Way Back Wednesday – For the Love of An Island 2/8/17

Personal Note:  This post is titled “Way Back Wednesday” instead of “Throw Back Tuesday” because . . . . . . I forgot to do it yesterday (I’m old enough that I can use that as an excuse, and no one even blinks an eye)!

The post below is from November, 2009.  We were getting ready to leave the island and go back to our little lake house in Georgia, and I was reminiscing about the love I feel for Mackinac Island.  I still feel the same way – even eight years later.

I’ll be back tomorrow for Throw Back Thursday . . . . IF I remember.

Header:  An early morning delivery to the airport.  (Photo by Josh Carley).

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Let me tell you a story.  Ted and I were walking downtown Wednesday morning, going to the ferry to cross to St. Ignace.  We rounded a corner, and Mike (he is in charge of Carriage Tours downtown, which closed down for the season about a week ago) was coming toward us on his bike.  He stopped when he saw us.

“Brenda,” he said, “Did you lose your camera case?”

“I don’t think so,” I said.  I remembered briefly looking for it that morning to put my camera in to carry on the ferry but had just figured it was buried under something in the condo.

“Well,” Mike said, “Someone found one on a taxi a couple of days ago, and we think it’s yours.”

I wondered how many people had been on taxis with cameras in the last few days.  I told Mike I would check when we got back home, but I didn’t think it was mine.

We walked a few more blocks and ran into Smi Horn, going to the ferry also.  Smi is the Mayor Pro Tem and our neighbor in the Village.  “Brenda,” he said.  “Did you lose your camera case?”

I laughed out loud.  “I didn’t know I did, but now I am beginning to wonder,” I said.

“Well, someone turned one in over at the Lenox, and everyone thinks it’s yours.”  I told him we would go by the Lenox when we got back from St. Ignace.

We crossed over, looked at electric fireplaces (no decision), came back, saw Jill off, ate at Millie’s, went to the post office, then went to the Lenox – an office building for the city.  The first person I saw was Sheri, who works in the office where you pay for dray services. 

“Hi, Sheri,” I said.

“Hi!  Did you lose your camera case?” she asked.  And she turned around and pulled my camera case out of a drawer.

“I didn’t even know I had lost it!  How did you know it was mine?”

It seems that Sheri had been on a taxi a couple of days ago and found the case on the seat.  She asked the driver who had been on his taxi that day.  Two of his riders had been “that couple up at Surrey Ridge with Bear and Maddie” (still known by our dogs, as you can see).

Sheri said she figured it was mine since I have been the one running all over town taking pictures all summer.

So my camera case and I were reunited, even before I knew it was missing.

This story sums up in a few words the reason why this is such a special place to me.  Over the summer, I have been everywhere on this island – meeting people, taking pictures, and asking questions.  I’d say we know an equal number of seasonal and year-round residents.  Living where we do in the Village has allowed us to meet both groups.  We have been welcomed by everyone – not immediately in some cases – but over time, the welcome has been extended.  I remember one day this summer a gentlemen who lives in the Village – someone I had never seen speak to anyone – called “Hi” to me from across the road.  I was so happy I almost cried, and we are now on a first name basis. 

Mackinac Island is not for everyone.  We have been in restaurants downtown, and we have heard tourists say, “Once you’ve seen the fudge shops and the fort, what else is there to do?”  Ted usually has to hold me in my seat so I won’t jump up, join them at their table, and explain that they haven’t even scratched the surface of the island.  Of course I wouldn’t do that, but I sure have wanted to.

We have made many  “beginner”  friends, folks with whom – over the summers to come – we hope to forge real friendships.  And one friend – Jill – I already feel I have known all my life.  An accidental connection?  I don’t think so.  I think God puts special people in our lives for special reasons.

I began this blog because I love Mackinac Island and because folks back home in Georgia wanted a way to keep in touch with us.  It began with 12 readers.  Now I have around 700 a day, and sometimes get eight or nine hundred.  One day, I almost reached 1,000.  Why?  Because there are so many people out there who love this island like I do and want to know everything about it.  Oh, I don’t mean the touristy stuff – although there are those questions also.  But most want to know what it is like to LIVE here – and for those folks, this blog has filled a niche.

I feel incredibly blessed to be able to spend 5 1/2 months here each year.  As I have said before, this island spoke to me when I first set foot on the ferry dock in June of 2000, and it continues to speak to me every day.  Its words come to me everywhere – in the woods, on the hills, past the horse barns, in the spring tulips, at the water’s edge, through the summer flowers, and from the fall leaves.  And the words are always the same – Your heart belongs here, and it always will.  I will give you joy and happiness and laughter. I will give you peace and quiet and rest and calm and contentment. You may travel to other places and love to visit there.  But only here will you find your heart’s true home.  Only here. 

