First Week Back 10/23/16

HURRICANE MATTHEW

We’ll have been back from Michigan a week on Monday, the 24th, and I have to admit to still being somewhat discombobulated.  Although Flagler Beach and Beverly Beach community services are working like Trojans to get our little beach communities cleaned up and everything open again, it’s sad to ride up or down A1A and see the destruction that some subdivisions and towns even smaller than ours suffered.

Ted and I rode up to Fort Matanzas this afternoon (where Ted volunteers), and the destruction to homes and trees and dunes is just devastating.  All along the highway there are piles of debris – some of it is just rubbish from downed trees, but way too much of it is furniture, appliances, clothes and artwork from houses that were once someone’s “dream homes”.  In some areas the ocean came across the dunes and highway and went into neighborhoods and houses on the other side of the road.  Vegetation both east and west of the highway looks as though it’s been sprayed by weed killer.  Such is the destruction of salt water on plant life.

As many times as you read of these kinds of things happening other places, you can never fully grasp the reality until it happens close to you.  In Sunset Inlet, homeowners whose houses sustained damage are struggling to get roofing and siding companies’ attention when there are so many other people needing the same services.  Since we first got home, we’ve learned more about what happened here in our neighborhood, and we now know that several homes suffered pretty substantial damage – mostly from water intrusion from roof damage, windows and sliding doors.  We had sustained winds here of nearly 90 mph for several hours, and that is a terrible force against anything man-made.

But – everyone is pulling together – sharing information, being there for each other, and lending helping hands.  For those in the community who got here a day after the storm passed (one couple actually rented kayaks and came in that way before the bridges opened) – a huge thank you to those who came in and emptied our frig and freezer while the electricity was out and moved it into storage where there were generators.  And thank you for coming – not once, but twice – to check our home for water damage around our doors and windows.

Each day more highways are opened, detours are cancelled, and businesses are opening.  Two of our favorite places – Java Joint and Turtle Shack – were off limits to cars because of a detour, but they opened within days and you could still get there by walking down the side walk.  Today the highway was opened, and we had breakfast at Java Joint for the first time since we’ve been back.

Our Flagler County communities depend on tourism – both summer and winter – for jobs and a good economy.  We are rapidly rebuilding, and I predict by January, when most of the snowbirds arrive, and by next summer, when the beaches will fill with vacationers, this little coastal town will once again be going strong.  We may be small, but we are mighty!

MACKINAC ISLAND

I KNEW I would miss the peak week for Fall colors, and I did.  Thank you to Jill for sharing the first seven pics below (except the one from the Chippewa) from her final week on the island.

Jill found me on our last morning grabbing a cup of coffee from Miranda at Martha's Sweet Shop.

Jill found me on our last morning grabbing a cup of coffee from Miranda at Martha’s Sweet Shop.

One of my favorite places for Fall color - Surrey Hill!

One of my favorite places for Fall color – Surrey Hill!

There's no Halloween anywhere as happy as a Mackinac Island Halloween.

There’s no Halloween anywhere as happy as a Mackinac Island Halloween!

Children fill the streets for a giant parade past the downtown businesses, who pass out goodies to every trick or treater.

Children fill the streets for a giant parade past the downtown businesses, where owners pass out goodies to every trick-or-treater.

After dark the streets belong to the adults, and costumes range from cute and clever to . . .

After dark the streets belong to the adults, and costumes range from cute and clever to . . .

. . . over the top scary!

. . . over the top scary! (Photo: Chippewa Hotel)

A sure sign of season's end - today the Chuckwagon closed for the season. Have a great winter, Donny and Sharon and the crew!

A sure sign of season’s end – today the Chuckwagon closed. Have a great winter, Donny and Sharon and the crew!

The day after we left I saw this Mackinac Revealed LLC photo on Facebook. This has always been one of my favorite vistas, and in this pic our neighbors at the Cedar Hill Condos, Meredith and Craig (and dog Mason) happened to be walking down the hill. Such a perfect photo!

The day after we left I saw this Mackinac Revealed LLC photo on Facebook. This has always been one of my favorite vistas, and in this pic our neighbors at Cedar Hill Condos, Meredith and Craig (and dog Mason),  happened to be walking down the hill. Such a perfect photo!

Shepler Ferry Captain Pat Springate captured this great photo today showing exactly how HUGE a freighter is!

Shepler Ferry Captain Pat Springate captured this great photo today, showing exactly how HUGE a freighter is!

The east end of town from Fort Mackinac this afternoon. (Photo: Tom Chambers)

The east end of town from Fort Mackinac this afternoon. (Photo: Tom Chambers)

 

And earlier today - from Clark Bloswick - a glance toward the Chippewa and Fort Mackinac on a beautiful fall morning.

And earlier today – from Clark Bloswick – a glance toward the Chippewa and Fort Mackinac from the Arnold Dock bike racks.

