Busy Week Everywhere! 11/20/16

We didn’t have to worry about time dragging by this week!  Ted and I (and Maddie and Bodie) were busy with work, doctor appointments, and a wonderful visit from friends.  And every time I checked on things on Mackinac, there was something else going on up there – including the first snow of winter!

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Our Oklahoma friends (who also own a condo where we were at Surrey Ridge), Buz and Patty Wierwick, visited us for three nights this week as part of their three-week driving tour of the south.  They had never been to Florida or Georgia, and I think they fell in love with both states!  Their children are “doing” Thanksgiving at other relatives this week, so Buz and Patty are going to be having Thanksgiving dinner in Mobile, AL on their way back home.  We spent a few hours touring St. Augustine, the oldest city in the United States, on Thursday.

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Stops included the oldest wooden school house in the U.S. . . .

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. . . . and we just had to stop in for refreshments at St. George Tavern, which claims to be “The Oldest Pub in the Oldest City.”

 

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On our way out of St. Augustine, we rode by the Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest masonry fort in the continental U.S.  At over 315 years old, it’s the oldest structure in St. Augustine.  Have you noticed that every sentence about St. Augustine contains the word “old”?

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Ted finally got our boat out of storage last week, so we took our guests out for a ride on the Intercoastal on Friday – a gorgeous Florida November day!  We’re so glad we got to see these great friends for a few days during the winter, and we can’t wait to get together again on the island next summer!

WINTER ARRIVES ON MACKINAC!

The calm before the storm - near sunset. Grand Hotel and Fort Mackinac by Tom Chambers.

The calm before the storm – near sunset earlier in the week. Grand Hotel and Fort Mackinac by Tom Chambers.

Sunrise from the water on November 17 by Stephanie Fortino on her way to the island.

Sunrise from the water on Thursday – by Stephanie Fortino on her way to the island.

And a sunrise on Friday from Clark Bloswick.

A sunrise on Friday from Clark Bloswick.

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Ahead of the snow came a gale warning.   Jason St. Onge, who posted this pic of the freighter James Barker, said it was in the 60’s with calm waters earlier on Saturday.  Saturday night and Sunday’s forecast included gale warnings with gusts up to 50 mph for the Straits of Mackinac and the island.  The James Barker was setting anchor to take refuge between Mackinac Island and St. Ignace.  Peak winds were to arrive around 4 pm Saturday.

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Molly McGreevy posted this pic from a Marine Traffic App, showing the James Barker wasn’t the only vessel to take cover in the St. Ignace “parking lot”.  For those interested, the green icons from bottom to top are the freighters James Barker, Cuyahoga, Edwin H. Gott, Algoma Enterprise, and Calument.  The light blue icon are tugs.  From top down The Michigan, The Rebecca Lynn and The Anglian Lady closest to land.

 

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A Clark Bloswick photo from this morning at British Landing.

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Clark’s view of the town this morning.  He said the island got a couple of inches overnight.

POOCH NEWS

Bodie had his first official grooming last week, and I'm so happy to report it went very well. Raina, our wonderful groomer, said he was good on the table. What was even better was his trainer taught me how to load him in my car the day before our grooming appointment. With a couple of simple instructions, Bodie now jumps right into the back seat and seems content to either lay down or sit in the back and take in the scenery. Please, Lord, let this last! As much as you all know how much I loved my sweet Bear, he was a terrible traveler.

Bodie had his first official grooming last week, and I’m so happy to report it went very well. Raina, our wonderful groomer, said he was good on the table. Even better – his trainer taught me how to load him in my car the day before our grooming appointment. With a couple of simple instructions, Bodie now jumps right into the back seat and seems content to either lay down or sit in the back and take in the scenery. Please, Lord, let this last! As much as you all know how much I loved my sweet Bear, he was a terrible traveler.

How Bodie sleeps at night. Cracks me up!

How Bodie sleeps at night. Cracks me up!

We took Bodie and Madde out to Washington Oaks State Park this afternoon for a little adventure. Bodie discovered his shadow . . .

We took Bodie and Maddie out to Washington Oaks State Park this afternoon for a little adventure. Bodie discovered his shadow . . .

. . . and loved running free up and down the trails!

. . . and loved running free up and down the trails!

