Alexa . . . . .

Ted and I got “Alexa” for Christmas.  Alexa is the name of the lady hidden inside the Amazon Echo, a hands-free speaker you control with your voice.  Frankly, I had never heard of Alexa – or the Echo – until our son Jason put one at the top of his Christmas list. In fact it was the only thing on his Christmas list.  I ordered it from Amazon, and that was that.  Until Christmas morning, when Alexa turned up as Jason’s gift to us also!

We are having a lot of fun with Alexa, except for one thing.  In order to “wake up” Alexa, you have to call her name first, then give a command.  The problem is . . . . . we can’t remember her name.  And I have to say Ted is worse than I am – a lot worse!

“Baby,” he yells from the family room, “what’s the name of this thing – I want to get a football score.” 

“Alexa!” I yell back.

“Yeah!  Alexa!  What’s the score of the Falcons game?”  Please know this is just an example.  If the Falcons were actually playing, he would be watching them on TV. 

Alexa says, “The Falcons are beating Washington 23 to 17, with 9 seconds left to play.”

Ted says, “Thank you, Alexa.” (seriously, he does this)

Silence from Alexa.

Me: “Ted, you have to say her name before she will answer.”

Ted: “What’s her name again?”

Me: “Alexa.”

Ted: “Alexa, thank you!”

Alexa: “That’s what I’m here for.”

I mainly use Alexa to play music.  “Alexa, play the Beach Boys.”  Alexa: “I’m shuffling Beach Boys songs now.”  And there follows an afternoon of surfing songs.  I also ask her to time things I’m cooking (yes, I have timers on the oven and microwave, but it’s more fun to say, “Alexa, set the timer for 45 minutes!”).  Alexa also gives me the weather when I ask – for anywhere in the world.  “Alexa, is it going to rain today?”  “Alexa, what’s the temp in Atlanta right now?”  She will also give me the most recent headline news, movie and book reviews, etc.

Readers, if you share your home with Alexa also, I’d love to hear what you most like her to do.  I don’t want “our” Alexa to be unfulfilled and think she’s living with a couple of complete duds!

MACKINAC ISLAND

Islanders are praying for snow!  They got a light dusting yesterday, but there’s barely enough to keep the snowmobiles running on some parts of the island, and the reality of an ice bridge this year is getting dimmer and dimmer.

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Even the wonderful Meals on Snowmobiles program had to switch to REAL wheels this week because of lack of snow.  This program delivers hot  meals to shut-ins from the second Tuesday in January to the second Thursday in March.  (Photo: Jason St. Onge)

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Discarded Christmas trees at British Landing await the formation of the Ice Bridge (they’re used to mark the route from Mackinac Island to St. Ignace when the ice is thick enough to cross by snowmobile).  (Photo: Pam Day)

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Fog has been a visitor to the island this week, and street lights stayed on several extra morning hours.  (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

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Shoreline today – some unusual shore art!  (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

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Further into the interior the snow is holding on a little longer.  Pam Day rode up to the airport for this shot of the runway.

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Even though the island isn’t heavily covered with snow right now, it’s still a beautiful spot.  Life goes on regardless as a horse-drawn dray heads downtown past Trinity Church.  (Photo: Tom Chambers)

I was SO excited with the response to the “Throw Back Thursday” idea that I’ve decided to add a “Throw Back Tuesday” also.  That way there will be blogs three times a week until we return to Mackinac in July! 

That’s all I have today.  Oh, besides telling everyone how you might use Alexa, would anyone who’s read a really good book lately please share the title and author!  I am desperately seeking something to read!

Love y’all, have a good week . . . . and God bless.

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Write a Good One 1/8/17

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE HOLIDAYS

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

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

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

Our little neighborhood was very festive this year . . .

Our little neighborhood was very festive this year!

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

We all had great fun decorating palm trees . . .

. . . and pretending snow was falling.

. . . and pretending snow was falling.

Blake was home for a few days . . .

Blake was home for a few days . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

. . . followed instantly by a wipe-out!

. . . followed instantly by a wipe-out!

