Slow News Week! 2/9/16

Hi Everyone!

Did y’all survive the Super Bowl?  As one who doesn’t care that much for football, AND seeing as how I was alone on Super Bowl Sunday (Ted was in Georgia overnight), I am dazed and amazed that I watched as much of it as I did.  I was definitely for the Broncos . . . for no other reason than Blake lives in Colorado.  So, MY TEAM WON!  And that’s enough about football!

It’s really been slow around here for things to write about.  Let’s see.  I’ve had internet trouble for two days straight, but I think it’s fixed now (picture me rapping my knuckles on my head – knocking on wood).  I could talk about the weather, which has been VERY windy and rainy this week (windy enough the chairs on the decks are sliding around on a regular basis, but so far nothing has jumped the rails).  We have a FREEZE warning issued for tonight (but I can almost guarantee you it won’t reach 32 here on the coast).

Wind and rain out the bedroom window. A good night to curl up with Amazon Prime. Has anyone else been watching Poldark? A PBS series. Awesome!

Wind and rain out the bedroom window a couple of nights ago. A good night to curl up with Amazon Prime. Has anyone else been watching Poldark? A PBS series. Awesome!

Oh, I bought Bear and Maddie new toys today . . . 

It's been an hour since I took this photo, and Maddie has already destroyed her pink hippopotamus and is working on pulling the stuffing out of Bear's giraffe.

It’s been an hour since I took this photo, and Maddie has already destroyed her pink hippopotamus and was working on pulling the stuffing out of Bear’s giraffe.  I took it away from her and hid it.  Bear will get it back when she’s out of the room snoozing.

Like I said, it’s a slow news week.  So . . . . I’m just going to post a few more winter pics from Mackinac because I know everyone enjoys those!

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There was enough ice in the Straits this week that the Mighty Huron was forced to go around the back side of the island to reach the Arnold dock.  But, no one is complaining at all.  Islanders are just happy they’ve had ferry service for so many months this winter!  (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

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Tom Chambers captured a beautiful view up Main Street this week.

 

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Another Clark Bloswick exquisite photograph.  As one person said, the Iroquois Hotel looks like a miniature castle.

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From John Lou Deroshia – looking across the Mackinac Island Public School yard to the Straits.

 

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Early morning  – and a dray is heading down Marquette Street.  (Photo: Josh Carley)

From Bobby Lee: People have been looking out these same windows on the dock for almost 125 years, and more times than not, horses have been just outside when they've checked.

From Bobby Lee: People have been looking out these same windows on the dock for almost 125 years, and more times than not, horses have been resting right outside.  I love that about Mackinac.  Very little truly changes on the island. 

Personal Note:  I was wrong about my doctor’s appointment.  It’s Wednesday, the 17th, not the 10th.  Darn it .. . one more week!

 

Springtime in Winter . . . Winter in Winter . . . And the Adventure of a Lifetime! 2/4/16

Here it is February 4, and in Beverly Beach it’s already springtime!  Even though it’s pouring down rain as I type this – and it’s supposed to dip back into the 50’s and 60’s for the weekend – we’ve enjoyed a few days with temps in the 70’s and lots of sunshine!  Perfect weather!

Tuesday was just a wonderful spring-like day. I pulled the chair pillows out of the storage bin and enjoyed sitting a while out on the glider. That plant has been right in that spot all winter (which just proves we haven't had very many cold nights).

Tuesday was just a wonderful spring-like day. I pulled the chair pillows out of the storage bin and enjoyed sitting a while out on the glider. That plant has been right in that spot all winter (which just proves we haven’t had very many cold nights).

A gorgeous sunset from the deck of the Golden Lion.

A gorgeous sunset from the deck of the Golden Lion (about 2 miles from our house). (Photo: Ted Jurkuta)

It's amazing what you'll see out your car window in Flagler Beach near the pier!

It’s amazing what you’ll see out your car window near the pier in Flagler Beach.

As I type . . . .

As I type . . . . rain and thunder, and it looks like it’s setting in for the night.

