Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.



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.



Christmas music magic

The holidays are long gone, people are taking down lights and trees, putting away ornaments and tinsel and prized family heirlooms. Our community band’s holiday concert was way back on December 20th, barely a memory now. Up here in Michigan we’re hunkering down for the long cold winter, with not a lot to lighten the mood.

Unless you’re me.

You see, Tuesday evening the band’s sound engineer gave me my copy of the CD recorded at that Christmas concert. And today as I ran errands I listened to the music for the first time. Magic. This afternoon I drove much further and longer than I needed to in order to listen to the entire concert.


And I’m still smiling

So thank you to the Clarkston Community Band for making such beautiful music, and thanks to Marshall for making CDs for us. And thanks to Shelley for choosing the program and directing it, and for inspiring us to do the very best we can.

This winter, if I need a pick-me-up, I know just what to do. I’ll put that Christmas CD in the player and take myself for a long ride.

May the spirit of Christmas keep you warm and happy until the spring sun comes back this way to brighten your days!


Practicing on the lake

The lakes expands up over the beach.

I’m sitting in a warm living room, way up north, on the shores of Lake Michigan. I’m devoting Christmas Day to reading and napping and occasionally running down the forty-something steps in an attempt to capture the magnificent lake in all it’s windy, turquoise and frothy white splendor.

The colors are wonderful. In between bands of snow I try to capture the sound of the roar and sight of the tossing waves and the feel of ice pelting my face.

The sun came out for a brief moment.

I only take a few shots before my fingers are too cold to work and my ears feel like they might fall off. Still, it’s enough to use in my processing practice.

I’m still learning. But truly the lake really is this magnificent turquoise color, and the clouds really were navy.

The waves are bigger than they look.

Since this morning the snow has moved in and though the lake is still it’s beautiful greenish blue, the sky has turned an uninteresting shade of slate grey. They say it’s 9 degrees (-12.77 C) here, and that’s not accounting for the wind chill.

The wind is roaring in off the lake, the sound is deafening outside and noticeable even sitting on the sofa, the huge waves pounding the shore are mesmerizing. I’m glad I’m inside and I doubt I’ll be out again any time soon. So I’ll sit and listen to holiday music while figuring out more about Lightroom.

Standing above the lake on a dune.

I’m so glad I have such an alive subject to use in my practice!

Wind, water and snowy sand.



Merry Christmas!

Katie here! Mama appointed me the official Holiday Greeter and I’m here to say MERRY CHRISTMAS to everyone!

And here’s hoping we all have a wonderful New Year!



Let the music carry you

I’ve had a cold for the past week and been feeling pretty miserable, blowing my nose and having coughing fits during the most inopportune times. At this Tuesday’s dress rehearsal for our Community Band’s Christmas concert I had to rush out of the band room to hack my lungs out in the girls’ bathroom down the hall.

I was worried something similar would happen during our concert last night.

The program started out with a local big band group, the Stardusters, playing swing, rock and jazz. Community Band members sat in the audience enjoying their performance.

I sat out there plotting my exit just in case I needed to run. How many seats between me and the aisle? And once we were on stage, just where would I run to get as far as possible from the music before I began to cough? I imagined a disaster, the band playing a particularly quiet, delicate part of the music and me hacking, with tears running down my face as I tripped over my chair leg in a futile attempt to get backstage.

I am happy to say it didn’t happen.

Though there were moments during our performance where I felt the familiar tickle in the back of my throat I was able to control it with water. And I remembered not to breath in too deep so as not to trigger the really bad coughing.

Plus I have to say that music is magic. When you’re feeling sad or lonely or just plain crummy listen to a little music and you’re likely to feel a lot better.

And it doesn’t hurt to have Santa visit either.

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you are all healthy and happy and full of the Christmas spirit! And if you’re not quite up to par…well…go find some holiday music. It can heal what ails you.



All I want for Christmas – ELDs

Dad and his camper parked among commercial trucks ten years before he was killed.

My dad was killed by a tired commercial truck driver early on the morning of December 23, 2004. Dad was driving to the Atlanta airport to catch a flight north for Christmas. The driver of the semi, who didn’t see all the lanes of traffic stopped up ahead of him, had been driving all night in an attempt to get a shipment of electronics to an Atlanta retailer in time for Christmas sales.

Back in those days commercial drivers recorded the hours they drove in paper logs; safety advocates sometimes called these logs comic books because of the amount of made up information that got recorded. Truck drivers are paid by the mile, not by the hour, so it benefited them financially to drive further and faster, maybe even further and faster than was legal.

