Write a Good One 1/8/17

Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365-page book.  Write a good one.  Brad Paisley – on New Year’s Eve.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, my sweet and dear friends!  Good gosh – it’s been two months since we’ve gotten together here on Bree’s Blog – longer than I’ve ever stopped writing since beginning this journey in April of 2009!

Ok – let’s go ahead and get this out of the way.  Yes, I’ve done my annual soul searching

After a two-month vacation from the blogosphere, I’ve discovered that, although I can live without self-imposed deadlines, hunts for photographs, and times when my fingers stay poised way too long over the keyboard waiting for my brain to come up with something to write, I’m not ready to live without my connection to all of you!

So – Bree’s Blog will roll on for at least one more year.  There’s so much I want to share with you in 2017:  our trip to Alaska in May, Bodie’s zany antics and Maddie’s sweet senior years, and – most important to all of you – three months of Mackinac in the summer.  I’ll try to post a little more often than last year in the time between now and leaving for Mackinac – maybe like the “postcards” I did from the island last year.  Then when we hit the island, I’ll post even more.

I’m excited about 2017!  Let’s write that 365-page book together . . . . starting now!

THE HOLIDAYS

Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year’s Eve are a big blur.  We had family come, family go, family come back and leave again.  Throughout those happy days we enjoyed more food than should be legal, made some great memories, and got to share a seven-year-old’s Santa Claus!

I know it's hard for our northern friends to imagine Christmas catalog shopping in shorts out on the deck, but that's what you get in Florida!

I know it’s hard for our northern friends to imagine Christmas catalog shopping in shorts out on the deck, but that’s what you have to get used to in Florida!

Our little neighborhood was very festive this year . . .

Our little neighborhood was very festive this year!

. . . and everyone was very much in the Christmas spirit.

We all had great fun decorating palm trees . . .

. . . and pretending snow was falling.

. . . and pretending snow was falling.

Blake was home for a few days . . .

Blake was home for a few days . . .

. . . followed by Jason, Jen, and Alex . . .

. . . followed by Jason, Jen, and Alex . . .

. . . followed by Julie, Matt, Jordan, Matthew - and Blake again!

. . . followed by Julie, Matt, Jordan, Matthew – and Blake again!

It's been many, many years since we had a little boy in the house at Christmas! We made cookies for Santa . . .

It’s been many, many years since we had a little boy in the house at Christmas! We made cookies for Santa . . .

. . . opened gifts from Santa and family on Christmas Day . . .

. . . and opened gifts from Santa and family on Christmas Day.

I loved this gift from Jen and Alex. An artist friend of hers created a pop art canvas from photographs of Maddie and Bodie!

I loved this gift from Jen and Alex. An artist friend of Jen’s created a pop art canvas from photographs of Maddie and Bodie!

And Ted gave me this wonderful way to park my car correctly in the garage. Some ladies get diamonds for Christmas, but I got a ball on a rope!

And Ted gave me this wonderful way to park my car correctly in the garage. You see, he got a new weight machine from Santa, and if I don’t park my car perfectly it interferes with his range of motion.  Hmmmm . . . some wives get diamonds for Christmas.  I get a ball on a rope!

 

Jason and Jen wishing everyone Merry Christmas from the beach on Facebook . . .

Jason and Jen wishing everyone Merry Christmas from the beach on Facebook . . .

. . . followed instantly by a wipe-out!

. . . followed instantly by a wipe-out!

Seriously, we had a wonderful Christmas, and the best part was seeing all the kids and grandkids.  Speaking of which – they all went together and gave Ted and I a monetary gift for our Alaska trip – what a surprise!  Anyone out there who has been on an Alaska land/cruise trip, please weigh in on which excursions we need to book!

I definitely didn’t start the New Year off right though.  I had a physical therapy appointment the day before New Year’s Eve.  My therapist decided to try something new – working on my back instead of my neck.  I knew I was in trouble when I walked out that day, and by the next morning I was in so much pain I finally just had a good, old-fashioned melt-down.  I cried for two hours, took a hot bath, put on my pj’s and was in bed by 10 that night.  I DID feel much better the next day, but I think physical therapy has about done as much as it can do for this old neck of mine.  I have an appointment on Friday with my neurologist to talk about injections.  Stay tuned for the next chapter of this adventure!

MACKINAC ISLAND

The island is a winter wonderland, and they had a beautiful white Christmas!  Lake Huron has steamed once, and the temps are good and cold.  An ice bridge just may be in the cards for this winter.

Unless otherwise noted, all of the photographs below are from Clark Bloswick.

The 20 orso horses that remain on Mackinac for the winter get plenty of exercise. These two beauties were hauling constructions supplies from the ferry at British Landing.

The 20 or so horses that remain on Mackinac for the winter get plenty of exercise. These two beauties were hauling construction supplies from the ferry at British Landing.

The West Bluff - dressed in her winter whites.

The West Bluff – dressed in her winter whites.

Currier & Ives could not have done it better! Perfect Mackinac Island winter scene.

Currier & Ives could not have done it better! Perfect Mackinac Island winter scene.

Beautiful Trinity Church on Fort Hill.

Beautiful Trinity Church on Fort Hill.

Snow "mushrooms" along the coast.

Snow “mushrooms” along the shore.

A snow-covered cedar hedge in the Annex frames a snow covered cottage.

A snow-covered cedar hedge in the Annex frames a snow-covered cottage.

Sunlight spreads over homes as the sun rises a week before Christmas.

Sunlight spreads over homes early one morning the week before Christmas.

Horses brought to the island to handle the extra holiday business are led down Market Street toward the ferry docks. They will return to their winter home in Pickford.

