What’s Next? 10/15/2010

I’m taking a few minutes off from packing to jot down a few thoughts and ideas that have been brewing in the old brain about what’s happening after we return to Georgia.  This will be one of those rambling “type it as I think it” posts, so bear with me here, and please forgive the uncrossed t’s and the undotted i’s, ’cause I can type pretty darn fast when I get going, and sometimes the fingers get ahead of the brain. 
We leave the island on Sunday – more on that later in the week (you see how I’m pretending there are days and days left?).  For those of you who have been loyally reading these ramblings for two years now, you know that last winter I continued to blog from our lake home in south Georgia.  And yes, I have paid attention to those of you who have already said, “Can’t wait to ‘read you’ from Georgia”.

To be perfectly honest, I had not planned to blog this winter.  I felt the need for a break.  I don’t want you to think I’m complaining about writing, because I absolutely am not.  You know my passion for this little rock we’re blessed to live on half of the year, but devoting 3-4 hours a day to photography and writing all summer was almost a full-time job.  Do I want to give it up?  Of course not!  To stop writing about the joy this magical place gives me – and sharing that with you – would numb a part of me that has just found life in the last two years.  So, yes, I will continue to write. 
So, the question is – are you interested in me continuing to write from Georgia?  Those who followed that blog last winter (Bree’s Lake Blackshear Blog) know that some days there just wasn’t a thing to write about.  There’s a big difference between living in a resort area like Mackinac Island, where stories abound for the telling, and living on a lake in rural south Georgia.  If you’re truly interested in me writing from Georgia, I will gladly do that – but I’m thinking twice a week – posting on Monday morning and Friday morning.  Besides needing a little break, there is another reason to limit the number of posts I commit to each week.  I have already enrolled Bear and I in Therapy Dog training over the winter, and we attend the first training workshop the first weekend in November (well, actually – I attend it – Bear comes later).  I wanted to do this last winter, but was just too busy – and putting it off another year is not an option.  He is such a beautiful, smart dog – and he needs a job to do.  I think visiting assisted living and nursing home residents and hospital patients will be right up his alley.  All we have to do is pass the tests!


Now –  about the Mackinac Island blog.  Just like last winter, I plan to write weekly updates (those will probably post on Monday mornings also).  I have friends on the island who have promised to email winter photos and news just like last year, and I think I can easily keep you updated throughout the winter on “what’s happening” up here.  Will I return to the island during the winter as I did last year?  I have no clue.  Ted and I have some much needed home improvements to take care of at the lake house, so finances will definitely be a determining factor.  You can bet your snow boots though – if it’s at all possible – I’ll be catching that puddle jumper over from St. Ignace sometime during the winter – especially if the “big snows” return this year, and there is an ice bridge.  The thought of photographing and writing about a trip across the frozen Straits of Mackinac on a snowmobile makes me giddy with excitement.  We’ll wait and see what happens!

The Mackinac Island Blog continues to grow.  The social media network has played a huge part in that, and friends made at the MackiTAC this summer on the island have boosted my reader numbers tremendously through their support.  I’m averaging over a thousand readers a day now, and when http://www.mackinacisland.net posts a link on Facebook to some particular blog, my readership jumps to over 1,500.  Amazing.  Thanks so much, Patrick, for your continued support – and Ken for keeping those twitters flying!

Please let me know your thoughts about the Georgia blog.   I’ll be anxious to hear what you think.

There will be extra posts this week as we wind down and get ready to catch that ferry on Sunday.  I’ll post on Saturday AND Sunday mornings, then try to let you know where we are on Sunday night from the road.

OK – enough of that stuff.  Bear wrote the following story today while I was packing.  He wanted me to share it so your four-legged buddies would have all the correct steps on “How to Season a New Tennis Ball”.



I love, love, love, love, LOVE new tennis balls. You know, those bright yellow ones right out of the can? Mom brought home a new supply the other day so I'd have fresh ones in Georgia. Only one thing wrong with new tennis balls - they don't smell right. Too . . . clean. So I have to take them out in the yard and "season" them. Here's how. First you put it on the ground and make sure it is round - very, very important. No round - no bounce.


Then I pick it up so I can position it just right on the ground . . .


. . . sometimes I have to nudge it a little to the right or left to get it ready for the next step . . .


