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.

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.

 

All Roads Lead to Mackinac – and Florida – and . . . Marshall MI!

Geez!  It seems like weeks since I sat down to write about Mackinac, but oh my goodness how I enjoyed all the photographs and notes from those of you who sent in the towns you call home.  I’ve gone back and looked at all of them several times this week, and I know from your comments how much you enjoyed this series.  My thinking cap is on for another “reader participation” blog soon!

And now . . . off to Mackinac, where it’s still cold and snowy, and where those sunsets just keep on setting records for beauty!

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Love this cute photo from Clark Bloswick.  These taxi horses look as though they’re ready to take off at a gallop if a policeman comes into sight.  I can just hear them now.  “But officer, WE didn’t park here – the DRIVER did!”

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Ferry service has been off and on – but mostly “on”.  It’s been a long, long time since islanders had ferry service for as long as they have this winter.  It sure makes getting on and off the island so much easier for everyone!  (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

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Blue ice on the shoreline – captured by Liz Burt . . .

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. . . and more, captured by Robert McGreevy.  The blue color comes from the ice being so compressed that every other color of the spectrum except blue is absorbed – so blue is what you see!  Awesome!

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A beautiful sunset photo by Tom Chambers.

 

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In this one by Clark Bloswick it looks as though the sun has exploded on impact with the water! 

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Where’d everyone – and everything – go?  Greg Main captured these almost white-out conditions last week.  You can barely make out a taxi carriage and I “think” two snowmobiles.

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Clark Bloswick’s photo of sunset on the same day as the blizzard.  These are some of the most incredible colors I’ve ever seen.  And I can guarantee that Clark uses no filters and enhancements of any kind.  This is purely God’s art.

MEANWHILE – NO SNOW IN FLORIDA!

For some reason we’ve been crazy busy the last week.  Between Ted and I, we are volunteering three days out of the week, and now I’ve added physical therapy sessions twice a week. 

I’ve only had two sessions so far.  The first was this amazing deep tissue massage that would have been very relaxing – if it hadn’t been so painful.  I said to the guy, “You know, what you’re doing really, REALLY hurts.”  His reply was, “I bet it does!”  So much for sympathy. At the second session it was all about exercises to strengthen my shoulders and back.  In their words, “There’s nothing we can do about your spine deformity.  All we can do is strengthen all your muscles so your neck isn’t taking all the pressure of anything you do.”  Oh, one other thing.  They said my posture is horrible (yes, mom, I can see you smiling in Heaven and thinking about all those times you told me to stand up straight), but at the end of eight weeks I’m going to look like a super-model.  Now THAT got my attention, and I gave my therapist a big smile.  “Wait,” he said.  “I meant you’re going to STAND like a super-model, not LOOK like one!”

Note to self:  You have to have a tough skin to go into physical therapy.

But – that’s ok.  If it means at the end of eight weeks the pain will be gone, or at least much better, I can take it.

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Last weekend was beautiful, and Ted and I decided to explore a few parts of Fort Matanzas National Park we hadn’t seen before.  The Nature Trail was lovely, although nowhere nearly as lush with foliage as it will be very soon. 

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Loved how the sun was shining through these palm fronds . . .

 

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. . . and the squiggly lines of these tree branches.

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As we were about to leave, I couldn’t help but notice this cool vintage Corvette in the parking lot – OR the strange camper it was connected to.

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The owner of the ‘Vette was cooking hamburgers, and since I have never met a stranger, I walked right up and asked him if I could take a photo of his car and camper (Ted LOVES it when I do stuff like that).  Well . . . the gentleman told us all about how he had built the camper himself and had just driven down from MICHIGAN. “Michigan?” I said (of course I did).  And it turns out his uncle was the DOCTOR on Mackinac Island during the 70’s, and this gentleman had spent summers with his uncle on Mackinac when he was a young man.  I think he said the uncle’s name was Middleton.  Does that ring a bell with any islander readers? 

CUTE STORY/PHOTO

My good Sunset Inlet friend, Jennifer, is crazy about dogs and loves Bear and Maddie with a passion.  Many weeks ago she began a tradition of handing out doggie treats when we’d pass their house on our late afternoon walk.  Every day, as soon as we approach Jen and Ernie’s house, the two pooches go on alert and look to see if Jen is standing outside or sitting up on one of their balconies.  Either way, if they see her, they know goodies are in their future.

And . . . . if she ISN’T in sight, they now run up to the back door and bark for her!

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On this particular day we knew Jen and Ernie weren’t home, but the pups gave it a good try anyway!

AND ONE LAST STOP ON THE ROAD

Happy to share one last "place where you live" from reader Marsha. She calls Marshall MI home, and she sent this lovely shot of the sun rising over new snow on Lyon Lake. Beautiful, Marsha!

Happy to share one last “place where you live” from reader Marsha. She calls Marshall MI home, and she sent this lovely shot of the sun rising over new snow on Lyon Lake. Too beautiful not to share,  Marsha!

We have Georgia/Mackinac company coming later in the week, so you may not hear from me until next Sunday. 

Have a great week!

God bless.