Horses brought to the island to handle the extra holiday business are led down Market Street toward the ferry docks. They will return to their winter home in Pickford. (Photo:  Tom Chambers)

The view from a Cedar Hill Condo deck - looking across the Grand Hotel golf course. (Photo: Pam Day)

The view from a Cedar Hill Condo deck – looking across the Grand Hotel golf course. (Photo: Pam Day)

A beautifully decorated Chambers Corner! (Photo: Pam Day)

A beautifully decorated Chambers Corner! (Photo: Pam Day)

Main Street on New Year's Eve. (Photo: Jake Hudson)

Main Street on New Year’s Eve. (Photo: Jake Hudson)

A lone snowmobile makes the run up Cadotte on a wintry night. (Photo: Pam Day)

A lone snowmobile makes the run up Cadotte on a wintry night. (Photo: Pam Day)

Friend Eugenia Murray's 16-year-old Beagle, Titus, on his first snow walk (he normally spends his winters in Florida).

Friend Eugenia Murray’s 16-year-old Beagle, Titus, on his first snow walk (he normally spends his winters in Florida).

BODIE

You see those two matching throw pillows on the bed behind my Bodie-boy?

You see those two matching throw pillows on the bed behind my Bodie-boy?

There's only one now.

There’s only one now.

Bodie, bless his heart, is a work-in-progress.  He can be – on alternate days, hours, minutes (even seconds) – either the most aggravating or the sweetest four-legged creature ever.  Our first two-and-a-half months together have been challenging to say the least, and I won’t deny having thought – more than once – “Dear Gussie, what have I done?”

But . . . . when he flops down next to me in the dog bed (it would easily hold me and a small horse) and puts his big, beautiful head across my legs, cutting his eyes up to look at me and seeming to say, “Mom, I know I ate all the paper towels out of the trash can in the kitchen, and chewed up the case for your glasses, and unrolled one of the new rolls of toilet paper you keep in the basket next to that big white funny-shaped water dish I drink out of, but it was just all innocent fun.  You forgive me right?” – my answer is an unequivocal yes.

Bodie loves Ted, but he has most definitely bonded with me.  In the evening, when I retire to the bedroom tv to watch a movie, Bodie is at my feet the entire evening.

Except when he's watching himself!

Except when he’s watching himself (he seems to prefer action-adventures with lots of explosions).

When I leave the house for whatever reason, he waits patiently for me at the door to the garage – even if it’s on the days when I work for four hours.  His temperament, activity level, and demeanor are totally different from Bear’s (and some of that is definitely affected by his age), but even so he is filling my heart with all the good things that owning a wonderful dog brings.  It makes me a little ashamed that my mantra was “I want another golden just like Bear”.  I did not need another Bear.

And he deserves nothing less.

I needed a Bodie.

It’s sooooo good to be back writing!  See you back here soon!

God bless.

 

 

A Sad Goodbye to Arnold Ferry Line 11/13/16

As most of you already know, the 5 p.m. departure of the Huron last Thursday marked the last time a boat operated by Arnold Ferry Line would travel to or from Mackinac Island.  The historic ferry line (the oldest and longest-running), which began serving the island 138 years ago, has been purchased by Star Line Mackinac Island Ferry, which began 38 years ago as competition to Arnold and to Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry, which was created in 1945.

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Arnold’s mighty Huron, as she is known by everyone with ties to Mackinac, has been the only winter ferry to the island since 1955.  Star Line will continue to operate the Huron for passenger and freight service during the winter, abiding by Mackinac Island’s winter ferry passenger service agreement.

Star Line will also buy five other Arnold Line boats, the Arnold Boatyard and several docks.

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Star Line’s Marquette II arrives on Friday morning – her first trip ever as the winter ferry to Mackinac.

For hundreds of islanders, for thousands of  visitors whose memories of a Mackinac vacation began with an Arnold Line ferry boat ride, and for the hundreds of Arnold employees whose lives were tied to the company over those 138 years, this is the sad end of an era.  Especially poignant is the end of the mighty Huron operating as an Arnold boat.  It’s hard to comprehend for those of us who do not live year-round on Mackinac, but Arnold’s mighty Huron provided everything to the island after the close of the season – passenger service and freight service – until the Straits of Mackinac would freeze over and the ferry would have to stop running.  She alone was responsible for islanders receiving food and other staples for the grocery store and restaurants that remain open, for residents reaching the mainland if there were health concerns or if they just needed to have a day off-island, and for winter visitors trying out “Mackinac in the winter”.  Even though the mighty Huron will continue to run, it is a bittersweet transition from one company to another.

We wish Star Line a hearty congratulations on your new venture!  With only two lines providing transportation to Mackinac next summer, Star Line and Shepler’s, it will be interesting to see what changes are in store.  We know both these fine companies will continue to provide excellent service to and from our favorite island, and we look forward to a great 2017 season!

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A poignant farewell photo from Arnold Mackinac Island Ferry on its last departure from the island: “It was a pleasure serving you.  Thank you for 138 years of memories.  This is your ATCO crew – signing off.”

NOVEMBER ON MACKINAC

Clark Bloswick has been busy documenting November on the island.  These next six photos are his.

A relatively calm day earlier in the month . . .

A relatively calm day earlier in the month.

A typical fall wind storm hit the island on Thursday. It always amazes me the size of the waves generated on the Great Lakes. Clark remembers that these waves were nothing compared to those on November 10, 1975, the day the Edmund Fitzgerald went down.

A typical fall wind storm hit the island on Thursday, Nov. 10. It always amazes me the size of the waves generated on the Great Lakes. Clark remembers these waves were nothing compared to those on November 10, 1975, the day the Edmund Fitzgerald went down during a Lake Superior storm, with the loss of the entire crew of 29.

Friday saw the island awake to the first "gale of November" , , ,

Wind, waves and whitecaps.

