Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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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.

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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.


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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.

Anyway.

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.


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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!


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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!


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Mountains and a wedding

Yesterday afternoon we attended the wedding of friends of ours – a sweet wedding in a beautiful backyard filled with friends and family. It was a good day. And the sun shining over the mountains as we left the party made us smile too.

Beautiful clouds on a beautiful day for a wedding.

Today, the weather guy said we’d have more of the same sunny weather so we drove a portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway, looking for those beautiful blue ridges undulating off into the distance. We started out hopeful. But the higher we got the closer we were to the low hanging clouds.

The valley filled with clouds.

Until we were swallowed up entirely.

The cloud surrounds us.

The overlooks no longer overlooked anything.

What’s out there?

We drove very very slowly, but there was nowhere to go but on. Sometimes, depending on our elevation we’d get lucky and be able to see a mountain far off in the distance.

See Table Rock Mountain way over there?

The sun worked hard to burn away the mist, and eventually we started to see things. Like this orchard down below…

Apples are in season here now.

…and the beginnings of layering mountains showing their true colors.

And that’s why I love them…

We stopped to hike along some trails to a set of waterfalls. This was definitely worth the walk, the climbing up root covered hills…

Twin waterfalls! Aren’t they cute?

and flights of stairs to get higher…

When we were looking at the twin waterfalls we were standing near the top of this bigger fall!

…and higher in order to see some of the wonders that nature has hidden way back in the mountains.

Can you see the people?

We had a great time hiking through the woods, all the way to the very top overlook.

What a great day for a hike!

By the time we got back to the car and out on the Parkway again the sun was making those mountains glow. Just about everywhere we looked was a beautiful view.

I think I should build my house right here.

It was simply amazing.

Abstract art, but real life.

It was like this around every bend in the road. And there are a lot of bends on the Blue Ridge Parkway!

And now the clouds are pretty accents instead of hazardous fog.

Even though it was a very long drive, I didn’t want it to end.

Goldenrod signifies summer’s end, and the end of our mountain adventure. For now.

Sadly we have to move on to the next thing on our agenda.

But wait!

You say you wanted to know more about the wedding? Well, here’s the happy couple, very much in love. And of course they made us all cry when they shared their personal vows with each other. Plus they had really good food at the party after!

Here’s to many happy years together!

Congratulations Jackie and John!!

The cake was yummy too!


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Camping with a friend

HI! Come on and let me show you the way!


Katie is sleeping, still, after two days at home. I’d let her tell the story, but she’s snoring and you know what happens when you wake a sleeping dog. Nothing good.

So let me fill you in on our latest camping adventure. We had company this time, Karen and her cocker spaniel Deuce spent the weekend with us at a state park. Deuce had never camped before so we were all curious how he’d feel about the whole experience.

Katie and Deuce the first day.

Turns out he’s a natural.

NOW WAIT JUST ONE MINUTE MAMA! Katie here! What are you doing? This is my story to tell! I can’t believe you’re doing this while I was laying right next to you, upside down and snoring! You are one sneaky mama!

So anyway…I, Princess Katie, wasn’t sure I wanted to share mama with anyone else so I was skeptical of the whole ‘camping with a friend’ concept. But I figured the only way it was going to work out was if I showed Deuce the ropes. Which mainly revolve around sleeping in the dirt and begging for good treats and going for long walks in the woods.

He caught on right away.

At the end of a long day.

Now, before the love of my life, Reilly Cowspot Dog, gets upset that I had a boy with me for an entire weekend, let me assure you that we had separate tents. Mama and I stayed in our tent and Deuce and his mama had their own. It worked out great.

The blue tent is mine, you can have the red one.

And each day we went on long long walks in the nice cool, green woods. Mama and her friend were very careful to make sure I got lots and rest breaks and drinks of water whenever I asked. Which to be honest was frequently. I wasn’t always thirsty, you know. Mostly I liked to make them stop and look at me.

Taking a break.

But the woods sure was pretty! At the end of this blog I’ll have mama put in a slide show of us exploring. There were so many beautiful places!

Deuce and I got along pretty good. In the beginning we didn’t want to sit too close to each other, but by the end of the weekend we were fine sitting next to each other. We figured it was easier just to do what the moms asked. The sooner they got their stupid pictures the sooner we got our treats. Deuce let me in on that concept, and he’s definitely right.

Isn’t this an amazing spot?

