Mackinac Island Spring Update – Vol. 4 – 4/18/2012

25 days and counting.  I can’t believe it.  The winter that never was (in the South at least) slipped by in the bat of an eye, and in a week or so the suitcases will come out of the closets, and Maddie and Bear will begin to wonder, “Where we going?”

As always when this time of year comes around, I find myself looking back over the last six months and hoping they’ve been productive.  The blogs have kept me busy, Bear and I have enjoyed our Pet Partners work, and Ted’s been faithful in driving veterans for hospital and doctor visits.  We’ve had great times with friends, we’ve traveled more than usual, and – as we say every year – we haven’t had nearly enough time with the kids and grandkids.  But we know they’re all planning on trips to the Island this summer, and once they’re there we can pretty much hold them captive for awhile!  How great it is they love Mackinac almost as much as we do!

I don’t have a lot of news from the Island today, but I have some totally awesome photos I’ll get to shortly.  Friends on the Island let me know that just when the weather seemed to be warming to the point that lilacs might be in jeopardy of blooming really early, Mother Nature intervened with  . . . . . . .

. . .Snow! Mary McGuire from the Tourist Bureau took this photo early today (Wednesday), and she's hoping that this reversal back to colder weather will send the lilac buds back into hiding. For the next two weeks it looks like the highs will be holding in the low 50's, so we'll just have to wait and see if the Lilac Festival in June arrives during or after the lilacs bloom.

I loved the message Doud’s Market posted today on FacebookSpring is here!! The staff at Doud’s Market is busy getting the store ready for a bustling summer season!  Doud’s Deli reopened this past week.  You can grab a slice of pizza to go or order a pizza to take home with you.  (Spring hours vary, so call ahead before placing an order, 906.847.3444)  We have delicious homemade soups, freshly-made salads and sandwiches to go and a wonderful meat selection to choose from.  We will be adding some new items to our deli menu this season as well.  Stay in touch as we stock the Market with new items and new delicious deli items!  Our hours are currently 7:30AM-7:00PM, Monday-Saturday; 10AM-5PM, Sunday. Hours will be changing in the next few weeks to extended hours.”  Can’t wait to visit Andrew and all the workers at Doud’s!

Since 1967 the Michigan Recreation & Parks Association (MRPA) has offered travelers ages 50 and over a unique opportunity to stay at the Grand Hotel at a significantly reduced rate during the off-season.  The program offers an all inclusive package including ferry, taxi, hotel stay, breakfast and five course dinner, all tax and gratuities, carriage tour, Fort Mackinac visit, golf chipping and putting competitions, bocce competition, crafts, dancing, carriage tours and more! Each fall over 1400 seniors participate in the various dates offered (Sept. 25-28; Oct. 8-11; Oct. 14-16; and Oct. 21-24). If you’d like more information about this opportunity, you may call Karen Aune at 517-485-9888.

MRPA has graciously allowed me to publish winners in the photo contest offered participants in 2011’s Grand Experience.  I found these photographs to be fresh, exciting, and so very original.  As I’ve said so many times, we all see Mackinac through different eyes, and our cameras capture moments in time we will turn back to remember over and over again when we think of our journeys there.  I hope you enjoy these as much as I did!

A totally different vision of the Grand Hotel's Tea Garden. Third Place - Scenery/Architecture Category. "Glorious" by Van Weimer

The entrance to one of Mackinac's most beautiful homes. Second Place - Scenery/Architecture Category. "Gate" by Carl Sturgeon

A butterfly greets visitors to the Island. First Place - Scenery/Architecture Category. "Welcome to the Island" by Dolores Surletta

Touring the Island in the fall. Third Place - People/Activities Category. "Fall Carriage Ride" by Linda Stephas

A perfect cup of tea. Second Place - People/Activities Category. "Tea Time" by Peter (Pat) Koloff

Awesome black & white photo! First Place - People/Activities Category. "Taxi" by Phyllis Neumann

Only one porch like this one in the whole world! Third Place - View of the Grand Category. "My Dream of a Porch" by Marcie Steidmann

Simple touches mean so much. Second Place - View of the Grand Category. "Awareness" by Caroline Medwith

Ahhh . . . the Herb Garden. First Place - View of the Grand Category. "Quiet Moments in a Quaint Garden" by Linda Meyer.

