Karma's When I Feel Like It Blog

November 17, 2012

A Tale of Two Bluebirds

I mentioned in my last post that we had a lovely weekend in store weather-wise last weekend.  Indeed it turned out quite sunny and warm for a November New England Veteran’s Day weekend.  I did take the dogs for the long walk that I promised them.  Before I went out, I stood pondering with my camera: leave the small, lightweight 50mm lens attached or switch to the 55-250mm zoom?  I was feeling like keeping the walk as light as possible so I stuck with the 50mm.

And I regretted it when I got out to the meadow part of my walk!  The eastern bluebird is a fairly common bird, but it is one that I have never managed to spy or photograph.  Lo and behold, what do I see perfectly perched in front of me about 25 yards in the distance but a lovely, male eastern bluebird.  I, of course, tried to take pictures, but this was not the job my 50mm lens was made for.  Sadly, this very tightly cropped shot was the best I could do:
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Can you see him there, perched on top of the pine tree?  Slightly blurry and difficult to see, I know.

Today, it turned out, was also sunny and fairly warm.  So the dogs and I headed out for another walk.  I switched to the 55-250mm lens and wondered what the chances were that I’d again see a bluebird in the meadow.  It was around the same time of day as our last walk and same sort of weather conditions so I thought maybe I’d get lucky.

And I did!  I saw eastern bluebirds again, but this time they were farther away than 25 yards.  My zoom lens couldn’t bring them in as closely as I would have liked, but I think the couple shots I took are a bit sharper.  This is the best one that I managed today:

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I think this could possibly be a female bluebird; she was shadowed so I’m not 100% positive, but this bird does have a blue tail and those dusky colored spots near the wings:

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These bluebirds could almost count as entries in Scott’s newest assignment, I think!  I do have another post, however, coming soon with my take on color composition.

May my bluebirds bring you a little happiness today! :-)

October 14, 2012

Walking Along

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 5:15 pm
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Back in the summertime, Robin of Life in the Bogs announced plans for taking a really long walk.  I think at the time she was blogging about pilgrimages and her admiration for folks who do them.  Robin’s plans for her walk,  while maybe not completely a pilgrimage-length walk, but a good long walk, blossomed into the idea for a blog-along style walk in which bloggers were invited to make a jaunt of their own, photograph it, blog it and link it to Robin’s post.

I actually took two walks for this blog.  I took one on Columbus Day, but those photos proved to be disappointing.  The weather was extremely overcast, and while I know cloudy days can make for some beautiful photos, this day it just wasn’t working for me.  I wanted photos of a golden autumn afternoon, and even after adjusting settings on the camera to warm up the shots, they were mostly blah looking to me.  I also walked in an unfamiliar place, and although the paths were well-marked, I started feeling just a bit nervous about whether I’d chosen the correct direction at times.  Not all of my pictures from this day are bad and unusable – they just aren’t what I wanted for this post.  Perhaps they will find a place in a different post.

For this walk, I headed to The Rice Nature Preserve here in the town where I live.  I’d walked this trail one time before with the family and dogs in tow.  This time I went on my own so that I could take plenty of pictures without my hands be jostled by anxious pulling on leashes.

The day was full of sunshine, although high temperatures were only in the upper 50′s.  The vigorousness of parts of this walk soon had me plenty warmed up!  I’d forgotten some parts of the trek were rather steep – it is up the side of our little mountain afterall.

I was lucky to find one trail map left at the entrance to the path and excitedly began my trek.

Beginning of the path

Parts of the path were rocky
a little rocky along the way

and others were leafy
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but in all of it I found beauty.
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bittersweet

mystery berries

Near the top of the trail (but not the very top) I emerged into a peach orchard with beautiful views of the town below.
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Wilbraham has always been known for its peaches. Since I was in high school, each summer brought us “The Peach Festival” presided over by the Peach Queen and her court. Unfortunately, not all of the acres once owned by the Rice family are still farmed. I don’t know if these particular orchards are still cared for and harvested. I found it so strange to see these peach pits hanging from some of the trees:
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The trails continued past the peach orchard to a bench placed in memorial of the couple who started Rice’s Fruit Farm in town.
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It reads: “Life has taught us that love does not consist of gazing at each other, but looking outwards together in the same direction.”
Nice sentiment. The view from the bench:

