Messages In A Bottle

Ted’s normal routine is to walk Bodie early in the morning (“early” meaning he is usually out just as – or just before – the sun peeps over the horizon). They head for the beach first because at that time of day they can usually count on having that great expanse of sand all to themselves – and Bodie just might get to romp around in the waves off-lead.

On a recent morning walk that great expanse of sand offered up a surprise that has turned into the story you’re about to read.

A bottle was resting in the sand just beyond the tide line, and a closer look revealed several notes curled inside.
Ted picked it up, and he and Bodie continued on their normal walk – but when they got back to the house, the bottle became a mystery to be solved.

Ted spent the better part of an hour sitting at our kitchen countertop, carefully extracting the notes. We knew the bottle had not been in the water long because of its condition – clean glass, with nothing attached to the outside that would evidence a long drift in the Atlantic Ocean.

The bottle contained four notes, and as we read each one it became sadly clear the authors of the notes were a mom, a dad, and two sisters (children by the handwriting and pictures they had drawn), who were saying goodbye to their son and brother who had died. The notes were full of love and sweet memories, and they also shared a feeling of knowing they now had a guardian angel looking over them.

None of the notes were dated, and the only clue they offered up as to where the bottle might have gone into the ocean was that each was written on a notepad page from The Ritz-Carlton. The closest Ritz-Carlton to us is on Amelia Island, about 80 miles north of Flagler Beach.

Our immediate thought was “put the notes back in the bottle, seal it up, walk down to the beach and put it back into the Atlantic”.

Ted wrote this note and placed it in the bottle with the other notes.

We walked to the beach and stood there on the sand, watching the waves roll in and out. We quickly realized if we simply threw it out into the surf, it was going to almost immediately wash back up on shore. We thought of a friend who often takes his boat offshore to fish, contacted him, and he agreed to take the bottle with him when he went out again.

That afternoon Ted posted the story of the bottle on our local “Flagler Beach for Friends” Facebook page. In the one in a million chance the bottle had gone into the water here in Flagler Beach, and if the family happened to see the Facebook notice, we just wanted them to know the bottle had been found and that it would soon be on its way again.

That evening Ted was contacted by Jacksonville Fox TV meteorologist Andrew Wulfeck, who had seen the story on Facebook and wanted to write a digital story about it. He asked about the notes, which we had taken photos of, and asked if we would send them for the story. Our decison was to not do that. For us the story was simply “we found the bottle”. But for that family, the story was about their loss. We felt the messages they sent out in the bottle was one way they were coping with their grief, and their personal messages were not our story to tell.

Over the last few days Ted’s Facebook story was viewed more than 1,500 times and shared almost 85 times. Fox Weather in Jacksonville, Fox News in Orlando and Odd News (an online news source) all wrote digital stories about it. I’ve included the Fox Weather link below.

Yesterday – 7 days after Ted found the bottle – friends Rob and Helen took their fishing boat 50 miles offshore east of St. Augustine. They opened the bottle and slipped their own note inside, stating the date, time and coordinates of where the bottle was once more entering the Atlantic.

At a place known to locals as “The Ledge” Helen dropped the bottle into the water . . .
. . . and watched as it drifted away.

American poet Sarah Kay wrote, “. . . there’s nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline, no matter how many times it’s sent away.” Ted and I hope one day the currents will take this bottle to another shoreline. And when it arrives there, we hope the finder will continue it on the journey this family intended.

Welcoming 2023!

Hello from Florida, and Happy New Year!

Just one opening question – did everyone you know – including yourself – come down with the most gosh-awful cold ever imagined just before, during, or right after Christmas? It seemed to hit everyone we know – Florida and Georgia – during that time, and Ted and I were certainly not immune to it. Right after we got home from Atlanta, we both spent a few days feeling pretty darn miserable, and we’ve still got the residual cough from it. Hoping friends who are reading this from other parts of the country dodged it – or at least had light cases!

We always have a blast in Atlanta, and this time was no different! We ate fabulous food, opened gifts, and spent quality time with Jason, Jen, Alex, Blake – and, of course, Axl Rose. P.S. Alex is growing up way too fast!

