Good Times . . . and Sad Times 5/28/2013

Memorial Day was beautiful on the Island.  Ted and I biked over to the Post Cemetery to wait on Fort Mackinac interpreters, dressed in period costume, to arrive.  A small crowd had gathered by the time we heard the drum cadence in the distance.

When the first soldiers come around that curve in the road, you can almost put yourself back in time and imagine what it must have been like to be waiting for this same ceremony over 200 years ago.

The Fort Mackinac interpreters, acting as soldiers, walk up to the cemetery from the fort . . .

. . . followed by a small group from town.

. . . followed by the ladies of the fort and a group of visitors from town.

Phil Porter, the Director of Mackinac Historic State Parks, gave a brief history of the traditional ceremony . . .

Phil Porter, the Director of Mackinac Historic State Parks, gave a brief history of the traditional ceremony . . .

. . . and one of the ladies laid a wreath at the grave of an unknown soldier.

. . . and one of the ladies laid a wreath at the grave of an unknown soldier.

At the end of the ceremony, the soldiers fired three rounds, and then came the poignant playing of "Taps".

At the end of the ceremony, the soldiers fired a salute, and then came the poignant playing of “Taps”.

The soldiers and ladies then march solemnly from the cemetery and return to Fort Mackinac.

The soldiers and ladies then march solemnly from the cemetery and return to Fort Mackinac.

Jim and Janice Groat, who have been on the Island for almost a month now, came up for the ceremony.  We will miss them when they have to leave at the end of May.

Jim and Janice Groat, who have been on the Island for almost a month now, came up for the ceremony. We will miss them when they have to leave at the end of May.  Hoping they come back before the summer is over!

While we were chatting after the ceremony, a runner came by, followed by her dog - who was carrying a stick almost as big as he was!

While we were chatting after the ceremony, a runner came by, followed by her dog – who was carrying a stick almost as big as he was!   He stopped long enough to let one of us toss the stick a couple of times . . .

. . . then took off running after his master.

. . . then took off running after his mom.

We stopped by Surrey Hill to pick up some fresh-baked donuts, then went back to the condo until it was time to walk downtown for the Memorial Day service at Veterans Park.  Crazy me – I forgot to take my camera card out of the computer and arrived downtown with no way to snap photos . . .

. . . so I'm borrowing one of Clark Bloswick's.  That's Paul Waundrie acting as Master of Ceremonies.  By the way, I finally met Clark this morning up at the Post Cemetery ceremony.

. . . so I’m borrowing one of Clark Bloswick’s. That’s Paul Wandrie acting as Master of Ceremonies. By the way, I finally met Clark this morning up at the Post Cemetery ceremony.

Since Ted hadn’t visited Sadie’s Ice Cream Parlor yet, we stopped in there on the way home.  I ordered Royal Coconut Chocolate (one dip, sugar cone), and Ted ordered his first of many Jersey Mudds.

This flavor has a lot more coconut than chocolate, and it was really good.  On a scale of 1 - 10, with 10 being the best, I have to give it an 8 - mostly because I would have liked a little more chocolate flavor.

This flavor has a lot more coconut than chocolate, and it was really good. On a scale of 1 – 10, with 10 being the best, I have to give it an 8 – mostly because I would have liked a little more chocolate.  But that’s just me.

My "one dip" was so large I almost lost it to the floor after one lick!  So they gave me a cup, and that worked much better.  Here I'm trying Ted's Jersey Mudd.  Oh my goodness, it was good!

My “one dip” was so large I almost lost it to the floor after one lick! So they gave me a cup, and that worked much better. Here I’m trying Ted’s Jersey Mudd. Oh my goodness, it was good! 

Ted agreed!  He said it tasted just like he remembers them from the Bon-Aire in Cedarville.

Ted agreed! He said it tasted just like he remembers them from the Bon-Aire in Cedarville.

On Sunday night we had the pleasure of having dinner at The Woods Restaurant with Cindy and John Irish.  Cindy had contacted me about a book she is writing that she wanted to base in a southern town, and they asked us to dinner to get some background about the south and the area of Georgia we're from.