Sunset on Saturday evening.

Sunset on Saturday evening.

Sunrise over Bois Blanc this morning.

Sunrise over Bois Blanc this morning.

An early evening shot of geese flying into Mission Point, backlit by that gorgeous full moon.

An early evening shot tonight of geese flying into Mission Point, backlit by that gorgeous full moon.

I. Love. This. Photo! A beautiful fall image of the steps leading from Sugar Loaf to Point Lookout. (Photo: Patti Carpenter McGreevy)

I love this photo! A beautiful fall image of the steps leading from Sugar Loaf to Point Lookout. (Photo: Patti Carpenter McGreevy)

BODIE NEWS

I will not lie.  Having a teenage Golden Retriever who weighs  58 lbs. at seven months is a little harder than I thought it would be.  It’s been 12 years since we had a puppy in the house (that would be Maddie), and she was an amazingly easy girl.  And she was small.  Having a big dog puppy is totally different because he does everything . . . bigger!  Plays bigger, eats bigger, poops and pees bigger, chews bigger, walks bigger.  He is a daily challenge, but I love trying to stay one step ahead of him.

One of my biggest challenges is teaching him to greet people gently on our walks.  He wants to wiggle himself right into their space and get all mouthy with their hands.  It was wearing me out trying to pull him back.  So – I sent out a “please help me train Bodie” message to our entire Sunset Inlet community, giving suggestions on how to help Bodie learn to greet nicely.  Our neighbors have responded like the wonderful folks they are.  So far we’ve had encounters with two neighbors who ignored Bodie while I asked him to sit, waited for him to calm down, then asked him to “shake”, which he did.  Then they petted him.  And Bodie got a treat from me.  It was amazing how well it worked!

We have a trainer coming once a week for five weeks to offer tips and help me find the best ways to train him.  Two of our neighbors, Mark and Shauna, text “going to the dog park” when they head out with their two big dogs, Rascal and Ryder, so Bodie and I can join in the fun.  We have a big open area in our community we call the “dog park”.  It’s great for playing fetch and just letting dogs be dogs.

And – I will tell you something else big dogs do.  They LOVE big.  All I need to do to get some Bodie love is climb in his big bed with him.  He snuggles right in and we have some mom/Bodie love time.

Yes, he’s a challenge.  But he is remarkably smart, learns commands quickly, retains most of them well, and is quickly creating his own great big spot in my heart.

Bodie: "I know if I sit here long enough, Maddie will get tired of that Kong and I can get it."

Bodie: “Maybe if I stand here long enough, Maddie will get tired of that Kong and I can get it.”

"Hmmm . . . or maybe not."

“Hmmm . . . or maybe not.”

More Fall Beauty From Mackinac 11/3/16

I thought Sunday’s blog post would be the best of the best of “Fall on Mackinac” photos.

I was wrong.

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Every time someone shares one of these pics of this year’s gorgeous trees I tear up a little.  Sure would love to be there to see them in person – to stand in the road and stare, or sit on a leafy knoll and just breathe it all in. (Photo: Tom Chambers)

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I can’t get enough of the maple trees on Cadotte!  These trees were only planted six years ago.  Can you imagine their WOW factor in another decade!  (Photo: Pam Day)

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The folks at Metivier Inn shared this and the next five photos – showing just how empty downtown becomes after most everything has closed.  Here a lone person walks a bike toward St. Anne’s on Main Street.

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In the summer this row of benches would be overflowing with visitors awaiting their turn to board a Carriage Tour.

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Ferry docks usually teeming with people at any hour of the day stand empty until just before the arrival or departure of a ferry.

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Main Street . . .

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. . . Market Street . . .

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. . . and the marina are empty.  November is quiet on Mackinac.  It’s a time when year-round residents give a sigh of relief that another season of hard work has come to an end, men enjoy hunting season, and families travel to see friends and relatives.  Thanks for sharing, Metivier Inn!

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A gorgeous sunrise captured by Patrick Conlon.

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And that’s a wrap.  From Dale Peterson, this photo of the last group of horses leaving the island for the winter.  A few horses will remain for the winter taxi and for the work drays.

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THIS end of Main Street was a beehive on this particular day.  Getting the work done before the snow flies!  (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

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This photo and the next four are from friend and wonderful photographer Bruce LaPine.  Love this one from the Peace Garden, showing the bronze statue, “Be Still”.  The garden is dedicated to the 200 years of lasting peace between Canada and the United States since the War of 1812.  The garden is at the east end of Marquette Park.

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From Point Lookout, overlooking Sugar Loaf.

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I guess it’s strange to say that one of my favorite island spots is a cemetery, but it is – and especially in the fall.  It’s then that the sound of your feet crunching through the fallen leaves is usually the only sound you will hear as you walk among the gravestones.  Such peace for those who rest here.

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The Grand Lady on the Hill – almost hidden by those maples.

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And there are just no words that would do this one justice.  It is perfect.  Awesome photos, Bruce!  Thank you for sharing!

A FEW BODIE THOUGHTS

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I pulled out an old photo of Bear this week (he was about 1 1/2 years old in that one) and compared him to Bodie.  I had forgotten how much lighter Bear had become as he’d aged.  When we first got himhe was almost the exact shade Bodie is now. 

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Bodie is alternately a teenage terror, an obedient angel, and a big puppy who is scary smart.  I taught him to shake the other day in about 10 minutes, and he instinctively knew to alternate paws –  without being taught that – depending on which one I asked for.  You can just see his mind whirling at times.  Gotta be on my toes with this one!

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He and Maddie are bonding.  That means she puts up with him until he crosses a line.  Then she pushes him back across to his side.  Bodie is more assertive than Bear, but Maddie handles him like the Queen she is.  I caught them grooming each other one morning – Bodie washing her face, and Maddie cleaning his ears.  Sweet moment.

