Winter Mackinac Magic and Bodie’s First Writing Attempt 1/15/17

Hi All!

Winter has come and gone in Florida!

Winter has come and gone in Florida!

You think I’m kidding, but I’m not.  We had a couple of REALLY COLD days and nights – it even got into the thirties a time or two.  But, not to worry.  We’re now in the 70’s again, and I have to say it’s pretty darn perfect weather right now!

It was even nice enough to some of the Sunset Inlet ladies to eat outside at a great little restaurant we discovered recently - Hammock Organic Café and Boutique. Can't beat getting to eat and shop in the same place! Yummy!

It was even nice enough for some of the Sunset Inlet ladies to eat outside at a great little restaurant we discovered recently – Hammock Organic Café and Boutique. Can’t beat getting to eat and shop in the same place!

On Mackinac it’s 29 today, and for the next two weeks it looks as though 35 or 36 may be the high temp.  All the photos below are compliments of Clark Bloswick except for two.

Tuesdays are trash days downtown, and a little snow storm doesn't stop these hard and hardy workers and horses from completing their route!

Tuesdays are trash days downtown, and a little snow storm doesn’t stop these hardy workers and horses from completing their route!

On Saturday morning the Mighty Huron was cutting through swome surface ice as it arrived early in the morning.

The Mighty Huron plowed through some surface ice as it arrived early one morning this week.

Yesterday marked the end of seeing the 1,000 foot freighters until at least March. The Soo Locks closed today.

Yesterday marked the end of seeing the 1,000 foot freighters until at least March. The Soo Locks closed today.

A sunset earlier in the week - perfect lighting. How can Clark continually be in the right place at the right time?

A sunset earlier in the week – perfect lighting. How can Clark continually be in the right place at the right time?

Sunday morning serenity.

Sunday morning serenity.

Those hard working horses have to eat. A hay wagon heads for the barn after loading at the ferry dock.

Hard-working horses have to eat. A hay wagon heads for the barn after it was loaded at the ferry dock.

Full moon hangs over a blockhouse at Fort Mackinac.

Full moon hangs over a blockhouse at Fort Mackinac.

Looking across Lake Huron toward the bridge in the distance. Looks like the shore ice is setting up.

Looking across Lake Huron toward the bridge in the distance. Looks like the shore ice is setting up pretty well.  (Photo: The Island House)

Loved this pic of two friends, Pam and Meredith, leaving for a day of fun on snowy Mackinac!

Loved this pic of two friends, Pam and Meredith, leaving for a day of fun on snowy Mackinac!  (Photo: Craig Harris)

BODIE’S FIRST WRITING ASSIGNMENT

Hey!  It’s me – Bodie.  Mom said I could try and write a very short blog today.

I only have two questions. What's a blog, and what's writing?

I only have two questions. What’s a blog, and what’s writing?

So.  Mom tried to explain it to me.  She said a blog is where you tell someone out in space about something that is interesting to you or about something you like doing.

I got this.  I like food – dog food (dry and canned), people food (when I can steal it), trash can food (dry and wet), street food (little pieces of paper, bugs, smashed water bottles, lizards (after Maddie kills them), rocks, twigs, dried up chewing gum, bird seed.  You get the picture.  Oh, and poop – but Mom says I don’t like it as much as Bear did – not yet anyway.  I’ll have to work on that.

What else do I like?

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My crate!  I sleep in here at night, but I also grab naps here when Mom’s working or watching tv in this room.  I also stay in here when Mom and Dad leave the house.  I think that’s because they are worried I’d un-stuff the couch if they left me free.  And I can’t say that I wouldn’t.

What else.  I LOVE dryer sheets!  I stand in front of the dryer when Mom gets the clothes out, and we have a race to see who can spot the dryer sheet first.  Mom usually wins because she can see INSIDE the dryer.  I have to wait and see if mom doesn’t spot it.  In that case it just falls out of the dryer on the floor, and I’m on it like a wolf.  I’ve only managed to swallow two so far – because Mom is pretty good at prying my jaws apart.  She was worried after I swallowed the first one, but something called “Google” told her they weren’t very dangerous if they’d already been through the dryer.  And – like most things I swallow – it all came out ok in the end.

