Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Why I go to Washington

I’m packing my bag, getting ready to go to Washington DC for the Sorrow to Strength conference. I’ll be with other families who have lost loved ones to preventable truck crashes and some people who have survived such crashes themselves. It’s five days that we look forward to and dread all at the same time.

It hurts.

Still, if you ask any individual attending, they will tell you straight away that the reason they work to make our roads safer is because they don’t want another family going through the pain and grief they’ve been through. They don’t want another family suffering because of something that is so preventable.

Tonight I’m listening to the 10:00 p.m. news as I zip the suitcase shut. The television is on just for background noise, I’m not paying much attention, more interested in making sure I don’t forget to take something important.

And then I hear the words ‘semi’ and ‘fatal’ and ‘construction zone.’

And I reel around and stand still as the story unfolds. You can read about it here.

There is construction on a stretch of freeway that I travel regularly. Today cars were slowed to merge into the construction zone. A semi lost control and rear ended the cars ahead. Two men are dead. A woman was airlifted in critical condition to a hospital. Doubtless there are other injuries, certainly other people who were terrified.

It’s early yet, and we don’t know the entire story. But regardless of the details the truth is that tonight there are new families facing a long journey through loss and injury. Their worlds have just imploded. A semi running into the back of cars slowing for construction is the definition of a preventable crash. I hope that we can connect with these families when they are ready. Meanwhile, I’ll travel to DC and try to be heard.

Because this is why I go to Washington.


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Bling revealed

Katie here. I know. I’m hogging mama’s blog again, but I needed to get this out right away. As you know I visited my boyfriend Reilly Cowspotdog a couple of months ago. He and I got officially engaged after we introduced our parents to each other. (Reilly is a very conventional guy and likes to do things the proper way.)

My guy and me.

Anyway, he sent some engagement bling for me to wear on my collar. I think he wanted to make sure all the other doggies up here know I’m spoken for. Mama put it on my collar right away, and then you know what she did?

I’m sending Reilly kisses!

She forgot to take a picture!

I mean really? Mama forgetting to take a picture? I don’t know what’s come over her. I hear she got a year older yesterday, maybe it’s just old age making her so forgetful. I had to remind her that my guy would be wondering if I liked the bling and it wasn’t fair to make him wait. Because I really really like the pretty charm he sent.

Don’t you think I look beautiful in it? Me too.

Thank you Reilly. I love you and my pretty bling. You are definitely a class act sweetie!

I hope we get to spend time together again sometime soon!

Love,

Your Katie-girl.

I miss you Reilly!


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“Democracy isn’t a spectator sport.”

I’ve had a good winter off, playing on the beach, watching light move across water, sleeping in, napping mid-afternoon. But it’s time to get back to work.

Work!??? You’re right; I’m retired. So what work am I talking about?

There are many of you new here at Change is Hard. You probably haven’t heard me talk about trucks and safety and my family’s story. You probably think my life is all about photography and travel and a special little dog. And sometimes it is.

“You can turn grief into action.”

But sometimes it’s about grief and loss and preventable crashes. And honoring the memory of my dad who was killed in December of 2004 by a tired semi driver who fell asleep at the wheel while going 65 miles per hour on a freeway in the early morning hours. A driver who failed to see the lights of emergency vehicles up ahead, the people working to clear a minor crash that had occurred earlier. A driver that didn’t notice the traffic stopped in front of him. Didn’t see my dad in his little red car until it was too late.

My dad was a guy who lived by safe rules. He had retired ten years earlier from a career managing chemical plants, inherently dangerous places. He made us all wear our life jackets in the boat when we were kids. He drove with us around and around the neighborhood when he taught us how to drive a stick shift car, until he was satisfied we could operate it safely. He helped my sister build her house in Tennessee, complete with extra roof brackets to hold the roof down in a tornado. Just in case. He carried an emergency contact list in his wallet, listing the four kids and spouses with work and home phone numbers. That’s how they knew where to find us after the crash.

“Hope in the face of difficulty.”

So after we got through the initial days filled with disbelief and unbearable grief, when we were moving into sad confusion buffeted by unrelenting grief, we began to ask questions. How did the driver not see all that traffic ahead? Not see all the emergency lights? The road was straight. The sight lines clear. We searched the internet looking for anything about truck crashes.

And we found the Truck Safety Coalition.

It’s an organization made up of the families of people who have been killed or injured in preventable truck crashes. It provides support to families and it works to change the way things are done in the trucking industry. Sometimes that means working to change regulations and laws. Sometimes that means working to change perceptions among people that drive trucks. Sometimes it’s about educating people that drive cars. Sometimes it means meeting with legislators and staff, or truck company executives, or members of other safety groups. Always it means honoring the memories of those we’ve lost, honoring the lives that have been changed forever of those who were injured.