One time we were sitting next to each other and they took their pictures, and then Deuce’s mom said “OK!” and Deuce took off to run to her. Since it wasn’t my mama saying anything I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to move…but I didn’t like that Deuce left without me!

Hey! Wait up!

Mama laughed and said “OK sweetie, you can come too.” I was relieved. I didn’t want to be left behind when there were treats!

Mama took a lot of pictures (so what else is new, right?) and she was messing with her settings in the deep dark woods. A lot of them ended up blurry because Deuce and I just didn’t want to sit still and the light was so low. But this one was blurry because she totally messed up, nothing to do with us at all! She thinks it’s cool though, so humor her, OK?

Look at us! Moving faster than the speed of light!

As long as we got treats we didn’t care if the pictures came out or not.

We sure had a lot of fun! By Sunday afternoon we were dirty and exhausted, true signs of a successful adventure! We were both sorry to see the tent come down, but we think we’ll probably get to go camping together again next summer.

We’re not letting you guys pack up this tent!

Here’s a few more images of us having a grand time in the woods, I hope you enjoy the slide show!

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And really, if you’re a doggie out there reading my blog, ask your folks to take you camping! It’s an amazing experience and one you don’t want to miss!

See you guys later,

Katie, camping tour guide extraordinaire.

Me and my tent.


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No adventure, but fun anyway

Katie here! As you can guess, mama took me camping this week! She was a bit silly in her scheduling as I had a grooming appointment the same day we started camping. So I was nice and pretty, my feet all sparkling white when we arrived at our campsite which had no grass and was entirely dirt.

What a pretty site! And all that shade!!

I was in heaven! All that nice cool dirt to lay in. My mama just sighed. But we got lots of shade which is important on these hot muggy summer days, and we couldn’t see any neighbors at all, so it was pretty perfect.

We had company every evening. One night mama’s friend brought her young dog Tonks to visit us. Tonks had never seen a campsite before but she loved it. We went on a walk and than sat around the campfire. Mama and her friend got to eat s’mores. Tonks wanted one. She wanted one a lot.

Hey! I want that!

Notice I was being good, but let me tell you, if she dropped that treat I’d have been on it! Too bad our mamas knew that we couldn’t have chocolate. Sigh. It’s not fair.

I think she’d like camping!

Tonks was cute, and she settled in after the treats were all done for a nice nap on her mom’s lap. I fell asleep on the ground near my mom. In the dirt. Sometimes a princess just needs to feel the earth, you know?

The next night Tonks’ mom brought out her big sister, Peep. Peep and I have gone on lots of walks together through the woods around here, and she’s visited me at my campground before too. I like her a lot, she’s a good friend; we pretty much ignore each other when we’re together and that works out just fine.

Isn’t she a happy girl? She’s always smiling.

She’s a pretty girl too, just like her baby sister.

On our third evening another friend brought Deuce to enjoy a walk and the campfire. He and I enjoyed a walk through the woods, and then we hung around the campfire while the moms talked.

A couple of friends enjoying the campfire.

Eventually Deuce napped in his very own chair. I personally think mama should bring a chair for me too. I’m the princess you know.

Zzzzzzz….

Anyway…all of us dogs had a very nice time at this campsite. I did spend a lot of time with just my mama, walking on trails and looking at stuff. I made her go on lots of walks.

Come on mama! You’re so slow!!

Lots and lots of walks. Pretty much every time she sat down to read. Cause it’s all about what I want, all the time. Naturally.

I had so much fun in my tent under the big white pines! I wanted to stay there forever!

This is my tent. I share it with mama cause I’m nice like that.

But then one morning mama started moving around faster than normal (she’s pretty much a slug you know) and I asked her what was going on.

What are you DOING mama??

She said we had to pack up and leave! But I didn’t want to go! I decreed we were not leaving. I am the Princess!

I told you NO mama!

But she just kept packing up the car. I tried to stand my ground.

This is MY towel mama, and you’re not taking it!

I told her she could go but I wasn’t going with her. No siree. I was staying in my campsite. Mine. I was sure she’d relent and get my tent put back up.

But then it happened. She packed my blue towel too. And she started to walk away!

Hey mama! Don’t forget to pack me in the car too!

Well, I thought about it for about .00000005 seconds and decided that wherever mama is, well, that’s where I want to be too.

So we drove away and I was feeling sad, but then we got home and I remembered my house, and my daddy was waiting inside and I got all wiggle-butt again and did my happy dance. I guess after all there’s no place like home.

