Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Storms brewing ahead


Today I took the dog for a walk at a local park. The clouds were heavy, dark, and hanging low over the fields and ponds. I felt melancholy and I wondered why.

And then I remembered.

The time is coming for me to attend another Sorrow to Strength Conference in Washington DC. The Truck Safety Coalition hosts the conference every two years; I’ve been to six of them since dad was killed by a sleepy semi driver in 2004.

The conference is a time for families to join others, all of whom have been damaged by preventable truck crashes, to share their stories, gain support, and learn about truck safety issues. Some families are struggling with permanent injuries, others are grieving the loss of loved ones. And some are trying to deal with both injury and loss.

It’s almost too much to fathom, all those people in one room.

But it’s a good thing too, because you won’t meet a better group of people to support a family in the throes of grief. These are people that know how it feels to get that call or to sit next to a hospital bed knowing that life will never be the same, but hoping for at least a semblance of normalcy sometime in the future.

It’s a difficult conference to attend, but it’s called Sorrow to Strength for a reason. We begin filled with sorrow, and leave, after several days, stronger for having been together. We’ll be talking to Congressional members, agency employees, and the media about truck safety issues. The current political environment in DC is not particularly conducive to regulation these days. But we aren’t giving up finding compromises that make our roads safer for everyone.

Everyone has trepidation as they head to DC for this conference. Attending dredges up all the old memories and emotions. Even after almost thirteen years I still get anxious thinking about the crash, anticipating the questions, planning for the meetings.

But then I think about dad. And so many others that I’ve come to know over the years. There will be new families attending this year, there always are. They are stark reminders that every year, every month, every day that goes by without solutions more people are being injured and killed. This is no time to let politics get in our way.

Wish us luck.


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On loss and spring


I’ve been to a lot of funerals held in winter and I used to think the hardest thing in the world was to walk away after a winter graveside ceremony, bowed with grief, huddled in a coat against the wind and rain or snow. Though you knew your loved one couldn’t feel the cold it was just so hard to leave them there in the darkening light of a winter day.

I used to think that was the worst.

But yesterday, when a local family had to leave their young man behind in the cemetery, the sun was shining and the bright blue sky was filled with puffy white clouds. It was a perfect spring day.

And now I wonder. Maybe losing a young life in the midst of the hope that is spring is the worst.

Yesterday a family had to come to grips with a life ended way too soon. I don’t know them, or the young man gone, but I understand their shock. Accidents happen, but never to your family. Never to someone with an infant and a wife and loving parents and a huge extended family.

Never just as spring is blooming with promise.

How can someone just be gone when so much around us is bursting into life? How does a young wife with an infant son survive without the loving husband, the doting father, at her side?

How does a family walk away from a new grave, bowed with grief, when bright blue skies are smiling down? It just seems wrong. Certainly the sky should be crying too.

But this young wife is strong, and she has a strong family to help her. She has good friends to listen and provide support. They know that sometimes the road takes an unexpected turn; they know how to navigate grief. They’ve been there before.

She’ll be OK eventually. And her son will grow up surrounded by people who will tell him about his daddy. How he loved his family. How he will always be there in their hearts.

It takes family and friends to get through grief filled but beautiful spring days when life is bursting from every tree and shrub, every bulb and seed, but tears are hiding behind every eyelid.

May the beauty of spring moving on into summer give some comfort to a family whose hearts have been broken once again.

And may that tiny little boy know that he is truly loved.


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Surprise!

Katie here. No I’m not the surprise…you knew I’d pop up again sooner or later. I’ve been mostly resting since we got home from our grand adventure. I still get my mama up really early every morning, but then we go back to sleep. She seems to need more sleep these days. Guess she’s getting old.

Anyway.

Yesterday afternoon it started to snow. Mama made me go sit in it.

Really mama?!

She thought I looked pretty with the snow on my fur. I thought she was being ridiculous. I mean, when it rains I don’t make her go stand around outside do I? Oh. Well, yes I do, come to think of it.

Ahem.

Mama was surprised that so much snow had stuck around when we got up this morning. It was all over the tops of trees, but didn’t seem to get to the shrubs underneath. She says it was really pretty and we ran outside to take pictures.