My sweet fur babies. . . .

My sweet fur babies. . . .

So darn cute!

So darn cute!

A FEW EXTRA

An awesome sunrise over our Flagler Beach pier by friend Linda Brendlinger.

An awesome sunrise over our Flagler Beach pier by friend Linda Brendlinger.  We lost a portion of the end of the pier to Hurricane Matthew.

Some beautiful shots of last week's super moon from blog reader Cheryl Haddon from Illinois. Wow!

Some beautiful shots of last week’s super moon from blog reader Cheryl Haddon from Illinois. Wow!

The Bodster. Gotta love that face!

How can you not smile with these two characters around!

Who let the dogs out?! We have this big holding pond in our community, and it is usually dry. It makes a really fine dog park! From the front, that's Maddie, Bodie, Ryder (an English Golden Retriever), little Joey (a MinPin), and Raschal (an Australian Shepherd). They LOVE playing together out there!

Who let the dogs out?! We have this big holding pond in our community, and it is usually dry. It makes a really fine dog park! From the front, that’s Maddie, Bodie, Ryder (an English Golden Retriever), little Joey (a MinPin), and Raschal (an Australian Shepherd). They LOVE playing together out there!

I had to end with this one. This photo from Greg Main shows a very unusual vertical cloud. If God was choosing to show us what His angels must look like, I think this cloud is a great representation.

I had to end with this one. This photo from Greg Main shows a very unusual vertical cloud. If God ever chose to show us what His angels must look like, I think this cloud is a great representation.

Personal note:  As all of you who have been readers over the years know, I usually take the month of November off from blogging.  I didn’t want to do that this year, because of course I wanted to share our first month with Bodie with you.

So, I’m going to take a little breather now until the first of January.  Per doctor’s orders, I’m starting physical therapy again on my neck, and I just need some time to recharge my jets.  Thanksgiving and Christmas are upon us, and I know we’re all going to be extra busy.  It’s a good time to take a break from writing!

I’ll still be around on Facebook, so we can always say “hi” from there!

In advance, the Horton household wishes all of you the happiest of Thanksgivings and a very Merry Christmas.  We’ll see you back here during the first week in January, 2017.  It promises to be an exciting year for us.  We have an Alaska cruise coming up in May, three months on Mackinac again during the summer, and lots of fun with a growing Bodie and our sweet little Maddie girl.

Sending much love and hugs from our house to yours!

God bless.

A Sad Goodbye to Arnold Ferry Line 11/13/16

As most of you already know, the 5 p.m. departure of the Huron last Thursday marked the last time a boat operated by Arnold Ferry Line would travel to or from Mackinac Island.  The historic ferry line (the oldest and longest-running), which began serving the island 138 years ago, has been purchased by Star Line Mackinac Island Ferry, which began 38 years ago as competition to Arnold and to Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry, which was created in 1945.

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Arnold’s mighty Huron, as she is known by everyone with ties to Mackinac, has been the only winter ferry to the island since 1955.  Star Line will continue to operate the Huron for passenger and freight service during the winter, abiding by Mackinac Island’s winter ferry passenger service agreement.

Star Line will also buy five other Arnold Line boats, the Arnold Boatyard and several docks.

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Star Line’s Marquette II arrives on Friday morning – her first trip ever as the winter ferry to Mackinac.

For hundreds of islanders, for thousands of  visitors whose memories of a Mackinac vacation began with an Arnold Line ferry boat ride, and for the hundreds of Arnold employees whose lives were tied to the company over those 138 years, this is the sad end of an era.  Especially poignant is the end of the mighty Huron operating as an Arnold boat.  It’s hard to comprehend for those of us who do not live year-round on Mackinac, but Arnold’s mighty Huron provided everything to the island after the close of the season – passenger service and freight service – until the Straits of Mackinac would freeze over and the ferry would have to stop running.  She alone was responsible for islanders receiving food and other staples for the grocery store and restaurants that remain open, for residents reaching the mainland if there were health concerns or if they just needed to have a day off-island, and for winter visitors trying out “Mackinac in the winter”.  Even though the mighty Huron will continue to run, it is a bittersweet transition from one company to another.

