Throw Back Thursday – Snapshots from a Golf Cart – or How to Ruin Your Husband’s Golf Game in One Short Morning 2/23/17

Personal Note:  This was such a fun day for me!  Maybe not so much for Ted.

Header:  Ice in the water in front of the Chippewa Hotel on Wednesday, Feb. 22..  (Photo:  Terry Conlon)

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First Published September 23, 2009

Ted just started playing golf after he retired, so he is relatively new to the game.  Since we’ve been up here this summer, he’s played only once – with Duck, our neighbor.  This morning he got up with golf on the brain.  He walked over and asked Duck if he wanted to play, but Duck was going off island today.  He came back in the house, looked at me (as if he knew I was his only chance of not having to go alone) and said, “You want to come with me to play 9 holes?” 

Now even that statement is hilarious to me.  He knew I wasn’t going to actually “play” – what he wanted was someone to tag along who he could complain to when he didn’t hit well (or maybe that’s in baseball).  Anyway, it was a cloudy morning, and I didn’t really have any other plans, so I said, “Sure, I’ll bring the camera!”  Ted just rolled his eyes.

He had called yesterday for a tee time (10 a.m.), so we rode our bikes down to the pro shop at the Grand.  Jason, the pro, got us into a cart (the really fun part of this game as far as I’m concerned), and away we went.

The Grand has two courses – the Jewel and the Woods.  They are nine holes each, and the courses are about a mile apart.  When you finish the ninth at the Jewel, you hop on a horse-drawn shuttle for a ride up to the Woods for the second nine.  Ted was only going to play the Jewel.

I admit to knowing just about nothing about golf.  It is a sport, just like football, baseball, tennis, and volleyball.  And, as most of you know by now – if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time at all – I am not much of a sports fan.  As my husband will tell you with great enthusiasm, to me they are all GAMES.  People should play games for fun.  Therefore, no one should get all worked up over them.   If you don’t get to watch a football game as it is being played, you can always find out the score the next day – or the next!  To me, it is no big deal!  To Ted, it is the difference between life as we know it and some alternate universe!

As we were driving the cart (excuse me, as Ted was driving the cart) out to the first tee, I called our son Jason in Atlanta. 

“Guess where we are!” I said. 

Jason, who LOVES golf, said, “Where – and don’t tell me the golf course!” 

“Yep,” I said.  “Just about to serve off the first tee!”

Jason said, “You serve in tennis, mom.”

“I knew that,” I said.

Jason told me that I would get a totally different view of the island from the golf course.  He had played the Jewel last summer when he was here and came home talking about what a great course it was.

So Ted played golf, and I snapped pictures (making occasional helpful comments on his game).  Here’s the game in pictures – with captions. 

Ted, about to tee off on the first hole of the Jewel.

Ted, about to tee off on the first hole of the Jewel.

The fairway for the first hole. The grass was wet, and the greens were slow (I heard Tiger Wood say that one time).

The fairway for the first hole. The grass was wet, and the greens were slow (I heard Tiger Wood say that one time).

In a couple of weeks, this will be one of the most beautiful trees on the island. I must have taken 20 pictures of it last year from Cadotte Avenue.

In a couple of weeks this will be one of the most beautiful trees on the island. I must have taken 20 pictures of it last year from Cadotte Avenue.

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Can you believe it? Swans on Mackinac Island! NOT! These are actually swan impostors, posted in strategic locations on the golf course to scare away the Canadian Geese. It seems geese hate swans!

A beautiful shot down the fairway, over the trees, and into the water (that's the photograph, not Ted's golf shot).

A beautiful shot down the fairway, over the trees, and into the water (that’s the photograph, not Ted’s golf shot).

The steps led to the teebox on this hole.

The steps led to the teebox on this hole.

This was just beautiful. At first I was concerned because it was cloudy, but the clouds filtered the light so the colors were perfect. I think bright sunshine would have bleached out all the lush greens.

This was just beautiful. At first I was concerned because it was cloudy, but the clouds filtered the light so the colors were perfect. I think bright sunshine would have bleached out all the lush greens.

I think it was here that I asked Ted if this was a Par 10 hole.

I think it was here that I asked Ted if this was a Par 10 hole.

What can I say except - Wow!

What can I say except – Wow!

Another Par 10 hole!

No comment.

