Saturday, August 17, 2019

Postcards from the Lake: More Painting Time!

My annual summer goal is to catch up on painting. It seems like I don't make the time I should for it at home, but at the lake, it just falls into place! Here are a few new things and more to come. My sale is the first weekend in November and I'm hoping to update my Gypsy Caravan before that!

The painting above is from a photo I used in my Cleveland post from the Toledo Beach Marina.

Not long ago I saw a drawing of Paris that I liked. My version looks practically nothing like the drawing, which was very dark and I'm not sure I like this one. But it's something to continue work on. And the painting IS more loose than my usual, tighter and detailed style and I'm trying to work on that, so I'll just keep at it.

You saw a version of the above that I did as a pet sympathy card. Here's a 5x7 version. A few more flowers, better work of the background.

Here's a fellow you should recognize! My second Harry painting. The water actually was quite blue in the photo but I think it looks a little more magical here.

And I leave you with The Little Nipper! That's my girl!

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Summer Break -- A Few Days at Home!

I came home from the lake for a week or so for a couple of reasons -- some appointments, a lovely dinner with friends, and my birthday! Rick made a lemon tart from his new Loganberry Italian cookbooks. (I helped!) And we also went to the Flint Institute of Arts for a terrific exhibit -- but that's for another day. There's lots to process for that one!

When I was home one thing that had to be tackled a bit was my garden. It's so overgrown and the blooms so heavy no one has been able to get to the back yard to mow it! Yes, there is a path there. Good luck getting through it!

But I have to say, this is the view when I open my back door every day.

Just being greeted by that burst of color is enough to start any day off well!

Sometimes I don't know what half of these are. But I really don't care! I just like them!

My white hydrangeas have gone green and I confess, I like them even better green!

And these are always pretty. Stock maybe?

What's not to love with something so cheery!

And speaking of cheery, when Rick had to bail on dinner with me because he forgot to mention he'd accepted an invitation for us (and dinner was was already going and not the kind that served up well as leftovers, there was no stopping it), I called in reinforcements!

And then we celebrated a special occasion!

Just the second day in a great birthday weekend with more to come!

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Postcards from the Lake: A Historic Fort

Today we continue our visit to Mackinac Island and the historic Fort Mackinac. This is a storied spot that was occupied at various times by the French (prior to 1763), the British (through 1796) and then regained by the British in in the War of 1812, following defeat of the American forces. According to the film we saw on the island, the attack on the fort by the British was the first shot of the War of 1812.

It's easy to see why the fort would be at a critical spot on the island. To get to the entrance, you climb a hill. Then you climb up, up, up a long ramp (seen in white on the photo above) to get to the fort itself. (The bluffs are 150 feet -- almost straight up!) The picture below gives you a better idea of the hill that you go up before you even start your climb to the fort itself!

It also had a number of block houses on various sides -- but even so, the north side of the island wasn't visible, at least in those days. (And maybe now.) It was from the north that the British attacked. They were joined by their Native American allies, the relationship forged during earlier British occupation. The Americans surrendered without a fight.

 The fort stayed in the control of the British through the War of 1812, then returning to the Americans, serving as a strategic troop reserve. Commanders and their families would be stationed there and there was a school and various lodgings. Those for the soldiers were more humble and rigorous.

Those of the families would be more typical of the time and in lovely homes, but within the fort walls.

And the beds looked much more comfy than the soldiers' barracks!

When the island became America's second national park, Army troops stationed at the fort served as rangers. I wish I'd taken photos of the bath house and canteen, with its pool table and bar. It was considered a desirable station. They also held drills and today you can see a small group of re-enactors perform some of the drills they learned, then answer questions and talk to visitors. The kids love this especially! Other costumed interpreters are in some of the shop areas or simply around the grounds to answer questions, costumed in 1880s outfits.

The island is now managed by the Mackinac Island State Park commission and is considered a state park. While the only cost to come to the island is the hefty ferry boat fee, admission to the fort helps cover expenses and also includes admission to several other historic properties on the island, as well as an art museum.

The Island is considered one of the largest parks in the country that generates a major part of its operating budget. This helps fund the various properties including the 14 historic buildings inside the fort as well as the other historic sites.