We’ve had quite a few days of really cool, sunny, and beautiful weather since the new year began, and we sure have been enjoying it. Florida is just the best place to be in the winter, and you sure can’t beat the sunset views!

View from our deck at sunset January 1 . . .
. . . . and same time January 2. You just never know what you’re going to get!

Mackinac Island Over the Last Few Days

Mackinac Island lost the majority of the snow it received during the holidays, but no worries – they just got a lot more! All the pics below and the header are from Tom Chambers.

This is from a couple of days after Christmas. Snow was still on the ground . . .
. . . but a few days later the streets were mostly clear and bikes were once more the most used form of transportation – especially downtown. This photo was on Jan. 4 . . .
. . . but by early morning on Jan. 5 this was happening . . .
. . . and this!
The snow globe continued into the afternoon.
By January 6 the snow had ended, and the island once more became a Currier & Ives painting.
The outline of Grand Hotel and Fort Mackinac.
It always amazes me how even the most pale colors stand out when everything else is winter white. In this pic there are pale blues, greens, yellows – and a pop of red. Did you spot it?

Back in Florida with Mackinac News

Last year when we left the island, Ted and I were seriously thinking we might have made our last “long-term” island trip. We both know how tiring that three day trip is for us now and added to that was my dilemma – since I’ve given up bike riding due to knee and balance issues – of not being able to get everywhere I wanted to go. Walking is still ok, but there are a lot of places – some of them my favorites – that I want to be able to still visit without a three-hour hike.

So we’ve talked about it from all the angles, the pros and the cons, the negatives and the positives. And staying true to that Horton spirit of ours . . . instead of going up for FOUR months this summer, we’re going up for FIVE! Yes, you read that right.

Can I just tell you we are SO excited. We will be there June 1 and plan to stay until near the end of October, good Lord willing. We are researching pedal-assist recumbent bikes and also pedal-assist adult trikes. I’ve never ridden one of the trikes, but a few island friends have them. As soon as we get there I’m going to try out one of theirs, and if I feel comfortable with it, we’ll get one ordered, and I’ll be back to being really and truly “mobile for the whole island” again. If the trike makes me nervous, we may have to order a recumbent. We will figure it out!

So that’s where we are at the moment – enjoying Florida and looking forward to a Mackinac summer. Can’t wait to be up there sharing my happy place with everyone who loves it like we do. But for now . . .

. . . Florida is definitely not a bad place to be!

God bless.

Christmas Week! 12/20/22

Header Photo: Leanne Brodeur. Her caption: Holes in the Sky

Hi Everyone! Ya’ll aren’t going to believe this, but it’s supposed to be 30 degrees here on Christmas Eve and not get out of the 40’s on Christmas Day! That is ALL the local weather reporters are talking about because, according to them, it will be the coldest Christmas Day in our area in the last 20 years! You all know what I have to say about that, right? Yep – HURRAY!!

We are full swing into Christmas Week. Julie, Matt, Jordan and Matthew were over for dinner and gift opening on Sunday night (they leave Christmas Eve for their annual ski trip to Montana).

We should have taken this pic BEFORE we ate all the food! We were also celebrating Jordan’s 23rd birthday – how is that even possible!
Fave gift – new pj’s!
Sweet Bodie finally let me get his pic wearing a Santa hat, after trying for almost 7 years!

A Few From Mackinac

As I write this, Mackinac Island is hunkering down for another winter storm – much like they had a week ago, only with lots and lots more snow. All photos below by Tom Chambers.

Last week the island was plummeted with high winds – so high that the Christmas tree on Main Street was blown over. You might not think that is such a big deal until I mention that the tree is anchored in a 900-lb block of cement! What’s really amazing is that it blew over and the lights remained on!
But have no fear – crews have righted the tree and all is good!
Hugh waves hitting the new Iroquois Hotel dock.
A dray makes a stop on Market Street. The work of this small village in the middle of Lake Huron doesn’t stop just because it’s winter. Supplies, food and mail still have to be delivered, and horses are still how it all happens.

