Roller Coasters and Pretty Trees 10/8/2013

Oh.  My.  Goodness.  What an incredible few days on the roller coaster this has been.

Our emotions have been so raw, our thoughts so scattered, and our outlook so mixed we have found it hard to even come close to having a normal day yet. We’ve rethought all our plans – second guessing everything.  In the process of trying to find something on the island to rent for two months, we’ve discovered there just isn’t a lot to choose from . . . not if two dogs are involved.  And I don’t blame people for that – they have no way of knowing our dogs are perfect :).  So we continue to search for a spot to rent, as we pack a little each day.

I might as well go ahead and confess we’ve also looked at four houses on the Island in the last two days.  In the hours and hours of conversation Ted and I have had, we’ve come to the conclusion that all this just happened too fast for us.  We honestly felt the condo wouldn’t sell for 3-5 years.  For it to sell in one season can only be the workings of God  . . . giving us one last season, but closing the door on our condo as our second home.  We have to remember God works in His own time, and His time is perfect.

We have finally admitted we have just got to step back, pack up, leave the island at the end of the month, and go home to Georgia.  There, in our sweet little house by the water, we will be away from the emotional pull of Mackinac that draws us so strongly – as we talk with friends, walk the trails and streets, and prepare to pass our blessed little condo on to Steve and Cindy.   We’ve spent quite a lot of time talking with them this week, and we love them already. They have such a desire to live here and become part of this community, and I know they are going to be incredibly happy.  We are excited for them!   Cindy melted my heart this morning when she told me, during a phone conversation, “We’d looked at so many places over the past months, but nothing seemed right.  Then we walked into your condo, and we instantly felt at home.”

So that’s how things stand right now.  We’ve eased back into our original plan, except instead of waiting until we sell our lake house to look for something in Florida, we’re going to begin looking as soon as we get home and settled.  We need to test the waters on the market from Amelia Island all the way down the east coast of Florida to New Smyrna Beach.  If we find a place where we “instantly feel at home”, we may go ahead and buy.  From there the plan changes once more.  We’ll put the house in Georgia on the market, and when it sells (1 – ? years), we might see if we can find a little house on the Island.  As Ted says, “We just don’t know if we’re ready to not be Mackinac residents.”  In the meantime, we’ll continue to search for a place to rent which will allow our furbabies to tag along.

One more thing.  I will never in a gazillion years be able to thank y’all enough for your comments on all this.  I’ve read and re-read them through eyes blurry with tears.  Some of you made some great points and suggestions, which we will ponder.  But most of all, you reminded us that we need to leave it all in God’s hands.  He’s working on everything for us, and even though we have our plan, it might not be His.  But His will be perfect.

OK!  Enough of all that for tonight.  I have PICTURES!  Some are from the past few days, and some are from our dog walk this afternoon.  All the rain and wind over the last four days blew a few of our leaves down before their time, but we still have plenty left – so COME ON UP!

PAST DAYS

Ted photographed Ft. Holmes a few days before the rains came.

These first five photos are Ted’s.  He was up at Ft. Holmes a few days before the rains came . . .

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. . . and as you can see, the golds and reds were really starting to pop.

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Birch trees and fall colors – perfect combination.

Ted walked over to Arch Rock and shot this photo of the new stairs leading from Arch Rock down to M-185.  They'll be ready in the Spring!

Ted walked over to Arch Rock and shot this photo of the new stairs leading down to M-185. They’ll be ready in the Spring!

Now see.  I just had a moment.  As I typed “they’ll be ready in the Spring”, I realized I won’t be here to see the finished product until later in the summer.  I’m really having trouble accepting that – but I know I have to.  Sigh.

One last Ted photo.

One last Ted photo – Mission Point from Robinson’s Folly.  Did you see the gull ?

The day we found out our condo was sold, we went out to The Woods Restaurant to celebrate. As always, the riide home through the "real" woods was magical. Our driver had Grand Hotel folks on board, so we got to ride through the Grand portico . . .

The day we found out our condo was sold, we went out to The Woods Restaurant to celebrate. As always, the ride home through the “real” woods was magical. Our driver had Grand Hotel folks on board, so we got to ride through the Grand portico . . .

. . .

. . .and catch the last of the sun’s rays through the fringe on our carriage.

I will go ahead an apologize.  Last weekend was the Somewhere in Time weekend at the Grand Hotel, and I didn't step foot in the Grand one time.  Too much going on at once.  I did snap a couple of folks as I walked down to the real estate office to sign papers.

I will go ahead an apologize. Last weekend was the Somewhere in Time weekend at the Grand Hotel, and I didn’t step foot in the Grand one time. Too much going on at once. I did snap this photo of a couple of folks as I walked down to the real estate office to sign papers.

This couple saw me with my camera and stopped to pose without me even asking!

This couple saw me with my camera and stopped to pose without me even asking!

Outside Mackinac Island Realty after contract signing.  (Photo: Jill Sawatzki)

Outside Mackinac Island Realty after contract signing. (Photo: Jill Sawatzki)

That same day Vince and Molly boarded the ferry . . .

That same day Vince and Molly boarded the ferry . . .

. . . hugged us all goodbye . . .

. . . hugged us all goodbye . . .

. . . and left the Island for the last time as our pastor and his wife.  They are returning to their home in Sarasota FL, where they'll be serving a church on Long Boat Key.  Monday was just a sad day all around.

. . . and left the Island for the last time as our pastor and his wife. They are returning to their home in Sarasota FL, where they’ll be serving a church on Long Boat Key.

One of the houses we looked at today was in Trillium Heights, where the Beech, Oak and Maple trees are clothed in

One of the houses we looked at today was in Trillium Heights, where the Beech, Oak and Maple trees are clothed for Fall.

Would you believe I took this shot out of a basement window in that Trillium Heights home?

Would you believe I took this shot looking up and out through a basement window in that Trillium Heights home?

Village trees.

Village trees.

DOG WALK ON TUESDAY

The winds have left our trails blanketed in short, brown pine needles.

The winds have left our trails blanketed in short, brown pine needles.

Bear - in front of McGyver's turn-out.

Bear – in front of McGyver’s corral – sniffing stuff he shouldn’t be sniffing.

A West Bluff horse

A West Bluff horse checks to see if Ted brought any carrots.

Pretty trees, pretty horse.

Pretty trees, pretty horse.

A Star Ferry makes its last trip of the day to the Island.

A Star Ferry makes its last trip of the day to the Island.

Flowers and a Monarch Butterfly  in front of a West Bluff cottage.

Flowers in front of a West Bluff cottage.  Did you spot the Monarch?

Brent, heading to the barn with a couple of Belgians.

Brent, heading to the barn with a couple of Belgians.

Bear made a new friend behind a bluff cottage - who had treats in the barn.  Maddie was chasing chipmunks.

Bear made a new friend behind a bluff cottage who had treats in the barn. Maddie was chasing chipmunks.

Going home for dinner.

Going home for dinner.

A gorgeous tree at the Barn View residence.

A gorgeous tree at the Barn View residence.

That’s all for today.  Tomorrow we have an electrician (our hot water heater went out today) and a house inspector coming.  Then lunch with two great friends, Sue and Terry Conlon.  Hmmmm . . . I can always pack some more on Thursday!

See you in a few days!  God bless.

East Side Stroll 10/3/2013

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Last Monday after work I took a walk and snapped a bunch of photos you seemed to enjoy a lot (I sure enjoyed taking them), so this past Monday I did the same thing.  Instead of going downtown and heading west, I walked to Mission Point Resort and back.  I don’t get down in that neck of the woods nearly enough during the season, so when I do go it’s like a whole new world!

BEFORE THE WALK

When I stopped to get my coffee before going to the Stuart House, I couldn't help but notice that a crew of workers were busy taking down all the hanging baskets!

When I stopped to get my coffee before going to the Stuart House, I couldn’t help but notice that a crew of workers were busy taking down all the hanging baskets.

It really made me sad to watch those flowers come down - just another sign that the season is over . . .

It really made me sad to watch those flowers come down, but it’s just another sign that the season is over.

. . . and in their place pots of Mums

As the hanging baskets and beds full of summer flowers were removed, pots of Mums in every color were taking their place.