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

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

MACKINAC ISLAND

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

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

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

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

The West Bluff - dressed in her winter whites.

The West Bluff – dressed in her winter whites.

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

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

Beautiful Trinity Church on Fort Hill.

Beautiful Trinity Church on Fort Hill.

Snow "mushrooms" along the coast.

Snow “mushrooms” along the shore.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BODIE

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

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

There's only one now.

There’s only one now.

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

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

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

Except when he's watching himself!

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

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

And he deserves nothing less.

I needed a Bodie.

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

God bless.

 

 

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.

Springtime in Winter . . . Winter in Winter . . . And the Adventure of a Lifetime! 2/4/16

Here it is February 4, and in Beverly Beach it’s already springtime!  Even though it’s pouring down rain as I type this – and it’s supposed to dip back into the 50’s and 60’s for the weekend – we’ve enjoyed a few days with temps in the 70’s and lots of sunshine!  Perfect weather!

Tuesday was just a wonderful spring-like day. I pulled the chair pillows out of the storage bin and enjoyed sitting a while out on the glider. That plant has been right in that spot all winter (which just proves we haven't had very many cold nights).

Tuesday was just a wonderful spring-like day. I pulled the chair pillows out of the storage bin and enjoyed sitting a while out on the glider. That plant has been right in that spot all winter (which just proves we haven’t had very many cold nights).

A gorgeous sunset from the deck of the Golden Lion.

A gorgeous sunset from the deck of the Golden Lion (about 2 miles from our house). (Photo: Ted Jurkuta)

It's amazing what you'll see out your car window in Flagler Beach near the pier!

It’s amazing what you’ll see out your car window near the pier in Flagler Beach.

As I type . . . .

As I type . . . . rain and thunder, and it looks like it’s setting in for the night.

A couple of personal notes:

  1.  Facebook friends already know this, but for those who don’t do Facebook, I have to brag on my Ted.  It’s not often –  at age 68 – you win a Rookie of the Year Award.  But that’s what he received Sunday evening in St. Augustine at the Fort Matanzas and Castillo de San Marcos Volunteer Award Dinner (for his volunteer work at Fort Matanzas).
So proud of him!

So proud of him!

2)  With my neck issues, I’ve had to give up (temporarily, I hope) working at the Flagler Humane Society (can’t pick up 10-15 lb. kitties).  So . . .I needed to add another “something” to my volunteer day in the ER. I’ve just finished training, and starting next Wednesday I’ll be volunteering at the Same Day Surgery Center of Florida Hospital Flagler in their Town Center facility.  I LOVE working there.  We stay busy the entire morning, and I have a lot more opportunities to interact with patients, both before and after their surgeries.  Hoping to still get back to the Humane Society, but I don’t think I’ll give up either of these hospital days.  P.S.  I FINALLY will have my appointment with my neurologist next Wednesday afternoon!!  Can’t wait to see what his suggestions for treatment will be.

ON MACKINAC ISLAND – IT’S STILL WINTER!!

clarkcalmbeforestorm

The same morning I was sitting out on the deck in the sunshine, Clark Bloswick was up early capturing this beautiful sunrise over the Straits and reminding us, “Red skies at morning, sailors take warning.” A blizzard was forecast to hit the island that evening.

And it did. Almost white out conditions on Wednesday. (Photo: Tom Chambers)

And it did. Almost white out conditions on Wednesday. (Photo: Tom Chambers)

A little break in the snow revealed the Mighty Huron coming in to dock - and ducks on the roof

A little break in the snow revealed the Mighty Huron coming in to dock – and ducks lined up along the peak of the roof at St. Anne’s. (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

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Greg Main was out early the next morning with his camera and caught the snow plow clearing Market Street, so emergency vehicles could run if needed.

My friend Joan Barch took this shot looking straight out into her yard from her front porch.

My friend Joan Barch took this shot looking straight out into her yard from her front porch.  Now THAT is heavy, wet snow!

The beautiful Inn at Stone Cliffe - as beautiful surrounded by the snow of winter as it is surrounded by flowers in the summer.