You can see the top of Turkey Hill through the trees here. If you look closely, you can see a couple turning the corner from the Governor's Summer Residence, starting down the hill toward town.

You can see the top of Turkey Hill through the trees here. If you look closely, you can see a couple turning the corner from the Governor’s Summer Residence, starting down the hill toward town.

The highest point of the Jewel. There is a bench sitting under these trees, and all I wanted to do was sit there and just look out.

The highest point of the Jewel. There is a bench sitting under these trees, and all I wanted to do was sit there and just look out.

Another view from that hill.

Another view from that hill.

A water hazard, with the Grand in the background.

A water hazard, with the Grand in the background.

On one of the last holes, we could look through the trees out over the roofs of town to the water.

On one of the last holes, we could look through the trees out over the roofs of town to the water.

How Ted finds all the balls in the odd places he hits them is beyond me. He told me several times that I am supposed to be watching where the ball goes when he hits it. I told him I do watch where it is supposed to go - but it never goes there. He didn't comment. Probably a good thing.

How Ted finds all the balls in the odd places he hits them is beyond me. He told me several times that I am supposed to be watching where the ball goes when he hits it. I told him I do watch where it is supposed to go – but it never goes there. He didn’t comment. Probably a good thing.

We were near Cadotte Avenue on the next to last hole. Carriages and taxis were going by - it was very distracting for Ted, especially when I would wave to everyone.

We were near Cadotte Avenue on the next to last hole. Carriages and taxis were going by – it was very distracting for Ted, especially when I would wave to everyone.

Me, in the golfcart.

Me, in the golfcart.

Ted, sinking a beautiful putt on the 9th hole.

Ted, sinking a beautiful putt on the 9th hole.

I had a wonderful time “playing golf” with Ted this morning.  He sweetly said he had really enjoyed having me along, so  I asked him when we could do it again.   I feel sure I just misunderstood him, but I could have sworn the words “pigs” and “fly” were in his answer.

Snow 2/19/17

When I think of Mackinac Island in the winter, it is with the wistful spirit of a south Georgia woman who hasn’t had nearly enough snow in her life.  I think some of that may be just the human condition of always wanting what we don’t have.

I’m pretty sure there are folks up north who dream of winters spent in Florida – warm beaches, sunglasses, big umbrellas in the sand (and tiny ones in tall, cool drinks), waves lapping up to toes (but not far enough to wet the beach blanket), and seagulls and pelicans doing dips and dives into the surf after fish and other sea creatures.  People in California probably yearn for time in New York, and Texas residents may dream of having a little cottage in New England.

But I dream of snow.  I know I’ve written variations on this theme before, and I know y’all are probably tired of hearing it.  But it’s such a part of me now that I could probably write at least a few sentences about my love of snow every single day.

When did my romance with snow begin?  I can tell you exactly.

Many, many years ago – a long, long time before Ted – I sat with friends at a table in Helen, GA.  We had gone up for a late Fall weekend in the mountains of north Georgia and were surprised beyond belief when, just as we were going to dinner, it began to snow.  It was the second time I’d ever seen snow and the first time I’d ever seen more than a few flurries.  We had reservations at a small charming restaurant off the beaten path and part-way up a mountain – actually it was an old home whose rooms had been turned into private little hideaways, with only a table or two sharing the same space.  Beautiful music was playing softly throughout the house, and somehow we were fortunate enough to be seated at a window.

I have no recollection at all of what I ate that night or even if the food was good.  All I remember is sitting at that window, chin propped on my hand, staring dreamily through lacey curtains as snow silently fell, settling on tree limbs and the front porch of this old house.  I could see the lights of a small town below us, twinkling off and on through the big, fluffy snowflakes.  I fell in love with snow that evening – the beauty, romance, stillness, silence and dignified grace of it.  I can pull that night up at will and remember being filled with  the quiet joy of that scene. It remains one of my fondest memories.

While searching for blog material today I kept going back to snow photos from Mackinac.  The ones below are shared by Greg Main, who spends his winters (and summers) on the island.

A Christmas scene on Main Street.

A Christmas scene on Main Street.

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Snowing so hard I can barely recognize it – but pretty sure this is Market Street.

Another view of Market Street, with snowmobiles

Another view of Market Street, with a few snowmobiles ready to take folks home.

The beautiful Metivier Inn, dressed in her winter best.

The beautiful Metivier Inn, dressed in her winter best.

The road that circle Fort Holmes.