Lordy, Lordy.  Now I'm getting CHILDREN of blog readers stopping by!  This beautiful couple was on their honeymoon, with a request from the groom's mom, Hilde, to stop in to say hello.  Thank you so much for taking time out of your special days to come by, Mike and Rochelle DaVanon!

Lordy, Lordy. Now I’m getting CHILDREN of blog readers stopping by! This beautiful couple was on their honeymoon, with a request from the groom’s mom, Hilde, to stop in to say hello. Thank you so much, Mike and Rochelle DaVanon, for taking time out of your special week to come by!

Another very special couple - Irene Cowley and her husband Gary.  Irene and Gary were first on the Island during the days of MRA in the late 40's, and Irene was one of only 30 graduates of Mackinac Island College.

Another very special couple – Irene Cowley and her husband Gary. Irene and Gary were first on the Island during the days of MRA in the late 40’s (Irene told me she arrived on the island as a newborn in a laundry basket).  Irene and Gary were also students (and Irene a graduate) of Mackinac College, a private liberal arts college which opened on Mackinac Island in the fall of 1966 and closed after graduating its Charter Class in 1970.  Gary & Irene live in California and will be back next summer for a Mackinac College reunion!

EAST SIDE STROLL

Everywhere we look now trees are putting on their Fall colors - like this tree next to the Jane and Richard Manoogian Museum of Art.

Everywhere we look now trees are putting on their Fall colors – like this tree next to the Jane and Richard Manoogian Museum of Art.

Even the flowers are looking more "Fall-ish".

Even the flowers are looking more “Fall-ish” – like these in front of the Inn on Mackinac.

Harbor View Inn

Harbor View Inn was still sporting its summer blossoms.

As I passed the intersection of Church Street and Main, I took a few steps up church

As I passed the intersection of Church Street and Main, I took a few steps up Church and snapped a shot of these old tree trunks.  Mackinac Island seems to inspire trees to grow into lots of gnarled shapes, and each one is interesting in its own way.

Meet Daisy!  She's in front of the Mackinac Island Butterfly House and Insect World on McGulpin Street.

Meet Daisy! She’s in front of the Mackinac Island Butterfly House and Insect World on McGulpin Street.

This is the Straits Lodge at Mission Point Resort.  If you're coming to Mission Point with your dog, this is the building where you'll be staying.

This is the Straits Lodge at Mission Point Resort. If you’re coming to Mission Point with your dog, this is the building where you’ll be staying.

Yellows are coming up fast at Mission Point.

Yellows and rusts are arriving fast at Mission Point.

The Violet Residences are condos in the Mission District.  They are beautiful from the front, but that day I realized their back yards were lovely also.

The Violet Residences are condos in the Mission District. They are beautiful from the front, but on that day I realized their back yards – which this photo shows – are lovely also.

Lake Huron through the handles of a couple of bikes.

Lake Huron through the handles of a couple of bikes.

Have I ever mentioned how much I love the Michigan blue sky?  Really??  I've said that before?

Have I ever mentioned how much I love the Michigan blue sky? Really?  I’ve said that before?

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This Mission Point courtyard is just outside the doorway to the Mackinac Arts Council.

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A covered walkway runs beside Mission Point’s theater, gift shop and gym.

I walked out on what was the roof of the Mission Point Conference Center (it's ok - you're supposed to walk on - in fact, it's where you rent your bikes at Mission Point)

I walked out on what is the roof of the Mission Point Conference Center (it’s ok – you’re supposed to walk on it – in fact, it’s where you rent your bikes at Mission Point) and took in the great view from up there of the lawn, gazebo and a dray team heading back to town after a delivery.

Mission Point flowers just keep getting better each season.

Mission Point flowers just keep getting better each season . . .

. . .

. . .and the banks of blossoms running beside the driveway to the front doors must still think it’s summer.

One of my favorite Mission Point pathways - always shady and peaceful.

One of my favorite Mission Point pathways – always shady and peaceful.

The east end of Main Street in the Mission District.

The east end of Main Street in the Mission District – walking back toward town.

The picket fence at St. Anne's Church is getting a new coat of white paint.

The picket fence at St. Anne’s Church is getting a fresh coat of white paint.

On the opposite side of the street B & B's mix in with private homes.

On the opposite side of the street B & B’s mix in with private homes.

I've always loved this old red barn that sits behind one of those private homes -

I’ve always loved this red barn that sits behind one of those private homes – it’s always framed in beautiful flowers and trees and accented with that great stone wall.

Back in town and walking up Astor Street - which was newly paved last week.

Back in town and walking up Astor Street – which was newly paved last week.

The Cloghaun - beautiful as always and already gussied up for Halloween.

The Cloghaun Bed & Breakfast – beautiful as always and already gussied up for Halloween.  At night it is outlined in orange lights!

I happened to run into good friends Bryan and Barb as I walked up Cadotte - out for a walk with their Golden Retriever Rusty.

I happened to run into good friends Bryan and Barb as I walked up Cadotte – out for a walk with their Golden Retriever Rusty.

. . . and when I turned around to look back in the direction from which I'd come, the beautiful trees made the street look as if the street it was on fire.

. . . and when I turned around to look back in the direction from which I’d come, the beautiful trees made the street look as if it was on fire.

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This Monarch was sipping nectar from the still abundantly blooming Grand Hotel flower beds.

OTHER GOODIES

We had a lovely time Tuesday evening at dinner with our retiring pastor, Dr. Vince Carroll and his lovely wife Molly.  This Sunday will be his last sermon in the pulpit of Little Stone Church, and on Monday they will leave the Island to begin working with a new church on Long Boat Key, FL.  They will be sorely missed from this Island, but we look forward to meeting the new minister and his wife in the Spring.

We had a great, but bittersweet, time Tuesday evening at the Yankee Rebel with our retiring pastor, Dr. Vince Carroll and his lovely wife Molly. This Sunday will be his last sermon in the pulpit of Little Stone Church, and on Monday they will leave the Island to begin working with a new church on Long Boat Key, FL. They will be sorely missed.

Horses are still leaving the Island at least twice a week (Photo: Jill Sawatzki) . . .

Horses are still leaving the Island at least twice a week (Photo: Jill Sawatzki) . . .

. . . and Jill said this one stuck out his tongue and seemed to be saying to her, "I get to go on vacation before you do!"

. . . and Jill said this one stuck out his tongue and seemed to be saying to her, “I get to go on vacation before you do!”

Working hard at the Stuart House!

Working hard at the Stuart House! (Photo: Jill Sawatzki)

It started raining this afternoon – the first rain we’ve seen in at least three weeks – and it’s supposed to keep up most of the weekend.  We can’t complain one bit because our September was one for the record books – warm and sunny.  That’s perfect in my book!

Y’all have a good weekend, and I’ll see you back here on Sunday – good Lord willing.  God bless.

Slow Weekend 9/29/2013

You know how it is when you find a book you really, really like, and you don’t want to put it down . . . not for anything?  Well, that’s how I’ve been the last few days.  I’ve been reading Susan Wiggs’ Table for Five, and after two really “heavy-duty” books, Table for Five, although not exactly a “light” subject, is an easy-to-read and compelling story.

I’ve said all that because I’m using it as an excuse not to have much for you tonight in the way of news OR photos.  I know, I know.  I don’t need excuses with y’all, but it really IS the reason I’ve been sticking close to home for a few days.

Anyway, here’s what I have – taken on walks with Bear and on the way home from church this morning.

A tree on Fourth Street, just before I enter the State Park on Whitefield Road.

A tree on Fourth Street.  I’d just come off Whitefield Road, which is in the State Park,  into the Village.

The remains of an old wooden fence on Whitefield Road.  You can see leaves beginning to shift into yellow

The remains of an old wooden fence on Whitefield Road.  Love old fences!

We always have a goose or two around the Island, but now they're arriving in great flocks.  These were behind the school this morning as I came back from church.

We always have a goose or two around the Island, but now they’re arriving in great flocks. These were behind the school this morning as I came back from church.

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The Grand Hotel has been a beehive of activity for the last week.  They’ve been replacing the worn pavement in front of the hotel, and I’ve seen more motorized vehicles at the Grand (asphalt trucks, front-end loaders, etc) than I’ve seen on the entire island in the last six years.

