Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Dear Dad

Dear Dad,

I’m looking at all the tributes to dads on this Father’s Day. They’re all over Facebook; lots and lots of pretty terrific dads out there. Of course you probably don’t know what Facebook is, I don’t think it was a thing back when you were on the computer. But I think you would have enjoyed it, kept in touch with a lot of your forward thinking friends. And your kids of course.

Speaking of which, we’re all doing pretty good lately. A couple of them are coming up to visit me next week, and I’ll be going south next month. Hopefully we’ll all be together at your lake house for at least a few days. I know you like it when we’re all there, just like the old days. I think the house likes it too.

And you should see our house and garden now. The remodeling is finally finished, you didn’t get to see the fireplace or the built-ins. The kitchen that was so new when you were here last is probably outdated now. I watch those television shows and wonder what a buyer would say when they walked in here. It’s certainly not a gut job, but it’s not white either. Buyers are so fickle! You’d laugh at the thought of someone ripping out perfectly good stuff and starting over because it wasn’t their taste. I think the same way, probably got it from you.

The kousa dogwood tree out front that you helped plant so many years ago is beautiful this year. It’s such a delicate pink and cream. And so many blossoms. I guess that’s because we had a warm winter. Or a wet spring. Or maybe both. You and mom would love it.

You’d both love the birds here too. You should see the huge woodpecker on the oriole feeder right now, stealing all the oranges I just put out. He’s really pretty. So are the orioles, of course, who often share the feeder with other hungry birds. Sometimes I go out to Kensington, one of your favorite parks, and let the birds land on my hand. I often think about how you would enjoy doing that. Mom too.

Hey! Have you noticed that Katie and I camped a lot last summer? We’re planning on doing some this summer too. Can’t believe it’s already the middle of June. I guess if we’re going we should get to it. Katie says she’s glad you taught me all about camping, because she just loves to be out there in the woods, and she sure loves sleeping in her tent. Remember the old heavy green army tent the whole family used to sleep in? Well, tents today are a lot different! And they don’t smell so much either, which is a good thing.

Speaking of Katie, you didn’t get to meet her. You remember Bonnie, right? The sheltie-girl without the tail? Well, Katie is sort of like her but on steroids. She’s wound like a top, and definitely over the top, but I bet you’d enjoy her antics.

And did you see that your third child has grandchildren now? You would have loved these little kids, they’re so cute! And fun in small doses, you know? You could have played with them on weekends and then enjoyed the peace of the lake after they went back home. I’m sorry you didn’t get to experience that. But I figure you’re smiling now anyway.

There’s not a lot of news, dad. We’re all doing fine, partly because of the way you and mom raised us. We’re thankful for what we have, but we sure do miss the two of you.

I was thinking about what picture of you to use for this Father’s Day post, realizing that I don’t have any recent ones, that there won’t be any new photos ever again and that made me sad. So I guess I’ll just use a few of those I’ve already posted, sort of a celebration of your life.

But gee, I wish I could take a photo with you today.


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Memorial Day – don’t forget the dogs who served

The War Dog Memorial

Katie here.

You probably expect me to spend this post complaining about how mama abandoned me to go hang out with a cat! And I would, but I have more important things to talk about.

Happy Memorial Day!

Like dogs.

Especially dogs that served our country, some even our local communities, and are buried and honored at a very special War Dogs Memorial Cemetery.

Since today is Memorial Day my Aunt Karen, her dog Deuce, and mama and I went out to visit it this morning. (Aunt Karen provided my patriotic attire.) It was pretty amazing.

More than 400 dogs!

I felt very honored and almost overwhelmed to be visiting these amazing dogs and paying my respects. Deuce says he felt the same way. These were very special dogs, loved beyond measure, who worked hard at their jobs and who are honored here in this beautiful place not too far from where I live.

Deuce paying his respects.

We spent a long time walking around, reading stones and thinking about these heroes.

Only 2 years old when he died in 1931.

If you are ever near South Lyon Michigan you should stop by. I guarantee you’ll have a better appreciation for all the work these dogs did while they were alive.

Eleven tours of duty!

And then, if you’re lucky enough to have a Prince or Princess at home, give them an extra dog biscuit today. On me.

Deuce stops to visit Cody, a therapy dog just like him.

Talk to you all later…it’s a holiday and that calls for a nap!

We thank them all for their service.


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Mom and her birds

On this Mother’s Day I’m reminded how much my mom loved birds. She kept a life list of birds she’d seen, and they figured prominently in her descriptions of travel around the world.

A busy morning at the feeders.

In the last week, here in Michigan, the summer birds are arriving. I have photos of some of them, taken in bad light, through a dirty window.

Still, I know if she had been here she’d have been just as thrilled as I am to see them return.

Mr. Oriole is a very nervous eater, twisting his head this way and that to see what we’re doing inside.

Whatcha looking at lady?

But he’s also a pig and can’t resist stopping for another bit to eat. Frequently.

Yum!