We wish Star Line a hearty congratulations on your new venture!  With only two lines providing transportation to Mackinac next summer, Star Line and Shepler’s, it will be interesting to see what changes are in store.  We know both these fine companies will continue to provide excellent service to and from our favorite island, and we look forward to a great 2017 season!

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A poignant farewell photo from Arnold Mackinac Island Ferry on its last departure from the island: “It was a pleasure serving you.  Thank you for 138 years of memories.  This is your ATCO crew – signing off.”

NOVEMBER ON MACKINAC

Clark Bloswick has been busy documenting November on the island.  These next six photos are his.

A relatively calm day earlier in the month . . .

A relatively calm day earlier in the month.

A typical fall wind storm hit the island on Thursday. It always amazes me the size of the waves generated on the Great Lakes. Clark remembers that these waves were nothing compared to those on November 10, 1975, the day the Edmund Fitzgerald went down.

A typical fall wind storm hit the island on Thursday, Nov. 10. It always amazes me the size of the waves generated on the Great Lakes. Clark remembers these waves were nothing compared to those on November 10, 1975, the day the Edmund Fitzgerald went down during a Lake Superior storm, with the loss of the entire crew of 29.

Friday saw the island awake to the first "gale of November" , , ,

Wind, waves and whitecaps.

Sunset on Saturday evening.

Sunset on Saturday evening.

Sunrise over Bois Blanc this morning.

Sunrise over Bois Blanc this morning.

An early evening shot of geese flying into Mission Point, backlit by that gorgeous full moon.

An early evening shot tonight of geese flying into Mission Point, backlit by that gorgeous full moon.

I. Love. This. Photo! A beautiful fall image of the steps leading from Sugar Loaf to Point Lookout. (Photo: Patti Carpenter McGreevy)

I love this photo! A beautiful fall image of the steps leading from Sugar Loaf to Point Lookout. (Photo: Patti Carpenter McGreevy)

BODIE NEWS

I will not lie.  Having a teenage Golden Retriever who weighs  58 lbs. at seven months is a little harder than I thought it would be.  It’s been 12 years since we had a puppy in the house (that would be Maddie), and she was an amazingly easy girl.  And she was small.  Having a big dog puppy is totally different because he does everything . . . bigger!  Plays bigger, eats bigger, poops and pees bigger, chews bigger, walks bigger.  He is a daily challenge, but I love trying to stay one step ahead of him.

One of my biggest challenges is teaching him to greet people gently on our walks.  He wants to wiggle himself right into their space and get all mouthy with their hands.  It was wearing me out trying to pull him back.  So – I sent out a “please help me train Bodie” message to our entire Sunset Inlet community, giving suggestions on how to help Bodie learn to greet nicely.  Our neighbors have responded like the wonderful folks they are.  So far we’ve had encounters with two neighbors who ignored Bodie while I asked him to sit, waited for him to calm down, then asked him to “shake”, which he did.  Then they petted him.  And Bodie got a treat from me.  It was amazing how well it worked!

We have a trainer coming once a week for five weeks to offer tips and help me find the best ways to train him.  Two of our neighbors, Mark and Shauna, text “going to the dog park” when they head out with their two big dogs, Rascal and Ryder, so Bodie and I can join in the fun.  We have a big open area in our community we call the “dog park”.  It’s great for playing fetch and just letting dogs be dogs.

And – I will tell you something else big dogs do.  They LOVE big.  All I need to do to get some Bodie love is climb in his big bed with him.  He snuggles right in and we have some mom/Bodie love time.

Yes, he’s a challenge.  But he is remarkably smart, learns commands quickly, retains most of them well, and is quickly creating his own great big spot in my heart.

Bodie: "I know if I sit here long enough, Maddie will get tired of that Kong and I can get it."

Bodie: “Maybe if I stand here long enough, Maddie will get tired of that Kong and I can get it.”

"Hmmm . . . or maybe not."

“Hmmm . . . or maybe not.”

Grandkids for the Weekend! 11/6/16

One of the main reasons we moved to Florida was to see our grandkids more often, and this was one of those weekends we got to reap the rewards.  Julie and Matt were out of town, and we had the great fun of Jordan and Matthew spending a couple of nights with us! 