A couple of personal notes:

  1.  Facebook friends already know this, but for those who don’t do Facebook, I have to brag on my Ted.  It’s not often –  at age 68 – you win a Rookie of the Year Award.  But that’s what he received Sunday evening in St. Augustine at the Fort Matanzas and Castillo de San Marcos Volunteer Award Dinner (for his volunteer work at Fort Matanzas).
So proud of him!

So proud of him!

2)  With my neck issues, I’ve had to give up (temporarily, I hope) working at the Flagler Humane Society (can’t pick up 10-15 lb. kitties).  So . . .I needed to add another “something” to my volunteer day in the ER. I’ve just finished training, and starting next Wednesday I’ll be volunteering at the Same Day Surgery Center of Florida Hospital Flagler in their Town Center facility.  I LOVE working there.  We stay busy the entire morning, and I have a lot more opportunities to interact with patients, both before and after their surgeries.  Hoping to still get back to the Humane Society, but I don’t think I’ll give up either of these hospital days.  P.S.  I FINALLY will have my appointment with my neurologist next Wednesday afternoon!!  Can’t wait to see what his suggestions for treatment will be.

ON MACKINAC ISLAND – IT’S STILL WINTER!!

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The same morning I was sitting out on the deck in the sunshine, Clark Bloswick was up early capturing this beautiful sunrise over the Straits and reminding us, “Red skies at morning, sailors take warning.” A blizzard was forecast to hit the island that evening.

And it did. Almost white out conditions on Wednesday. (Photo: Tom Chambers)

And it did. Almost white out conditions on Wednesday. (Photo: Tom Chambers)

A little break in the snow revealed the Mighty Huron coming in to dock - and ducks on the roof

A little break in the snow revealed the Mighty Huron coming in to dock – and ducks lined up along the peak of the roof at St. Anne’s. (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

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Greg Main was out early the next morning with his camera and caught the snow plow clearing Market Street, so emergency vehicles could run if needed.

My friend Joan Barch took this shot looking straight out into her yard from her front porch.

My friend Joan Barch took this shot looking straight out into her yard from her front porch.  Now THAT is heavy, wet snow!

The beautiful Inn at Stone Cliffe - as beautiful surrounded by the snow of winter as it is surrounded by flowers in the summer.

The wonderful Inn at Stonecliffe – as beautiful surrounded by the snow of winter as it is surrounded by the flowers of summer. (Photo:  The Inn at Stonecliffe)

Late this afternoon. Snow starting again, and a lone snowmobiler heads up Fort Hill. (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

Late this afternoon. Snow starting again, and a lone snowmobile heads up Fort Hill.  I mean seriously, folks – how gorgeous is this!   (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

Now . . . a special treat tonight!  For all of you (including me) who wonder what it would be like to spend a month on Mackinac in the dead on winter – alone, knowing no one, and in an EMPTY Mission Point Resort, click right here for a wonderful, WONDERFUL article by Patrick McBriarty, who just finished doing just that – what an adventure!    http://www.ptmwerks.com/winter-on-mackinac.html

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Why I Love Winter 1/31/16

The folks I work with at the hospital in Flagler Beach are mostly all transplanted Northerners who moved to Florida (when they retired) to escape the winters of their youth and adult lives. To them, nothing seems as wonderful as playing golf every day, wearing Bermuda shorts and short-sleeved tee shirts on a regular basis, and having more pairs of flip-flops than pairs of socks.

I can understand that in a crazy sort of way – because I’m just the opposite.  Growing up in the south – with the almost constant heat and humidity – was the perfect preparation for me to embrace the cold and snow of the north with an open mind and a gleeful heart.

So – when I plop down at break on my volunteer day and say, “Wow! it was 42 this morning!  Don’t y’all just love it,”  you can imagine the response – long stories of daily snow shoveling, no electricity during ice storms, snarled traffic, and sold-out grocery stores (and, of course, trudging to school everyday in the snow – barefooted).

My reply to that is always the same.  I. Don’t. Know. That. Part.  All I know about REAL winter is the little bits of it I’ve experienced on Mackinac Island.