Mrs. Oriole is a frequent visitor too, a bit less nervous, but just as hungry.

Good morning lady!

Yesterday I saw the season’s first male rose breasted grosbeak. This morning he hung out at the feeder for a long time, not afraid at all even when my camera lens hit the dirty window separating us.

Don’t bother me, I’m eating!

And last night, with camera focused on the feeder, we had another visitor to our yard.

Backyard streaker!

Mom would have gotten a kick out of that too.

So…though I don’t have a recent picture of her, I still think of mom every day, especially as I share with her the wonders of my backyard.

Just like she shared with me her love of everything wild and beautiful.

Happy Mother’s Day mom. We miss you.

Another mom hanging out in my backyard.


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A New Year Begins

It’s 4:30 a.m. and Katie the dog wants to go out. Just like every morning, her timing is meticulously accurate. I shake the sleep from my eyes as she shakes the tags on her collar and together we stumble to the front door where she prances impatiently as I don shoes and coat and gloves.

And then we step out into the blackness that is early morning.

Deep silence surrounds us. No cars out on the freeway, no stirring in the neighborhood. Only the far away wail of a train intrudes on the thick blanket of quiet. I whisper to her, unwilling to pierce the silence myself, to find a good spot as we wander the yard.

Almost directly overhead is the big dipper, sitting upside down, spilling good wishes down upon us. Orion’s belt has long since gone to bed. “Hi Dad,” I whisper. “Here’s to a New Year. Another one starting without you and mom.”

And then I pause, a bit of happiness floating from me up to him. “Well, not really without you…I feel you right here. See you tomorrow morning…say hi to Mom”

Katie and I head silently back to the house. At the front porch she stands on her back legs asking to be picked up. I do, picking up her awkwardly lopsided bobble-headed cone encased self and give her a tight hug and a kiss.

“Happy New Year baby-girl, Happy New Year.”

Happy New Year mama!

Happy New Year mama!


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12 years ago today.

Dad's favorite place to be was on a boat.

Dad’s favorite place to be — on a boat.

I wasn’t going to write about this. That today is another anniversary of the semitruck crash that took our remaining parent.

Big brother

Big brother

But today I seem to be blocked and unable to write about anything else.

One of my favorite of his childhood pictures.

One of my favorites of his childhood pictures.

And so I will mark the day so that I can move forward. Not move on, because that implies that I leave him behind, but forward.

Young man growing up to be a dad.

Young man growing up to be a dad.

Today I am moving forward with him, and mom, always with me.

Merry Christmas you two.

Merry Christmas you two.


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Beating back the cold

I don’t always get sick after I fly, but if I do get sick it’s almost always after I fly. So I shouldn’t have been surprised when my throat began to get sore and I started to cough on Sunday afternoon, six days after landing back in Detroit.

It’s a bad week for me to be sick. Katie isn’t happy about it either. As I cough she barks. As I gasp for breath, tears running down my face, she barks harder.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Emphasis on blue

The community band Christmas concert is tonight, we had our dress rehearsal last night. This Friday Katie and I have her first Rally trial after an absence of four years. We had our last doggie school prior to the trial this morning.

Sunday night, and most of Monday I considered cancelling all these events. No one wants someone sitting near them hacking her lungs out. Plus my head hurts and my eyes hurt, and my ribs hurt.

But I’m the librarian at the band, and I needed to organize music, so I went to rehearsal figuring I’d leave early. And a funny thing happened as I began to play. The tickle in my throat receded. The coughing subsided. The music poured over me like a salve, the music beating the cold back into the recesses of my memory. For a couple hours last night I felt pretty close to good.

That’s what music can do.

White holiday lights

White holiday lights

Today I’m drinking a ton of water, sucking down cough drops like candy, heating tea, taking cough medicine, and napping. Katie and I fit an abbreviated doggie school into our morning, but mostly I’m saving my strength for tonight’s concert.

Holiday tree

Holiday tree

I’m not foolish, I’ll have cough drops in my pocket and a bottle of water by my chair, but I’m thinking I’ll get through tonight just fine.

And our Rally trial in a couple of days? Well, Katie says she’s ready, and if I can get my head straight we might get a leg toward her title. If not, she’ll probably forgive me.

After all, her mama is beating back a cold.

Dripping lights

Dripping lights


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Happy Thanksgiving!

Katie here. I’d like to take this opportunity while my mama is away to thank all of you for reading my blog. Well, it’s actually her blog, but I know for sure that your favorite posts are mine!

She and I have loved meeting so many of you in person, and we hope to meet even more of you someday soon! In the meantime I hope you have a wonderful day and a fantastic weekend with family and friends.

Thank you everybody!!

Thank you everybody!!

Mama will be home soon. I’m pretty sure she won’t be mad that I hijacked her blog cause I did it just to say thank you to all our readers!

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!


And how can she ever be mad at me? I’m just so darn cute!

Anyway…Mama and I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

Hope she brings me some turkey!

Hope she brings me some turkey!