Throw Back Thursday – Catch Up! 5/4/17

Personal Note:  SOOOO many faces in this one you’ll recognize if you’ve followed the blog for very long!

I’ll be back on Sunday with a pre-Alaska blog.  This time next Thursday we will be on the way to Fairbanks!

FIRST PUBLISHED JUNE 30, 2013

I’m getting a really late start writing tonight (because we had the most perfectly beautiful day you can possibly imagine on Mackinac, and Ted and I stayed outside and enjoyed it until hunger drove us in).  So, I’m going to just toss up some photos with captions and let that do for now.

We had some foggy days at the beginning of last week, and fog creates some strange illusions. Loved these "waves" of wisp

We had some foggy days at the beginning of last week, and fog creates some strange illusions. Loved these “waves” of wispy fog clouds between the break wall and the lighthouses.

We ate in the Chippewa one evening and watched the fog roll into the harbor . . .

Ted and I ate in the Chippewa one evening and watched the fog roll into the harbor.

When we stepped out onto Main Street to start home, the streetlights shining through the fog turned Main Street

When we stepped out of the hotel to start home, the streetlights shining through the fog gave downtown’s Main Street a rather haunting look . . .

. . . and the east end

. . . and the east end really looked eerie in front of Marquette Park.  Good night for the ghost tours!

Mike Forrester and his family rented kayaks from Great Turtle Kayak Tours and really enjoyed paddling around the marina. We need to go kayaking!

Mike Forrester and his family rented kayaks from Great Turtle Kayak Tours and really enjoyed paddling around the marina on their next-to-last-day on the Island.   Talk about a serene scene!  (Photo: Mike Forrester)

Ted and I met blog reader Jeff and his family - Camille, Lisa, Mia and Jake - at Sadie's Saturday for ice cream. Flavor #5 - Blueberry Cobbler (vanilla ice cream with blueberries AND pieces of cobbler crust)! Oh. My. Goodness. Another 10!

Ted and I met blog reader Jeff and his family – Camille, Lisa, Mia and Jake – at Sadie’s Saturday for ice cream. Flavor #5 – Blueberry Cobbler (vanilla ice cream with blueberries AND pieces of cobbler crust)! Oh. My. Goodness. Another 10!

On a walk the other day, we cut through the Trillium Heights neighborhood, which is about three hills further up Cadotte than we are. I really like this area though - lovely homes and nice folks living in them!

On a walk the other day we cut through the Trillium Heights neighborhood, which is about three hills further up Cadotte than we are. I really like this area – lovely homes and nice folks living in them!

Who, me? Uh-uh. Maddie did it.

“Who, me? Uh-uh. Maddie did it.”

Love this view from the East Bluff.

Have always loved this view from the East Bluff.

Jill - getting some puppy love!

Jill – getting some puppy love!

From a trip to Mac City - out-of-the-water sailboats at the marina.

From a trip to Mac City – out-of-the-water sailboats at the marina . . .

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. . . and the little park adjacent to the Shepler dock.

Pansies! Don't you just love pansies!

Pansies! Don’t you just love pansies!

One day this week we walked into town and met up with Chris Ann and Burton's family at Marquette Park. Two of the grandchildren fell in love with the Bearster.

One day this week we walked into town and met up with Chris Ann and Burton’s family at Marquette Park. Two of the grandchildren fell in love with the Bearster.

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We went over to visit our neighbor, Chief Duck Andress, this week and noticed a chipmunk running up and down the top of his fence. Duck went over and poured out some peanuts and told me to go stand right by the fence and not move. Sure enough, in just a minute or two, Mr. Chipmunk scurried right down to the treats. Chipmunk to himself: “Hmmmm . . . peanuts!”

"I think I'll try one . . .

“I think I’ll try one . . .

. . . or two, or seven, or twelve. Man, I wish I had bigger cheeks!"

. . . or two, or seven, or twelve. Man, I wish I had bigger cheeks!”

Mary Warner, a blog reader, and her entire family were staying at the Yacht Club this week. I biked down to meet her and husband Steve, their two sons and their wives and the three grandchildren. What a fun family!

Mary, a blog reader, and her entire family were staying at the Yacht Club this week. I biked down to meet her and husband Steve, their two sons and their wives, and the three grandchildren. What a fun family!  And guess what, Lowell – Mary and her parents used to eat at the Carriage Lantern in the 50’s, Mary worked one summer for the Benjamin Photography Store, and (drum roll please) Mary, as an 8-year-old, ALSO walked across Arch Rock!  There seems to have been quite a bit of that going on in the 50’s.

 

I loved these t-shirts they were all wearing. Each date is the year that someone new in the family first visited Mackinac Island.

I loved these t-shirts they were all wearing. Each date is the year that someone new in the family first visited Mackinac Island.

Me - hurrying to the library last Friday to hear authors PJ Parrish (really two sisters

Me – hurrying to the library last Friday to hear author P.J. Parrish. (Photo: Jill Sawatzki)

You'll remember that P.J. Parrish is actually two sisters, Kelly Nichols and Kristy Montee, and their latest book is Heart of Ice, set on Mackinac Island.

You’ll remember that P.J. Parrish is actually two sisters, Kelly Nichols and Kristy Montee, and their latest book is Heart of Ice, set on Mackinac Island.  These two sisters graciously mentioned Bree’s Blog in the Acknowledgement page as a source of some of their Mackinac Island information. 

The library was packed, and the sisters spoke for about an hour about their new book and what it's like to write together - one from Michigan and one from Florida. After the lecture there was a book signing, and the books were flying out of the library! It is SO good!

The library was packed, and the sisters spoke for about an hour about the new book and what it’s like to write together – one from Michigan and one from Florida. After the lecture there was a book signing.  Hope you’ve read Heart of Ice.   It is SO good!

We rode out to today and found a pony wash in progress.

We rode out today to the Mackinac Community Equestrian Center and found a pony wash in progress.

Friend Joan Barch was there with her grandson Jordan. Well, it seems there were no dirty ponies so sweet Blaze got to be "dirtied up" with finger paints . . .

Friend Joan Barch was there with her grandson Jordan. It seems there were no dirty ponies, so sweet Blaze volunteered to be “dirtied up” with finger paints . . .

. . . and Jordan had great fun leaving his fingerprints everywhere!

. . . and Jordan had great fun leaving his hand prints everywhere!

After they decorated Blaze in very patriotic red, white and blue paint, they, of course, washed it all off!

After they decorated Blaze in very patriotic red, white and blue paint, they then washed it all off!  That Blaze will put up with anything for these young horse lovers.

The article reporter Stephanie Fortino wrote on Lowell and Faye's visit to the Island appeared in this week's Town Crier!

The article that Stepanie Fortino wrote about Lowell and Faye’s visit to Mackinac was in this week’s Town Crier!

I have a funny story to tell you, and then I’m done for tonight.  The day that Lowell, Faye, Jill, reporter Stephanie, Ted and I had lunch at the Grand Hotel, we were all sitting and chatting, waiting for our food to arrive.  I totally forget what it was, but Ted said something sweet, and I reached out with my right hand – still chatting with someone down the table on my left – to give him a sweet pat and rub on his cheek.  As I patted and rubbed, I noticed everyone had stopped mid-sentence and they were all staring at me wide-eyed.  I heard Ted clear his throat and say, “Uh, Sweetie?”