Jordan had babysitting jobs lined up, and since she now can drive, she handled all the back and forth travel from babysitting duties to our house.  Matthew brought tons of fishing gear and was out casting from the seawall as soon as he arrived.  The weekend was relatively quiet – Jordan babysat, did schoolwork, and read.  Matthew fished and took Bodie out for runs (Bodie LOVED that)!

In fact, Bodie and Matthew formed quite a bond this weekend.

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When Bodie got put in “time-out” for stealing Matthew’s socks, Matthew climbed in the crate with him to keep him company.  I have a real concern that this “punishment” did nothing to keep Bodie from stealing socks again!  In fact, it might have encouraged it!

A FEW FALL PICS

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The freighter James R. Barker passes by the golden shoreline trees.  It was 60 degrees and sunny on Mackinac today.  (Photo: Tom Chambers)

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A spectacular Clark Bloswick photo through one of the Fort Mackinac’s gun ports! 

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Love, love, love this pic of a chipmunk against a blurred background that includes St. Anne’s.  Clark, who took the pic, says the chipmunks are staying visible a lot longer than usual due to the warmer than normal fall.

When next we chat the election will be over, and America will have a new President.  Please join me in lifting a prayer for this great country of ours. 

God bless.

More Fall Beauty From Mackinac 11/3/16

I thought Sunday’s blog post would be the best of the best of “Fall on Mackinac” photos.

I was wrong.

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Every time someone shares one of these pics of this year’s gorgeous trees I tear up a little.  Sure would love to be there to see them in person – to stand in the road and stare, or sit on a leafy knoll and just breathe it all in. (Photo: Tom Chambers)

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I can’t get enough of the maple trees on Cadotte!  These trees were only planted six years ago.  Can you imagine their WOW factor in another decade!  (Photo: Pam Day)

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The folks at Metivier Inn shared this and the next five photos – showing just how empty downtown becomes after most everything has closed.  Here a lone person walks a bike toward St. Anne’s on Main Street.

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In the summer this row of benches would be overflowing with visitors awaiting their turn to board a Carriage Tour.

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Ferry docks usually teeming with people at any hour of the day stand empty until just before the arrival or departure of a ferry.

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Main Street . . .

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. . . Market Street . . .

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. . . and the marina are empty.  November is quiet on Mackinac.  It’s a time when year-round residents give a sigh of relief that another season of hard work has come to an end, men enjoy hunting season, and families travel to see friends and relatives.  Thanks for sharing, Metivier Inn!

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A gorgeous sunrise captured by Patrick Conlon.

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And that’s a wrap.  From Dale Peterson, this photo of the last group of horses leaving the island for the winter.  A few horses will remain for the winter taxi and for the work drays.

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THIS end of Main Street was a beehive on this particular day.  Getting the work done before the snow flies!  (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

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This photo and the next four are from friend and wonderful photographer Bruce LaPine.  Love this one from the Peace Garden, showing the bronze statue, “Be Still”.  The garden is dedicated to the 200 years of lasting peace between Canada and the United States since the War of 1812.  The garden is at the east end of Marquette Park.

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From Point Lookout, overlooking Sugar Loaf.

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I guess it’s strange to say that one of my favorite island spots is a cemetery, but it is – and especially in the fall.  It’s then that the sound of your feet crunching through the fallen leaves is usually the only sound you will hear as you walk among the gravestones.  Such peace for those who rest here.

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The Grand Lady on the Hill – almost hidden by those maples.

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And there are just no words that would do this one justice.  It is perfect.  Awesome photos, Bruce!  Thank you for sharing!

A FEW BODIE THOUGHTS

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I pulled out an old photo of Bear this week (he was about 1 1/2 years old in that one) and compared him to Bodie.  I had forgotten how much lighter Bear had become as he’d aged.  When we first got himhe was almost the exact shade Bodie is now. 

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Bodie is alternately a teenage terror, an obedient angel, and a big puppy who is scary smart.  I taught him to shake the other day in about 10 minutes, and he instinctively knew to alternate paws –  without being taught that – depending on which one I asked for.  You can just see his mind whirling at times.  Gotta be on my toes with this one!

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He and Maddie are bonding.  That means she puts up with him until he crosses a line.  Then she pushes him back across to his side.  Bodie is more assertive than Bear, but Maddie handles him like the Queen she is.  I caught them grooming each other one morning – Bodie washing her face, and Maddie cleaning his ears.  Sweet moment.