Hey mama, come on out, the snow is great!

Well. She took pictures, I spent the time sniffing stuff, checking to make sure it was all safe you know. But when she called me to COME! I ran right over to her. I love doing that because, as you all expect, mama has a treat for me. Sometimes I run with my eyes closed, dreaming about that luscious treat.

Running for joy in the last snow of the season.

Mama was fascinated with how the snow emphasized the shapes of the trees…

Birch branches outlined in fresh snow.

…sometimes, she says, you don’t notice things like this until the snow points them out.

Look at all the cool shapes out there!

And then do you know what happened? The sun came out! Man oh man that sure made stuff even prettier!

Blue sky and fresh snow…with a little bit of cloud action.

Look at all the colors!

A special moment in time.

The green of the pines and the yellow of the forsythia buds next to the white shrouded birch trees was spectacular! I almost didn’t notice but mama pointed it out to me. She’s good like that.

But my feet were getting wet and cold and I was hungry. After all I’d only had one tiny treat and it was way past time for breakfast. So I made her take me inside. But that didn’t keep her from taking more pictures as the hungry birds stopped by for breakfast too.

Incoming chickadee!

I guess having a little spring snow isn’t all that bad, mostly because I know it will be gone by this afternoon.

Already melting.

And this weekend is shaping up to be warm and sunny. I’m going to get mama to take me to my park. Or maybe a couple parks.

A girl can hope anyway.

Waiting for summer.


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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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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!


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WordPress Photo Challenge: Wish

Tonight as I sit out on the deck of the lake house, watching the moon rise, I wish everyone had such a warm, beautiful and safe place to relax.

I wish upon a moon.

I know that many of my friends ‘up north’ are facing their third night of no electricity following a major wind event. I know the temperatures are heading down toward 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-17.77 C) tonight.

I wish that spring could come early for them. That I could somehow share the warmth and color and contentment surrounding me here.

I wish they could all just come down here and soak up the sun. Or sit with me under the moon listening to the waves gently lap against the shore

I wish, not upon a star, but upon the bright moon, that the warmth from here in the South could find it’s way up to the dark and frozen North.


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Rivers and mountains oh my!

Anyone want to float down the river?


Katie here. I guess I have to do all the explaining cause mama is lazy. You’d think this was my blog or something, she hardly does anything anymore. She says she’s on vacation.

Whatever.

So anyway, we’ve been over in Columbus Georgia the past few days, visiting family and taking it easy. Well. I’ve been taking it easy. Mama and family have been working hard on projects and stuff.

They did stop working for a bit to take me on a walk along the Columbus waterfront. What a pretty place!

I’d rent one of these but my fur gets curly when it’s wet.

We walked and walked for about a hundred million miles. Good thing mama had water and treats for me. We watched people going down the rapids in a big yellow rubber raft…

They are definitely going to get wet!

…and in little tiny kayaks. Seems like the water would be way too cold for that! Plus it would mess up your hair. I’m pretty sure I’m not a kayak kind of girl.

Kinda scary if you ask me!

Mama says she likes kayaks but wouldn’t want to go down those rapids! Smart mama!

We saw lots of pretty stuff. We walked in Alabama and in Georgia! I don’t think I’ve ever walked in two states on one walk before!

A lone fisher-bird.

We walked so long that I slept all night without bugging mama! Mama said that was a wonderful thing. I slept with the new toy my Aunt got me. Isn’t it cute? (I’m cute too..it’s OK, you can say it out loud.)

It’s a hedgehog…zzzzzzzzzzzzz…

Anyway, we’re back home at the lake now, and today mama took me to Smith Mountain again for a walk. (Cause I was bugging her while she was napping. I think she wanted revenge.)

You are so slow mama!

This time we walked up what is usually the exit down from the mountain top. It was very steep.

Come on! I ran up these, you can too!

Good thing mama had me to show her the way! Sometimes I had to drag her up steep passages!

Just follow me mama!

These are baby long leaf pines. Mama loves these trees. I think they are pretty too.

I secretly don’t mind posing. It means I get to rest and I get a treat!

We had to go way up here and I scampered right up. It was awesome.