The amazing thing is it's entirely done - in one week!  Old pavement removed, ground prepared, and new pavement poured.  People have asked why they didn't wait until after the hotel closed at the end of October.  The answer is WEATHER.  Asphalt cannot be poured below a certain outside temperature, and by the first of November, we could have snow.  So - it's done, it looks great, and next season, NO trucks or mess!

The amazing thing is it’s entirely done – in one week! Old pavement removed, ground prepared, and new pavement poured. People have asked why they didn’t wait until after the hotel closed at the end of October. The answer is WEATHER. Asphalt cannot be poured below a certain outside temperature, and by the first of November, we could have snow. So – it’s done, it looks great, and next season, NO trucks or mess!

My favorite golf course tree again - from another angle.

My favorite golf course tree again – from another angle.

The annual big barns pumpkin patch!

The annual big barns pumpkin patch!

We got a good rain last night - the first we've seen in a few weeks.  Well, we didn't actually SEE it 'cause we were asleep!  By morning, it was over except for some damp roads, which by noon were practically dry.

We got a good rain last night – the first we’ve seen in a few weeks. By morning, it was over except for some damp roads, which by noon were practically dry.

That’s it for tonight.  We’re about to leave for Mackinac Night at the Chippewa (which we’ve never attended before), and I’m running late as usual.

Hope everyone has a great week, and I promise to get out of the house more in the next few days.  God bless.

Fall? Who Said? 9/25/2013

After working Monday morning at the Stuart House, I took some time to walk through downtown with my camera.  Everywhere I turned were gardens, flower beds, flower pots and hanging baskets – all beautiful and happily blooming away.  You’d never know we’ve been in the 50’s for highs this week and frost warnings have been issued the last two nights. 

So . . . Fall might be here on the calendar – but Mackinac Island’s summer flowers are still blooming their little hearts out!

Our post office always looks good, but this year the entrance is surrounded by tall, beautiful flowers that are really showing off. Makes going after the mail a real treat!

Our post office always looks good, but this year the tall, beautiful flowers surrounding the entrance are really showing off. Makes going after the mail a real treat!

One of many hanging baskets at The Cottage Inn . . .

One of the many hanging baskets at The Cottage Inn . . .

. . . and a little frog named Bob who just can't stay away from his cell phone.

. . . and a little frog named Bob who just can’t stay away from his cell phone.

These beauties were outside Weber's, across

These beauties were outside Weber’s on Market Street.

Butterflies are still fluttering around also - like this one sipping at some flowers in front of a summer cottage on Huron Street.

Butterflies are still fluttering – like this one sipping at some flowers in front of a closed-for-the-winter cottage on Huron Street.

There are no words for the floral wonders at the Island House this year.

There are no words for the floral wonders at the Island House this year.

Every garden is a masterpiece of color, variety . . .

Every garden is a masterpiece of color, variety . . .

. . . and

. . . and uniqueness.

The side of Bay View is

Bay View of Mackinac is a riot of flowering bushes.

Doud's Market.  I remember these window boxes in the spring when they first were planted.  They have thrived all summer, and right now they are peaking!

Doud’s Market. I remember these window boxes in the spring when they first were planted. They have thrived all summer, and right now they are peaking.

Hanging basket outside Mary's Bistro.

Hanging basket outside Mary’s Bistro.

One perfect blossom - along the board walk.

One perfect blossom – along the board walk.

Cadotte from the Grand Hotel.

Cadotte Avenue from the Grand Hotel.

MORE SCENES FROM THE MONDAY AFTERNOON STROLL

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Looking across Marquette Park toward Fort Mackinac.  Not much Fall color yet – but it’s coming!

J.L. Beanery

J.L. Beanery Coffee House is a great place for breakfast – and awesome lunch sandwiches.

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Quiet street – from the Fort to the Island House.

The Mackinac Island Marine is another quiet place these days.

The Mackinac Island Marina is another quiet place these days.

The Island House

The Island House – tucked between Michigan blue skies and shamrock green lawns.

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A nice afternoon to visit across the white picket fence in front of the Windermere Hotel.

A shady curve of sidewalk leading to the library . . .

A shady curve of sidewalk leading to the library . . .

. . . where I ducked through the side yard to check out

. . . where I ducked through the side yard to check if the chairs were still out on the back deck.

Quite possibly the most beautiful boardwalk in the world.

Walking along the boardwalk these days is a treat to all the senses . . .

. . . especially the visual.

. . . especially the visual.  A Shepler ferry . . .

. . . and Arnold's freight boat.

. . . and the Arnold freight boat glide across sparkling blue water.

Chambers Corner

Chambers Corner and a glimpse up Market Street.

Little Stone Church

Little Stone Church through the changing leaves of the new trees that line Cadotte.  I wonder how many more years I’ll call them the “new” trees?

A touch of color on a Jewel Golf Course tree . . .

A touch of color on a Jewel Golf Course tree . . .

. . . and apples near the road that every horse on Mackinac are trying to swipe with every pass along the road.

. . . and apples near the road that every horse on Mackinac tries to swipe as they walk by.

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A wagon and a carriage stand side by side in the sunshine at Barn View.

NEWSY STUFF

Picking up the mail at the post office.

Picking up the outgoing mail at the post office.  The dray delivers it to the ferry, and the next morning the whole process starts again – in reverse.  (Photo:  Jill Sawatzki)

It's definitely Fall inside Doud's Market! (Photo:  Little Luxuries of Mackinac Island)

It’s definitely Fall inside Doud’s Market! (Photo: Little Luxuries of Mackinac Island)

Remember those empty blue barrels from the other day?  These are packed full and on their first leg of their journey to Jamaica.

Remember those empty blue barrels from the other day? These are packed full and on the first leg of their journey to Jamaica – along with what looks like some carpet.  (Photo: Jill Sawatzki)

Getting my coffee fix at Lucky Bean before opening the Stuart House on Monday morning.

Getting my coffee fix at Lucky Bean, before opening the Stuart House on Monday morning.  (Photo: Jill Sawatzki)

Meet the Green's - Kem and Ed from Des Moines, Iowa.  Kem discovered Bree's Blog last summer after visiting Mackinac, and if I've ever met anyone who mirrors how I felt with my first trip here, it is Kem.  Ed feels the same way, and they have a plan to be living (maybe full-time) on the Island in five years.  They're staying at the Chippewa and asked us to have dinner last night so they could ask questions about island life.  Such a nice couple.  I fell immediately in love with Kem's enthusiasm and positive attitude.  If anyone can make that plan come true, these two can!

Meet the Greens – Kem and Ed from Des Moines, Iowa. Kem discovered Bree’s Blog last summer after visiting Mackinac, and if I’ve ever met anyone who mirrors how I felt after my first trip here, it is Kem. Ed feels the same way, and they have a plan to be living (maybe full-time) on the Island in five years. They came over to the Stuart House on Monday and asked us to have dinner with them at the Chippewa Hotel (where they’re staying) last night so they could ask questions about island life. Such a nice couple! I fell immediately in love with Kem’s enthusiasm and positive attitude. If anyone can make that plan come true, these two can!

When the Greens came by the Stuart House Frankie and Hershey were visiting for a few minutes so everyone introduced themselves.  This morning was very foggy so Kem went out shopping and stopped in to see Frankie at Benjamin's.  She asked where Hershey was, and Frankie said "Upstairs in the apartment."  So Kem said, "Why don't we take her for a walk?"  Do you see now why I'm crazy about these two.  Kem got Hershey, called Ed at the Chippewa and they all went for a walk in the fog!

When the Greens came by the Stuart House Frankie and Hershey were visiting for a few minutes, so everyone introduced themselves. This morning was very foggy so Kem went out shopping and stopped in to see Frankie at Benjamin’s. She asked where Hershey was, and Frankie said “Upstairs in the apartment.” So Kem said, “Why don’t we take her for a walk?” Do you see why I’m crazy about these two. Kem collected Hershey, called Ed at the Chippewa, and they all went for a walk in the fog!

And speaking of fog.  The morning started off bright and beautiful, but Jim Ryerse captured the fog bank as it rolled in.  So eerie-looking!