Y’all won’t believe this, but I stayed up until 1 am this morning watching the Cubs win the World Series.  First baseball game I’ve watched in at least 10 years (and probably the last one for the next ten).  I’ve never been much of a baseball fan, but that game last night was sports at its greatest.  Congratulations to all the Cubs fans out there! 

Have a great weekend, and we’ll meet back here in a few days. 

God bless.

Bear – Back By Popular Demand 3/13/2016

Hey!  Bear here!

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This morning, while we were on the beach, mom told me some of my fans were getting restless since I hadn’t put paw to keyboard in a while.  Now, I just have to tell you that it makes this pooch feel mighty, mighty good to know I’ve been missed.  I know mom told you, but right in the middle of all the moving around we Hortons did – I had to have knee surgery.  And even though I type with my two FRONT paws, having a bum BACK leg makes it a little uncomfortable to sit in that chair in front of the laptop.  But – the leg’s all healed up now, and except for a little touch of arthritis, I’m as good as new.

With mom getting so old and all (dad too, but mom talks about it more), I’ve started thinking about MY age and health.  It’s really hard to believe I turned nine last year (right at Christmas time), and my little sister Maddie is 11 1/2 now.  I tease her all the time about how cranky she’s gotten in her “later years”, and she gets me back by proving she can still steal all my toys in three seconds flat.  When Maddie and I hear mom talking about one of her aches or pains, we just look at each other and roll our eyes.  I know Maddie’s thinking the same thing I am – when humans have an ache somewhere, they just get up and take some medicine.  But Maddie and I can lie around and feel bad for hours without anyone figuring out we’re sick. Yep, the only way Maddie and I can tell mom and dad we don’t feel good is to go throw up on something valuable.  That ALWAYS gets their attention!  And off we go to the vet to get OUR medicine!  Humans have it so much easier!

Maddie spends a lot of time lying outside in the sun these days. She tells me it makes her bones feel all nice and warm.

Maddie spends a lot of time lying outside in the sun these days. She tells me it makes her bones feel all nice and warm.

As for me, I still prefer the cold hardwood floor in an air-conditioned room.

As for me, I still prefer the cold floor in an air-conditioned room.

Ok – enough about our aches and pains.  I’m beginning to sound just like mom!

With such short notice, I don’t really have a story to tell today, but since Mom said you wanted to hear from me, I think I’ll introduce you to all the new friends Maddie and I have made here in Sunset Inlet!

And here they are!

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Top row (l-r):  Lola, Gucci, Brutus, and Cooper.  Lola and Cooper are siblings.  Dad loves Brutus – can you guess why?  He even forgets and calls him UGA sometimes (after the famous University of Georgia mascot).  Middle row (l-r): Jesse, Joey, Legend, Koa, Sophie, and Earl.  Did you notice how I put Jesse (the bird) and Earl (the cat) at opposite ends of the collage? I thought it was safer that way.  Legend and Koa (the German Shepherds) are siblings and love the beach.  Mom cat-sat Earl for a week one time, and I can’t say as I liked it much.  But I got over it.  Bottom row (l-r): Princess, Skye, Little Bear, Sugar and Mitzi.  Princess and Gucci are siblings, as are Sophie, Sugar and Mitzi.  Skye lives in New York most of the time, but she comes down with her mom and dad as often as possible, and we hang out in the parking lot.  I love her stories about life in the big city!  The official neighborhood “welcomers” are Maddie, Joey, Gucci, Princess, Lola and yours truly.  We make sure EVERYONE in the neighborhood knows if ANYTHING is going on!  The first one to spot something barks, and then – chain reaction – we all join in.  It’s SO MUCH FUN!

Hope you enjoyed hearing from me and meeting all our friends!  I promise I’ll be back soon with doggie updates from Florida.  And yes, Maddie and I are already dreaming about Mackinac. In fact, Mom is going to show you some really neat photos from there right now!

Arch rock. Robert McGreevy "painted" the opening with a small flashlight and used a timed exposure. Awesome photography!

Arch rock. Robert McGreevy “painted” the opening with a small flashlight and used a timed exposure. Awesome photography!

Reflections on ice and water. (Photo: Thomas Nighswander on Pure Michigan)

Reflections on ice and water. (Photo: Thomas Nighswander on Pure Michigan)

The snow is slowly giving way to slush. (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

The snow is slowly giving way to slush. (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

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Snowmobiles will soon be back in storage . . . (Photo: Tom Chambers)

. . . and soon this hill will once again be alive with visitors, taxis, and drays! (Photo: Tom Chambers)

. . . and within weeks this hill will once again be alive with visitors, taxis, and drays! (Photo: Tom Chambers)

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Perfectly captured wave splashing against ice.  (Photo:  Clark Bloswick)

And the early morning sun reflecting off snow on the East Bluff. (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

And the early morning sun reflecting off a fence on the East Bluff. (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

Speechless. (Photo by Bobby Lee)

Speechless. (Photo by Bobby Lee)

Our weekend company sadly had to cancel, but we’ve had a great time here, with perfect weather for the last few days.  Biker week ended today, so the streets are once again quiet (thank you, Lord).  We took the boat out today and rode down to Hidden Treasure Raw Bar & Grill for lunch with neighbors Brandi and Todd.

We love that this place has opened so close to our house. Right on the Intracoastal . . .

We love that this place has opened so close to our house. Right on the Intracoastal . . .

The water was quiet also this afternoon, but we saw a few boats, including this one - under full sail.

The water was quiet also this afternoon, but we saw a few boats, including this one – under full sail.  Just as the streets of Mackinac will soon be busy once again,  this waterway will very shortly be teeming with boats returning north for the summer and with residents taking advantage of this great place we now call home.

