Throw Back Thursday – Maddie’s Musings 4/20/17

Personal Note:  Maddie’s very first blog!  First published June 23, 2009 – our first year as island summer residents.  ____________________________________________________________________

Hello – Maddie here.


My favorite place – my Dad’s lap.

I hope all of you folks out there who read Mom’s blog are happy to hear from me – finally.  I think Mom told you that I had been working on this thing for some time (in between everything else I have to do around here to keep the premises safe).  Somebody has to make sure we aren’t going to be attacked by squirrels or chipmunks or snakes – and it sure isn’t going to be that big furball I am forced to share Mom and Dad with.  All he’s good for is to prance around and look good.  You should see him right now – lying at Mom’s feet with every long, golden hair in place.  Well, let me tell you something – he stinks!  I can’t wait till Mom takes him off island on Thursday for another bath and to get groomed.  I know he told you about that bath he had down at the horse shower.  Mom’s good at a lot of things, but bathing 90 lbs. of dog in a shower built for a Clydesdale in front of an audience is not one of them.  He smelled a little better (at least our company didn’t gag when he came around), but he needs to go to a PROFESSIONAL.


This is me and my all-time favorite toy. Why is it my favorite? Because I cannot destroy it! Of all the toys I have had in my five years of life, this is the only one that has survived. I keep trying though – I will NOT give up!

OK – back to me.  Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat.  I am a dachshund.  I know that is hard to spell – even Mom has to look it up in that big book of words every time she uses it in this blog.  I am NOT a weinie dog, a weiner dog, a hotdog, or a doxie.  Do you think puffball would like to be called a GOLDIE?  He is a golden retriever.  I am a dachshund.  I have papers to prove it – maybe not as many papers as goofy, but papers nonetheless.

I have two houses to take care of – one in Georgia and one up here where it’s still freezing even in June – ok it’s not freezing, but I do not have 17 tons of hair like the monster does – I have very short, shiny brown hair that nobody has to professionally take care of – I am a very low maintenance dog.  A couple of baths a year (in the bathtub at home, not at a fancy, spancy salon) is all it takes to keep me looking good.


Me in my cold weather sweater and faux fur cover-up. I JUST put these away this week.

In Georgia, we live on a lake, and the yard is fenced in, front & back.  Therefore, when the door opens, I am free to run around outside to my heart’s content.  I can chase squirrels and ducks and birds (wish I could fly!) and dig up moles and catch mice (Mom says I must be half-cat), and hunt for snakes.  I know Mom told you about me going after that copperhead in the yard in Georgia.  I had it handled, but Dad says he saved my life.  I still say I had it handled. 

Then there was that time when I was tracking that big black snake that lived in the bushes outside our front door (in Georgia).  I was barking like crazy (something I am not allowed to do up here because of the neighbors).  Mom came out and was trying to get me away from the bush (she doesn’t much like snakes), and that snake dropped right on her foot.  You should have heard her scream!  I jumped right in there and grabbed that snake (Mom said it was at least three times longer than me), and whipped it around my head like a lasso.  Then I threw it down as hard as I could (you are thinking I am making this up, but you can ask Mom).  We all thought it was dead, but it was only dazed.  It crawled off, and our good neighbor at the lake (who doesn’t care if I bark) came over and took care of him with this big stick that goes BOOM (Dad was not at home at the time).

Ok – enough about the lake.  Mom told me to write what I like about living on Mackinac Island.  So, here’s my list:  1) There are no poisonous snakes on this island.  So, when I spot a snake and go after it, Mom and Dad don’t worry so much.  2) There are chipmunks!  They look like little squirrels with shorter tails.  3)  There is a chipmunk AND a snake that live under the boardwalk at the condo, and I love to hunt for them – I have even named them.  The chipmunk’s name is appetizer, and the snake’s name is entree.  4)  There are the biggest squirrels I have ever seen here.  The one who lives in the tree outside our living room window is black – our squirrels in Georgia are gray.  The squirrel’s name is dessert.  5)  We have more “quality” time with Mom and Dad here because we go on walks.  In Georgia, they just open the door and let us out.  Here, because we don’t have a fenced in yard, we have to be walked so Mom and Dad have to go with us.