Hurry up mama, we’re HOME!!

But…hey mama! Where are we going next?

Let’s go mama!


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Safety and Sideguards

James Mooney never saw the semi truck backing across the country road in front of him that dark September night in 1983. He hit the side of the trailer and slid under it and out the other side, dying instantly. His daughter, Jennifer Tierney, has worked tirelessly on safety issues in the trucking industry ever since.

Thirty-four years and counting.

Over the years Jennifer has worked on many issues, hours of service, minimum insurance, electronic logging devices, and more. None of these were directly related to her father’s death, but they were the issues that had a chance of getting implemented. So she worked, along with many other volunteers, for the benefit of us all.

And now she has the chance to see progress on the issue most dear to her heart – side guards for semi trucks.

For years she and other Truck Safety Coalition volunteers have been asking for them, for years we’ve been met with blank stares and promises to ‘look into it’ by agencies and Congressional staff alike. But each time we brought it up we introduced the idea and over the years there began to be some interest.

Meanwhile every year more people have died or been injured in similar crashes.

It’s a hard way to effect change, working through the halls of Washington. Sometimes it takes a tragedy to make your point, and unfortunately that happened earlier this month. Four men, in two cars, slid under a jackknifed semi on a dark road this past July 5th. All four died at the scene.

The crash caught the attention of New York Senator Chuck Schumer. We were in his office just days before talking about these very issues. He has now come out and voiced what we’ve been saying for years, that trucks need side, rear, and possibly front guards. That regardless of whose fault the crash is, side guards can save lives, might have save these four men’s lives.

Our hearts go out to the families of these most recent victims. We want them to know we won’t forget their family members, that we will continue the fight to improve safety. We do it in their honor, and in honor of the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people who have died or been injured in underride crashes.

Thank you Senator Schumer for supporting our position. Now please help us move our bill requiring guards forward through Congress. We know it’s an uphill fight but we aren’t going to stop pushing.

All those lost and injured family members demand it of us.


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Baseball, an American pastime and other music

Some of you know that I play in a Community Band. We’re a band made out of people who played in high school, maybe college too, often years, even decades ago. Some of us are retired, most of us are still working, and a few of us are still in school. We have whole families playing together, moms and dads and their kids all come to rehearsals once a week and play music.

That’s my favorite part.

Anyway, our last concert of this season is a week from last night. Like any group we’ve had our good and bad rehearsals, scheduling conflicts, missing music, lack of instrumentation. But we’ve overcome all of that, and with one last rehearsal next week we’ll be ready.

Which is good, because we’re playing Pastime, a Saute to Baseball by Jack Stamp. Give it a listen. At about two minutes you’ll hear the most difficult part, the fugue where the band is split up among several lines and if you’re not careful chaos reigns. Don’t worry, it all comes back together just before two and a half minutes. Still, the whole thing requires concentration and counting. There’s no guessing when to come in on this one.

So I’m practicing. Between now and next Wednesday I think I need to practice every night.

It turns out Pastime isn’t the only difficult piece. We’re also doing Sun Dance by Frank Ticheli. (You can skip the ad after a couple seconds. This is performed by Michigan State University, my undergrad alma mater, so I couldn’t resist. Plus they sound amazing!) It’s turning into a bit of a challenge too. I don’t understand why composers can’t keep the same time signature (the number of beats in a measure) for an entire piece. This is another one that requires concentration and counting. Listen, I think you’ll enjoy it!

But why is everything just so darn fast?

Wish us luck. I think it’s a cool thing, to play with other musicians from all sorts of backgrounds, to not give up our instruments when we graduate from school. If you used to play and haven’t touched your instrument for a few (or a lot) of years, think about joining a community band near you. Many of them don’t require auditions to join.

And don’t be nervous. OK, you’re going to be a little nervous on the first couple of nights. We all were. But you’ll find the other musicians are just happy to have you. We’re always looking for more people.

Trust me. What your brain has forgotten your fingers remember. It will all come back. Promise.

If you didn’t play, consider attending a community band concert. We’re always looking for audience members too. Mostly we ask our friends and families to attend, but it would be fun to look out and see a full house. Music always sounds better when the venue is packed. I bet you even know some of the people playing, and they’d be delighted to see you out there providing support. It’s a community thing, and we certainly could use a little community building these days.

Thanks for listening.