I hope everyone has had a wonderful weekend, and I hope your coming week is filled with nothing but good things.

God bless.

Just had to say one last thing. Thank you so much for asking me to write again. And please tell all my doggie and kitty (and birds) fans out there I said hi. And so does Maddie.

Just had to say one last thing. Thank you so much for asking me to write again. And please tell all my doggie and kitty (and bird) fans out there I said hi. And so does Maddie.

Bear . . . out.

Bear . . . out.

Black Lake – Relaxation, Adventure . . . and Friendship 8/16/15

Island on Monday afternoon.  Our time here with Sue and Terry has been a combination of great friends, good food, engaging conversation, coffee by the lake, reading in the hammock, and happy hour on the deck.  It’s been awesome getting to know Sue and Terry better- as well as their many lake friends. Here’s a little bit of what we’ve experienced for the last three weeks!

TERRY AND TED’S EXCELLENCE ADVENTURE

"Let's put the kayaks in at the Red Bridge and paddle down the Black River to Black Lake." Sue and I don't remember if it was Terry or Ted who came up with the idea, but - guys being guys - once the idea formed, executing it couldn't be far behind.

“Let’s put the kayaks in at the Red Bridge and paddle down the Upper Black River to Black Lake.” Sue and I don’t remember if it was Terry or Ted who came up with the idea, but – guys being guys – once the idea formed, executing it couldn’t be far behind.

The Red Bridge - precisely in the middle of nowhere . . .

The Red Bridge – precisely in the middle of nowhere . . .

. . . and where Sue and I dropped them off in the middle of a cool Michigan morning. Please note: Ted is NOT planning on raiding a bee hive during the trip - he is guarding against the attack of black flies and mosquitoes. Thankfully, neither were problems on this trip, and Ted took off the gear after only five minutes on the river.

. . . and where Sue and I dropped the two adventurers off in the middle of a cool Michigan morning. Please note: Ted is NOT planning on raiding a bee hive during the trip – he is guarding against the attack of black flies and mosquitoes. Thankfully, neither were problems on this trip, and Ted took the headgear off after only five minutes on the river.

Terry shoves off from the bank . . .

Terry shoves off from the bank . . .

. . . and after a few moments, they disappeared from view around a bend. Sue and I swear it was at this point we heard the sound of dueling banjos in the distance.

. . . and after a few moments, they disappeared from view around a bend. Sue and I swear it was at this point we heard the sound of dueling banjos in the distance.

But - luckily - they didn't encounter any backwoodsmen, and three hours after we dropped them off, they arrived back at the cabins - none the worse for wear.

But – luckily- they didn’t encounter any backwoodsmen, and three hours after we dropped them at the bridge they arrived back at the cabins – none the worse for wear.

TERRY AND TED’S NOT-SO-EXCELLENT ADVENTURE

The second kayak trip started much the same way as the first - at Happy Hour. This time they planned to put in at and travel through really wild country back to the lake. We should have known they were planning something more difficult than the first trip, but - like most good wives - Sue and I just knew our husbands wouldn't think of doing something outside the realm of safety!

The second kayak trip started much the same way as the first – at Happy Hour. This time Hawkeye Conlon and Chingachgook Horton planned to put in further up the river and travel through even rougher wilderness country back to the lake. Were Sue and I worried?  Of course not! We knew our husbands wouldn’t dream of doing anything outside the realm of safety!

Once again, the guys shoved the kayaks into the back of Terry's truck, and Sue and I drove them (down rodes I'm sure had not been designated on Google Maps) to the "dropping off" point - Kleber Dam.

Once again, the guys secured the kayaks in the back of Terry’s truck, and Sue and I drove them (down roads I’m sure are not recognized by Google Maps) to the “dropping off” point – Kleber Dam.

As they prepared to launch, Sue and I asked the caring question wives always ask when their husbands prepare to start out on an adventure: Is your life insurance paid up, dear?

As they prepared to launch, Sue and I asked the caring and concerned question wives have historically asked whenever their husbands prepare to start out on an adventure: “Is your life insurance paid up, dear?”

As Ted paddled into the middle of the stream (the Black River), we noticed the water was flowing pretty fast . . .

As Ted paddled into the middle of the stream (the Upper Black River), we noticed the water was flowing pretty fast . . .

. . . and by the time we had the truck back on the bridge at the top of the dam, Hawkeye and Chingawkchuck were nowhere to be seen.

. . . and by the time we had the truck back on the bridge at the top of the dam, Hawkeye and Chingachgook  were nowhere to be seen.

The story as it was told to us around the campfire that evening: Ted: "As soon as we rounded the first bend, we encountered rapids. Terry paddled right and got caught by some logs, so he yelled back to me to go left, which I did. Bad news - to the left were more rapids, and I immediately found myself in the water, with my kayak upside down."

The story as it was told to us around the campfire that evening: Ted: “As soon as we rounded the first bend, we encountered rapids.  Terry paddled right and got caught on some rocks, so he yelled to me to go left, which I did. Bad news – to the left were more rapids, and I immediately found myself in the water, with my kayak upside down.  I lost two bottles of water, and my kayak was full of water. I turned it over and got most of the water drained out before climbing back in.”

dddd

Terry: “By that time I had pushed myself off the rocks, and we were paddling downstream again.”  Ted:  “It was about then I realized what else I had lost when I tipped over – my glasses!  Luckily – at the last minute before we left – I had switched out my good pair for my spare pair!”

Terry: " The entire trip was filled with rapids, log jams, curves, and rocky areas we'd have to maneuver around."

Terry: ” The majority of the trip was filled with rapids, log jams, curves, and rocky areas we’d have to maneuver around.”