Ted and I will be having a solitary Christmas Day, but we aren’t complaining. We had everyone together on Thanksgiving, and that was quite the accomplishment! Blake is flying to Georgia from Colorado on Thursday. We’ll pick him up the day after Christmas and go to Jason, Jen and Alex’s for a couple of days in Atlanta. So we will see everyone – just not all at the same time.

Wishing you all the best Christmas ever . . .

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:10-11

Counting Down To Christmas 12/12/2022

This morning our local weather announced that for the next two weeks (which includes Christmas!) we will only have one day when the highs will get out of the 60’s! Now I know that doesn’t excite the Florida fans who always want it to be in the balmy 80’s, but I’ve learned that a two week stretch in the 60’s is about all I can hope for in the way of “winter” in the sunshine state. I celebrated accordingly this morning.

The sliders are open, the windows are up, the AC is off, and I can hear the ocean waves breaking on the shore just across A1A. Now through about April is my favorite time to be in Florida, and today is just a perfect Florida day!

Windows open and a great breeze coming through the shudders. While I’m in here working on a blog post, Bodie is usually snozing in his bed . . .
. . . but with the front door open downstairs and the storm door letting in all the breeze and sounds from outside, he is parked at the foot of the stairs, letting me know if anything is stirring outside – like the UPS man who just left a package on our bench!

When we moved into Sunset Inlet eight years ago some of the first friends I made were Jen, Debbie and Sue. We did a lot together – lunches, shopping, and girls trips. When Sue and husband Toney moved to a little community near Orlando last year we all vowed to not let it break up our “chick” group. This past weekend we all got together for a pajama party at their new home (Toney wisely decided to go hunting for the weekend)!

Their new home sits along the shore of Lake Apopka. The view is calm and peaceful by day . . .
. . . and simply beautiful at night.
They’re only three miles from Winter Garden so we spent some time in that quaint little Florida village where we . . .
. . . checked out some wonderful shops . . .
. . . had dinner in The Tasting Room . . .
. . . and spent a while enjoying the sights . . .
. . . and sounds of this charming central Florida town.

When Sue invited us for the weekend, she said, “Come to the house. We can hang out, have lunch and/or dinner, wander through some shops if you want, and use up lots of our words.” We did all those things, but I know our favorite pastime was “using our words”. I don’t think there was ever five minutes that someone was not saying something – whether it was a moment of seriousness or hours of pure silliness.

There’s a quote that says, “A true friend accepts who you are, but also helps you become who you should be.” That’s what these three do for me. Thank you, ladies!


The island finally got a couple of inches of snow overnight on Saturday, dressing up downtown as it was intended to look in December! (Photo credit: Tom Chambers)
Snow covers the road and bushes, and The Baby Grand Cottage stands sentinel on the East Bluff. (Photo credit: Tom Chambers)

The Christmas display at Chambers Corner (Cadotte and Market Street) grows each year, and the Chambers family really outdid themselves this season! Next three photos compliments of JJ Shaffer.

That’s all I have for today, friends. Wishing all of you a great week!

God Bless.

Three Weeks!

Hi Friends! I can’t believe I haven’t posted in three weeks, and my only excuse is that it’s been a very BUSY three weeks. I bet yours has been too!

Thanksgiving has come and gone – and I’m so hoping yours was as special as ours. Along with the holiday, it seems almost every day has been filled with something “extra” to do. November and December are when Ted and I have all our annual doctor appointments. In the last few weeks we’ve seen gastrologists, pulmonologists, dermatologists, and opthalmologists – and we still have dentists (would that be a toothologist?) and our regular annual physicals to go. Sometimes I long for the days when we would see one doctor, and he/she could mostly take care of everything in one office visit. I’m learning though (as we begin to see more candles on our cakes) that it sometimes takes more “sleuthing” to figure out all is well. And – so far – everything is good in the Horton health test marathon this year!