The road that circles Fort Holmes – at sunrise.

Silent night, Holy night.

Silent night, Holy night.

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A panoramic view of the homes across from the Board Walk.

 

A groomed trail for the first Twilight Trek in January. Lanterns are hug to light the way.

A groomed trail for the first Twilight Trek in January. Lanterns are hung to light the way.

A real life Snow Village.

A real life Snow Village . . . .

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The Snow Village as she sleeps.

I know my love affair with snow is viewed with the biased eyes of one who has never lived with it day after day, or dealt with the miseries it brings to daily living and travel.  No, my affair with snow is “pure as the driven” Mackinac version – no cars to pollute it, no garbage thrown on top of it, no traffic jams caused by it.  Seeing Mackinac in the snow transports me back to the scene from that north Georgia window so many years ago.  And that’s the vision I choose to cling to over the years.

God bless.

 

 

Throw Back Tuesday – From Sails to Horseshoes 2/14/17

Personal Note:  I thought this was a perfect post today since it involves a good friend who I don’t get to see or talk to nearly enough anymore.  Today is Mary Stancik’s birthday (she was born on Valentine’s Day and will forever be known to those of us who love her as Mary Valentine).  She no longer works on Mackinac Island, but her great friend Teddie is still very much a part of her life!  Happy Birthday, dear Mary – please hug Teddie (my grand-horse) for me!

Header:  A sunset captured a couple of days ago by Clark Bloswick.

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This post was irst published in May, 2012:

A pony is a childhood dream. A horse is an adulthood treasure.”  Author unknown

Many little girls dream of owning a horse, but as a child, Mary Stancik wanted a sailboat.

It was perfectly natural.  Mary’s family was into sailing, and for many years Mary and her mom traveled to Mackinac Island to wait for her brother and father to arrive in the family boat, which they sailed annually in the Chicago to Mackinac Race.   Following each race, the family would spend a few days playing “tourist” on the Island, before sailing the boat together to St. Joe.  It was on one of those “after the race” vacations that Mary rode a horse for the very first time.

Mary remembers: “Dad and I rented a couple of horses from Jack’s Livery.  I still remember their names – Dad’s horse was Poncho, and mine was Bob.  We got up into the middle of the Island and wanted to take the right-hand trail back to town.  The horses had other ideas, obviously knowing the left-hand trail was the fastest way back to the barn.  My horse Bob sat right down in a patch of prickler bushes and refused to budge until we agreed to turn left.  We were back at Jack’s in less than an hour.”

And that was Mary’s last time on a horse until 35 years later – once again on Mackinac Island.

Mary has been the Director of Grounds and Golf for the Grand Hotel for several years now.  I met her three years ago when I was walking past the Grand, and Mary yelled, “Are you Bree, the blogger?” at me from the middle of the tulip bed where she was standing.  “Why yes I am!” I said, so excited someone recognized me.  A friendship was struck that day in the middle of red, yellow and white flowers, and it grows stronger each summer.

One of our first conversations was about horses.  Like Mary, I had watched Maryanke Alexander and Michelle Stuck ride their Friesians around the Island.  I’d never seen one before and neither had Mary.  At the very first Festival of the Horse – at the Breed Show – we both watched Maryanke and Michelle perform with their Friesians, and we both were hooked.  I soon learned Mary was even more hooked than I!

With Maryanke and Michelle’s encouragement, Mary took riding lessons at the end of that summer.  Suddenly, Mary’s mind was no longer filled with sails.  Instead, her dreams turned to shining black steeds, flowing manes, unbelievable power and beauty, and hearts almost as big as their massive bodies.  Mary wanted a Friesian.

Once more Maryanke and Michelle stepped in, looking for the perfect horse for Mary, who admittedly had little horse experience.  They found Teddie, who will be 14 years old this summer.  He is huge, he is shiny black, his mane – cut short because he was used to teach small children to ride – is not flowing, but it will grow.  And his heart – oh my goodness.

Mary purchased Teddie last fall and took lessons with him over the winter in Grand Rapids, where he was boarded.  This spring she brought him up to Hiawatha Hawk Ranch in Mackinac City for a few weeks, where he was cared for by Angie, Joe and Abigail Ostman, and it was the Ostmans who accompanied Teddie over to the Island last week (along with Mary).  Teddie handled his first ferry ride like a champ (a little dose of horsy tranquilizer didn’t hurt either).