Terry: "When all else failed, we'd be forced to pull up on shore and portage around the obstacle."

Terry: “When all else failed, we’d be forced to pull up on shore and portage around the obstacle.”

Ted: "We portaged around jams six or seven times during the next four hours."

Ted: “We portaged around log jams six or seven times during the next four hours.”

The guys were planning to kayak back to the lake, but after four hours of battling the river, Terry sent a message to Sue which basically read:  “We are at the Red Bridge.  Come get us.”  We gave our brave husbands gold stars for realizing another four hours from the Red Bridge to the cabin may have been a little more than what they’d planned for – after all the unexpected “fun” they’d had the first four hours! 

BEAR AND THE TUMMY BUG

On Sunday, out of the clear blue sky, Bear started exhibiting all the symptoms that accompany a stomach bug.  I won’t go into details on what that means, but I’m sure you can figure it out.  He was sick all afternoon and all night.  Monday morning found us at the Indian River Animal Hospital where tests showed he’d picked up a really nasty bacterial infection.  The doc said it was just a matter of encountering different bacteria in a different environment than he was used to.

It took about 24 hours for the four meds he was given to clear up the infection. My boy was one sick baby for a while. Look at those weak eyes.

It took about 24 hours for the four meds he was given to clear up the infection. My boy was one sick baby for a while.

Three days later he was back to his old self and off to the groomer for a new summer "do". This is the shortest I've ever had him cut, and at first I was almost in tears when I saw him. It's growing on me though, and - just like when we get a haircut we don't like - it will always grow out!

Three days later he was back to his old self and off to the groomer for a new summer “do”. This is the shortest I’ve ever had him cut, and at first I was almost in tears when I saw him. It’s growing on me though (no pun intended), and eventually it will grow out.  Kinda looks like teddy bear fur!

BLACK LAKE PHOTOS

Besides our friends, two of the things I miss most about our Georgia home are the trees and the ability to plant flowers whenever and wherever I want. Sue has certainly given me my "fix" during these weeks at Black Lake. She loves gardening and has flowers in pots, hanging baskets and window boxes.

Besides our friends, two of the things I miss most about our Georgia home are the trees and the ability to plant flowers whenever and wherever I want. Sue has certainly given me my “fix” during these weeks at Black Lake. She loves gardening and has flowers in pots, hanging baskets and window boxes.

Makeshift shoe dryer!

Makeshift shoe dryer!

Ruby Sue - always on guard!

Ruby Sue – always on guard!

Geraniums . . .

Geraniums . . .

. . . geraniums!

. . . geraniums!

Terry - mostly retired, but still doing a little work from the patio.

Terry – mostly retired, but still doing a little work from the back deck.

Sue - beginning a birdhouse project. She plans to hang brightly-painted birdhouses on what's left of the trunk of a tree that was cut down this week.

Sue – beginning a birdhouse project. She plans to hang brightly-painted birdhouses on what’s left of the trunk of a tree that was cut down this week.  This lady NEVER slows down!  LOL – I used to be like that!

Speaking of cutting down trees - this guy was using the biggest slingshot I've ever seen to hook a rope around a branch at the top of a tree.

Speaking of cutting down trees – this guy was using the biggest slingshot I’ve ever seen to hook a rope around a branch at the top of a tall pine . . .

Success!

Success!

Best place to pretend you're going to read when you know you'll be asleep within three minutes!

Best place to pretend you’re going to read when you know you’ll be asleep in three minutes! The tether tied to the tree is so when you briefly wake up you can pull the rope and start yourself swinging again.  It’s also an aid to getting OUT of the hammock.  Love it!

Among the pines . . .

Among the pines . . .

. . . and always close to their beloved lake - the graves of two former golden retrievers and one Irish Setter.

. . . and always close to their beloved lake – the graves of two former Golden Retrievers (Abby Louise and Murphy Louise) and one Irish Setter (Kelly May).

Much used toys - jet ski, kayaks and canoe.

Much used and enjoyed toys – jet ski, kayaks, canoe and floats.

Everything that's needed for lake living!

Everything that’s needed for lake living.  LOVE the sandy beach!

Ted - collecting golf balls he's hit into the lake. The water is clear, shallow, and you can easily see the bottom.

Ted – collecting golf balls he’s hit into the lake. The water is clear, shallow, and you can easily see the bottom.

"Golf balls? I love golf balls almost as much as tennis balls! Let's play a game where you hit them - but not IN THE WATER - and I'll retrieve them!

“Golf balls? I love golf balls almost as much as tennis balls! Let’s play a game where you hit them – but not IN THE WATER – and I’ll retrieve them!”

"I'll hide, and you hit!"

“Even better!  Hide and seek golf!”

Napping in the sun.

Settling down for a nap in the sun.

A late Saturday afternoon pontoon boat cruise with Sue and Terry and new friends Kathy . . .

A late Saturday afternoon pontoon boat cruise with Sue and Terry and new friends Kathy . . .

. . . and Todd.

. . . and Todd, who have just moved to Florida also!  Like we used to do, they stay in Michigan all summer to enjoy the cooler weather in a place that’s been in their family for a couple of generations.

Sunrise view from our cabin.

Sunrise view from our cabin.

A huge thank you to Sue and Terry for inviting us to stay in one of the cabins at Whispering Pines these last few weeks.  It’s been a perfect time of relaxation, and you’ve made us feel at home from the moment of our arrival.  We can’t wait for you to come over and stay with us on the island!

On Monday we’ll do some last minute cleaning and packing, and by late afternoon we should be settled into the condo on Mackinac for the next six weeks.  Sure hope you’re planning to come along with us!

God bless.