After all the “windy” weather we had the first part of November, Florida has now become the land of sunshine . . . . and warm weather! I don’t think I will ever get used to Thanksgivings in the 70s, and probably the same for Christmas. There’s just something weird about wearing shorts and flip flops in December. I’m not complaining (much) – just saying it’s weird.

I know most of you keep up with Mackinac through Facebook and Instragram just like I do, but I’m hoping to post a few pics below you might have missed – along with a few from here in Florida that might not have made it to my Facebook page yet.

A Few From Florida

Grandson Alex running to meet us at the Daytona Airport at Thanksgiving. Can anything make a grandparent happier?
Julie and Matt hosted the whole crowd on Thanksgiving at their home in Ormond Beach. Blake was home from Colorado, where he’s living now, and Jason, Jen and Alex were down from Atlanta.
For the first time in five years we were all together in one spot – except for sweet Carolyn, Matt’s mom. We lost her early in the fall, but we all felt her presence with us on this special day.
I usually have my annual Mayo tests done in the spring, but this year it was scheduled for the end of November. I can’t say enough about the care you get at Mayo, and this year we got to enjoy the Christmas decorations also . . . like the beautiful Poinsettias curving up the staircase in the atrium . . .
. . . and the Poinsettia tree in one of building lobbies.
We got some Christmas decorating of our own done this weekend. I can’t believe it’s been almost 7 years ago since Bodie was with us for his first Christmas, and we had to teach him decorations on that white tree were not toys for him to pull off and attempt to eat! As he’s gotten older, he’s gotten a little wiser also. Good boy!
No need for snowshoes, winter parkas, or snowplows here! Riding home from last Saturday’s Christmas parade with neighbors Mark and Shauna.

Mackinac Island Images

There has only been one big snow on the island so far this winter, and it arrived Nov. 19. There was much joy on Mackinac to awake the next morning and find snowmobiles were now the official mode of transporation. (Photo credit: Tom Chambers)
Grandview Condos were all decorated and looking spectacular with the snow-covered lawn and wreathed adirodack chairs. Looks like the owners were home in only one condo on this particular night. (Photo credit: Meredith McClennan)
This was a few days before the snow fell. Maximilian Cooke captured this photo of one of our island bucks calmly walking up Cadotte.
On Dec. 3 the Christmas Tree that stands in the middle of Main Street during the holiday season was turned on and, as always, it is beautiful. There was a large number of visitors to the island all weekend for Christmas Bazaar, and one of the only things missing was . . . . . snow!
And me. (Photo credit: JJ Shaffer)

A Little Something Extra

Police Chief Doug Topolski posted this yesterday on the Mackinac Island Police Department Facebook page and captioned it: “Our newly-certified volunteer Therapy K-9, Officer Woody came by for some destressing with his handler.” I had to include it here because I’ve known his handler, Sue Stejskal, for many years.
Woody and his sister Maple are both certified by the United States Police Canine Association – Maple in cadaver detection and Woody as a Police Service Therapy Canine. Both dogs work in cadaver detection for a Sheriff’s department in southwest Michigan, and now Woody as a Police therapy K9 for Mackinac Island PD. They are both brilliant at what they do – and two of the happiest dogs I’ve ever encountered. Maple and Bodie try to get in one or two play dates during the summer.
This pic came up as a memory this week from 2015. I had gone to the island for Christmas Bazaar to write a few stories about the Original Murdick’s Fudge elves, who were busy making candy for all their Christmas orders. I remember whispering to Santa that I had really been good that year, but for some reason I don’t think he believed me!
P.S. There was no snow that year at the Bazaar either.
P.P.S. I’ve been good this year too, Santa. Just saying.

Have a great week, and God bless.

The Week Nicole Came to Town 11/13/2022

I just realized this morning that it’s been a week since I posted about the “interesting” weather week we were anticipating last Sunday. If we’re friends on Facebook, you already know we had minimal damage to our house when Hurricane/Tropical Storm Nicole came to visit, but I’ll add a little more detail below.