From water to solid ground – Teddie’s first steps on Mackinac Island. (Photo: Jill Sawatzki)

Teddie shared his ferry ride with the gorgeous Hackneys from the Grand Hotel – or maybe they shared their ride with Teddie – anyway, they rode over together!

Walking up the Arnold Ferry dock toward town. Mary is leading Teddie, then that’s Angie, Abigail and Joe Ostman from Hiawatha Hawk Ranch.

Ben Mosley, in charge of all the Grand Hotel horses, leads two Hackneys up Market Street.

We make the turn up Cadotte Avenue. (Photo: Jill Sawatzki)

Up Grand Hill. Don’t you wonder what Teddie must have been thinking?

Making the turn toward what will be his new home . . . (Photo:  Jill Sawatzki)

The sign says it all, “Welcome Home, Teddie!”

What more could a good horse ask for? Green grass . . .

. . . and fresh hay.

Mary and the Ostman girls – Angie and Abigail.

Bear and I walked over to see Teddie this afternoon and found Mary busy mucking out the corral as Teddie munched on oats.  I sat down in the door of Teddie’s barn and brushed Bear as I watched Mary go about the business of being a horse owner.  She’d shovel a load of manure into the wheelbarrow, then turn and talk softly for a few minutes with Teddie – scratching his ears, sweeping down his neck with her hand, a love so big already shining between them that my eyes filled with tears.

No, Teddie isn’t a sailboat.  But who needs to sail across the water when you can ride across the land, astride one of God’s most beautiful creatures.

Welcome to Mackinac, Teddie.  What gifts you and Mary are to each other!

An Uncle and Nephew Meet at Last 2/12/17

Ted’s trip to Albuquerque this past week to meet his 94-year-old Uncle Ken Lachmann (his birth mother’s brother) turned into two full days of story-telling, family history sharing, and a relationship – already established through hours of phone conversations – that was cemented by their face-to-face meeting.  

Cousin Heidi (Ken’s daughter) picked Ted up at the airport Tuesday evening, and the next morning Ted and Uncle Ken met for the first time over breakfast at the assisted living complex where he has an apartment.  The next two days were filled with stories from both men’s pasts and with a guided tour of the New Mexico city and surrounding area.  Ted has found it very interesting to discover that so many of his birth family (grandmother, uncles, aunts and cousins) followed the road to education careers.  “It must be in our blood”, he keeps saying. 

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Uncle Ken and daughter Heidi, who also lives in Albuquerque.

Uncle Ken returned from World War II as an Army combat veteran and recipient of the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster.  When years battling the frigid winters of Michigan began to aggravate health conditions caused by combat injuries, his physician suggested a change of climate, and Uncle Ken moved his family to Albuquerque in 1966. He had an established career in education in Michigan, and was soon named principal to a school in Albuquerque. 

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During the Reagan administration he was named the National Distinguished Principal of the Year from New Mexico.

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What a surprise!  While going through a family album, Ted came across this photo of our condo on Mackinac Island, taken from a Carriage Tour wagon during a Lachmann family trip to the island in 1997 – 11 years before we bought there.

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Sightseeing!  San Felipe de Neri Catholic Church.  Built in 1793, it is one of the oldest buildings in the city.

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The Sandia Mountains divide New Mexico.  On the Albuquerque side, there is desert . . .

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. . . and via a tram system you can ride to and over the top of the Sandia Mountains and arrive at a ski resort!

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Sunset from the restaurant at the top of the Sandia Resort and Casino.  Ted joined Uncle Ken, Heidi, and Uncle Ken’s son Peter and his wife Lisa for dinner on his last night there.

Ted arrived home Friday afternoon, brimming with stories of his trip.  We’re both so happy this journey has continued to be one of happy “at-long-last” meetings.  Even though Ted’s birth mom is gone, her family has been welcoming in every way possible.  We look forward to meeting more of this wonderful group in the near future!

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Ted and his Uncle Ken.

MACKINAC NEWS

Another Bree’s Blog reader and friend, Yvonne Pitsch, spent part of last week on Mackinac.  I love that folks are going up during the winter!

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Yvonne in full snowmobile gear.  I think she has a “secret source” she grabs a snowmobile from when she’s there.  I’ll have to talk to her about that!