Here's me

Here’s me “running free”.

Now, here’s my list of things I don’t like about the island:  1)  I have to wear a straitjacket.  You see, when I walk on a leash, I like to pull because there are always things to check out.  With just a collar, I ’bout choke myself to death.  So Mom ordered this harness-thing that puts the pressure on my chest instead of my neck.  Looks like a straitjacket to me, but now at least I don’t turn blue on walks.  2)  I can’t run free (see above).  There are leash laws here, but I have a flash for you.  They let dufus walk around without his leash.  We live near the woods, and once they have us on a wooded path, they let him go.  Now they say they can’t do that with me because I would run away chasing everything that moves.  And I won’t come back when I’m called, like that crazy dog does.  I mean, look at what my options would be – chasing a rabbit vs back into the straitjacket.  What would you do?   The only time I am semi-free is when we go to Turtle Park.  It is this huge, open area, and they will let go of the leash handle and let me run around.  They think that leash and handle will slow me down enough that they could catch me if they had to – pleezzee!  I LET them catch me just to keep them from freaking out.   4) Walking downtown with Mr. Personality and Mom and Dad.  We can’t get three inches without being stopped by a crowd of folks saying, “Ohhhh, what a beautiful golden retriever!  Isn’t he gorgeous?  Isn’t he so well-trained?  Isn’t he just like ours at home?  Isn’t he just like the one we had when we were growing up?  Come on, big boy, give us a kiss!”  You know what I want to say?  “Yeah, go ahead and get those kisses all over your face, and then I will tell you what he just picked up off the street and munched on.”

Actually, I think the island is pretty neat.  I love going in the woods, even on a leash because there is so much to explore and so many new smells to check out – other dogs, horses (who last year I thought were big dogs until I challenged one and got to see close up the biggest paws I have ever seen – and their paws have iron shoes on them), all kinds of wild animals, different plants, different trees – everything is so exciting (even in my straitjacket).  I also love the ferries and the buggies.  When we are going off island, I get to sit in Mom or Dad’s lap so I can see everything (and don’t get in people’s way).  How cool is riding in a buggy behind a team of horses and pretending that I’m the driver!! 

Me and Mom on the ferry. This was one of those cold days when Cathie and Charlie were here.

Me and Mom on the ferry.


Me and Dad on the taxi. I’m telling the driver which way to turn.

And, I have to admit it, sometimes downtown, stinky breath gets ignored and people lean all the way down and say to me, “Aren’t you the sweetest thing!  Dachshunds are my favorite dogs.  We have two back home, and we miss them so much!  You are so cute!  You are such a happy girl!”  So I give them kisses – and stick my tongue out at the big blonde dog.

Ok – I guess that’s about all I have to say today.  If you like my first blog, be sure and tell Mom, and she will let me know.  I have lots more I could tell you!   I hope I get more fan mail than bushy tail.  That would make me VERY happy!

P.S.  I forgot to tell you that Dad calls Bozo his “big-headed boy”.  He calls me his “precious, sweet little baby”.  What does that tell you, Goldie?


Throw Back Tuesday – A Day in the Life of a Mackinac Island Taxi Driver 3/21/17

Personal Note:  During the summer of 2009, I wrote several blogs about folks who work on Mackinac Island as summer employees.  This is Part I of the piece I wrote about Jeanine Noel, a taxi driver on Mackinac Island.  Part II is coming on Thursday!____________________________________________________________________


I HAD  SO MUCH FUN in the 6 hours I spent with Jeanine today that it is going to take me 2 days to tell you about it all.  There is just no way I can pack it into one blog – I must have taken 100 pictures, and now I am  trying to go through them and find the best ones to tell the story.  Part I will be the actual preparation that goes into getting the horses and carriages ready to begin their 5-hour (approximate) day,  and Part II will cover the 5 hours I spent on the taxi with Jeanine for the first part of her 12-hour shift.

