Dancing With A Limp 5/22/16

As I was thinking of how to transition from several years of blogs filled with photographs of my sweet Bear, to writing the first one without him, I came upon a quote from Anne Lamott.  She said, “Grief is like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly.  It still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”

That about says where I am right now. . . . I’m beginning to learn to dance with the limp.

Life does go on though, doesn’t it.  And if anything could have started my heart on the path to dancing, it was the arrival of Blake last Monday.  One of my readers said on Facebook, “I’ve heard that sons always know when their moms need them.”  And although Blake’s trip had been planned for several weeks before everything that happened with Bear, I believe God, who knows all things way ahead of all of us, had Blake’s trip in the works for a reason.

Blake arrived last Monday from Colorado for a week of beach time.

Blake arrived from Colorado for a week of beach time.

He's soaked up the sun (in between lots of rain storms), eaten some of his favorite mom-cooked food, and also enjoyed a few meals out like here at the Funky Pelican for dinner last night.

He’s soaked up the sun (in between some rain storms), eaten some of his favorite mom-cooked food, and also enjoyed a few meals out –  like here at the Funky Pelican for dinner last night.

Another night Julie and her gang came over for dinner. Only one missing was Jason and Jennifer, but they are coming in a couple of weeks!

Another night Julie and her gang came over for dinner. Only ones missing were Jason and Jennifer, but they’re coming in a couple of weeks!

We’re putting Blake on a plane back to Colorado late this afternoon.  It’s been a super-great week!

MACKINAC ISLAND NEWS

Another reason to smile is our upcoming trip to Mackinac.  Still almost eight weeks away, but you all know how I like to plan ahead!  Jill returned to the island last week and has been TORTURING me with photos ever since she got there.

But first- can you believe they had SNOW on the island a couple of weeks ago?  Unbelievable!  Residents were beginning to wonder if spring would ever come.  And then . . . it did!

Horses have been arriving for weeks now - these loading onto a ferry from St. Ignace. (Photo: Kellie Lawrence)

Horses have been arriving for weeks now – these loading onto a ferry in St. Ignace. (Photo: Kellie Lawrence)

Construction is rapidly coming to a close as Memorial Day approaches. Once that weekend is over, the island will be in full "season" mode! (Photo: Jill Sawatzki)

Construction is rapidly coming to a close as Memorial Day approaches. Once that weekend is over, the island will be in full “season” mode! (Photo: Jill Sawatzki)

 

The sunrises continue to be incredible. (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

The sunrises continue to be incredible – as this one from the Arch Rock platform (Photo: Clark Bloswick) . . . .

But they are riveled in beauty by the sunsets - this one captured by Stefanie Congdon from Stonecliffe.

. . . but they are rivaled in beauty by the sunsets – this one captured by Stefanie Congdon from Stonecliffe.

And then there are those full moons (Photo: Clark Bloswick) . . .

And then there are those full moons (Photo: Clark Bloswick) . . .

. . . and some amazing rainbows. Jaime Andress captured this one in the side yard of our former condo at Surrey Hill.

. . . and some amazing rainbows. Jamie Andress captured this one in the side yard of our former condo at Surrey Hill.

A sure sign of spring on Mackinac - the tulips at Grand Hotel are up and glorious! (Photo: Orietta Barquero)

A sure sign of spring on Mackinac – the tulips at Grand Hotel are up and glorious! (Photo: Orietta Barquero)

But the Grand's not the only one with bragging rights with the tulips!

But the Grand’s not the only one with bragging rights with the tulips! (Photo: Jill Sawatzki)

Early morning at the Grand Hotel barn. (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

Early morning at the Grand Hotel barn. (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

Yeah!!! It's George, my favorite dray driver! I didn't see nearly enough of this sweet guy last summer. So glad he's out and about this year. Happy Birthday, George! (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

Yeah!!! It’s George, my favorite dray driver! I didn’t see nearly enough of this sweet guy last summer. So glad he’s out and about this year. Happy Birthday, George! (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

Horses and tulips - one of those perfect combos! (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

Horses and tulips – one of those perfect combos! (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

PRAYER REQUEST

Our dear friend Lowell Greene will be having heart surgery on Thursday, May 26 at the Cleveland Clinic in the Sydell & Arnold Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute.  Lowell has had a pacemaker for many years, and it seems one of the wires has become frayed and must be replaced.  The problem is the wire has become imbedded in the wall of his heart, and it’s going to be a pretty tedious procedure. He tells me he’s in excellent hands (his surgeon AND his God), but I think he’d appreciate knowing we’re all lifting him up on Thursday that things go well, and that he’s home quickly with no complications.  Please remember his sweet wife Faye and his sons also – as they wait.

I guess that about catches us up.  Many thanks one more time for all your love during the last weeks.  You kept me going in more ways than one, and I am beyond grateful for every card sent, word written, and prayer lifted.  You are simply the best.

God bless.

For Bear 5/15/16

In one of my favorite books, The Gift of Years by Joan Chittister, there is a chapter that asks the question, “What am I when I am no longer what I do?”  In the book, Chittister is referring to retirement and how we define ourselves in the world when we are no longer “the moneymaker, the boss, the councilwoman, the teacher, the parent-in-residence, etc.”

It only took a year of retirement for me to become defined by two new designations.  I became Bree the Blogger, and I became Bear’s Mom.

As if it was yesterday I remember going to look at young adult dogs at Bearabella Golden Retrievers in Peach Tree City, GA.  I’d been researching Goldens for a couple of weeks, following the passing of our Chocolate Labrador Retriever, Bud.  The ad was in the Atlanta Journal – three puppies out of a mom and dad who were both national champions.  The two brothers and one sister were 13 months old.  Along with their other siblings, all three dogs had been tried in the show ring, but for one reason or another – after a few competitions – their breeder knew these three were not meant for the ring.