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And she chose a week where there was plenty of the white stuff!  (Photo: Yvonne Pitsch)

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From Jason St. Onge and the Mackinac Island Fire Department.  This was a practice session coordinated with the Detroit Fire Department.  Horn’s Bar and Grand Hotel provided the buildings for their drills, and the wonderful Windermere Hotel and Mayor Margaret Doud treated everyone in both departments to a prime rib dinner at Cawthorne’s Village Inn.  Love the dedication of these fire fighters – and the generosity of Mackinac Island residents and businesses! 

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A beautiful and ethereal panorama by Greg Main.

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Bobby Lee says he got soaking wet to get this shot, but it was sure worth it, Bobby!

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Peace, calm, quiet.  An almost Heavenly scene of the full moon over Little Stone Church.  Thank you, Gregg Neville, for sharing.

It seems everyone is loving the Throw Back Tuesday and Thursday features, so they’ll be continuing.  Wishing everyone a very happy Valentine’s Day on Tuesday!  Love you all!

God bless.

Visiting Mackinac in the Winter 2/5/17

You all know how I love visiting Mackinac during the winter.  I’ve gotten that opportunity three times, and if there was a way I could go every year, I’d be there in an instant.  With our Alaska trip in May already on the books (and the penny-saving in full swing), I knew a trip this winter was out of the question.  But I’ve just visited vicariously through Kem and Ed Green, and now you can do the same through their photos. 

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Kem and Ed are friends we met through Bree’s Blog. They’re from Iowa, and of all my readers, they would rank right up there in the top five as “almost” loving the island as much as we do. Kem has wanted to spend a few days on the island during the winter for several years now, and this week her dream came true.  They arrived on Sunday, and since the winter ferry takes that day off, they also got to fly over to the island for the first time.  They loved all seven minutes of the flight!

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When I got their visit details, I immediately texted friends Eugenia Murray and Pam Day, who are on the island during the winter.  I sent them a photo of Kem and Ed and asked them to be on the lookout to say hello.  Kem was in Doud’s on Monday and she said, “There was this woman who kept looking at her cellphone and then looking at me, looking at her cellphone and looking at me. She finally came over, showed me a photo of Ed and I and said, ‘Is this you?’ It was Pam Day!”  They just missed meeting Eugenia the night before in Cawthorne’s Village Inn. I had to confess to having them stalked.  Hmmm – maybe next time I should mention it to the “stalkees”!

Bless Kem’s heart, she came down with a bad cold the second day she was there and didn’t get in nearly as much hiking as Ed did.  But Kem’s dream of just nestling in, reading while watching the snow fall, and soaking up the quiet and calm of a Mackinac winter was thoroughly satisfied.  Ed took most of the pics that follow, as he roamed around the island for the next several days.

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The weekly street hockey game.  The Mackinac Wings won against St. Ignace 7-1!

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As usual, there is a lot of construction going on during the winter.  With very little snow and temps staying in the teens and 20’s, everything is moving along at a rapid pace.  Next summer Martha’s Sweet Shop will be replaced by a market and deli owned by Andrew Doud.

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And the Leather Corral will be a new shop – owner to be announced soon.

The Greens also report the Chippewa has new floors and a new bar, and Twist N Sprouts is relocating. 

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Ed got this great shot after snow arrived the night before.  The Scout Barracks building is on the left, and that’s the back of Fort Macknac in the center, with Lake Huron beyond.

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Love that Ed trekked up Cadotte to get this photo of our old condos. And yes, the one we owned is now on the market.

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Ice on the West shore.

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Cupola suites are being added on the east side this winter at Grand Hotel.

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The beautiful Bay View Inn in the snow.

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The highway on the east side of the island.

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One item of Kem’s wishlist for their winter visit was to go to the island library and read in front of the fireplace.   When she arrived she walked to the back of the library to see a very different view from when she’d been there this past summer. 

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She was delighted to find a huge jigsaw puzzle set up in front of the window, waiting for anyone who wanted to while away an afternoon.

But . . . . what she didn’t find was a fire in the fireplace.  Kem and Anne St. Onge, the librarian, were the only ones in the library that day.  She and Anne struck up a conversation, and Kem mentioned she was so looking forward to curling up with her book in front of the fire, but she understood why there  wouldn’t be one with so few people there.  And then one of those things happened that makes Mackinac so magical.

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Anne opened the grate, and built a fire.  And Kem’s wish came true. 

Thanks so much, Kem and Ed, for sharing your winter adventure with all of us!