On Monday night we had the pleasure of having dinner at The Woods Restaurant with Cindy and John Irish. Cindy had contacted me about a book she is writing that she wants to base in a southern town.  They asked us to dinner to get some background about the south and the area in Georgia where we live.  We really enjoyed our time with Cindy and John, and I’m hoping to see some of our shared information in her book.

We Tuesday morning to chilly temps and rain – a really yucky day to go off-island for Bear’s grooming – but I wasn’t about to put it off any longer!  Bear and I walked down the hill, caught the ferry, and rode to Alanson, where we stopped at Taylor’d Grooming and Pet Resort, a groomer recommended to us by the Conlons.  After dropping Bear off, I rode into Petoskey and spent a few hours exploring.  It’s a much larger than Cheboygan, and I can see myself really enjoying shopping there this summer.  Bear looked awesome, by the way, when I picked him up later in the afternoon.

Around noon I received a text message from Jill to call her “when I stopped somewhere” because she needed to tell me something.  My immediate thought was, “This can’t be good.” And it wasn’t.  Our cab driver to The Woods last night was our friend Ron McCord.  We all chatted together on the drive out through the woods to the restaurant, and the subject turned to ghost stories on the Island.  Ron shared a couple of his favorites and told us a funny story about one night when he discovered thousands of frogs on one of the Island’s deserted roads.  He dropped us at the restaurant, and I remember turning around on the porch and calling, “Thank you, Ron!”

He answered, as always, “My pleasure!” Then, smiling and waving his hand, he drove away.

That was at 6:45.

A couple of hours later, Ron died from an apparent heart attack as he sat on his taxi seat, talking with someone on the street downtown.  He simply bowed his head and was gone, his hands still holding his team’s reins.

I will miss Ron so much, and so will everyone on Mackinac.  He was one of the people I most look forward to seeing each year when we arrive, and I’d already ridden with him several times this year.  He leaves a wife and at least one grown daughter.  Our hearts and our prayers are with them tonight.

A photo from June 12, 2012 blog post.  We met Ron on his taxi while we were biking around the island that day.  He stopped a moment to chat and told us he'd just taken some young people about half-way around the island to a spot where they could swim.

A photo from June 12, 2012 blog post. We met Ron on his taxi while we were biking around the island that day. He stopped a moment to chat and told us he’d just taken some young people about half-way around the island to a spot where they could swim.  A good memory.

Only One More Friday . . . . . 10/21/2011

C   R   A   Z   Y  !  !  !

Strong winds and rain greeted me when the alarm clock buzzed this morning at 5:45, and gale warnings were up until late Thursday afternoon.  I dressed with more layers than I’ve worn on the Island since I returned one February for Winter Festival.  TWO sets of Cuddl Duds (top and bottom), a turtle neck sweater, another pullover and over all that – rain gear (jacket with hood and rain pants).  The only things not protected from the rain were my feet and hands, which was a big mistake.  I wore heavy socks and leather boots, and by the time I’d been working an hour, my socks were squishy wet, and my toes were frozen.  Reminder to self:  Add plain black rubber boots to my Christmas list (I just couldn’t bring myself to don my black and white polka dot rain boots to go work – not a very professional look.  Silly me.  After an hour of being splashed by the river running through the entrance gate and then stepping down into that river to talk to hundreds of ladies going to the island, I would have given anything for dry, warm toes. But everyone survived, and Shepler’s did a fantastic job.  Those were some tired employees at the end of the day, and they didn’t get off at 1 p.m. like I did to go home and nap for three hours.

Jill lives downtown and is an EARLY riser, so she's met me at Martha's Sweet Shop the last two mornings. This is how dark it still was at 7:20 today as I was getting off the taxi.

Inside with owner Loretta Spata, it was bright and warm and filled with the yummy aromas of fresh-baked pastries and hot coffee. This made three mornings of delicious pumpkin and walnut muffins that I couldn't get enough of. By the way, that's just ONE cinnamon roll on Jill's plate - they are huge!