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That ended up being the highest elevation from which I took a photo. I did continue further along a connecting trail which promised to lead me to Sunrise Peak.
on the way to the summit

But when I got to a junction on this path, it wasn’t clear which way I should follow. I tried using my sense of direction with the placement of the sun and the trail map, but I chose wrong. I came to a dead end made unpassable from fallen trees and limbs, most likely from the devastating tornado that passed through this area in June of 2011. I turned back. At one point along the path, I ran into a couple of hikers and their pup who I’d chatted with briefly a couple times and they had learned the peak was in the opposite direction than the one I’d chosen. By that time, I was getting a little too tired to try again, so I decided to save it for another day. I’d been out for nearly two hours and had plenty of photos to share, so I didn’t feel unsatisfied with my choice.

Warm sunshine lead me back down the path.
sunshine through trees

Thanks, Robin, for hosting this blog-along. I’ll look forward to checking out everyone’s walks!

January 28, 2012

Did I sleep through February?

Filed under: Walking the Dogs — Karma @ 2:45 pm
Tags: , , , ,

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It sure felt like I must have today.  As the dogs and I went for our walk today, I’d swear it was late March.  The sun shined in a cloudless sky
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that reflected in large puddles
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and patches of melting ice
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At 45°F in glorious sunshine, I thought I must be taking an early-spring rather than mid-winter walk.  We meandered our favorite path through mud and muck without complaint.
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Teddy thought it a fine day for a stroll through the freely flowing stream, while I enjoyed taking this handsome collie profile with sun-sparkly water in the background:
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The calendar did indeed say January 28, not March 28 when we arrived home.  If this is Mama Nature’s way of perhaps righting some wrongs of last year, I will take it! Thanks, Mama, for a lovely day!

January 1, 2012

This is January 1st?

Filed under: Walking the Dogs — Karma @ 4:04 pm
Tags: , ,

Not that I am complaining, mind you, but I do wonder what the heck is going on around here.  Check out the temperature here today:
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Nearly 50° F in Massachusetts on January 1st!  And the sun was shining too!  Thanks very much for the Happy New Year, Mama Nature… you aren’t just trying to soften me up for what you really have in store for me later, are you?  No, no, I shall not look a gifthorse in the mouth; instead, I shall take the poochachos for a walk.  Want to come along?

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Blue skies and puffy clouds along the powerlines today

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Sunshiney ice crunching and melting under the dogs’ steps
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Puffy weed (is that her majesty Queen Anne?  I’m afraid I don’t recognize HRH in wintertime) in the shadow of a happy dog’s open mouth

My days of no school, no schedule leisure are quickly coming to an end.  I was so happy for this warm little walk for the dogs and me.  Our last day off is tomorrow, and my Christmas tree and village are still standing.  Waiting to see if the spirit moves me to take them down or let them be for a little bit longer.  How did you spend your New Year’s Day?

November 27, 2011

Meandering

Filed under: Walking the Dogs — Karma @ 4:01 pm
Tags: ,

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Like this little creek from my walk today with the poochachos, I think this blog post may meander a bit.  That’s a bit how this Thanksgiving break from work has gone.  I told you about Friday in my last post.  Yesterday found me breaking out of lack of physical activity to tackle the leaves from my horrible sycamore tree.  I forgot to take a “before” picture, but this shot from my 365 project 3 years ago will give you the idea with the amount of leaves from one tree I have to deal with:

The task at hand

After I finished cleaning the front yard, I treated my daughter and myself to a guilty pleasure:

Okay, I’ll cop to it: I read all of the Twilight books.  I’m not one of those “obsessed” people, but I did enjoy the story.