I knew I wanted a male, so upon arrival, we only glanced at the pretty female.  Ted immediately went for the red brother – the one running around the yard like a crazy dog – jumping, barking, tongue lolling out of his mouth with the pure joy of running free outside.  “This is the one!” Ted exclaimed excitedly.

But I was already in love with his sibling – a big, beautiful, blonde male sitting quietly inside his opened outside kennel door – just watching everything that was going on with a slight smile on his face.  I walked over, snapped a lead on his collar, and led him out of his kennel.  He walked beautifully, a little ahead of me on the left side – not a perfect heel position, but a “show heel” as he’d been taught.  No pulling, no trying to break free, just a happy walk alongside the person who he probably already knew was taking him home.

And so I became Bear’s mom.  His registered call name was Valentino, and we laughed at thinking about a “river dog” with that name.  And so he became Bear, a name his breeder had included in the name of her kennel because she thought her dogs’ heads resembled bears’ heads.

I couldn't wait to get him home and get out my camera. This is the first photo I have of him - sprawled majestically on our back deck at Lake Blackshear.

I couldn’t wait to get him back to the lake and get out my camera. This is the first photo I have of Bear – sprawled majestically on our back deck at Lake Blackshear –  and probably wondering what on earth he’d gotten himself into. 

He loved the lake house. A big yard to play in . . . .

He loved the lake house. A big yard to play in . . . .

. . . a pontoon boat . . .

. . . a pontoon boat for lazy afternoon rides . . .

. . . and miles of dirt, country roads to run up and down, with the occasional sprint into the woods after a squirrel or rabbit.

. . . and miles of dirt, country roads to run up and down, with the occasional sprint into the woods after a squirrel or rabbit.

He and Maddie made a big game of chasing our resident squirrels up the crabapple tree in the back yard. They never came close to catching one, but they sure had fun trying!

He and Maddie made a big game of chasing our resident squirrels up the crabapple tree in the back yard. They never came close to catching one, but they sure had fun trying!

Even before I found Bear I knew I wanted to participate in Paws Patrol in Albany.  They were a dedicated group of pet therapy teams who visited hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living homes and schools.  After only a few weeks with Bear, I knew he’d be perfect as a therapy dog, so we signed up for the orientation classes, took all the tests (which HE passed with flying colors – I had to repeat one test), and started four happy years of service.

Bear loved our work days. As soon as I took out his vest and bandanda, he would stand solidly still while I "dressed" him.

Bear loved our work days. As soon as I took out his vest and bandana, he would stand perfectly still while I “dressed” him.

One of his favorite things to do was to listen to children read to him. Middle school students gravitated toward the "big yellow dog", and he always patiently listened to every word.

One of his favorite things to do was listen to children read to him. Middle school students gravitated toward the “big yellow dog”, and he always patiently listened to every word.

He was the perfect size. He could put his head on a hospital bed just where a patient's hand could reach him or lay his head in the laps of wheelchair patients. I don't think there was ever a person who put their hand on him who didn't say, "He's so soft! What do you bathe him with?" But, it wasn't the shampoo - it was just Bear.

He was the perfect size. He could put his head on a hospital bed just where a patient’s hand could reach him or lay his head in the laps of wheelchair patients. I don’t think there was ever a person who put their hand on him who didn’t say, “He’s so soft! What do you bathe him with?” But, it wasn’t the shampoo – it was just Bear.

One of our pet therapy groups outside an assisted living facility.

One of our pet therapy groups outside an assisted living facility.  All of these dogs blessed – and some are still blessing – so many lives.

After his knee surgery and our move to Florida, I let his certification lapse.  But Bear never stopped “working a crowd.”  Any room he entered and any group of people he encountered was fair game for Bear’s “leaning into them” or putting his head in their lap.  In his mind, he never stopped being a therapy dog.  Never.

Bear was never more excited than when he was on Mackinac Island for the summer!  He loved the cooler weather (like his mom).  And he loved the woods . . .

His happiest moments were racing full-speed through the trees and up and down the nature paths. I would lag behind while Ted, Maddie and Bear walked ahead. Then I'd hide. Ted would turn and not see me. Then he'd say to Bear, "Where's your mama?" And Bear would come tearing down the trail, screeching to a halt beside the tree I was hinding behind. He never once ran past me . . . he always zeroed in with that nose of his before he ever reached me. And he'd bark and jump around like he hadn't seen me in months.

His happiest moments were racing full-speed through the trees and up and down the nature paths. I would lag behind while Ted, Maddie and Bear walked ahead. Then I’d hide. Ted would turn, not see me, and say to Bear, “Where’s your mama?” And Bear would come tearing down the trail, screeching to a halt beside the tree I was hiding behind. He never once ran past me . . . he always zeroed in with that nose of his before he ever reached me. And he’d bark and jump around like he hadn’t seen me in months.

He turned more than a few heads on taxi rides. He assumed he was supposed to ride on a seat, not on the floor . . .

He turned more than a few heads on taxi rides. He assumed he was supposed to ride on a seat, not on the floor . . .

 

. . . and he usually got his way.

. . . and he usually got his way.

He also loved our new home in Beverly Beach . . .

He loved our new home in Florida too, especially the beach on cooler days.  He had a blast retrieving stuff Ted would throw into the waves – as long as he didn’t have to wade in past his knees!  He never quite conquered his distrust of the water.

The photo above is from his last day – a Saturday.  He ran around and chased stuff on the beach that morning and generally had a grand ole time.  After breakfast Ted and I settled down on the deck with our second cup of coffee, and Maddie and Bear settled into their usual spots.  A little while later Bear got up and came and put his head in my lap, something he had never done at that time of day or while we were on the deck.  I put my hand on his head, and asked him, “What’s up, sweet boy?”  He stayed there another moment, looking at me with those soulful eyes, and then went back and laid down.  I think he knew then what was happening.  A little over 12 hours later he was gone.

