About bree1972

My husband Ted and I have lived in Beverly Beach FL since Oct. 2014. We spend three months each summer on beautiful Mackinac Island in Michigan. We have three children and two grandchildren (and two wonderful dogs). We are very blessed.

Catching Up! 2/22/19

Hi Friends!

It’s been a little over a year since I retired Bree’s Mackinac Island Blog.  I can’t tell you how many times a day, over that year, you’ve all crossed my mind.  Many of you followed me over to Facebook, so I feel like we’ve all pretty much stayed connected through social media.  This summer, while we were on Mackinac for three months, I wrote for the Mackinac Island News and Views Facebook Page, and that gave me a chance to continue talking about the island we all love – without all the deadlines I was always imposing on myself with the blog.  It worked for me in a large way, and I hope those of you who followed along were pleased with that format.  But.  For a few of you, we’ve lost touch, and I thought today was a good day to try and catch up with everyone.

So here goes.

We had a pretty chilly winter last year (which suited me just fine).  Ted and I continued to volunteer – Ted, working two days a week at the Visitor’s Center at Fort Matanzas, and me, working two days a week in Same Day Surgery.

Our granddaughter Jordan graduated from high school and started college at the University of Alabama.  Grandson Matthew got his driver’s license.  I can’t believe he will be off and gone himself in a couple of years.  That happened way too fast.  Ted surprised me with a week in the mountains in June for my birthday, and oh my gosh it was nice.  He booked a cabin right next to a flowing stream, and Jason, Jen and Alex joined us for a few days.  By the time we got home it was almost time to pack up and head to Mackinac.  We once again visited with Ted’s newly found family in Michigan for a few days and so enjoyed strengthening those bonds before we traveled on to Mackinac.  Our son Blake, who lives in Turkey, visited us for ten days right after we arrived on the island, and throughout the summer we had visitors from near and far, including three of my girl cousins from south Georgia!  We spent Thanksgiving with Jason, Jen and Alex at Palmetto Bluff SC, and they joined Julie, Matt, Jordan and Matthew here at the house with us for Christmas.  We had a very quiet New Year’s Eve.

I guess the big news (in my mind anyway) for the summer was my health.  I developed a cough in June, and by the time we left for the island it had been going on for a month and was driving me nuts.  It was  almost constant.  I couldn’t talk without coughing, and once I started coughing I’d start sneezing (which seemed to last for 15 minutes at a time), and my eyes would water until I looked like I’d been crying over a really sad movie.  By the beginning of September I was fed up, and on the advice of a Mackinac friend I took myself down the hill to the Mackinac Island Medical Center.  Just to rule out pneumonia, they took a chest x-ray and sent me back to the condo on antibiotics and a short dose of steroids.  You can imagine my shock when I got a call two days later from the med center that the x-ray had shown a nodule in my left lung, and several cloudy areas in both lungs. They wanted me in St. Ignace THAT AFTERNOON for a CT scan.

The next four weeks are a blur.  After the scan was inconclusive, I was referred to Petoskey to a pulmonologist, who ultimately scheduled me for a needle biopsy of the lung nodule.  The day I had the biopsy I will admit to riding the ferry back to Mackinac with Ted, believing I had lung cancer.

Almost a week later, I met with my pulmonologist for my biopsy results.  He opened the door, and the first words out of his mouth were, “You don’t have cancer.”  Tears of joy came then.

Long story short.  I’ve been diagnosed with histoplasmosis, which usually occurs when you live somewhere with lots of birds.  They don’t think it’s active – they don’t even think my cough (which has gotten so much better) is even related to the histo.  I had a follow-up CT scan last month that showed basically the same thing as the first one.  My primary doctor here in Florida wasn’t comfortable with what he was seeing though (his exact words were, “you just have a lot of weird stuff in your lungs”), so he referred me to a pulmonologist at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville.  After meeting with her, and after she reviewed all my scans and the pathologist report, she has said, “Go live your life.  We’ll scan you again before you leave for Mackinac.  As long as there’s no change, you’re good to go.”  She did request further blood tests (all of which are negative for anything) and asked that I have the hospital in Petoskey send the slides of my biopsy to Mayo for their pathologist to review.  I took care of that last week.