A CHANCE TO LIVE ON MACKINAC

For anyone who may be interested, I’m mentioning again a condo for sale on the island.  I have a special place in my heart for this condo because Ted and I used to own it!  Yes, our former condo at Surrey Ridge is being sold by the folks who bought it from us.  Improvements to the condo since we owned it are: 1) personal storage units for each owner; 2) new decks and railing; and 3) new landscaping.  The condo has three large bedrooms and two baths, a living area, kitchen, and a loft area that could be used as an office or TV room.  The condo has three levels – entrance on the first floor, living area, kitchen, master bedroom and bath, and guest room and bath on second floor, and loft and third bedroom on third floor. The price is $315,000 FIRM.  Interested folks should contact Steve Gould at (678) 521-3165.  It is for sale by owner.

BODIE

Eventually Bodie will take his place with Maddie as “one of our dogs”, but just for a little while I have to talk about him pretty much constantly.

You remember how you felt when your baby(s) started crawling and you could no longer take your eyes off them for one second. Take that feeling and multiple it by four legs and you get my present position. Negatives: He loves to put things in his mouth and couldn't care less if they are safe or dangerous. Case in point - I was loading the dishwasher tonight when he disappeared behind me and headed for the bedroom. I know to follow him ANYTIME he disappears suddently, and thank goodness I did. He had pulled a steak knife out of the dishwasher and was trying to figure out how to chew it! Oh dear Gussie - I almost had a heart attack! Thank goodness no harm was done, but I spent five minutes with his mouth pried open looking for blood and cuts.

You remember how you felt when your baby(s) started crawling and you could no longer take your eyes off them for one second?  Take that feeling and multiple it by four legs and you get my present life.

Negatives: 1)  He loves to put things in his mouth and couldn’t care less if they are safe or dangerous. Case in point – I was loading the dishwasher tonight when he disappeared behind me and headed for the bedroom. I know to follow him ANY TIME he disappears suddenly, and thank goodness I did. He had pulled a steak knife out of the dishwasher and was trying to figure out how to chew it! Oh dear Gussie – I almost had a heart attack! Thank goodness no harm was done, but I spent five minutes with his mouth pried open looking for blood and cuts.  2)  Hmmm . . . I seem to have run out of negatives.

Positives:  1)  He’s settling down more for longer periods of time.  2) He’s good in his crate at night and when we leave the house. 3) He has SIT and DOWN mastered (as long as there’s a treat involved), knows LEAVE IT and OFF (because he hears it every two minutes), and definitely knows his name.  4)  He and Maddie are learning to share, but Maddie has met her match in “toy snatching”.  For the first time in her life, she gets HER toys stolen as often as she steals Bodie’s. 5)  Did I mention he’s a mama’s boy?  6)  He is so curious about everything.  He will sit and watch an airplane cross the sky and cock his head like “What IS that?”

He loves walking out to the dock on the Intracoastal and watching birds.

He loves walking out to the dock on the Intracoastal and watching birds, but the first time a fish jumped out of the water he almost came out of his skin he was so scared.

Several days after we lost Bear I took all the covers off his huge orthopedic dog bed and washed them.  When I was putting it all back together, I said to Ted I was going to see if anyone in the neighborhood would want the bed, and he immediately said, “No you’re not!”  I asked why not, since we’d both talked about getting another small dog when something happened to Bear.  “Because,” he said, “We’ll have another big dog one day who will need that bed.”  Of course I cried on his shoulder that day, thinking to myself I couldn’t ever love another big dog.

I was wrong.

I was wrong.

One of my readers last week commented that Bodie would never fill the spot in my heart that Bear filled, but that Bodie would create his own spot.

And that’s what he’s already doing.

God bless.

The Fire Alarm Works Too! 1/24/16

Remember last summer when we were having some warranty work done, and a worker set off our sprinkler system with a hot glue gun and part of the house was flooded?

Our fire alarm didn’t go off then because there wasn’t a fire (no smoke) – just a hot device that got too close to the sprinkler head.  And many of you – funny people that you are – commented with, “Well, at least you know your sprinkler system works!”  HaHa.

Well, as of this week, we also know our fire alarm system works. 

You all know Ted does most of the cooking around here.  Right?  So, one night this week he tells me he’s going to cook some frozen chicken tenders on top of the stove.

“Are they breaded?” I asked, mostly just making conversation and secretly hoping we were having fried chicken for dinner.

“No,” he answered, bag in hand.  “They’re skinless and boneless. The bag says heat the oil to medium high and put the frozen chicken in the hot oil.”

Now – if I had been really paying attention, I would have heeded that little voice that whispered in my ear that what he’d just said had something about it that meant caution was advised.  But, I was busy doing something else, and I silenced the little voice by thinking, “He’s following the instructions.”