We were still in Michigan when Category 4 Hurricane Ian came through Florida, and when we got home we saw first hand the damage to our beach dunes, our walkover, and to some of the houses in our neighbhorhood of Sunset Inlet. A drive down A1A confirmed there were many homes with tarps covering roof damage, and people were just beginning to start the task of hiring contractors to repair what Ian had destroyed. Even though Ian hit on the other side of Florida from us, we still got damage as it crossed the state as a tropical storm.

Unfortunately, the damage left by Ian only paved the way for Nicole to create a domino affect in Flagler, and especially south of us in Daytona Beach. Washed out dunes resulted in the collapse in many places near us of the A1A highway that runs along the Atlantic Ocean. In Daytona it resulted in several homes falling partially into the ocean and other homes and condo buildings being deemed unsafe for occupancy. I’m sure if you’ve followed the national news this week you’ve seen the remains of homes occupied for many years by families that built along the ocean as part of their retirement dream. It is incredibly sad to see these homes destroyed. In addition, many of the Flagler Beach communities that are built along canals connected to the Instracoastal suffered pretty severe flooding.

Sunset Inlet as it normally looks . . .
. . . and as it looked the morning after Nicole came ashore south of us (Thursday). With the addition of high tide and a full moon (which causes a “higher” hige tide), the water from the Intracoastal rose over the seawall in our inlet. It came about a foot into our backyard. All the boats are raised as high as their lifts allow, and you can see that the water is almost touching the bottom of the one boat in this pic.
This is a home beachside a little north of us.
We lost power around noon on Friday, and before the sun set Ted got out our camp lights, flashlights and larger lanterns. We opened the doors (the rain had stopped by then) and there was a great breeze blowing the sheers around. We could hear generators running in the neighborhood. We had decided to get through the night without firing ours up, thinking we’d hook it up the next morning. But shortly after I took this pic, the electricity came back on. Kudos to Florida Power & Light!
We’ve spent the weekend returning all the outdoor furniture back to the decks, cleaning up shingles (from neighbors’ homes) and palm fronds from our yard, and yesterday doing a thorough clean of green mildew off the railings and spiral staircase outside (can’t blame the mildew on Nicole – it’s just a natural occurance in Florida and a task we’ve been putting off). When Ian came through we lost some soffit and fascia (which had already been repaired), but Nicole only managed to blow one single shingle off our roof. Being the “short” house sitting in between two “tall” houses seems to protect us during these storms.
Today is the first day it’s felt like Fall since we’ve returned. It’s in the 60’s and cloudy, but the seawall is above water again and things are looking more normal. There is a tremendous amount of work to be done along our east coast, in addition to all the work left to be done on the west coast from Ian.

Choosing to live along the ocean is truly a dream come true decision, and we love everything it brings to our retirement years. But beach living definitely comes with its challenges.

I loved this post from a friend in the neighborhood the day before Nicole arrived!
Bodie, resting among some debris near our beach walkover.
And peace returns.

Mackinac Island – The Week in a Glance

The last sign of the ending of the 2022 season – the topiary horses (Peat and Moss) and carriage that normally reside in Grand Hotel’s tea garden on the way to the ferry. They will spend the winter downstate in a greenhouse. (Photo credit: JJ Shaffer)
The sun sinks behind the Mackinac Bridge (Photo Credit: Tom Chambers)
Downtown has become the site of numerous construction/renovation projects. Local and off-island workers will try to complete as many projects as possible before snow slows work down – or stops it completely. (Photo credit: JJ Shaffer)
The elves at Chambers Corner have been busy this week! (Photo Credit: JJ Shaffer)
A dray makes its way down Market Street. (Photo Credit: Tom Chambers)

I heard there was a smattering of snow on the island today, and I’m looking forward to some snow pictures if any of it stuck!

P.S. We had quite a few Mackinac Island friends at Disney World this week. In between breakfasts and lunches with Mickey, they got a full day of Nicole’s shenanigans also! I bet Disney worked enough magic that they didn’t even know she had arrived. That Mickey and Minnie can handle anything “when you wish upon a star. . . . . . “

God bless.