There are very few vehicles, so there’s no reason to plow anything but necessary roads for the horses, police cars and fire trucks.  Yes, winter residents occasionally lose power.  But most of the folks who winter there have been dealing with the inconveniences for generations.  It’s the way that choose to live, and I’m pretty sure the majority of them wouldn’t change their lifestyles for anything else on earth.  Snarled traffic?  Only if you call it snarled traffic if a couple of snowmobiles –  ridden by teenagers – turn into the school yard at the same time for a day of classes.  Sold out grocery stores?  Doud’s Market – to my knowledge (I know I will hear from islanders if I’m wrong on this) – has never been sold out in its 100+ year history.

So, I defend my right to love winter.  And snow.  And the cold.  That’s easy to do when all I’ve known of a real winter includes . . .

A full moon over Little Stone Church.

A full moon over a snow-capped Little Stone Church.

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Bald Eagles perched in tree limbs so close you barely need a zoom lens to capture their majesty.

The sun rising over the Mission Point Buoy, as Lake Huron steams.

The sun rising over the Mission Point Buoy, as Lake Huron steams.

A buck allowed to live on an island full of hunters and families who love venison.

A buck allowed to live on an island full of hunters and families who love venison.

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The sun reflecting off Fort Hill and the Mackinac Bridge, as the town lies in shadow.

A town so in love with its children that - on a regular basis in wintertime - the varsity basketball teams iare flown off island and back on for ballgames with competing towns - like Beaver Island.

A town so in love with its children and their need to participate in sports that – on a regular basis in wintertime – the varsity basketball teams are flown off island for ballgames with competing towns – like Beaver Island.

A strip of highway (M-185) that curls all the way around the island

A strip of highway (M-185) that curls all the way around the island and never loses its “scenic” designation – summer OR winter.

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A church steeple which reflects the sun’s rays – even when everything else is grey and gloomy.

A bridge that - last night - was the foreground for a magnificent Aurora Borealis display.

A bridge that – last night – was the foreground for a magnificent Aurora Borealis display.

Vantage points where, looking over wooden fences, you can see forever

Vantage points where, looking over wooden fences, you can see forever – or as forever as you’d want to on this particular day.

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An ice-and-snow-encased, real life Currier and Ives painting.

A Mackinac Island winter . . . . we should all be so lucky!

(Many thanks to photo sharers in this order:  Greg Main, Clark Bloswick (4), Grace Yakuber, Robert McGreevy, Michigan Fototkr, Clark Bloswick, and Tom Chambers!

The Passing of a Princess

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For almost as long as I’ve been writing about Mackinac Island, you’ve been hearing about Frankie Thill and her beautiful chocolate Labrador Retriever, Hershey.  Yesterday Frankie asked that I post the following for her on Facebook:

My dear friend, Frankie Thill, asked that I let her Facebook friends know she lost her beautiful and loyal best friend, Hershey, today to Spondylosis, a condition that causes a dog’s vertebrae to fuse, creating pain and the loss of mobility. Hershey had been at Frankie’s side for almost 11 years (she was born on Valentine’s Day, 2005, and named after the Hershey “kiss”). She was the unheralded “Princess of Mackinac Island” who made her daily rounds with Frankie and collected treats from businesses all along Main and Market Streets. Frankie was house mother for Ryba Bike Shops for many years, and Hershey became the pet substitute for hundreds of college students who lived on the island and were missing their furry friends from home. She never met a stranger.

There will be many who mourn her loss, but none as much as Frankie. Seeing them together was like watching an image of love walking down the street – two legs and four legs, joined by a leash. If Hershey could have talked, I know she would have been able to finish Frankie’s every sentence.

Reading through dozens and dozens of comments that were posted (and are still posting) after this came up on Facebook only presses home what a great love the island residents and summer visitors had for this special dog and her owner.  As several people stated, “I don’t ever remember seeing you, Frankie, that Hershey wasn’t beside you.”  They were a team, a partnership, a dynamic duo – and they had a bond that only those of us fortunate enough to own a great dog can comprehend.

I spent a little time going through blog posts last night and was delighted to find over 30 photographs of Hershey (and friends) that I’ve posted over the years.  I want to share some of them with you tonight.

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Frankie and Hershey – meeting us on our arrival one spring . . .

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. . . and – another year – saying goodbye after another season.

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Trying to mooch a French fry from taxi driver Jeanine.  Yes, she succeeded.  Hershey ALWAYS succeeded.