. . . which is to throw myself over on my back on top of it and roll it around between my body and the ground (and whatever yucky smelling stuff might be mixed in with all those leaves). This is a very important step - do not leave it out!


This was a perfect tennis ball seasoning day because it was BEFORE I got my bath on Wednesday in all that sweet smelling shampoo Mom makes the doggie beautician use. I mean, between smelly me and those leaves, we were smelling GREAT!


One more roll for good measure . . .

. . . and the ball is ready to be thrown.

Where's Dad?

Ya'll know I love Mom to pieces, but she cannot throw a ball. And ever since she lost that blue thingy that helped her hurl it, she has been useless as a ball-thrower. Yep, I love her - but she throws like a girl. P-i-t-i-f-u-l.

Dad, on the other hand, should have been in the majors! He can throw that ball waaaaayyy down the hill . . .

. . . and since I don't know how to run s-l-o-w, I usually kick the ball with my feet as I run over it, sending it even further!

Stopped it! Don't you dare roll!

Bringing it back (that's why we are called "retrievers") . . .

And that’s how you season a tennis ball!
Mom’s gone to bed.  She said before I turn off the computer to remind you she’ll see you back right here on Saturday morning. 

Bear – out. 


40 thoughts on “What’s Next? 10/15/2010

      • Well, when you come back up in the spring you guys should try to stop here in Ypsilanti. The Yankee Air Museum just reopened, and I know how much Ted likes history. He’d love to stop and see that I bet. It’s only about 20 away from Whitmore Lake. My shop is on the back side of the airport and we get to see the WWII bombers flying around all the time. It’s pretty neat.

      • Wow – thanks for that tip, Tom. I’ll mention it to Ted (who you know by now is very intense on his “travel schedule” coming and going). But for history, maybe he can be convinced to make a detour.

  1. Golden retrievers and poodles may not be able to talk, but they sure know how to smile. Thanks Brenda. I will follow you south to Georgia. It will be a wonderful change from the cold and snowy weather we get in Niles, in the Southwestern corner of Michigan.

  2. Although I came to your blog rather “late in the day” you have given your readers so much to tuck in our hearts as winter draws ever near. I would be happy with a weekly winter blog in order to give you a well-deserved break. And attend Dog Therapy classes.

    Nothing better than a Golden Retriever doing what comes naturally … aside from breaking in new tennis balls! Bear, please check in with us over the winter and let us know what you and your sidekick, Maddie, are up to!

  3. Brenda, just wanted to thank you before you leave for sharing your Island experiences with us. It has meant so much to me and many others.

    You have the ability to make us feel very connected to the Island through your experiences. I was up there in mid-September for a week and reading your blog all year enriched my visit greatly. I had been compiling a list of things I wanted to see and do as a result of reading your blog. Thank you so much for this sweet gift.

    I look forward to the continued weekly updates about Island activities and events.

    I also read your Georgia blog last winter. I would be fascinated to read about your experience getting Bear certified as a therapy dog. I also own a big, gorgeous, intelligent Goldie who I had wanted to get certified in NJ, but they require her to receive yearly vaccinations and after researching the issues with that, I am picking and choosing which vacs she gets yearly. Sadly, this disqualifies her from becoming a therapy dog in NJ. I know my Sweet Annie would be an awesome therapy dog.

    If I may make a suggestion regarding posting from Georgia? If you are reluctant to commit to a posting schedule, how about just posting when you feel like it. That way you will not feel obligated to post on a certain day. If you post spontaneously perhaps you will feel less pressure to post when you have nothing to say or no time to say it.

    Whatever you decide, I will check in regularly to see what’s going on because you cannot separate the blogger from the blog. The people who read here are just as connected to you now as they are to the Island.

    God bless and I wish you and Ted and your four-leggers a safe, quick, beautiful trip home.