After ruling out cancer, all the doctors I’ve seen think the cough, sneezing and runny eyes are due to something in the environment I’m inhaling.  Since the allergy season in Florida never really ends, I see a lot of Zyrtec in my future.  And that’s ok.

I’m feeling great, and my cough is almost non-existent. I’m out with Bodie walking everyday and have even started to do a little biking again.  Life is good, and I know that the many prayers that were lifted up for me this summer were answered by a very gracious and loving God.  Thank you to all of you who lifted those prayers.

Now for fun stuff!  Ted and I leave March 26 to travel to the Holy Land with a group of friends from Little Stone Church.  This trip has been almost a year in the planning, and we are so excited!  Our goal is to NOT have checked baggage for this trip and we’ve ordered new luggage that incorporates packing cubes.  I know you’re all laughing out loud – at least those of you who’ve seen on the old blog posts everything I pack up for a Mackinac trip.  But we are determined not to have to worry about lost luggage!

At the end of the trip, Ted will fly home with most of the group, while another small group goes on an extended tour.  I’m doing something entirely different.  The day Ted leaves for home I will fly from Tel Aviv to Istanbul and then on to Ankara – to visit Blake for a few days.  Then I will fly back into Tel Aviv, meet up with the second Little Stone Church group, and fly home with them.  Am I nervous?  You bet your life I am.  But I’m also so excited I can hardly sleep at night!

Even with all that going on, I’m still thinking ahead to being back on Mackinac for three months again this summer.  If all goes as planned, we’ll be there again the middle of July through the middle of October.  I’ve been asked to write for “News and Views” again, and I’m so looking forward to that!

So.  That’s what been happening with the Horton clan over the last year and what’s coming up in the months ahead.  I’d love to hear what’s been happening in your lives, so please feel free to comment!

Sending love and hugs to all of you.  I miss y’all.

Brenda (Bree)

 

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It’s Time 1/7/18

When we arrived home from Mackinac Island this October I decided to take a break from writing until the first of the year. I confess to having an ulterior motive.

For at least two years now, I’ve been thinking the lifespan of Bree’s Mackinac Island Blog has really more than run its course.  When I began the blog in 2009 it was just at the beginning of the social media era.  Bree’s Blog was one of only a very few places on the web where folks could go for information about Mackinac, and I slid myself right into that special little niche – reserved for the dear folks who believe Mackinac Island is magical and the most beautiful place on earth.  The blog blossomed, and at its peak nearly 2,000 readers a day stopped by to see what was happening with the Hortons and their pooches on the island.

You followed us home to our precious lake house in Georgia for winters and packed up with us for the move back to the island for the season.  You gave us support and love through so many hard times – selling the condo on the island and our home in Georgia, moving into a rental while we built a new home in Florida, my hysterectomy, Bear’s knee surgery and two years later his death, hurricanes – the list goes on.  But for every hard time, there were hundreds of good times – endless summer days exploring the island, listening to the trees sing their song in the up north woods, riding hundreds of ferries back and forth across the Straits, horse and buggy adventures, nights at the Pink Pony, the discovery of Ted’s birth mother’s family . . . the list again goes on and on.  Even when we weren’t on Mackinac you traveled with us – a trip to Colorado to a ski resort, a trip to Alaska, a trip to Key West, a trip to an amazing little island in Canada, and numerous trips to Flagler Beach as we built our home.

The decision to post the “Throw Back Thursday” posts has given me so much joy – looking back at those first few years and remembering things I haven’t thought about since they happened.  But they also gave me the strength to say . . . .

It’s time.

I’ve told almost a thousand stories about Mackinac Island, and there are many other excellent blogs being written about the island.  All you have to do is Google “Mackinac” and hundreds of resources appear.  Through blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and all those other media channels out there that I don’t even know the names of, Mackinac is now an open book.