MORE MACKINAC NEWS

This was Winter Festival Weekend, so the island was buzzing with visitors.  Among many other activities, folks got to participate in the opening of the Mackinac Ice Rink near the corner of Arch Rock Road and Huron Road. 

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Nora Bailey tries out the ice rink.

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The Bailey family (Mary, Jeri-Lynn and Nora – Brian was the photographer) also took part in the second Twilight Turtle Trek of the winter season.  Islanders and visitors were able to ski and snow-shoe for two hours along almost two miles of groomed, track set trails, lit by lanterns.  The final Twilight Turtle Trek will be March 4.

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Mary Bailey playing some Snow-Golf during Winter Festival

A FEW MORE FROM THE ISLAND

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Beautiful St. Anne’s Church on Friday.  (Photo: Tom Chambers)

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A Clark Bloswick sunrise (did you spot the bunny)?

BODIE NEWS

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Bodie turned 10 months old this week and added counter-surfing to his repertoire of tricks.  I turned my back to grab a drink from the frig, and he helped himself to the pimento-and-cheese sandwich I’d just made.  Oh, the mischief in those eyes!

AND FROM FLORIDA . . . .

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Visitors Dale and Jean, Spring Lake MI neighbors of newly-found cousins Dave and Diane Bennink, dropped by the Visitor’s Center at Fort Matanzas to meet Ted.  They were in St. Augustine for a few days of vacation in a warmer climate.

Speaking of newly-found family, Ted is flying to Albuquerque NM on Tuesday to spend a few days with his birth mother’s brother, his Uncle Ken.  Uncle Ken is 94 years old, and he and Ted have spent many, many hours on the phone since Ted discovered his birth mother’s family.  They can’t wait to meet in person and share stories, and I can’t wait to hear them when Ted returns on Friday. 

Have a great week!

God bless.

Throw Back Thursday – “Big Groceries” 2/2/17

Personal Note: Today’s Throw Back Thursday is again from 2009.  I promise I’ll jump around more as I continue to post these, but the blogs from our first whole season on Mackinac bring back such great memories for me – AND they’re informational!

Header:  Thanks once again to Kem and Ed Green for this photo from their winter trip to Mackinac this week.  It shows the East Bluff from the ferry dock.

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First posted: 5/28/09:  Today was a yucky day – yes, they DO occasionally occur on Mackinac Island.  It was cold, it was raining, and worst of all, I had to go buy “big groceries” on the mainland (I think buying “big groceries” is a southern term.  You go to the store to “pick up a few things” or you go after “big groceries”).  We had put it off for 10 days.  Now we have company coming in on Friday, and the trip HAD to be made.

I love the two grocery stores on the island.  There is Doud’s Market downtown, and there is the Harrisonville Grocery up in the Village (the Village is where the majority of the year-round residents live).  The Harrisonville Grocery is about three blocks further up the hill from us (yes, you can go even further up that hill).   If you wanted, you could get by without going off the island all summer for groceries by frequenting those two stores – and the drug store next to Doud’s (NOTE:  The drugstore is no longer there).  But, sometime you just have to buy those 12-roll packages of toilet tissue and paper towels, and the two local stores don’t stock that kind of thing.

I had a few things on my list I could not entrust Ted to figure out – a new shower curtain for the day-glo yellow bathroom, a new kitchen rug, a new lamp for the guest room, etc.  So I volunteered to go, and Ted was excited he didn’t have to (until I came home 7 hours later with a receipt list from Wal-mart’s that stretched all the way down our hall (I think I went a little overboard on the home decor).

IMG_0602Going to the grocery store off-island is a little different from going at home (at least getting there is different).  I called the taxi office at 10 a.m. and said I needed to be at the docks for the 11 o’clock ferry to Mackinaw City.  Then I put on all my wet/cold weather gear, grabbed my lists and Ted’s lists, and went out to wait.  As I watched people walk by in big coats and rain hats, I thought, “Every day on the island can’t be colorful and beautiful.  There have to some gray days, and this is one of them.  Just relax and go with the flow.”