That’s when I turned toward Ted and discovered that instead of patting and rubbing Ted’s cheek, I was patting and rubbing the arm of our server.

I put my head down on the table and about DIED! But the waiter thought it was funny (and so did everyone else), and he laughingly agreed to recreating the "scene" for this pic.

I put my head down on the table and about DIED! But the waiter thought it was funny (and so did everyone else), and he laughingly agreed to recreate the “scene” for this pic.  Oh, Lordy.

And that’s the last time I “pat and rub” without looking first!

We have another busy, busy week ahead, with lots of 4th of July activities, and on Tuesday we’re going sailing!  Really excited about that and will share that adventure later in the week, along with whatever other goodies pop up.  The weather is supposed to be stuck on PERFECT all week, so if there’s any way you can jump in a car or bus or train or plane and get up here, you won’t be disappointed!

Have a great week, and I’ll be back in a few days with more good stuff from Mackinac!  God bless.

Throw Back Thursday – Walking on Sunshine 4/27/17

Personal Note:  Loved going back and reading this blog and seeing all the photos.  So many friends are in this one, including sweet Chris Ann, who we lost a few years later.  I wrote it a couple of days after we arrived on the island for the season in May, 2011.

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First Published May 20,2011

“The sun always shines on Mackinac Island” is a local saying those of us who love this place use a lot.  Even when it’s cold or raining, and even when the wind is howling around the corners of the buildings downtown, some of us Pollyannas are still looking up –  fully expecting the sun to peek through at any minute.  To us, it doesn’t really matter what Mother Nature sends – just being on Mackinac makes the sun come out – even if it only shows itself in the smiles on our faces.

By the time I publish this, we will have been on the island approximately 70 hours.  We arrived in sunshine, with temps in the 50’s, but the rest of the week has been pretty wet and pretty chilly.  Here’s a look at what the week’s been like since our arrival . . .

Monday (noon-ish):  After 4 1/2 hours on the road (which included lunch at Ted’s favorite chain restaurant, Big Boy’s (this is a childhood memory thing for him, left over from visits when he lived in Ft. Thomas, KY), we turned into the Shepler’s Ferry docks.  We had some business to take care of before we could board the next boat (parking and season passes), so we unloaded Maddie and Bear and headed for the main office.

Chris Ann and Burton Nelson were on the dock to greet us in Mackinaw City. They stayed with us overnight in Georgia a few weeks ago on their way north from their winter home in Florida.

Taking care of business. Beside me is Captain Bill Shepler, the head of this awesome clan, then Captain Chris, and that’s Misty (head of the Marketing Department) across from me.

 

About to board.

 
 

Bear, Maddie and I getting off the ferry at the island . . .

 
 

. . . followed by Ted with lots of luggage.

 
Following Mackinac Island tradition, friends were on the dock to greet us.  Oh my gosh!  It had been almost seven months since we’d seen these folks.  We were excited!
 

Jill is taking the photo, but that’s Loretta (who owns Martha’s Sweet Shop) petting Bear and Mary from the Grand behind her. What’s in the white box Loretta is carrying? Only the best cinnamon buns, blueberry muffins and raspberry muffins you have ever put in your mouth! We haven’t had to buy breakfast food yet!  Did you notice the heavy coats everyone has on?

 

All the ladies who came to greet us had to scurry back to work, so we wasted no time loading up on the taxi which was waiting for us (Ted had called for it from the ferry).

 
 

And up the Grand hill we go. I know I take practically this same photo each year, but I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to see the Grand come into view for the first time each spring. With some of the big trees gone (cut down in the winter because of disease and replaced by strong, healthy young trees), the beautiful hotel could be seen a lot further down Cadotte this year.

 
 
 

As usual, Maddie had to be subdued into remembering that she weighs 12 lbs. and the horses weigh 2 tons . . .

 
 

. . . while Bear propped his head up on the back of the seat and dozed off.

 

The tulips are just before bursting into bloom at the Grand!

 
Ted did most of the luggage-carrying up the steps of the condo, and as we started to unpack I realized, as I always do, that I had brought way to much “stuff”.  Do you remember that last fall I took photos of all the clothes I was leaving so I wouldn’t duplicate anything again?  Guess what – if you CAN’T FIND THE PHOTOS, they don’t do you any good!
 
By four we couldn’t stand it any longer and had to get outside.  Bear and Maddie needed walking, and Ted and I both were in need of some leg-stretching ourselves.  With Bear off the leash once we got into the woods, we were interested in seeing what he remembered about the island.  We started down an oft-traveled road, with Bear running several feet ahead of us.  Suddenly he stopped, peered left into the woods, looked back at us, and immediately darted down the wooded path we’d traveled so many times last summer.  He knew immediately where he was and led us onto all our favorite paths as we walked.
 
After returning home to feed Maddie and Bear, we started down the hill for the first time – headed for the Chippewa and dinner.
 
 

The corral in front of our condo is not nearly full of horses yet, but this big guy was enjoying his supper. The horses all put on weight over the winter (all they do is eat, and with no exercise to keep those calories in check, they bulk up).  Hmmmmm . . . same thing happens to me!

 

First time this spring down Turkey Hill, next to the Grand’s Jewel Golf Course. With no leaves on the trees yet, it’s easy to see Lake Huron through the branches.

 
 

First stop – outside the Island Bookstore where we met up with Frankie, some of Bonnie’s family, Jill and Bonnie.

 

Then it was on to the Pink Pony at the Chippewa Hotel where we were greeted by two of our favorite bartenders, Jacob . . .

 

. . . and Susanna.

 

Daffodils are coming up all over the island, and I noticed these after we left the Chip to start home. They’re at the Marquette Park corner of Fort Hill and Main Street.

 
On Tuesday Ted left to go across to get the rest of our luggage while I unpacked the rest of what we’d brought over the day before.  By the time he got back, the three boxes we’d mailed had also arrived, so the rest of the day was spent unpacking clothes we really shouldn’t have brought and carting suitcases upstairs to storage.
 
Now for what has REALLY kept me hopping the last two days!  A few days before we arrived, Shepler’s asked Chris Ann and I if we would help them as “welcomers” for the Win-Some Women conference held at the Grand Tuesday-Thursday.  Each day Shepler’s was expecting 800 ladies to arrive on the dock at Mackinaw City to cross to the island, and extra “hands on deck” would be appreciated.  We jumped at the chance!  Although I didn’t get to help on Tuesday (just couldn’t get over there the day after we arrived), Chris Ann worked all three days, and I worked Wednesday and Thursday.
 

I wanted to catch the 8 a.m. boat across to Mackinaw City, and Jill met me halfway up Cadotte and walked to the dock with me, where she snapped this photo.

 
 

The weather was really cold and wet on Wednesday, but the ladies arrived in good spirits and were loaded quickly onto the ferries. I took this shot after returning to the dock from where I was “stationed” – at an intersection to direct arriving cars into the proper parking lot. I had on my cuddle duds, a turtleneck, a windbreaker, long pants, and was carrying an umbrella. I needed all that – and more!

 
 
 
 

Back on the island at the bookstore on Wednesday afternoon. You know how straight my hair is in the photos above? It was that straight when I left the condo that morning also. All those waves come springing out in the rain! Loving my Shepler’s windbreaker and the Shepler’s backpack that were volunteering perks.