The wonderful Inn at Stonecliffe – as beautiful surrounded by the snow of winter as it is surrounded by the flowers of summer. (Photo:  The Inn at Stonecliffe)

Late this afternoon. Snow starting again, and a lone snowmobiler heads up Fort Hill. (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

Late this afternoon. Snow starting again, and a lone snowmobile heads up Fort Hill.  I mean seriously, folks – how gorgeous is this!   (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

Now . . . a special treat tonight!  For all of you (including me) who wonder what it would be like to spend a month on Mackinac in the dead on winter – alone, knowing no one, and in an EMPTY Mission Point Resort, click right here for a wonderful, WONDERFUL article by Patrick McBriarty, who just finished doing just that – what an adventure!    http://www.ptmwerks.com/winter-on-mackinac.html

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Kaleidoscope 9/2/2011

We have a winner for the Mystery Spot Contest!  She’s Fran Wenhold from Tallahassee, Florida.  Wow, Fran, that’s quite a ways from Michigan!  Please see the end of this post for the answer.

It’s September.  How can that possibly be?  We left Georgia over 16 weeks ago, and 8 or 9 weeks from now, we’ll be heading back.  They say as you grow older, time goes faster, and I’m beginning to believe that.  At least our time on the Island certainly does.  So much has happened away from the Island while we’ve been gone.  The biggest news is our daughter, her husband, and our grandchildren have moved from Arkansas back to Florida.  What a blessing that is!  For the first time since our grandchildren were born, we’ll be able to see them a lot more often.  Suddenly, watching Jordan’s dance recitals and Matthew’s ballgames isn’t out of the question anymore.  We have so much to look forward to when we return home.  But that’s still a ways off . . . and I confess to not being ready to leave just yet.  Fall on Mackinac Island just may be my favorite season here.

We’re beginning to feel a little nip in the air – especially in the evening.  Windows that have been open all summer sometime require closing in the middle of the night.  My fleece vest has been dusted off and worn a couple of times – early in the morning, or on trips up the hill after dark.  The days are still warm and wonderful, but the change is coming.  You can just feel it.

I think I’m going to continue with my Random Photo Day on Fridays for a while.  Everyone seemed to enjoy it last week, and I love using the pics I can’t find another spot for.  So, here’s the batch for this week!

One of the sights I never tire of is glancing up and seeing a wedding carriage approaching. As I walked home on Cadotte the other day, I met this one. The bride and groom were graciously sharing their carriage with two little flower girls, who looked as if they were already blissfully planning their own weddings on Mackinac Island.

A moment in time on Cadotte -carriages, bikes, walkers, burleys, a little horse poop, and always - the lake through the trees.

The plants and flowers in the huge containers that surround the rest stop on Cadotte are at their peak. There is always a breeze in that area, so the tall grasses are in constant motion.

Trinity Church at dusk.

I went home a different way today, walking my bike up Fort Hill. I had been meaning to stop by Trinity and take some photos to go with the one above. So today I parked my bike up the hill a ways, then walked back down to the church. The door to the sanctuary was partially open, and standing outside on the top step, I could just see one of the stained glass windows on the inside.

The tall window at the back of the church is topped with a brilliant sun rising out of the water.

Trinity's Parish Hall, so lovely with its beautiful new blue-painted porch.

A slightly different view of the fort - taken from around the corner of the church, looking back up.

Ted and I ate lunch yesterday with Hilde and Bud, and we had so much fun talking about Mackinac. Today, Jill and I met Anne (another blog reader) and her mother, Dee for lunch. Ann used to work on the Island "back in the day" with Jill, and they had a blast telling stories. You can see where Anne gets her beauty - her Mom is a lovely, lovely lady.

A plant doesn't have to always be colored brilliantly to be beautiful. These ornamental cabbages at the Grand are striking in their own way . . . .

. . . but I have to admit I really, really, really love color!