And speaking of fog. The morning started off bright and beautiful, but Jim Ryerse captured the fog bank as it rolled in. So eerie-looking!

It looks like I'm not going to get out to Silver Birches after all this week, but the Town Crier interview worked out.  Stephanie Fortino, the reporter who wrote the wonderful story about Lowell & Faye's trip to the Island rode up to the condo this afternoon, and we all chatted for over two hours.  The story should run in the October Town Crier.

Stephanie Fortino, the reporter from the St. Ignace News/Town Crier who wrote the wonderful story about Lowell & Faye’s trip to the Island, rode up to the condo this afternoon, and we all chatted about Bree’s Blog for over two hours. The story should run in the October Town Crier.  I love working with Stephanie – another enthusiastic – and very professional – young lady.

WEDNESDAY WALK

After Stephanie hurried down the hill to catch the ferry, Ted and I took Maddie and Bear for a long walk.  I am always amazed at some of the bizarre formations of the island's

After Stephanie hurried down the hill to catch the ferry, Ted and I took Maddie and Bear for a long walk. I am always amazed at some of the bizarre forms aged or dead trees take on over the years.  These trunks on Cupid’s Pathway seemed almost fossilized.

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Rays of sunlight breaking through thick still-green foliage.

Now that Bear is feeling better, he is getting rid of a lot of pent-up energy on every walk.  Once off-leash in the woods he breaks into an all-out run and races through bushes and over fallen trees like a pack of wolves is after him.

Now that Bear is feeling better, he is getting rid of a lot of pent-up energy on every walk. Once off-leash in the woods he breaks into an all-out run and races through bushes and over fallen trees like a pack of wolves is after him.

Then he stops, digs a hole . . . .

Then he stops, digs a hole . . . .

. . . . grabs a stick . . .

. . . . grabs a stick . . .

. . . and chews.

. . . and chews.

And then he starts all over again!

And then he starts all over again! 

How they like to end every walk . . . running up the hill at the Carriage Museum to get treats from Denise!

How they like to end every walk . . . running up the hill at the Carriage Museum to get treats from Denise!

Well, I guess you didn’t know when you sat down to read this you were going to be here this long!  I’ve really been out a lot with the camera this week! 

I still haven’t worked out the details with Liz Ware about my night at Silver Birches, but hopefully that is still going to happen. 

One big bit of news.  We had an offer on the condo this week, but after counter offers and re-counter offers, we just couldn’t get together on price.  So . . . no sale on that one. 

Hoping everyone is having a good week.  Stay safe, stay well, and I’ll see you back here in a few days!  God bless.

Subtle Changes 9/22/2013

Autumn begins with a subtle change in the light, with skies a deeper blue, and nights that become suddenly clear and chilled. The season comes full with the first frost, the disappearance of migrant birds, and the harvesting of the season’s last crops.  Glenn Wolff and Jerry Dennis

I’ve always loved the Peanuts cartoon characters, and being a dog lover, that little Beagle Snoopy is a favorite of mine.  Snoopy always finds a way to express his most joyous moments in the simplest of terms . . . like jumping into a pile of leaves, with his buddy Woodstock (after all, our experiences are always better if shared with a friend), to show us how much fun Fall is!

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Autumn has always been my favorite season.  There’s just something so mellow about a fall day – the crackle of dry leaves under my feet as I walk the roads and trails of Mackinac Island and the rustle of leaves high above me in trees that are being gently rocked by the wind.  At home in Georgia Autumn includes the smell of leaves burning in great piles down by the water or out by the road.  Bright crimson berries appear on the island and in our yard at the lake – making me think of Christmas and where I can use those berries as decorations. Pine cones are everywhere, and the earth smells rich and wet.

After the hurly-burly of Summer, the serenity of Fall is a welcome visitor.

I was thinking all this as Ted and I walked Maddie and Bear up to Ft. Holmes late this afternoon.  The highs here for the last two days have only been in the 50’s, and shorts and t-shirts have been replaced with sweaters, jeans and an occasional scarf.  It was only after I began to experience the Falls up north that I discovered the wonderful warmth offered by yards of soft material wrapped around my neck.  It’s amazing the difference a scarf makes in your body temperature!

We walked two blocks up Cadotte to Fifth Street and turned right.  That block ends with a short trail through a wooded area, and it was there I  caught on film the first color changes the Village.

We walked two blocks up Cadotte to Fifth Street and turned right. That block ends with a short trail through a wooded area, and it was there I caught on film the first color changes in the Village.

Love, love, love yellow flowers.  Are these brown-eyed Susans?  Somebody tell me please!

Love, love, love yellow flowers. Somebody tell me what these are please!

Same flowers - with a bee.

Same flowers – with a bee.  Which led  Ted and I into a “discussion” on the difference between Bumblebees and Honeybees.  I think this is a Bumblebee – a small one.  It was VERY sluggish today, barely moving.  Ours in Georgia – really BIG ones – get that way late in the Fall after the temps dive.  It’s my understanding that all Bumblebees die in the Fall except for the pregnant Queen, but Honeybees live on in their hive all winter, existing on the sweet honey they’ve produced all summer.  Speak up if you know the real story!

Crossing Turtle Park we came across some red

Crossing Turtle Park we came upon some leaves already turning red.

The entrance to the park on the "cemetery" side.

The entrance to the park on the “cemetery” side.

Bear and Maddie kept their noses to the ground practically the entire walk.  So MUCH to smell!

Bear and Maddie kept their noses to the ground practically the entire walk. So MUCH to smell!

Spots of yellow in the cemeteries.

Spots of yellow in the cemeteries . . .

. . . and beautiful red berries.

. . . and those beautiful red berries.

One of my favorite Mackinac Island "roads less taken."

One of my favorite Mackinac Island “roads less traveled” – up past the cemeteries, almost to Lookout Point.

Bear dragged me over to the steps leading down to Sugar Loaf, but I said, "Another day!"

Bear dragged me over to the steps leading down to Sugar Loaf, but I had to disappoint him and say, “Another day!”

Lookout Point

Lookout Point in the low light of late afternoon.  Over the fence . . .

. . . the trees surrounding Sugar Loaf are beginning their slow change.

. . . the trees surrounding Sugar Loaf are beginning their slow change to gold.

Right over the fence at Lookout Point there have been two trees as long as I can remember going up there.  One has been dead for quite a few years, and now it looks like maybe lightning maybe broke it off.

Right over the fence at Lookout Point there have been two trees as long as I can remember going up there. One has been dead for quite a few years, and now it looks like lightning maybe broke it off – or maybe it was cut down.  Either way it reminds me of an alligator coming up out of the water with its head held straight up toward the sky and its mouth open.  See the eye?  Yes, I know it looks like half his snout is chopped off.   What do you see?

Walking toward Ft. Holmes.

Walking toward Ft. Holmes – my FAVORITE “road less traveled” – whatever the season.

The sounds of children playing met us as we arrived at Ft. Holmes.  Several boys and girls were running in and out and along the top of the embackments.

The sounds of children playing met us as we arrived at Ft. Holmes. Several boys and girls were running in and out of the entrance and along the top of the embankments.  They left with their parents soon after we arrived, and we had the whole hilltop to ourselves.

More red . . .

More red berries.

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Bear – taking a little rest.

There's talk that Ft. Holmes may soon be restored so visitors will be able to see what it really looked like in the early 1800's.

There’s talk that Ft. Holmes may soon be restored so visitors will be able to see what it really looked like in the early 1800’s.  I personally love the solitude of how it stands now – one of those places – like Anne’s Tablet – that people either don’t know about – or don’t want to climb up to.  I love it like it is.

It’s been a good weekend – not busy, quiet (except for 1200 Michigan Republicans at their convention).  But they stayed downtown, and I stayed up the hill, so all was good.  Bear’s hotspot has finally turned the corner toward healing.  Lordy!  Those things drive ME crazy trying to give him some relief and drive HIM crazy ’cause I haven’t found the magic solution yet – at least not one that works fast enough for either of us.

Hope you’re all doing well out there and that you have a fantastic week, I’ll be back in a few days with more news, good Lord willing.  Hugs to you all.  God bless.

