Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Nothing to see here

What to say, what to say. There’s nothing happening around here, yet I feel a need to share photos with you. Photos of regular life in summer here in Michigan.

Little League at Katie’s park under a summer sky.

The grass is growing, the birds are sucking down food from the feeders, trees are fully leafed out and the afternoon skies are often filled with clouds.

It’s been pretty amazing.

Though we’ve seen lots of storm clouds we’re really short on rain. The yard is already turning brown. Watering the gardens will soon be a daily if not twice a day ritual. We’re not even to July yet.

No rain in these clouds.

It’s finally warm enough at night to camp and Katie and I have been on one adventure, but plan on scheduling a few more before the leaves start to turn. It’s still an adventure if it’s scheduled – right?

Hey mama! No rainfly!

For now we’re enjoying the air conditioning and watching the oriole feeder right up next to the window. Lots of things besides orioles visit.

Got any more oranges lady?

They all apparently watch for me to fill the feeder and then rush in to get their share. Or more than their share, depending on their size and boldness.

There you go Mr. Woodpecker!

The flowers have been beautiful so far this season. But now we’re moving into the dry heat of summer so we’ll see. A lot will depend on our watering habits.

Lantana smiles every day.

Really, so little to say, so much to show you. Guess I need to take you on a more formal walk sometime. Lots of beautiful places to go; what would be your choice? A lake? A woodsy park? The back yard? A bike path?

Wonder where that path goes?

All good choices, but each will require me to leave my comfy chair. And I can’t do any of them until I get some weeding done.

Still weeding is better than working a job…so I can’t complain.

Katie can, and does, but it’s all in fun.

Hey mama!


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Shelties know how to paw-tee!!

Paw-TEE!

Katie here. I’ve had to bug and bug and bug mama to let me tell you about the Sheltie get together held over at one of my parks. Mama says there are more important things to write about and it’s not my blog, but as we all know there is nothing more important than me, and of course this is my blog!

Mama is getting old and a bit senile if you ask me.

Anyway. Last Sunday was the 2nd annual Sheltie Meet and Greet. Maybe you were even there! If I didn’t get to meet you I’m sorry. I did stay a little stand offish; being a princess and all I let people stop by to meet me! I didn’t do too much mixing and mingling because it was very hot and mama knows I can get a bit cranky when I’m hot. And I don’t allow any butt sniffing either. No way. A princess does not tolerate that at all and I tend to snap at any doggie that tries. So mama didn’t let most dogs get too close.

Lots of sniffing going on. I did not partake.

Mama said the party was all about the people getting to see all the gorgeous dogs and less about us dogs getting to meet and play. I think she’s delusional.

A special sheltie.

My goodness there were a lot of beautiful dogs! Ninety shelties said they’d be there and bring their people. We didn’t count, but there sure were a lot!

There was plenty of ear skritching…

That’s the spot!

…and tummy tickling.

Don’t stop!

I got to visit for a few minutes with Cookie and Zohan and their folks. We met them at last year’s sheltie party. They were just as calm and collected as I remembered, hanging out with their parents in the shade.

Going with the flow, hanging out with mom and dad.

And I met a new friend named Blue and his mom. He was calm too and we liked hanging out together.

Hey! Got anything to eat?

But you know what I did? (Seems like I always do something at these things that embarrasses mama.) Blue’s mom got him a piece of doggie cake, and when she put his plate on the ground he was sort of sniffing it and nibbled off a little piece, just testing you know? And I swooped in and grabbed the whole piece and gulped it down!

I’m sorry Blue. I shouldn’t have eaten your cake.

All I left him were a few crumb! Mama was mortified. I was lucky Blue didn’t bite my nose off, but all he did was calmly lick up the crumbs. He even stayed my friend. Mama says I should apologize right now, so I will. But geeze mama, why didn’t you just go and get him another piece! No excuses that it didn’t occur to you, mama. As I said, you’re starting to get senile.