The taxi came, and I asked Ted to get a picture of me climbing in.  This is not exactly what I meant. IMG_0607

This does give me the opportunity though to comment on one of the essential accessories for the island – the backpack.  I know not everyone reading this is as old as wood like I am, but I learned last year if you walk this island like we do and carry a shoulder purse around with you, you are going to end up as lopsided and hunchbacked as that Notre Dame guy.  So you get a backpack and keep yourself all evened up (Everyone asks me if my backpack is a Vera Bradley.  It does kind of look like one, but I actually bought it for $.99 off a bargain shelf at Walgreen’s).  Nobody believes that, but it is the truth.

I rode down to the ferry docks with one of my favorite drivers, Janeen.  Janeen loves Bear, and when I told her Bear had written a blog yesterday, she told me that the next time he writes an episode she wants to be in it.  On IMG_0610the taxi with me was Aaron, who I introduced myself to and asked his life story (when you write a blog, you cannot be shy).  He told me he was from California, and this was his second summer on the island as a bartender at the Grand.

When we got to the docks, I paid Janeen and carried my cold food container into the ferry office to wait with the other poor souls who had to leave on this dreary day.  The bad part was most of them would not be coming back after buying groceries.  They were off to other parts of the country, continuing vacations or going home.  As soon as the 11 o’clock ferry had unloaded its passengers for the island, there was a mad dash to the door to see who could be first in line to wait in the rain to get on the ferry.  I know better now.  That line IMG_0617isn’t going anywhere for at least 10 minutes.  They are just going to stand there and get wet.  How can you tell a local from a tourist?  A local is going to stand around and talk until the last minute and jump aboard the ferry as the gangplank is being pulled up.  A local is also going to go onto the ferry and sit at the back (to get off first), and read a book or a newspaper during the crossing (or take a nap).  A local would not be caught dead taking a picture of the Mackinac Bridge or the Round Island Lighthouse through the windows of a ferry (I’ll give you more of these tidbits as the summer goes on.)

When I boarded I gave the dock worker my parking ticket number.  When you are on Mackinac all season, you can buy a valet parking ticket.  The ferry line keeps your car in storage on the mainland. Then when you are coming across, you give them your number, they call ahead, and your car is magically waiting for you when you get off the ferry.

It was raining and cold on the mainland too.  I made the drive to the Cheboygan Wal-Mart in under 20 minutes.  It was raining there also – only harder.  I shopped from 11:45 until 3:30, spending maybe the last 20 minutes of that time in the grocery aisles.  I told the checkout lady that I needed everything bagged for the island, which was her cue to call the produce department for some banana boxes, the best box made for hauling groceries.  NOBODY wants to get on a ferry with 50 little plastic sacks.  She got all my stuff into two boxes, 3 plastic bags, and my refrigerated stuff went into the bag I had left in the truck.  You have to plan every trip around the ferry schedules, so I was eyeing the 4:30 ferry back to the island.

I got lost getting out of Cheboygan because of detours.  I pulled into a auto repair shop and asked a man who was working on a car how to get to the Mackinaw City highway.  He looked at me very strangely and pointed to the stop sign three feet from where we were standing.  He said, “At that stop sign, take a right and you are ON the Mackinaw City highway.”  He asked where I was from (both Ted and I get a lot of that-something about our accents).  I said south Georgia, and he said, “Lady you really ARE lost!”  He found that extremely funny – I didn’t.

IMG_0624I arrived back at the ferry docks with about 400 Detroit Chamber of Commerce people who were going over to stay at the Grand for a few days.  A porter loaded a cart with my stuff and groceries another lady was taking over.  They shrink-wrapped the whole cart, then covered it to keep it dry on the trip over.

I sat down in the back row with some other islanders and leaned back to observe.  All the passengers except the back row were conducting business.  I started to go ask the captain if he would make an announcement that all cell phones, iphones, and blackberries must be tossed overboard halfway across.  I mean, why come to Mackinac Island if you are bringing all your worries and work with you?  The person I had the most empathy for though was a beautiful blonde lady.  She really could have been a model, and she was dressed beautifully.  Only one thing wrong – white stiletto heels and white slacks.  Hello?  Rain. . . . horses . . . . wet streets . . . . horses . . . . not a good mix with white.

IMG_0627I finally made it home around 6:30 – with so many people arriving, the taxis were mega-busy (they are expecting a total of 1700 Chamber people to arrive tonight).  I rode up the hill with a group of island residents and their children.  One busy mom of three had been on the mainland all day with her kids and was planning on taking them to a play on the island tonight.  I was in awe of her patience and good humor, and then I remembered I used to do that too – a long, long time ago.  Janeen was in the taxi behind us, bringing other folks home.  We happened to be in the handicapped taxi – that’s why you see bars.  That bar thing lets down into a ramp so wheelchairs can be loaded.