Y’all won’t believe this, but I stayed up until 1 am this morning watching the Cubs win the World Series.  First baseball game I’ve watched in at least 10 years (and probably the last one for the next ten).  I’ve never been much of a baseball fan, but that game last night was sports at its greatest.  Congratulations to all the Cubs fans out there! 

Have a great weekend, and we’ll meet back here in a few days. 

God bless.

With the Closing of the Grand . . . . 10/30/16

This is Grand Hotel’s final weekend of the season.  I remember well (when we owned our condo and arrived on Mother’s Day weekend and left at the end of October or the first week in November) popping down the hill on this weekend to get my final “fix” of Grand Hotel-ness.  After all, it had to last me till the following Spring!

Of course, the Grand can turn anything into a party, and they offer a “Close the Grand” special that begins today and ends tomorrow, when Dan Musser III, President and owner of Grand Hotel, rings the bell and declares “the season is officially over.”  The package includes a casual dinner buffet on Sunday evening and a continental breakfast Monday morning.  There’s a laid back atmosphere as the Grand cleans out the pantries and wine cellar.  Bob Tagatz (love him), the hotel’s historian and concierge, will do a presentation explaining the process they use to close the hotel, as well as give fun facts from the 2016 season.

Before the closing, there is the official “running of the chairs”, when hotel employees line up and walk briskly out to the long porch, each grabbing a rocking chair or a table or a bench and walking it back inside through a corridor formed by other hotel employees and guests.  Each item on the porch is deposited in perfect rows inside the Grand Ballroom, and there it remains until just before the hotel reopens in the spring.

If you hang around after the closing and wander through the halls, you might get a peek inside the Presidential Suite or one of the First Lady Suites, as the Grand’s staff works rapidly to make up each room and leave it spotless.  Jill and I have wandered those halls on many a closing day.  We even got inside Masco Cottage one year, and there’s only one word to describe it – DECADENT!

My friend Pam Day, who I introduced to you on Thursday, shared some pics she took this week.  You’d think with the close of the season, and all the flower beds pulled and the tulip bulbs planted, there wouldn’t be much in the way of color.  Well, don’t you believe it for a minute!

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Maybe my memory is failing me, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen this color combination used at the Grand for fall color gardens . . .

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. . . but, oh my gosh, isn’t it beautiful!  Every shade of lilac with some white and a splash of the palest yellow mixed in.  Love, love, love!

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The trees that line Cadotte took their sweet time dressing for fall this year, but it was well worth the wait!  Those leaves are about as close to red as they can get!

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I don’t even know what to say about this photo by Clark Bloswick – except that I could just sit and stare at it all afternoon.  I don’t think you’d ever find a photo that more accurately defines a perfect Mackinac Island Fall afternoon than this one.  Just stunning, Clark!

On the years we’d stay on Mackinac for a day or two after Grand Hotel closed, we got to witness the island for a treasured moment in time the way the year-round residents do.  The Grand closure is the last ritual of the season, and with the closing of its doors, hundreds and hundreds of seasonal employees leave the island, either that same day or the next.  The streets are shockingly empty, business doors have signage like “closed for the season” or “see you in the spring”.  Only one ferry line is running, and the schedule is sparse.  Islanders use this time to stock up for winter, knowing that an extremely cold and snowy winter could mean times when the ferries can’t run and the plane can’t fly.  They have to be prepared for anything.

On the other hand, it’s a time of true community on Mackinac.  The folks who live on the island all year are a close-knit group, most of whom have called the island home for generations.  I love this group of islanders, and it’s still – even after all these years – a dream of mine to spend at least part of a winter there.  I just have to figure out how to make it happen.

I’m sitting here at my laptop with this stupid grin on my face thinking about spending a month on the island in the dead of winter – with snow measured by the foot, winds howling, and nothing to keep me entertained but writing, photography, books, a big red/blonde dog, and maybe – if I’m lucky – a fireplace.  Where’s Ted in this picture?  He’s here in Florida, because THERE IS NO WAY ON GOD’s GREEN EARTH HE’D EVER CONSIDER SUCH A SCENARIO.  But if he did, well – that would just make it perfect!