The ride over this morning to Mackinaw City. Visibility was zero through the spray on the windows. The wind was out of the NNE which, according to Captain Billy, was a very good thing. Those who were on duty this past weekend said it was twice as bad Saturday because the wind was from a different direction.

The final group of 1,000 Winsome Women crossed to the Island this morning. As soon as they could be parked, ladies moved into that big blue and white building which houses the ticket office. This building is also dry and heated and has a coffee bar. Talk about a booming business!

Crossing back to the island at 12:30, the wind had shifted to straight out of the north - a bumpier ride.

Much bumpier!

By 2:00 I was home, sitting with my feet up in my recliner (toes all dry and cozy in wool socks) and covered in a blanket.  Three minutes later I was sound asleep and didn’t wake up until almost five.  No matter how wet and wild these three days have been, it’s always fun to volunteer at Shepler’s.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Having worked three days, and with the weather like it’s been, there have been few chances to get out for pics.  So tonight, I’m going to post some photos from Ted and from friends who have given me permission to use their work.  On Monday, while I was working and before the weather got so bad, Ted took Maddie and Bear on a two-hour walk.  I’m so sorry I missed going with them, but Ted got some really nice shots!  Enjoy!

TED’S PHOTOS

Looking up the hill in front of the fort to the area where Anne's Tablet is located.

Downtown on a lazy October day.

All the annuals have been pulled up from the Grand Hotel flower beds, and these gardeners were busy planting the tulip bulbs for next Spring. I always try to guess the pattern and the colors - but it's always a secret.

Hmmmm . . . now there's a mountain of dirt behind the Carriage Museum. Wonder what that's for???

Fall colors at Turtle Park.

The road beside the cemetery leading up to Lookout Point. As you can see, the winds of the last week have really taken a toll on our leaves.

Bear - checking out a pile of leaves for anything worth wolfing down.

Sugar Loaf from Lookout Point.

Lookout Point. Looks lonely up there now.

Approaching the embankment that surrounds the site of Ft. Holmes.

Inside the earthen walls of Ft. Holmes.

The bridge from the top of the Island.

Taken from the top of the Ft. Holmes embankment.

Looking straight down Rifle Range Trail from Fort Holmes, with Fort Mackinac in the distance.

Walking back home on one of numerous gravel trails . . . .

. . . and this one came out on Garrison Road, where they turned and walked toward the Post Cemetery. The flag there could be seen from the bottom of the hill - permanently flown at half-staff.

After a week of wind and rain, we always look for God’s promised rainbow.

Paul Retherford is a wonderful photographer and is on the island often for weddings. On this particular trip, he captured a rainbow over the harbor.

Friend Chris Ann Nelson's photograph from her beach in Mackinaw City - a rainbow over the bridge.

Patrick Conlon, the dock master at Shepler's, took this amazing shot of the first boat out on Monday morning, before the bad weather moved in that afternoon.

Next week will begin the countdown – less than a week to go.  The days are piling up on top of each other now, and the reality has set in.  I’m going to try and get a lot of packing done this weekend so I can at least get a few posts written next week before we go.

See you Monday, have a great weekend, and God bless.

A Week of Flowers and Good Company 6/16/2011

WE HAVE A WINNER for the “Mystery Spot” contest at the end of this post. The winner is Maggie, and she’s from Brighton, MI.  Her correct response was “the old French Outpost, which is now the Gatehouse Restaurant”.   She answered at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday evening.  Scroll to the bottom for the full photo of the Mystery Spot.

Our company left on the taxi this morning to catch the 8 a.m. Shepler’s Ferry.  As we watched the taxi horses take them down the hill, I felt the lump in my throat I always get as I watch friends depart. 

On our lake in Georgia, our good neighbors are a senior couple two houses down from ours – Joe and Kay.  They are the ages my parents would be if they were alive (that’s why I can call them “senior”), and I feel a special bond with them because they remind me so much of my mom and dad.  In Ted’s absence, it was Joe who I called screaming the day a snake dropped out of some bushes in our yard – right on my feet. 