This past summer on Mackinac was a little bit of a wake-up call for Ted and I.  We seemed to spend a lot of time recovering from spills – and we blamed most of them on Bodie.  But, being totally honest about it – and although Bodie did play his part – a lot of those falls and spills were because our reaction times have gotten slower, our ability to heal quickly has slowed down.  Since returning home we’ve begun to think about the time we would no longer be able to return to Mackinac on an extended time line.  We’ve begun quietly searching for other places where my need for cooler summers would be closer than 1300 miles away.

Until that time comes, and we pray we’ve still got years ahead of us before we have to get serious about it, I selfishly want to enjoy every minute on Mackinac without those self-imposed blog deadlines.  I just want to go and enjoy every second of its beauty and peace and magic.

So, it’s time.

What’s next?  The ending of Bree’s Blog certainly doesn’t mean I won’t be taking photos and posting to Facebook – about Mackinac, and about anything else either serious, mundane or silly that happens in our lives.  So, if you haven’t already, please follow me on Facebook.  Just search for “Brenda Horton” and you’ll find me.

And – there is certainly a possibility I will one day (maybe soon, maybe later) find my way back to blogging about something completely different.  But, that’s just a thought now – not a decision.  I do know writing is in my blood, and if I do go in another direction, I will let you know by posting the info here on this blog – so please don’t “unfollow” me here.  I’ll also let you know on Facebook.

Bree’s Blog will live on forever on the web.  I hope in the years to come newcomers who are just discovering Mackinac will click a key and discover a little blog about the Hortons spending part of their time on magical Mackinac. And I pray they know each and every word and each and every photograph is filled with love and thankfulness and the awe of the discovery of my heart’s home.

I can’t even begin to thank you all for the happiness writing this blog and sharing Mackinac with all of you has brought me.  It’s hard to believe I’ve been writing about the island for almost as long as I’ve been retired.  I began it on a whim, and that whim has buoyed me up over all these years and brought the most amazing people into our lives.  As half-year residents of Mackinac, we were given a behind the scenes glimpse over the years to what makes Mackinac tick, and I tried my best to share it all with you – so you could love it as much as I do.

Thank you to everyone to provided photographs over the winters when we weren’t on the island.  Your generosity and willingness to share your talents kept Bree’s Blog up and running over the cold season.  Thank you to readers, friends, and business owners who allowed me access to stories that wouldn’t otherwise have been told.  Your love of Mackinac makes my heart smile.

And a very special thank you to my dear friend Jill.  Without you there wouldn’t have been a Bree’s Blog.  Thank you for all the insider information over the years, the story ideas, and the thousands of photographs.  Thank you for being my sidekick, my always-willing-to-get-up-early partner in crime, my confidant, my shoulder to cry on, my “no-you-can’t-write-that” editor.  But most of all – thank you for being my forever friend.  You are beautiful and amazing, and I love you to the moon and back.  Ok – make that to the sun and back.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written and rewritten this post.  If I’d let myself I would have turned into a blubbering baby and sobbed my way through it.  But I want you all to know I don’t have one regret about the years spent here with all of you.  You all became friends – many of you close friends – and I love you all immensely.  You let me into your homes and lives by reading this blog, and that is the greatest gift writing this blog has given me.

So, for now, it’s time.

 

 

Thanks, Mary, for helping me make what I thought was an impossible dream come true . . .

God bless.

Merry Christmas! 12/21/17

Just wanted to stop the hustle and bustle a moment to say  . . . . .

                       MERRY  CHRISTMAS  FROM  THE  HORTON   CLAN!

GOD BLESS and MUCH LOVE TO ALL!

Ted, Brenda, Maddie and Bodie

P.S.  See you back here the first week of 2018!

 

 

What’s Happening on Mackinac? Snow! 12/14/17

I’ve been having a blast this week looking at all the winter photos folks are sharing from Mackinac Island.  So – instead of Throw Back Thursday – I wanted to share some of those photos with you tonight!

If these don’t put you into the Christmas spirit, well – I just don’t know what will!