First, a little about Jeanine.  She is from Rochester, N.Y., and this is her 3rd year driving for Carriage Tours.  With an Associate Degree in Animal Science with concentration in Equine Management, and an almost completed Bachelor’s Degree, she is taking some time off from academics to decide what she wants to concentrate on as a career.  Vet Tech school is one option she is considering, which would probably mean completing her bachelor’s in Biology.

Jeanine began riding lessons when she was 10 years old and had the typical little girl’s love and fascination with horses.  She has shown hunters and jumpers, and in college showed Belgians in several hitch configurations.  It was while in college she heard of Mackinac Island and saw a chance to use her talents on a daily basis.

When drivers apply and are hired by Carriage Tours, they come to the island in April and spend a week or more learning the ropes – literally.  They ride on what they call “the school bus”, a carriage that will hold several “students”, riding with an experienced driver.  They ride the “tour” over and over again, listening to the narrative, learning the routes, and getting hands-on experience handling the horses.  They also spend time in the barn learning to take care of their horses (each taxi driver usually handles the same 4 horses each season) which includes all the preparation for a day’s work (more on this later).  Then they go do their “homework”, taking  home detailed histories of the island and its people so they are prepared for the myriad of questions they are asked each day.

The first assignment as a driver is on a tour carriage, two-horse and three-horse carriages that take hundreds and hundreds of tourists each day around the island, chronicling island history and transporting visitors to famous landmarks.  All of this is on a set route, with a pretty-much set script. Since I will be riding with a tour driver sometime in the future, I will save more details on that for later.  From the most experienced tour drivers, the taxi drivers are chosen.  Carriage Tours operates 11 taxis, two wheelchair taxis, two hotel shuttles, two Mission Point shuttles, and two Stonecliffe shuttles.  They also operate 20 two-horse tour carriages and 16 three-horse tour carriages.  It is a huge operation with unbelievable logistics.

I set the clock for a 5 a.m. wake up (Ted grumbled, turned over and went back to sleep).  I didn’t spend a whole lot of time getting “dolled up” for this assignment – but I sure put on several layers of clothes.  It was 56 degrees, and I knew I would be riding at the front of the taxi.  I layered on my long-john top, a long-sleeve t-shirt, then my fleece jacket.  Blue jeans completed the outfit.  I tied my hooded rain jacket around my waist and put my earmuffs in my pocket.  Hey – I’ve learned how to dress up here for anything!

It’s a 5-minute walk to the horse barn, and I met Jeanine coming across the street to the barn from where she lives.  Most of the taxi drivers and barn employees live in (appropriately named) Barn View.  She shares a suite with 3 other Carriage Tour employees and works the 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. shift six days a week.

I had no idea the responsibilities of a driver.  I just thought they arrived at the barn, climbed on a carriage where two already hitched horses stood waiting, and off they went.  Nope – that’s not the way it’s done.

First comes wiping down the carriage with a clean cloth.  The carriage sits out during the night, so it may have rained, or dew may have fallen, or it might just be dusty from use the day before. Today, the flaps surrounding the body of the cabin were left down because there was a chance of rain.


We went into the barn and found Andy (left) and Thunder (right) standing in their stalls.  Andy and Thunder are bay cross-breeds.  Their bloodlines most likely carry a mix of Belgian and Percheron.


A curry comb is used on each horse to start the clean up process from a night in a stall or a night outside in the horse corral.  Thunder had obviously had a little more fun the night before than Andy as he was coated in a layer of mud.  Horses love to roll around on the ground to scratch their backs, or just for the fun of it.  The dust coming off Thunder was so thick in the air it clouded my camera lens.


After the dirt is loosened by the curry comb, a brush is used to finish the process of removing any dirt from the horse’s coat.