Blue was a gentleman, and even after I stole his cake we were able to settle down together and watch all the other shelties. It’s a comfortable friendship.

Hanging out together.

I had a good time, other than when we all marched up to a hill to get a group picture. It was so hot I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to sit in the sun. I didn’t want to be next to a whole lot of other shelties and people I didn’t know.

See me sitting by myself over there toward the left? Mama was taking a picture!!

Mama didn’t make me sit there very long. We got up and walked back down the hill, I went to sit under a picnic table in the shade and mama took more pictures. I’m a good girl and sat patiently under that table while she tried to get the whole group in one shot.

Only part of the group.

It was impossible. There were just way too many people and beautiful dogs. Shelties of every size and color…

Big and little, sable and blue and tri and more.

…every face was beautiful…

Such a sweet face.

…every dog was adorable…

Want to play?

…and lots of fun was had by all.

Can’t stop grinning!

I didn’t play at all, and only interacted with a couple dogs, but I enjoyed watching the rest of them greet each other….

Emily Ann, the rock star, meets Harvey one of the greeters.

….and play with each other…

Attack!!!!

…still, I had a good time. I want to thank the organizers and hosts, Linda and Ty, and anybody else that had a hand (or paw) in putting this together. I know it was a lot of work and I appreciate you giving me a chance to take my mama to my park and hang out with so many other nice dogs and people!

Look at all these shelties mama!

Mama is always coming up with something new to do and I appreciate her effort. But I think our next adventure should include air conditioning. Can you work on that mama?

I’ll go take a nap now in preparation.

Love ya mama!


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Music to smile about

We made a big sound. It was wonderful.

So. You’ve all probably been wondering how the concert went. Last week I wrote about practicing for it, my worry about a couple of the pieces. Maybe you worried that because I hadn’t written it hadn’t been successful. But that would not be true. The truth is this has been an amazingly busy week for me, something major going on every single day, and I just haven’t had time to tell you all about it.

Katie, of course, got to tell you about our trip up to Midland for her Rally trial on Friday. She’s not particularly patient and wouldn’t wait in line for her turn at the blog. What can I say. She’s a princess.

But now that it’s taken me days to write about Wednesday’s concert I can include the other concert we did on Saturday too. Each was a totally different experience, but both were fun.

I was nervous about Wednesday’s concert, not sure about the piece Pastime, a Salute to Baseball by Jack Stamp. I was worried about a few measures in other pieces too. But I’d practiced, so I figured I was as prepared as I could be. And of course nothing sounds exactly the same when you’re playing on an unfamiliar stage. Turns out I shouldn’t have worried, the music was played as well as we’ve ever played it. And Pastime went a lot better than I expected it to go; we even all ended at the same time, a good goal to have in any complicated piece of music.

I don’t know why I don’t learn this lesson. We can have a tough rehearsal and still pull off a good performance. Most of the time anyway. I think the audience enjoyed the concert and we had fun playing it. I went home humming the music while being glad another event was checked off my to do list.

Saturday morning a subset of the band played in a local farmer’s market. We played a bunch of patriotic music, some showtunes, and a few pieces from our Wednesday night concert. It was a blast. No matter that a heat wave struck that day and we were playing in full sun while seated in a parking lot. No matter that we played for almost three hours. We played fun stuff and pretty stuff. Stuff that made shoppers stop and smile and ask about who we were. Maybe we recruited a few people for next season, I hope so!

That’s me over on the far left in the big hat.

Thursday, while I was having a cracked tooth repaired, my dentist mentioned his wife used to play flute and she wanted to get back at it. Through gauze and novocaine I encouraged him to tell her about a community band I used to play with near his home, one that didn’t require auditions and was welcoming to new members. I hope she checks them out. I can’t say it enough. If you used to play and you miss it, quit making excuses. Dust off the instrument and go find a group. You won’t regret it.

