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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Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: A new photo

For black and white images I like to use bold but simple patterns. Some repetition is good. I look for something that can fill the frame without being too busy.

Katie the dog and I took a walk around the yard yesterday looking for something that might fit. Something natural, with pretty shapes. Something interesting.

In a flower bed I found nasturtiums pushing their way through the fence. I’ve always loved their flat leaves, the veining pattern, the rounded shapes.

Hmmmm…repeating patterns.

So this time leaves take precedence over blossoms. They’ve waited a long time for the attention, but yesterday they were the focus of my new photo.


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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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WordPress Photo Challenge: Textures

I loved the silky textures of the jay’s feather caught in the prickly branch of a bayberry bush.

This is such an interesting challenge – texture is one of the things most photographers notice, and there are so many options to showcase here.

Want to see more? Just go to the link above, or, if you’re time challenged, here are a few of my favorites. So far.


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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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Stormy barns

I knew a weather front was coming through yesterday afternoon…

Sun still shining on the corn, but dark skies overhead.

…so I headed out to see if I could find some open sky to watch…

White barns glow under rain clouds.

…and if there happened to be some barns around….

Red, green and navy.

…well, so much the better.

An old homestead buried back there.

Guess I got lucky – to the South of me were puffy white clouds…

Still pretty to the south.

…to the North was the storm with brooding dark skies…

Still pretty

…and distant thunder.

Not a barn, but interesting anyway.

It was all oh so pretty.

Amazing sky.


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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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4th of July parade…of a different sort.

Uncle Sam waits for everyone to show up.


How many of you went to a 4th of July parade this year? I suppose if you don’t live in the United States the odds are slim that you did, but if you live over here maybe you got to enjoy some patriotism on wheels! Or hooves as the case may be.

Time to check your phone before the start.

I was extra lucky. I was in the South, on a lake that just happens to have some very patriotic water lovers. Every July on the 4th a huge community of jet skies and boats circles part of the lake at full speed.

This year I got to shoot images of them as they went by. It was a big group, probably more than a hundred total.

Fully decorated!

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

First there was the gathering of everyone. The waiting for the prompt 10:00 a.m. start. The chatting with friends. The smiles. The admiring of costumes and decorations.

Waiting and watching.

The increased anxiety for me.

You see we had been out on the lake the day before, talking to friends, telling them I’d be out there shooting. We told them to look for us and come by as close as they could.

We told them to smile.

Festive balloons.

I hoped I wouldn’t let them down. I’d be sitting in a boat moving up and down over choppy waters. They’d be out in the middle of the chop, moving fast across my bow.

Gathering for the run.

Anything could happen.

It was a beautiful day, bright blue skies, puffy white clouds, beautiful water. Perfect for a parade.

It’s gonna get crazy out there!

At two minutes to ten they took off. We high-tailed it to the other side of the lake and a particular point near where we planned on anchoring.

They’d have to go around us.

I was as ready as I could be. Extra batteries. Extra memory chips. And advice on shooting action shots from my friend Heather, aka Snap Happy Gal who does phenomenal work. You should visit her web site.

How did it turn out? Well, it was a blast. Here’s a slideshow of some of my favorite shots.

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It was a perfect parade. I didn’t notice the waves much while I was shooting. But when I took the camera away from my face and saw the waves heading toward me I sort of freaked. They looked at least 3 feet tall! They looked like they’d swamp the boat! I scrambled toward the back of the boat a couple of times, but we stayed sea-worthy.

It was an honor to photograph these people enjoying their holiday. I especially liked to capture the families that were riding the waves together. My brother has posted some of these photos to a lake Facebook page. I will post more soon.

I hope you enjoyed my representation of a 4th of July lake parade. But honestly? You should have been there.

On the lake. Can’t get better than that!