Maybe not even a month.  Two weeks?

Oh well, that’s my fantasy for the day.  Maybe I got on that subject because I just came in from walking Bodie and “glow” drops are running down my face.  Oh wait!  That’s sweat.  Cause it’s still hot in Florida!

Have a great upcoming week, and God bless.

What Would I Do Without . . . . 10/27/16

Each year when we leave Mackinac for the summer I’m already wondering about the coming fall and winter.  As I transition from being a part-time Michigander back to being a full-time Floridian (still can’t get used to saying that), I  begin to ponder who among the island year-round residents may be willing to share their photographs of “the hidden season” – so I can pass them on to you.  There have been so many generous folks in the past – Clark Bloswick, Tom Chambers, Patrick Conlon, Robert McGreevy, Stefanie Congdon, Greg Main – to name just a few.  Without you the winter version of Bree’s Blog wouldn’t exist.  As always, thank you so much!

Being added to that list this year is a sweet, sweet lady I had the pleasure to call neighbor for too short a time this summer.  Her name is Pam Day, and she’s been a long-time reader of Bree’s Blog.  I actually have TWO Pam Days who are blog readers – Pam Day from Ohio, and THIS Pam Day, who is from Michigan (both are equally as sweet).  The Michigan Pam Day did something this summer that so many of my readers have dreamed of – she bought a condo on Mackinac Island.  Her new semi-permanent address is Cedar Hill Condos, where Ted and I stayed the last part of this summer and where we’ll be staying for three months next year.  I’ve already discovered that Pam has quite an eye for photography, and she’s agreed to share her talent with us.  I’m hoping that other full-time residents at Cedar Hill will also be snapping winter photos and forwarding them on to me.  How ’bout it, Eugenia Murray and Meredith and Craig Mclellan?

For your viewing pleasure, here’s a couple of Pam’s photos, followed by others from several island contributors:

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This morning at the post office.  The air was chilly, and the streets and bike racks were empty.  (Photo: Pam Day)

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The view across the Jewel Golf Course from Huron Road and out across the Straits.  (Photo: Pam Day)

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A little different angle on Grand Hotel.  Oh my gosh, I love those gold trees! (Photo: Tom Chambers)

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A walk in the woods in the Fall with your dog.  What could be better?!  Photo by Lisa Brock with pooch Penny Lane.

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Yes, they’re electric golf carts.  But on the way to winter storage, they travel by horse-drawn dray.  (Photo: Eugenia Murray)

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The end of the sailing season.  Dave Rowe took this final view of the island as he sailed his boat Wild Honey to the mainland for winter storage. 

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A great capture of Pure Mackinac by Clark Bloswick.  A lone dray, a lone taxi, a lone maintenance worker on otherwise empty Cadotte Avenue.  Great fall colors!

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The trees of the Jewel Golf Course were a favorite subject this week!  (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

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I had to save this one for last.  A stunning October sunset over Mackinac.  (Photo: Jason Kladiva)

A BIT ABOUT BODIE

This week’s Top 10 Things Bodie Likes That Get Him in Trouble:  1.Pulling up long strands of grass from a backyard that doesn’t have enough grass to spare to puppies who want to play with it 2)  Anything that dangles 3) Plastic of any kind – dry cleaning plastic, newspaper plastic sleeve, garbage bags (full and empty) 4) Shoes 5) Socks 6) Welcoming visitors by chewing on their hands 7) Paper towels 8) Sea shells 9) Paper 10) Wood 

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But . . . . here I am finishing this post, and there he is sound asleep in Bear’s bed.  I wonder as I type when I will begin to call it Bodie’s bed.  I can glance at him sometimes (like now), and he looks so much like Bear it’s eerie. 

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But then he wakes up and moseys over to say hi (like now).  And he sticks out that cute tongue with the black spot, and looks up at me with those eyes that have a slightly oriental slant to them at this point in his development, and I think, “No, he’s all Bodie.” 

And I grin at him and tell him what a good boy he is, and his butt instantly hits the floor because he already knows when I say “good boy”, it’s going to be followed by the “sit” command and a treat is going to magically appear in my hand.