The people in Georgia – our family and our friends – will always carry us back there, and I have a deep longing to get back to them now.  There will never be anyone on the island who will know me and love me like these precious people in Georgia do. They are my foundation and my history – people I have known and loved, in some cases, practically since birth, others for years and years.   I bring my love for them with me when we come  here.  The friends and family who came to visit this summer have begun to understand the love I have for this place, and they know it doesn’t diminish at all the love in my heart for them.  In a perfect world, we could have the people we love the most in the place we love the most.  But here on earth, that seldom happens.  That’s what I believe Heaven will be like – all of our loved ones gathered together in the most perfect place ever.  Can you imagine the joy!

Good Lord willing, we will all meet again right here on this island blog next spring.  I hope, through me this summer, you have grown to know Mackinac Island better and to love it even more.  And whether it is here, or another magical place, I wish you all your heart’s true home.   God bless.

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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.

Throw Back Tuesday – Have You Ever Had One of Those Days? 1/31/17

Personal Note:  For today’s Throw back Tuesday post, a goodie from May of 2009.  It was my first summer of blogging, and we were a few days from leaving for the island.  We were still in the process of decorating our condo, so we had much more stuff to carry than we could pack in the truck.

I love going back and reading these posts.  This one puts me right back at home in south Georgia, where we still have dear, dear friends we don’t get to see nearly enough.  Marianne and Cecil Lashley and Sally and Ed Feagin, this one is for y’all!

Header:  Kem and Ed Green, friends and blog readers from Iowa, are enjoying their first winter stay on the island this week.  They arrived on Sunday (no ferry on Sundays), so they flew over from St. Ignace.  Kem is sending lots of photos from their trip, and I’ll be sharing those in next Sunday’s blog.  And there will be a Throw Back Thursday blog on Feb. 2!

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First published May 14, 2009:  Yesterday we took all our boxes to the UPS store in Americus to ship.  We had five boxes, one rubber-banded together set of 7 golf clubs, and 4 pictures we had framed for the condo. We were going to have UPS package the golf clubs and pictures because we had cut a 50% off UPS packaging coupon out of the Sunday paper magazine section.

IMG_0074The young man who worked in the UPS store put one of the boxes on the scales and told us the box would be on the island on Friday,  and shipping would be $38.23.  I said, “We really don’t want it to be there Friday – we won’t be there by then.  We’d like it to get there Tuesday of next week.”  “Oh,” said young UPS man,  “then you can send it ‘guaranteed’, and that same box will cost $78.42.”  To which I replied sweetly, “Young UPS man, please explain how it can be twice as much to ship this box to arrive 4 days later?”  Bradley (I had looked at his name tag by then) said, “It’s because it’s GUARANTEED to be there on Tuesday.”  I said (still sweetly), “We don’t care if it is guaranteed, we just want it to not get there before we do.”  Bradley said, “Ma’am (it always ticks me off when a cute young man calls me ma’am), that’s the only other way it can go.  Either it costs $38.23 and gets there Friday, or it’s $78.42 and guaranteed to get there the following Tuesday.”

At this point my husband Ted, having lived with me for 20 years and recognizing the warning signs, stepped in.  Now Ted is the most tactful person who ever lived.  I mean if he were President, there would be peace throughout the world.  He says, “Bradley, why don’t you just package the golf clubs and the pictures for us, and we will take all of it to the post office to mail.”  Bradley said, “Sir that is an EXCELLENT way to ensure you won’t get them for at least two weeks.”  I said, “Which is exactly what we want, Bradley.”

We load all EIGHT boxes back into the truck (packaging had only cost $33.22 with the coupon), run by a hardware store and get a couple of house keys made, go to Wal-Mart, and head back to the lake, planning to stop at the post office close to home and mail the boxes.  We are about 2/3 of the way home when I notice the truck is slowing down.  I say, “Honey, why are we stopping?”  Ted says, “I have no idea, I’m not touching the brakes.”  We coast down a hill with no power and pull off on the side of the road.  Ted tries to crank the truck – nothing.  Ted looks under the hood – nothing out of the ordinary.  Ted calls AAA and is told it will be 45 minutes before the tow truck gets there to take us BACK to Americus to the dealership.

IMG_0086Here’s what happened over the next 3 hours:  We called Sally to come pick ME up to go get my car from the house so I could go get Ted in Americus if they had to keep the truck.  Sally, following Ted’s directions I might add, couldn’t find us.  When she didn’t show up, we called Cecil who passed Sally going in the other direction.  I called Sally, who told me she had been looking for us for an hour.  I told her never to listen to directions from Ted again.  The tow truck arrived, we unloaded our boxes into Cecil’s truck (who had no trouble finding us going by MY directions), and Ted and tow man started back to Americus with the truck.  Cecil said, ” Since the boxes are in the back, why don’t we stop at the post office and get them mailed?”  Wonderful!