Ted was waiting at the boardwalk to unload the groceries (and other stuff).  He pretended he had been busy all day, and I just gave him a look that said he couldn’t have been as busy as I had been.  “Sweetie, all you did was go to the grocery store,” he said.

And he was right – that’s all I did.

P.S.  Bear read all your comments and emails about his blog yesterday, and was very pleased that you enjoyed it.  I told him that many of you had requested that Maddie write one also.  Bear said, “Why?”

View from the Deck

One of the livery carriages you can rent and drive yourself.

One of the livery carriages you can rent and drive yourself.

Alexa . . . . .

Ted and I got “Alexa” for Christmas.  Alexa is the name of the lady hidden inside the Amazon Echo, a hands-free speaker you control with your voice.  Frankly, I had never heard of Alexa – or the Echo – until our son Jason put one at the top of his Christmas list. In fact it was the only thing on his Christmas list.  I ordered it from Amazon, and that was that.  Until Christmas morning, when Alexa turned up as Jason’s gift to us also!

We are having a lot of fun with Alexa, except for one thing.  In order to “wake up” Alexa, you have to call her name first, then give a command.  The problem is . . . . . we can’t remember her name.  And I have to say Ted is worse than I am – a lot worse!

“Baby,” he yells from the family room, “what’s the name of this thing – I want to get a football score.” 

“Alexa!” I yell back.

“Yeah!  Alexa!  What’s the score of the Falcons game?”  Please know this is just an example.  If the Falcons were actually playing, he would be watching them on TV. 

Alexa says, “The Falcons are beating Washington 23 to 17, with 9 seconds left to play.”

Ted says, “Thank you, Alexa.” (seriously, he does this)

Silence from Alexa.

Me: “Ted, you have to say her name before she will answer.”

Ted: “What’s her name again?”

Me: “Alexa.”

Ted: “Alexa, thank you!”

Alexa: “That’s what I’m here for.”

I mainly use Alexa to play music.  “Alexa, play the Beach Boys.”  Alexa: “I’m shuffling Beach Boys songs now.”  And there follows an afternoon of surfing songs.  I also ask her to time things I’m cooking (yes, I have timers on the oven and microwave, but it’s more fun to say, “Alexa, set the timer for 45 minutes!”).  Alexa also gives me the weather when I ask – for anywhere in the world.  “Alexa, is it going to rain today?”  “Alexa, what’s the temp in Atlanta right now?”  She will also give me the most recent headline news, movie and book reviews, etc.

Readers, if you share your home with Alexa also, I’d love to hear what you most like her to do.  I don’t want “our” Alexa to be unfulfilled and think she’s living with a couple of complete duds!

MACKINAC ISLAND

Islanders are praying for snow!  They got a light dusting yesterday, but there’s barely enough to keep the snowmobiles running on some parts of the island, and the reality of an ice bridge this year is getting dimmer and dimmer.

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Even the wonderful Meals on Snowmobiles program had to switch to REAL wheels this week because of lack of snow.  This program delivers hot  meals to shut-ins from the second Tuesday in January to the second Thursday in March.  (Photo: Jason St. Onge)

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Discarded Christmas trees at British Landing await the formation of the Ice Bridge (they’re used to mark the route from Mackinac Island to St. Ignace when the ice is thick enough to cross by snowmobile).  (Photo: Pam Day)

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Fog has been a visitor to the island this week, and street lights stayed on several extra morning hours.  (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

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Shoreline today – some unusual shore art!  (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

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Further into the interior the snow is holding on a little longer.  Pam Day rode up to the airport for this shot of the runway.

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Even though the island isn’t heavily covered with snow right now, it’s still a beautiful spot.  Life goes on regardless as a horse-drawn dray heads downtown past Trinity Church.  (Photo: Tom Chambers)

I was SO excited with the response to the “Throw Back Thursday” idea that I’ve decided to add a “Throw Back Tuesday” also.  That way there will be blogs three times a week until we return to Mackinac in July! 

That’s all I have today.  Oh, besides telling everyone how you might use Alexa, would anyone who’s read a really good book lately please share the title and author!  I am desperately seeking something to read!

Love y’all, have a good week . . . . and God bless.