“Joe! Come with your gun – there’s a snake!”  He was down the street in a flash, and the snake was dispatched a few seconds later.

It was also Joe I called when Shotzie – the little dashchund we had before Maddie – was dying, and Ted was out of town.  Joe rushed to our house in his truck, picked up Shotzie and I, and talked me through the longest 10-mile ride ever to the vet in Cordele.  Then he stayed, strong and silent, in the waiting room as Shotzie went peacefully to the Rainbow Bridge, cuddled in my arms.  Afterward, he drove us home and listened silently to me sobbing, occasionally reaching over to pat my hand.  I just love Joe and Kay.

It was one of their daughters and her husband (Donna and Brad), and Joe and Kay’s 13-year-old great-grandson (Cain) who spent two nights with us this week.  Brad’s family has owned a summer “camp” in Canada for over 70 years, and they were on the way to spend two months there.  We heard that news from Joe and Kay during the winter, and after talking to Donna and Brad, we found out that they stayed close to us on one of their nights on the road.  We immediately invited them to stay with us, and they arrived on the 4:30 ferry on Tuesday afternoon.

After dinner, Cain loved the idea of a walk downtown for an ice cream cone.  After two days of riding in a car, Donna and Brad needed to do some leg stretching also.

Donna and Brad could not have picked a more perfect time to visit. You don't have to get this close to smell the lilacs, but like everyone else in town, Donna couldn't resist getting an up-close whiff of these beautiful flowers.

 
 

We stopped at Joann's and got Cain his ice cream cone and some fudge, then did some window shopping before we grownups bought our icre creams. Would you believe these are CANDY shoes - completely edible and available at Sanders. I honestly don't think I could bear to mess up these beauties by eating them, although I guess I could eat the stilettos and still have a pair of flats.

 
 

We walked out the boardwalk on the west side of Main Street, just as dusk was falling, bathing everything in a pink glow.

 
 

Ted and I are seldom downtown at this particular time of day and didn't realize how many people walk down the boardwalk to watch the sun go down . . .

 
 
. . . but now I know why.
 
We cut through the school yard and came out below the Grand Hotel.  At the Jockey Club, we stopped and looked back down Cadotte just as the street lamps came on . . . .
 
 

. . . forming miniature versions of the almost-full moon hanging over the trees.

 
 

Ten minutes later we were at home, and the moon was hanging over our peaceful front yard. I went back and looked to see what time I took this photo - it was 9:49 p.m. Still plenty of light.

 
Over breakfast Wednesday morning, we planned a full day of activities.  Cain’s two wishes were to see the fort and ride around the island.  He got them both.
 

Both Brad and Cain are big history buffs, and Ted was so excited to have two interested guys to talk with about historical facts.

 
 

A beautiful old crabapple tree stands just outside the back entrance to the fort.

 
 

Inside the fort, we toured all the historical buildings and watched the fort interpreters draw the crowds into reliving how things were done in the early 1800's. Here, one of the lady interpreters is leading a group of children into a quiet corner of the parade ground to play Victorian-era games.

 
 

I never can get enough of the views from the fort - whether from the hills within the walls . . . .

 
 
 

. . . the gun ports that frame a different picture with each location . . .

 
 

. . . or looking down from a table at the Tea Room, where we had lunch (a great chicken salad sandwich).

 
By this time, Cain was really ready to ride bikes, but we forced him to wander through Sutler’s Store before we left the fort.  He found a magnet he liked (he collects them), and Donna and I both bought matching rings with horses on them.
 

With our Mackinac Associate membership discount, I spent an outrageous $2.70 + tax on this beauty. Love it!

 
We headed home via Anne’s Tablet and a quick look at the East Bluff.
 

Added to the peace and tranquility of the hidden location of Anne's Tablet, the view makes it a perfect spot to just sit down and breathe deeply. After doing that for five minutes, pamper yourself and do it for another five. You will feel so much better.

 
 

A beautiful East Bluff cottage.

 
From the East Bluff, we walked to the cemeteries.
 

