The Beach, the Island . . . . and Places Far Away 7/2/17

Hi Everyone, and a huge Happy Fourth of July Weekend!

We’re nine days away from leaving for Michigan, with an arrival date on Mackinac penciled in on or about July 16.  Once we reach Michigan, we’ll be visiting family along the way, and our gang will be spending a few nights with cousins Dave and Diane Bennick near Grand Haven.. There’s also a family reunion where we’ll get to spend more time with cousins who visited us on the island last summer AND meet relatives we have yet to see face to face.  Dave assures us that Bodie and Maddie are welcome and that there are four Golden Retrievers in their neighborhood for Bodie to play with.  LOL – this should be very interesting!

Bodie says he sincerely hopes everyone has a soft spot in their hearts for teenage goofballs who always seem to find a way to get into trouble – even when they’re not trying.


Bruce LaPine shared this and the next two photos toward the end of Lilac Festival week. A Shelper’s boat rounds the breakwall, framed by lighthouses and white lilac blossoms.

The flower beds outside Sadie’s Ice Cream Parlor at Grand Hotel are flourishing!

More beautiful lilacs – overhanging a white picket fence and framing the Mackinac Bridge.

This is soooo cool . . . .

In honor of the 130th anniversary of Grand Hotel, David Lorch, PhD, LEGO designer, and engineer, created a 9 ft. replica of Grand Hotel made entirely out of LEGOS.

The details are impeccable and include people, horses, a Grand omnibus . . .

. . . . even the chess set on one end of the front porch and pots of geraniums!

I can’t wait to tell you about this . . . . . .

Mother and daughter team, Barbara Toms and Marcia Dunnigan (on the right), have joined together with artist Sharon Griffes Tarr (far left) to create the Mackinac Island Cottage Cookbook.  These three ladies held a book signing at the Island Bookstore last week.

The book is a compilation of Barbara and Marcia’s tried and true personal recipes. Their cottage (shown above on the book cover) is always filled with warmth and laughter, and these are two of my favorite “women of Mackinac”.  That front porch has been the scene of many an island party, and these ladies know exactly how to make everyone feel welcome.

Sharon’s illustrations of island locations are beautiful and add even more fun and enjoyment to the book’s charm.  The Island Bookstore will carry the books, but if you don’t have a trip planned, Jill says just give the store a call, and they will be glad to ship it out.  She has one tucked away for me already, and I am excited to get my hands on it in a couple of weeks!


We’ve had such a great week at the beach.  Jason and Blake flew in on Wednesday, and on Wednesday night Julie, Jordan and Matthew joined us for grilled burgers.

It’s so hard to get everyone together in one place at one time!  We hated that Matt was out of town and couldn’t join us, and Jen and Alex couldn’t come because Alex had a swim meet.

Jason flew back to Atlanta on Friday, and Blake will be with us until this Friday when he’ll return to Colorado.  In mid-August Blake will return to Ankara, Turkey for a two-year commitment teaching English at a local university there.  He is in the process of raising support.  Please keep Blake in your prayers for his safety and for his purpose there.  There is a need in that country, and work there can impact the regions surrounding it.

Please remember me too in your prayers during this time. This is hard.


Ted, Jason, Blake and I were at Turtle Shack Thursday night, and we ate outside. This huge crab sauntered across the sidewalk from behind the building, and when we got up to take a pic, he scooted behind the tire of one of the cars nearby. He sat there until we finished eating and was still there when we left. Biggest crab we’ve seen down here so far.  I guess you can grow that big when you’re wise enough not to cross busy highways during dinner  hour.


On my way to work last week this lone cloud was hovering over the ocean. I pulled over to get this pic ’cause I thought it was kind of spectacular.

Talk about spectacular! Sunset from our deck last night. I don’t usually like iPhone photos of sunsets because they tend to wash out the colors. But this one was perfect.

One more spectacular shot.  Blake took this panorama as he was walking the beach last night at sunset!


Those of you who follow this blog often read comments by “Jason-the other one”.  Jason has read the blog for many years, drawn to it because of his love of the island.  Jason served in Afghanistan until 2010 with Ben, his military service dog and partner.  Ben returned to the states a month ahead of Jason, then went home to meet Jason’s wife and parents (Jason had applied to adopt Ben when he knew the dog was being retired).  Jason returned overseas, and Ben spent the rest of his retirement with Jason’s family.  Jason would see him when he’d come home on vacations over the years.

Ben crossed the Rainbow Bridge last week. Jason writes, “I’m writing to let you know my beloved partner Ben crossed oer the Rainbow Bridge last Wednesday. Please keep my family in your thoughts and prayers as we deal with his passing. If not for him I wouldn’t be here today. He saved many lives, allowing countless service members to come home safely to their loved ones. He served our country with honor and had a very blessed retirement. He passed away at 14 years of age. Even at 14, he loved to play and rough house. He was found at home asleep on his bed. We guess it was just his time.”  The photo above is from Ben’s retirement ceremony in 2010.  His service years were March 2004-June 2010.  His last patrol in Afghanistan was June 5, 2010.

Rest in Peace, brave Ben, and thank you for your service.

God bless.





16 thoughts on “The Beach, the Island . . . . and Places Far Away 7/2/17

  1. What a wonderful story to share before the Fourth of July about Jason and Ben. My prayers to Jason and his family and I know Ben will live on his his memory and the memories of those he saved from harm. Brenda, as you know, Jim could not bring his dog home from Viet Nam although he will never be forgotten. If any of your readers are ever in the Columbus, GA area, I recommend a visit to the War Dog Memorial at Ft. Benning. It is a very special and moving tribute to our Military Dogs. Happy Independence Day to you, your family and all your readers.

  2. Prayers for safety for Blake and peace for his Mama! Looks like by the end of summer Matthew will be taller than is mom and sister. When I first started reading your blog he was much shorter! Prayers for Jason and his family as they grieve the loss of this one so dear to them. Thankful for the beautiful, brave dogs that serve along side our military men and women!

  3. With dignity and honor man and friend side by side served. With God’s grace and love they showed us all what family under the shield of the American flag means. Jason, may God bless you all as Ben has traveled one last time.🐾 ❤

  4. RIP Ben….thank you for your service! My heart is sad right now for Jason (the other one). 😦
    Jordan and Matthew have sure grown! My goodness. Many prayers for Blake (and mama) always!! Beautiful sunsets… and a very happy 4th of July!! I also have a cookbook waiting. Yay!

  5. Great pictures! The one with th cloud is amazing. Prayers for Ben and Jason and family. That is so difficult to go through. Will also keep you and Blake in my prayers as well. Safe travels on your way up north!!

  6. RIP, Ben. It’s heartbreaking when our furry friends cross the rainbow bridge. I can’t imagine how much harder it is when he’s served with you and saved your life. I will be praying for you.

  7. Blake is on my prayer list. And Jason and his family, too. An MWD is a grand sight to me. I love them all.

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