It means trying to save lives

Every other year the families meet in Washington DC for a few days. We tell our stories, we sadly welcome the new families — those whose losses are recent, we talk about issues, resolutions, how to make a difference. And we go to the Hill and talk to everyone we can. Legislators, Regulators, the Press. Everyone. Sometimes they call us the ‘crazy truck people.’ That’s OK with us. Whatever gives attention to our issues.

“Even when you’re 100% right getting things done requires compromise.”

The conference is coming up next month. I can feel the tension escalating among my Truck Safety “family” already. Facebook is abuzz with truck issues. People are becoming stressed. Or depressed. Or hopeful. Or everything all rolled into one. Attending the conference brings it all back again for us. Yet it’s hard to stay away. “It’s like attending the funeral all over again.” says one mother who has been fighting for truck safety for more than twenty-five years.

The title of this post, and the quotes interspersed throughout, are from former President Obama’s July 2016 speech. I wrote a few things he said down on a random piece of paper way back then and that paper has found it’s way back to me this week. As I gear up for a difficult few days in Washington I thought they were appropriate. Hopeful. Democrat, Republican or Independent, the world would be a better place if we could learn to compromise. I’m hoping we find a bit of that during our conference this year.

It’s probably the most I can expect.


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Reboot

We’ve been home one whole day, moving swiftly into day two and I’m trying to get my bearings. Cupboard doors swing the opposite way of those at the lake house, the dishwasher stacks differently, I turn the wrong way headed to the laundry. I forget what I’m doing in the middle of doing it. I think part of me is still in the South; hence the random photos of our trip in this post.

Katie seems to have settled back into home life easier than me.

Neighborhood dog at the lake. Don’t know his name.

I sort through piles of paper; brochures from places we visited, lists of items to take, maps, advertisements. I come across a page, torn from a notebook, that I don’t recognize. But it’s my handwriting, obviously quotes from something I was reading. I don’t remember writing these down, I don’t know where they came from, don’t know who I was quoting.

But they seem pertinent in a general sort of way.

Beautiful tree near Jacksonville Florida.

I think this paper must have been in the car or on a table prior to the most recent pile of travel debris being deposited. I think maybe I wrote these down after the election, when I was feeling frustrated and fearful. Not that I’m less frustrated or fearful now, just more accepting of what is.

Or maybe not.

Beautiful birds at the Jacksonville Zoo.

Regardless the quotes will serve me well when I write my next post about an upcoming trip to Washington. Yes, the truck lady will emerge once more as there is work to be done, lives to be saved, families to comfort.

Playing with my girl on the beach.

The work doesn’t end just because a person takes a break. Nothing is resolved and everything is still important. The strategy may have to be adjusted, tweaked, but the end goal is still saving lives. It’s even more important now that the trucking industry has the Persident’s ear.

Stay tuned.

Another favorite lake.


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Home is where the sheltie girl lives

Let’s follow that road mama!


Katie here with the last post of my big adventure. Mama did the math (cause my toes don’t work very well on those little calculator keys) — we drove 5,842 miles! And I got to go on every one of ’em! You could say I am a well traveled sheltie-girl.

On our trip back up to Michigan I insisted on taking my dad to the Smoky Mountains. Mama and I visited there when we were stuck in Tennessee way back at the beginning of February. I took dad on my favorite path…

There’s a good smell over here dad!

…and posed with them on a mountain ridge. It was a fun day!

A nice lady took our picture.

Then I took him to see Cumberland Falls. Mama and I went there too, back in February, on a cold day when the spray from the falls was freezing all over the rocks. I had more fun this time when we got to walk around more…

Me and a bridge and the Cumberland River.

…and it wasn’t so darn cold out! The waterfall was huge and the river was full and beautiful.

I was getting tired of being picked up.

The rest of our trip turned out to be rainy and cold, so I didn’t have to put up with mama taking so many pictures. Now we’re home again and mama is doing laundry and cooking and stuff. I’m going to take a nap right after I post this.

I was such a good girl on this adventure. We were gone almost two whole months! I never complained once and was always interested in the new places we visited. I only barked a little bit at the hotels, and I let lots of people pet me. Even better I met lots of great dogs, especially Reilly and Denny in Florida. Mama, Dad and I had a really good time.

The life of luxury.

I’m absolutely positive mama can never top this adventure and I’m going to have to settle for tame visits to my park for awhile, though I know mama has some camping trips planned already.