Interesting Weather Week Ahead 11/6/2022

Hi everyone! We’ve had a busy week in our corner of the world, and this coming week is looking rather interesting in the weather department. Yes, it’s November, but hurricane season lasts through this month, and right now there’s a pesky little “disturbance” in the tropics that is predicted to turn into either a sub-tropical or tropical depression and head toward the east coast of Florida Wednesday or Thursday. What our coastline along Flagler Beach, and points to the north and south of us, does not need is more heavy rain and strong winds to further erode our sand dunes and cause local flooding. So we’re watching the development of this storm closely.

The Week at a Glance – Flagler Beach

We celebrated Julie’s birthday this week at Turtle Shack. A great meal and happy times spent with Julie, Jordan, and Matt. We missed Matthew, who was away at college.
It’s good to be out walking at the beach again. There’s almost always a great breeze coming off the ocean, but I have to admit I’m ready for the temps to get out of the 80’s!
Pelicans cruising overhead . . .
. . . and a prop plane cruising low over the beach.
Even though we’re still several days out on the storm’s approach, the ocean is already feeling its first effects. As I mentioned earlier, we’ll be keeping an eye on this one.

The Week at a Glance – Mackinac Island

From JJ Shaffer:

An artist spends some time capturing the remnants of fall.
A beautiful capture of an empty and silent Main Street after the season is over.

From Tom Chambers:

Mackinac had a lot of wind from a storm on Saturday night – the gales of November have arrived! This very old lilac tree was uprooted on the east side of town.
Some last bits of color. Love seeing the Baby Grand cottage up there on the East Bluff.

One More from the Beach!

One of the things we love most about our little town of Beverly Beach is that we’re away from the crowds that ususally congregate around the Flagler Beach downtown area and pier. No matter what time of year, we are almost guaranteed that this section of beach will be uncrowded – and usually just plain deserted. Call us crazy – but we love that!

I’m working on what I hope will be an interesting story soon on a marine biology research project that is taking place right outside out back door! Have to gather a few more pics before I can publish that one, but just letting you know it’s coming in the next week or so (I hope)!

Have a great week – and God bless.

Blending Flagler Beach with Mackinac Island

Many years ago, when we were traveling between our condo on Mackinac and our house on Lake Blackshear in Georgia, I wrote two blogs. When I was writing the Lake Blackshear blog in the winter I’d always share pics from friends that are on Mackinac year-round, and that’s what I’m going to go back to doing now. I hope that by blending the two places where we spend our time, I’ll be able to keep ya’ll excited about the island and also share a little of what it’s like to winter in Florida.

Florida Days

Our “backdoor” view at sunset is usually stunning, but – just like most anywhere – it seems the closer to winter we get, the more spectacular the sunsets become.
Boats of all kinds are traveling from up north down to ports throughout Florida for the winter. The intracoastal is a busy highway this time of year!
Our Sunset Inlet resident tortoise! He crawls out to greet most everyone who walks by his/her burrow, which is next to the path leading to the beach walkover.
I had to share this. When we got home we realized we had forgotten to pick up a 2023 Mackinac Island calendar. I ordered one online from the Island Bookstore (which I thought was already closed), and when it came this week, the back of the envelope was “signed” by Mary Jane, the owner, and Jill and Tam, the best bookstore ambassadors ever! Thanks for the smiles, ladies!

November will be a busy month for us. It’s when we get all our annual doctors/dentists appointments taken care of and when Ted will start back volunteering at Fort Matanzas two days a week. He’s excited to be back “in the groove”. I desperately need to find somewhere to volunteer. May check out the little museum in Flagler Beach – I hear they are looking for volunteers.

Mackinac Island Days

I’m sharing pics and a video clip today from island friends JJ Shaffer, Tom Chambers, and Leanne Brodeur. When we left Mackinac in the middle of October I pretty much thought the colors had peaked, but I was oh so wrong! The leaves have still been showing off for the last two weeks, and they’re just now beginning to fade and float their way down to the trails and paths of the island. What a glorious fall it has been! Thanks to JJ, Tom and Leanne for sharing!