Oh, and I forgot to mention -- it has one of the best views on the Island!

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Sunday, August 11, 2019

Postcards from the Lake: Road Trip to Mackinac Island

The last time I was at Mackinac Island, my cousin's son had started his freshman year at college and I was still working. He's 32 now. Or 33. He has a wife and a baby and a good job. I have retired. Time to return!

My fellow retiree, Mike, hadn't been in ages either and since we both have cottages up north, decided that we'd head off and check it out again. Had anything changed on this wonderful  piece of living nostalgia in the years since either of us had been? I'll tell you soon -- but meanwhile, let's start with the boat ride!

Mackinac Island is located in the Straits of Mackinac, which divide Michigan's Upper and Lower peninsulas. Connecting the two peninsulas is the Mackinac Bridge.

When built, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world (and to be honest, I still get heebie-jeebie driving over it.)

Our ferry ride to the island didn't go over it, but under it, a view I'd never seen before.

With a bright blue sky and only the pretty, puffy clouds, it was a perfect day for our excursion.

When you land, this is what you see -- a foreground of boats in the marina and a background of hills with cottages high on a bluff (with quite a view) and the historic fort where the first shot of the War of 1812 was fired.

And when you get off the boat -- this is what you see. A charming mainstreet with horse drawn carriage and taxis and loads of bicycles.

Visiting Mackinac Island is a multi sensory experience. Sight? There are plenty -- gorgeous old homes that are now guest houses.

Beautiful gardens.

Wonderful views of Lake Huron.

Sounds -- there are no cars on Mackinac Island so one sound you hear often are horses, drawing the carriages.

This white horse is the tallest horse on the Island, we are told.

And I learned that horses stand like this on their back feet to balance and steady their weight while at rest. But if they do it on their front foot, the horse is lame. Who knew?

And you'll hear the rolling of large carts carrying supplies to the various restaurants. This beer cart was pulled by several horses.

Smell -- Well, there are three smells you'll find with great ease on the island. The smell of the above mentioned horses (they do a very good job of cleaning up after them -- street sweepers are everywhere with buckets of water and clean-up equipment); the smells from the demonstrations of canons and rifles at the fort (for a future post) and fudge.

You can't go to the island without buying fudge. It's why they call the tourists Fudgies. (Actually, you can -- because I didn't get fudge. But I wanted to.) It smelled fabulous. There must be 20 fudge shops on the island -- most two or three doors away from another and often more than one of the same company. Murdick's is the "original."

Taste -- If fudge isn't your thing, lunch might be and there is no end to the spots where you can dine. We chose Millie's on Main which had delicious sandwiches and for Island food, very well priced.

Or, you can pick up a snack (or bring your own) and enjoy it on a picnic table overlooking the water. There is loads of park land and wonderful natural sites for bikers and hikers so if you have good feet or feel so inclined you can venture farther from the town's center to explore.

The photo below is from VERY long ago (c. 1975, maybe?) when I went to the island with friends and we had a wonderful time skipping the smooth stones we found in the shallows.

As you turn up the side streets, you'll come to the stables, and I greatly admired their hollyhocks!

The gardens in front of the houses are always lovely and well maintained. I wonder how they feel about having hundreds of tourists snap photos? Probably pretty proud!

And actually, who wouldn't want to shoot photos of lovely spots like this?

Although we didn't venture to the Grand Hotel on this day, here's a shot from a previous trip. It still looks the same with its long porch.

And, as seen from the ferry!

If the Grand Hotel and other sites on the island look familiar to you, it may be you are a fan of the movie "Somewhere in Time" with Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve. It was shot on the island (and they allowed a car for one scene!). I've not seen it in ages but after my visit, might check it out. You can buy all sorts of "Somewhere in Time" memorabilia on the island and the Grand Hotel has an annual "Somewhere in Time" weekend. For $1,179, you, too, can attend (includes meals and accommodations and sometimes Jane Seymour, along with author talks. Of course, real fans can find a map to locations online and check out various sites on their own. If you're a fan of the film, this site highlights some of the locations.

 Of course in time, all good days come to an end...

...but ours hasn't yet. Next time we'll step back into history.

But so far, fresh as a daisy!

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