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Standing by – in case she’s needed – outside the post office during a 4-H Club quilt and pillow sale – with mom Frankie and island friend Jackie Bradley.

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A play date at our condo.  Two friends who would do anything for a bite of ANYTHING!

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Best buds!

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Hershey’s first summer on Mackinac!

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Frankie never had to worry about having “walkers” for Hershey.  Here reader Kim Green’s husband Ed takes her out for a stroll one day while Frankie was working.

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That Hershey swagger!

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“I just know there’s a treat in that bag, and if I stare at it long enough, it will appear!”

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Greeting me at the Stuart House . . .

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. . . and waiting on Frankie to get back with some potato chips.

 

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Giving Hershey “kisses” to a young fan!

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Enjoying a wonderful summer day with Siena, Mike and Jeanine Forrester’s daughter (from Atlanta).

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“One of my favorite stops for treats – Jill and the Island Bookstore!”

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Chatting on the street with Mary Valentine . . .

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. . . then – one street over – watching horses leave for the season.

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Just hanging out being beautiful.

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“I am a Princess.  This is my domain.”

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“Me and my mom in Marquette Park . . .

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. . . and leaving the island after another fun season.”

Whether it was in her winter home in Grand Rapids – hanging out with her buddies at the dog park – or on Mackinac Island, touching literally thousands of people’s hearts over the years, Hershey leaves a legacy of total and unconditional love to all who knew her.  I think Molly McGreevy said it best yesterday in a comment: “Hershey was a beautiful, gentle soul.  She was one of those lifetime dogs.  You only get one that is your heart dog.  I think she was Frankie’s.”  No doubt at all on that one, Molly.

Frankie plans to take Hershey’s ashes to Mackinac this summer and scatter them in the woods she so loved . . . surely the perfect resting place for a Princess.

The Fire Alarm Works Too! 1/24/16

Remember last summer when we were having some warranty work done, and a worker set off our sprinkler system with a hot glue gun and part of the house was flooded?

Our fire alarm didn’t go off then because there wasn’t a fire (no smoke) – just a hot device that got too close to the sprinkler head.  And many of you – funny people that you are – commented with, “Well, at least you know your sprinkler system works!”  HaHa.

Well, as of this week, we also know our fire alarm system works. 

You all know Ted does most of the cooking around here.  Right?  So, one night this week he tells me he’s going to cook some frozen chicken tenders on top of the stove.

“Are they breaded?” I asked, mostly just making conversation and secretly hoping we were having fried chicken for dinner.

“No,” he answered, bag in hand.  “They’re skinless and boneless. The bag says heat the oil to medium high and put the frozen chicken in the hot oil.”

Now – if I had been really paying attention, I would have heeded that little voice that whispered in my ear that what he’d just said had something about it that meant caution was advised.  But, I was busy doing something else, and I silenced the little voice by thinking, “He’s following the instructions.”

The next sound I heard from the kitchen was that really loud Pop! Crackle! Pop! that usually means the oil is too hot and whatever you’ve put in the oil has water on it.

Then there was a loud “POOF!”  Followed by a yell from Ted.  Followed by me turning the corner into the kitchen just as a wall of flame rose from our frying pan into the underside of our microwave and stretched up to the cabinets above the stove.

I wish I could tell you I sprang into action and put out the fire.  I so wish I could tell you that.  But I didn’t.  My feet might as well have been nailed to the floor.  I was frozen.  And then I looked up.  Directly above the middle of the kitchen is a sprinkler head.  And all I could think was the sprinkler head was going to come on any second and flood the kitchen.  I swear.  That.  Is.  All.  I.  Was.  Thinking.

Thank the good Lord, Ted was NOT thinking about the sprinkler head.  He turned off the burner and carefully moved the pan off that burner to the back of the stove (singeing the hair on his hand).  Then he threw open a bottom cabinet door, pulled out the lid for the frying pan, and slammed it down on top of the flames.

The fire was snuffed out almost instantly.

And that’s when the fire alarms went off. 

Maddie and Bear ran for the bedroom, and I just stood there watching that sprinkler head – knowing the screeching alarm would awaken it and soon we’d be knee-deep in water.

It didn’t.  Thank you, Lord – again.