I love being outside! Last night we were out on the deck and our neighbors next door had their little 8-mon-old granddaughter out on their third floor deck. She was trying to talk to me so hard! I loved watching her!

I love being outside! Last night we were out on the deck and our neighbors next door had their 8-month-old granddaughter out on their third floor balcony, and she was talking to me through the rails.  I don’t know why the grown-ups couldn’t understand what she was saying.  I understood her perfectly!

Mom is saying “that’s enough for the first time, Bodie”, so I will end for now.  Mom just read what I wrote and said it looked like I was going to do pretty good as a blog writer – especially for a kid!  I didn’t know she was serious though until she hugged me and said I was a good boy.  I really, really, really like when she calls me “a good boy” – because that is usually followed by a treat, which is the BEST kind of dog food EVER!

Did I mention I like food?

Ok, ok, Mom.  I’m stopping now!

Mom also says I’m a little too chatty at times.

Who, me?

Who, me?

______________________________________________________________________

Personal Note:  I received the following notification from Feedspot Blog last week:

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I hope some of you out there will know more about this than I do!  When I opened the link, I learned that Bree’s Mackinac Island Blog was listed as the 14th most popular ISLAND blog among the thousands of island blogs Feedspot holds in their index.  The rankings change by the week and are based on Google reputation and Google search ranking, influence and popularity on Facebook, twitter, and other social media sites, quality and consistency of posts, and Feedspot’s editorial team and expert review.

As I said, I don’t really know what any of that means, but I say a very big “Thank You” for the designation!  And a huge thank you to all my readers who encourage me daily to keep writing!

Love you all, and God bless.

Days of Summer 6/12/16

Oh my gosh, it’s been a busy week!  It started off with Tropical Storm Colin roaring through (no damage – just a lot of rain) on Sunday night and all day Monday and was followed quickly by the arrival of Jason, Jennifer, and Jennifer’s little boy, Alex, from Atlanta on Tuesday.  It’s been a long time since we’ve had a six-year-old in the house, and we’d all but forgotten how much fun it is!

Alex had a blast meeting the dolphins at Marineland (he even got to feed the dolphins and learned how to ask them to do tricks) . . .

Alex had a blast meeting the dolphins at Marineland  (he even got to feed the dolphins and learned how to ask them to do tricks – which they instantly obeyed!)

. . . . he toured Fort Matanzas National Park, did all the required activities . . .

He toured Fort Matanzas National Park, did all the required activities . . .

. . . and was sworn in by Mr. Ernie as an official Junior Ranger!

. . . and was sworn in by Mr. Ernie as an official Junior Ranger!

We went to the European Village one evening for dinner . . .

We went to the European Village one evening for dinner . . .

. . . and we all watched the sun go down several nights from the top deck. Oh, and Alex and Maddie became really good buddies!

. . . and we all watched the sun go down several nights from the top deck. Oh, and Alex and Maddie became really good buddies!

Add to that boat time . . .

Add to that boat time . . .

. . . and beach time, and you can see how fast the week went!

. . . and beach time, and you can see how fast the week went!

 

It's always sad when company leaves, but we sure enjoyed them being here! And the house seems WAY too quiet today!

Heading back to Atlanta on Saturday morning.  It’s always sad when company leaves, but we sure enjoyed them being here! The house seems WAY too quiet today!

After three weeks of back-to-back visitors, it’s time to settle down and begin to mark off the calendar days until our trip north for three months on Mackinac Island.  The weather in Florida is getting hotter by the minute, but we’ve learned if you limit your outdoor time to the hours before 11 a.m. and after 7:00 p.m., you can pretty much enjoy part of each day.  But . .  we’re looking forward to the cooler temps on the island, as well as seeing all our friends there.

As I’m writing this on Sunday afternoon, the island is gearing up for the 4:00 p.m. start of the Lilac Festival Parade.  I so hate that we’ve missing it this year, but I’m sure someone will share some pics for later.

Friends and readers who are there are reporting the lilacs are FANTASTIC this year! I loved this photo shared by friend Misty Martinchek.

Friends and readers who are there are reporting the lilacs are FANTASTIC this year! I love this photo shared by friend Misty Martinchek.