So many have asked about Maddie, and I think she misses Bear most at walk time.  Ted would always be putting on her halter and lead as I was putting on Bear’s collar and lead.  For the first few days she’d look around as we’d go out the door like, “Isn’t Bear coming with us?”

When I brought Bear’s ashes home this week, they included a little bag with locks of Bear’s hair.  Tears streaming down my face, I opened the bag and called Maddie over.  She took one sniff, and her little tail went into overdrive – wagging so fast. 

As the days have passed, Maddie is settling into the new normal, just as we are.  Ted is still her favorite cuddle buddy, but she’s begun to grace me with a few hours of her presence in my chair on some evenings.  As I type this, she’s curled up at my feet.

When my Chocolate Lab Bud died I had him cremated, and now his ashes and Bear’s are sharing a spot on our dresser.  Years ago, when Bud died, someone asked what I was going to do with his ashes, and some have asked the same about Bear’s. My answer is the same now as it was then:  I’ve tried to think of places Bud and Bear loved so much they would like to be there (in a physical way) forever.  But, with both Bud and Bear, the one place they loved being more than anywhere else . . . was with me.  So, family members know that my ashes and Bud’s and Bear’s are to be scattered together in the places we all loved being together the most – at the lake in Georgia and on Mackinac Island.  Some may find that very weird, but those are my wishes.

To each of you who wrote such loving words to me over the last couple of weeks – thank you from the bottom of my heart.  I have read and re-read them, and they have brought such comfort because they tell me how much one of God’s four-legged creatures can touch so many hearts.  I want to share two of those notes here:

From Sarah Sielbeck in Red Wing, MN:  I can’t begin to tell you how sorry I was to read that you lost Bear over the weekend.  The email with your blog post showed up on my phone just as I sat down for a pre-concert rehearsal and after reading it I decided to dedicate to Bear (in my heart) yesterday’s St. Croix Valley Symphony concert.  It was a lovely concert of Americana and bluegrass music, and as I played I pictured him running the wooded trails of Mackinac.” 

And from Jason (the other Jason) Bergeron in San Antonio, TX:I have no words to describe how sorry I am for your loss.  Though Bear was not the traditional working dog I was used to dealing with, he still selflessly served in the communities in which you lived.  Whether it was therapy or having children read to him – that in my book makes him a working dog, a true hero and champion in his community.  Bear answered the highest calling only special dogs like him can – which was to make a difference.  Though I never had the pleasure to meet him, I’ll never forget him.”

I know this has been long.  It’s taken me several days to get it done because I’ve been unable to see the keyboard through my tears.  I’ve stopped and started many, many times.  But . . . writing it all down is healing in its way.  My tears have gotten fewer and my crying spells further apart.  I know, with time, I will remember more than anything that Bear was a special, special dog – loved by everyone whose hands ever touched him.  He was the best.  He did make a difference.

He was my sweet boy.

 

NOTE FROM THE RAINBOW BRIDGE

Hey!  Bear here!

I guess you didn’t think you’d be hearing from me again, but I got special permission from the Rainbow Bridge Keeper to write this note (yes, I already have the Bridge Keeper wrapped around my paw).

First of all . . . . I am fine.  In fact, I am better than fine.  I am awesome!

My last memories of earth were of running on the beach Saturday morning and having a wonderful time.  Later on in the day I didn’t feel good, and as the day went on, I felt even worse.  I remember two trips to the vet – the last one in the middle of the night. At the vet’s I remember mom and dad being with me, rubbing me all over, and telling me how much they loved me.  I remember mom leaning into me with her whole body and holding me and whispering in my ear that I was the best dog that ever lived.  I remember Mom and Dad were both crying, and I wanted to lift my head and tell them it was all going to be ok, but I was so, so sleepy.

I remember taking a breath and letting it out.  And on my very next breath I was awake! Up, and running across this huge field of long grass.  The wind was blowing my hair, I felt wonderful (no more achy joints), and there were trees and flowers everywhere.  It was the most beautiful place I’d ever seen – even more beautiful than Mackinac Island!

Really, it is!

There are dogs everywhere here!  Not long after I arrived, dogs started coming toward me, stopping, and introducing themselves.  Because . . . . HERE dogs can TALK!

First I met Lucky, Tyler, Shotzie, Gretchen and Bud, who told me they’d been mom and dad’s dogs before me and Maddie.  Then here comes Beyla!  And oh my gosh, she had four legs again and was so darn beautiful!  And then – oh joy!  There was my friend Hershey, running toward me like she was young again.  Because – she was!

And then, all these other dogs came up to me and explained they were dogs that belonged to mom’s friends and readers and relatives before they came to the Rainbow Bridge!  I wish I could remember all their names for you, but a few of them are Boomer, Sally, Brinkley, Cassie, Fiona, Petey, Herbie, Ginger, Buster, Barnabas, Maggie, Bentley, Tasha, Morgaine, Tiffany, Brandy, Belle, Buster, and Charlie.

Oh my gosh, we are having so much fun here.  We’re all well and happy and well-fed.  There’s water to splash around in, and I’ve even ventured in UP TO MY CHEST!  All the other dogs tell me to just take it a little at a time, and soon I’ll be swimming with the rest of them! 

And there is so much love here that we never feel lonely.

But . . . the one thing that will make our lives the very best is when we see YOU coming across that big grassy field toward us.  That’s the day we’re all waiting for.  Because then . . . we’ll run to meet you and smother you with kisses and feel your hands on us again.  And everything will truly be . . . just perfect.

And then, we’ll cross the Rainbow Bridge together into Heaven.

Bear . . . out.

