Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Lights on!

As the snow floated gently down Rochester welcomes visitors to a spectacular evening of lights.


I haven’t felt particularly festive this year, but that’s not all that unusual. I did put lights on a tree in the yard, one particular smallish spruce tree, and I like the sense of that, the one tree lit in the dark. Sort of sign of hope I guess. But other than that one little tree I haven’t done anything to decorate around here.

Unlike a small town about 30 miles away, a town that goes all out at this time of year. A friend suggested we go one night this week with our cameras. I’m glad she did, because after we tromped around admiring the lights last night I am in a decidedly more festive mood.

Can’t stop taking pictures!

It would be hard not to be, don’t you agree?

The town puts on an amazing light display, and people come out in droves to walk the streets and admire the colors and the window displays. I’ve always liked taking pictures of commercial windows, particularly if there are people enjoying themselves inside. It’s a little slice of life.

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I particularly liked how the lights on buildings across the street reflected in almost all of the window scenes I shot.

There was so much to enjoy, including little details like the lights shining in my friend’s camera lens…

Hope she got the shot with me in the way!

…and the ornaments on the trees lining the streets.

Holiday colors were everywhere.

It was hard to know where to look. So I looked everywhere.

Reflections on the holiday season.

Even the parked cars got in on the show.

Blue reflects blue.

And then, on my drive home I came across a mall with the trees all lit up. Even though it was way past my bedtime and my toes were cold I just had to stop.

Another winter wonderland!

Mesmerizing isn’t it!

Pretty in pink. For at least a mile.

So if you don’t quite have the holiday spirit, stop and peruse these lights of Rochester Michigan. And if you live close enough, visit and walk among the lights yourself.

Sending you holiday greetings.

They’ll be up and shining bright until New Years. Merry Christmas to you all.

Late night pretty.

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It’s all about the parks!

Katie here. I’m certain you’ve all been missing me terribly. I know that mama and daddy have been busy and stuff, and you’re getting to read all about their adventures, but I’m positive you haven’t forgotten about me!

I don’t know why she wants me to sit in this grass.

When I finally got sprung from the slammer….ahem….kennel last month I gave my parents the stink eye for a couple of days and then I forgave them. I mean, what am I supposed to do? They hold the keys to the food bag you know? So I can’t stay mad at them for too long.

These reeds and berry briars are pretty mama. But not as pretty as me.

But then we had a string of bad weather days and I didn’t get to do anything fun for a katrillion billion days. I made my mama’s days miserable. I figure that’s only fair, right? If I’m miserable, everybody’s miserable. It’s a law or something.

Lately, though, she’s been making it up to me. Every nice day she takes me to another park! She says something about not wasting nice days because winter is coming.

I like the way my fur looks here.

I don’t know what she’s talking about, winter is lots of fun! I love running in the snow and I make sure to get her out in it as often as possible. I know she appreciates all those trips outside after she puts on her boots and coat and hat and mittens and scarf and stuff.

More leaves to sit in for mama!

Anyway, this week mama took me to three parks! We went to my park, just a couple of miles away and mama figured out how to use the timer on her camera and we got a picture of us together. That almost never happens.

Hey mama! What’s that over there?

We had to do it about five times and never once would I look at the camera. I mean, why would I do that? The camera doesn’t disperse treats. If it did maybe I’d consider looking at it. Maybe.

Then mama took me to her favorite park (That’s where most of the pictures here were taken.) It was really windy, and lots of oak leaves were blowing around.

Hey mama! It’s too windy here for photos!

We walked down a bike path and I was very good. I didn’t chase the joggers or the people on bikes at all. I didn’t bark at anyone! I even sat still and posed for mama when people were walking by. The only way she even knew there were people walking in back of her was the way I turned my head to watch them. I am such a good girl.

They’re not running away from ME are they? I didn’t even bark at them!

And I let a kid pet me! He even kissed me on my head and I was good with that. I guess all that training mama took me to was worth something after all.

I love walking in the woods with my mama!

And then today I got to go to a big park with my pal Deuce! There was hardly anyone there and the moms didn’t take too many pictures, which was fine by Deuce and me.

This is a pretty cool bench mama, I don’t have to sit too close to the BOY!

We did have to sit together a couple of times, but we’re used to that. We figure it’s the least we can do for them since they take us to these awesome places.

So…three parks in one week! It’s been amazing, but mama says after this weekend all this sunshine is going away. I hope I can convince her to take me fun places even without sun.

I might need your help on that, I know all of you can convince her. I’m counting on you to make sure she pays enough attention to me and I get to have adventures all winter long.

You can start bugging her now.

I got an oak leaf stuck on me mama! Get it OFF!


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Looking for the night sky

Most of the time photography is an offshoot of travel for me. We travel to see a different part of the world or to visit family and friends or to attend an event. Photography just happens along the way.

Inviting path.

This time it was different. This time the reason for the trip was photography. And more than that, it was to learn about night photography.

Hello Lake!

So you’d think I’d have some night photos to share with all of you. But I don’t. I have possibly one shot I’d share with you, and I’m not proud of that one either. Mostly I have a whole lot of crazy nothing in particular, error filled, photos.

But I’ll tell you what, I learned a ton.

Pulling me toward the lake.

The weather wasn’t conducive to being outside at night in November in northern Michigan. We had wind that only grew stronger as the evening approached. We had rain that turned into sleet and snow. Obviously we had no stars to focus on.

Stripes of color.

So there will be no star shots in this blog post. But I have every intention of going out some clear winter night and attempting it again. Preferably when there aren’t gale force winds or driving sleet.

November on the Lake.

