Weekend News and Fun 6/9/2013

Oh my gosh, what a wonderful weekend we’ve had here on Mackinac.  SO MUCH to tell you about I don’t even know where to start . . . so, let’s start with Friday, which just happened to be . . .

MY BIRTHDAY!

Sixty-five.  How can that be?  I remember when I’d meet someone who was 65 and think, “Golly, that is really, really OLD!”  And now here I am . . .  really, really OLD!  But I don’t feel 65 – well except when I first get up in the morning and haven’t had my coffee.  And when I’ve walked up Cadotte more than once a day.  And when I’ve climbed the stairs from Marquette Park to Anne’s Tablet.  And when . . . well, you know what I mean.

My sweet Ted took me to dinner Friday evening at The Island House, which overlooks the Mackinac Island Marina.

My sweet Ted took me to dinner Friday evening at The Island House, which overlooks the Mackinac Island Marina.

We haven't eaten there in several years.  I don't know why except it's a little further to walk.  Our dinner was excellent, and the view of the Straits and the freighters passing between the lighthouses just don't get much better than this!

We haven’t eaten there in several years. I don’t know why. except it’s a little further to walk. Our dinner was excellent, and the view of the Straits and the freighters passing between the lighthouses just can’t get much better than this!

MEETING ANNA

A few weeks ago I received an email from Anna Marlis Burgard.  Anna is the author and principal photographer for the forthcoming book, “Island of America: A River, Lake and Sea Odyssey”.  She is finalizing publisher negotiations, and National Geographic Traveler will feature the book when it releases.  Anna has worked for quite a while in the illustrated book business as an editor, creative director and author, but she says the “Islands” book is certainly her biggest adventure.  She is planning to include Mackinac in the book, and while “noodling” around online she found Bree’s Blog and wanted to meet me and get my thoughts about the island.  “Would I be available,” she asked.  “Why, yes I would!” I replied.

I later learned she had been in contact with our Tourism Bureau Director Mary McGuire, and had three days of photography scheduled during her visit.

On Saturday Anna and I met at the Chippewa for lunch and had a happy time discussing what is – of course – the very best island – Mackinac! I learned that Anna has been researching this book for 1 1/2 years and will probably spend at least another year traveling before it’s ready for the printer.  It will be published in 2015.  I had a blast listening to her stories of all the islands she is visiting around the country, and I hope I was able to give her some local color about our “rock”.  I invited her to Little Stone Church for Sunday services, and there she was this morning! 

So enjoyed meeting you Anna.  I’m looking forward to the publication of your book, and we’re so excited you’re including Mackinac!

SUNDAY MORNING

This weekend – weatherwise and otherwise – has been awesome!  We’re finally beginning to get warmer temps, and walking to church this morning was a real treat.  Instead of layers upon layers, I ambled down the hill without a single “cold weather” wrap.  The sun felt great!

Walking back home, I stopped to snap a few photos.  Flowers are popping up everywhere now, and it constantly amazes me how flowerpots empty just yesterday can be filled with overflowing blossoms - overnight!

Walking back home after services, I stopped to snap a few photos. Flowers are popping up everywhere now, and it constantly amazes me how flowerpots, empty just yesterday, can be filled with overflowing blossoms – overnight!  I think we must have some flower genies on Mackinac!

The Grand golf

Everything is green, green, green . . .

. . . and the Grand Jewel Golf Course is manicured to perfection.

. . . and the Grand Jewel Golf Course is manicured to perfection.

SUNDAY WALK

After lunch and a long afternoon nap, Ted and I headed out with the pups for a walk in the woods.  They were so excited when we got out the leashes they were practically bouncing off the walls!

The Lilacs in the Village are joining those all over the Island in trying to outdo each other for color and variety.

The Lilacs in the Village are joining those all over the Island in trying to outdo each other in color and variety.  One block from our condo, we turned left onto Fourth and walked the short block to the gravel road where Fourth ends and Whitefield Road begins.

. . .

At that point, we are in the Mackinac Island State Park.

Just a few yards on the gravel, and we turned down Trail

Just a few yards on the gravel, and we turned down Fire Break Trail.

I'd walked Maddie and Bear down this trail a few days ago, and I wanted to show Ted the rock formation that had frightened Bear.

I’d walked Maddie and Bear down this trail a few days ago, and I wanted to show Ted something that had frightened Bear. This trail is really thick with vegetation this year.  All the snow this winter failed trees and branches, and although it’s hard to see in this photo, the dirt path is completely covered here by brush – but not so bad we couldn’t push our way through.

I love these woods walks.  It's out here that you find the real Mackinac - in the trees, in the wildflowers, in the wind and birds and small animals scurrying away at our footsteps.

I love these woods walks. It’s out here that you find the real Mackinac – in the trees, in the wildflowers, in the wind and birds and small animals scurrying away at our footsteps.

When I was out here a few days ago, Bear ran ahead of me and up over that hill.  A few seconds later, he began barking - something he normally doesn't do unless Maddie does it first.  I hurried ahead and found him backed off several feet and frantically warning me that there was a dangerous creature ahead . . . .