Brad, Cain, and Donna - leaning against the old cannon in the Post Cemetery.

 
 

As we were leaving, I spotted our newest horse additions to the island. They are two huge draft horses with "paint" markings (the two outside horses). They are helping to pull one of the three-horse hitch Carriage Tour wagons, and they are magnificent!

 
 

A quick stop at Skull Cave for Cain to tie his shoe.

 
We have three bikes, so after a little rest, our company too off to make sure Cain got his second wish.  I confess openly that Ted and I took a nap while they were gone.  We finished off the day with dinner downtown and a walk home up Fort Street, wandering through the wood trails and arriving at the condo late . . . but before dark once again.
 
 
The graceful lilacs of Market Street – looking toward Marquette Park.
 
And now Ted and I and our four-legged children are alone once more.  Ted worked today, and I stayed home and did some laundry and starting writing this post.  It’s so hard to put down in words how much we love visitors – showing them Mackinac Island and its well-known landmarks, as well as some of its lesser-known special nooks.  Even going strong for a day-and-a-half, we probably covered only about 1/4 of all there is to see and do. 
 
This will be the last weekend of the Lilac Festival – culminating with the Lilac Parade on Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m.  If you’re nearby and can come up, it looks like another dazzling few days are in the forecast, and a lot of hotels are offering last-minutes specials.  Check ’em out!
 
MYSTERY SPOT CONTEST
 
Time for the Mystery Spot Contest for this week!  The object is to be the first to identify where the object is located. When you think you have the answer, email me at brendasumnerhorton@hotmail.com. I’ll check my email several times a day, and as soon as we have a winner, I’ll post the winner’s name at the top of this blog so you can stop guessing, AND I’ll post the full photo of the mystery spot at the bottom of the blog with the answer. Is there a prize for the winner – yes there is; but the prize is secret, and the only ones who will know what it is are the winners. To be fair, I’m asking residents of Mackinac Island to please NOT guess. This is just for readers who don’t live here . . . but would like to! And the Mystery Spot is . . . .
 

Where is it?

 

Again, please email your answers to me at brendasumnerhorton@hotmail.com. PLEASE DO NOT ANSWER IN THE “COMMENTS” SECTION OF THE BLOG.
 
See you on Monday with all the weekend happenings.  Have a wonderful weekend, and if you get to spend Sunday with your dad, give him a big hug, and tell him how much you love him.  If your daddy is in Heaven, tell him how much you love him anyway.  That’s what I plan to do . . . and I know he’ll be listening, and I know he will smile.  God bless.
 
MYSTERY SPOT ANSWER
 

The turtles sit atop a post at the old French Outpost, now the Gatehouse Restaurant.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

If I were a bird . . . 10/1/2010

“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns” . . . George Eliot

A Mackinac Island friend, Nicole Smith – who owns Little Luxuries on Mackinac Island – used the above quote on her Facebook page yesterday.  I knew immediately I had to steal it. 

Leading up to today’s blog, I’ve been cruising along – posting photos as I got them.  Occasionally, I’d feel I posted a fairly good shot, but to be honest – with my camera not performly up to par (really, Irene, it’s not), and with leaving the island looming just around the corner – well, I’ve had a definite case of the mulligrubs, and not much of anything was going to satisfy me. 

Until today.

I had a few photographs collected to post on “Random” Day, but not nearly enough.  So, this afternoon I threw the camera in my bike basket (which is probably one thing that’s wrong with it – no TLC treatment) and rode through the Village snapping away.  Finishing that, I rode back home, attached Bear to my bike handlebars with his leash and rode up to the cemeteries.  As soon as we were there, I took him off the leash, and we rode along those beautiful roads (Bear churning up the road at a slow gallup at times and a full-out run at others), stopping here and there to take in the glory of Mackinac Island in autumn.

And today, for the first time in quite a number of days, I am so excited with what you’re about to see.  Maybe my camera decided to give me this one perfect day before it finally bites the dust for good.  But for whatever reason, I can’t wait for you to see what’s below . . . . .

The shots I had already planned to post . . .  

