Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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“I want your smile”

I think this morning, the Sunday morning after Charlottesville, we could all use a smile. Not to trivialize what happened there, what is happening in smaller and less splashy incidents all over our country, but to give our broken hearts a tiny bit of relief.

The sun always rises.

There’s this guy named Trent who writes a blog and weekly asks us to tell him what made us smile during the previous week. I haven’t followed him long, or even regularly, but I happened to read him this morning and knew that I wanted to share the things that made me smile this week.

I wasn’t on an adventure, not camping with Katie-girl, or off exploring by myself. I spent this week at home with the camera, just shooting regular stuff — the things we all see but rarely stop to really look at. Like things in my garden, during this end of summer time when the gardens always look their best even though they’re becoming a bit frayed around the edges.

A pop of color.

And it rained a lot this week, as happens on late summer afternoons. Gushing downpours that wash away the humidity for a bit.

It’s a monsoon!

I stood on my front porch and shot the rain hitting the driveway. Sometimes it seemed as though the drops were creating tiny little fireworks, as if they were celebrating summer.

Celabrate!

After the rain I took Katie-girl to her park. The temperature had dipped down into the high 60s (15.5c) cool enough for a sheltie to enjoy a summer walk. We were surprised mid-walk by another thunder storm.

The light before the storm.

The wind blew and the rain drove down in sheets. We got wet, though the camera was safe inside my pack. Katie and I both smiled.

And of course I’m totally smiling over the fact the orioles are still visiting my feeder. Sometimes they get confused as to which feeder, but they’re still visiting.

Wrong cafeteria, girl!

I expect them to leave for the season any time now. I’ll miss them all. This morning there were two males and at least four females all vying for the feeder. I think that signals that they’re getting ready to head out for their winter home.

Gotta get my share before all those girls come back!

And last night I went out into the backyard after midnight to look for meteorites. Here in Michigan it’s supposed to be the best time to see them, and I did see one which was amazing. And no, that’s not the it, that’s a plane. The meteorite was much much brighter. Still I thought this was a cool shot.

All kinds of light last night.

Our backyard is too full of light, mostly from the neighbors huge yellow light over his garage, to really get great pictures of the night sky, but I had fun messing around with the camera anyway.

Starry starry night…

So these are some of the things that made me smile this week. What about you? What did you smile about? Care to share? Just link to Trent’s blog, we all need another smile!

She always makes me smile!


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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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Bird encounters of the close kind

Out at my favorite park on a whim, no birdseed in my pockets, I wander the perimeter of the swampy lake on a hot humid August evening. Every time I stop to watch something a flurry of small birds hovers around my head hoping for handouts. Sorry, I’ve got nothing on me little guys!

Soon I come across this guy standing near the boardwalk.

Are you looking at ME?!

There had been a thunderstorm just before I arrived, and this great blue heron was preening and rearranging his feathers. Probably watching the shallows for dinner too.

He didn’t like that I was walking so close, even though I was moving quietly. I knew he would be rising up in flight at any moment so I set my camera on sport the better to take a series of shots in a hurry.

Ready for takeoff!

Still I couldn’t keep him in the frame, and he’s hard to see against the waterlily filled background.

I’m outta here lady!

He flew over to the island filled with the rookery where he probably was born. He was not a happy camper, squawking all the way.

Can’t get a moments peace around here.

I continued on my way, up a path on the far side of the lake. There’s a bench out there with a view of the rookery. I thought I’d sit a bit and see what happened next.

Sitting on the little wooden bench about 5 feet from the shore, out on a little point of land, I was focused on these two egrets fishing for their supper…

Fresh sushi hiding under those lily pads!

…when suddenly I realized there were two sandhill cranes just to the left of the egrets. And before I could fully register that thought they both lifted up and flew. Right at me.

Not a great shot, but they surprised me!

I kept shooting, but it was hard to see them against the busy backdrop of the lily pads on the lake.

Can you see them?

And they kept flying right for me, landing on the shore in front of me!

Incoming!

I sat still on the bench, my camera clicking away. Both of them started up the bank toward me, moving at a good clip.

Well, hi there!

The second one stopped for a minute to shake like a dog. Guess he or she had a wet landing.

Getting the feathers straightened out.

Meanwhile the one in the lead was walking right past me, close enough I could have reached out and touched it.

Didn’t pause or even look at me.

But I didn’t. He or she was on a mission – both were focused on where they wanted to go. I kept shooting images as they walked past me and on up the path.

Hurry up! The dinner buffet is over there!

They settled in not far away, both of them pulling something off of bushes along the path.