A dray and a taxi do business as usual – even in a snowstorm. (Photo: Tom Chambers)

Snow from a porch in the interior of the island. (Photo: Pam Day)

Busy Original Murdick’s Fudge elves make a run for the ferry with a cart filled with Christmas fudge orders. (Photo: Rose Witt)

The Grandview Condos (where we’ve stayed the last two summers) all dressed up for Christmas! (Photo: Pam Day)

Early morning on Cadotte Avenue. (Photo: Jason St. Onge)

Round Island Lighthouse, surrounded by snow and ice. (Photo: Grand Hotel)

A taxi swings by the Christmas tree which stands in the middle of Main Street. (Photo: Orietta Barquero)

 

A snow-covered Grand Hotel. (Photo: Grand Hotel)

One more shot from the island’s interior. (Photo: Annie Lockwood)

Main Street during a blizzard yesterday. Temp was one degree. (Photo: Tom Chambers)

I confess.  I want to be there. 

But – the last two weeks we’ve had some pretty darn chilly days here in Beverly Beach, and I’ve gotten more in the Christmas spirit because of it.  Haven’t gotten out my snow pants yet, but I have put on a vest AND a jacket to walk Bodie the last few days!

Hope you have your shopping done!  I finished mine yesterday! 

God bless.

Fling Back Friday – “Lighting the Way to Winter 12/8/17

Personal Note – Part 2 of yesterday’s post from October of 2011.

Lighting the Way to Winter – First Published 10/14/11

October’s poplars are flaming torches lighting the way to winter.  Nova Bair

If you liked yesterday’s fall color pics, today’s should make you just as happy!  I’m finishing up with the photos I took on the last official sunny day of our Indian summer on Mackinac Island – and a couple of that weather change I talked about yesterday.

I love the quote I found for today . . . . flaming torches lighting the way to winter.  I’ve seen that for the past few days here on Mackinac.  The leaves have been so bright, as the sun filtered through, I’ve had to shade my eyes just to look at them.  With the coming of the rain, wind, and colder temps over the next few days, I know we’ll lose those torches.  But for a few more days . . . they burn on.

Again, we don’t have to venture too far from home to find color now. This tree is right next door and is always beautiful in the fall.

Maddie in the leaves

Still at Surrey Hill – this is the old blacksmith shop that has not been in operation since before we bought our condo.

Looking through the horse corral rails.

The road leading to the back side of the Carriage Museum.

Kinda camouflaged, isn’t she!

There’s really nothing I can say about these next few photos. They’re all taken next door on the Carriage Museum property, and with every different angle, I found more beauty through my lens.

“Man, it feels good to scratch an itch!”

My beautiful boy.

As I was about to leave the house Wednesday afternoon (the day the weather changed), Ted called from outside that there were horses in the backyard. He’s been trying to get me to use up all the horse treats we brought with us from Georgia, so they wouldn’t be sitting on the shelf all winter. I threw a handful in my pants pockets and went outside.  The dray was picking up all the items left in the condo two doors down that the new owner didn’t want.  I think the driver was happy to see a bike go on board.

The horses got their treats . . . . .

. . . and then, trying to avoid rolling over our boardwalk, the driver took the dray too close to a tree and got stuck. All it took was someone climbing a ladder with a board, shoving the board under the branch causing the problem, and heaving it up out of the way.  Out drove the dray.

Coming home late Wednesday afternoon as the weather changed, I paused just past the Grand stables and looked back. The fog was coming in fast, and I could barely make out anything down the hill beyond the bikers walking up . . .

. . . and as I walked my bike up the next-to-last hill from home, I could just make out the outline of our condos through the opening in the trees.

Personal Note:  In 2011 I added a “Mystery Spot” game to the blog.  I’d publish a pic of something most folks who were familiar with Mackinac Island recognize, and the first person who emailed me the location of the pic would get a “prize” mailed to them.  I decided to leave this one in today just so you could see how it worked.  The answer is also included.

