New Home, New State, New Blog 1/7/2015

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When I first began Bree’s Connecting the Dots, we all knew the day would come when this blog and all it encompassed would come to an end.

Today is the day.

We’ve gone through so many great adventures together – the Mackinac years, the Lake Blackshear years, and the Connecting the Dot years.  With the permanent move to Florida, it’s only fitting to begin a new chapter – and a new blog.  I don’t exactly know what this one will end up being, but we can figure it out together.

Words can’t express how much I love all of you.  You’ve stuck with me through years of laughter AND through tears on more than a few occasions.  I count myself so very fortunate to have come to know each and every one of you.  You are simply – the BEST!

I hope you’ll come on over to the new blog, which I’ve named To Be Clay.  You can find it by clicking here:  http://bree2015.wordpress.com.  Please don’t forget to click the “follow” link on the new blog to sign up for email notifications each time a new post is published.

Come on down to Florida with the Hortons!  Let’s all “be clay” together!

To Be Clay

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It seems strange to sit this afternoon with fingers on the keyboard.  I was determined to truly take a rest from computerized social media over the holidays, and the only time I opened my laptop in the last two weeks was to pay a few bills and look at some photos on the big screen (wish I could say I stayed off the iPhone also, but I didn’t).  We were so busy over Christmas and New Year’s that I can’t say I missed blogging very much.  What I did miss though was the feeling of being connected to all of you.

I hope you’ve all had a wonderful holiday.  Ted and I certainly did.  We enjoyed visits from Jason and Blake, and we all spent Christmas evening over in Ormond Beach with Julie, Matt, Jordan, Matthew and Matt’s mom, dad, brother and his family.  Over New Year’s Dawn & Stevie from the ri’vah came for a visit and just left yesterday.

Our beautiful Jordan in the kitchen Christmas night.

Our beautiful Jordan in the kitchen Christmas night.

Out for a walk with Jason.

Out for a walk with Jason.

Blake on New Year's Eve.

Blake on New Year’s Eve.

Dawn and me on New Year's Eve.

Dawn and me on New Year’s Eve . . .

, , , and the four of us before going out to dinner Friday evening.

, , , and the four of us before going out to dinner Friday evening.

I can’t say we had perfect Florida weather over the holidays.  Although there were a few sunny days, for the most part we had clouds, a little rain, a lot of wind, and alternating warm and cool days.  I’m about to decide Florida weather is much like Michigan weather . . . if you don’t like it, just wait five minutes and it will change!

Blake is still with us, and may be here for an extended time.  There is still a possibility he and his team will return to Turkey, but if that doesn’t happen, he must make some important decisions about what’s next.  Please keep him in your prayers as he seeks to know God’s will in his life.

OTHER FLORIDA GOODIES

Our boat arrived a few days after Christmas!

Our boat arrived a few days after Christmas!

We've only taken it out a couple of times (weather hasn't cooperated), but we already know it's much different than owning a pontoon!

We’ve only taken it out a couple of times (weather hasn’t cooperated), but we already know it’s much different than owning a pontoon!

Bringing the boat into our inlet for the first time.

Bringing the boat into our inlet for the first time.

On the lift!

On the lift!

A Christmas gift to myself!  These pots of flowers helped me accept my tiny, tiny backyard!  I go out every day to water and deadhead!

A Christmas gift to myself! These pots of flowers are helping me accept my tiny backyard! I go out every day to water and deadhead!

Maddie and Bear - watching Ted piddling around on the boat across the inlet.

Maddie and Bear – watching Ted piddling around on the boat across the inlet.

THINGS YOU DON’T EXPECT IN YOUR BACK YARD

One of our neighbors told us today that two weeks ago they were sitting out on their deck just a sundown.  They watched something walk out of the woods one house over from ours and proceed to walk down the seawall behind our house.  They knew it was too big for a bobcat - Bob said it had to weigh at least 100 lbs., had a long tail, and looked like a female lion.  When he did the research he figured out it was a Florida panther - an endangered species.  And that, dear friends, ends Maddie's solo trips out the backdoor at dusk.

One of our neighbors told us today that two weeks ago they were sitting out on their deck just at sundown. They watched something walk out of the woods one house over from ours and proceed to walk down the seawall behind our house. They knew it was too big for a Bobcat – it looked to weigh at least 100 lbs., had a long tail, and resembled a female lion. When he did the research he figured out it was a Florida panther – an endangered species. And that, dear friends, ends Maddie’s solo trips out the back door at dusk.

MACKINAC ISLAND GOODIES

December 31, 2014.  The Arnold boat arrives on its first trip of the day to the island . . .

December 31, 2014. The Arnold boat arrives on its first trip of the day to the island . . .