Till then . . . . . you’ll be my first thought when I wake each morning and my last thought when I go to sleep at night.  I love you Mom, Dad, and Maddie.  Bear 

 

 

 

 

Bear 5/1/16

For those who have not seen this already on Facebook this morning:

Our beautiful Bear went to Doggie Heaven this morning around 1 a.m. His breathing had become more labored since we had taken him in to the vet around noon, so we took him back about midnight. The hemangiosarcoma had already invaded his internal organs, had ruptured, and the sac around his heart was full of blood and causing him distress. There were also signs of tumor in his spleen and liver. The vet said he probably would not survive the night, so we chose to help him cross the Rainbow Bridge to ease his distress.

Ted and I are heartbroken. He was our big, beautiful, smart boy, and the love he gave to us, to hundreds of patients as a therapy dog, to children in the Paws for Reading Program, and to everyone he met cannot be measured in mere words.

I will write a proper tribute to my beautiful boy at a later date.  Right now Ted and I are just trying to get through this first day.  I see him everywhere.

I will probably take a couple of weeks off blogging to try and wrap my head around this and to grieve.  I know each of you will understand . . . because you all loved him also.

Run fast and free, my beautiful Bear. You were such a special, special friend.

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God bless.

 

Update on Bear

Bear’s pathology report came back today, and his tumor is cancer – hemangiosarcoma – a particularly nasty cancer of the blood vessels that can appear at the skin level or internally, usually in the spleen, heart, or liver. Our vet urged us to see a veterinary oncologist in Jacksonville, and we have an appointment on Monday at 9 a.m.

The best case scenario will be that this is a primary tumor. The pathology report stated that the surgeon got ALL this tumor – the surrounding area is cancer-free. If this is the case, Bear would be extremely lucky that we found it at this early stge as these tumors spread quickly and are very aggressive. There is always a chance that it could recur, but if it IS a primary tumor with no spread, he has a good chance for a few more years.

If this is a secondary tumor that has spread from somewhere else, the outlook is distressingly bleak.

We will find all that out on Monday.

I write all this with tears streaming down my face, but I wanted all our prayer warriors to know as quickly as possible that we continue to need prayers.

I will post another update after we get back home on Monday. They told us we could expect to be there anywhere from 2-5 hours.

Thank you so much for your prayers for Bear.

Spring Showers, Horses Returning . . . and More Readers! 4/24/16

After everything that was going on with Bear this week keeping my anxiety level at a peak, I needed a few even-keeled days.  And thank the good Lord, He provided them.  Friday and the weekend have been lazy days in Sunset Inlet, and what activities there have been are those calm, satisfying ones that require little more than showing up . . . or just sitting and watching the weather.

We've had a couple of days of threatening rain . . .

We had a couple of days of threatening skies . . .

. . . and then on Friday the skies opened . . .

. . . and then on Friday the skies opened . . .

. . . and we got quite a few hours of hard rain with a little thunder and lightning mixed in.

. . . and we got a few hours of hard rain, with a little thunder and lightning mixed in.

After all that life-nourishing water, the sun came out, and all my plants turned that awesome "spring-time green" and added more bright flowers. So I went to the nursery and bought some more!

After all that life-nourishing water, the sun came out, my plants turned an awesome “spring-time green”, and more bright flowers bloomed.   So –  I went to the nursery and bought some more!

Ted and I went to out favorite outdoor furniture store last week to replace some chairs on the top deck that couldn't withstand all the wind and salt we get pounded with here. While there, I spotted this outdoor lamp and loved the way it looked. It's now on the second floor deck, and . . .

Ted and I went to our favorite outdoor furniture store last week to replace some chairs on the top deck.  It’s hard to find things that can withstand all the wind and salt we get pounded with here. While there, I spotted this outdoor lamp and loved the way it looked. It’s now on the second floor deck, and . . .

. . . I can sit outside at night and read while I listen to waves crashing across the street behind me. Since our next door neighbor Lisa took this photo I've toned down the brightness of the bulbs in the lamp. That first night they were on I had a helicopter stop and hover at the entrance to our inlet, and I thought, "Oh no, the light is so bright he thinks it's the airport!" It was so funny how he just hung there for a few moment like he was trying to figure out where all the illumination was coming from.

. . . I can sit outside at night and read while I listen to waves crashing across the street behind me. Since our next door neighbor Lisa took this photo from HER deck, I’ve toned down the brightness of the bulbs in the lamp. That first night they were on I had a helicopter stop and hover at the entrance to our inlet, and I thought, “Oh no, the light is so bright he thinks it’s the airport!” It was so funny how he just hung there for a few moments like he was trying to figure out where all the illumination was coming from!

We had our first official meeting of the Sunset Inlet Book Club this past week. We had read Kate Morton's newest book, The Lake House. Fun discussion, yummy food and good wine (and Mimosas)!

We had our first official meeting of the Sunset Inlet Book Club this past week. We had read Kate Morton’s newest book, The Lake House. Fun discussion, yummy food and good wine (and Mimosas)!  Love these ladies – Jennifer, Sue, Angelique . . .

. . . and Lisa, our hostess with the moistest! We're hoping to add ladies each month. Our next book is Kimberly McCreight's Where They Found Her.

. . . and Lisa, our hostess with the mostest! We’re hoping to add more ladies each month. Our next book is Kimberly McCreight’s Where They Found Her.

MACKINAC MOMENTS

The snow is gone, and the island activity is increasing with each passing spring day. And - when there's more island work to be done - that means more horses are needed. There have been a steady stream of horses arriving on the ferry. They're all fat and rested up from a winter on the Pickford farms . . . ready to

The snow is gone, and island activity is increasing with each passing spring day. And – when there’s more island work to be done – that means a bigger workforce is needed. Horses have been arriving on the ferry in a steady stream, and they’re all fat and rested up from a winter on the Pickford farms.  Let the season begin! (Photo: Bobby Lee)

You just never know what you might find on a freight ferry - like this one carrying a police car and . . . a pool table! (Photo: Tom Chambers)

You just never know what you might find on a freight ferry – like this one carrying a police car and . . . a pool table! (Photo: Tom Chambers)

A photo from this morning by Clark Bloswick. This is the first time this spring I've seen all three ferry companies represented in the harbor - Arnold, Shepler, and Star.