JJ Shaffer

Annually thousands of tulip bulbs are planted at Grand Hotel. Come spring this area will be dazzling!
Looking up Market Street
The trail up to Point Lookout. Can’t you just hear the crunch of those leaves!?

Tom Chambers

The fall display around the iconic front door of a downtown home.
What an amazing pic, Tom! They are painting the steeple at St. Anne’s. Trying my best to figure out where Tom was to get this shot!
This pic is one of my all-time favorites ever taken on the island, and Tom captured it beautifully. The driver is Trish Martin, owner of Bogan Lane Inn, and her passenger is Mayor Margaret Doud. Trish and Margaret are both true islanders and live there year-round. Margaret has served as Mayor of the island since April, 1975 – 47 years! What a treat to see these two hard-working ladies out enjoying a fall ride. Earl Grey, Trish’s much-loved horse, is pulling the buggy.

Leanne Brodeur

A short and happy clip of a buggy ride through the leaves. Leanne was riding shotgun, and Trish is driving Earl Grey. Sound on!

Back to the Beach!
We are still waiting for the November “coolness” to arrive, but for the next two weeks it looks like we’ll continue in the 75-80 degree range.

Hope everyone is having a great week!

God bless.

Something for Free 10/28/2022

We’re having a rainy day here in sunny Florida. Nevertheless, Ted and I ventured out to Java Joint for breakfast and then decided, since we were already out, to go to Publix to pick up a few things for the weekend.

Ted dropped me off at the front of the store because it was pouring rain. I grabbed a cart, pulled my list out of my bag and started checking things off. Since I was buying mostly personal stuff, I made it to the check-out counter first and got in line.

The older gentleman in front of me (he was at least my age which gives me permission to call him “older”) was not having a good day. He was protesting, rather loudly, to the young lady (she was maybe in her early 20’s) ringing up his groceries that it was ridiculous what everything cost now. “How in the world can you put such prices on everything?’ he said gruffly as he slung things on the counter and frowned at the clerk as if she had personally priced every single item in his cart.

The young lady stopped for a moment in her “swiping”, and I thought, “Uh oh. She’s going to say something equally rude back to him.”

But what she said was this. “Sir, there is one thing that you can have for free – and that’s a smile from me. You can get one every day. Right here at my counter. Won’t cost you a thing.”

The old guy looked at her for a moment, started to say smething, then changed his mind, paid and walked away.

But you can bet your last bag of groceries that she got a HUGE smile from me as I told her she had just made my day!

God bless.

And . . . . We’re Home! 10/27/2022

Header pic: Ted Horton

Three days and two nights on the road and almost three days of unpacking. We finally stowed the last piece of luggage back in the closet this morning, and we consider ourselves basically settled in for the rest of fall and the coming winter. We had very little damage to our house from Hurricane Ian (minor soffet and fascia repairs), but what we did have was a leak in our AC return unit (no connection to the hurricane) in the garage. Luckily our neighbors found it when they checked the house after Ian, and we were able to get the AC folks out to fix before we got home. But. Water in the garage for a couple of weeks in humidity-heavy Florida led to a lot of mildew on things stored in the garage. Thankfully, it’s all cleaned up now, and we are good to go!

Our beach walkover was pretty much rendered unusable, but planning is already underway to reconstruct it.
We got all the outdoor deck furniture moved out of the family room and put back in its proper place.
We have two outdoor potted plants that neighbors foster while we’re gone. One is this kalanchoe, which got a visit from a Monarch butterfly as soon as I placed it out on the deck.

My first walk this morning since we’ve been home.
It was high tide!
Bodie seems to be back to feeling at home on the beach rather than the Mackinac woods, but he secretly told me this morning it was still a little warm for him in Florida.

It’s always a transition going from the woods, the Great Lakes, the ferries and the freighters, and the coolness of Mackinac Island to palm trees, the beach, the ocean and the warmth of the sunshine state. But Florida is the perfect place to spend the winter, and I hope to be sharing some adventures with you over the next few months.

Stay tuned, and God bless.