That’s my kaleidoscope of random shots for this week.  I’m not going to post this weekend, but I’m definitely going to be working on the blog.  I got my permissions today to publish the Soo Locks story, so for the next day or two, I will be writing that story and selecting the best photos. On Monday, I’ll be taking you on a tour of a real freighter – the inside story!  And then on Tuesday – the Soo Locks as very few have seen them.  I’m so excited you’ll get to see everything Ted, Barb, and I did – thanks to Jim Deemer, an electrician for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who conducted our tour and gave us the inside “scoop”!

See you Monday!

P.S.  As I was finishing this post, I heard the sound of a vehicle going by  Living in the Village as we do, where there are a couple of elderly residents with health problems, we probably see or hear that emergency vehicle more than most do on the island.  The sound of an “engine” always pulls me out of my chair like a magnet, to peek through blinds or walk out on the deck to see what’s happening.  It’s usually the ambulance going further up into the Village, lights on and flashing.  Tonight though, it was a firetruck passing by on the road below us.  The lights were flashing, but they moved on out of sight, and I never saw any other vehicles following them.  I wonder if they’re testing the new truck.  When I opened the door to look out, the wind was blowing and the air was damp and cool.  A change is definitely coming.

THE MYSTERY SPOT
The object of the Mystery Spot  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?

Don’t forget to email your answer to me at brendasumnerhorton@hotmail.com.  Please do not answer in the comment section.
MYSTERY SPOT ANSWER

This fish weathervane stands above the Officers' Quarters, where the Fort Tea Room is now located. If you REALLY looked hard, you could have spotted it in the photo in this post of the fort I shot from the corner of Trinity Church!

My Perfectly Ordinary Wednesday 9/23/2010

Walking to work Wednesday morning, I figured how many more nights we had left to spend on the island before heading back to Georgia.  When I counted them up on my fingers, I was shocked to only come up with 25 – less than 4 weeks!  I simply cannot believe how fast this summer has flown by.  When we talk to folks at home and hear that it is still in the 90’s everyday, I just roll my eyes and hope that in the next 25 days, Fall at least begins to find its way south.  If not, I plan to roll some of it up in my luggage and take it with me!

My Wednesday volunteer job at the Stuart House gets me out of the house earlier than on most mornings, and today I left even a little earlier than usual.  I began shooting photos of ordinary things as I walked by the golf course, then down Turkey Hill to town.  Here’s a sample:

This white picket fence runs all the way around the Governor of Michigan's Summer Residence and yard.

As I started off down Turkey Hill, I looked straight up into these birch trees that lean over the road. When the wind is blowing they moan as they sway against each other. Really - it sounds just like someone moaning - very eerie at night. Every year I wonder if they will survive another Winter of snow without falling. So far, every Spring they are still there.

I know this is really weird, but the tree roots on the Island fascinate me. With so little top soil, the trees have to spread their roots out shallow, instead of seeking water and nutrients deep in the earth. Some of these roots seem to have sent out root "fingers" to find a little patch of soil with life-giving essentials.

These trees on the bluff rising above Turkey Hill Road seem to be growing straight out of the rocks.

This apple tree along Turkey Hill is filled with ripe fruit. Since horses don't travel down this hill very often and haven't relieved the tree of a lot of its apples, many are now falling to the ground, lining the grass and road.

This past Sunday we were in the fort, photographing the town and harbor below. Today, I stood at the base of the fort and photographed up.

I'm beginning to see more drays like this now. As Fall advances and maintenance and renovation work begins, the trash that work produces fills drays and is transported off the island. This dray was packed with what was the front porch of the Trinity Church Vicarage. The porch is being replaced this fall.

I turned the corner onto Market Street, finding it empty except for a gentleman walking his dog. There seemed to be some activity way down at the end of the street, but I couldn't make out what it was from this far away.

I always laugh when I look up at the weathervane on top of Weber's Florist. I love the whimsical "When Pigs Fly" character.

As I walked nearer the Stuart House Museum, I realized what the "end of the street" activity had been - horses. They'd been led down Cadotte Avenue and were making the turn toward Main Street and the ferry docks.

This little turtle "hood" ornament, perched atop a bike's handlebars, caught my eye as I walked past the post office.