Here and There and Everywhere! 9/19/2013

Hi gang!  It’s basically been a normal Mackinac Island week, so there isn’t a lot to write about tonight.    But . . . it seems everyone likes the “normal” stuff as well as the big events, so here’s what I have for you . . .

Monday I worked at the Stuart House, and it was one of only two of my volunteer days this season when no blog readers stopped by.  I felt lonely!  But since then, I’ve seen a couple of readers on Main Street, and tonight, as Ted and I were walking downtown, I heard someone calling, “Bree! Bree!”  We looked all around and finally looked UP!  A man was standing on the third floor balcony of the Grand Hotel shouting and waving, “My wife and I read your blog!”  We waved, and I shouted, “Thank you!”  Loved it!

POOR BEAR!

Tuesday I was off-island with Bear for his “spa day”.  Bless his heart.  He has his annual Fall season hot spot, and boy is this one in a doozie of a location – on the bottom of his tail, right up next to where the tail joins the body (think about it).  He has not been a happy camper all week, especially since he’s been forced to wear that awful halo collar so he can’t bite at the spot and just make it worse.  I’ve been trying some “natural” meds so I don’t have to resort to steroids, which he does not tolerate well at all.  I AM applying some ointment from the vet that has helped the itching, but I didn’t get that until after he was groomed.  The ladies at the spa said he was like a different dog on Tuesday – fidgety, nervous and refusing to stand still.  Well, I couldn’t stand still if I had an itch I couldn’t scratch either!   Poor Bear.

MAKING A WITHDRAWAL

I had some banking to do last week, and as I opened the bank door, a large dog who had been sitting on the sidewalk ran inside with me.  I figured her owner must be in the bank, so I just ignored her and walked over to the counter to write a check.  When I turned around . . .

. . . the dog, who I finally recognized as Annie (she belongs to a lady in the Village), was going from one teller window to another, standing on her hind legs and checking

. . . the dog, who I finally recognized as Annie (she belongs to a lady in the Village), was going from one teller window to another, standing on her hind legs and checking for possible hand-outs.

Everyone seemed to be busy, but that didn't deter Annie . . .

Everyone seemed to be busy, but that didn’t deter Annie . . .

. . . who finally checked a window where the teller had treats!

. . . who finally checked a window where the teller had treats!

Someone called Annie’s owner, who was down the street looking for her wayward dog.  She said when they left home that morning she told Annie they were going to the bank, so she guessed Annie decided to go straight there and forget their other stops.

CHIEF JIM MARKS’ RETIREMENT PARTY

Our wonderful Police Chief, Jim Marx, has retired, and the whole community came together this afternoon to wish he and his wife Betty a relaxing and peaceful retirement.

Our wonderful Police Chief, Jim Marks, is retiring October 5, and the whole community turned out this afternoon to wish him and wife Nancy an awesome retirement.  We will miss y’all!

IT’S ALMOST LEAF SEASON!

Riding home with taxi driver Ron this evening after dinner, we saw that some of the "new" trees lining Cadotte are already dressing for Autumn.

Riding home with taxi driver Bob this evening after dinner, we saw that some of the trees lining Cadotte are already dressing for Autumn.  We’re beginning to see some touches of yellow all over the Island – Fall is coming fast!

PHOTOS!

I haven’t had a chance to get out and take many pics this week, but I know a lot of folks who have.  Here are some great shots from around town:

Lars, Ann Levy's beautiful Friesian, left the island at sunrise this week.  Always sad to see the horses leave, both private . . .

Lars, Ann Levy’s beautiful Friesian, left the island at sunrise this week. Always sad to see the horses leave, both private . . .

. . . and those belonging to Carriage Tours.  We've been watching them go ever since Labor Day. (Photo: Denise Beaudoin)

. . . and those belonging to Carriage Tours. We’ve been watching them go ever since Labor Day. (Photo: Denise Beaudoin)

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It’s blue barrel time on Mackinac.  Our Jamaican workers fill these barrels with everything they’ve purchased while working here during the summer and ship them back home to their families.  They will send linens, paper goods, rice, flour, clothes – anything that isn’t perishable.  All these items are much cheaper in the U.S. than in Jamaica, and the things they ship home – plus the wages they’ve earned in the time they’ve spent away from their families – will help those families survive another year.

Tuesday's spectacular sunrise from Mackinac Island's Shepler dock.  (Photo: Shepler's Ferry Line)

Tuesday’s spectacular sunrise from Mackinac Island’s Shepler dock. (Photo: Shepler’s Ferry Line)

We’ve got a quiet weekend planned, but – being Mackinac – that could change at the drop of a hat.  And next week, I’m being interviewed by Stephanie Fortino, a reporter for The St. Ignace News & The Town Crier, for a feature story on Bree’s Blog.  So excited about that!  ALSO excited that I may be spending a night next week out at Silver Birches in the big lodge.  Now THAT should be an interesting night!

Have a wonderful weekend, and I’ll see you back here in a few days!  God bless.

This and That 9/15/2013

Things have been pretty quiet around here since the big events surrounding Patriots Day. Tomorrow I’ll spend a few hours in the same building as Lady Liberty, as I volunteer at the Stuart House.  I never went inside the other evening after they placed her in her temporary home, and Monday I’ll have plenty of time to take a few more close-up photos.  We’re all hoping the funds for the construction of the statue’s new pedestal will come in quickly,  If they do, I’m sure she’ll be standing outside at the marina, welcoming the first visitors of the 2014 season!

Ted and I were invited to go over to Round Island Lighthouse on Friday night.  A group of State Park employees were planning an evening exploring the small island and maybe roasting a few hot dogs and marshmallows over a bonfire.  When we found out the trip would involve climbing out of the boat into waist-deep very cold water, wading to shore, AND that the temps were dropping into the low 50’s that afternoon, we sadly declined the invitation.  We were both bummed out because that’s a trip we’ve been trying to make for several years.  I have to admit we smiled when we heard later even the YOUNG people had cancelled for those same reasons – made us feel a little less wimpy :).

BLOG READERS

Last week was so busy I didn’t have a moment to tell you about all the blog readers who were on the island last Monday and dropped in at the Stuart House to say “hi”.

What a fun group!  These two couples

What a fun group! These two couples, Ron & Susan Jennings and Jim & Marcia Shrauger (all from Kalamazoo, MI) popped in, claiming they had “stalked” me last year, but didn’t come in to say hi during their visit.  So glad they did this year!  I saw them several more times during the week, and each time they looked like they were having the best time ever!  Now here’s a group that GETS Mackinac!

Monica and her husband Rick (who was shy about being in the photo) came by right after I opened the doors.  They are from near Lansing, MI.

Monica and her husband Rick (who was shy about being in the photo) came by right after I opened the doors. They were here from near Lansing, MI. Such a nice couple!

This is a group of cousins - well, except for one.

A group of cousins – well, except for one.  Jill (Mt. Pleasant, MI), Jan (Sunfield, MI) and Gwen (Ionia, MI) are all cousins of Bonnie Foltz ( I forget where Bonnie was that day).  The sweet lady in coral is Yvonne from Sigourney, Iowa.   All of these ladies visit Mackinac Island quite often – needing their “fix” at least once a year!

How blessed I am to have gotten to meet all these wonderful women through Bree’s Blog.  Thank you, thank you for taking time out of your vacation to stop in and say hello!

BLOG MENTION

A few days ago Joan Barch sent an email asking if I’d received my copy of Michigan Country Lines, a magazine sponsored by our electric company, Cloverland Electric Cooperative.  “I’ve got it,” I said, “But I haven’t read it.”

“Well, open it up!” said Joan.  “Your blog is mentioned in one of the articles!”

I grabbed the magazine off the counter and started flipping pages . . .

I grabbed the magazine off the counter and started flipping pages . . .

. . . a nice article written by Mike Buda, editor emeritus of Country Lines, entitled Our Islands.  Mike highlights the two Michigan islands where motorized vehicles aren't allowed 0 Isle Royale and Mackinac.  And at the end of the article . . .

. . . and there it was – a nice article written by Mike Buda, editor emeritus of Country Lines, entitled Our Islands. Mike highlights the two Michigan islands where motorized vehicles aren’t allowed  – Isle Royale and Mackinac. And at the end of the article . . .