And this one by Clark Bloswick.

And this one by Clark Bloswick.

Another view of St. Anne's - this one from the West Bluff. (Photo: Maryanke Alexander)

Another view of St. Anne’s – this one from the West Bluff. I mean, seriously – how perfect is this scene!  (Photo: Maryanke Alexander)

Clark Bloswick perfectly captures a blustery summer days. Can't you just hear the seagulls calling out to each other as they search for lunch among the waves?

Clark Bloswick perfectly captures a blustery summer days. Can’t you just hear the seagulls calling out to each other as they search for lunch among the waves?

The island had a pretty impressive storm one night last week. Isaac Burrell's photo shows the approach of the thunderstorm over the Mackinac Bridge.

The island had some pretty impressive weather one night last week. Isaac Burrell’s photo shows the approach of the thunderstorm over the Mackinac Bridge.

Lunchtime at the ferry docks! (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

Lunchtime at the ferry docks! (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

I loved how Bobby Lee captioned this photo: "Sometimes Heaven finds you - right where you are."

I love how Bobby Lee captioned this photo he shot on a ferry trip across the Straits of Mackinac: “Sometimes Heaven finds you – right where you are.”

One of the things I'm missing most right now about Mackinac is its woods. Living in Florida means palm trees and palmettos - even in the woods. The lush, rich smell of damp soil heightened by green foliage and a base of last fall's leaves

One of the things I’m missing most right now about Mackinac is the woods. Living in Florida means palm trees and palmettos, and woods here are made up of trees and bushes that can only exist in salt air and sandy soil.  The lush, rich smell in the woods of Mackinac –  heightened by green foliage, wild flowers, and a pungent base of last fall’s leaves is not something Florida will ever replicate.  I miss it.  I miss it a lot.  When the luggage is unpacked and the groceries are bought, this is where you’ll find me when we get to the island . . . . maybe before the groceries are bought.  (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

INTRODUCING . . .  YOU!

I had three more readers waiting to be introduced when we lost Bear and my thoughts got taken totally away from everything but him.  I want to get back to those readers today!

Meet Beverly DeLauer, a Georgia girl who now lives in Cambria, CA. She's been reading the blog for two years, and found it through a "share" on Facebook.

Meet Beverly DeLauer, a Georgia girl who now lives in Cambria, CA. She’s been reading the blog for two years, and found it through a “share” on Facebook.  Beverly, besides sharing a home state, we also share a year of birth!

Pat and Gayle Steele from Vernon MI. I first met Pat and her daughter several years ago when they dropped by the Stuart House and introduced themselves. Pat and Gayle were married on Mackinac in 1971, and they usually visit twice a year. For 15 years Pat served as a Girl Scout Adult Leader at the Scout Service Camp of the Mackinac Island Governor's Honor Guard (Troop 609). Pat says, "Living and working on Mackinac Island for a week realy immerses you with that 'Mackinac Magic'"

Pat and Gayle Steele from Vernon MI. I first met Pat and her daughter several years ago when they dropped by the Stuart House and introduced themselves. Pat and Gayle honeymooned on Mackinac in 1971, and they usually visit twice a year. For 15 years Pat served as a Girl Scout Adult Leader at the Scout Service Camp of the Mackinac Island Governor’s Honor Guard (Troop 609). Pat says, “Living and working on Mackinac Island for a week really immerses you with that ‘Mackinac Magic'”  Pat and Gayle will be celebrating their 45th anniversary this year.

Meet Marshall and Terry Lambert from Marshall MI.

Meet Marshall and Terry Lambert from Marshall MI.  Terry found the blog for the first time when Bear was doing a guest post several years ago.  Terry says, “I still miss our Golden Retriever, and the blend of Mackinac Island and a Golden jumped out.”  They visit the island a couple of times each year.  The photo above was taken as they celebrated their anniversary at the Grand last fall.

I think that brings us up to date on the “Introducing . . . You!” series.  Please continue to send in your photos, where you live, when and how you discovered the blog, and any other short comments you’d like to share.  I will get them on the blog as I receive them.  Send to: brendasumnerhorton@hotmail.com.