The next sound I heard from the kitchen was that really loud Pop! Crackle! Pop! that usually means the oil is too hot and whatever you’ve put in the oil has water on it.

Then there was a loud “POOF!”  Followed by a yell from Ted.  Followed by me turning the corner into the kitchen just as a wall of flame rose from our frying pan into the underside of our microwave and stretched up to the cabinets above the stove.

I wish I could tell you I sprang into action and put out the fire.  I so wish I could tell you that.  But I didn’t.  My feet might as well have been nailed to the floor.  I was frozen.  And then I looked up.  Directly above the middle of the kitchen is a sprinkler head.  And all I could think was the sprinkler head was going to come on any second and flood the kitchen.  I swear.  That.  Is.  All.  I.  Was.  Thinking.

Thank the good Lord, Ted was NOT thinking about the sprinkler head.  He turned off the burner and carefully moved the pan off that burner to the back of the stove (singeing the hair on his hand).  Then he threw open a bottom cabinet door, pulled out the lid for the frying pan, and slammed it down on top of the flames.

The fire was snuffed out almost instantly.

And that’s when the fire alarms went off. 

Maddie and Bear ran for the bedroom, and I just stood there watching that sprinkler head – knowing the screeching alarm would awaken it and soon we’d be knee-deep in water.

It didn’t.  Thank you, Lord – again.

The phone rang an instant later, and the alarm company asked if we needed a fire truck.  Very calmly I said, “No, but could you have someone bring over a Valium, please?”  The operator laughed. 

Two hours of scrubbing later we’d cleaned all the soot off the cabinets, the stove, and the microwave.  Thanks to Ted’s quick actions, there was no scorching.  We were V.E.R.Y. lucky.

And now we know the fire alarm works.

HaHa.

From one of Ted's walks on the beach this week - a cold, but beautiful day!

From one of Ted’s walks on the beach this week – a cold, but beautiful day!

 

Dear Matthew 1/17/16

Dear Matthew,

This blog’s for you, buddy.  You’ll probably worry that one of your friends may run across it, but hey – not many 13-year-olds are going to be looking on-line for something written by an old grandmother.  So I think you’re safe on that.

Matthew, this is a thank you letter.  For what? Oh, just for asking to come spend the night with your GDaddy and BeBe.  We know that won’t happen all that many times before you’re off and gone on your adult life adventures, and we just want you to know how important every hour is that we get to spend with you.  Silly, I know.  But that’s how we old people think.

After we knew you were coming for sure, you won’t believe the time we spent thinking what we could do to make your visit with us fun and memorable.  GDaddy talked about going to Fort Matanzas, fishing, and biking.  I talked about taking you along to the Flagler Humane Society and letting you “assist” with kitty photos (we’ll do that next time, if you’reinterested).  Then I started researching surfing movies (because BeBe knows surfing is one of your great loves).

When you arrived and we threw all our “researched” suggestions out, you voted to start off with a bike ride.  You and GDaddy left, and 20 miles later you returned.  You’d both biked down A1A to Flagler Beach, crossed the Flagler Beach Bridge, looped around to the Hammock, crossed the Hammock Bridge, and then biked home back on A1A.  You were tired, but you sure were a happy tired!

We went to the Turtle Shack for dinner.  You devoured your crab cake sandwich in three huge bites and then finished off your French fries and my fried shrimp.

Upon our return home you settled on the couch under a snuggle blanket (sorry to mention that, but that’s what it was), and we rented A View from a Blue Moon from Amazon, a recently released surf movie I found that turned out to be a documentary on one of your favorite surfers, John John Florence.  I’ll confess that GDaddy and I were prepared to be bored silly, but A View from A Blue Moon was one of the most beautifully photographed movies we’d ever seen.  That your GDaddy didn’t go to sleep and start snoring until the last 10 minutes is a testament to that statement.

The movie ended at 9:00, and you surprised us by saying, “I’m sleepy.  I think I’ll go to bed.”  I think you were asleep before your head hit the pillow.

Saturday morning was planned around fishing.  While we were still having our coffee you headed out to the seawall to see if the fish were biting . . .

. . . and they were!

. . . and they were!

Yes, we knew that flounder would have been good all fried up for breakfast . . .

Yes, we knew that flounder would have been good all fried up for breakfast . . .

. . . but you decided it could live to swim and grow bigger. Which made your BeBe so happy.

. . . but you decided it could live to swim and grow bigger. That made your BeBe so happy.

You passed up that trip to Fort Matanzas to continue fishing, and off you and GDaddy went to Big Al’s Bait Shop. 

Now Matthew, you really need to read this next part very carefully.