Nom, nom, nom…

I sat quietly watching them stretch their necks up to eat. They moved to the other side of the path and continued eating.

Let’s check over here.

It was just the three of us out there on that point of land enjoying the dinner hour. They didn’t care one bit that I was there, and I enjoyed watching them forage.

And then? Well, then my memory card filled up.

So I quietly walked away while they were still eating. I was smiling. How lucky was I to be sitting there when they decided to drop in for supper.

It was just a whim to visit the park after looking for barns and clouds. It was just a whim to walk along the rookery, to walk out to that spit of land, to sit on that bench for a bit.

Wow. Sometimes it really does pay to follow your heart.

Amazing.


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Hilltop summer afternoon

Katie here.

Pretty flowers mama. Now can I have a treat?

I don’t suppose it actually qualifies as an adventure, but after spending weeks and weeks doing nothing at all I’ll take what I can get. Sometimes even a Princess can’t be picky.

You’ve all seen mama’s fun with her family, and I liked it a whole bunch when my Uncle and Aunt came to visit me. But I didn’t get to go on any adventures and then she went away for ten whole days! That’s about 70,000 days in dog years!

So you can see why I’ve been bugging mama to take me somewhere now that she’s back home. Somewhere mama! She keeps promising but nothing ever happens. Why I even had to raise my voice today to get her attention! And trust me, a sheltie-girl like me knows exactly how to do that!

This is not the way to treat a Princess!

But I guess it’s true that the squeaky dog gets the grease! (And I’d like mine to be bacon please mama!) After barking at her for hours she finally took me to a park today! And I even got to ride in dad’s truck! Mama says not to get excited about that, I only got to ride in the truck because our car is broken.

Whatever mama.

So we went to a park not too far away and I sat under a picnic table for awhile, just sniffing the park air. It’s definitely different and better than my own backyard air. Lots and lots of interesting things to smell at the park!

You done reading yet mama?

Then mama got done reading and said we were going to walk up this big mountain! Really mama? Remember I’m ten and a half, a senior doggie you know!

Hey mama! Running down this hill is fun!

But it was OK. We stopped along the way and mama took pictures of me in the pretty flowers.

And once we got to the top there was a lovely breeze blowing and I got to run around off leash! Mama says that’s because we could see where all the other people and doggies were from up there and we had the mountaintop all to ourselves. (OK, it’s not really a mountain, it’s just a sledding hill, but it’s huge compared to me!)

You called?

Mama took lots of pictures of me up there and on the back of the hill when we walked down the other side. We even sat in the grass together and just chilled out. I acted like a puppy, all excited to spend time with her, just her and me.

I’m just going to walk over here, OK mama?

Now I’m doubly excited because I got her to set up the tent in the backyard! I supervised while she put it up and made sure she put in my favorite pillows just for me. It’s going to be a beautiful night and I’m going to spend it hanging out with my mama. I can hardly wait for it to get dark outside.

This is my tent. I let mama share it though.

Gee, now that I think about it, I guess I don’t have so much to complain about after all.

It was a good day 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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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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A walk in the woods…and sunset too

Yesterday, after the fog lifted I wandered in the Leelanau State Park hiking trails that wind through cedar and beech trees, then up to the dunes that separate the woods from the shore of Lake Michigan.

Come with me for a walk in the woods!

It’s a magical place, and I was lucky – there were very few bugs! I loved how the light sifted through the newly minted leaves.

Spring green.

And though there were few bugs, there were plenty of natives scurrying around in the leaves on the forest floor…

Anything good to eat down there?

…and scolding me from behind tree trunks.

Stay away lady!!

I enjoyed the cool trail through the damp deep woods…

What’s down there?

…but after a bit the trail left the dark woods and began to climb up and around sandy and more open dunes. The trees changed too, from deep dark forest to open and airy.

Let the sunshine in!

Eventually the trail spilled out onto perfectly beautiful dunes and provided a view of the lake. What a pretty picture!

Such a pretty place.

I probably should have climbed over those dunes to the lake. You never know what you’ll find. But it was getting late in the day, so I headed on through the woods. I met a new friend sleeping in a sunny spot on the trail. He wasn’t as excited to meet me as I was to notice him, and he silently moved away.

See you later lady!

And just before the parking lot I found a sweet little patch of forget-me-nots.

As if I could.

Later in the evening I waited in anticipation for sunset. I must have run down to the beach a dozen times, hoping that this was the one great shot. Turns out it was a pink and purple, more gentle kind of sunset. Still it was pretty. I’ve put together a short slide show for your enjoyment.

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That way you don’t have to do all those stairs yourself.

Magical