  4. Brenda,
    I happened upon your site this summer after a visit to the island. We were on the island while Ron Howard and Vince Vaughn were there. (Got to see Ron but not Vince) 😦 Was glad to see the pictures that you posted of him. 🙂 I have visited the island more times than I can count since I was a little girl. But reading your blog has really opened my eyes to all there is to see and explore! Most of my trips have consisted of walking down main street, riding around the island and leaving. Oh the things I have missed!! My husband and I are already planning a trip for next summer where we can actually stay on the island for a few days and really explore! What a treat it has been each night to sit down and see a “Bree’s Blog” email waiting to be read! Thank you so much for what you have been doing, and just like others have said, I would love if you still blogged some from Georgia! My husband and I will be praying that you guys have a safe trip back home and I look forward to the last few blogs before you leave.
    Nicole (Grand Rapids MI)

  5. So hard to believe it’s that time of the year Brenda! We were so blessed to meet you this summer..after meeting Ted last year at the Visitors Center..now when I read your blog I can almost hear you saying it!! (even sounds like your Georgia accent!!) I would love to be able to read what is going on with you both while you are back at the river…and whatever time you can find…I’ll take it!! I think Bonnie who posted earlier had a good idea..post when you feel like it and we will keep a look out for your post!! Whatever you decide will be great!! Looking forward to the last of the blogs from the Island..Blessings…

  6. Brenda, I think you could easily get away with a once or twice a week post from Georgia with sporadic Mackinac posts over the winter. Sounds like you and Bear will be busy with therapy classes, which will probably provide you with plenty to blog about – I think it will be interesting to hear about that!

    It’s been so nice getting to know you through your blog and keeping up with all the happenings on Mackinac (I didn’t get to get up there this summer and will make one trip next weekend for the big Halloween finale).

    Have a safe journey back south – God bless!

  7. Hi Bear! I’m glad to know how to season those tennis balls -thank you for sharing!
    I enjoy reading posts from your Southern home too, so whenever you get the time is fine with me also. I would like to hear how your therapy dog training goes with Bear too. Happy Friday!!

  8. Brenda,
    I’ve been so sadly behind in reading your blog this summer. Just a bad summer all around, but things are getting better. I just can’t believe it’s time for you to leave the Island already! I followed your winter writings last year and just want to say that I would follow you again this winter, but only as much as YOU want to write. We don’t want you to get blog burnout or anything!
    Have a safe trip back south. God Bless. And I will be following, even if I’m just lurking! 🙂

    St. Clair, MI

  9. Hi Bree,

    Whenever you can blog will be great. We will be happy with what we get. I agree that a break will be nice but I truly would love to have updates on how Bear and your therapy training is going. I think that is a fantastic thing and would love to follow you on that journey as well.

    I want to say thank you for all you have shared with us and wish you a safe, safe return trip to Georgia and hope that May hurries up and gets here.

    Swartz Creek, MI

  10. Well I have to agree with everyone else here…I’ll take what I can get!. If you can only do once or twice a week, so be it. I’ll still check in everyday, just in case, I know how you can be 🙂 I too would love to hear how Bear does with the therapy. Besides if I didn’t hear anything at all for the whole winter, it would be like missing an old friend that I hadn’t seen in a long time. 😦
    Till tomorrow…..

  11. Kind of new here… I think you should take a well-deserved break. Some posts here and there from Georgia and winter on Mackinac are sufficient for me. Good luck with the transition.

  12. As Hilde wrote….I’ll take what I can get. If it’s once a week I’ll live with it. I’ll check in as I do now, every day. But 6 months with no Bree, Ted, Bear, and Maddie….don’t think I’d enjoy that.

    I was so thrilled to meet you this year. It was like seeing an old friend. I love my bike that I found thanks to your blog. One here in Mishawaka had ever seen one like it. Of course I loved telling about how I found it.

    A safe trip home to Georgia for all of you. Bear, I always wondered how those tennis ball got there look. Thanks for all the things you do to let us keep in touch with a place we all love.

    God Bless.

  13. I just started reading your blog last spring, and have probably checked in every day. Love reading about Mackinac Island. We’ve been every summer for the last 15 years and we love it. You have a great ability for writing. I’ll miss reading this every morning before I start the daily grind. I’ll look forward to next spring when you arrive back on the island.

    As for Georgia, you should take the winter off. Give random updates on Mackinac Island winter, and that should be enough.

    Have a safe trip back home!

  14. Doesn’t matter what you write about or how often you post, I’ll read it! I’d especially love to go with you on your therapy dog training adventure. I taught basic obedience, agility, and ‘charm school’ (a class for dogs with agression issues) for a long time but I’ve had anything either as a teacher or student specifically related to pet therapy.