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Just ask me was I thrilled . . . Why, yes, I was – thanks so much for asking!  I immediately wrote Mike a thank-you email.

ONE MORE BLOG READER STORY

You remember Jane Winston – my friend from Georgia who also has a family cottage here on the Island.  She was in some of the blog posts this summer around the 4th of July.  Anyway, she’s back home in Georgia now, and she called yesterday afternoon.  Here’s the jist of what she said:

“So I’m in this store in Warner Robins (GA), looking for a bicycle like the one I have on Mackinac.  I’m telling the clerk that I live in Michigan some during the summer, and from somewhere in the back of the store this man’s voice yells, “You aren’t talking about Mackinac Island, are you?”

“Yes, I am!” I yell back (we do that in Georgia – just yell back and forth from one end of a store to another).

“Out from the back of the store comes this man who tells me all about how he and his family usually go to the island every year either in May or September.  And I say, “I have a friend from Georgia who also lives there in the summer . . . . Brenda 

“No!” the man says.  “You know Bree!”

Turns out this man, Tony Howd and wife Alison, are huge blog fans.

That name rang a bell with me, and after Jane and I finished talking about what a small world it is, I typed Tony’s name into a search engine on my blog . . . and there he was.  He and I had commented back and forth several times this spring about our upcoming trip to the Island, and he had asked if we’d take stowaways – Tony, Alison and two “really cute kids”.  LOVE IT!

Yep it’s a small world.  Hi Tony and Alison and cute kids!!  Hope it’s ok I told this story today!

SOME THOUGHTS ON TIME

It seems I’ve had too much free time on my hands for the last few days, and when that happens lately, I find myself thinking too much.  My “free time thoughts” this week have centered on our decision this spring to sell our homes in Michigan and Georgia and start a new adventure in Florida.

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To be honest, I truly thought the condo would sell quickly.  It’s among the least expensive offerings on the island.  But what we’ve come to realize is, even though the housing market is coming back, it’s mostly primary residences folks are seeking – not second homes – at least not quite yet.  I know it only takes the “right one” to walk into the Mackinac Realty office, and everything could change in a flash.  But I see little chance that is going to happen before we leave this year.

Our minister, Dr. Vince Carroll, says “You have to be willing to throw your dreams – however wild and crazy they are –  out there into the universe and see what happens.  Maybe God will laugh and say “No way!”  Maybe He’ll laugh and say, “Ok, I really like that idea.  Let’s do it!”  And maybe He will say, “None of that is good.  I have such a better plan for you.  But you’ll have to watch and wait.”

And when you think about it like that, it could be the plan you know nothing about – the plan you didn’t plan at all – may turn out to be the best adventure yet.  And that makes me smile.

A FEW PHOTOS 

Downtown Mackinac Island on a quiet post-Labor Day evening.

Downtown Mackinac Island on a quiet post-Labor Day evening.

 

View from downtown this evening.  (Photo: Denise Beaudoin)

View from downtown this evening. (Photo: Denise Beaudoin)

Maddie:  "Just trying to help the big guys out while they're on break."

Maddie: “Just trying to help the big guys out while they’re on break.”

Our beautiful Little Stone Church.

Our beautiful Little Stone Church.

British Landing flowers.

British Landing flowers.

I’ll see you back here in a few day.  Have a great week.  God bless.

Lady Liberty Returns to Mackinac Island

On the 12th anniversary of that September day when all our lives changed forever, Mackinac Island’s own Statue of Liberty returned to her home and became part of the Island’s Patriots Day celebration.

The statue was originally donated to the Island in 1950 by the Boy Scouts of America, marking their 40th anniversary, which had the theme “Strengthen the Arm of Liberty”.  Over 200 of the statues were donated to communities in 39 states, but the statue here on Mackinac is the only one given to the State of Michigan.  The statues are about 8 1/2 feet tall – without a pedestal – weigh about 300 pounds, and were made by a company in Chicago.  Our statue’s big sister stands in New York harbor, is more than 305 feet tall from the ground to the top of her torch, and weighs more than 150 tons.

The Statue of Liberty replica on Mackinac Island has been used every fifth year to commemorate the attacks on 9/11/2001, and the Patriot Day services were conducted at that  location in 2006 and 2011.

Mackinac Island’s Statue of Liberty, as she stood near the marina from May 28, 1950, the date of her dedication, until November 28, 2012.

The replica withstood 62 years of harsh northern Michigan winters and was in need of the kind of repair work only a specialist could handle – dents in the copper skin, seams that needed to be ground out or filled in, and spikes on her crown that  needed to be replaced. Masons, excavating crews and landscapers all needed to be involved.

American Legion post 299 on Mackinac Island wanted to refurbish the statue and bring it back to its original form.  Post 299 Commander Paul Wandrie, said, “We are calling our drive to repair and relocate this statue, the ‘Save Our Statue’ or ‘S.O.S.’ Project.”  The City of Mackinac Island also supported the project, the cost of which was estimated at approximately $61,000.

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On November 28, 2012, the statue was removed from her pedestal, with Winberg Masonry, Belonga Excavating, Davis Construction and Venus Bronze Works, Inc. involved in the project. 

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The statue was shipped to Venus Bronze Works in Detroit for the winter, where she underwent a complete makeover.  

On April 1, 2013 myself and my 2 brothers visited with the Statue of Liberty Replica in Detroit.  Giorgio Gikas, President of Venus Bronze Works was our tour guide around his shop.  Getting to see the statue was the reason why we were there.  This picture shows some of the work done.  Since he is preparing to solder the sections back together he must insure that these sections are perfectly cleaned.  The bottom portion will be attached to a brand new base that will be made of bronze.

On April 1, 2013 Paul Wandrie and his two brothers checked on the Statue of Liberty replica in Detroit. Giorgio Gikas, President of Venus Bronze Works, was their tour guide around his shop.  Wandrie stated, “Since he is preparing to solder the sections back together, he must insure that these sections are perfectly cleaned. The bottom portion will be attached to a brand new base that will be made of bronze.”

When Wandrie was contacted that the statue was finished (the pedestal still remains to be done), it all fell into place that the statue would return to the Island as part of the Patriots Day celebration on September 11, 2013.

Shepler’s Ferry donated the use of their freight boat, the Sacre Bleu, for the trip across the Straits, and boats from Arnold and Star Ferry Lines, the Mackinac Island Fire Department and the Mackinac Island Historic State Parks planned to join the boat parade accompanying the statue on her crossing.  Private boats were also invited to join in.

Paul Wandrie and Chris Shepler both granted me permission to come across on the Sacre Bleu with the statue, and that is how I came to be aboard when Lady Liberty returned to the Island.

Emotions were running just below the surface yesterday and kept threatening to emerge.  I boarded Shepler’s to travel to St. Ignace (where the statue had spent the night in a Shepler warehouse).  The statue’s Honor Guard, made up of Post #299 Commander Paul Wandrie, Mackinac Island Police Officer Ken Hardy, Mackinac Island Fire Fighters Jason Kladiva, Ron Langsworthy, and Jamie Bynoe, and EMT Mark Bielinski, were all aboard the same boat.  As I rode over I was thinking about the events of 9/11/2001 and remembering – as we all do – exactly where I was when I heard that breaking news broadcast when the first plane flew into one of the Twin Towers.  I was sitting at my desk in the Public Information Office of the Dougherty County School System in Albany, GA.  The morning was just beginning, and we had a day packed with assignments, paper work, and visits planned into several schools.  In the incredibly short time it took for a fellow worker to rush in from another office and shout, “Quick, turn on the TV!” (our office had the only TV in our 3-story building, as we were charged with keeping up with emergencies – weather or otherwise), all plans – and our entire world – changed.

When we walked into the St. Ignace warehouse and first saw Mackinac’s Statue of Liberty – refurbished, no dents, all spikes of her crown in place and sparkling clean, I began to feel tears welling up and a throat lump forming.

Yes - compared to her big sister in New York City, she was shorter and weighed less - but she was still the United States symbol of freedom from tyranny and oppression

Compared to her big sister in New York City, she is shorter and weighs less; but she is still the United States’ symbol of freedom from tyranny and oppression, and – even in a warehouse – she carries the dignity and power of what she symbolizes like the great lady she is.