One more news item about the Grand Hotel.  This summer the Grand will celebrate its 125th anniversary, and nobody celebrates quite like the Grand.  On July 10th a 125′ cake will be wheeled onto the Grand porch for hotel guests to enjoy, and during the weekend of July 13-15 there will be receptions, fireworks, presentations, concerts, and tournaments.  Bill Semion of wrote a wonderful article about this birthday party, and you can read it here:

Here’s a few more photos Island friends have shared this week:

Getting ready for the season and the big celebration, the Grand is getting a fresh coat of paint. (Photo by: the Grand Hotel)

A beautiful early morning view of a freighter slipping through the pass. (Photo: Jeri-Lynn Bailey)

Here come the tulips! (Photo: Mission Point Resort)

The Seabiscuit opened for the season this week. (Photo: Sonnet Quinn)

Jeri-Lynn Bailey snapped this photo during Spring Break in Florida, but wouldn't that just be the perfect Mackinac Island lawn mower!

Friend Maryanke Alexander and her beautiful Jetske, who she thinks (our fingers are crossed) is in foal. Jetske will be on the Island this summer with Maryanke.

Easter morning at Windermere Point. (Photo: Doud's Market)

While I was going through some of Ted’s photos from last fall, I found this one of the condo.  There it sits, on Surrey Ridge, empty for six-and-a-half months.  If buildings could talk, I like to think this one might be saying . . . “They’ll be here soon.  My doors will be unlocked, my windows will be flung open, and the breeze will rush through my rooms.  Rugs and mats will once again cover my bare floors; sheets and blankets and pillows will be placed on my beds.  Groceries will come up the hill, and happy dogs will settle on my deck and watch the season unfold from their favorite perch.  They’ll be here soon.  They’ll be here soon!”

See you next Wednesday!  God bless.

A Grand Passion 9/12/2011

“Riding a horse is not a gentle hobby, to be picked up and laid down like a game of Solitaire.  It is a grand passion”.     Ralph Waldo Emerson

I don’t know why I never noticed Friesians on Mackinac Island the seven years Ted and I vacationed here, before buying our condo.  Maybe they just weren’t “out and about” downtown while we were visiting, or maybe I just wasn’t lucky enough to spot one when we were out exploring.

Once we moved to the island for our summers though, I began to see them everywhere.  At first I had no idea what breed they were – I had to ask.  Our second year as summer residents was the initial year of the Festival of the Horse, and I will never forget the first time I saw Maryanke Alexander and Michelle Stuck riding their Friesians in the festival.  Maryanke was dressed in a medieval gown, and her horse could have stepped right out of the movie Braveheart.

The Friesian was developed in the Netherlands in the province of Friesland. In medieval times, Friesians were used to carry knights into battle

Michelle and her horse were impeccably groomed for dressage - the perfect polished pair.

To say I was awestruck is a huge understatement.  I was speechless.  I was blown away.  I was in love.

About that same time, Mary Stadnik – who I did not know at the time – was having the same experience with Friesians I was.  Mary, who works at the Grand Hotel, watched these beautiful East and West Bluff horses (several Mackinac Island summer residents own Friesians) ride by the Grand or down Cadotte on a regular basis.  Like me, she would have to just stop what she was doing and stare whenever one rode by.

Last summer Mary started asking questions about the breed, and she also learned a lot about them by working at the Festival of the Horse last year.  By that time, Mary and I had met and become friends, and one of our favorite topics when we saw each other was Friesian horses.

By the end of last season, Mary was very tentatively talking about purchasing a Friesian, and I was enthusiastically encouraging her.  Knowing I could never own a horse myself, here was my golden opportunity – a friend with a Friesian!  Maybe, if I was really nice, she would let me sit on he/she/it.

Mary prepared by taking horseback riding lessons on the Island and all winter at her home downstate.  When she returned to the Island this spring, she was seriously searching for her perfect horse, with the help of Friesian owners here on the Island.

Around the middle of July, one of those owners led her to Teddie, a 13-year old gelding, Teddie was looking for a new home, and after having him examined for any health issues and for temperament (he checked out “awesome” on both), Mary became the proud owner of a totally magnificent Friesian, and I have officially named myself his Godmother.

Teddie is being stabled at Hiawatha Hawk Ranch in Mackinaw City until the end of the season, when he and Mary will go downstate.  They will have the entire winter to get to know each other on a daily basis, and next spring he will come back to the Island with her and be staying in the new Community Stable.

Until then, Mary goes over to see Teddie at least three times a week, leaving after work and spending time feeding, grooming, walking, and generally spoiling him.  This past Thursday we finally worked our schedules so everyone who wanted to go see Teddie that day could go, and Jill, Frankie and I all arrived with Mary at Hiawatha Hawk Ranch.