Thursday was a much better day weather-wise! Chris Ann and I were stationed together at the main gate to the dock, and we had a blast welcoming the last group of 800 women. That’s Noel, another Shepler volunteer, who was directing traffic.

 

Eight hundred women = tons of luggage! The efficiency with which the cast got the luggage tagged and loaded was amazing.

 

As 800 women were headed TO the island, several hundred school children were coming OFF!

 
 

How’s this for great customer service – that’s Captain Bill Shepler, the owner of Shepler’s Ferry Line, out welcoming guests. Today I also saw him take luggage out of cars, load it onto luggage carts, handle problems over the hand-held radios, check out every single detail of what was happening on the dock, and still take the time to deliver two steaming hot cups of coffee to Chris Ann and I at our post.

 
 

Noon – and our volunteer time is over. We ate pizza for lunch with the rest of the cast members – then Chris Ann headed home about a mile away on the mainland, and I jumped back on the ferry to the island.

 
On Friday I plan to sleep late, finish the last of the unpacking, wash some clothes, and get rid of the winter dust on the furniture.  Sounds like kind of a boring, blah day, doesn’t it.  But, you know what?  All I have to do is look out the sliding glass doors or one of the windows of the condo . . . . and I’m walking on sunshine!

Throw Back Tuesday – The Island Without Jill 4/25/17

Personal Note:  I’m posting this as my “throw back” today because I know Jill will be returning to the island in the next week or so, and Mackinac just wouldn’t be Mackinac without Jill being there.  I’ve loved her since our very first summer on Mackinac, and I count her as among my very best friends.  She is everything I wrote in this blog back in 2009 – and much, much more.  Her heart is huge, her spirit is sweet, and her friendship is forever.  Love you, Jillski, and don’t fuss at me about posting this!______________________________________________________________________

FIRST PUBLISHED 10/29/09

I keep telling myself that one day this week I will sit down to write the “final post” for the season.  I’m not ready to do that yet, even though today was the closest I’ve come to saying, “Ok – I’m ready to go.”  And that is because today my good friend Jill left the island. 

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JIB in The Island Bookstore.

As I have said before, Jill is the communicator for Mackinac Island.  If Jill doesn’t know about something that’s going on, then it must not be going on.   She always seems to be everywhere at once, and when we were first getting to know each other, I gave her the nickname JIB (for Jill in the Box) – because she just popped up everywhere.  At first I thought she knew everything because she worked at the The Island Bookstore.  I figured there must be some secret information system that fed every little tidbit of news from every corner of the island into that tiny little store inside the Lilac Tree Hotel mall.  But then I realized, no – it’s just that Jill knows everyone on Mackinac, and everyone knows her. 

How in the world I would have ever kept this blog going without her constant stream of places to go and people to meet is beyond me.  It probably would have been dead in the water by June.  Jill was a Godsend. 

But the best part of meeting Jill was not how much she knew.  The best part was becoming her friend.  Being Jill’s friend is like taking little rays of sunshine and spreading them across your day – regardless of the weather, regardless of your mood, regardless of how you feel – Jill’s voice and her smiling face can lift you right up.  Her spirit is sweet and generous and kind, and she shares herself with everyone. 
This summer I have seen her come to the aid of an endless number of people in countless ways – housesitter, meeting someone at the ferry, seeing someone off at the ferry, helping people unpack – then helping them pack, dogsitter, delivering messages, delivering packages, catsitter, buying groceries for others, and picking up mail for a friend.  And she is usually taking care of all that before she goes to a a full-time job at the bookstore.  She does it all, and she never complains.  She never says she’s too busy or too tired to help someone, even though I know that sometimes she is both. 

On her breaks from the bookstore, she will walk down the sidewalk and have 20 people speak to her by name before she hits the first corner.  She is hailed from the street, from taxis, from bikes, and from stores.  She has this amazing ability to make you feel special.  That’s what she did for me, and that’s what she does for everyone lucky enough to know her. 

Jill left today on the 12:30 ferry.  Her plan is to spend a few months with her family in downstate Michigan, then spend some time with friends in Arizona, before returning to the island in the spring. Ted and I were there at the dock to see her off.  She wrote me a lovely note and gave it to me as she was boarding, making me promise not to open it until she was well out of sight.  I kept my promise. 

Watching the ferry pull away, I thought, “Now there is only one more important goodbye I have to say before we leave – and that will be to the island itself.”  

Then it will be time to go home.

Have a great winter, JIB!  Love you, my friend.

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Throw Back Thursday – Maddie’s Musings 4/20/17

Personal Note:  Maddie’s very first blog!  First published June 23, 2009 – our first year as island summer residents.  ____________________________________________________________________

Hello – Maddie here.

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My favorite place – my Dad’s lap.

I hope all of you folks out there who read Mom’s blog are happy to hear from me – finally.  I think Mom told you that I had been working on this thing for some time (in between everything else I have to do around here to keep the premises safe).  Somebody has to make sure we aren’t going to be attacked by squirrels or chipmunks or snakes – and it sure isn’t going to be that big furball I am forced to share Mom and Dad with.  All he’s good for is to prance around and look good.  You should see him right now – lying at Mom’s feet with every long, golden hair in place.  Well, let me tell you something – he stinks!  I can’t wait till Mom takes him off island on Thursday for another bath and to get groomed.  I know he told you about that bath he had down at the horse shower.  Mom’s good at a lot of things, but bathing 90 lbs. of dog in a shower built for a Clydesdale in front of an audience is not one of them.  He smelled a little better (at least our company didn’t gag when he came around), but he needs to go to a PROFESSIONAL.

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This is me and my all-time favorite toy. Why is it my favorite? Because I cannot destroy it! Of all the toys I have had in my five years of life, this is the only one that has survived. I keep trying though – I will NOT give up!

OK – back to me.  Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat.  I am a dachshund.  I know that is hard to spell – even Mom has to look it up in that big book of words every time she uses it in this blog.  I am NOT a weinie dog, a weiner dog, a hotdog, or a doxie.  Do you think puffball would like to be called a GOLDIE?  He is a golden retriever.  I am a dachshund.  I have papers to prove it – maybe not as many papers as goofy, but papers nonetheless.

I have two houses to take care of – one in Georgia and one up here where it’s still freezing even in June – ok it’s not freezing, but I do not have 17 tons of hair like the monster does – I have very short, shiny brown hair that nobody has to professionally take care of – I am a very low maintenance dog.  A couple of baths a year (in the bathtub at home, not at a fancy, spancy salon) is all it takes to keep me looking good.

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Me in my cold weather sweater and faux fur cover-up. I JUST put these away this week.

In Georgia, we live on a lake, and the yard is fenced in, front & back.  Therefore, when the door opens, I am free to run around outside to my heart’s content.  I can chase squirrels and ducks and birds (wish I could fly!) and dig up moles and catch mice (Mom says I must be half-cat), and hunt for snakes.  I know Mom told you about me going after that copperhead in the yard in Georgia.  I had it handled, but Dad says he saved my life.  I still say I had it handled. 