You see . . . we’ve lived here for over a year now, and your mom and dad and Jordan have come and your Uncles Jason and Blake have come, and most all of them like to fish.  But it was only when YOU came that your GDaddy went to Big Al’s and bought a casting net (because you needed one to catch bait fish) and a live bait aerator (so those shrimp would stay alive for a few hours).  And it was only when YOU came that GDaddy actually picked up the rod & reel he bought 15 months ago and . . .

. . . went fishing!

. . . went fishing!

Two very patient guys hanging out together on the seawall.

Two very patient guys hanging out together on the seawall.

Matthew, a lot of friends in Georgia and Michigan ask us all the time why we moved to Florida.

We tell them all about our beautiful home across the street from the ocean and the great nature preserve at the back of Sunset Inlet where we can walk out to the Intracoastal.

We tell them all about our beautiful home across the street from the ocean and the great nature preserve at the back of Sunset Inlet where we can walk out to the Intracoastal.

And we talk about how beautiful it is at the end of the day to stand out on the dock and watch the sunset and the waves rippling into shore when the big boats go by.

And we talk about how peaceful it is at the end of the day to stand out on the dock and watch the sunset and the waves rippling into shore when the big boats go by.

But - honestly - the reason we moved is so we can occasionally stand and watch you fish . . .

But – honestly – one of the main reasons we moved is so we can occasionally stand and watch you fish . . .

. . . and bait a hook . . .

. . . and bait a hook . . .

. . . and cast a net.

. . . and cast a net.

Right now, Matthew, you may think this is all pretty silly – and that’s ok.  But, maybe years from now – when you’re fishing with your own son or daughter – a little light will go off in your memory, and you’ll remember this day.  And – technology being what it is – you’ll be able to look up this thank you letter on-line and read it to them.  And maybe, just maybe, it will make you remember how much GDaddy and BeBe loved spending time with you.

And I hope that makes you smile.

We love you, Matthew!

GDaddy and BeBe

Coming Full Circle 1/3/2016

Thank you, Stephen Blair Kopacki, for the amazing header photograph!

In April of 2009 I wrote the first post to Bree’s Mackinac Island blog.  I began it on a whim and as a chance to satisfy a life-long desire to write.  I’d always heard the easiest thing to write on was something you were passionate about, and Mackinac Island sure fit that requirement!

Over the past almost-seven years, that first blog morphed into four other blogs: Bree’s Lake Blackshear Blog (when we were off the island at our home in south Georgia), the VERY short-lived Dog-Eared Page Blog (about the dogs of Mackinac Island), Bree’s Connecting the Dots Blog (the transition from Mackinac Island and Georgia to our new home in Florida), and recently Bree’s To Be Clay Blog (about living in Florida).  To those five blogs I’ve posted a total of 1,227 stories.  That’s pretty much one story every two days – for approximately the last 2,340 days.  To those five blogs, and over that same time period, readers took time out of their busy schedules to post 20,124 comments.

Our sweet little cottage at Lake Blackshear in the Spring.

Bree’s Lake Blackshear Blog:  Our sweet little cottage at Lake Blackshear in the Spring.

The Dog-Eared Page: Maddie and Bear playing with Buddy, an island friend.

The Dog-Eared Page: Maddie and Bear playing with Buddy, an island friend.

Connecting the Dots - this mound of dirt eventually became part of the foundation for our new home in Sunset Inlet.

Connecting the Dots:  This mound of dirt eventually became part of the foundation for our new home in Sunset Inlet.

To Be Clay: The good life in Beverly Beach!

To Be Clay: The good life in Beverly Beach!

So – where am I going with all this.

As I do every year about this time, I’ve taken the last few weeks to think about how I can continue to write something interesting – or whether I want to continue writing at all.  And every year I come back to two truths.  I love to write, and I love my readers.

This year I’ve had to dig a little deeper though.  With age and with some health issues, I find the need to focus on the things I love to write about most. And – surprise! – that is still that tiny island sitting in the Straits of Mackinac.  In studying the comments, the statistics, and the overall feed-back on all my blogs, I know – without a shadow of a doubt – that same tiny island is also what you most want to READ about.

My latest blog – To Be Clay – has an average of 400 readers for each post.  Most To Be Clay readers are Mackinac Island fans who have followed me almost since that first island blog in 2009.  They have been my loyal “core” family, and I love them with all my heart.  They’ve continued to read whether I’ve been in Georgia on the lake or in Florida across from the Atlantic Ocean.  They are the reason I’ve continued to write for this long.

But – when I traveled to Mackinac in December to write for Original Murdick’s Fudge – my reader average jumped to almost 1200 a day.  That number continued throughout my stay there.

What that tells me is that ultimately “Mackinac Island” is what you want to hear about – what you want to see photographed, what you want to learn more about.  Just as when I first starting going to Mackinac and would search everywhere for news about the island, I know there is a group out there right this minute doing the same thing. I know there are those who already love the island – and harbor a dream of maybe one day living there.  You are constantly soaking up every single fact you can find about how to make that happen.  I want to help with that.