Mary, who has known for at least a year that one of my dreams was to sit on a Friesian was hoping someone would be around who would saddle Teddie up and let me sit on him for a few minutes.  Mary doesn’t have a saddle yet and is waiting until she gets her horse home this winter to get all the tack she needs.  Always the optimist, I worn jeans and the old boots I wear in the winter in Georgia – on the one day a year it gets below 32 degrees.  I was ready!

First off, Teddie is just a gorgeous horse. He's very tall (17 hands), a dark brown/black (Friesians lighten in summer and turn black black in winter) and so gentle I think a two-year-old would be safe on him. And it was very evident, right from the start, that he already knows who his new "mom" is.

It's also crystal clear that Mary is totally smitten with Teddie!

We all know the way to any horse/dog/cat's heart is through its stomach, and Teddie knew that Mary had pieces of juicy apply in her hand.

These two were just meant for each other.

We all stepped up to be introduced. Frankie has a real way with horses, and she and Teddie hit it off right away.

Jill held out a treat for Teddie in her hand and said, "He better not slobber on me!" Of course, he did.

Then it was my turn. I went into the corral to meet Teddie. If there was a chance I might get on this gentle giant, I wanted him to like me a lot.

Teddie is so loveable I think he'd like anyone who is kind to him. But just to play my best hand, my pocket was full of horse treats. . . .

. . . and as soon as he figured that out, I became his best buddy (until Mary came back into the corral).

I'd walk off, and he'd follow me like a puppy . . .

I'd hold them in my hand, and he would pose beautifully.

Needless to say, if Teddie had any “people treats”, I would have willingly eaten them right out of his hand . . oops, hoof. I was totally bewitched.

All this love was great, but when Mary walked off to try and find the Ostmans, who own the ranch, Teddie followed her as far as he could, then stood watching her every move until she returned. As I said, he already knows his mom.

Soon Mary was back with Abigail Ostman and her mom. Abigail is 13 years old and has been riding since she was two (you may remember Abigail from the story I wrote on the Festival of the Horse. She showed both Shortcake, the miniature horse, and Nokona, a registered Appaloosa, in the Breed Show). Mary told them of my wish to get on Teddie, and they were very willing to make that dream come true.

As I watched Abby and Mary saddle Teddie, I began to second guess myself on this whole idea. That was one BIG horse, and the last time I was on a horse I was six years old. But with all the trouble Mary and the Ostman's were going to, there was no way I was going to back out - even though my heart was about to pound right out of my chest.

Well, of course I had to use mounting steps. These old legs will only lift so high, and that stirrup might as well have been hanging out of a tree it was so far up!

Ok - this is Abby demonstrating how easy it is to mount when you are young and know what you are doing.

. . . and this is me imitating her.

Oh good Lord, look at that face! Not only is Teddie TALL, he is WIDE. Here I was thinking, "Just close your eyes and keep stretching that leg!"

Then - oh my gosh - I was riding! I mean - technically - Mary and Abby were leading him, but I was in the saddle, and we were moving. To me, that's riding!

Absolutely an all-time dream come true!

I could have stayed up there and let them lead Teddie around in circles all afternoon, but I knew (hopefully) there would be other afternoons . . .

Just before I dismounted, everyone backed away about two inches so Jill could get a photo of Teddie and me all alone. If that horse had so much as twitched an ear wrong, I would have fallen into a dead faint.

It only took three people to get me OFF Teddie, but that's because they told me it would be easier without using the mounting stairs. I asked if I could have a parachute, but they made me do it without one.

When I finally gave her horse back, Mary mounted and rode around the corral a few times. She plans to go back this weekend for a trail ride on Teddie.

These two are going to have years and years together to enjoy each other. I'm so so happy for my friend . . .

Thanks, Mary, for helping me make what I thought was an impossible dream come true . . .

. . . and thanks, Teddie - you are one handsome horse! See you in the spring!

Clay and Saber 7/23/2011

I gave my camera two aspirin and some chicken soup last night and hoped for the best.   When I walked down the hill to get the mail on Friday, I stopped in on the second day of the Festival of the Horse and snapped a few shots of Clay Meier and his amazing horse, Saber.  The photos came out pretty good, but I can still tell something’s not quite right.  With this horse, though, it would be really difficult to make him look anything but awesome.

Saber is a 14-year-old Friesian that Clay Meier has been training three years.


He responds to Clay’s softly spoken commands instantly.


He will rear up at Clay’s special signal . . .


. . . rising higher and higher as Clay says, “Up, up, up!”  Clay and Saber, and another of his Friesians, Paris, will be performing again on Saturday, the last day of this year’s Festival of the Horse.