A photo from this morning by Clark Bloswick. This is the first time this spring I’ve seen all three ferry companies represented in the harbor – Arnold, Shepler, and Star.

Horses in the fog up near the Grand Stables. (Photo: Joseph Herscher)

Love this photo of horses in the fog up near the Grand Stables. (Photo: Joseph Herscher)

One of my favorite artists, watercolorist Mary Lou Peters, made her first visit to Mackinac this weekend to drop off a supply of her notecards to Little Luxuries of Mackinac Island and Mackinac Island Artists Market. Love this sweet and colorful turtle card!

One of my favorite artists, watercolorist Mary Lou Peters, made her first visit to Mackinac this weekend to drop off a supply of her notecards to Little Luxuries of Mackinac Island and Mackinac Island Artists Market. Love this sweet and colorful turtle card!

INTRODUCING . . . YOU!  PART V

Yeah!! Nine more readers to introduce . . .

Meet Chris and John Roddy from Hudson OH. This great couple has vacationed in their UP cottage for the last 45 years, and Chris discovered the blog on Google four years ago.

Meet Chris and John Roddy from Hudson OH. This great couple has vacationed in their UP cottage for the last 45 years, and Chris discovered the blog on Google four years ago.

This sweet couple is Rebecca and Jon Jacobs from Three Rivers MI. Rebecca has been visiting the island since she was three, and when she was four years old she was at the island school when they were filming the "gazebo scene" in Somewhere in Time. She introduced Jon to Mackinac on their first anniversary when they stayed at The Island House. They try to visit at least once a year. This photo is from last July when they were fortunate enough to get to go to the top of the Mackinac Bridge! Still on my bucket list!

This sweet couple is Rebecca and Jon Jacobs from Three Rivers MI. Rebecca has been visiting the island since she was three, and when she was four years old she was at the island school when they were filming the “gazebo scene” from Somewhere in Time. She introduced Jon to Mackinac on their first anniversary when they stayed at The Island House. They try to visit at least once a year. This photo is from last July when they were fortunate enough to get to go to the top of the Mackinac Bridge! Still on my bucket list!

This lovely couple is Paula and David DeWald who spent a weekend in January, 2011 at the Cottage Inn in memory of their daughter Rachel. After that weekend she subscribed to the Town Crier, found the blog on Google, and went back and read each one.Paul and David live in Fort Wayne IN and try to visit Mackinac two or three times a year. Sometimes they fly their plane to the island and "troll our luggage behind us walking into town for exercise. We love the island so much we walk around it two times each day we are there." Paula tells everyone that the best thing about the island is the people. Isn't that the truth!?

This lovely couple is Paula and David DeWald who spent a weekend in January, 2011 at the Cottage Inn in memory of their daughter Rachel. After that weekend Paula subscribed to the Town Crier, found the blog on Google, and went back and read each one. Paula and David live in Fort Wayne IN and try to visit Mackinac two or three times a year. Sometimes they fly their plane to the island and “troll our luggage behind us walking into town for exercise. We love the island so much we walk around it two times each day we are there.” Paula tells everyone the best thing about the island is the people. Isn’t that the truth!?

This dear lady is Rosalyn Forsyth, and she and I go WAY back. Rosalyn was my high school cheerleading sponsor and how she kept up with all of us remains a real mystery. In later years she taught at Albany Middle School where Ted was principal. Rosalyn just discovered the blog last year, and I've so enjoyed catching up with her through Facebook and her comments

This dear lady is Rosalyn Forsyth, and she and I go WAY back. Rosalyn was my high school cheerleading sponsor and how she kept up with all of us teenage girls remains a real mystery. In later years she taught at Albany Middle School where Ted was principal. Rosalyn just discovered the blog last year, and I’ve so enjoyed reconnecting with her through Facebook and her comments.  Rosalyn lives in Albany GA.

This cute couple is Kendra and Michael Kain, daughter Rylee and Rylee's friend Kylie. They're all from Wilson NC. Kendra found the blog when she was doing research for their Mackinac wedding in 2012. Since they moved to NC they haven't had a chance to return to the island, but she remembers fondly visiting every year when she was a child.

Meet Kendra and Michael Kain, daughter Rylee, and Rylee’s friend Kylie. They’re all from Wilson NC. Kendra found the blog when she was doing research for their Mackinac wedding in 2012. Since they moved to NC they haven’t had a chance to return to the island, but she fondly remembers visiting every year when she was a child.

Meet Frances Mountjoy, who is Darcy Cole's mom (Darcy was featured in an earlier "Introducing YOU" blog post. Frances lives in Clinton Twp MI. She can remember riding the mail boat to the island (she thinks it was called the Buddy L), and she used to swim free in Grand Hotel's pool! This

Meet Frances Mountjoy, who is Darcy Cole’s mom (Darcy was featured in an earlier “Introducing YOU” blog post, and Darcy introduced her mom to Bree’s Blog). Frances lives in Clinton Twp MI. She can remember riding the mail boat to the island (she thinks it was called the Buddy L), and she used to swim free in Grand Hotel’s pool! Darcy took this photo of her mom on Market Street a few years ago, near The Lilac House.

Meet Eileen (aka Gibby) and Bernie from Okemos MI. This couple shares a cottage on Hammond Bay with her two sisters and their families. The cottage originally belonged to the girls' grandparents, who passed their love of the UP down to their children and grandchildren. And now that is what Gibby and Bernie are doing with their granddaughter Aria.