  16. Brenda,

    Your blogs have become a part of my life, so I certainly want you to continue blogging from South Georgia. No particular schedule, just whenever you feel like it. Naturally, I would like to hear about the therapy progress for you and Bear. (That doesn’t sound right, but I’m sure you know what I mean.) I would also be very interested in seeing and hearing about the home improvements you have planned.

    My wishes are for you, Ted, Bear and Maddie to have a safe and enjoyable trip back to Lake Blackshear. I’m sure your Georgia friends have a wonderful homecoming planned, but if they don’t, they’ll need to get on the stick. There’s not much time.

    And Bear, thank you for the instructions for seasoning a tennis ball. That’s something I’ve needed to know for most of my life. I won’t be able to follow those instructions myself (I’m afraid that if I ever got down on the ground like that, I would never get to an upright position again), but I’ll sure tell Nellie. I know she’ll want to know. By the way, she said to tell you hello and be sure to enjoy your remaining time on The Island.

  17. Thank you for our daily trips to the Island. Any decision you make on blogging will be a bonus for your readers. Enjoy your trip, be safe and “honk” as you go through Toledo. We love you and appreciate your writings.

    I will have to teach Abby how to “season” a tennis ball. Bear is terrific and will be appreciated at any nursing home or hospital he vists. Good Luck!

  18. Brenda:

    Thanks for writing a great blog this summer from Mackinac Island. We have been to visit the Island the last three summers and I always enjoy reading your blog and it makes me want to go to the Island again.

    I would enjoy if you would blog from Georgia this winter. Even if it is only once or twice a week just to let us know what you are up to and how you are enjoying being in Georgia and away from the snow and cold of Michigan. Us northerns can be envious of you going south for the winter.

    Safe travels back to Georgia.

  19. Well Brenda . . . it’s certainly plain to see that you do not yet have the hang of retirement. Retirement means you are supposed to do WHAT you want to do WHEN you want to do it. )Which is why my windows need washing.)

    TED . . . hide Brenda’s camera. The colors down this way are beginning to “peak”.

    Safe trip!

  20. You do deserve that break. Your devoted readers will keep cking on your Georgia Blog, I just know it.

    It will be interesting to hear about Bear’s training, and how both of you are progressing! He certainly is perfect for the job. You are so friendly the patients will love you too. I’ve been going to a care centers for almost 8 years now to visit my dad. The patients just love when animals come with visitor. They usually react to the animals no matter what their mental state is. You and Bear will be so rewarded by doing this.

    We will all enjoy whatever you can send our way. What an interesting winter it will be for you and Bear! Now you have to find something for Maddie to do so her feelings aren’t hurt!

    Have a safe trip.

    • LOL, Judy! That Maddie is never at a loss for something to do – especially in Georgia where she has a fenced-in yard where she can roam free. If we could just somehow teach her the difference between garden snakes and water mocassins AND to not mess with the ‘gators.

  21. You do deserve that break. Your devoted readers will keep cking on your Georgia Blog, I just know it.

    It will be interesting to hear about Bear’s training, and how both of you are progressing! He certainly is perfect for the job. You are so friendly the patients will love you too. I’ve been going to a care centers for almost 8 years now to visit my dad. The patients just love when animals come with visitor. They usually react to the animals no matter what their mental state is. You and Bear will be so rewarded by doing this.

    We will all enjoy whatever you can send our way. What an interesting winter it will be for you and Bear! Now you have to find something for Maddie to do so her feelings aren’t hurt!

    Have a safe trip. So enjoyed Bear’s post!

  22. Just recently discovered your blog and now I’m catching up on all the posts and enjoying every minute. The stories & pictures have been wonderful, I can’t pick a favorite yet. We are obviously all fans of the island, horses, dogs & animals in general. I haven’t had a chance to read anything from your GA posts, but I’m sure whatever you decide to give your readers, they will be happy! Thanks again.

  23. Hi Brenda,

    I was on the island a week ago Thursday a week ago taking photos of the fall color. I was hoping to run into you, but I found out later from your blog that you were off the island following the horses to pastures new.

    Nice work with the blog this summer! One great story after another all summer long. Count me in as one your fans who appreciate all of the hard work you do.

    Have a good trip south and say hello to Ted for me.