MOVING ON . . . . A DAY AT A TIME

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This photo pretty much sums up the last few weeks.  There’s a big space that remains empty in our house and in our hearts. We’re moving past the worst of the grief though, and each day draws us closer to being able to open our hearts to a new fur baby.  I still have my moments though.  The other day I was fixing Maddie’s dinner, and I swear I saw something move out of the corner of my eye.  I turned and just for a moment I saw Bear standing there . . . patiently waiting for his dinner too. Yes, I know I didn’t really see him.  But his spirit was so strong in that moment that I want to believe he was really there – letting me know he wasn’t too far away.  Even now.

I’ve begun to search.  At one point I even thought I had found what I wanted.  But – things didn’t work out, so I’ve filed that one away as “wasn’t meant to be” and moved on.  Right now I’m pretty sure I’m going to want an English Cream Golden Retriever.  At first I thought I couldn’t get another Golden because I would be constantly comparing him to Bear.  But the English Goldens are shaped differently – a little stockier and shorter than American-bred Goldens.  And they are a very light cream color.  Some are white.  At this point we’re thinking we won’t be getting it until after we return from Mackinac . . .  and we may even decide to get a puppy.

But – you know what.  You just never know when God is going to open a kennel door.  So we’ll see.

Have a great week!

God bless.

 

Dear Matthew 1/17/16

Dear Matthew,

This blog’s for you, buddy.  You’ll probably worry that one of your friends may run across it, but hey – not many 13-year-olds are going to be looking on-line for something written by an old grandmother.  So I think you’re safe on that.

Matthew, this is a thank you letter.  For what? Oh, just for asking to come spend the night with your GDaddy and BeBe.  We know that won’t happen all that many times before you’re off and gone on your adult life adventures, and we just want you to know how important every hour is that we get to spend with you.  Silly, I know.  But that’s how we old people think.

After we knew you were coming for sure, you won’t believe the time we spent thinking what we could do to make your visit with us fun and memorable.  GDaddy talked about going to Fort Matanzas, fishing, and biking.  I talked about taking you along to the Flagler Humane Society and letting you “assist” with kitty photos (we’ll do that next time, if you’reinterested).  Then I started researching surfing movies (because BeBe knows surfing is one of your great loves).

When you arrived and we threw all our “researched” suggestions out, you voted to start off with a bike ride.  You and GDaddy left, and 20 miles later you returned.  You’d both biked down A1A to Flagler Beach, crossed the Flagler Beach Bridge, looped around to the Hammock, crossed the Hammock Bridge, and then biked home back on A1A.  You were tired, but you sure were a happy tired!

We went to the Turtle Shack for dinner.  You devoured your crab cake sandwich in three huge bites and then finished off your French fries and my fried shrimp.

Upon our return home you settled on the couch under a snuggle blanket (sorry to mention that, but that’s what it was), and we rented A View from a Blue Moon from Amazon, a recently released surf movie I found that turned out to be a documentary on one of your favorite surfers, John John Florence.  I’ll confess that GDaddy and I were prepared to be bored silly, but A View from A Blue Moon was one of the most beautifully photographed movies we’d ever seen.  That your GDaddy didn’t go to sleep and start snoring until the last 10 minutes is a testament to that statement.

The movie ended at 9:00, and you surprised us by saying, “I’m sleepy.  I think I’ll go to bed.”  I think you were asleep before your head hit the pillow.

Saturday morning was planned around fishing.  While we were still having our coffee you headed out to the seawall to see if the fish were biting . . .

. . . and they were!

. . . and they were!

Yes, we knew that flounder would have been good all fried up for breakfast . . .

Yes, we knew that flounder would have been good all fried up for breakfast . . .

. . . but you decided it could live to swim and grow bigger. Which made your BeBe so happy.

. . . but you decided it could live to swim and grow bigger. That made your BeBe so happy.

You passed up that trip to Fort Matanzas to continue fishing, and off you and GDaddy went to Big Al’s Bait Shop. 

Now Matthew, you really need to read this next part very carefully.