Yep.  He’s all Bodie And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

First Week Back 10/23/16

HURRICANE MATTHEW

We’ll have been back from Michigan a week on Monday, the 24th, and I have to admit to still being somewhat discombobulated.  Although Flagler Beach and Beverly Beach community services are working like Trojans to get our little beach communities cleaned up and everything open again, it’s sad to ride up or down A1A and see the destruction that some subdivisions and towns even smaller than ours suffered.

Ted and I rode up to Fort Matanzas this afternoon (where Ted volunteers), and the destruction to homes and trees and dunes is just devastating.  All along the highway there are piles of debris – some of it is just rubbish from downed trees, but way too much of it is furniture, appliances, clothes and artwork from houses that were once someone’s “dream homes”.  In some areas the ocean came across the dunes and highway and went into neighborhoods and houses on the other side of the road.  Vegetation both east and west of the highway looks as though it’s been sprayed by weed killer.  Such is the destruction of salt water on plant life.

As many times as you read of these kinds of things happening other places, you can never fully grasp the reality until it happens close to you.  In Sunset Inlet, homeowners whose houses sustained damage are struggling to get roofing and siding companies’ attention when there are so many other people needing the same services.  Since we first got home, we’ve learned more about what happened here in our neighborhood, and we now know that several homes suffered pretty substantial damage – mostly from water intrusion from roof damage, windows and sliding doors.  We had sustained winds here of nearly 90 mph for several hours, and that is a terrible force against anything man-made.

But – everyone is pulling together – sharing information, being there for each other, and lending helping hands.  For those in the community who got here a day after the storm passed (one couple actually rented kayaks and came in that way before the bridges opened) – a huge thank you to those who came in and emptied our frig and freezer while the electricity was out and moved it into storage where there were generators.  And thank you for coming – not once, but twice – to check our home for water damage around our doors and windows.

Each day more highways are opened, detours are cancelled, and businesses are opening.  Two of our favorite places – Java Joint and Turtle Shack – were off limits to cars because of a detour, but they opened within days and you could still get there by walking down the side walk.  Today the highway was opened, and we had breakfast at Java Joint for the first time since we’ve been back.

Our Flagler County communities depend on tourism – both summer and winter – for jobs and a good economy.  We are rapidly rebuilding, and I predict by January, when most of the snowbirds arrive, and by next summer, when the beaches will fill with vacationers, this little coastal town will once again be going strong.  We may be small, but we are mighty!

MACKINAC ISLAND

I KNEW I would miss the peak week for Fall colors, and I did.  Thank you to Jill for sharing the first seven pics below (except the one from the Chippewa) from her final week on the island.

Jill found me on our last morning grabbing a cup of coffee from Miranda at Martha's Sweet Shop.

Jill found me on our last morning grabbing a cup of coffee from Miranda at Martha’s Sweet Shop.

One of my favorite places for Fall color - Surrey Hill!

One of my favorite places for Fall color – Surrey Hill!

There's no Halloween anywhere as happy as a Mackinac Island Halloween.

There’s no Halloween anywhere as happy as a Mackinac Island Halloween!

Children fill the streets for a giant parade past the downtown businesses, who pass out goodies to every trick or treater.

Children fill the streets for a giant parade past the downtown businesses, where owners pass out goodies to every trick-or-treater.

After dark the streets belong to the adults, and costumes range from cute and clever to . . .

After dark the streets belong to the adults, and costumes range from cute and clever to . . .

. . . over the top scary!

. . . over the top scary! (Photo: Chippewa Hotel)

A sure sign of season's end - today the Chuckwagon closed for the season. Have a great winter, Donny and Sharon and the crew!

A sure sign of season’s end – today the Chuckwagon closed. Have a great winter, Donny and Sharon and the crew!

The day after we left I saw this Mackinac Revealed LLC photo on Facebook. This has always been one of my favorite vistas, and in this pic our neighbors at the Cedar Hill Condos, Meredith and Craig (and dog Mason) happened to be walking down the hill. Such a perfect photo!

The day after we left I saw this Mackinac Revealed LLC photo on Facebook. This has always been one of my favorite vistas, and in this pic our neighbors at Cedar Hill Condos, Meredith and Craig (and dog Mason),  happened to be walking down the hill. Such a perfect photo!

Shepler Ferry Captain Pat Springate captured this great photo today showing exactly how HUGE a freighter is!