THE MYSTERY SPOT

This will be the last Mystery Spot of the season, and I’ve made it a really, really easy one.  If you have visited Mackinac Island, you have seen this object because it is right out there in the open!
The object of the Mystery Spot  is to be the first to identify where the object is located. When you think you have the answer, email me at brendasumnerhorton@hotmail.com. I’ll check my email several times a day, and as soon as we have a winner, I’ll post the winner’s name at the top of this blog so you can stop guessing, AND I’ll post the full photo of the mystery spot at the bottom of the blog with the answer. Is there a prize for the winner – yes there is; but the prize is secret, and the only ones who will know what it is are the winners. To be fair, I’m asking residents of Mackinac Island to please NOT guess. This is just for readers who don’t live here . . . but would like to! And the Mystery Spot is . .

Where is it?

 

MYSTERY SPOT ANSWER

The antique buggy sits on the porch of “The Lenox” building on Market Street. The Lenox is home for many of the Carriage Tour workers and also houses a few of the City of Mackinac offices on the ground floor.  Personal Note:  The “prize” was usually a bar of Lilac soap!

Throw Back Thursday – “How Beautifully Leaves Grow Old” 12/7/17

Personal Post:  Part I of a 2-part post from 2011.  I was counting down the days until our return to Georgia and trying to chronicle the beauty of Mackinac in the fall. 

Header Photo:  Thank you to Jocelyn Kazenko for the beautiful Christmas season header shot.  Photo taken the evening of Dec. 4.  It was the calm before the storm, as today the U.P. is being hit with snow storms and high winds!

How Beautifully Leaves Grow Old – Originally Published 10/13/2011

“How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days.” – John Burroughs

Oh geez.  I’m down to counting DAYS now.  19 to go before we’re out of here.  Where did the summer go?  It seems like three minutes ago we were right in the middle of watching the horses come off the ferry and walk up the hill to the big barns.  Now the horses are almost all gone back to Pickford in the U.P., where they will kick up their heels and enjoy a much needed rest.

I’ve asked Ted to get my suitcases out of the attic and put them on the beds upstairs.  I’m going to try and get organized (don’t you dare laugh).  All my days are filling up, and before I can say “fudge”, the 30th will be here, and Ted will be standing in the street next to the taxi yelling, “No, we can’t stay another week!”

Many of our friends have already gone south – or east or west – for the winter (don’t know any who go further north, which would be Canada).  Each day brings partings on the ferry docks and promises to stay in touch by email, or Facebook, or Skype or cellphone, which certainly makes the “partings” a little easier. 

The next three weeks’ calendar is already almost full – lunches and breakfasts with friends still here, meetings with a couple of blog fans, and three days next week I’m volunteering at Shepler’s in Mac City for the Winsome Women conference. What a great group of ladies – almost a thousand each day will be catching the ferry to and from the Island.  I think they have me greeting cars at the entrance gate and showing them where to park.  I have to remember not to talk too long to the women in each car!

But – that’s all about what’s happening in the next 19 days.  For the last three days, I’ve been out on the island with the camera – and that’s what I want to share with you today and tomorrow.  Oh my goodness, I could stay out there from sunrise to sunset – it’s that gorgeous.

Arrowhead Stables, as we were riding our bikes home from church Sunday. It was Little Stone Church’s last service of the season, and Vince and Molly (our pastor and his wife) left the island on Tuesday for their winter home in Florida.

We stopped to talk with Barb, a Village neighbor, who was walking Topaz (their family pony) down the hill.  Topaz was scheduled to leave the island for the winter the next morning.

Maybe the last mowing of the season. Our weather is supposed to be changing drastically by Friday, but these last two weeks could not have been more beautiful.

Trees in front of Barn View – where many of the Carriage Tour employees reside.

Two of our neighbors, walking their bikes home on the road that runs in front of our condo.

Chief Duck’s little poodle, Star – dancing in the leaves for a treat I was holding right over her head.

Still beautiful weather on Tuesday morning, so we sat outside for coffee. The tree just outside out bay window is changing into its fall dress – one “sleeve” at a time.

We went on a long walk Tuesday afternoon. We really don’t have to go much further now than our own front yard to find color – it’s everywhere around us.

Bright red tree over what used to be the goat petting shed at Carriage Museum.