The phone rang an instant later, and the alarm company asked if we needed a fire truck.  Very calmly I said, “No, but could you have someone bring over a Valium, please?”  The operator laughed. 

Two hours of scrubbing later we’d cleaned all the soot off the cabinets, the stove, and the microwave.  Thanks to Ted’s quick actions, there was no scorching.  We were V.E.R.Y. lucky.

And now we know the fire alarm works.

HaHa.

From one of Ted's walks on the beach this week - a cold, but beautiful day!

From one of Ted’s walks on the beach this week – a cold, but beautiful day!

 

Snow Globe Days on Mackinac Island 1/21/16

Turning on my laptop every morning to see who has shared photographs of Mackinac has been a highlight of each day this week.  Even though the cold and snowy weather was a little late arriving in northern Michigan, it is definitely Winter there now, and photographers are having a great time capturing it all for those of us not lucky enough to be there.

Clark Bloswick is one of my favorite photographers, and these next five photos are his:

From high

From high above Fort Street and Trinity Church, Mackinac resembles an icy snow globe.

Someone called a taxi!

Someone called a taxi!

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Lots of ice on the island this week – creating beautiful icy art everywhere!

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It’s the end of the day, and horses that have worked pulling drays since morning are heading to the barn for some oats, some hay, and a nice night’s rest.

Fort Holmes, surrounded by trees so filled with ice they look as though they're covered in the most delicate of laces.

Fort Holmes, surrounded by trees so filled with ice they look as though they’re covered in the most delicate of laces.

From the Mackinac Island Public Library (I'm guessing Anne St. Onge is behind the camera) . . .

From the Mackinac Island Public Library (I’m guessing Anne St. Onge is behind the camera).

. . . and inside that library, there's a fire burning most every day now. Winter hours are Tuesday-Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and you can check out books or participate in all kinds of fun winter activities - like the adult coloring classes!

Inside the library there’s a fire burning most every day now. Winter hours are Tuesday-Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.  You can check out books or participate in all kinds of fun winter activities – like the adult coloring classes!

Thanks to Tom Chambers for these next three photos!

Looking across the Grand Golf Course to town - more lacy trees!

Looking across the Grand Golf Course to town – more lacy trees!

A view of Fort Mackinac and Grand Hotel.

A view of Fort Mackinac and Grand Hotel – visions in white.

The east side of town - so beautiful it makes my eyes ache.

The east side of town – so beautiful it makes my eyes ache.

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A panoramic view of Chambers Corner from Heather May.

Bobby Lee captured hundreds of ducks lifting off as the Mighty Huron approached the island one morning this week.

Bobby Lee captured hundreds of ducks lifting off as the Mighty Huron approached the island one morning this week.  As you can see, there is beginning to be more and more ice in the water.

A spectacular photograph of this morning's sunrise by Tony Boom.

A spectacular photograph of this morning’s sunrise by Tony Boom.

 I just had to share these next three photos with you.  Tracy and Gabe Cowell and three of their gorgeous children- Ella, Matthew, and Kaylee – were neighbors of ours in the Village on Mackinac.  On December 31, Tracy gave birth to two more gorgeous Cowell babies, Olivia and Nova!

Precious twins!

Precious twins!

Now the twins are almost three weeks old, and it was time to leave the island for a doctor’s appointment this week.  How do you do that on Mackinac in the winter?

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Simple! Tuck them both into a sleigh pulled behind a snowmobile . . .

. . . and catch the first ferry off the island! I just bet these two were surrounded by

. . . and catch the first ferry off the island! Like their brothers and sisters, Olivia and Nova will most likely attend the Mackinac Public School from Kindergarten through their Senior year.  Just imagine growing up on Mackinac Island!  We love this family!

Dear Matthew 1/17/16

Dear Matthew,

This blog’s for you, buddy.  You’ll probably worry that one of your friends may run across it, but hey – not many 13-year-olds are going to be looking on-line for something written by an old grandmother.  So I think you’re safe on that.

Matthew, this is a thank you letter.  For what? Oh, just for asking to come spend the night with your GDaddy and BeBe.  We know that won’t happen all that many times before you’re off and gone on your adult life adventures, and we just want you to know how important every hour is that we get to spend with you.  Silly, I know.  But that’s how we old people think.

