, but this summer has been so hot that I haven’t really wanted to go on very many walks and mama has been sort of worried about me. But she can tell now that it’s getting a little cooler that I’m feeling much more like myself.

She’s really glad.

I want to say thank you to Deuce and his mom for sharing their park with me. It was the perfect park to do my Walktober and now I want to challenge all of you to get out this month and take a walk. Post about it and link to any of Robin’s posts. She’ll collect them all and everyone will get to come along with you on your walk!

I can’t wait to see your Walktober!

Deuce can fly too!