Today found me disbelieving it is already Sunday and that means the return to work tomorrow.  Where did the Thanksgiving break go?  The weather was still reasonably warm today and the dogs really needed a good walk, so off we went.  We headed out to our walk along the powerlines.  Many of the hurdles of broken trees and limbs had been thankfully removed.  As we entered the field that leads to the powerline path,

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in the distance, at the top of the ridge, I saw what I at first thought were just people.  They seemed to be too tall and rather fast moving to be folks on a walk like me.  They disappeared into that stand of trees on the left of the shot before I could get nearer for a closer inspection.  Then I realized what I had been seeing:

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people on horseback!  There were LOTS of tracks like this along our route today, and I think Teddy smelled every one of them.  Other interesting sights along our walk included:

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the final resting place for a bouquet of helium balloons, and these:

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They look like some sort of pine cone, don’t they? Except they were on a tree completely barren of needles.  I didn’t think pine trees ever lost ALL of their needles in one season, do they?

We came around toward one of the last really wooded parts of our walk (I feel like I show you this view rather often, but I love the tunnel-like look and how it changes with the seasons)

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The walk was kind of muddy, and the dogs never missed the opportunity to tromp through the puddles rather than go around them.  They came back dirty and tired, but it was all good.

Now I’ve meandered back to where I began the day – sitting at the computer, keeping up with all of you in the blogosphere.  Ready or not, the holiday season is upon us!  I’m going to try my best not to get to rattled by it all and to stay up with my blog and yours as we enter this busiest of seasons.  Speaking of seasons, Scott’s Fours Seasons assignment is due in about a month!  Did you remember to take pictures for it?  I did, and will be bringing you that post very soon.

September 5, 2011

Back to the Woods

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Summer is slipping through our fingers, I’m sad to say.  Although autumn doesn’t officially begin until September 23rd this year, today, Labor Day, often feels like the end of the season.  It didn’t feel like summer was over to Daphne when I took this picture though!  Let me back up a little.

Saturday morning seemed like it was to be one of those delightful days – a nice one for either summer or fall – with wispy clouds, gentle breezes and a high of 80°.  I hadn’t taken the dogs for a walk in the woods for weeks, mostly because the last time we did so,  they came back covered in ticks or the days had started out just too humidly for me to want to make the trek.  I decided we would avoid the tall grasses and hope for the best this time out.

I was rewarded with beautiful sights along our path, looking so different from when Becky and I went out together back in the spring, or even from some of our early summer walks.

The old tractor path we follow was lush and green, forming almost tunnel-like feeling
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This field of tall grasses developed a purply-pink color that I don’t remember seeing before – I think it is just this particular type of grass gone to seed.
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Wild black-eyed susans,
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milkweed,

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and goldenrod were in full bloom
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Giant dragonflies hovered above the fields, though I struggled to capture them in a photo:

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And just for you, Kathy, I even found a mushroom I could consider a little bit beautiful in its pink color:
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The dogs and I happily ambled along the paths, a few times turned around by impasses likely created by Irene, but had a thoroughly enjoyable walk.  A small swamp with a running stream across part of our path was a bit larger at this time of the year, after the significant rain we’ve had recently, which gets me back to the picture at the beginning of my post.  The last time I showed this part of our walk, it looked like this:

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It was the end of March, and warm for that time of year, but probably at least 20 degrees cooler than this past Saturday.  I didn’t think it was overly warm out, but then I wasn’t wearing a fur coat!
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Hope you enjoyed your Labor Day weekend!  Have a wonderful week.

April 10, 2011

My WordPress 5k – or 7mi. as the case may be!

Filed under: Walking the Dogs — Karma @ 8:40 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Today was the big day for the Worldwide WordPress 5k.  My plan was to follow one of the newly marked trails on conservation land here in town.  The land has much history here and lots of memories for me.  If you’d like to know a little more about it, I found a nice website describing the area here.  It holds memories for me of walking the area as a child, usually with my dad, sister and our dog, sometimes with our bff Renae.  Today I made a new memory with a new friend, Becky from Rebecca the Housewrecka.  We began our walk at our town’s middle school and followed Alton’s Way- thoughtfully named for the longtime town resident and farmer, Alton McDonald who owned the lands and passed away in 2004.

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Most of our path meandered along quiet forest and streams like this,
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with occasional clearings into fields.  One of those clearings included Alton’s barn:
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I thought all the snow had finally melted, but we came across small patches in the woods:
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At the end of Alton’s Way (2.4 miles), we came to Lake Trail, and naturally assumed it would bring us to a lake, or really the local pond, so we followed.