So – as of right now – there will only be one place I’ll be writing.  Right here on Bree’s Mackinac Island Blog – the first and the most loved – is where you’ll find the Hortons.

The content won’t really change.  I’ll be sharing our lives here in Florida, sharing photographs and news from Mackinac when we aren’t there, and – good Lord willing – taking y’all with us in July when we travel north for three months on our favorite island.

And hopefully, in between all that, there may be some visits to other places!

And hopefully, in between all that, there may be some visits to other places!

Instead of going back to the future, we’re going forward to the past. Bree’s Mackinac Island Blog is where it all began.  I’ve got stories to tell, photographs to share, people to meet. It makes me feel both excited – and quietly content – to come full circle.

Woo Hoo – we’re off!

St. Anne's by Tom Chambers.

St. Anne’s by Tom Chambers.

Back to a Happy Normal and . . . the Weeks Ahead! 7/12/15

Don’t you just hate it when your “normal” life gets interrupted by something different?  Oh, don’t get me wrong.  I’m not talking about disrupting normalcy with a cruise to Bermuda or winning the Publisher’s Clearing House Giveaway.  I mean a disruption that throws your whole mind and body into turmoil . . . like a fire extinguisher head being set off (when there’s no fire) and flooding your house!

But – as much as I hate to give it up and say this – even those “bad” interruptions can bring good things.  You just have to get over the turmoil, say “thank you, Lord”, and go looking for them.

Our “good things” are these:

The house is back to normal - rooms have been cleared and things put back in their place.

Our house is back to normal – rooms have been cleared and things put back in their proper place.

The downstairs bedroom and closet now has brand new carpet instead of carpet that is nine months old . . .

The downstairs bedroom and closet now have brand new carpet instead of carpet that is nine months old . . .

. . . so does the stairs.

. . . so does the stairs.

In addition, the downstairs bedroom closet (where they had to cut a hole in the wall to mop up water) now has a great big storage place under the stairwell, with a very nice custom door leading from the closet into the storage area.  I can't show you that because the stuff we put back in the closet hides the door.

In addition, the downstairs bedroom closet (where they had to cut a hole in the wall to mop up water) now has a great big storage space under the stairwell, with a very nice custom door leading from the closet into that area (I can’t show you that because the stuff we put back in the closet hides the door).

What’s even more amazing is, with the help of the warranty people, our builder, and the restoration company, all this was accomplished in less than a week!  To go from a sit-down-in-the-middle-of-the-floor-crying-over-it mess to normalcy – with benefits – in six days is an amazing feat in my book!  So a huge thank you to all involved – especially the warranty folks who set off the sprinkler by accident.  Those two guys worked harder than anyone to make sure our house was put back to rights.  Mission accomplished!

A WALK ON THE BEACH WITH BEAR AND MADDIE

I don’t normally get up for the early morning walk with Ted, Maddie and Bear.  To me, if the sun isn’t up, the good Lord meant for us to keep on sleeping.  But the other morning I woke up early – just as Ted was leashing up the dogs – and decided to take the 2 1/2 mile stroll with them (their walk has to be early these days, or they’d all melt before they made it back home).

The benefits of rising early and hitting the beach!

The benefits of rising early and hitting the beach!

For Bear, the walk on the beach means a time he can be off-leash (yes, the city frowns on this, but who’s around at that time of the day to report us).  He LOVES running the beach, even though he’s not once gone into the water more than ankle deep.  On this morning, when he was doing his normal “scare-the-crabs-out-of-their-holes-and-chase-them-into-the-ocean routine, the sea offered up a very different gift!

“What the heck? It looks like a tennis ball!”

“It tastes like a tennis ball – except a little salty.”

“But before I get too excited and take it home, I’m going to watch it a while to make sure there are no claws with pinchers attached.”

Maddie has no desire to chase tennis balls or crabs.  All she wants to do is dig them up!

Every single hole is sniffed and dug into.

Every single hole is sniffed and dug into.

“I know I just saw his beady little eyes!”

“So many crab holes, so little time.”

Walking back home - from the sidewalk.

Walking back home – from the sidewalk.

OTHER BEACHY STUFF

Breakfast this morning at the Funky Pelican. The fishing at the end of the pier is already in full swing, but these days folks bring a sun umbrella along with their fishing gear.

Breakfast this morning at the Funky Pelican. The fishing at the end of the pier is already in full swing, but these days folks bring a sun umbrella along with their fishing gear.

Breakfast - a full of cholesterol seafood omelet for Ted.  I chose a very healthy yogurt/granola/fruit dish - with four strips of bacon on the side.  Kinda like when I order a big Mac with a diet coke.