I am also struggling with the loss of my familiar Photoshop editing program. When my laptop died I was lucky that husband was able to retrieve my documents and photos. But the Lightroom he reinstalled looks different than what I remember, and to be honest, I never used Lightroom because I found it too complicated. I used Photoshop all the time and that didn’t get reinstalled.

I wish I could lighten this up.

So I really really need to read my Lightroom book and figure stuff out. Because until then I can’t straighten horizons or fix the light, or paint out errors. You’ll have to live with the photos as they came out of the camera. Sometimes that’s good. Sometimes not so much.

Bye bye Lake! See you next time.

The images in this post were taken during the few hours I had free while I was up near Traverse City. Lake Michigan was it’s traditional turquoise, there were interesting clouds, and of course my favorite lighthouses.

Also one last barn.

I could’t resist stopping for this one.

I’m debating if I should show you the night images. It would be a study in what not to do. It might provide a bit of levity to your day.

I’ll think about it.

The sun sets on a wonderful weekend.


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There were barns

I started my trip ‘up north’ under slate grey, flat and uninteresting skies. Kind of sad actually, especially since I was going north to attend a photography workshop. November has arrived and we’re headed straight into winter.

But at a rest stop, about halfway to my destination the skies changed. To my west was sunshine and light clouds. To my east the dark sky remained. I was in farm country, and the barns and fields were glowing in the sunshine, still set against the dark skies.

I argued with myself. I have enough photos of barns. There are never enough photos of barns. I can take my time on my drive home Sunday, and there will be pretty things then. There’s no reason to rush today and the light will never ever be the same again.

I was hungry, my stomach growling and I had considered stopping at the next exit to look for food. But there was this barn just the other way up the road.

Guess you know which way I turned.


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Seriously it’s already Christmas

I’m headed up north soon to attend a photography workshop. To say I’m excited would be an understatement. It’s up north. And photography. What’s not to love?

So, anyway, I went shopping today for a couple of things. Waterproof boots, mittens, warm socks. Things every up north photographer should already have to shoot outside in the winter at night. I guess it’s not officially winter yet, but it will feel like it when I’m north of here, especially in the dark.

It feels like it at the mall too. I don’t do a lot of shopping and haven’t been out to a store aside from the grocery store in weeks. It was something of a shock to my system. Christmas music is blaring from the speakers, the store windows are decorated. Santa is already sitting on his big throne and there’s a line of little kids and parents waiting.

The few stores that were empty last time I was there are filled with seasonal merchandise now. There’s even a gift wrapping store. Complete with holiday paper and bows and people eager to make your gift festive.

The whole thing was sort of overwhelming. But I left with my purchases, one pair of socks and some mittens, whistling Christmas music. And I turned to the ‘all Christmas music’ station on the car radio for the drive home.

Guess it tis the season whether we’re ready or not.

PS: No laptop yet, and my photos are held hostage on an external drive that I suppose I could learn how to use. OR – you could use your imagination and visualize Santa and kids and decorations and music. Whatever you come up with will be perfect. I have faith in you.


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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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Spring redux

Spring. It happens in waves across the country. When Katie and I were in the South we saw spring in all it’s glory. We reveled in the sun and warmth. We forgot that it wasn’t spring everywhere.

One reason to be in the South in the winter.

And then we drove home, north into the gray skies, leafless trees, muddy trails. Cold. It snowed this week.

Why is it snowing??

It was a shock, but all is not lost. As Katie and I explored the yard this past weekend we found traces of spring. Daffodils are popping up from the wet cold ground. So are some of the perennials. The bleeding heart is reaching for the sky.

Purple pink sprouts pushing up through last garden debris.

It will be in bloom sooner than you think. And the monkshood is peeking out too….

Monkshood, excited to see the sun.

..it will bloom next fall — which will also be sooner than we think.

Katie and I went for a walk in her park this weekend. The sun was out, the water was blue. It felt like spring had arrived.

Mama! Is it spring now??

We weren’t fooled. We know, here in Michigan, that winter will take at least one more swipe at us before April ends. But don’t tell that to the goldfinches, they’re already changing into their summer gold.

Hey lady! This feeder needs to be filled!!

Katie and I are very lucky this year. We get to watch spring arrive twice! The daffodils are all done down South. But here they will be arriving any day now.

That’s a very good thing.

You’re going to make me pose with our Michigan daffodils next week aren’t you mama!


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Meandering

Headed out for a day on the lake.


Retirement. What a gift! Here Katie girl and I are wandering without time constraints or obligations.

We’re visiting family…

Riding the waves.

…sleeping in.

Good morning!

Taking lots of pictures of nothing much in particular.

Evening light on azalea.

Exploring places we’ve been many times, and other places we never knew existed.

Morning glow.

We’re watching the weather up north, trying to figure out when we might go home again. There doesn’t seem to be an urgency.

Dangerous dive bombing mockingbird.

Especially when we watch the weather patterns slide across the country full of snow and rain.

Might have to snuggle down here in the South for a bit longer.

Condo living.


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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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Perfect weather

Sometimes when you wake up in early morning darkness you go back to sleep. And other days, for some reason, you get up, pull the curtains back and check the sky.

Last week I got lucky.

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The sun was coming up over the hills behind me, just touching the house across the way as it sat under a big rolling cloud racing across the sky. The light was only like this for a moment. So brief I might have imagined it.

This morning I woke and caught a sliver of light through a crack in the blinds. It looked a bit gold, so I leaped out of bed and threw back the curtains.

Not gold, but just as rich.

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“Those are Snaphappy Gal clouds!” I cried. (Go to her photography site, you’ll see she loves clouds!) Katie looked at me with held tilted as I raced outside with my camera.

And then the sky turned into a van Gogh right before my eyes.

Which way does the wind blow?

Which way does the wind blow?