Jeanine then harnessed Thunder, using all kinds of strange words like martingale, crupper, and neck, breast and quarter straps.,

jeanineharnessthunderNext to Andy’s stall, a horse was lying down, apparently sound asleep.  I said to Jeanine that I thought horses slept standing up.  Jeanine said, “Horses are prey animals.  They sleep lightly while they stand so they can be ready to run if they are attacked.  But 2-3 hours a night, they will lie down and sleep soundly – get their REM sleep.” 

horselyingdownJeanine thought it would be great fun for me to put the horse collar on Andy.  I eased into the stall, sliding carefully up next to him and tried to lift the collar over his head.  Couldn’t do it.  That horse was tall, and that collar was heavy!  Trying to help me out, Andy bent his head down almost to the floor, and I finally got it over his ears.  Then Andy lifted his head and bammed it into the stall ’cause I was in his way.  Poor Andy.  He turned his head back to Jeanine with a look that said, “OK – enough with the weak, dumb blogger.  Please come finish this and get her out of my stall.”mecollar

Since I couldn’t lift the collar, Jeanine knew better than to try me with the harness.  She did take this picture of me after she had taken it all down off the wall and put it over my head.  If she hadn’t then taken it all off of me, I would have had to pull the carriage today because I would have never gotten it off by myself! meharness

Jeanine harnessed Andy and then took both horses outside for a bath – cool water if the weather is warm, warm water if it’s cold. 


After changing into her uniform, Jeanine went back outside to use Pledge on her carriage.  The painted areas on the outside are polished each morning.

pledgeBy the time she had finished, Donny and Aiden had led Thunder and Andy outside, where Jeanine joined them to do the final harnessing – adding the neck yoke that turns two separate horses into a team.


With everything done except actually hitching them to the carriage, Andy and Thunder are led out to No. 6, Jeanine’s assigned taxi, where they are backed in, with the runner separating them.  The runner is attached to the neck yoke, and they are officially ready to go.  

hitchtocarriageThis entire process with Andy and Thunder only took a little over 30 minutes.  At 6: 55 a.m. Jeanine was on board, and I took one final picture before she put on her work cap.  Then I climbed up behind her, she called the dispatcher to check in as ready for customers, and we headed downtown.



The story of my day with Jeanine continues on Thursday as I ride with her on the morning leg of her 12-hour shift.  We took lots of calls, covered lots of ground, and I talked with a lot of passengers who were very excited to be photographed for my blog.  Hope to see you then!

A Bouquet for Buck 8/23/09

After talking with Stu Stuart yesterday, I met up with Jill, and we walked around town a bit.  The weather was going downhill fast, so as Jill and I were standing on the sidewalk chatting, I asked Ross, a taxi driver from Bulgaria who was parked at the curb, if he would call a taxi for me for Surrey Ridge.  He radioed the taxi stand, and told me that taxi #6 would be there in a minute or two.  Taxi 6!  That’s Jeanine’s taxi (I rode with Jeanine a few weeks ago when I did the story on a taxi driver’s day).

I love riding with Jeanine because we get to catch up on everything that has happened since the last time we saw each other.  She arrived, and I climbed into the seat directly behind her.  Other passengers were already loaded in the back, going to the Grand Hotel.  Sitting on the first seat meant we could chat back and forth without having to yell at each other.

One of Jeanine’s teams has changed since I did her story.  Instead of Thunder and Andy, she now drives Buck and Billy.  On the way up to the Grand, we talked about what she’d been doing and what Ted and I had been doing in the last few weeks.  She told me she had seen Ted with Maddie and Bear a couple of hours earlier walking down Cadotte by the Grand, and Maddie had gone bonkers barking at a dog they were passing.  She loves seeing our two dogs and talking about them to her passengers.

By now it was drizzling rain, and I was so glad I was on the taxi and not walking up the hill without rain gear.  We turned into the Grand, and I started talking about the beautiful yellow flowers that are blooming now in the flower beds out front.  I guessed they were some kind of daisy.  Jeanine said they were even prettier directly in front of the Grand.  So I got my camera out and started snapping away.




The folks on the taxi staying at the Grand got off, and we kept going to the “turnaround” beyond the Grand’s long porch. 


