Are you still there?

Hello there,
Long time, no type. I thought I’d check in to let you know I’m still alive. I know it’s been a while, so here’s the short version.

Tony and I took a quick vacation to the western UP at the beginning of October. We stayed in a quaint little place that allowed pets, so we brought Petey. We dropped Sebastian (male cat) off at the vet so they could dispense UTI meds in our absence. I created lots of photos, lamented the harsh sun, enjoyed hiking in that warm sun on the trails, and we met up with Kathy.

It was a well-timed break, because we were both a little burned out from work. That part of the Upper Peninsula has practically no cell phone service, and we didn’t bring laptops, so we were unplugged almost the whole time. Petey enjoyed his trail time, Sebastian didn’t mind the vet stay too much, and Dominique (sister cat) greeted us loudly – asking why we had left her alone.

It wasn’t long after we returned home that the fall color started in earnest in this part of the state. I hadn’t been expecting much of a show, because the color we’d seen up to that point had been muddy. I was convinced the leaves were just going to turn brown and drop. Instead, they burst forth into a vibrant display, and our weather was unbelievably pleasant. I got lost in a photo and hiking frenzy.

Spoiler alert: most of the rest of this blog is decidedly cheerless.

And then the end of October arrived. I laid down for a nap on Halloween day, and noticed that Dominique felt tiny. I could tell she was sick, so we cuddled for a good hour – a very long time for that restless, squirmy cat. We had her in to see the vet two days later, because she wasn’t eating and I was pretty sure it was a painful dental issue. I was wrong. It was a painful tumor in her lungs. We were given prednisone and a possible six months.

We spent the last two weeks carrying our once sassy (frankly bitchy and demanding) cat around (she was too unsteady to jump down from places she could jump up to), and coaxing food and water into her. She seemed to have some good days. It’s hard to say. She certainly had days full of love, spent in sunny windows on top of warm radiators and tucked into laps with toasty blankets. We don’t question whether it was the right thing, to say goodbye to our sweet kitten on Wednesday, but that doesn’t make letting go easy.

Sebastian’s urinary tract, unhappy with all the stress we’ve been under, developed an infection. Again. It wasn’t long ago that we were uncertain his health was sustainable, as we couldn’t seem to get him well (successive and stubborn UTI’s). Fingers crossed, he seems to be on the mend.

Speaking of “on the mend,” we had to have Petey in for a lumpectomy this morning. He had a cyst on his back that had previously seemed fatty and benign, but had become hard with larger nucleated cells than our vet was comfortable with. He came out of anesthesia okay, but he’s got a nice set of sutures to get healed in the next 10-14 days…which is a long time for a guy who plays so hard with his new gal-pal that he tears up his tummy skin. We’re hoping for good news on that pathology.

Red tummy courtesy of playing too hard in the pastures and woods; snuggling photo is with us this afternoon – you can see his shaved patch for his stitches on his back.

And, to add to the drama, I’ve had some wonderful – but stressful – photographic opportunities come my way in the midst of all this…literally this week. I shot some photos for a cell phone provider (should probably not discuss details), this month’s Traverse Magazine features one of my photos on the cover, and I a have a nature photography opportunity that’s still in the works (again, should probably not discuss details – but I think it’s a perfect fit, and I am thrilled with the potential).

So that’s where I’ve been. I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to. I have over 300 items in my feed-reader, so it might take me a while to get to your blog to check! If you’re inclined, leave me a comment and tell me the highlights. Or lowlights. Or just say hi ;)

Signs of the Season

For a few days in August (Or was it just earlier this month? I don’t remember.) the temperatures dropped into the 60’s, and I thought: Oh, it’s time for fall. I thought it was premature, but then I always feel that way, and I welcomed the seasonal change anyway. And then highs in the 90’s returned, and we’ve since been enjoying an extended summer.

Thankfully, the humidity has dropped back down within acceptable (Yep, I’m the judge of that, thankyouverymuch!) northern Michigan norms, and the mosquito population has died back some so outdoor exploration is less frustrating than it is early in the summer. Without much of a plan, Tony and I headed south yesterday afternoon to check out a state park in Interlochen that we’ve driven near dozens of times, yet never stopped to visit.

About half of the campground was closed, which we took as a mere suggestion since it seemed that only cars were blocked. We ducked under the yellow tape and wandered aimlessly under the oaks, hoping the breezes wouldn’t dislodge acorns onto our noggins.


Thanks to the summery weather, our trees are still mostly green, though a few are starting to display their autumnal plumage. Since Interlochen is a touch inland compared to on-the-bay Traverse City, we had hoped for a slightly advanced color season. We weren’t entirely disappointed.



After our meandering, we grabbed some dinner and then went in search of potential super moon eclipse viewing sites. I took a few pictures from the park in Greilickville, but by then the sky was getting too dark for the photos I had in mind, so I threw in the towel on that venture. Considering the lunar eclipse is officially underway, and the sky is completely clouded over, I’m glad I didn’t spend too much time discovering the perfect location. Here’s hoping your view is better :)


On August 2, several rounds of fierce summer storms swept through northern Michigan. We won’t talk about how I didn’t get out in time for the really awesome photos of one of the rounds of storms (not that I’m still upset about missing my opportunity or anything). Ninety mile-per-hour winds accompanied the last round that rolled through, with several notable downdrafts. The storm is reported to have been the worst one the area has seen in at least 25 years.