Meet Eileen (aka Gibby) and Bernie from Okemos MI. This couple shares a cottage on Hammond Bay with her two sisters and their families. The cottage originally belonged to the girls’ parents, who passed their love of “up north” on to their children. And now that is what Gibby and Bernie are doing with their granddaughter Ava.  Gibby has been reading Bree’s Blog for quite a few years and goes to the island 2-3 times each summer.  Their daughter Meagan was married at Stonecliffe Inn in 2014.  Gibby has “many wonderful memories of Mackinac!”

Meet Sue and her father Pat from Saginaw MI (Pat is celebrating his 86th birthday in this photo, taken last week). Sue's parents took her to the island many times as a child and now they take their children. Sue shared this great story from her childhood: "Dad had me in a big wire basket on the front handlebar of a bike when I was 4. We were on one of the steep, curvy roads (probably Turkey Hill), flying down it, with my mother falling way behind. But we could hear her - screaming for my father to Stop! Slow Down! You're going to dump Susis on the road! Me? I was screaming for joy, loving it, saying Daddy, faster!" Sue found the blog about 4 years ago researching for a Mackinac trip.

Meet Sue and her father Pat from Saginaw MI (Pat is celebrating his 86th birthday in this photo, taken last week). Sue’s parents took her to the island many times as a child, and now they take their children. Sue shared this great story from her childhood: “Dad had me in a big wire basket on the front handlebar of a bike when I was 4. We were on one of the steep, curvy roads (probably Turkey Hill), flying down it, with my mother falling way behind. But we could hear her – screaming for my father to Stop! Slow Down! You’re going to dump Susie on the road! Me? I was screaming for joy, loving it, saying Daddy, faster!” Sue found the blog about 4 years ago researching for a Mackinac trip.

Meet Pam Bond from outside Cincinnati OH. She found the blog in 2010 on an Internet search. Pam and her late husband Ernie discovered Mackinac for the first time in 1983, about four years after they married. Pam says she was "smitten" They round around the island on a bike made for two, saw Round Island light for the first time (she loves lighthouses), and discovered another love - Silver Birches. After that year they came as often as possible, usually bringing their own bikes. It was in 1990, while on an island picnic that she first heard the hauntingly beautiful theme song to Somewhere in Time, a song that captured her heart even though she had never seen the movie. They got back to the island several times after that. She lost Ernie in 2015 after 35 years of marriage. Pam wrote me the dearest letter which I won't share because it is very personal. But allow me to say her words touched my heart in the way that few ever have. Thank you Pam, for sharing the story of You and Ernie and Mackinac. I hope you return one day soon to the island you love so much.

Meet Pam Bond from outside Cincinnati OH. She found the blog in 2010 on an Internet search. Pam and her late husband Ernie discovered Mackinac for the first time in 1983, about four years after they married. Pam says she was “smitten” They rode around the island on a bike made for two, saw Round Island light for the first time (she loves lighthouses), and discovered another love – Silver Birches. After that year they came as often as possible, usually bringing their own bikes. It was in 1990, while on an island picnic that she first heard the hauntingly beautiful theme song to Somewhere in Time, a song that captured her heart, even though she had never seen the movie. They got back to the island several times after that. She lost Ernie in 2015 after 35 years of marriage. Pam wrote me the dearest letter which I won’t share, but allow me to say her words touched my heart in the way that few ever have. Thank you Pam, for sharing the story of you and Ernie and Mackinac. I hope you return one day soon to the island you love so much.

Please continue to send in your photo (as an attachment), where you live, how long you’ve been a blog reader, and how you found out about Bree’s Blog to: brendasumnerhorton@hotmail.com.

Bear is doing fine.  I stopped his pain meds today (they were just for a couple of days for the soreness of his incision), and he’s back to his old, unmedicated self – running, playing, eating, and begging for treats.  Hoping this week brings the good news we are praying for about his biopsy.  Thank you all so much for your continued prayers.

God bless.

The Bearster 4/21/16

You just never know what each week will bring, do you?

Facebook friends have already heard about this, but some of you don’t do Facebook, and I wanted to share and ask for your prayers.

Bear had a grooming appointment on Monday.  When I went to pick him up he was still on the table, and his groomer asked me to step in the back so she could show me something.  Behind Bear’s right ear was a growth about the size of a dime that was bleeding pretty well.  The lady who washes Bear had found it when she was blowing him dry.  Every time one of us would touch it, it would gush more blood.

I honestly thought it was a scab that the washing lady had scrubbed off – maybe from a bug bite, or where he had scratched it on something when he rolls around on the grass.  But the groomer insisted I take him directly to our vet.  “I just don’t like the way it looks,” she said.

So I called Flagler Animal Hospital, and they said “Come on in now.”

By the time we got there, the sore had stopped bleeding, and after they cleaned it up, it looked like a bright red blood blister.  The vet said, “It’s a tumor – either a hemangioma (benign) or a hemangiosarcoma (malignant).  It’s impossible to tell them apart just by looking, so we’re going to need to take it off and send it to the University of Florida School of Veterinary Medicine for a pathology report.”

So this morning I dropped Bear off on my way to volunteer at the ER.  They removed the tumor and closed the wound with two stitches.  I picked him up around 1:00 this afternoon.  He’s still a little sleepy from the anesthesia but ate a little supper and seems to be doing fine.  He has pain meds, and he’ll be in his halo collar when we aren’t around to monitor him (so he won’t scratch his stitches out).

We were told it could take one to two weeks to get the results back.  The waiting is going to be hard.

Please remember Bear in your prayers.  We pray for a benign report and many more years with our precious boy.

God bless.IMG_7405

 

Introducing . . . YOU! Part IV 4/17/16

I’m so PROUD of y’all!  The photos have continued to come in, and the number is at 58 as of today.  I’ll be posting the remaining 13 tonight, and this will be the last post I’ll use the title, “Introducing . . . YOU!”  BUT – if you keep sending me your photos, I will continue to integrate them into the blog posts.  So I really, really, really hope you don’t stop!