Maddie – straining against her halter.  When you say “walk in the woods”, she is ready!

“Why can’t I go in this tree trunk!?”

“I knew I’d find it! Fox poop – yeah!”

View from in front of the Captain’s Quarters at Fort Mackinac.

I think I’ll stop right there for now, but I’ll have even more to share on Friday.  As I sit and type this, it’s Wednesday afternoon, and I’ve just returned from town.  I left in a 3/4 length sleeve cotton shirt thrown over a short-sleeve t-shirt and some khaki pants.  Half-way down the hill, the wind changed direction, and cold air hit me like an iceberg.  The fog rolled in over the harbor and flew up each street – replacing warm, bright sunshine with cool, wet air – and the fog horns have been blowing ever since.  I had to stop and buy a sweater in town to wear back up the hill.  And THAT’s how fall arrives on Mackinac Island!  LOVE IT!

Thanks to Sue Randall for stopping by to see me Monday at the Stuart House.  I didn’t know it at the time, but that was my last day working there for this year, as they decided today to close the museum for the season.

Sue and her husband were at the Grand for a few days for a Christian Marriage Retreat.

Personal Note:  Come on back tomorrow (Friday, Dec. 8) for Part 2!

Throw Back Thursday – “All Better” 11/30/17

Personal Note:  This post from 2011 made me laugh.  Of course anytime Bear wrote a blog I always laughed.  Bear published this one the day after Maddie had somehow hurt her back – and he’d had about enough of us pampering her.

ALL BETTER – First Published August 5, 2011

Hi.  Bear here.

Mom wanted me to write ’cause she’s exhausted from having to babysit Maddie all day yesterday and today.

I really felt sorry for my little sister – at first.  Yesterday she was pitiful.  When she’d walk around – which wasn’t much – she’d have her skinny little tail tucked all the way up under her belly (she does that when she doesn’t feel good).  The way I really knew she was hurting though was because I didn’t hear her bark one single time all day.  Dogs would walk by the condo, children would walk by the condo, people would ride bikes by, pulling those cart thingys – any one of those is usually guaranteed to get a good barking fit out of Maddie.  Yesterday – nothing.

Mom and Dad trudged up and down the stairs all day, carrying Maddie.  They’d put her down in the grass, she’d do her business, then she’d sit down and look at the door.  They’d pick her up and climb the steps with her again.  She’d curl up on towels that Mom kept warming for her in the clothes dryer.  They even brought her food dish over to her bed, so she wouldn’t have to walk to our dinner spot.

This morning when we all woke up, Maddie was still acting weird.  Dad put her on the floor (out of their bed, where I don’t get to sleep), and she just sat there, looking up at Dad with those sad little eyes.  Then dad walked out of the room, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw Maddie’s tail wagging.  Huh?  Dad came back in and picked her up, and we all went outside.  I watched real close.  When Mom and Dad weren’t looking, Maddie was walking around just fine, sniffing out stuff in the grass.  Then as soon as they’d turn around, she’d sit right back down again and look pitiful.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, when I got on Mom’s computer today, I read the seven gazillion messages from readers saying how much you hoped Maddie was feeling better, and “poor little Maddie” this and “sweet little Maddie” that.  That’s just a little . . . bit . . . too . . . much . . . attention . . . being . . . shifted . . . away . . . from . . . . . . . . . . . . . ME.

So, I just want to tell everyone that Maddie is feeling a lot better.  After Dad had carried her up and down the stairs a hundred times today, he caught her running down those same steps when she thought he wasn’t looking.  BUSTED!

Seriously, Mom said to let everyone know that Maddie is feeling a lot better, and Mom wants to thank everyone for all the good thoughts and prayers.  They worked!

However . . . .

I’ve had a BAD day and could really use some TLC.  I’d appreciate dog bones, lots of hugs, a “pass” on going to the groomer’s next week, and I’d also like to be able to eat my dinner in the den by the couch.  I think that will do it.  Wait . . . . maybe ya’ll could drop me some cards in the mail – preferably with coupons for Beggin’ Strips.  Whew!  I’m feelin’ better already.