Joyful Simplicity – Part II 7/29/2012

I’ve always been awed by someone’s ability to build a house from the ground up – no contractors, no outside help except family and friends.  How do you take a bare piece of ground – in this case, solid rock – and construct a family home –  this one replacing one lost to a fire.  And how do you do that – not in the city where logistics are relatively simply – but in a remote area of Canadian wilderness reachable only by boat.  The mind is boggled.

But that’s exactly what happened in the spring of 1977, when Brad’s dad and other family members – when available – set to work constructing Twin Pine Lodge II.

Monday – our first morning at the camp. Donna and Ted sip coffee, and Bear gets some early morning hugs.

The climb alone – from the floating dock to the cabin site – would have been enough to deter me from even considering a “rebuild” at the location of the original camp. And that climb comes AFTER supplies are brought over on a small steel-bottomed boat from the mainland.  But that ‘s what Brad’s dad set out to do , and that’s what he did – very successfully.

I found myself wandering around the cabin on more than one occasion, trying to imagine the work involved in building the new cabin.  Every piece of wood – large, small and medium-sized – came over by boat and was hauled up that rocky hill.  Brad said, “My dad could build anything. Except for most of the furniture, everything you see was built by hand – including the kitchen cabinets.”  Brad’s dad built those in Florida and brought them to Canada in a van.  It took three trips to get them all north.  He did all the electrical work and all the plumbing.  He also left detailed instructions and drawings of HOW everything had been done and how everything worked – instructions Brad still refers to, even now.

The large family room stretches from the kitchen all the way across the width of the house.  Built-in beds like these are in two corners, offering a place for reading, afternoon naps, or evening sleep – all under an open window with curtains blowing in the pine-scented breeze.

The stone in the fireplace was recovered from the original log cabin. There are three bedrooms and one bathroom. And “just in case” – there is an out-house nearby that is fully functional (I skipped going quite that rustic).

One of the many amazing stories Brad told was about the installation of the septic tank.  Five tons of rock were delivered to the dock at Willisville and divided into three piles based on the size of the rock.  Brad and his dad loaded the rock into as many 5-gallon buckets as the boat would hold without sinking, and they’d motor to the cabin dock.  Then they would manually haul those buckets up the hill to the site of the septic system  . . . . FIVE TONS of rock.

Living that close to nature means using extraordinary means to keep “critters” out of food supplies. Brad’s grandmother and mother started the tradition of keeping just about everything that was to be consumed in large glass jars with screw-on lids. The pantry held shelf after shelf of those jars.

There IS a TV set in the cabin, but no cable or satellite.  They use the tv to watch movies, and there are drawers and drawers full of VHS tapes and DVDs.  Besides movies, there were many other choices for after-dinner (or any other time) entertainment.

Reading – there are books everywhere – in corners, on bookshelves, on desks, and in baskets . . . . collected and read by family members in the thirty-five years the cabin has stood. Donna brings up at least five books each summer. Family and friends bring their own or pick out one that is already there. The books come and go over the years, but there are always hundreds to choose from.

Games –  you name it, the Prudens have it. There are several game-playing tables throughout the cabin – like this one hand-made by Brad’s dad.

Puzzles – like books and games, there are many to choose from, and one is always sitting on a table, just waiting for someone to sit down and add a few pieces.

Brad’s high chair – used by him when he first was brought to the cabin as a three-year old. Now it has served Donna and Brad’s daughter Meredith, and many nieces and nephews.

“Over the hills and through the woods” from Brad and Donna’s is Charlton Lake Camp, owned by Brad’s sister Lori and her husband Mark. It’s been their dream to own and operate a camp in Canada . . .

. . . and the camp had a “no vacancies” sign up when we arrived.  Business is good.

On Monday we took the pontoon boat out, and Brad and Donna gave us a tour of the lakes and camps in this part of the La Cloche Mountain range.

It was amazing to see the cliffs of quartzite rise up out of the clear water of the numerous lakes we boated through.

Each lake flows into the next through what they call “narrows”.

A sweet little cabin next to a tiny waterfall. At night, I would think this would look just like a Thomas Kinkade painting.

Can’t even think about what it would take to reach this place. Talk about remote!

On Tuesday we left Maddie and Bear at the cabin and rode over to Little Current, which is on Manitoulin Island.  To access the island requires timing your trip off or on with the swinging bridge that connects the island to the mainland.  Now when Brad and Donna started talking about “swinging” bridge, I thought about a rope bridge, but this was a little more technical than that!

The bridge as it looked after we had just crossed . . .

. . . and how it looked after “swinging” around to allow boats to go through on either side. It opens for 15 minutes each hour, and boats too tall to pass under (which are most of them) line up on each side to get through before it closes again.

The marina on Manitoulin Island . . . . .

. . . where we spotted this sign at the Yacht Club about the Mackinac to Manitoulin Island Yacht Race, which was just last week.

Back at the cabin, we picked up Maddie and Bear and hit the lakes for one more afternoon of beautiful water, weather, mountains and skies.

Our three days and nights with the Prudens was beyond words in serenity and comfort.  Even though we live on an island and can walk into the woods for solitude, the fact that Mackinac is a resort community means a trip downtown will mean mingling – at least during the day – with thousands of visitors.  This summer has been busier on the Island than any of the other four we’ve spent here, and that is a wonderful thing for the merchants.  For those of us who like our quiet times though, all those people can be a little overwhelming at times.  We returned to our Island relaxed, renewed, and rejuvenated.  Donna and Brad have asked us to return anytime, and I’m sure we will.

Living on Mackinac Island is surely a step back in time to a simpler lifestyle, but visiting that remote area of Canada almost made Mackinac look like New York City.  The stillness at night was complete.  We were amazed there seemed to be no wildlife playing the usual “woods” symphonies.  There were no frogs or crickets playing harmonies outside – just this amazing . . . quiet.  Sitting on the porch at night in a rocking chair and seeing a sliver of moon reflected over the still water caused my muscles to relax into mush, and my heartbeat to lower into almost-sleep mode.