Breakfast – a full of cholesterol seafood omelet for Ted, with toast and home fries. I chose a very healthy yogurt/granola/fruit dish – with four strips of bacon on the side. Kinda like when I order a big Mac with a diet coke.

Each neighbor in Sunset Inlet gets a little different angle on our little group of houses.  Jennifer shot this across the canal at sunset.  Our house is

Each neighbor in Sunset Inlet has a little different angle on our group of houses. Jennifer shot this across the canal at sunset one day this week. Our house is to the right of the 3-story.

One of those awesome photographs that you might get once in a lifetime. Neighbor Missy captured this ominous shelf cloud coming in a few days ago.  Looks like a UFO, doesn't it.  Amazingly, we didn't even get a sprinkle of rain out of all this drama!

One of those awesome photographs that you might get once in a lifetime. Neighbor Missy captured this ominous shelf cloud coming in a few days ago. Looks like a UFO, doesn’t it! Amazingly, we didn’t even get a sprinkle of rain out of all this drama!

THE ISLAND!  THE ISLAND!

A great shot of kayakers and a freighter from Clark Bloswick.

A great shot of kayakers and a freighter from Clark Bloswick.

Also from Clark:  Sunrise from the east side of the island . . .

Also from Clark: Sunrise from the east side of the island . . .

. . . and sunset from near Devil's Kitchen.

. . . and sunset from near Devil’s Kitchen.

I'm jealous of Jill all the time now because she gets to live on the island all summer.  But this week I'm doubly jealous because she got to go over to Round Island and spend the day.  You can only do that once a year, you know.  Jealous, jealous, jealous . . . but so excited and happy that she got to do it!

I’m jealous of Jill all the time now because she gets to live on the island all summer. But this week I’m doubly jealous because she got to go over to Round Island and spend the day. You can only do that once a year, you know. Jealous, jealous, jealous . . . but so excited and happy that she got to go!

Also from Jill - a view of the harbor from the back of the Peace Garden.

Also from Jill – a view of the harbor from the back of the Peace Garden . . .

. . . and an up-close look at the new Peace Garden sculpture.

. . . and an up-close look at the new Peace Garden sculpture, “Be Still”.  Love this!

An awesome photo by Valerie Porter of the

An awesome photo by Valerie Porter of the “new” Fort Holmes!

From blog reader Becky Jacobs.

From blog reader Becky Jacobs.

Becky and her husband recently got the thrill of a lifetime when they won a Facebook contest sponsored by the St. Ignace Chamber of Commerce. The prize was a trip to the top of the Mackinac Bridge!

Becky and her husband recently got the thrill of a lifetime when they won a Facebook contest sponsored by the St. Ignace Chamber of Commerce. The prize was a trip to the top of the Mackinac Bridge!

A GOOD CAUSE

Ted and I met Max Jones and his family a couple of summers ago. At that time Max was 13 and had already been in business for himself for two years as the owner/operator of Max’s Errand Service on Mackinac Island.

Max is planning to ride across the State of Iowa to raise money for the Mackinac Island Fire Department.

From an interview of Max by Jason St. Onge at the Mackinac Island Fire Department:

Max, the son of John and Karrie, spends his winters in Kalamazoo but summers on the Island. Max stopped by the Market Street Firehouse to talk about his plan with the MIFD.

Max said, “You guys do a lot for the community and I just want to assist in any way I can. I think I can raise some money to help with equipment.”

Max will spend the next couple weeks securing pledges and training for the ride. He will be asking for pledges from businesses and citizens and promises to collect “Only if I finish the nearly 500 mile trek.”

Max runs a bicycle errand/delivery service on the Island that he started several years ago.

Max will set out on his journey on July 18. Thank you Max, and good luck!!

Personal Note:

To donate to Max’s ride across Iowa, which is July 18-25, you can email Max directly at mjj5366@yahoo.com, subject “Max’s MIFD Ride”, to pledge. Max will email you back with all the details. You can also donate at the micf.org (Mackinac Island Community Foundation) website. Once there, just click “donate”, then put as the fund name, “Max’s Ride for the MIFD”. The money won’t be collected until Max finishes the ride. All donations will be through the Mackinac Island Community Foundation for a tax deduction.

This is a great cause, and we applaud Max for wanting to give back to the Mackinac community.

Max - on one of his many daily delivery rides up and down the hills of Mackinac Island.

Max – on one of his many daily delivery rides up and down the hills of Mackinac Island.

THE WEEKS AHEAD

Ted and I will be heading to Islamorada in the Florida Keys on Thursday to spend three nights with Julie, Matt and the grandkids.  We get back on Sunday, and the following Saturday we head north to Michigan for nine weeks.  There is no way I can even begin to tell you how excited I am to be heading to cooler weather!