You see . . . we’ve lived here for over a year now, and your mom and dad and Jordan have come and your Uncles Jason and Blake have come, and most all of them like to fish.  But it was only when YOU came that your GDaddy went to Big Al’s and bought a casting net (because you needed one to catch bait fish) and a live bait aerator (so those shrimp would stay alive for a few hours).  And it was only when YOU came that GDaddy actually picked up the rod & reel he bought 15 months ago and . . .

. . . went fishing!

. . . went fishing!

Two very patient guys hanging out together on the seawall.

Two very patient guys hanging out together on the seawall.

Matthew, a lot of friends in Georgia and Michigan ask us all the time why we moved to Florida.

We tell them all about our beautiful home across the street from the ocean and the great nature preserve at the back of Sunset Inlet where we can walk out to the Intracoastal.

We tell them all about our beautiful home across the street from the ocean and the great nature preserve at the back of Sunset Inlet where we can walk out to the Intracoastal.

And we talk about how beautiful it is at the end of the day to stand out on the dock and watch the sunset and the waves rippling into shore when the big boats go by.

And we talk about how peaceful it is at the end of the day to stand out on the dock and watch the sunset and the waves rippling into shore when the big boats go by.

But - honestly - the reason we moved is so we can occasionally stand and watch you fish . . .

But – honestly – one of the main reasons we moved is so we can occasionally stand and watch you fish . . .

. . . and bait a hook . . .

. . . and bait a hook . . .

. . . and cast a net.

. . . and cast a net.

Right now, Matthew, you may think this is all pretty silly – and that’s ok.  But, maybe years from now – when you’re fishing with your own son or daughter – a little light will go off in your memory, and you’ll remember this day.  And – technology being what it is – you’ll be able to look up this thank you letter on-line and read it to them.  And maybe, just maybe, it will make you remember how much GDaddy and BeBe loved spending time with you.

And I hope that makes you smile.

We love you, Matthew!

GDaddy and BeBe

Coming Full Circle 1/3/2016

Thank you, Stephen Blair Kopacki, for the amazing header photograph!

In April of 2009 I wrote the first post to Bree’s Mackinac Island blog.  I began it on a whim and as a chance to satisfy a life-long desire to write.  I’d always heard the easiest thing to write on was something you were passionate about, and Mackinac Island sure fit that requirement!

Over the past almost-seven years, that first blog morphed into four other blogs: Bree’s Lake Blackshear Blog (when we were off the island at our home in south Georgia), the VERY short-lived Dog-Eared Page Blog (about the dogs of Mackinac Island), Bree’s Connecting the Dots Blog (the transition from Mackinac Island and Georgia to our new home in Florida), and recently Bree’s To Be Clay Blog (about living in Florida).  To those five blogs I’ve posted a total of 1,227 stories.  That’s pretty much one story every two days – for approximately the last 2,340 days.  To those five blogs, and over that same time period, readers took time out of their busy schedules to post 20,124 comments.

Our sweet little cottage at Lake Blackshear in the Spring.

Bree’s Lake Blackshear Blog:  Our sweet little cottage at Lake Blackshear in the Spring.

The Dog-Eared Page: Maddie and Bear playing with Buddy, an island friend.

The Dog-Eared Page: Maddie and Bear playing with Buddy, an island friend.

Connecting the Dots - this mound of dirt eventually became part of the foundation for our new home in Sunset Inlet.

Connecting the Dots:  This mound of dirt eventually became part of the foundation for our new home in Sunset Inlet.

To Be Clay: The good life in Beverly Beach!

To Be Clay: The good life in Beverly Beach!

So – where am I going with all this.

As I do every year about this time, I’ve taken the last few weeks to think about how I can continue to write something interesting – or whether I want to continue writing at all.  And every year I come back to two truths.  I love to write, and I love my readers.

This year I’ve had to dig a little deeper though.  With age and with some health issues, I find the need to focus on the things I love to write about most. And – surprise! – that is still that tiny island sitting in the Straits of Mackinac.  In studying the comments, the statistics, and the overall feed-back on all my blogs, I know – without a shadow of a doubt – that same tiny island is also what you most want to READ about.