Are we THERE YET mama?

But about 3/4 of the way up I figured that was enough and I started back down the path. Mama said oh no..we’re not going back down this steep path and she took me all the way to the top!!!

Good thing I didn’t have to go all the way to the top of the fire tower too!

Not going up there mama!

We walked back to the car down the road. There was lots of pretty stuff to see there too….including native azaleas in bloom.

Pretty pink deep in the woods.

I was a slowpoke on the road down, but as soon as I saw my car I started trotting ahead of mama. Enough is enough mama!

I see my car mama! Hurry!!

Time to get a little shut eye….mama says we have a big day tomorrow. I have no idea what she’s got in store for me now, but if there’s anything I’ve learned it’s to be well rested!

-Your tour guide gal Katie

Here’s the start of the trail up. (I’ll wait for you here.)


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I was tricked!

Come on mama, this looks like an AWESOME park!

Come on mama, this looks like an AWESOME park!


Katie here. Mama asked me if I wanted to go to a park, and I said “OF COURSE MAMA! Are you crazy? I want to go to a park! Let’s go right now! RIGHT NOW MAMA!

So we did.

We drove and drove and drove and I started to get vocal. Mama told me to settle down but I didn’t really. I was just expressing my opinion, and a princess is entitled. Right?

Isn't this a pretty lake mama?

Isn’t this a pretty lake mama?

So anyway, mama was going to take me to visit Auburn University but she couldn’t find anywhere to park the car. We drove around and around and mama saw lots of stuff but I didn’t see anything cause I was in my crate in the back.

Not fair.

But when we finally stopped and mama got me out it was at a park! A beautiful park! Mama says she’s not sure where it was because she was lost by then. And she said she wasn’t going to take her camera, we’d just walk around a little bit.

Mama liked the row of trees.  I liked the shade.

Mama liked the row of trees. I liked the shade.

And then of course she found a gazillion pretty things that warranted a camera. So we walked around this beautiful little lake and then mama and I went back to the car, got a drink and her camera and walked around it again!

Isn’t it great? There was a blue heron the first time we walked, but he had moved on by the time we came back. We did get to watch these turtles though. Mama said they were all looking at me. Well of course they were, I’m the princess!

A little warm for my taste, but these guys liked the sun.

A little warm for my taste, but these guys liked the sun.

And there were these exercise things. Mama tried a couple of them, she said they were really fun. I was not interested, given that I already have a svelte sheltie figure.

These look fun mama!

These look fun mama! For you anyway.

Once we got around the lake the second time mama loaded me in the car and drove some more and when she parked again I couldn’t figure it out. It was a busy parking lot? What are we doing here mama? I dutifully followed along and suddenly we were inside a groomer’s place!!

Mama tricked me!

The lady put my on a table and there were all these little dogs, bichons and chihuahuas and other little fru fru dogs running around on the floor, and then a great dane walked into the room and stretched! Why he could reach as high as the table I was on! And the lady was clipping my toenails! And trimming my toe fur! I turned my head and looked at my mama and pleaded with her to get me out of there!

Mama says she wishes she had the camera, because the whole thing was ridiculously funny, dogs running all over and me looking pitiful up on the table. But she left her phone in the car, so no pictures.

I’m personally glad. It was humiliating.

When we left I was in such a hurry to get out of there that I ran up the 8 stairs outside. Up the stairs. Wait…I forgot I don’t do stairs. Mama called me a little stinker. I think that’s a compliment…right?

I’m ticked at my mama. Taking me to a wonderful park does not negate the secret groomer appointment. But I have to say my feet do look a whole lot better.

Don’t tell her I said that.

Pretty feet.

Pretty feet.


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WordPress Photo Challenge: A Good Match

Mahogany sable sheltie in the Alabama red clay woods.

Come on mama! Let's go see what's over here!

Come on mama! Let’s go see what’s over here!

A good match.

Want to see some other good matches? Check out the link above. Or if you’re short on time, a couple of my favorites so far are here and here. Go ahead and take a look. I think you’ll be surprised and then you’ll smile.

Katie says everyone needs at least one smile each day.

Smile everybody!

Smile everybody!