The Cobb post office is a wonderful facility.  The building is a modular home sitting practically on top of a railroad track and is a total of maybe 200 square feet.  Inside is the nicest postmistress in the world.  Cecil and I walk in with 8 boxes.  She puts the first box on the scale and says,  “This box can be on the island on Friday for $13.26.”  Can you see where this is going?  I say, “Don’t want it there Friday, want it there Tuesday of next week.”  Nice postmistress says, “Well, for $11.46, it will be there in 10 days to 2 weeks.”  I grin really big and say, “That’s perfect.”  While the boxes are being labeled, Ted calls and says, “The truck will have to stay overnight, you need to come get me.”  I say, “I’m in the process of paying the $125.78 it costs to get eight boxes to the island in two weeks, and I still haven’t gone home to pick up my car.”  Ted doesn’t laugh.  Cecil volunteers to take me back to Americus to pick up Ted instead of taking me home to my car.  I say, “OK, but can we stop by that Mexican restaurant on the way into Americus and get a couple of shots of tequila?”  I’m just KIDDING!!!!!!  We pick up Ted, Cecil takes us home, and our one hour trip to ship boxes is finally over 5 hours later.

springatlakeThe redeeming part of this story is the truck did not wait to break down on Saturday when we were in Kentucky or Tennessee or Ohio on Interstate 75, with two dogs on board and no friends anywhere within 700 miles.  God is so good.

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.

Throw Back Thursdays 1/25/17

In the last few weeks quite a few emails and comments have arrived from folks who have just discovered Bree’s Blog.  Several have written really sweet notes and talked about their love for Mackinac Island and how excited they are to find the blog and read what it’s like to live there in the summer months.  Most are going back and reading seven years worth of blogs – now THAT will keep you busy for the rest of the winter, for sure!

Anyway, it got me thinking about all the blogs I’ve posted over the last seven years.  The one you’re reading now is number 851!

And THAT got me going back myself and reading some of the “old stuff”, which turned into a trip down memory lane – complete with groans at some of the things I’ve said over the years, tears over sad events, and peals of laughter at some of the predicaments I’ve gotten myself into.  And then, of course, there were those Bear and Maddie blogs!

An idea formed.  Facebook has Throw Back Thursday – why can’t Bree’s Blog?  So, from now until we return to Mackinac in July there’ll be a post here from the past on Thursday. Going back and picking out what will hopefully be some of the “good stuff” I’ve written over the years will be fun for me, and I hope entertaining for you.  I’ll still be around on Sundays too for new updates from the island, Florida, and wherever else we may find ourselves.

Let’s start with one called “The Inn is Open” – way back in April, 2009.  This is even back before I figured out to caption each photo!

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Ted and I are so excited.  We have put out an open invitation to friends and family to come up and visit this summer, and the “Horton Hilton” is filling up fast.

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July is pretty much filled up with immediate family – some coming earlier, some later, some in the middle – but hopefully they will ALL be there together for a few days.  That’s the plan anyway.  Children are so hard to pin down on dates and times – I know our parents felt the same way with us.  With their busy work and social schedules, it is just about impossible to plan ahead.  But, bless ‘um, they try hard to make BeBe and G-Daddy happy by showing up in Michigan as a “clan”.  They love the fact they can truly relax (well, except for those iphones and blackberries they have glued to their ears all of the time) on the island.

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I swear this year all electronic devices are going to mysteriously disappear five minutes after they arrive and miraculously be found five minutes before they leave.  BeBe has a plan on that.

We have family coming in from New Orleans the first week in June, and yesterday we found out that a couple of friends will be arriving mid-June and another couple the first week in August.  What fun it will be to share our island with people who have never been there.  I was trying to explain the feeling the island gives me to someone the other day.  I had talked about it with another island resident last summer and about how I couldn’t wait to have folks up this summer so they could experience it.  She said, “Well, some people will ‘get it’ and some won’t have a clue.”  I think it has to do with being able to let go of all you have known – the speed in which we live our lives, the constant hassle of getting here and going there, the noise – you have to be able to let go of all that and just immerse yourself in the island.  The first morning I woke up at the Chippewa Hotel (where we stayed for 8 summers before buying) and the first sound I heard was the clip-clop of horses hooves coming down Main Street, I thought “this is what relaxation is all about – this is what we have forgotten can exist, this is what we long for in the deep, deep corners of our heart – peace, nature at its purest, a step back in time to a more restful way of living.”  And maybe, like the island resident said, it’s not for everyone – but it sure is for Ted and I.img_clipclop

Personal Note:  Header – A snow owl on the ice.  Photographed by Clark Bloswick earlier this week.

Crossing Paths and Small World Magic 1/22/17

Hi Friends!

Don’t you just love when a story that began days or weeks or even years in the past reappears – and turns into an even better story?