As we started back in front of the porch going the other way, a Grand omnibus was parked under the portico, letting off passengers from the ferry.  Another taxi had already pulled over to the side so the bus could get by when the passengers finished unloading, so we pulled in behind them.

Now taxi drivers have eyes in front, in back, and on both sides of their head.  They have to be watching what they are doing, of course, but they also have to be watching what everyone else is doing also – other taxis, carriages, riding horses with tourists on them who haven’t ridden in 30 years (if at all), bike riders, and people just walking around.  So, as we sat there, waiting for the “bus” to go by, suddenly Jeanine yells, “Buck! Stop that!”

I was still snapping off one picture after another of the daisies, so I just changed camera angles, and there was Buck in the process of snapping off the heads of the daisies in the Grand’s beautiful flowerbeds AND pulling them up by the roots!  I just cracked up!  The people coming out of the Grand spotted Buck and about fell out laughing.  The bellhops for the Grand started running toward us shouting, “Stop! Stop!”  Jeanine was using the lines to pull  Buck’s head away from the daisies as hard as she could, but not before he had pulled up a big chunk of flowers.  Buck, of course, was oblivious to it all.  Obviously, Buck loves daisies!




The  omnibus pulls out, the taxi in front of us pulls out, and we are finally able to get out of there!  As we pass the portico, Buck is calmly munching the last of the daisy flowers, with the roots hanging out of his mouth.


 We are finally past all the excited bellhops and the laughing Grand guests.  Buck is smiling like he just had a great salad, and Billy is annoyed because he didn’t get a taste.  Where else but on Mackinac Island!

I’m off for a dinner date with my husband.  See you Monday morning, good Lord willing.  God bless.

America, America! God Shed His Grace on Thee . . . 7/4/09

Happy 4th of July!
We are living in the greatest country in the world!  Do we have problems?  Of course we do.  But we are one nation, under God, and we are so blessed.  It is my prayer today, as we celebrate this great American holiday, that we all stop for a moment and give thanks to the One who makes it all possible.  With Him, we can do anything.

My gift to you today is a picture story of some of my favorite moments on the island so far this season.  Enjoy, have a wonderful weekend, and – good Lord willing – I will see you back here again Monday morning.  God bless.


First day on the island in May - first trip up the hill. Would you believe it is Jeanine driving us? How funny is that!


 A team of horses waits while a dray driver makes a stop at the bank.

A team of horses waits while a dray driver makes a stop at the bank.


Tulips at The Grand

Tulips at The Grand



Me and the pups on the East Bluff.



Cathie and Ted



Trinity Church framed in the Marquette Park lilacs.



Lilacs hover over Hart's sign.



A summer flower garden near the West Bluff.



Beautiful flower growing near the fence next to The Grand pool.






St. Anne's steeple against a clear blue sky.



Girl Scouts respectfully hold the American flag.



Happy Maddie - in her daddy's lap on the deck of the condo.



On Mackinac Island, everyone is on Island Time!



Looking across The Grand's Jewel golf course.



Ted with Bear and Maddie on the ferry.



A beautiful, mature lilac tree in full bloom along Cadotte Avenue.



Bear, waiting for me to catch up along Pontiac Trail.



Ted and I at the site of his grandparents house in the Les Cheneaux Island

Ted and I at the site of his grandparents house in the Les Cheneaux Islands.


Looking out over the harbor and the Straits

Looking out over the harbor and the Straits.


A taxi ride through the woods

A taxi ride through the woods.


Arch Rock

Arch Rock



Fort Mackinac



Dozens of daylilies

Dozens of daylilies


Will I fit?

Will I fit?


Me sitting on the turtle next to the Wings of Mackinac Butterfly House

Me sitting on the turtle next to the Wings of Mackinac Butterfly House.


Lighthouse through lilacs at the top of Fort Street

Lighthouse through lilacs at the top of Fort Street.


A West Bluff cottage proudly flies the American flag.

A West Bluff cottage proudly flies the American flag.