The Honor Guard gently lifted the statue . . .

The Honor Guard gently lifted the statue . . .

. . . and placed her on the flatbed wagon she would rest on during her trip to Mackinac.

. . . and placed her on the flatbed wagon on which she would rest during her trip to Mackinac.

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The gentleman on the left is John Eagan.  It was John and his boss, Giorgio Gikas, President of Venus Bronze Works, who did all the meticulous work on Lady Liberty.  The statue was taken apart, dents were removed, and new cooper sheets were applied – followed by new layers of wax and a patina for a glossy finish.  Her old book and stand had been wood on the interior, and it had rotted.  The book and stand are now hollow and covered in copper and wax.  There are copper supports that run through the statue like tree branches for added support.  Eagan said, “The more we worked on it, the more it became a real labor of love.”

The statue was pulled outside . . .

The statue was pulled outside . . .

. . . and loaded onto the Sacre Bleu.

. . . and loaded onto the Sacre Bleu.

One of the firemen laid his helmet next to her

One of the firemen placed his helmet next to Lady Liberty’s face, and it was then the emotions of the massive loss of the 9/11 event coalesced into tears that spilled over.

Chris Shepler piloted us across the Straits as other vessels began to fall into place with the Sacre Bleu.

Chris Shepler piloted us across the Straits as other vessels began to fall into place with the Sacre Bleu.

We were joined by Arnold's Ottawa . . .

We were joined by Arnold’s Chippewa . . . 

. . . the Mackinac Island Historic State Parks landing craft . . .

. . . the Mackinac Island Historic State Parks landing craft, captained by Robert McGreevy, with Myron Johnson as deck hand . . .

. . . and Star Line's new Anna May.

. . . and Star Line’s new Anna May.

As we sailed into the harbor, the Ottawa's fire hoses, manned by St. Ignace firemen, opened up with a huge spray . . .

As we sailed into the harbor, the Chippewa’s fire hoses, manned by St. Ignace Fire Department Lt. Matt Bowlby and Fire Fighter Nate Montie, opened up with a huge spray . . .

. . . joined by the spray from the Mackinac Island fire boat.

. . . joined by the spray from the Mackinac Island Fire boat.

Passengers aboard an outgoing Star Ferry all stood as we passed.

Passengers aboard an outgoing Star Ferry all stood as we passed.

A Color Guard and a large crowd awaited the statue at the dock . . .

A Color Guard and a large crowd awaited the statue at the dock . . .

. . . where Lady Liberty was off-loaded . . .

. . . where Lady Liberty was off-loaded . . .

. . . and began her trip through the streets of Mackinac to the Stuart House Museum.

. . . and began her trip through the streets of Mackinac to the Stuart House Museum.

The Honor Guard gently removed the statue from the flat-bed . . .

The Honor Guard gently removed the statue from the flatbed . . .

. . stood her gleaming and straight back on Mackinac Island, her home since 1950.

. . and stood her gleaming and straight back on Mackinac Island, her home since 1950.

Back home and surrounded by the people of Mackinac Island.

Back home and surrounded by the people of Mackinac Island.

The Patriots Day program was filled with speakers who spoke eloquently and emotionally about the bravery of Americans, not only on 9/11, but during all the wars in which we've fought.  (Click on individual photos to enlarge.)

The Patriots Day program was filled with speakers who spoke eloquently and emotionally about the bravery of Americans, not only on 9/11, but during all the wars in which we’ve fought. (Click on individual photos to enlarge.)

After the program and time for photo opportunities, the statue was carried into the Stuart House . . .

After the program and time for photo opportunities, the statue was carried into the Stuart House Museum . . .

. . . where she will remain until funds have been raised to complete her pedestal.  (Photo: Steven Blair)

. . . where she will remain until funds have been raised to complete her pedestal. (Photo: Steven Blair)

When the remaining funds have been raised, the statue will be centered approximately 100 feet west of where she formerly stood, which will give her a more prominent location.  At this new spot, she will be seen by more people entering the harbor, and she will be more easily seen from the roadway.

 The project to refurbish this replica of a national treasure has in a few short months raised all but approximately $17,500 of the $61,000 needed.  Funds have come in from individual donations by  Island residents, by visitors to the Island, from the State of Michigan, and from across the country.  On September 11, 2013, Paul Wandrie said, “Thank you to everyone that has helped us along the way, and we look forward to receiving the rest of the funds so we can get Lady Liberty back to the marina. “

If you’d be interested in participating in this patriotic cause, donations can be sent to: American Legion Post 299, P.O. Box 1518, Mackinac Island, MI 49757 (checks should be made payable to American Legion Post #299).  Or, if you’re on the Island and would like to donate in person, that can be done at the DPW Office on the 2nd floor of the Community Hall (see Bruce or Ellen).  There is also a Paypal account where donations can be made.  Simply  go to the picture of the statue on the Legion’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/AmericanLegion299?ref=br_tf), and click on it.  All donations are tax-deductible.

It’s on days like this that the magic of Mackinac can almost physically be seen winding its way along the streets and through the crowds.  The people of Mackinac Island have always been a close-knit, kind and compassionate community.  When something of theirs is in need of repair or replacement, they come together and find a way to make it happen.  So it’s been with the refurbishment of Mackinac Island’s replica of the Statue of Liberty, and so it will continue to be for generations to come.

Stand tall, Lady Liberty.  We look forward to you soon taking up your new post at the entrance to the harbor!

God Bless America!

Riding After Labor Day 9/6/2013

Thursday was one of those perfect Mackinac days (ok, ok, I KNOW I say that a lot) – the sun was warm, the breeze was cool, the sky was blue, the waves were dancing, and M-185, the highway around the island, was all but deserted.  In my bike basket I stuffed my camera (both lens), sweatshirt (in case it got too breezy on one side of the island – which it nearly always does), water bottle, purse (might need something at the Cannonball) and iPhone.  I turned on my “MapMyRide” app and coasted as fast as the law allows (20 mph) down Cadotte, turned right on Mahoney, then right on M-185.  I was on my way!

I always right around the island "clock-wise" - mainly because 90% of everyone else rides counterclockwise, and I like riding on the side with the fewest people.  After Labor Day is doesn't really matter.

I always ride around the island “clock-wise” – mainly because 90% of everyone else rides counterclockwise –  and I like riding on the side of the road with the fewest people. After Labor Day is doesn’t really matter, but I headed west as usual.

I started out around 2 o'clock, and the sun was turning the blue water into

I started out early in the afternoon ,when the sun was turning the blue water into a glittering canvas.

It was so quiet on the highway I could hear only the sounds created by nature - birds calling back and forth, waves splashing against the shore rocks, the wind singing through the trees.  Ahead of me, around almost every turn, I could glimpse the blue water of Lake Huron.

It was so quiet on the highway I could hear all the sounds created by nature – birds calling back and forth, waves splashing against the shore rocks, and the wind singing through the trees. Ahead of me, around almost every turn, I could glimpse the blue water of Lake Huron . . .

. . . . and above me the Michigan blue sky, mottled only slightly by wispy clouds.

. . . . and above me was the Michigan blue sky, mottled only slightly by wispy clouds.

I stopped only a few times in the first 3 1/2 miles, but when I got to the Cannon Ball, I became obsessed with capturing the seagulls.  Because there were no crowds, the bored seagulls were very patient with me.  I offered no food so they mostly ignored me and hardly moved until I was practically on top of them.

I stopped for pics only a few times in the first 3 1/2 miles, but when I got to the Cannonball, I became obsessed with photographing the seagulls. Because there were no crowds handing out food (or accidently dropping it) the bored seagulls mostly ignored me and hardly moved until I was practically on top of them.

Click on each seagull to enlarge.

Click on each seagull to enlarge.

Between the birds and trying to get a perfect photo of a wave hitting a rock, I spent probably 20 minutes at the Cannonball.

Between the birds and trying to get a perfect photo of a wave hitting a rock, I spent probably 20 minutes at the Cannonball.  I never did get that perfect wave.

You just can't leave British Landing without one photo of the cannon.

You just can’t leave British Landing without one photo of the cannon.