Here’s what I mean:

In 2013 one of my readers, Lori Kittinger – who lives with her family in Michigan – contacted me about helping out with her daughter’s (Brittany) Senior pictures.  She had the photographer all lined up, but Brittany had dreamed of the pictures being taken on Mackinac Island.  My assignment was to scout out locations and maybe use a few “connections” to go beyond the normal touristy places.  I immediately signed up, thinking what a fun way to spend a day . . . and it was perfect!

We covered that island like the dew that day. I don't even want to think about how many times we climbed "the hill". But photos like this one on Grand Hotel's porch . . .

We covered that island like the dew that day. I don’t even want to think about how many times we climbed “the hill”, but photos like this one of beautiful Brittany on Grand Hotel’s porch . . .

. . . . and this one on Maryanka Alexander's gorgeous Friesian Regina

. . . . and this one on Maryanke Alexander’s gorgeous Friesian Regina made all the effort worthwhile.

Brittany’s Godmother, Lisa, a professional photographer, got beautiful images of Brittany at Anne’s Tablet, at the Somewhere in Time gazebo, at the Grand Stable (where we just happened to catch Ben leaving with a vintage buggy – one wish we thought we’d miss), and at Grand Hotel.  It was a wonderful day!

Lori, Brittany and I have remained Facebook friends ever since, and that’s how I knew Brittany, who is now a Junior in Education at Spring Arbor University in Arbor MI, was arriving in St. Augustine with a group of fellow students for a month of diversity training, visiting elementary and middle schools across this section of Florida.

I immediately contacted Lori and asked her to give Brittany my cell number in case she needed something a “mom” would normally handle.  I was only 30 minutes from where they’d be in St. Augustine, and Lori was almost 1300 miles away.  I could get to her at lot faster!

That was almost a month ago.

Brittany and I texted several times over her first weeks in Florida (it was also her very first time visiting the Sunshine State, and she loves it).  And we finally worked out a time we could meet for a short visit.

Last Thursday these six students (Brittany is on the top row, far left) and two others not picgtured arrived at the Fort Matanzas Visitors Center to meet Ted (as a former educator, he became part of their diversity training) and me.

Last Thursday these six students (Brittany is on the top row, far left) and two others not pictured arrived at the Fort Matanzas Visitors Center to meet Ted (as a former educator, he became part of their diversity training) and me.

While two of the group took off at a very fast pace to fulfill the requirements of becoming Master Junior Rangers, the rest of the group and me saw the fort (from a distance - still no ferry) and hiked the nature trail.

While two of the group took off at a very fast pace to fulfill the requirements of becoming Master Junior Rangers, the rest of the group saw the fort (from a distance – still no ferry) and hiked the nature trail.

Swearing in of Master Junior Rangers!

Swearing in of Master Junior Rangers!

Now here’s where it gets downright crazy!

This amazing group of young women (and one man) are standing in the Visitors Center talking to Ted and me, and Ted notices that one girl (Melanie) is wearing a Coopersville Athletic Department t-shirt.  He says, “I just recently discovered my birth mother’s family, and some of my cousins live in Coopersville.”

“What are their names?” she asked.

“Bennink,” says Ted.

“No way!  I live next door to Steve Bennink!”

Who just happens to be one of Ted’s newly-found cousins!

It turned out that Melanie's grandmother was Dave Bennink's(another cousin) 4th grade teacher!

It turned out that Melanie’s grandmother was Dave Bennink’s (another cousin) 4th grade teacher!

Can you believe it!?

The entire group left yesterday for the trip back to college, and Florida is a little less sunny today since they took back all their smiles. 

I just love young people!!

A FEW MACKINAC PHOTOS

The U.S. Coastguard heavy ice breaker Mackinaw sails through the fog one morning last week. (Photo: Tom Chambers)

The U.S. Coastguard heavy ice breaker Mackinaw sails through the fog one morning last week. (Photo: Tom Chambers)

A lone coyote comes off the west end ice. (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

A lone coyote comes off the west end ice. (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

A pretty pic of Pam Day's new snowmobile parked near British Landing.

A pretty pic of Pam Day’s new snowmobile parked near British Landing.

A perfect "pre" sunrise photo. (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

A perfect “pre” sunrise photo. (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

MISCELLANEOUS

—A magical image of our neighborhood with the moon reflected in both the ocean and our inlet. (Photo: Neighbor Bob Hewit - from his drone)

—A magical image of our neighborhood, with the moon reflected in both the ocean and our inlet. (Photo: Neighbor Bob Hewit – from his drone)

Same drone - taken from the A1A side of the neighborhood.

Same drone – taken from the A1A side of the neighborhood.  You can even see the intracoastal back there in this one.

Mr. Bodie - looking pleased as punch with himself.

Mr. Bodie – looking pleased as punch with himself.

Everyone have a great week!  Love and hugs, and God bless.