Joyful simplicity.  We went, we enjoyed – we’ll take more of that please!

Random Photographs from Canada

Looking from the screened porch to the not-screened porch.

View from the porch steps.

Lots of exercise for “all” the kids!

Lake Frood at twilight.

Twin Pine Lodge II from the water – almost hidden by the trees.

“The sun was so bright, I had to wear shades.”

Sliver of moon.

Joyful simplicity.

Personal note:  So much to tell you about this week!  This past Saturday night, I was one of the speakers at the annual Shepler’s Tweet-Up (a gathering of social media folks – Facebook, Tweeters, Pinterest, Bloggers, etc.), and this year it was held on a ferry cruising around the Straits and under the Mackinac Bridge!  That story is coming up on Wednesday.

And . . . . drum roll please!  The Harlem Globetrotters (yes, the real ones) will be playing two exhibition games on the Island on Tuesday at the school.  On Monday (tomorrow), the Tourism Bureau invited me to go along for Media Day with the Globetrotters as they tour the Island for the first time.  They will be doing all kinds of fun things like visiting Murdick’s Fudge, the Grand Hotel, the new stable, and the fort.  First thing in the morning, they will be playing basketball on the deck of Shepler’s Sacre Blue freight ferry as it brings them from St. Ignace to the Island.  And I’m going to be right there in the middle of all of it with my trusty (oh please, let it be trusty!) camera.  They’ve asked me to blog about Media Day, and I said YES, YES, YES!  I’m so excited, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.  That will be coming up on Friday!

And . . . . . . Blake arrives Friday for a 10-day stay on the Island!

It’s going to be a great week here, and the best part will be getting to share it with all of you!

See you on Wednesday!  God bless.

PerPer

How Beautifully Leaves Grow Old 10/13/2011

“How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days.” – John Burroughs

Oh geez.  I’m down to counting DAYS now.  19 to go before we’re out of here.  Where did the summer go?  It seems like three minutes ago we were right in the middle of watching the horses come off the ferry and walk up the hill to the big barns.  Now the horses are almost all gone back to Pickford in the U.P., where they will kick up their heels and enjoy a much needed rest.

I’ve asked Ted to get my suitcases out of the attic and put them on the beds upstairs.  I’m going to try and get organized (don’t you dare laugh).  All my days are filling up, and before I can say “fudge”, the 30th will be here, and Ted will be standing in the street next to the taxi yelling, “No, we can’t stay another week!”

Many of our friends have already gone south – or east or west – for the winter (don’t know any who go further north, which would be Canada).  Each day brings partings on the ferry docks and promises to stay in touch by email, or Facebook, or Skype or cellphone, which certainly makes the “partings” a little easier. 

The next three weeks’ calendar is already almost full – lunches and breakfasts with friends still here, meetings with a couple of Blog fans, and three days next week I’m volunteering at Shepler’s in Mac City for the Winsome Women conference. What a great group of ladies – almost a thousand each day will be catching the ferry to and from the Island.  I think they have me greeting cars at the entrance gate and showing them where to park.  I have to remember not to talk too long to the women in each car!

But – that’s all about what’s happening in the next 19 days.  For the last three days, I’ve been out on the island with the camera – and that’s what I want to share with you today and tomorrow.  Oh my goodness, I could stay out there from sunrise to sunset – it’s that gorgeous.

Arrowhead Stables, as we were riding our bikes home from church Sunday. It was Little Stone Church's last service of the season, and Vince and Molly (our pastor and his wife) left the island on Tuesday for their winter home in Florida.

We stopped to talk with Barb, a Village neighbor, who was walking Topaz (their family pony) down the hill. Topaz was scheduled to leave the island for the winter the next morning.

Maybe the last mowing of the season. Our weather is supposed to be changing drastically by Friday, but these last two weeks could not have been more beautiful.

Trees in front of Barn View - where many of the Carriage Tour employees reside.

Two of our neighbors, walking their bikes home on the road that runs in front of our condo.

Chief Duck's little poodle, Star - dancing in the leaves for a treat I was holding right over her head.

Still beautiful weather on Tuesday morning, so we sat outside for coffee. The tree just outside out bay window is changing into its fall dress - one "sleeve" at a time.

We went on a long walk Tuesday afternoon. We really don't have to go much further now than our own front yard to find color - it's everywhere around us.

Bright red tree over what used to be the goat petting shed at Carriage Museum.

Maddie - straining against her halter. When you say "walk in the woods", she is ready!

"Why can't I go in this tree trunk!?"

"I knew I'd find it! Fox poop - yeah!"

View from in front of the Captain's Quarters at Fort Mackinac.

I think I’ll stop right there for now, but I’ll have even more to share on Friday.  As I sit and type this, it’s Wednesday afternoon, and I’ve just returned from town.  I left in a 3/4 length sleeve cotton shirt thrown over a short-sleeve t-shirt and some khaki pants.  Half-way down the hill, the wind changed direction, and cold air hit me like an iceberg.  The fog rolled in over the harbor and flew up each street – replacing warm, bright sunshine with cool, wet air – and the fog horns have been blowing ever since.  I had to stop and buy a sweater in town to wear back up the hill.  And THAT’s how fall arrives on Mackinac Island!  LOVE IT!

Thanks to Sue Randall for stopping by to see me Monday at the Stuart House.  I didn’t know it at the time, but that was my last day working there for this year, as they decided today to close the museum for the season.

Sue and her husband were at the Grand for a few days for a Christian Marriage Retreat.

See you Friday!