Candy was waiting for me to take her place at the museum.  She hurried off for a few minutes, then returned with boxes of candy treats.  She told me that about 45 school children – kindergarten through 7th grade – would be visiting the museum around noon.  They were walking down from the Mackinac Island Public School, with their teachers, to tour the building.  Thank goodness Candy had arranged for Dale Gensman to take them through.  Dale knows that museum like the back of his hand.  He personally built all the historic building replicas and the models of the Mackinac Bridge and the Titanic that are housed in the museum.

It turned out to be another great day for blog buddies!  A young mom and dad, Tina and Jeff from Ubly, Michigan – and their precious little boy Joel – dropped in to say hello.  They had been vacationing in Mackinaw City for a few days and came to the island on a day trip.  Tina has just started reading the blog, but she remembered that I work at the museum on Wednesdays.

Tina's husband, Jeff, took this pic from the street in front of the museum. That's little Joel in his mom's baby-pack.

You remember the couple I told you about yesterday who had come over while we were having coffee at the Carriage Museum?  I knew I had his name wrong!  It’s Dennis – not George!  He and wife Rose stopped by the museum today, and I’m so glad they did so I could get his name right this time!  They’re from Austin, Minnesota.

Jill took this pic - she popped in to give me a two minute break, and I grabbed her to take the photo.

Dale Gensman, his wife, and friends of theirs arrived to greet the school children, who were a little late getting there. It was such a gorgeous day that we all just went out on the porch to enjoy the sun.

Here come the kids! Ranging in age from five to 12, these children make up 2/3 of the school's enrollment. Just like children everywhere, they were excited to be out of the school building and going on a field trip! What a bunch of cuties!

After work, I ran by the post office than slipped over to Main Street just to see if anything interesting was going on.  It seems all I look for now are the changing leaves, but really – once they start turning,  it’s just hard not to photograph them!

This Dutch Elm at the corner of Fort and Main Streets is already beautiful - and about to be glorious!

 

That same tree, which shades this corner of Marquette Park all summer.

One of my favorite "Jewel" trees - on the golfcourse.

As I’ve been sitting here pasting photos into tonight’s blog post,  my mind has been semi-focused on what I want to do with the days we have left on the Island, and I want to ask my readers for your help.  Is there anything that you’d like me to write about or photograph that I haven’t already covered – or is there a subject you love so much, you’d like to see more of it?  I want to make these last weeks really special, so whatever you want, let me know.  If it’s possible (well, if it’s close to possible), I’ll try my best to get it done.  Now don’t go asking me to hang upside down under the Mackinac Bridge and take a picture of the underside!  But, hmmmm, if a ferry happens to be going out there under the bridge, I’d sure be glad to ride along.  I could get the underside that way!

Let me know what you’re thinking.  Let’s see what you come up with and just how far I’ll go to make you happy.  I love a good challenge!

NOTE:  Mary from the Grand was up much, much, much earlier than I was.  She was on the docks at sunrise seeing off the West Bluff Friesians as they left the Island for the winter.  Thanks to her for the header – it almost makes me want to get up that early . . . . almost!

I Wonder . . . 6/29/09

SATURDAY NIGHT.  It’s raining. I wish I had a way to add audio to this blog.  The fog horn has been blowing for an hour out on the Straits.  Sometimes it blows all night long.  It is possibly the most lonely sound I have ever heard.  I wonder . . . what that horn must sound like in the winter, when the snow is measured in feet and giant shards of ice float in the Straits.  There would be no other sound – no horses’ clip clopping (except for the one winter taxi and an occasional dray), no stream of people coming up the hill talking, no crowd of people riding bikes down the hill – just the fog horn.  I’d love to be here then.