This has been such a fulfilling time for me as the writer of Bree’s Blog.  Getting to know those of you who decided to share your faces and your Mackinac stories has meant the world.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Here we go . . . .

melissa and travis flegel

This beautiful family is Melissa and Travis Flegel and their precious children Charleigh and Griffin – from St. Johns MI.  Melissa worked on Mackinac her first summer of college (1998), fell in love with the island, and has visited every summer since.  Travis proposed to her there in 2009 on a cold, rainy day.  Later that night they stopped by the Pink Pony and met  – guess who? – Ted.  Later on, when Melissa found the blog, she showed Travis Ted’s pic and said, “Look! We met him!”  So funny the number of folks who have met my Ted in the Pink Pony over the years!

Mary Jane McNeill and her fabulous family, while vacationing in Alaska last August. M.J. is from Thomasville GA and found the blog following the Island Bookstore Facebook page. Yeah, Jill! She's been a reader for about four years and couldn't believe that we lived at Lake Blackshear at the time - about 100 miles north of Thomasville. MJ has visited the island I think twice since beginning to read the blog. Correct me, M.J., if I'm wrong on that.

Mary Jane McNeill and her fabulous family – while vacationing in Alaska last August. MJ is from Thomasville GA and found the blog following the Island Bookstore Facebook page. Yeah, Jill! She’s been a reader for about four years and couldn’t believe that we lived at Lake Blackshear at the time – about 100 miles north of Thomasville. I think MJ has visited the island twice since beginning to read the blog. Correct me, MJ, if I’m wrong on that.  Photo above is son Archer, husband Arch, son Noah, daughter Rachel, son Patrick and Mary Jane.

This is Diane Boszko and her late husband Jeff at the Butterfly House on Mackinac. Diane and Jeff first visited Mackinac in 2007 and bought the best souvenir ever - an island condo. They fell in love with it that much on the first visit. Diane said, "I know it might seem strange for me to send in this photo of me with Jeff, but whenever I'm on the island I still feel as though he is right there with me - and I always visit the Butterfly House." Thank you Diane for sharing such a personal and poignant story. Ted and I can certainly relate to how much magic Mackinac can work with just one visit. Hugs.

This is Diane Boszko  (Chicago IL) and her late husband Jeff – at the Butterfly House behind St. Anne’s on Mackinac. Diane and Jeff first visited Mackinac in 2007 and bought the best souvenir ever – an island condo.  They fell in love with the island that much on the first visit!  Shortly after they bought the condo she read about the blog in The Town Crier.  Diane said, “I know it might seem strange for me to send in this photo of me with Jeff, but whenever I’m on the island I still feel as though he is right there with me – and I always visit the Butterfly House.”  Thank you Diane for sharing such a personal and poignant story. Ted and I can certainly relate to how much magic Mackinac can work with just one visit. Hugs, and I hope to meet you on the island soon.

 

Meet Roger and Barbara Blem from Perrysburg OH. They've been visiting a relative's cabin on Mullet Lake for years and often travel on up to the island. Barbara is that rare individual who, as a Freshman, attended the short-lived Mackinac College. She was good friends while there (and still is) with Irene Cowley, a loyal reader who began the Mackinac College web site (Barbara was one of the first adminsitrators of the site). Irene told Barbara about the blog almost at the very beginning.

Meet Roger and Barbara Blem from Perrysburg OH. They’ve been visiting a relative’s cabin on Mullet Lake for years and often travel on up to the island. Barbara is that rare individual who, as a Freshman, attended the short-lived Mackinac College. She is good friends with Irene Cowley, another Mackinac College alum and loyal blog reader.  Irene began the Mackinac College web site, and Barbara was one of the first administrators of the site. Irene told Barbara about the blog almost at the very beginning.  Barbara says, “We visit every couple of years and love it every time we’re there.  And I cry every time I leave.”  Me too, Barbara.

Meet Missy and Jason Howard and their darling children Brady and Holly - Fort Wayne IN. This photo is from Fort Holmes in 2011. She found the blog researching for this trip and went back to read everything, "not wanting to miss anything."

Meet Missy and Jason Howard and their darling children Brady and Holly – Fort Wayne IN. This photo is from Fort Holmes in 2011. Missy  found the blog researching for this trip and went back to read all the posts, “because I didn’t want to miss anything!”

Meet Gail and Karl Richter from Wisconsin. This photo is from ten years ago when they attended a Somewhere In Time Weekend at Grand Hotel, and they come back every year for that special event. Now this is REALLY cool - Gail made her suit (she makes most of her suits and dresses for the Somewhere in Time weekends), and although she didn't make Karl's suit in this photo, she HAS made many of the suits he wears on these occasions. She occasionally has a vintage pattern to copy, but mostly just sees a photograph and designs the clothese from the photo. Now THAT is a real gift!

This is Gail and Karl Richter from Wisconsin. The photo is from ten years ago at one of the many Somewhere In Time Weekends they’ve attended at Grand Hotel.  Now this is REALLY cool – Gail made her suit (she makes most of her suits and dresses for the Somewhere in Time weekends), and although she didn’t make Karl’s suit in this photo, she HAS made many of the suits he wears on these occasions. She occasionally has a vintage pattern to copy, but mostly just happens upon an antique Edwardian era photograph and designs the clothes from the photo. Now THAT is a real gift!  Oh, Gail worked at the Lakeview Hotel as a chambermaid during her college years.

You met Kem and Ed Green a couple of posts ago, but this is Kem and her mom Arlene - Hampton Iowa. Kem told her mom about the blog when I mentioned she and Ed the first time in 2013, and she's been a reader ever since. Arlene has never visited the island, but she and Kem's daddy drove across the Mackinac Bridge on their honeymoon in 1958. Hugs, Arlene - I just love that daughter of yours!