Then there was that time when I was tracking that big black snake that lived in the bushes outside our front door (in Georgia).  I was barking like crazy (something I am not allowed to do up here because of the neighbors).  Mom came out and was trying to get me away from the bush (she doesn’t much like snakes), and that snake dropped right on her foot.  You should have heard her scream!  I jumped right in there and grabbed that snake (Mom said it was at least three times longer than me), and whipped it around my head like a lasso.  Then I threw it down as hard as I could (you are thinking I am making this up, but you can ask Mom).  We all thought it was dead, but it was only dazed.  It crawled off, and our good neighbor at the lake (who doesn’t care if I bark) came over and took care of him with this big stick that goes BOOM (Dad was not at home at the time).

Ok – enough about the lake.  Mom told me to write what I like about living on Mackinac Island.  So, here’s my list:  1) There are no poisonous snakes on this island.  So, when I spot a snake and go after it, Mom and Dad don’t worry so much.  2) There are chipmunks!  They look like little squirrels with shorter tails.  3)  There is a chipmunk AND a snake that live under the boardwalk at the condo, and I love to hunt for them – I have even named them.  The chipmunk’s name is appetizer, and the snake’s name is entree.  4)  There are the biggest squirrels I have ever seen here.  The one who lives in the tree outside our living room window is black – our squirrels in Georgia are gray.  The squirrel’s name is dessert.  5)  We have more “quality” time with Mom and Dad here because we go on walks.  In Georgia, they just open the door and let us out.  Here, because we don’t have a fenced in yard, we have to be walked so Mom and Dad have to go with us.

Here's me "running free".

Here’s me “running free”.

Now, here’s my list of things I don’t like about the island:  1)  I have to wear a straitjacket.  You see, when I walk on a leash, I like to pull because there are always things to check out.  With just a collar, I ’bout choke myself to death.  So Mom ordered this harness-thing that puts the pressure on my chest instead of my neck.  Looks like a straitjacket to me, but now at least I don’t turn blue on walks.  2)  I can’t run free (see above).  There are leash laws here, but I have a flash for you.  They let dufus walk around without his leash.  We live near the woods, and once they have us on a wooded path, they let him go.  Now they say they can’t do that with me because I would run away chasing everything that moves.  And I won’t come back when I’m called, like that crazy dog does.  I mean, look at what my options would be – chasing a rabbit vs back into the straitjacket.  What would you do?   The only time I am semi-free is when we go to Turtle Park.  It is this huge, open area, and they will let go of the leash handle and let me run around.  They think that leash and handle will slow me down enough that they could catch me if they had to – pleezzee!  I LET them catch me just to keep them from freaking out.   4) Walking downtown with Mr. Personality and Mom and Dad.  We can’t get three inches without being stopped by a crowd of folks saying, “Ohhhh, what a beautiful golden retriever!  Isn’t he gorgeous?  Isn’t he so well-trained?  Isn’t he just like ours at home?  Isn’t he just like the one we had when we were growing up?  Come on, big boy, give us a kiss!”  You know what I want to say?  “Yeah, go ahead and get those kisses all over your face, and then I will tell you what he just picked up off the street and munched on.”

Actually, I think the island is pretty neat.  I love going in the woods, even on a leash because there is so much to explore and so many new smells to check out – other dogs, horses (who last year I thought were big dogs until I challenged one and got to see close up the biggest paws I have ever seen – and their paws have iron shoes on them), all kinds of wild animals, different plants, different trees – everything is so exciting (even in my straitjacket).  I also love the ferries and the buggies.  When we are going off island, I get to sit in Mom or Dad’s lap so I can see everything (and don’t get in people’s way).  How cool is riding in a buggy behind a team of horses and pretending that I’m the driver!! 

Me and Mom on the ferry. This was one of those cold days when Cathie and Charlie were here.

Me and Mom on the ferry.

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Me and Dad on the taxi. I’m telling the driver which way to turn.

And, I have to admit it, sometimes downtown, stinky breath gets ignored and people lean all the way down and say to me, “Aren’t you the sweetest thing!  Dachshunds are my favorite dogs.  We have two back home, and we miss them so much!  You are so cute!  You are such a happy girl!”  So I give them kisses – and stick my tongue out at the big blonde dog.

Ok – I guess that’s about all I have to say today.  If you like my first blog, be sure and tell Mom, and she will let me know.  I have lots more I could tell you!   I hope I get more fan mail than bushy tail.  That would make me VERY happy!

P.S.  I forgot to tell you that Dad calls Bozo his “big-headed boy”.  He calls me his “precious, sweet little baby”.  What does that tell you, Goldie?

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Throw Back Tuesday – Back Track and Forward March 4/11/17

Personal Note:  Loved reposting this blog today because of the many Mackinac friends – and blog readers – who happen to be in it!  Also, it was written at the end of the Lilac Festival that year and involves a parade!  Sweet memories.

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FIRST PUBLISHED JUNE, 18,2013

You will not BELIEVE all the photographs I have backlogged over the last few days!  I’ve been focusing mainly on Lilacs for a good two weeks now, and the Lilacs are still going strong, even though their “festival” ended yesterday. Tonight I want to catch up on a few other topics, throw in a few more flowers, and highlight some of the parade from yesterday. So, here we go . . .

THE PEOPLE WE MEET!

New lady on the corner! Walk down Main Street as far as Shepler's Ferry, look directly across the street on the corner of Main and Astor, and you will more than likely see - during daylight hours anyway - the brilliant smile of Mert. As the Corner Concierge, Mert helps visitors with all things "Mackinac" and does it so easily and with such friendliness that you just want to stay and chat a while longer. She'd love for you to stop by - to ask questions, to talk about Mackinac, or just to say hi! Oh, and tell her "Bree" sent you!

New lady on the corner! Walk down Main Street as far as Shepler’s Ferry, look directly across the street to the corner of Main and Astor, and you will more than likely see – during daylight hours anyway – the brilliant smile of Mert. As the Corner Concierge, Mert helps visitors with all things “Mackinac” and does it so easily and with such friendliness you just want to stay and chat a while longer! She’d love for you to stop by – to ask questions, to talk about the Island, or just to say hi!  You will love her!

This beautiful family, Theresa, Allen, Amelia and Michael - from Tecumseh MI, met me last week at Sadie's for ice cream. Theresa is a frequent commenter on Bree's Blog and follows us in Georgia during the winter also.

This beautiful family – Allen, Theresa, Amelia and Michael – from Tecumseh MI, met me last week at Sadie’s for ice cream.  While we were there, Amelia chose my 4th flavor to try – Caramel Turtle Cheesecake!  A T-E-N!

Loved hanging out with this great family, and while we were in Sadie's Amelia chose my 4th flavor to try - Caramel Turtle Cheesecake! A T-E-N!

Theresa is a frequent commenter on Bree’s Blog and follows the Lake Blackshear Blog in Georgia during the winter also.  Loved hanging out with this great family!

A couple of days later, I turned the corner down French Lane and spotted Theresa and Allen trying to find all the hidden treasurers in Jeff's garden. They didn't know I was anywhere around until after I snapped this. They left the island the day of the Lilac Parade and watched it on Theresa's iPad in the car going home. LOVE IT!

A couple of days later, I turned the corner down French Lane and spotted Theresa and Allen trying to find all the hidden treasurers in Jeff’s garden. They didn’t know I was anywhere around until after I snapped this. They left the island the day of the Lilac Parade and watched it on Theresa’s iPad in the car going home. LOVE IT!