IMG_0758Ted and I both volunteered on the island today – he was back at the Welcome Center, I was at the Stuart House Museum.  I felt completely unprepared when I sat down, but Sylvia, who is a regular worker and who was born and raised on the island, and Karen, who had recruited me, gave me some tips and a large folder on the house’s history.  I would love to get a copy of the contents of that entire folder, because not only does it hold the Stuart House history, but the entire island’s history – beginning in the 1600’s.  I have never been a history buff – that is Ted’s subject.  But, after reading through that folder off and on for 2 hours in between welcoming people to the museum, and getting them started on the self-guided tour, I was hooked.  Several people had questions about the museum – some I could answer and some not – but a lot of folks, once they knew I lived here in the summers, wanted to talk about nothing but that.  Those questions I could answer, or at least direct them to the right spot in get an answer.  I wonder . . . if they will ask me to work again. 

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I left the Stuart House and treated myself to an ice cream cone.  Judy from the condos was downtown and asked if I wanted to share a taxi home – sure did.  As we were sitting at the taxi stand, Lisa from JoAnne’s Fudge came by.  Since Judy knew Lisa well, and Judy knew I wanted to write a story about a fudgemaker, she introduced us.  Lisa gave her approval, so all I have to do is give her a call when I am ready, and she will set me up with a fudge cook.  I wonder . . . if I can scrape the bowl?

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SUNDAY MORNING.  It’s still raining, with no letup in sight.  I got an email from Jeanine this morning congratulating me on getting approval for my “Day in the Life Of” series.  Jeanine is the taxi driver that I hope I will be able to job shadow.  She suggested that I also be on hand to help harness up the horses.  Me?  Harness a horse?  I wonder . . . if Jeanine doesn’t like me. 

I have another blog for you to check out.  Kathy lives in the woods of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and made a 365-day commitment to explore the great outdoors.  Her photographs are amazing.  You can reach her at http://centria.wordpress.com, and she is also on my blogroll.  I wonder . . . what in the world will I do with my spare time when our summer on Mackinac is over, and my commitment to record our life here this year is completed.

Islanders have a “sweet” name for tourists.  They are called fudgies.  Fudgies nearly always have a camera around their neck and a pound of fudge in their hands.  If you are visiting the island and want to look more like a local and less like a fudgie, here are a few tips:  1)  Hide your camera and your fudge; 2)  Never look up at the fort when they shoot the cannon; 3) Carry a backpack or a fanny pack, but never a purse.  Now so far I’m good on only one of those – I have a backpack.  The very nature of a blogger requires a camera (although mine is usually in my backpack); if we are out of fudge at the house, you can bet there will be another pound or two in that bag I’m carrying; and – I can’t help it – I not only look up at the fort when the cannon goes off, but I usually jump a little also.  I wonder . . . does that make me a local tourist or a touring local?

SUNDAY AFTERNOON.  The sun is out, it’s 70 degrees, and a cool breeze is blowing.  I walked downtown to get some shots of the inside of Trinity Church (I’ll post them this week sometime).  While I was there, I heard from a VERY reliable source (didn’t know I had spies on the island, did you) that actor Robert DeNiro and his wife had just arrived at the island airport and would be staying somewhere for a few days.  I could tell you where they are staying, but then my spies would never tell me anything again.  So, mum’s the word.  I wonder . . . . nope, can’t go there.

When I got back to the condo, Ted and I took the dogs and walked up to the West Bluff by way of Pontiac’s Trail.  We hadn’t been up there in about three weeks, and the difference was amazing.  What three weeks ago were newly planted summer gardens are now wildly blooming flowerbeds.   I wonder . . . if I can get this amazing Mackinac Island compost shipped to Georgia.

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A riot of yellow and purple and blue in this beautiful summer garden

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Looking across the top of a flower garden to the Straits
On a windy day, the waves were breaking along the shore at the boardwalk.  I caught a seagull in flight just to the right of the lighthouse.

It was a windy day, and the waves were breaking along the shore at the boardwalk, across the street from the island school. That’s a seagull in flight just to the right of the lighthouse.

 

What better way to end our walk than to see a bride and groom leaving The Grand Hotel in one of the wedding carriages.  Their photographer was riding ahead of them, hurrying to the next photo site, but the newlyweds were enjoying a leisurely ride along the West Bluff.

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I hear a lot of couples renew their wedding vows on the island.  I wonder if Ted . . . .