The Grand at its grandest. I took this last week on one of those perfect days when there wasn’t a single cloud in the sky – not even a wispy one.  Since the Grand is surrounded mostly by evergreens, there is not a lot of fall color.

 

A different shot of the Crack in the Island. An island resident told me this week that long, long ago islanders would use this fissure as a garbage dump. He said that people for years have been trying to find a wooden bicycle that is buried in here somewhere that someone dumped many, many years ago.  Hmmm – wonder what else is down there!

 

I just liked the “abstractness” (is that a word?) of this one – I was pointing straight up to take the shot.

 

There was just so much going on in this one – a couple playing golf, a lady standing in front of the red phone booth having her picture taken, a lady who had gotten off her bike to watch (I love her bright backpack in the bike basket), bikers riding up the hill, carriages going down the hill to town, and people on the sidewalk going both ways.

Riding through the Village this afternoon . . .

I always take a photo of our bikes outside the condo in the fall.  I love this tree and all the leaves from it that the wind randomly scatters over the backyard.

If you’re new to the blog and haven’t gone back and read the posts in the Archives, the Village is the area of the island where the majority of the year-round residents live. Officially, it’s called Harrisonville, but for decades and decades it has been known simply as “the Village” by those who live here. Our condo is in the Village, and just up the street I spotted my first photo op – a brilliantly decorated fall doorway.

Ron, one of my favorite (oh heck, he IS my favorite) taxi drivers was coming down Cadotte (maybe from the airport?). Ron is the one who ALWAYS is somewhere around when I do something clutzy – like fall off my bike.

Fifth Street in the Village (we live on Third). At the end of this street, we walk through the woods to Cupid’s Pathway.

The other side of Fifth.  Can you believe that tree!

One side of Sixth Street. Can you believe those trees! Have I already said that??

The cemetery photos . . .

After running Bear alongside my bike up  Custer Road, we turned back right onto Garrison Road and made our first stop at the Post Cemetery, where soldiers who died at Fort Mackinac in the 1800’s are buried.

Most of those buried here are very young men – in their late teens and early 20’s.  I always think of their mothers and wonder if they ever got to visit their son’s grave.  So here I am, 200 years later, visiting for them . . .

. . . and I think each one would feel comforted knowing their sons rest in this peaceful, achingly beautiful spot.

The flag at the Post Cemetery is always flown at half-staff.  Only three other cemeteries in the United States are designated for this honor – Pearl Harbor, Gettysburg National Cemetery, and Arlington National Cemetery.

We followed Garrison Road up to the Mackinac Island Cemetery, where I parked my bike and walked in to find a particular grave.

I love how at each water faucet in the cemetery, there is a water bucket. It’s not only for the families’ use, but they are there so that anyone visiting or just walking through the cemetery can water flowers they see that need freshening up.

A whole generation of island workers knew Irene King as “Twilight Mom”.  The Twilight was the name of the building downtown used as employee housing by the Grand Hotel, and Ms. King was “Mom” to everyone there for many, many years.  Ms. King was the real mother of Mary G’s (one of my readers) brother-in-law, Edward King, who is buried nearby.  When Mary G. saw the photo of Bear running down the road close to the cemetery in a recent blog post, she asked me to go out and see if I could find the graves.  And like an idiot, I took Irene’s and not Edward’s.  I promise you, Mary G. – tomorrow you will get an emailed photo of the one you asked for.

I haven’t visited many cemeteries in my life, but without a doubt, the ones on Mackinac Island have to be among the most beautiful anywhere – especially in the fall.

Continuing the ride up Garrison Road . . .

. . . sometimes I think I will just have to stop and cry when I round a curve and see something like this. This island is so beautiful to me.

My personal favorite of the day – my bike, my Bear, and God’s handiwork.

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s post as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it and putting up the photos.  Have a glorious weekend, and I’ll see you back here Monday morning – good Lord willing.  God bless.

Personal Note:  Thank you so much for your prayers for Blake’s continued job search.  He has been invited for a third interview on Tuesday.  Please keep those prayers going up.