Let’s Chat 8/1/09

Not a lot to talk about today, so I will just chat a while and see where that leads us.

Everyone on the island is talking about what a weird summer this has been – weatherwise.  It certainly has been different from last summer, when it seemed every day was sunny and 75 degrees.  Last year we started off every morning in shorts and jackets, shed the jackets by noon, put them back on around 4:00 in the afternoon, then went to bed and started the whole process over again the next morning.  This summer, we have started nearly every day in sweatshirts, maybe shed those for a lighter sweater during the day, then put the sweats back on in the late afternoon, sometimes even adding a coat.  And it has RAINED!  A very wet summer, according to the islanders. 

Today (Friday)  has been perfect – sunny, a warm breeze, 72 degrees.  It just doesn’t get any better than that!  Later this afternoon though, when Ted and I were walking the dogs, Ted said, “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but doesn’t it feel a little bit like fall to you?”  It did – the breeze had changed and had a distinct coolness – the way it did at the end of August last year.  I laughed and said, “Maybe we’ll get lucky and have snow in October!”  Ted wasn’t amused.

Am I complaining?  Not one iota.  Mackinac Island is Mackinac Island – warm, cool, cold, wet, dry, sunny, cloudy, and windy.  Love it in all its glorious sunny summer days, love it in all its messy rainy days.  Just love it.  We have learned to leave the house prepared for anything during a day.  Yesterday when I took Bear over to Cheboygan for a much needed bath, I wore capri’s and a 3/4 length sleeve top.  Tied a white zip-up hoodie around my waist.  I forgot one thing – I should have taken the rain gear.  I didn’t need it in Cheboygan, but it was raining on the island when we got back.  Gave me an excuse though to call a cab.  Bear and I love those cabs.  If there is room, he spreads out and takes up two seats, with his head hanging over the edge looking out at everything we pass. 

When we got off the ferry, Jill was there to meet us.  I think she has a sixth sense about when people are arriving on the island.  Not only was she there, but Bonnie was waiting on the dock also, greeting friends/family (don’t know which one) who were on the ferry with me (although I didn’t know it).  Putting Bonnie’s picture on the blog a couple of days ago with Charlie the chipmunk raised my readership about 200 people that day.  Bonnie and Don must have a really big family!  I got the nicest comments from some of them. 

I rode over on the ferry with a couple from Tulsa, Oklahoma who were visiting the island for the first time (in case you haven’t noticed, I also forgot my camera yesterday – so no pictures of any of this).  It was a surprise trip for the wife.  Her husband had arranged the whole thing for her birthday, including a dinner at the Woods Restaurant.  Talk about romantic!  It turned out that their daughter (I think) and her family lived in Arkansas in the same town a few years ago as our Julie, but have since moved.  Small, small world.  Anyway, Happy Birthday Patty!  I hope your visit to Mackinac Island is everything your husband envisioned for the two of you!

Ted went to Cheboygan today – grocery shopping.  He’s so good about not asking me to grocery shop when I take Bear over.  Handling 85 lbs. of dog and several banana boxes filled with groceries isn’t easy – so he went back today.  

When Ted got home this afternoon, I walked downtown to get the mail, send some cards, and pick up some boxes to send some packages off next week.  Went by the bookstore to see if Jill was working, and but she wasn’t coming in until 4:00 today.  I stopped by The Grand to take some pictures of their daylily garden.  Many varieties, many colors – all beautiful!








Oh, I have to show you this.  The first picture is one I took June 29 of the flowers out in front of The Grand.  The second picture was July 26 – less than a month later.  Amazing!




 I know I have shown you a lot of flowers in the last couple of days, but honestly I can’t help it.  Everything is at its peak right now.  These are planted in front of the Jockey Club Restaurant, across the street from The Grand.




To put the icing on this fine Friday, I got to see two of my favorite Friesians trot by, pulling a beautiful carriage.  Don’t know if they were on the way to town to pick up someone at the ferry, or if they were just out getting some exercise. 


Stevie and Dawn from the lake in Georgia just called, and they are on the way.  They left after getting off work this afternoon, and will spend the night in Tennessee.  They are stopping in Ohio for a couple of nights to see a new grandbaby, then coming on up to us on Monday.  We will be so excited to see folks from home!

I’m going to take a day off from blogging tomorrow – gotta house clean for company, and I don’t think you want to hear about mopping floors and polishing furniture.  Will see you back here on Monday morning, good Lord willing.  Have a wonderful weekend.  God bless.