Ok.  Here's a mystery I wish someone would help me with.  About 1/2 mile before I reached Arch Rock I saw - way out on the horizon - a sailboat.  To the left was what looked like trees.  The mystery is: what are the images out in the water around the sailboat?  I don't think it's land, and I don't think it could be other boats.  This photo was using my long lens zoomed as far out as it would go . . . .

Ok. I hope someone could help me with this mystery. About 1/2 mile before I reached Arch Rock I saw – way out on the horizon – a sailboat. To the left was what looked like trees along a shoreline.. The mystery is: what are the images out in the water around the sailboat? I don’t think it’s trees on land, and I don’t think it could be other boats. This photo was using my long lens zoomed as far out as it would go . . . .

. . . . and here I've cropped it as close as possible.

. . . . and here I’ve cropped it as close as possible.  Optical illusion of some sort?

If you're one of those visitors who doesn't think your trip to Mackinac is complete unless you've climbed the steps from M-185 to Arch Rock (or vice-versa), you probably know the steps were partially destroyed by a late snow and ice storm in the spring of 2012.  It's taken almost a year-and-a-half to repair them (they are redoing ALL the steps, not just those wiped out by trees in the storm).

If you’re one of those visitors who doesn’t think your trip to Mackinac is complete unless you’ve climbed the steps from M-185 to Arch Rock (or vice-versa), you probably know those steps were partially destroyed by a late snow and ice storm in the spring of 2012. It’s taken almost a year-and-a-half to repair them (they are redoing ALL the steps, not just those wiped out by trees in the storm).

. . . .

The men working on this project have toiled on steep inclines in rocky and wooded terrain.  The gentleman shown here was digging rocky soil with a shovel and then switched to a drill to get through the rock.  The steps should be completed and open to traffic with the opening of the 2014 season.  Awesome job, guys!

Another Mackinac Island icon that can't be passed without a photo.  Unlike the cannon, this one changes throughout the day as the sun passes by.

Another Mackinac Island icon that can’t be passed without a photo. Unlike the cannon at British Landing, this one changes throughout the day as the sun passes by.

My last stop was Mission Point Resort.  As I turned into the bike parking lot near the gazebo, workers turned on the sprinklers, and I thought, “Oh, darn!  There goes THIS photo shoot!”  Boy, was I wrong!

Each year the gazebo's flowers get more beautiful.

Each year the gazebo’s flowers get more beautiful.

Masses of Black-Eyed Susans provide a riot of color in the flowerbeds surrounding the gazebo.

Masses of Black-Eyed Susans provide a riot of color in the flowerbeds surrounding the gazebo.

vvv

Ahhhhhh . . . . .

kkkk

My favorite shot . . . twin rainbows arching toward the gazebo.  Right place at the right time!

Next week will be a busy one with a great story coming toward the end of the week about the return of Mackinac’s own Statue of Liberty back to the island in time for Patriots Day on September 11.  I’ve gotten permission to be on board the boat bringing it back to the island, and I’m so excited to be able to tell this story. 

Wishing you all a fantastic weekend.  God bless.

School is in Session . . . but Summer is not Over! 9/4/2013

Michigan is a tourism state, and therefore it’s a state law school cannot open before Labor Day.  So while most of the country’s schools have been going strong for a week or more, Mackinac Island students have had extra days to work summer jobs or just ride bikes and horses and have fun.

All good things must come to an eventual end though, and Tuesday Mackinac Island Public School opened its doors for the 2013-14 school year to approximately 85 students K-12.  The great exodus down the hill from our neighborhood in the Village began Tuesday morning as we heard shouts of excitement and laughing voices go by our condo.   There are a few students who don’t live up in the Village, but the majority of them walk or ride right by our condo each school day.

A little before noon Ted and I followed their path down the hill and into the school yard for the annual Back to School Community Picnic.  The entire island is invited to attend and show support of education and children staying in school.  A large number turns out each year – including the Mayor, City Council and other City officials, and Fire and Police officers.  The children of Mackinac never doubt they are supported fully by their community.

We crested the little knoll that partially hides the school from Cadotte Avenue to find folks already seated and eating.

We crested the little knoll that partially shields the school from Cadotte Avenue to find folks already seated and eating.

Smoke rose from twin grills as School Superintendent/Principal David Waaso flipped burgers and hog dogs like a pro.

Smoke rose from twin grills as School Superintendent/Principal David Waaso flipped burgers and hot dogs like a pro.

We grabbed buns, burgers, salad and watermelon - then tried to find a seat.

We grabbed buns, burgers, salad and watermelon – then tried to find a seat.

 
Most of the students had already eaten by the time we arrived and were busy doing what children do - having fun!

Most of the students had already eaten by the time we arrived and were busy doing what children do – having fun!

 
The finale of the picnic was the flying of huge flags in celebration of a new school year.  We have flags available to purchase on Mackinac, and there are always employees flying demos on Windermere Point during the summer.  Today the flags were at the school yard and set up to all rise at once.

The finale of the picnic was the flying of huge kites in celebration of a new school year. We have kites available to purchase on Mackinac at Great Turtle Toys, and there are always employees flying demos at Windermere Point during the summer. Today the kitess were at the school yard and set up to all rise at once.

 
At the appropriate time the kites were released . . .

At the appropriate time and to swelling music,  the kites were released . . .

 
. . . and after a few snags and one kite in a tree (doesn't it always happen to one?), they were aloft!

. . . and after a few snags and one kite in a tree (it always happens to one), they were aloft!

 
After the kite release, students reentered the school to hear a motivational speaker. I left Ted and Larry discussing the problems of the world and went in search of pretty scenes to photograph.

After the kite release, students reentered the school to hear a motivational speaker. I left Ted and Larry discussing the problems of the world and went in search of pretty scenes to photograph.

Since being trapped inside so long not feeling well, it’s as though I have this unbelievable craving to make sure I capture Mackinac during these final days of summer . . . before Fall arrives in all its gorgeous – but completely different – colorful wardrobe.

There are just not enough adjectives to describe this summer's street baskets.  Jack Barnwell and his crew outdid themselves this year - both on the streets and at so many public buildings and private homes.  By the way,

There are just not enough adjectives to describe this summer’s street baskets. Jack Barnwell and his crew outdid themselves this year – both on the streets and at so many public buildings and private homes. By the way, Jack has a book out called Gardens of Mackinac Island that they can’t keep on the shelves at the Island Bookstore and Little Luxuries.  Awesome book with photographs that will make you want to rush out and buy every flower you can find, dig up all your flowerbeds, and start all over again.  But maybe you better wait until next summer for that :).

 
I think this was a flowerbed along the front of the Lakeview Hotel.

From a flowerbed along the front of the Lakeview Hotel.

 
The Monarchs have arrived!

The Monarchs have arrived!

Again, I'm speechless at the flowers in front of this gorgeous cottage on the board walk.  And as a backdrop - two grand buses take a break before heading for the ferry docks.

Jaw-dropping beauty in front of a gorgeous cottage on the board walk. And as a backdrop – two grand buses take a break before heading for the ferry docks.

Same freighter - same buses . . . .

Same freighter – same buses . . . .

. . . and from behind.

. . . and from behind.

Behind some twisted old lilac branches, a backyard remains hidden.

Behind some twisted and ancient lilac branches, a backyard remains hidden from passing visitors . . . unless you look closely.

Heading back to the condo up and

Here I’m heading back to the condo up a sidewalk that a few days ago was full of visitors.  You can tell by the tip-tops of the trees along Cadotte that it was a windy day.

The largest kite was still flying above the school yard.

The largest kite was still flying above the school yard.

Turning around, I got the view looking down Cadotte . . . empty except

Turning around, I got the view looking down Cadotte . . . empty except for a private buggy, one taxi, a bike, and a couple of walkers.  The Grand flowers have a long way to go before the summer’s over for them – they remain spectacular!

This little girl passed me as I walked home.  She was returning from the first day of school

This little girl passed me as I walked home. She was returning from the first day of school – helmet firmly on her head, backpack attached – ensemble in perfectly coordinated shades of lilac.  No carpools, no school buses.  Everyone gets to school under their own power until snow covers the island . . . and the snow machines once again come out of hiding.

Happy Wednesday!