Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.

Wordless Wednesday

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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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There’s more to camping than the sheltie-girl

The road to the campground.


If you listen to Katie you’d think that all camping adventures are about her, and I suppose in some respects they are. We don’t do things she doesn’t want to do, and on this last camping trip of the season she didn’t want to do very much, so we stuck close to camp.

Still, there were many beautiful things to show you.

The grass turned color depending on the light.

We made short forays into the deep old growth forests. The air felt cooler to me, but I guess a sheltie-girl’s heavy fur coat made it hot for her, even there, so we didn’t stay very long.

It’s cooler back here in the forest.

The ferns along the forest floor were mostly brown. I don’t know if it’s drought or they had an early frost. No one else seemed to know either. They were still pretty in brown, but I felt kind of sad that their summer was over.

Variations of brown.

Katie and I drove a few miles down the road to visit two lakes, formed when the glaciers slid over Michigan years ago, then melted.

Amazing color, even before the leaves really begin to turn.

The sky was an incredible blue and the lakes were perfectly still. I couldn’t stop shooting images. Katie was pretty patient about the whole thing.

Reflections in the still water were mesmerizing.

It would have been fun to kayak on either of these lakes, and I think you can rent kayaks from the park. But Katie said she wasn’t into boating so we didn’t check that out.

Lilly pads add some color too.

As Katie told you the last night we had a storm blow over, making the sky and even the air turn bright pink.

Pretty in pink.

It was pretty amazing, and the camera caught even more pink than our eyes could see. Everyone was out looking around in wonder.

I’m glad the weather cooperated last week and allowed Katie and me to get one more camping trip in this season. We’ve been so lucky this year; we didn’t get rained out on any of our adventures.

It might be a long winter, but we’re already planning where to camp next spring.

Sky in the water.


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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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The gardens at Biltmore

When you visit Biltmore in Ashville NC, don’t forget to budget a lot of time to wander the gardens. They begin just down the hill from the house.

Make sure to visit the gardens down here!

There’s the original greenhouse structure that’s just chuck full of beautiful things. Inside it feels like you’re on a tropical island, or in a rain forest.

Make sure you venture inside here!

Here’s just a glimpse of the wonders you’ll find:

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And the gardens surrounding the greenhouse were stunning on the late summer day we visited. Blocks of color covered the grounds. It was so beautiful it was hard to know where to look first. Here’s some of it:

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And don’t forget the three water gardens. Just exquisite and in the end perhaps my favorite:

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I hope you all get to visit Biltmore sometime. I think the gardens would probably be pretty just about any time of year. There’s an azalea garden that would be stunning in the spring, and a huge rose garden that was past it’s prime when we were there, but would have been something a couple of weeks ago. And there’s always the mountains to marvel at, any time of year, but especially in the Fall when the leaves are turning.

So think about a trip to North Carolina and a stop at the Biltmore Estate. I don’t think you’ll leave disappointed.


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Biltmore revisited

Many years ago, before we were married, my husband and I visited Biltmore in Asheville North Carolina. Today, 27 years later, we stopped by again.

Have you ever been? If not, visit their website, or if you’d rather, I’ll take you on a short (not covering nearly everything you understand) tour. I personally love the long drive back to the big house.

The long and winding drive.

It inspired me years ago, to dream about building a house in the middle of a hundred acres, just so that I could have a lovely long drive home through the trees similar to this one up to the Biltmore mansion.

The first glimpse of the house itself always makes me gasp, and then smile. It’s just so magnificent! Not my style, by any means, but it’s a beautiful structure. Completed in 1895, it was a summer home for George W. Vanderbilt and his family. With thirty-three guest rooms, it was a summer getaway for family friends too.

You can view it after climbing a switchback to an elevated stone wall…

Behind these walls are many steps.

…or climb way up a hill for higher vantage point.

See the mountains behind the house?

But once you get up close you notice all the amazing detail. Like the carvings and statues as seen on the front of the house, lining the grand staircase.

This is not builder grade.

Even the windows are elaborate.

Can’t you just imagine enjoying the view from these?

Inside it’s even more intricate, with a glass enclosed winter garden…

Glass ceiling with views of the tower.

…and an opulent dining hall.

What would I wear to a dinner party here?

Each room has ceilings that are different and extravagant…

Just one ceiling, and not even the most ornate.

…and the furniture is ornate too.

Beautiful embroidery.

But my favorite place in the whole mansion is the back veranda…

Such a peaceful beautiful spot.

..where the view of the distant mountains is stunning. I could sit out there all day, and I’m sure there were people a hundred years ago that did just that.

Imagine breakfast with this view every day.

Inside, the library was amazing, thousands of books that George Vanderbilt handpicked, covering all sorts of topics. The bedrooms were beautiful too, complete with their own bathrooms long before en suites were normal.

A warm, cozy place to spend a few hours reading.

And in the basement was a giant party room, painted by members of a party in 1920…

Just a tiny part of the giant mural painted by party guests.

…a bowling alley…

Fun on a rainy evening.

…and a 70,000 gallon pool with water pumped in from a mountain stream.

Anybody for a dip? Just have to fill the pool!

Biltmore, it’s an amazing, almost magical place, and that’s just the house.

A single family home.

Wait until you see the greenhouse and the gardens!


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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!