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Daphne and Teddy on the Lake Trail.  The dogs were very excited and enthusiastic today, by the way, both for the new smells of an unfamiliar path and for having another 2-legged friend with us.

Lake Trail did indeed come to the water, but we were unable to find a path to let us get closer.  Only driveways like this one seemed to lead directly to the pond:
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After searching around for a path to the water, we decided to start back.  I checked my iPod pedometer and it said we had already gone 3.3 miles, so we stopped for our self-portrait, having completed 5K:

at 5k

Shortly after this picture was taken, the strange little pedometer program started randomly soundly a bizarre alarm! The screen said I had apparently committed some unknown touch-screen sin.  It happened a few more times on our walk back, and I suspect it somehow interfered with keeping good track of our mileage today.  Upon our return to the trailhead, it said we had gone 4.6 miles.  We knew that couldn’t be true having been at 3.3 shortly after our turn back.  When I looked up the trail online and discovered one way on the trail was 2.4, I figured the little app was unfortunately inaccurate.  By my calculations, I walked closer to 7 miles today: 4.8 for the round trip on Alton’s Way, 1.5 for the round trip on Lake Trail plus searching for the path to the water, .2 to the trailhead and back from the school parking lot, and .5 for walking to and from the school.  So I really did two 5K’s today, right?  Pretty cool!  And pretty tired, especially the dogs:

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During our walk today, we heard frogs in the swamp, saw red-winged blackbirds and hawks, and Becky spotted some neat tree fuzzies – although I don’t know what kind of tree it was. Hopefully she will post her pictures from today, which I’m sure are wonderful.  All in all, I had a great walk.  Thanks for coming along with us, and thanks Becky, for joining the poochachos and me!

ETA: Becky did her post about our walk – go check it out!

April 3, 2011

Getting Ready for the WordPress 5K

Did you get that email from WordPress about a week ago inviting you to participate in their World Wide 5k walk/run?  I’m planning to participate next Sunday, so Daphne, Teddy and I went exploring for our possible 5K route.  I noticed on a recent walk that my town had kindly added a map of trails in the woods near the powerlines where I walk.  I’d been pretty much following the same route since I discovered it last summer, so the map was of interest to me.  Studying it made my head spin, just a bit, as I tried to get my bearings.  These routes ending in the places the map claimed didn’t seem possible to me, so I had to see for myself.  Since I was exploring today and not sure what I would run into, Andre did not come along today (he’s still pouting over there refusing to look at me), but I had my cell phone and iPod (with newly downloaded pedometer!) in my pocket, so I have a few not-wonderful pics to share from our explorations.

I followed part of my usual trail as I began today, and had my eyes open for paint splotches marking the other trails.  One of the branches I took today was the “Cedar Swamp” trail.  Sprinkled all along the edges of this trail were these:
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Anyone recognize it?

As I continued on my path, I had an encounter with a bird of prey that took my breath away in appreciation.  I have no picture to share, but I have reason to believe what I might have seen was a golden eagle.  It took off from a low branch of a tree about 20 feet in front of me, had a brown belly and brown wings, and appeared large enough that I’d have to hold it like a basketball.  I stood in full appreciation of the moment.

As I tried to see where the magnificent bird might have landed, a bit of an obstacle literally lay in our path:
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Poor Teddy bonked his head on the branch pointing downward, but we all managed to scoot under the fallen tree and continue on our way.  I had unfortunately no more siting of the wonderful bird.  I took this picture of the direction I saw it fly in to try to help me remember our encounter:

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The dogs and I continued our walk, they taking in all the new fresh smells, my appreciating a fine spring afternoon.  They got a little muddy and wet as several parts of our walk looked like this:
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..but I in my boots, and they being dogs, we were unbothered by it.  Daphne and I tried a balancing act along that log while Teddy happily slogged through the middle.

As I came over a familiar hill near the last leg of my walk, a wonderful sound filled my ears.  A sound that really says springtime to me:

Turn the speakers up loud on your computer to hear them: peepers!!  How I love that sound.