Richard! This sweet gentleman used to live all summer on the Island, and Ted and I first met him several years ago. Now he returns for a few days here and there, and I happened to spot him downtown this week, resting on a bench in the sun. Always good to see Richard!

Richard! This sweet gentleman used to live all summer on the Island, and Ted and I first met him several years ago. Now he returns for a few days here and there, and I happened to spot him downtown this week, resting on a bench in the sun. Always good to see Richard, and he always asks about Bear and Ted . . . in that order.

On the way home a couple of days ago, right by the big barns on Cadotte, someone called "Bree?" I turned and met Ted (I'll remember that name for sure) and his wife Rebecca. They were married on Mackinac just last year and were up for a visit. This sweet couple is from Aurora, Ohio, and their love of the island was so evident, they reminded me of ME!

On the way home a couple of days ago, right by the big barns on Cadotte, someone called “Bree?” I turned and met Ted (I’ll remember that name for sure) and his wife Rebecca. They were married on Mackinac just last year, found Bree’s Blog when they returned home from their honeymoon, and were up for a visit. This sweet couple is from Aurora, Ohio, and their love of the island was so evident.  They reminded me of ME!

Evi is a blog fan from New Jersey, and we met up - finally, after several attempts - at the Island Bookstore one evening last week! Hope to see you again soon, Evi!

Evi is a blog fan from New Jersey, and we met up – finally, after several attempts – at the Island Bookstore one evening last week! Hope to see you again soon, Evi!

Tommy and Gerald - our two teenage young men who stayed with us Saturday night. They are part of an A Cappela Choir from Roosevelt High School in Wyandotte, MI. We had a fun time with Tommy and Gerald, who challenged us to a game of Monopoly (who knew teenagers still played Monopoly). Three hours later, Ted was bankrupt, I was on the verge of bankruptcy, and Tommy was Donald Trump Jr.

Tommy and Gerald – our two teenage young men who stayed with us Saturday night. They are part of an a cappella choir from Roosevelt High School in Wyandotte, MI. We had a fun time with Tommy and Gerald, who challenged us to a game of Monopoly (who knew teenagers still played Monopoly) after returning from singing for their supper at the Seabiscuit restaurant. Three hours later, Ted was bankrupt, I was on the verge of bankruptcy, and Tommy was Donald Trump Jr.  During that Monopoly game, they also put away two large bottles of juice, a huge bowl of popcorn, a whole bag of tortillas, a jar or salsa and a jar of cheese dip – with a little fudge as dessert .  LOL – they SO reminded me of Jason and Blake at that age!  We enjoyed having Tommy and Gerald with us – they were smart, well-mannered, and fun – a tribute to their families.

The choir group after church on Sunday.

The choir group after church on Sunday.

Blog readers Traci and Bill stopped by the Stuart House this morning while Mike Forrester was visiting, so Mike became our photographer. Traci and Bill are from Pulaski, Tennessee, and it was so nice to hear a Southern accent! It was a spur-of-the-moment visit for them (the best kind). They drove 13 hours to get here and plan just to relax and "do Mackinac" with no real set agenda (the best way). Have fun, you two!

Blog readers Traci and Bill stopped by the Stuart House this morning while Mike Forrester was visiting, so Mike became our photographer. Traci and Bill are from Pulaski, Tennessee, and it was so nice to hear a Southern accent! It was a spur-of-the-moment visit for them (the best kind). They drove 13 hours to get here and plan just to relax and “do Mackinac” with no real set agenda (the best way). Have fun, you two!

FOUR-LEGGED CRITTERS

Out snapping Lilac photos the other day near The Gate House, I ran across this sweet puppy, obviously tied out while mom and dad lunched on the patio just a few feet away. The Gate House provides water dishes for pets! A cutie-pie!

Out snapping Lilac photos the other day near the Gate House, I ran across this sweet puppy, tied out while mom and dad lunched on the patio just a few feet away. The Gate House provides water dishes for pets! A cutie-pie!

This precious baby was enjoying the shade at Park Place Suites, which is pet-friendly!

This precious pooch was enjoying the shade at Park Place Suites, which is pet-friendly!

Back to front Grand Hotel omnibuses, the first driven by Shelby and the second by new driver Caleb (I hope, I hope I'm right on that name).

Back to front Grand Hotel omnibuses, the first driven by Shelby and the second by new driver Caleb (I hope, I hope I’m right on that name).

New neighborhood pooch, Charlie!

New neighborhood puppy, Charlie . . .

. . . and our condo neighbor, Judy, is back for the summer with her sweet Buddy.

. . . and our condo neighbor, Judy, is back for the summer with her sweet Buddy.

It's not often you can wake up with two Budweiser Clydesdale in your front yard, but it happened this week! These two, Duke and Jack, were here with four of their team-mates for the Lilac Parade! That's Kyle on Duke's back.

It’s not often you can wake up with two Budweiser Clydesdales in your front yard, but it happened this weekend! These two, Duke and Jack, were here with four of their team-mates for the Lilac Parade! That’s Kyle on Duke’s back.

A FEW MORE FLOWERS

Only had to walk down Cadotte to find this big clump of Lady Slippers - near where the old Grand stable once stood.

I only had to walk down Cadotte to find this big clump of Lady Slippers – near where the old Grand stable once stood.

Lilacs!

Dark Lilacs . . .

. . . and light Lilacs!

. . . and light Lilacs!

A friendly group of Pansies . . .

A friendly group of Pansies . . .

, , , and one loner.

. . . and one loner.

A very, very small section of Jeff's garden on French Lane.

A very, very small section of Jeff’s garden on French Lane.

The always-charming Cloghaun B & B, with its luscious gardens in full bloom.

The always-charming Cloghaun B & B – surrounded by Lilacs.

A curve on Cadotte . . .

A curve on Cadotte . . .

. . . . and Mahoney Avenue.

. . . . and Mahoney Street.

THE PARADE!  THE PARADE!

The mighty Clydesdales!

The mighty Clydesdales!

FFFF

Do not try this at home – at least not if you are MY age!

This couple had a choice spot to watch the parade - right in the shade - and sweet smell - of beautiful Lilacs!

This couple had a choice spot to watch the parade – right in the shade – and sweet smell – of beautiful Lilacs!

We had serious bands . . .

We had serious bands . . .

. . . and not so serious bands.

. . . and not so serious bands.

We had beautiful performing horses . . .

We had beautiful performing horses . . .

. . . and

. . . horses performing beautifully . . .

. . . and a couple of silly horses!

. . . and a couple of silly horses!

vvvv

We had musical marching groups . . .

. . . and patriotic marching groups.

. . . and patriotic marching groups.

We had clowns in groups . . .

We had clowns who came in groups . . .

. . . and some alone.

. . . and some who came alone.

We had celebrity local dogs, like Chloe and Bella, who represented Wheels of Mackinac . . .

We had celebrity local dogs, like Chloe and Bella, who represented Wheels of Mackinac . . .

. . . and dogs whose names we'll never know - but who will grow up to be service dogs all over the country.

. . . and dogs whose names we’ll never know – who will grow up to be service dogs all over the country.

We had beauty queens who rode in carriages . . .

We had small beauty queens, teenage beauty queens .  .

. . . and some who walked.

. . . and grown-up beauty queens.

And we had bicycles in all sizes and shapes.

And we had bicycles in all sizes and shapes.