When I was here a few days ago, Bear ran ahead of me and up over that hill. A few seconds later, he began barking – something he normally doesn’t do unless Maddie does it first. I hurried ahead and found him backed off several feet and frantically warning me that there was a dangerous creature ahead . . . .

, , , this rock cairn someone had recently formed!  For Bear, who knows every rock and branch and tree out here, this was different and therefore worth

, , , this cairn rock sculpture someone had recently formed! For Bear, who knows every rock and branch and tree out here, this was different . . .

gggggg

. . . and therefore. it was worth it to sound an alarm.

Maddie, jumping over a couple of small trees that had fallen across the path.

Maddie, jumping over a couple of small trees that had fallen across the path.

Out of the State Park and back into the Village.

Out of the State Park and back into the Village.  Lilacs . . .

14

15

. . . and Bleeding Hearts.

. . . and Bleeding Hearts against a neighbor’s fence.

Cadotte Avenue runs all the way through the Village and into the State Park - where it dead ends into Annex Road.

Cadotte Avenue runs all the way through the Village and into the State Park – where it dead ends into Annex Road.  I love the Village!

vvv

Two “drive it yourself” buggies – grown children in the first one, grandparents and grandchildren in the second – followed by a taxi.  Where else but on Mackinac!

OTHER GOODIES!

My friend Frankie and sweet Hershey are on the Island for a few days.  They stopped in to see Jill at the Island Bookstore.

My friend Frankie and sweet Hershey are on the Island for a few days. They stopped in to see Jill at the Island Bookstore.  Sorry, Hershey, no treats in my pocket.

After a party downtown Saturday night, Ted and I waited at the cab stand for a taxi home. God painted quite a beautiful tapestry across the sky that evening.

After a party downtown Saturday night, Ted and I waited at the cab stand for a taxi home. God painted quite a beautiful tapestry across the sky that evening.

A wedding photographer was doing some special shots out on our lawn late this afternoon.  I rushed inside to get the big lens, but only caught them as they rode away.

A wedding photographer was doing some special shots out on our lawn late this afternoon. I rushed inside to get the big lens, but only caught them as they rode away.

The Lilac bush at the corner of our back yard.

The Lilac bush at the corner of our back yard.

My sweet boy.

My sweet boy.

I  begin volunteering tomorrow at the Stuart House and will be there every Monday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. for the rest of the season.  If you’re on the Island on a Monday, I’d sure love it if you’d stopped by and said hi!

Happy, Happy Birthday this weekend to our special brother-in-law, Charlie/Frog McMichael, and a Happy, Happy Birthday also to Mr. Pat Pulte, owner of the Murray Hotel and the Inn on Mackinac!  Pat is one of the Mackinac 7 – a group of talented artists who live and work on the Island.  Pat, I have my eye on that painting of the Stuart House on Market Street!

The Lilac Festival is in full swing this week, culminating in the Lilac Festival Parade next Sunday afternoon.  Stay tuned for all the fun!

Lunch with Comedian Stu Stuart 8/22/09

Stu Stuart, a comedian who performs on Mackinac Island throughout the season,IMG_5100 invited me to lunch on Friday.  Please understand, this was a brand new happening – it’s usually me doing the asking – something like, “Would you please, please, please let me talk to you and follow you around all day and take pictures of you?” 

But on a recent blog, I asked for ideas of people on the island you might like to hear about, and Stu, out of the blue,  invited me to interview him.  I said to myself, “Oh wow!”  Stu Stuart is very well known on the island AND in Los Angeles as a serious comedian – I don’t mean he’s serious, he’s funny – you know what I mean. 

He asked me to send him 20 questions that he could answer ahead of time.  Pressure!  I replied something cute back to him like, “Hey, I’m not Katic Couric, I’m just a south Georgia girl doing a blog for fun!”  He nicely replied, “No problem – but it would make the interview easier.”  So I sent him probably 20 of the lamest questions he had ever seen.

We met at the Murray Hotel Burrito Bar.  I was so excited!  You know how much I love Mexican food, and how much Ted does not like it – so I never get to eat it.  I didn’t even know the Murray had a burrito bar, but believe me, I will be back – it was wonderful!  Stu said it was one of the best-kept secrets on the island. 

I arrived a little early, and I confess to not recognizing Stu when he came in.  When Ted and I went to his comedy show a few years ago, he had been clean-shaven.  Today he had a beard.  He recognized me right away – I think being the only woman seated in the waiting area with a notebook and camera might have tipped him off.

We went through the burrito bar line and had a seat at a small table by the window.  He apologized for not having sent me the answers to my questions until just before leaving for the interview (I had not received them before leaving the condo).  I didn’t really care – I just like to talk to someone and go from there, but I confess that I was delighted when I got home and found that he seemed to have really put some thought into my 20 lame questions.