For the first three weeks we’ll be with friends Sue and Terry Conlon at Black Lake near Cheboygan – then on August 18 we arrive on Mackinac for six weeks in a condo downtown in the Mission District.

A really fun surprise . . . I’ve been asked to stay two nights at the Grand Hotel (this will be while we’re at Black Lake) to write about the Woods Restaurant (owned by the Grand).  Ted and I have never actually stayed at the Grand, and we are so excited to have this opportunity!

So, we’ll be on and off the island even during the three weeks we’re at Black Lake.

I’ll be blogging the entire time, but I’ve decided to not have any kind of schedule for the rest of the summer.  From now until the end of September, posts might pop up at any time.  It may be a story or just a photograph, but – starting now – expect something more than twice a week – just on no certain day.  And I’ll post the same blog to both Bree’s Mackinac Island Blog (https://bree1972.wordpress.com) and To Be Clay (http://bree2015.wordpress.com).

We’re going to miss Sunset Inlet.  We’re leaving just as we’re all beginning to get to know each other, but we’ll be back at the end of September to rejoin the gang and enjoy Florida when I love it most . . . . fall, winter, and spring!

Please say a safe travel prayer for us.  Bear and Maddie will be staying with our pet sitter for our Islamorada trip, but they’ll be with us – of course – when we head for Michigan!

Love you all!

God bless.

And the Decision is . . . . . 12/1/2013

Header:  A not-quite-ready Thanksgiving family photo taken by bonus son Matt.  

I’ve been sitting here staring out the window for at least 20 minutes, wondering where and how to start this post.  There are so many things to tell you, so many trips taken, so many ideas born and buried, and so many decisions prayed over and made.  When I signed off in October I mentioned how tired Ted and I were – both mentally and physically.  Physically, we’re better now.  Mentally, this last month was at least, if not more, draining than October was.

Because there’s so much to tell I’m going to just stick with one subject tonight, and it’s probably the one you are most interested in.  As the weeks and months go by, I’ll fill in some of the blanks, but tonight I’ll hit the high spots on where our month of soul and house searching has brought us.

What you don’t know is for our last two weeks on Mackinac, Ted and I spent days discussing whether we should buy something else on the island.  We weren’t ready for our condo to sell – in fact, I think that last month we were truly shell-shocked to find ourselves without a place to live.  As we frantically searched for something to lease next summer, we also began to explore houses for sell on the island.  We found nothing fitting our criteria.  Next we looked at lots and seriously considered building a home in Trillium Heights.  We had the site picked out, and we found plans we loved.  But . . . just before letting our hearts take over and make the emotional decision for us, we stepped back and said, “We really, really need to get away from the island before we take this path.”  Our goal of being near our grandchildren and being near the beach would not be realized by building on Mackinac.  If we took that step, the house there would have to be our permanent home.  We would be further from the grandchildren for even longer periods of time.

After less than two weeks at the lake, we left for Florida.  On the way to Ormond Beach, we stopped in and toured a new boating community at Beverly Beach called Sunset Inlet.  Ted had seen it on-line and was intrigued by the homes having ocean views from one side and Intracoastal Waterway views from the other.  We both liked Sunset Inlet a lot, but it was our first stop.  We traveled on to Ormond Beach, where we spent time with Julie, Matt and the grandkids.  While they were at work and at school, we rode with a realtor for two days to look at houses we had called him to set up.  When we left there for Amelia Island, we had one home at the top of our list – an almost-on-the-ocean bungalow built in the 50’s that we both really loved – except there was no garage or even carport (NOT a good thing to be without in the salt air), and there was not room to build one.

We arrived on Amelia Island early enough to spend a few hours before dark with our realtor there.  We had lots of houses lined up, but the only one we were really interested in was directly on the beach.  We fell in love with it.  It was our dream to be ON the beach, and here it was.  But . . . it was only a little over 1,000 sq. ft. and it was a townhouse – which meant sharing a wall with someone else.  After five years in a condo, we had adamantly decided “no more shared walls”.  And once again, for the price, this would become our permanent home.  Could Ted and I spend months and months together without any space to occasionally get away from each other.  To be blunt, no.  We looked at houses all the next day, some with views, some without.  And then we went back and looked at the townhouse on the beach.  Could we make it work?  We left there undecided and started our trip back to Ormond Beach to watch Matthew play in his championship football game.

On the way back we passed once again through Beverly Beach, and we stopped again at Sunset Inlet.  We toured the model home once more, talked to the builder, and called our realtor out to act as our agent.  All of us were impressed with the quality of the homes (our agent said they were built like bunkers).  The windows could stand the impact of 140 mph winds without storm shutters, and the entire home is built above hurricane building standards.  But when we left for the lake the next day (Matthew’s team won!), we still had not made a decision.