So after dad was killed, and I began to learn more about what happened, I began to work toward mandated electronic logging devices, ELDs. Last Monday, December 18, 2017, thirteen years after dad died, my wish came true. Trucks are now required to have electronic logging devices, and though some truckers are still opposed to what they consider is a infringement on their right to privacy, or their right to make a living, and though I’m sure there will be some unintended consequences, I’m happy.

As far as I’m concerned this was a very big, very important, Christmas present to the families of people killed and injured by tired truckers across the country. And, if they’re honest, perhaps it’s a gift to the drivers too, because it will be harder for an employer to push a driver past legal limits now that everything is monitored by ELDs.

ELDs might have happened without the Truck Safety Coalition and our volunteers pushing legislators for years. The American Trucking Association (ATA) which represents big truck companies wanted them too, so for once we were on the same side of an argument. But I have to think it was stories of regular people like us that helped tip the balance and get this technology mandated. So to all of you out there that have supported our work, for this gift of safety that begins this holiday season, I say thank you.

I think I’ll consider the ELD mandate as a personal Christmas present sent straight from dad.



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.



Giving Tuesday

In between the gratitude of Thanksgiving and the joyous giving of Christmas there is something called Giving Tuesday. It’s not as old a tradition as either of the two bigger holidays, but it’s intent is just as important to thousands of nonprofit groups around the world.

This year it’s tomorrow.

And, as some of you know, I’ve been volunteering with an organization called the Truck Safety Organization for almost 13 years, ever since dad was killed by a tired trucker in December of 2004.

Dad and me. We were both so young!

This year I’m fundraising for them. 2018 looks pretty challenging for us financially as well as legislatively. We’re spread very thin as we try to make the roads safer for everyone, including those driving trucks.

The Truck Safety Coalition is made up of two groups; Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT) and Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH). If one group resonates more for you than the other, you can donate just to that one. Or you can donate to the Truck Safety Coalition and the money will be split between them.

So if you have a little bit to spare after your Black Friday and Cyber Monday stop by our website. There’s a Paypal button you can use. Or of course you can write a check. The address is 3100 Clarendon Blvd Suite #200, Arlington, VA 22201

And if you don’t get it done tomorrow on the official day…well…I’m OK with donations the rest of the week, and the rest of the year too.

A Christmas past. When we were all together.

This year we had 65 people attend our Sorrow to Strength conference, many of them new families. I can personally testify that grieving people need to spend time and talk and receive advice from other people who have been in their position. We’re the only group that provides that service and we want to be able to help more families next year. Because sadly there will be more families next year. It’s inevitable and we need to be there for them.

Every little bit helps, don’t think that your donation won’t make a difference. And either in the note section of Paypal or the memo line when writing a check, please note “Bill Badger” so they know your donation is in honor of my dad. That way I’ll know to say thank you for your help.

We all drive on our roads along side big trucks. Most of us have just been lucky not to be touched by tragedy. Help us help those families who haven’t been so lucky.

And thank you for listening to me when I get on my soapbox about trucks and legislation and technology and above all hope.

I miss you dad. Every single day.

Reading the Sunday comics after church.



Happy Thanksgiving

From our house to yours.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!



Seriously it’s already Christmas

I’m headed up north soon to attend a photography workshop. To say I’m excited would be an understatement. It’s up north. And photography. What’s not to love?

So, anyway, I went shopping today for a couple of things. Waterproof boots, mittens, warm socks. Things every up north photographer should already have to shoot outside in the winter at night. I guess it’s not officially winter yet, but it will feel like it when I’m north of here, especially in the dark.

It feels like it at the mall too. I don’t do a lot of shopping and haven’t been out to a store aside from the grocery store in weeks. It was something of a shock to my system. Christmas music is blaring from the speakers, the store windows are decorated. Santa is already sitting on his big throne and there’s a line of little kids and parents waiting.

The few stores that were empty last time I was there are filled with seasonal merchandise now. There’s even a gift wrapping store. Complete with holiday paper and bows and people eager to make your gift festive.

The whole thing was sort of overwhelming. But I left with my purchases, one pair of socks and some mittens, whistling Christmas music. And I turned to the ‘all Christmas music’ station on the car radio for the drive home.

Guess it tis the season whether we’re ready or not.

PS: No laptop yet, and my photos are held hostage on an external drive that I suppose I could learn how to use. OR – you could use your imagination and visualize Santa and kids and decorations and music. Whatever you come up with will be perfect. I have faith in you.