On Saturday we got copies of the concert CD from Wednesday’s performance. I played it on the way home from the farmer’s market and guess what. I didn’t hate the baseball piece.

Actually it kind of made me smile.

A one and a two…


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A title earns a retirement!

Katie here.

Today was a big day; I earned my Rally Excellent title! For you guys that don’t compete with your dog and maybe don’t know what Rally is, let me tell you, it’s all about the mama. There’s this big ring, see, and in the ring are all these numbered stations with signs about what mama is supposed to do at each place. I’m just supposed to follow along and do what I’m told. I’m very good at that. Mostly.

This is at my school! It shows what a sign looks like. Mama is supposed to follow the directions.

You have to have three qualifying runs to get your title, and I’ve had two of the three since December of last year. I don’t know why mama waited all this time to get me entered for my third leg. Oh wait. Mama reminds me that she took me on an awesome vacation down to Florida and Alabama and Tennessee and North Carolina last winter. Right. So maybe she has an excuse for procrastinating.

Anyway, this morning when I got mama up at 4 a.m. she didn’t seem to be as ticked off as usual. Just as tired, but not as irritated. Then about 6:30 she started putting stuff in the car. I asked if I could go and she laughed and said “Of course baby! It’s all about YOU!” So we drove and drove and drove for a thousand million hours. Oh. Mama says I’m always exaggerating. It was only ninety minutes. We got to the venue with an hour to spare which is how I like it. That way I get to sniff around and get comfortable. I work better that way.

But it was still hard for me. It was in a big barn at a fairground. And there were noisy trucks outside that I didn’t like. I wanted to wander over to the people at the table too…I figured they’d have good stuff there, but mama called me back and I trotted right over to her. Then I figured out we were supposed to be working, so I paid attention to my mama.

Which was my mistake. Because apparently mama can’t actually read the signs. So we did a couple of things wrong, and I got marked off. I don’t think that’s fair, do you? Mama messes up and I get marked down? Whatever. The good news is we still got enough points to qualify for a leg, and since it was my third leg I got my Rally Excellent title! And a purple ribbon!

This is my title ribbon!

Isn’t it beautiful? The ribbon…the ribbon is beautiful. I know I’m beautiful, but you’re supposed to be focused on the ribbon.

I was pretty excited when I figured out I got my title!

Mama had signed us up for two runs, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. But since we got the title on our first try we stuck around only long enough to watch our friend Peep do a run, and then we left. Mama said she was going to take me to a park. She knew I’d rather be walking in a park than sitting in my crate until the middle of the afternoon. We drove and drove and mama found a park, but when we got to the gate the sign said “NO PETS!” Really? What kind of a park doesn’t allow pets?

Mama was ticked because we’d been following signs for the park for a long time, driving over dirt roads way out into the country. But she got a photo of a cool barn, so she says it was worth it.

A double barn!

Then she found a parking lot on the rails to trails path so we got out and walked a little bit. There wasn’t very much shade though so we didn’t stay long.

This is a boring path mama!

She sneezed and I barked and barked at her. I don’t like it when people sneeze, she should know better.

No sneezing allowed mama!

Anyway, I had a pretty good day. Some of it was boring, and we didn’t get to explore anywhere very exciting. I think mama would rather take me camping than to another trial. She says this was my last title so I don’t have to go in a ring anymore unless that’s what I want to do.

Gee, I don’t know mama. Retirement sounds nice, but I did sort of really love that nosework class last year…

I’m FINISHED with Rally!


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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.


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My drive home – a study in green (plus a few other colors)

Click on any photo and you’ll be able to scroll through larger versions of all the images above.

I stopped at a few places on the way home. What would have been a five hour drive turned into nine. And I got rained on. A lot. Still, it was so much fun.

I have lots of other things to show you, but they weren’t necessarily dominated by green…so they didn’t fit here. I suppose that will mean a post with random photos coming soon.

On the other hand, Katie-girl has much to say and you know how hard it is to silence a princess.