  24. Brenda,
    I have so enjoyed your blog but as a writer I understand the need for a break. Share when you feel inclined. If you take some little trips around Georgia, I love to see pictures and comments of your area.

  25. HI–I look forward to your daily post, wherever you are. Thank you so much for writing and taking your wonderful photos. We’ll miss you this winter, but will keep up with your life thru your blog, whenever it is you feel like writing.

    Mary Lou

  26. I’m sure with Bear’s help you will do good in Therapy school. I bet they have nice comfortable couches to lie down on. I’ve enjoyed your blog and pics. but you need to take a break every now and then to recharge.You and Ted and the dogs have safe trip home.

  27. I love the picture of Bear in the air!

    I know how much work a blog can be especially with the number of pictures that you post every day. So you deserve a break. I’d suggest no schedule at all for Georgia. Just post when you have something to say and feel like saying it. Whatever it is, I’m sure it’ll be interesting and we’ll all enjoy reading it.

    Have a safe trip back south. Thank you for all that you do.

    • Dear Bree,
      Enjoy your last days on Mackinac Island, spring will be here before you know it! Thanks so much for making my trip to the Island even more special!
      Ted, Bear, Maddie, friends, family, home improvements, Dog Therapy class…whew, you will keep very busy this winter in Georgia, and with all the work and adventures you had this summer, it is understandable that you need some time to relax, rejuvenate, remember-those simple things in life.
      Like so many of your readers, this blog is such a pleasurable part of my day and I “have a ball” as Bear would say! Would love to hear about your happenings on the ri’vah, whenever and whatever you can give will be “just right” & don’t spend a second thinking otherwise.
      If I’m lucky enough to go the the Mackinac Island Christmas Bazaar, I’ll send you some pictures!

      May love and laughter light your days,
      and warm your heart and home.
      May good and faithful friends be yours,
      wherever you may roam.
      May peace and plenty bless your world
      with joy that long endures.
      May all life’s passing seasons
      bring the best to you and yours!
      -An Irish Blessing

      May your trip home be safe, swift & spectacular!
      -A Maggie Blessing

  28. I think reading your blog twice a week is better than not reading your blog at all. Please keep writing!! Maybe I’ll bump into you at Booger Bottom some evening.
    Jo in GA.

  29. HI Bree!! As you know I have not missed a blog in 2 years and I do comment daily on the Mackinaw island blog. I was wondering if it would be easier for you when you write the Mackinaw Island update blog this winter if you just add a few notes about what your up to in Georgia? This way its only one blog and it would be like “killing 2 birds with one stone”. Just a thought! Have a safe trip back my friend! Michelle

  30. I found this blog on Facebook earlier this summer and have truly enjoyed it. I hope you do blog over the winter. I would enjoy hearing about therapy dog training. I have a Siberian (not an eager to please breed like the Retrievers), I have taken him to a nursing home to visit relatives before. He really seemed to enjoy being told how handsome he was. In one case, they were having a chapel service that stopped while 5 people came out to pet him. I’m sure you and Bear will love it while you bring great to joy to others.

  31. Brenda, I have enjoyed your blog from Mackinac Island so much, love your pics. Yes, I would love to still hear from you this winter as much as you can write. Love to hear from Bear too.
    You are blessed in your writing, you make it so real.
    I pray you & Ted & your furry children have a safe trip home. Will look forward to hearing from you soon, God bless you both, Thanks again…..

  32. I have thoroughly enjoyed your blog (and photos) and look forward to reading it each day, but you are right – it becomes like a part-time job. You should definitely take a well-deserved break! Those of us who read your blog will be able to get caught up when you keep us posted periodically throughout the winter months. Wishing you, Ted, Bear and Maddie a safe trip back, and we’ll be looking forward to an occasional update through the winter, and more frequent blogs from Mackinac when the days are long again 🙂

  33. I have been going to Mackinac Island my whole life (44 years) but don’t feel like I ever really “saw” it until I began reading your blog. I am so grateful for how you have opened your heart and your life to us. About the winter: Take time off when you need it, and write when you feel like it. I wouldn’t worry about keeping a schedule at all-your blogs will be appreciated whenever they arrive and you shouldn’t think you’re obligated to write if you don’t feel like it. Be well and know many of us are praying for you – and missing you already!

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