My latest blog – To Be Clay – has an average of 400 readers for each post.  Most To Be Clay readers are Mackinac Island fans who have followed me almost since that first island blog in 2009.  They have been my loyal “core” family, and I love them with all my heart.  They’ve continued to read whether I’ve been in Georgia on the lake or in Florida across from the Atlantic Ocean.  They are the reason I’ve continued to write for this long.

But – when I traveled to Mackinac in December to write for Original Murdick’s Fudge – my reader average jumped to almost 1200 a day.  That number continued throughout my stay there.

What that tells me is that ultimately “Mackinac Island” is what you want to hear about – what you want to see photographed, what you want to learn more about.  Just as when I first starting going to Mackinac and would search everywhere for news about the island, I know there is a group out there right this minute doing the same thing. I know there are those who already love the island – and harbor a dream of maybe one day living there.  You are constantly soaking up every single fact you can find about how to make that happen.  I want to help with that.

So – as of right now – there will only be one place I’ll be writing.  Right here on Bree’s Mackinac Island Blog – the first and the most loved – is where you’ll find the Hortons.

The content won’t really change.  I’ll be sharing our lives here in Florida, sharing photographs and news from Mackinac when we aren’t there, and – good Lord willing – taking y’all with us in July when we travel north for three months on our favorite island.

And hopefully, in between all that, there may be some visits to other places!

And hopefully, in between all that, there may be some visits to other places!

Instead of going back to the future, we’re going forward to the past. Bree’s Mackinac Island Blog is where it all began.  I’ve got stories to tell, photographs to share, people to meet. It makes me feel both excited – and quietly content – to come full circle.

Woo Hoo – we’re off!

St. Anne's by Tom Chambers.

St. Anne’s by Tom Chambers.

Settling In At Home! 10/4/2015

Hi Everyone!

Just a note to let you know we are safely back in Florida, unpacked, and settling in.  We had a good trip to Florida with no problems of any kind.  Thank you so much for every safe travel prayer that you lifted.  We felt them all the way home.

We are so fortunate to be able to come home to beautiful Sunset Inlet! (Photo: Missy Freedman)

So happy to be back at Sunset Inlet! (Photo: Missy Freedman)

I’m going to take a little vacation from blogging for the month of October.  There is so much to do this month.  I’ve got to have some health concerns looked into (neck issues), start back volunteering, meet new neighbors, and just get all nestled back into our Florida home for the winter.  I’ll be back the first part of November, with news from both Florida AND Mackinac Island.

Speaking of Mackinac . . .

The day after we left the island, the temps dropped, the winds started to get crazy, and the ferry trip got a lot more exciting!

The day after we left the island the temps dropped, the winds started to get crazy, and the ferry trip got a lot more exciting! (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

We sure hate that we’re missing October on Mackinac – my favorite month on the island.  I know the trees are turning all shades of red, yellow, and brown, and oh my gosh I love walking through the woods there in the fall.

But – good news!  I’m pretty sure next summer we will be on Mackinac for three whole months, and that is going to be awesome!!

Prayer Request

When Jill left Mackinac a few days before we did, she was going home to join her mom and her brothers in caring for her dad.  Ken had been diagnosed with cancer a few weeks earlier; but treatment was being planned, and Jill thought she’d be back on the island in a few days.

Sadly, Jill’s dad took a turn for the worse and passed away on Friday afternoon.  His services will be Tuesday morning in Lansing.

In October of 2012, Jill and I left the island to go meet Lowell and Faye Greene for the first time.  We spent the night with Jill’s parents, Ken and Joanne, at their beautiful home in Lansing, before leaving the next morning for our trip to Lowell’s.

From the moment I walked into their living room, the warmth and love of this gracious couple embraced me.  Sitting down at the breakfast table with them for coffee the next morning was like having a chat with my own mom and dad.  They accepted me into their hearts and home – and made me feel like family.

Jill and her parents in October of 2012.

Jill and her parents in October of 2012.

I know Jill, Joanne, and Jill’s two brothers, Mark and Eric, would appreciate your prayers in the coming days.

Jill and Joanne, I wish my arms were long enough to reach you in Michigan. Please know – in spirit – you’ve been wrapped up in huge hugs from Ted and I since Friday.  We love you both – so much.  ______________________________________________________________________

See you back here in November – and God bless.