We got lucky, losing only a few small limbs off our trees, but nearby areas did not fare so well. Today, we decided to hike one of the still-closed trails, taking the signs as more of a “you can’t sue us if you get hurt” warning.

The trail started off mostly clear, though we could see huge sections of forest on either side that had been laid over by the winds. Soon, though, we came across more substantial devastation.


Not long thereafter, our trail was lost entirely to a labyrinth of trunks and branches. We scrabbled on for a bit – finally turning back after a minor mishap that separated group like we were in a scary movie. (We all made it back to the car safely, though not entirely unscathed.)

It is sobering to see the tops snapped off huge trees and to see so many uprooted. It’s haunting to see trees fractured near the base of their trunks, and to see the scrapes the trees collected as they crashed to their deaths amid their longstanding peers.

On a lighter note, just before we rejoined the trail, we came across a fledgling squirrel. The tiny thing wasn’t moving well enough to run away from us, but it didn’t seem hurt either. Petey was super curious, so we allowed him to approach slowly. He jumped back every time the baby squirrel twitched at all, but he gently sniffed it, and then we went on our way.


Whoever said pit bulls are inherently dangerous obviously never met this one.

Walking, Walking, Walking on Trails

Sunny, 60’s, blue, and breezy – today was a perfect early summer day Up North. Before I moved here from northern Georgia, I wondered if I would be cold in the summers. After all, it was often in the 90’s there over spring break, while it often snows here…in May. But five years in, I can assert what I already knew from acclimatizing to the Miami heat: you adjust. Not only do I manage to stay warm during most of our winter activities, but I also find that 70’s now feel hot – a far cry from the days in Miami when 75 felt cold!
For my overseas friends: 60’s = 15-21C, 70’s = 21-27C, 75 = 24C, 90’s = 32-38C


Thus, while mid-60’s might feel chilly to some of you, it was a beautiful day up here, and Tony and Petey and I had a tough time staying inside. We took a nice long walk this morning, then another at lunch, another after dinner, and then we went hiking this evening with our friend Sebastian (smiling in the photo above).

We met at the trails over by the Boardman River, just south of Traverse City. I don’t know why, but these trails aren’t talked about much in local trail literature. They’re well-tended, have beautiful views, and even feature multiple river access points.


I’m not sure how far we walked – somewhere in the neighborhood of 2-3 miles – but I am sure we enjoyed every second of it, and didn’t get swarmed by mosquitoes. The jury is still out on the ticks, which I am a little twitchy about, since I pulled two OUT of my skin the other day :-/

Unlike all the others, these are not from today. But they are other views of the river, just upstream from our hike.

It’s in the 50’s now, and several of our neighbors are having campfires. If it weren’t approaching midnight, I’d be thinking more seriously about some s’mores. Maybe I’ll just stock up tomorrow so that I’m prepared. Or maybe we’ll just go for another walk ;)

PS – All the photos here can be clicked for bigger views, if you like.

Meeting Strange Men at Night

That’s where I’ve been.

Really where I’ve mostly been is buried in work. Re-launching a major product at work, which required a major work shift as my normal pile of stuff continued to mound up, has meant that I’ve been badly behind since April. I’m still not entirely caught up, but I’m close enough and it feels good! I’ve even started to visit blogs again, and that feels even better :)
(Are you feeling nerdy and want to know what I sound like and perhaps what I do for a day job? Part of that re-launch included me creating tutorial videos, etc. for the new product roll-out. Feel free to have a look/listen if you’re feeling especially bored ;) )

iPhone collage of some of our recent moody skies

But, I lured you here on the promise of seamy intrigue, and so:

The other day, one of my Flickr buddies, Aaron, posted a cool photo of a shipwreck. Thinking it might’ve been the one we hiked to last summer, I inquired about its location. The short version is: “Yes it’s the same shipwreck, and would you like to shoot together sometime?” To which I replied: “Sure! I have no idea who you are besides some Ephemeral Internet Person, this sounds like a great idea! Let me grab the bear spray!” We hashed out a plan to keep an eye toward the weather, and – naturally – meet up for some star time.

We’ve been having a rather Pacific Northwest-like summer, so when yesterday brought both clear skies and a new moon, I contacted Aaron and another visiting photographer friend (who we bumped into while walking Petey the other morning – she’s in the area from her home northern Illinois), and we settled on a loose plan. Golden hour rolled around, and the three of us met up in the parking lot behind the maritime museum in Glen Haven.

Star trails over Sleeping Bear Point

We hiked between the poison ivy vines and over the dunes, and landed on a stretch of Lake Michigan shoreline that we called home for the next few hours. The conditions weren’t as idyllic as we had imagined they would be, but we had such a nice time together – chatting over image creating, thoughts on editing, funny stories. Landscape photographers, preferring the company of Mother Nature over fellow humans, tend to be loners. I’m no different, but for a few hours, it was nice being among friends – even new friends who feel like old friends thanks to a shared passion. I didn’t even bring the bear spray ;)

The iconic DH Day Barn under stars and light pollution