According to the iPod pedometer, we walked 3.829 miles or 8,631 steps in a leisurely 91 minutes today.  A wonderful walk full of moments to appreciate – I’m looking forward to next Sunday very much.  Let’s hope weather and the moments are equally wonderful.

ETA: Clarification: WordPress didn’t send out an email about their 5K, I just realized!  I subscribe to the Daily Post blog just to keep ideas for my blog flowing and the news of the 5K was shared there.  My bad!  All the information you need to participate, if you are interested, is in that link.  Our friend Gerry and her duo are planning to participate and she has also made a couple posts about planning her route.

February 12, 2011

New Gear and No Excuses

Filed under: Walking the Dogs — Karma @ 6:36 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

Here we are at nearly the midpoint of February, and cabin fever has set in.  I got up this morning and knew I just couldn’t face another day puttering within these walls.  Sure, I got up and went to work and did the errands and drove the girls to dance this week like I always do.  I don’t know about you, but for me, doing those things does not bring relief to the winter doldrums.

Daphne and Teddy agree.  It is time to do something different, get out of the house.  Teddy regularly goes to the basket that holds the leashes and nudges it with his nose.

“But Teddy,” I try explain, “the boots that I have are no good for going for walks.  They give me blisters on a long walk.”

Teddy looks at me with his pointy-nosed-yet-wise face, “Then you must correct this situation, don’t you think?”

I agree with Teddy. Hubby stumbles out of bed this morning.  I announce before he can even get in the shower, “I have cabin fever.”

“What do you want to do about it?”

“I don’t know.  I know I need to get out of the house.  I know you’ll tell me to take the dogs for a walk, but I just can’t in those boots.”

“How about this?  We’ll go to the mall and get you some boots.”

BINGO!  That worked well, didn’t it?  I came home with these:

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A pair of Columbia Coremic Ridge 2.  I don’t know much about hiking boots, but hubby assured me that Columbia is a good brand and these would be good to my feet and provide what I wanted: comfortable, warm and dry feet.  I know I can’t take these through the 2+ feet of snow on the ground or stomping through puddles, but these should hopefully take me through the remainder of winter and what will surely prove to be a long, wet spring in walking comfort.  Besides, I needed to stop making excuses for not getting out and walking with the dogs.  Maybe it is a trend some of us bloggers have decided would be a good thing since we obviously spend plenty of time at the computer.  Robin, in addition to her commitment to going outside every day for at least 30 minutes for a whole year, has added a short term, early morning yoga commitment.  Tracy has recently gone back to her elliptical machine after some time away.

I could hardly not take the new boots out for a test while our temperatures reached for 40° degrees again today and the sun was breaking through the clouds.  I suited up and took my favorite trio – Daphne, Teddy, and Andre – out for a walk.

We took the sidewalk/neighborhood walk today since I didn’t think my path through the woods would be clear.  I noticed something for maybe the first time today.  Or maybe I noticed in the past but it didn’t stick.  I saw that our local “mountain” was visible through the leafless trees:

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Funny, I’m not sure of its name.  It could be part of Minnechaug Mountain, I suppose.  I’ve lived in town virtually my entire life and never called it anything but “the mountain.”

Next, I turned down a side street and saw the sun starting to break through the afternoon clouds:
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Dog sees shadow, but does not run and hide like the groundhog, so that still means a chance for an early spring, right?

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Back down our still ice-covered-snow-rutted street:

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Upon returning home, I sat down at the computer to write up this blog post.  I casually turned to glance out the window, and… remember that expression, “if you don’t like the weather in New England, wait a minute” ?  BAM:

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Snow squall!

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I swear these pictures were all taken today – you can even check my EXIF data on Flickr if you’d like!

Then, just as suddenly, the sun was breaking through again:

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That isn’t “noise” in this shot – those are giant snowflakes floating down in the middle of a pink and blue sky.

And then it was over, as quickly as it began.

I hope that won’t be the case with my commitment to get out there more often with the trio! ;-)

E.T.A.: I was neglectful in not mentioning another blogger’s daily commitment to going out and walking her dog. It isn’t a new commitment, but lucky Ozzie gets a nice walk virtually every day!

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