You met Kem and Ed Green a couple of posts ago, but this is Kem and her mom Arlene – Hampton Iowa. Kem told her mom about the blog when I mentioned her and Ed the first time in 2013, and she’s been a reader ever since. Arlene has never visited the island, but she and Kem’s daddy drove across the Mackinac Bridge on their honeymoon in 1958. Hugs, Arlene – I just love that daughter of yours and her sweet husband!

Meet Jennifer Herko, her daughter Sarah, and her mom and dad. They hail from Warren OH. This photo is in front of The Island House in 2012, and that's when she became a reader. Jennifer says, "If I could, I'd trade in my vehicle for a bike and snowmobile and go live on Mackinac!" That's a dream a lot of folks have, Jennifer!

Meet Jennifer Herko, her daughter Sarah, and her mom and dad. They hail from Warren OH. This photo is in front of The Island House in 2012, and that’s when she became a reader. Jennifer says, “If I could, I’d trade in my vehicle for a bike and snowmobile and go live on Mackinac!” That’s a dream a lot of folks have, Jennifer!

This is Darcy Cole, who splits her time between Dallas TX and Cheboygan MI on Twin Lakes. Darcy's grandparents were from Cheboygan and Mackinaw City, so she grew up visiting both places frequently. I was immediately jealous when I saw where Darcy was standing in this photo - on Round Island! She was lucky enough to get a tour of the Round Island Lighthouse last summer (yes, that's Grand Hotel in the background). Darcy's been a blog reader since she retired in 2011and found it on Facebook. She and her husband's have a goal of wintering in Florida and summering in Michigan. Go for it, Darcy!

This is Darcy Cole, who splits her time between Dallas TX and Cheboygan MI on Twin Lakes. Darcy’s grandparents were from Cheboygan and Mackinaw City, so she grew up visiting both places frequently. I was immediately jealous when I saw where Darcy was standing in this photo – on Round Island! She was lucky enough to get a tour of the Round Island Lighthouse last summer. Darcy’s been a blog reader since she retired in 2011 and found it on Facebook. She and her husband have a goal of wintering in Florida and summering in Michigan.  I highly recommend it, Darcy!

This is Joan and Roland Asoklis from Shelby Township MI. Ted and I have met this great couple on the island. They are part of a group of friends who visit every year in August. She says, "I've found many island treasurer from your blog posts - like Anne's Tablet!" Oh - very important fact. Joan two cats, Abby and Benny are paw pals with Bear and Maddie!

This is Joan and Roland Asoklis from Shelby Township MI (shown here before a ride out of Cindy’s Stables on Mackinac). Ted and I have met this great couple on the island. They are part of a group of friends who visit every year in August. Joan says, “I’ve found many island treasures from your blog posts – like Anne’s Tablet!” Oh – very important fact – Joan’s two cats, Abby and Benny, are paw pals with Bear and Maddie!

These beautiful faces belong to Abby Barber, her daughter Sloane and son Berkeley - Minneapolis MN. Abby, her husband Jason, and Berkeley visited the island for the first time in June of 2014, although she had been a couple of times as a child herself. When she returned home she had that same feeling a lot of us do after our first visits and searched the Internet for anything that would keep her connected - and she found Bree's Blog! They're going back this August, and I hope we run into them during their visit!

These beautiful faces belong to Abby Barber, her daughter Sloane and son Berkeley – Minneapolis MN. Abby, her husband Jason, and Berkeley visited the island for the first time in June of 2014, and Abby had been a couple of times as a child. When she returned home she had that same feeling a lot of us do after our first visits and searched the Internet for anything that would keep her connected.  That’s when she found Bree’s Blog! They’re going back this August, and I hope we run into them during their visit!

Meet Bobbie and Tommy Gaye, sweet friends from my hometown of Sylvester GA (they've lived in Albany GA since 1992. Bobbie's been reading the blog for about five years.

Meet Bobbie and Tommy Gaye, sweet friends from my hometown of Sylvester GA (they’ve lived in Albany GA since 1992). Bobbie’s been reading the blog for about five years.

This is Sally and Scott Kiekintveld from Holland MI, and I love Scott's story. His father and grandfather participated in the Mackinac Bridge Labor Day Walk the second year after the walk was created. Scott joined them the next year, and they've continued that tradition for 56 consecutive years, and now his wife, their sons and their wives, children and grandchildren all do the walks together. Scott learned about the blog from a friend about five years ago. They usually include a visit to Mackinac either before or after the walk, Scott says, "It's so fun to watch the grandkids' faces when they step off the boat and see the horses and bikes!""

This is Sally and Scott Kiekintveld from Holland MI, and I love Scott’s story. His father and grandfather participated in the Mackinac Bridge Labor Day Walk the second year after the walk was created. Scott joined them the next year, and they’ve continued that tradition for 56 consecutive years.  Now his wife, their sons and their wives, children, and grandchildren all do the walks together. Scott learned about the blog from a friend about five years ago. They usually include a visit to Mackinac either before or after the walk, Scott says, “It’s so fun to watch the grandkids’ faces when they step off the boat and see the horses and bikes!””

And there you are – 58 blog readers and a little taste of their Mackinac stories.  Just makes me want to hear from more of you!  Keep ’em coming please to brendasumnerhorton@hotmail.com

Oh, IF you’ve sent in a photo and story, and I haven’t posted it, PLEASE let me know at my email.  Some of your emails have gone to my spam filter, but I’ve tried to check there on a regular basis.  If I’ve missed one, please let me know – or resend!

Not much has been happening since we chatted on Thursday, so I’ll just save up what I have from Mackinac and the beach for the next post.  Hoping all of you have a great upcoming week!

Hugs all around – and again THANK YOU for reading and being part of this blogging family we’ve created.

God bless.