Grand Marshall of the parade was our neighbor Donald "Duck" Andress. Duck rode in a carriage this year instead of on horseback, but his son

Grand Marshall of the parade was our neighbor Donald “Duck” Andress. Duck rode in a carriage this year, but his son Jamie – seen behind him in the white headdress – continues the tradition of their family by riding on horseback.

Are you asleep yet?

I think that catches us up to today in photos.  As you can see, it’s been a busy time on the Island, and today the Island was taking a great big breath and relaxing after a tremendously successful Lilac Festival.

God bless.

Throw Back Thursday – A Day in the Life of a Mackinac Island Taxi Drive – Part II 3/23/17

Personal Note:  This is Part II of a blog about shadowing a Mackinac Island taxi driver one morning in July of 2009.  _________________________________________________________________

You know all the clothes I had put on for my morning with Jeanine?  Not one single piece came off during the morning.  I never put on the rain gear, but I wore the earmuffs the entire morning and still had them on when I climbed off the taxi at 12:30 back at the barn.  It amazes me (and even more so now) the conditions the drivers work in on the island.  When you take into consideration that their year begins in April and runs roughly through the end of October, you can bet that they will have experienced rain, sleet, freezing temperatures, freezing rain, winds blowing up to 40 mph (and more), and possibly some snow.  Carriage Tours provides their drivers with very nice uniforms including shirts, turtlenecks, vests, warm coats, and caps.  The drivers provide their own rain gear, khaki pants, shoes and gloves.  The taxis all carry blankets under the seats for passengers, but I have never seen a driver use one for himself.  They are much more concerned about how the weather conditions may be affecting their horses than how it is affecting them.

Jeanine and I left the horse barn and went the rest of the way down the hill into town.  The streets at 7 a.m. were quiet and IMG_0970empty.  Our first pick up was a taxi driver in a leg brace.  He can walk down the hill to the barn, and he can still handle his team.  What he can’t do is walk back up the hill.  We picked him up at the taxi stand, where he waited with a cup of coffee for Jeanine.  I jumped off and ran into Marc’s Double Oven for  caffeine for me and climbed back on. 

By the time we got back to the horse barn and dropped off our rider, we had a call at The Grand.  At  The Grand, we pulled up under the porch, and a porter came out and said the people had decided to walk down the hill.  He asked if we would take a cart full of luggage down to the ferry dock, and Jeanine said yes.  We pulled around to the side of The Grand, and a worker hooked the packed cart to the back of the taxi.

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IMG_0978We pulled the luggage cart down to the ferry dock where a porter was waiting to unhook it.  We left the docks and started down the street to park and wait on another call, but we never got to stop.  An employee of Wings of Mackinac (a butterfly house next door to our condo) needed a ride up the hill to work.  We turned around in front of Marquette Park and picked up the lady at the taxi stand.

Market Street was empty too at that time of morning.  Later on, after the first ferries arrived, the street would be teeming with visitors, but now it was quiet and peaceful. 

We dropped the worker off at Wings of Mackinac just as another call came in for the Annex.  Jeanine drove the taxi down the road in front of our condo, where Ted was out on the balcony with Maddie and Bear.  I had called him coming up the hill, and he had jokingly asked if I wanted him to meet us at the boardwalk with coffee, bacon and eggs.  Since I knew he was kidding, I declined even the coffee since I had already had a cup.

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I loved the annex run.  We turned into the state park on the same road where we walk Maddie and Bear.  Driving annex runthrough the woods on a chilly morning is almost surreal.  It is so quiet you could hear your heart beating if it weren’t for the horses hoofbeats covering that sound in your chest.  Jeanine handles the reins like a professional, and Thunder and Andy respond to her every touch.  We talked for a moment about the things that can spook a horse.  Since they wear blinders, they can only see straight in front of them.  That’s why you always approach a horse in blinders from the front, or if you can’t do that, you start talking as you walk up beside them to let them know you are there.  On the island, like anywhere else, the horses get used to where everything is supposed to be.  If something changes, it startles them.  Jeanine said a plastic bag flying across the road is the granddaddy of  “horse spookers”. She said that is why you always see workers picking up any bags that have been thrown down as litter.  A spooked horse in a street full of walkers and bikers is a scary thing to behold.  It does happen – not often, but it does.  Basically though, Jeanine said, the horses on Mackinac Island are what she calls “bomb proof”.  They can handle most anything that comes their way.  That is the way they are trained.

annexluggageWe arrived at a rental house in the annex to find a family group that wasannexpeople heading home after a month’s stay.  They had their luggage out waiting.  The men in the group loaded everything up under the back luggage compartment and strapped it all down.  I knew that we had always loaded and unloaded our own luggage, but I didn’t know until today that the drivers are not allowed to leave their seats.  Can you imagine a spooked horse with no driver? 

Everyone got on the taxi, including Winston – a very cute dog, who his mom said was ready to go home.  I don’t think this family was though.  There were five brothers and one sister (who didn’t make it this trip) and their respective spouses, children and grandchildren.  They have been renting this same house for the last 11 years, spending precious time together, making memories that will live into the future, and just enjoying being family together once a year in this special place.

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moreannextfamily

One lady in this group (Susan)  followed us on her bicycle.  One of the women riding the taxi explained that the biker was preparing for a biathlon (1/2 mile swim and 5K run) in Delaware.  Susan has won gold, silver, and bronze medals in the Senior Olympics and has appeared in Sports Illustrated.  She was awesome, and you could tell the family was so proud of her.

annexbiker

I had explained to the family why I was riding along and asked permission to take pictures and write about them on the blog.  They were excited, and everyone wanted the blog address.  When we dropped them off at the ferry dock, one of the ladies told me she couldn’t wait to get home and read the story because she taught writing.  My face fell.  I was wondering how I could get back the address I had given them, because the thought of an English teacher reading this made me ’bout have the vapors.  But she explained she wasn’t an English teacher of writing.  She taught writing from the heart.  “Oh”, I said, “that’s what I do.”  She wrote the kindest comment to me today after reading the blog – I confess it made me cry.  I hope I get to see this family again next year when they are on the island.  Friendships could definitely grow there.

Back in town we got a call to pick up a lady at the Lakeview Hotel going to the Governor’s Summer Residence.  Now if you ride a taxi alone, you are charged for two people so it was going to cost this lady $9.50 for that ride.  Right after we picked her up though there was another call for the Governor’s house from a lady at the Cloghaun Bed & Breakfast.  The fare was instantly cut to $4.75 for each lady. The Governor’s Summer Residence is a popular spot for tourists on Wednesdays during the summer.  They open the house to the public in the morning hours, and guided tours are conducted through the first floor of the mansion.  And it’s free!  Ted and I have done the tour, and the house is absolutely beautiful.  I will blog on it one day soon.

With permission granted to photograph them and with blog address given out, I learned that one of the ladies was from Michigan and the other was from Maryland.  The Baltimore lady had stayed on the island an extra day just to see this house, and when we arrived there was a long waiting line. 

govmansionladies

govmansionline

We went back to town by the East Bluff mansions and down a VERY steep hill – so steep that carriages without brakes are not allowed.  We had brakes, but Jeanine assured me that Andy and Thunder could stop the carriage even if the brakes failed.  Good to know.  We stopped to water the horses, letting them drink their fill.

waterhorses

I had the cutest comment this week from another taxi driver’s (Alyssa) grandmother.  She told me all about Alyssa driving taxis, and that she thought Alyssa and Jeanine knew each other.  She was right – they were roommates at one time.  While we were parked waiting on a call, Jeanine saw her coming up the street.  Alyssa parked right across from us, and I jumped off to run over and take her picture.  Her grandmother had already been in touch with her, and Alyssa knew she was going to be so excited to see the picture on the blog.  So this one’s for you, proud Grandmom!