After we knew you were coming for sure, you won’t believe the time we spent thinking what we could do to make your visit with us fun and memorable.  GDaddy talked about going to Fort Matanzas, fishing, and biking.  I talked about taking you along to the Flagler Humane Society and letting you “assist” with kitty photos (we’ll do that next time, if you’reinterested).  Then I started researching surfing movies (because BeBe knows surfing is one of your great loves).

When you arrived and we threw all our “researched” suggestions out, you voted to start off with a bike ride.  You and GDaddy left, and 20 miles later you returned.  You’d both biked down A1A to Flagler Beach, crossed the Flagler Beach Bridge, looped around to the Hammock, crossed the Hammock Bridge, and then biked home back on A1A.  You were tired, but you sure were a happy tired!

We went to the Turtle Shack for dinner.  You devoured your crab cake sandwich in three huge bites and then finished off your French fries and my fried shrimp.

Upon our return home you settled on the couch under a snuggle blanket (sorry to mention that, but that’s what it was), and we rented A View from a Blue Moon from Amazon, a recently released surf movie I found that turned out to be a documentary on one of your favorite surfers, John John Florence.  I’ll confess that GDaddy and I were prepared to be bored silly, but A View from A Blue Moon was one of the most beautifully photographed movies we’d ever seen.  That your GDaddy didn’t go to sleep and start snoring until the last 10 minutes is a testament to that statement.

The movie ended at 9:00, and you surprised us by saying, “I’m sleepy.  I think I’ll go to bed.”  I think you were asleep before your head hit the pillow.

Saturday morning was planned around fishing.  While we were still having our coffee you headed out to the seawall to see if the fish were biting . . .

. . . and they were!

. . . and they were!

Yes, we knew that flounder would have been good all fried up for breakfast . . .

Yes, we knew that flounder would have been good all fried up for breakfast . . .

. . . but you decided it could live to swim and grow bigger. Which made your BeBe so happy.

. . . but you decided it could live to swim and grow bigger. That made your BeBe so happy.

You passed up that trip to Fort Matanzas to continue fishing, and off you and GDaddy went to Big Al’s Bait Shop. 

Now Matthew, you really need to read this next part very carefully.

You see . . . we’ve lived here for over a year now, and your mom and dad and Jordan have come and your Uncles Jason and Blake have come, and most all of them like to fish.  But it was only when YOU came that your GDaddy went to Big Al’s and bought a casting net (because you needed one to catch bait fish) and a live bait aerator (so those shrimp would stay alive for a few hours).  And it was only when YOU came that GDaddy actually picked up the rod & reel he bought 15 months ago and . . .

. . . went fishing!

. . . went fishing!

Two very patient guys hanging out together on the seawall.

Two very patient guys hanging out together on the seawall.

Matthew, a lot of friends in Georgia and Michigan ask us all the time why we moved to Florida.

We tell them all about our beautiful home across the street from the ocean and the great nature preserve at the back of Sunset Inlet where we can walk out to the Intracoastal.

We tell them all about our beautiful home across the street from the ocean and the great nature preserve at the back of Sunset Inlet where we can walk out to the Intracoastal.

And we talk about how beautiful it is at the end of the day to stand out on the dock and watch the sunset and the waves rippling into shore when the big boats go by.

And we talk about how peaceful it is at the end of the day to stand out on the dock and watch the sunset and the waves rippling into shore when the big boats go by.

But - honestly - the reason we moved is so we can occasionally stand and watch you fish . . .

But – honestly – one of the main reasons we moved is so we can occasionally stand and watch you fish . . .

. . . and bait a hook . . .

. . . and bait a hook . . .

. . . and cast a net.

. . . and cast a net.

Right now, Matthew, you may think this is all pretty silly – and that’s ok.  But, maybe years from now – when you’re fishing with your own son or daughter – a little light will go off in your memory, and you’ll remember this day.  And – technology being what it is – you’ll be able to look up this thank you letter on-line and read it to them.  And maybe, just maybe, it will make you remember how much GDaddy and BeBe loved spending time with you.

And I hope that makes you smile.

We love you, Matthew!

GDaddy and BeBe