Way back in the beginning of this process – in May – I said we’d be praying for God to open the doors He wanted for us and close those He didn’t want.  What WE wanted, of course, was a house on the beach on Amelia Island.  We loved that place, and one of the main reasons was it reminded us so much of Mackinac Island – a small community that swells in the summer and retreats in the winter back to the locals, a wonderful downtown, a historic district – even horse and buggy tours!  But, after we returned home and talked with our Amelia Island realtor, doors began to shut rapidly.  No, we probably couldn’t enclose the underneath parking or fence in the yard – or if we could, it would be difficult.  No, there were no single family homes on the beach in our price range.

At the same time, each conversation with the developers at Sunset Inlet ended in “Yes, we can do that.”

With all that said, last Friday we sent our signed contract in to Sunset Inlet to build a two-story home, which should be ready about the time we’d normally be leaving for Mackinac Island.  Beverly Beach is two miles north of Flagler Beach, two miles south of Palm Coast, and 30 minutes for our grandchildren.  We’ll have a new house, views of the Intracoastal Waterway and the ocean, and a boat dock.

Our house will look like this - minus the third floor.

Our house will look like this – minus the third floor.  This is the back side, which looks toward the Intracoastal.  The front looks across A1A to the ocean.

Nature walk at the back of Sunlet Inlet that leads . . .

Nature walk at the back of Sunlet Inlet that leads . . .

. . . to the fishing pier on the Intracoastal Waterway.

. . . to the fishing pier on the Intracoastal Waterway.

Our house plan.

Our house plan.

Aerial view of Sunset Inlet

Aerial view of Sunset Inlet – between Atlantic Ocean and Intracoastal Waterway.

IMG_0276.2

Our beach – cinnamon colored sand created by crushed coquina shells (something I admit I will have to get used to).

Site concept.

Site concept.

While all this was going on, I was having one heck of a time accepting that Mackinac Island was not going to be a big part of my life anymore.  I can’t tell you how many times Ted said, “You really don’t sound very happy about any of these places in Florida.”  I would reply, “I’m getting there, but it will take some time.”  As days went by, and with me not totally on board, I realized that Ted couldn’t let himself get nearly as happy as he should have been – it’s hard to be happy when your partner isn’t.  Since that realization, I’ve really begun to try and think more positively.  I know that Mackinac will always be with me, whether I have to enjoy it through memories or through periodic visits.  I’ve even come to terms with the fact that unless our lake house sells quickly, we might not get to Mackinac at all this summer, although Ted has promised he’ll get me there somehow – even if it’s only for a short visit.  I know that once the lake house sells, we’ll be on the island – as planned – for at least two months every year.

I came across two very good quotes today – one by Sarah Dessen in her book What Happened to Goodbye, and I’ll paraphrase it:  “Home isn’t a set house, or a single town on a map. Home is wherever the people who love you are, whenever you are together. Not a place, but a moment, and then another, building on each other like bricks to create a solid shelter that you take with you for your entire life, wherever you may go.”  The other is by Tad Williams: “Never make your home in a place. Make a home for yourself inside your own head. You’ll find what you need to furnish it – memory, friends you can trust, love of learning, and other such things. That way it will go with you wherever you journey.”

I know that’s what I have to do now.  I have to take all the memories from all the places I’ve loved and called home and put them together inside my head so I’ll always have them all.  To those, I’ll add what will be our Florida home at the beach – a place I know I will come to love with a passion over the years to come.  

So – what about this blog?

From the thoughts stated above I’ve realized I can’t continue to write a blog exclusively about Mackinac Island. To do so is to set myself up to never let myself completely love our future home.  The same is true about the lake blog.  When our house here sells, I will have to put it together in my “head home” with Mackinac, where it will live forever.

So here’s the plan.  Sometime in the next week or so, I will post a link here to a brand new blog – title undecided as yet.  In it I’ll continue to write about our family, our dogs, our new home and our old ones.  When we visit Mackinac, it will all be recorded, as will any other trips we take – for however long.  I’ll also continue to update you with photos from the Island (both winter and summer), but on this new blog – NOT on the Mackinac blog.  Both the Mackinac AND the Lake Blackshear blogs will remain on-line forever, and can be read in their entirety by new readers (and old) whenever they/you wish.  I do this with the full knowledge I’ll lose some readers who come here because of their love of Mackinac, and I am deeply saddened by that.  But hopefully many of you will continue to tag along with the Hortons as we start this new life adventure at the beach.  Surely there have to be a few beach lovers among you :)!

So there it is.  The decision is made.  I thank each of you who lifted prayers for this decision, even if the answer wasn’t what you prayed for.  To be honest, it wasn’t what we prayed for either.  But we do think it’s God’s next plan for us, so how can it possibly not be right.  Love and hugs all around, and I’ll be back in a few days with a link to the new blog with Horton Thanksgiving pics and winter pics from Mackinac!  

God bless.