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After about a 10 minute wait for our next call (during which I dashed into The Pancake House and got Jeanine and I a MacMuffin with sausage and onions), we were sent to pick up a couple at a hotel on Main Street who wanted to be driven out to British Landing and dropped off.  When we arrived, Jeanine explained that British Landing was the farthest point on the island that a taxi goes, and the cost would be $29.00.  That was fine with them.  They wanted the experience of walking half-way around the island, but because of the weather didn’t want to chance being gone long enough to do the entire 8.2 miles.  We started out on M-185, the highway around the island, and I did my “blog talk” to this nice couple from Kentucky.

kentuckycouple

They were so cute, all snuggled up together in the back seat.  I told them the story of how we ended up on Mackinac, and they told me a little about themselves.  They asked Jeanine what had brought her to the island, and Jeanine said, “the ferry”.  We all cracked up.  Jeanine said she doesn’t use that one a lot, but it does get a laugh every time.  Then she told them the real reason she was here – her love of horses.  As we covered the four miles out to British landing, the clouds over the bridge looked threatening, but the rain never came.

threatheningweather

westbluffWe passed the West Bluff with its “cottages” and went around a drive-it-yourself buggy.  The Kentucky couple asked if the companies used the oldest horses for those carriages.  Jeanine said yes – a lot of people who rent the buggies have no experience at all in driving horses, so they try to put a safe, calm horse with them.  That led to a discussion on the ages of the horses on the island.  Jeanine explained that most horses come to the island at about 5 years of age and will usually work until they are 15 or 20, depending on the horse.  Andy and Thunder are eight or nine years old, so they are just getting started.  The majority of the horses are bought from the Amish who have already trained them to pull loads.   The horses are switched between taxis, livery, tours, and drays each year.

driveit

We let the couple off at Cannonball, the half-way point and a great place to get something to drink and their famous fried pickles.  The lady who runs Cannonball was out the door like a shot when we pulled up – she knows the drivers can’t get off, and she knows they are on a tight schedule.  Those pickles were ready in a flash. 

cannonball

As the last pickle was going down, we got a call to pick up at Pinewood, behind Stonecliffe.  We took the road going up through the center of the island (one of my favorites), and were rewarded by woods filled with blooming wildflowers.

flowers

We waited for nearly 10 minutes for the riders at Pinewood, only to find out that they had decided to take the hotel shuttle downtown.  By then it was 12:15, so Jeanine headed for the barn to switch out her team.  Andy and Thunder would not work again until the next afternoon, have the whole next day off, then begin the cycle again the next morning.  Aiden and Donny were waiting to unhitch the tired horses, and they were led into their stalls, where Jeanine checked to make sure they were ok and had started eating.    The new team, Anna and Newt, were ready and waiting for Jeanine.  When it’s time to switch horses, it doesn’t matter if the taxi has riders or is empty.  The horses are switched on time.  Because of that, the driver cannot get her second team ready, so that is done by the barn workers. 

workdone

 IMG_1085

backaboard

After Jeanine leaves, Andy and Thunder will be unharnessed, curried, brushed and given another bath.  Jeanine climbs aboard for the second half of her shift and starts back downtown.  When she returns to the barn at 7 p.m., she will unharness Anna and Newt and repeat the process the barn workers did for the first team.  She won’t go home until she has done everything she needs to do to make sure her horses are comfortable, fed, and settled in for the night. When that is accomplished, Jeanine’s shift will be over.

I gained a tremendous amount of respect during my ride for these men and women who handle the big horses.  They have to have strength, control, and a calm spirit to accomplish what they do with the horses.  They also must be honest, kind, and patient to deal with the riders they transport.  It’s not an easy job, and on Mackinac Island it is a very important one.  Thanks to Dr. Bill Chambers for allowing me to ride along on a taxi.  And a big, special thanks to Jeanine for allowing me to tag along and ask dozens of questions, and for not making too much fun of me when I couldn’t lift the two tons of harness off my head.  I loved every minute.  See you on the streets!

IMG_1102Taxi Tidbits: 

1)  The morning shift is generally easier on the horses.  In the morning, the majority of the people are going toward town, so the heavy load is going downhill.  In the afternoon, the majority of people are going home, so the heavy load has to be pulled up the hill.

2)  The horses get new shoes every 4-6 weeks – unless they throw one in between.  The front shoes are rubber because the majority of the weight is taken on the front legs, and the rubber gives more bounce.  The back shoes are steel, which contain a gritty substance to give the horse more traction.

3)  What a taxi driver never leaves home without on Mackinac Island?  Raingear, a jacket, and sunglasses.

4)  The island is divided into taxi zones. 

5)  Silly tourist questions:  Does the water go all the way around the island?  When do they swing the Mackinac Bridge over to the island? 

___________________________________________________________________

Another Personal Note:  Spending as many summers as we do on Mackinac Island and writing about our adventures there tends to link us to folks who love the island as much as we do.  Reading back over this story, I realized I’ve been Facebook friends with several of the people in this blog since 2008 and earlier.

First – Jeanine, the taxi driver.  Jeanine left the island and moved to Savannah where she drove carriage tours in that city for several years.  Ted and I looked her up and took one of her tours in that city when we were there for a class reunion at Paula Deen’s house (Ted graduated with Paula from high school).  I connected with Jeanine again when she drove to Sylvester GA (my hometown), to adopt one of the shelter dogs I’d written about at Best Friends Humane Society.

Jeanine now lives and does taxes in upstate New York. This photo is from her Savannah days with one of her all-time favorite horses,Charlie.

Second – Sue from the family we picked up at the house in the Annex (not the Sue on the bike, but the Sue who taught “writing from the heart”).

As recently as a few weeks ago I received this beautiful SoulCollage card Susan had created in memory of Bear.

A few years ago I interviewed Susan’s granddaughter Devon for a blog story.  The then 15-year old had written and published a youth novel (“Get Over It”) about a boy and girl who meet on the island.  She used her memories of spending a month each summer on Mackinac to give authenticity to the story. 

Third – Alyssa, the other taxi driver in the blog above.  Alyssa lives on the island as a year-round resident now and drives for Carriage Tours.  We see her every summer!

Fourth – Alyssa’s grandmother Alice.  Alice contacted me after she read Part I of the taxi driver story and told me she had a granddaughter who also drove taxis – and she thought she was friends with Jeanine.   It became a regular thing for me to snap a photo of Alyssa each time I’d see her and send it to Alice.

I feel so continually blessed to have met each of these precious folks – and hundreds like them – who share my love of Mackinac.

God bless.

Throw Back Thursday – Bear Learns Some Life Lessons 3/9/17

Personal Note:  As promised, a second blog from the paw of sweet Bear.

______________________________________________________________________

First Published August, 2009

IMG_4979

Hi!  Bear here.