Shepler Ferry Captain Pat Springate captured this great photo today, showing exactly how HUGE a freighter is!

The east end of town from Fort Mackinac this afternoon. (Photo: Tom Chambers)

The east end of town from Fort Mackinac this afternoon. (Photo: Tom Chambers)

 

And earlier today - from Clark Bloswick - a glance toward the Chippewa and Fort Mackinac on a beautiful fall morning.

And earlier today – from Clark Bloswick – a glance toward the Chippewa and Fort Mackinac from the Arnold Dock bike racks.

A CHANCE TO LIVE ON MACKINAC

For anyone who may be interested, I’m mentioning again a condo for sale on the island.  I have a special place in my heart for this condo because Ted and I used to own it!  Yes, our former condo at Surrey Ridge is being sold by the folks who bought it from us.  Improvements to the condo since we owned it are: 1) personal storage units for each owner; 2) new decks and railing; and 3) new landscaping.  The condo has three large bedrooms and two baths, a living area, kitchen, and a loft area that could be used as an office or TV room.  The condo has three levels – entrance on the first floor, living area, kitchen, master bedroom and bath, and guest room and bath on second floor, and loft and third bedroom on third floor. The price is $315,000 FIRM.  Interested folks should contact Steve Gould at (678) 521-3165.  It is for sale by owner.

BODIE

Eventually Bodie will take his place with Maddie as “one of our dogs”, but just for a little while I have to talk about him pretty much constantly.

You remember how you felt when your baby(s) started crawling and you could no longer take your eyes off them for one second. Take that feeling and multiple it by four legs and you get my present position. Negatives: He loves to put things in his mouth and couldn't care less if they are safe or dangerous. Case in point - I was loading the dishwasher tonight when he disappeared behind me and headed for the bedroom. I know to follow him ANYTIME he disappears suddently, and thank goodness I did. He had pulled a steak knife out of the dishwasher and was trying to figure out how to chew it! Oh dear Gussie - I almost had a heart attack! Thank goodness no harm was done, but I spent five minutes with his mouth pried open looking for blood and cuts.

You remember how you felt when your baby(s) started crawling and you could no longer take your eyes off them for one second?  Take that feeling and multiple it by four legs and you get my present life.

Negatives: 1)  He loves to put things in his mouth and couldn’t care less if they are safe or dangerous. Case in point – I was loading the dishwasher tonight when he disappeared behind me and headed for the bedroom. I know to follow him ANY TIME he disappears suddenly, and thank goodness I did. He had pulled a steak knife out of the dishwasher and was trying to figure out how to chew it! Oh dear Gussie – I almost had a heart attack! Thank goodness no harm was done, but I spent five minutes with his mouth pried open looking for blood and cuts.  2)  Hmmm . . . I seem to have run out of negatives.

Positives:  1)  He’s settling down more for longer periods of time.  2) He’s good in his crate at night and when we leave the house. 3) He has SIT and DOWN mastered (as long as there’s a treat involved), knows LEAVE IT and OFF (because he hears it every two minutes), and definitely knows his name.  4)  He and Maddie are learning to share, but Maddie has met her match in “toy snatching”.  For the first time in her life, she gets HER toys stolen as often as she steals Bodie’s. 5)  Did I mention he’s a mama’s boy?  6)  He is so curious about everything.  He will sit and watch an airplane cross the sky and cock his head like “What IS that?”

He loves walking out to the dock on the Intracoastal and watching birds.

He loves walking out to the dock on the Intracoastal and watching birds, but the first time a fish jumped out of the water he almost came out of his skin he was so scared.

Several days after we lost Bear I took all the covers off his huge orthopedic dog bed and washed them.  When I was putting it all back together, I said to Ted I was going to see if anyone in the neighborhood would want the bed, and he immediately said, “No you’re not!”  I asked why not, since we’d both talked about getting another small dog when something happened to Bear.  “Because,” he said, “We’ll have another big dog one day who will need that bed.”  Of course I cried on his shoulder that day, thinking to myself I couldn’t ever love another big dog.

I was wrong.

I was wrong.

One of my readers last week commented that Bodie would never fill the spot in my heart that Bear filled, but that Bodie would create his own spot.

And that’s what he’s already doing.

God bless.