I guess I better rest up!

Katie signing off for now.


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WordPress Photo Challenge: It IS easy being green!

I guess you’d expect me to use some of the jungle-like images I’ve taken during my trip to Florida. But that seemed too obvious. So as I was sitting in what turned out to be a pretty terrible hotel room contemplating this challenge I realized I was staring at a lamp shining light on the wall.

Which was a particularly vile shade of, well, green.

Here’s a few other interpretations of green, found on other blogs. Take a look; those of us living in the north are entitled to quite a bit of green by this time of year.


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Busy Princess reports in

Hi all. Princess Katie here. I’ve been way too busy to blog, but mama says I need to keep up with my responsibilities so I’ll give you the short version of what I’ve been up to lately.

As you all know I visited Reilly last month…and then I went over to my lake house for a few weeks, and then my daddy came down to join mama and me and we visited my Aunt and Uncle for a few days.

Me and my guy Reilly!

So…then instead of going home we went back to Florida and I got to spend five more days with my intended Reilly and his brother Denny and their mom! Wow!

Five whole days of running on the beach…

I love running on my beach!

…and walking through the jungle!

It’s a jungle in here!

Mama and daddy and Reilly’s mom went off and looked at forts and zoos and lighthouses and such too…but that’s not important. What is best about this time is I got to spend it with my guy.

One morning we all got up early and went out to the beach to watch the sun rise. I got to run around and mama took pictures of stupid birds. There were some flying really low to the water with their beaks open. Mama thought they were really neat.

Skimmer birds.

And some just stood around a lot. I thought those were much more interesting.

Nobody was out there that early so I got to run a whole lot. I loved running free on the beach!

There was a cool breeze, perfect for a sheltie-princess!

And then another day we went out in the evening when it got cool and played on the beach some more. We watched some big ships go out to sea. I barked at them, as is my right as a Princess.

Watching the ships go out to sea.

Mostly though the three of us hung around waiting for our folks to stop taking pictures of the ships from the seawall.

Whatcha doing up there people?

I don’t know why they were interested in the ships more than us. We three were adorable.

Mama and I ran on the beach again too, until she tried to trick me by running close to where the tide was going out and the sand was really wet. I don’t like getting my feet wet mama! I went and walked with my daddy after that.

Sadly we had to leave, so we drove across a beautiful bridge and headed north.

Mama’s artsy-fartsy bridge image.

But, lucky me, we got to stop along the way and spend a few hours with a friend of mama and daddy’s. She has two beagles! Wow! More doggie friends for me to hang out with!

Me and my new friends!

We all got along just great and we got to go for a long walk.

This has been the best adventure ever, but I think I’m ready to head home now. This hotel living can wear on a girl you know.

This is the good life!

And even a princess needs to return to her castle once in awhile.

Your gal Katie.


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Are flat rocks exciting enough for a Princess?

Katie here.

Flat rocks at Flat Rock Park.

I know, I know. Mama’s been using valuable space on this blog posting pictures of pretty things that are not me! It’s outrageous. I’ve demanded equal attention and since I am royalty she has agreed to let me tell you about our latest adventure.

We went to Flat Rock Park in Columbus Georgia! It was a sunny day with blue skies but it was cold! Down in the 30s and low 40s! Mama was wearing her winter coat again and a hat and gloves and a scarf. And she was still cold. I told her to suck it up. I thought the temperature was just perfect for climbing up and down rocks.

This rock could fall on me at any moment mama!

But wait! The rocks are supposed to be flat, right? So what rocks would I be climbing up and down? Well! Let me tell you! There was plenty of up and down exploring to do, and I pulled my mama right up those rocks no problem.

Waterfall, bridge, and me.

Some of the park was along a pretty little stream and there the rocks were flat.

Pretty out here in the sunshine along this little river.

And they were flat in other sections too. But right in the middle were really tall, really big chunks of rock sticking right out of the ground!

The sound of the waterfall doesn’t bother me mama!

Mama kept taking pictures of pretty stuff, mostly me, but sometimes not.

Pretty, even without me in the shot.

We walked all over! Some of it we walked more than once! And I never complained or got tired or whined, even when mama ran out of treats!!! (Though I was secretly disgusted by her poor planning.)

A little sunbathing by the river.

I don’t want to admit it, but mama wore me out this time! I’m going to have to sleep for several days just to get my energy level back up to sheltie standards. Don’t expect any news from me for awhile; I guess I’ll have to trust that mama keeps you abreast of our adventures.

Cause a sheltie princess is never far away from the next adventure. You just never know where I’ll turn up!

Looking for a treat mama!