Sometimes I just get too comfortable with my life.  I think I know what each day will bring – I get up every morning when dad wakes up and watch him make the coffee, then I sit around with him for a while.  Then when I think I just can’t wait another minute longer to go outside, I go jump in the bed with mom and wake her and Maddie up.  Once Maddie’s awake, I know we’re going outside pretty fast, because that little girl can’t wait like I can.  When she wakes up, she’s gotta go, gotta go, gotta go right now!

When we come back in, dad gives Maddie and me a bacon strip out of a bag (he thinks I don’t know it’s not real bacon, but I’ve had real bacon before, and believe me – that bag stuff is not real)  But, I never refuse food, so I eat it.  Then mom feeds us, and she and dad sit around and drink coffee, or go out on the deck and watch the people go by.  At some point, mom gets her yogurt out of the big box with doors, and Maddie and I wait while she eats it.  We know when she is finished because she always scraps around in that yogurt carton with her spoon.  When we can hear the spoon hitting the sides of the carton, we know that’s all she’s gonna get out of there.  Then she takes the spoon out and sits it down.  That means she’s done, and we can move in close and clean out that little bit of blueberry or strawberry yogurt that she has left – I call it breakfast dessert.

Then we settle down for a morning of rest – inside on the couch, out on the deck, or my personal favorite – right in front of that whirly thing that sits on the floor in the bedroom.  If I lift your head up a little, that wind can go right through all the fur on my neck and really cool me off.  The whirly thing is GREAT!

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Sometimes I have to get up when I hear dad come back from town on his bike.  I love that I can look out the back bedroom window to where he parks his bike!

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And so the day goes.  The only real change from the routine comes when I go get a shampoo and grooming.  I can tell those mornings because when mom says, “Let’s go”, she gets my shampoo and conditioner out of the closet and puts them in a bag.  Then I know I get to go for a ferry ride and a truck ride, and then I get pampered all day by the nice people at Bark, Bath, and Beyond.

So this morning mom’s reading her email, and suddenly she says, “Oh my gosh Bear, we’re going to be late!”  She jumps up, throws on her backpack, and says, “Let’s go”, but she doesn’t stop at the closet for my shampoo.  Instead we run downstairs, she puts on my collar, attaches my leash, and off we go down the hill.  I think to myself, “No worries, whatever it is, I’m sure it will be fun!”

As usual, when we walk down the hill we pass lots of people who say how handsome I am and want to pet me.  Mom is really in a hurry, but she stops long enough for a little girl to say hello.  She knows how much I like little kids and how much they like me ’cause I’m so soft and cuddly – just like a teddy bear (which is kinda how I got my name).

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Before we get to the end of the street, mom says, “Here we are.”  Here?  Where’s here?  We go inside this fence and go toward an open door in this building that’s like a big barn, and then I suddenly “get it”.  Mom brought me here last fall when I was sick.  This is where Doc Al takes care of the sick dogs on the island (he might take care of cats too, but I don’t want to think about that).

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Doc Al is a vet, and I know that he mainly looks after all the horses on the island.  But, if one of us smaller animals gets a tummy ache or something even worse, Doc Al is who everyone on the island calls.  If he’s nearby on his bike, maybe at one of the stables or barns, and someone calls him with a sick pet, he will just get on his bike and make a house call!  He will do the same thing if an animal is too sick to get to his office.  You see it’s different here.  Mom and dad can’t just put us in the car and rush us to the vet when there is an emergency.  And carrying a 90 lb. golden retriever down the hill to Doc Al’s office would be a little hard , even for my big, strong dad.  So, when he needs to, Doc Al comes to your house on his bike.  How cool is that!

When we get to the open door, Doc Al is on the phone, but we go on in.  I’m still wondering what’s going on because I’m not sick!  I feel great, in fact.  I know I have to take 2 pills a day because something in me called a thigh-roid gland doesn’t work right.  If I don’t take the pills, I get sloppy fat – would you believe I weighed 103 lbs. last year!  But it was this gland thing I had going on that was making me gain weight – it certainly wasn’t because they give me too much to eat!  Good grief, you’d think I was a Yorkshire Terrier by the amount of food they put in my bowl.

Anyway, Doc Al gets off the phone and gets down on the floor with me.  He’s telling me how nice I am and how good I look, then all of a sudden I notice he has this HUGE NEEDLE in his hand.  What the heck is that for?  He asks mom to take off my collar and hold my head because he’s going to draw blood OUT OF MY NECK!  Are you kidding me!  My animal doctor at home in Georgia has done this before when she was testing my thigh-roid gland, but she always stuck me in the leg.  My NECK?  Mom is holding my head, and Doc Al is trying to find my skin under all my fur, and I’m thinking, “Geez I wish I was back home in front of my whirly thing!”

Doc Al finds what he is looking for and sticks me.  I hold very still because mom and Doc Al are telling me over and over again how good I’m being.  That’s because I’m so scared I can’t move. If someone was sticking a needle in your neck, you’d be scared too!

He’s finally done, and I’m still breathing.  He stands up and puts all my blood down on the table (I’m pretty sure he took at least a quart!), so I figure I’m safe again.  Then he writes a bunch of stuff down and tells mom that he should have the results back tomorrow.  I guess then we will know if I have to change the number of pills I take for my thigh-roid condition.  I still like Doc Al though, even though he did kind of surprise me with that needle.  It really didn’t hurt a bit – I’m a pretty tough guy.

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We’d started back up the hill for home when mom takes out her camera again (can you believe I belong to someone who takes a camera to the vet’s office?).  She says it’s been too long since she took any good pictures of me, so today’s the day.  I’m happy about that – I love to pose for pictures!  When we get to the big yard in back of the island school, there are a bunch of geese there.  I LOVE to chase geese!  But what does mom do?  Gets me up as close to them as she can, then tells me to sit and stay!  Stay?  It’s GEESE, for pete’s sake!  So there I was, a few yards from about nine million geese, and I have to stay!  Why did I learn that command anyway?

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After that, we just walked around the grounds at Grand Hotel, and mom took lots of pictures of me in front of lots of big flowers.  Things were going pretty well until she told me to down/stay in front of this HUGE bed of flowers out in the road at the Grand.  As soon as I started to lay down, I smelled something in the grass that I really liked.  I smelled it some more, then I just HAD to roll in it.  Mom didn’t get mad though ’cause she knew it couldn’t be anything bad smelling at the Grand – they wouldn’t allow that.  Man, that was some sweet-smelling grass!

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She took one more picture over in front of the Grand’s Flower Shop, then we went across the street to the Pro Shop and took a breather before going home.

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So it’s been a pretty eventful day for me. Mom asked me to write about my experiences on her blog, so after I went for a long walk with mom and dad and Maddie this afternoon, we had supper, and I sat down to think about all that had happened.  I came up with three lessons I learned that you should write down and maybe put on your refrigerator – ’cause they are pretty important.

1)  You should always leave the house looking your best, because you never know when you might have to pose for pictures in front of nine million geese, even when you just want to be chasing them into Lake Huron.

2) If you are going to roll in something that smells good to you, always make sure it is on the grass at the Grand Hotel – seriously, I didn’t even get in trouble.

3) You should always be ready for anything and always be alert, because when you least expect it, someone might stick a needle in your neck.

Well, the whirly thing is calling my name – talk to you again soon!