When Ted and I had seen his show, I remembered that Stu was a very “comfortable to listen to” comedian.  There was none of that crazy, zany, over the top frenzy that it seems a lot of comedians use now.  And his show was clean – there were children in the audience, and parents did not have to worry what they were going to hear.  Watching Stu perform is more like having a great conversation with a very funny friend, and that is what lunch was like.  After the initial uneasiness of being with someone you don’t know, it quickly turned into a relaxed chat – with humor!

IMG_5095a

Stu was born in Michigan and came to Mackinac Island often as a child.  When his dad retired and Stu was 16, his family moved to Montana.  He finished high school there, and graduated with a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Montana Missoula.  Jobs following college included leadership consultant for a national fraternity, commercial real estate in Seattle, and Director of Public Relations for the Unlimited Racing Commission in Seattle. 

While these jobs were paying the bills, Stu was beginning to make a reputation for himself in stand-up comedy, performing on stage for the first time in 1987.  Comedy gradually became a second income for him, but was still just a hobby until it became his full time job in 1991.  That was the same year he visited Mackinac Island for the first time in years.  He’s done the comedy show circuit, which he says used to be great in some ways.  You would be booked into a club out of town, your travel would be paid for, you were put up in a really nice hotel, and the pay was good. ” All of that,” Stu said, “has gone by the wayside”.  And by then, the adventure that life on the road offered had lost some of its appeal.

Stu came to Mackinac Island 15 summers ago, and the appeal of performing in one place for that long has not been tarnished at all.  Starting his act at Mission Point Resort in 1995, he supplemented his income by working at different times as a dock porter, a substitute teacher, and as the airport attendant.  From Mission Point, he moved to the Island House, then Sarducci’s, and has been at the Lilac Tree Hotel for the last nine summers.  The show is now his full-time summer job.  He says, “Instead of traveling from town to town and club to club, I get to go home and sleep in my own bed every night after a show.  The people come to you instead of you going to them.  And what’s not to like about Mackinac Island, with its natural beauty, fresh air, and getting to ride your bicycle everywhere!” 

Stu divides his time between  Mackinac Island in the summer and Mendocino, California, in the winter. In the winter, he bases out of California, does stand-up, and teaches a beginning stand-up comedy class at the Experimental College at the University of Washington in Seattle.  His comedy class was featured on KING TV’s Evening Magazine this past spring.  Visit stustuart.com for a schedule of shows, classes, and for a link to Evening Magazine’s segment on Stu’s class.

Another venture Stu is involved in is Belgian Beer Me!  A beer enthusiast, and brewer and lover of Belgian beers, Stu plans beer tours through, where else, Belgium!  Geered for 6-14 people, the tour cost covers everything except air transportation and promises to give you the best food, scenery, history, architecture, shopping and, of course, beer that Belgium has to offer http://www.belgianbeerme.com.

With all this going on, you’d think Stu would have little time for anything else.  But he considers himself the ultimate tourist.  He travels around the UP of Michigan regularly, taking side trips to little towns and villages around the Great Lakes.  He also travels extensively in Europe.  He understands fully how blessed he is to be at this stage of his life and to be able to do what he is doing.

I asked Stu some of the usual questions for an interview.  His favorite book – anything by Jim Harrison (of Legends of the Fall fame).  His favorite movie – An Officer and a Gentleman.  His favorite fudge – the Murray Hotel’s Chocolate Tiger (peanut butter fudge).

When asked how often he changes his comedy routine, he said, “I would never completely change the entire routine at one time.  I have a conversational style of comedy, with lots of improv with the audience, which keeps it fresh for my regulars who come back year after year.” 

What’s his favorite spot on the island?  “I love to go out in the meadow behind the Stonecliffe Mansion and hit tennis balls to my poodle, Chloe.  Then I sit back in an adironack chair, drink a nice Belgian beer, and watch Chloe arrange all the balls in a pile.”

My final question to Stu is one that I ask anyone who has lived on the island for several years – if someone was coming to the island for the first time, and only had one day to visit, what would be the top five things you would tell them they must see or do”?   I don’t think I have ever gotten the same five answers  from anyone, and Stu was no different.  His five:  Cannonball (the restaurant  at British Landing), the Murray Hotel for the fudge, the fort (this one is on everyone’s list), a tandem bike ride around the island, and, of course, his comedy show!

Stu is currently working on a book tentatively titled, “Mackinac Island: The Last Best Summer Job.”  He promises it will be an insider’s view of the island for both tourists and island summer workers. 

We closed out lunch by walking down to The Lilac Tree Hotel and going downstairs where Stu does his comedy show.  He had invited Ted and I to come tonight as his guests, but I knew I would be working on this story, so I took a raincheck for another night soon.  I did get some pics of him up on stage, where you can see him for the rest of August and September.  His final show for the season is Oct. 11.  So, if you’re on the island now, or will be before the 11th of October, you definitely need to add Stu’s show to your visit itinerary.  I can’t think of a better way to burn off those extra fudge calories than shaking with laughter!

IMG_5102

 

IMG_5103

 

IMG_5107a

Thanks so much, Stu, for the interview.  See you soon at your show!