. . . and several hours later it makes the last trip of 2014 - in much rougher waters!  (Both photos - Clark Bloswick)

. . . and several hours later it makes the last trip of 2014 – in much rougher waters! (Both photos – Clark Bloswick)

January 2nd sunrise.  (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

January 2nd sunrise. (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

 

Some boardwalk ice magic.  (Photo: Greg Main)

Some boardwalk ice magic. (Photo: Greg Main)

LOVE this Greg Main photo taken the first morning of 2015.

LOVE this Greg Main photo taken the first morning of 2015.

Some personal thoughts:  It’s been a hard holiday season for me this year.  If I allow myself to be honest, I’m still reeling from a traumatic year of change, and I just can’t seem to get even close to feeling rested.  Moving into our new house just as the holiday season began kept us busy with cooking, decorating, gift buying and wrapping, and welcoming visitors.  Please don’t think I’m complaining about any of that.  It was all wonderful, but it came just when I was at my most “wrung-out”.

As the normalcy of the rest of the winter season begins, I'm looking forward to more time to spend walking the beach . . .

As the normalcy of the rest of the winter season begins, I’m looking forward to more time to spend walking the beach . . .

. . . sitting on the dock at the Intracoastal on both foggy and sunny days . . .

. . . sitting on the dock at the Intracoastal on both foggy and sunny days . . .

. . . and thanking the good Lord once again for allowing me to live once more where He does some of his best artistic work.

. . . and thanking the good Lord for allowing me – once again – to live where He does some of his best artistic work.

You all know how much I love the blog Cast Light, written by Kathie Pugaczewski.  A few weeks ago Kathie posted a poem she had written, and it spoke to me as few things have in a long while.  I find myself reading and re-reading it several times a day. As we went through all the changes of this last year, I found myself on many occasions wanting to go numb.  To get through some of the days without crying, I had to simply cut off my emotions and turn into what felt like stone – unyielding and hardened, with walls of defenses going up right and left to keep myself emotionally sound.  Kathie’s poem spoke to my heart, and I’m trying very hard now to turn that stone back into clay.  When I can finally do that, I think I will have found my way home again.  And I think I will have also found what will be the theme for Bree’s new blog.

To remain as clay, to be shaped and moved
Unfinished but evolving
Soft and pliable
Not the same as yesterday
Not what will be tomorrow
Ever present to what is now
Unfolding and grounded
Unwilling to turn to stone
Open to possibilities, to new beginnings
To be clay

God bless. 

Born This Day 12/25/14

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“For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11)

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MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM OUR BELOVED DOTS

The Horton clan wishes you a very Merry Christmas, and we pray your day is filled with joy, peace and God’s richest blessings!

Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island, Michigan

Lake Blackshear, Georgia

Lake Blackshear, Georgia

Beverly Beach, Florida

Beverly Beach, Florida

Ho, Ho, Woof!

Ho, Ho, Woof!

Snow and Ice – Palm Trees and Ocean Waves – We’ve Got It All 12/21/2014

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LOL!  When I looked at the thermometer a little while ago, it was almost 72; so I’m going to begin by spiriting you away to our magical island, where the landscape looks like what – in my mind, at least – Christmas is supposed to look like!

After a few days with no snow at all, dawn this past Wednesday found Greg Main capturing the first significant snowfall in days within the spotlights at Marquette Park.

After a few days with no snow at all, dawn this past Wednesday found Greg Main capturing the first significant snowfall in days within the spotlights at Marquette Park.

A little later that same morning, from up the hill by Fort Mackinac, Clark Bloswick photographed the continuation of a good snow day!

A little later that same morning, from up the hill by Fort Mackinac, Clark Bloswick photographed the continuation of a good snow day!

Same day - from the

Same day – from the West Bluff.  The turnstile at the entrance to Pontiac Trail is in the foreground.

A snow-covered Anne's Tablet.  (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

A snow-covered Anne’s Tablet. (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

Josh Carley captured this great downtown scene

Josh Carley captured this great downtown scene from up one of the side streets in the Mission District.

The Original Murdick's Fudge Christmas elves push the last batch of Christmas fudge to the ferry docks.  They worked hard for the first two weeks in December to ensure the deliveries arrived on time!

The Original Murdick’s Fudge Christmas elves push the last batch of Christmas fudge to the ferry docks. They worked hard for the first two weeks in December to ensure the deliveries arrived on time!  (Photo:  Original Murdick’s Fudge)

A beautiful winter skyscape by Robert McGreevy.

A beautiful winter sky by Robert McGreevy.

And another by Bruce LaPine.

And another by Bruce LaPine.

One of Josh Carley's fantastic panoramas!

One of Josh Carley’s fantastic panoramas!

Breaking Mackinac Island News (for those who haven’t already heard):  Mission Point Resort has been purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Dennert O Ware of San Antonio, Texas.  If the Ware name sounds familiar, it’s because their daughter – Liz Ware – has been working diligently for two years now to restore Silver Birches to its former glory.  I can’t wait to see what wonderful changes the Wares will bring to the already fabulous Mission Point!  In a press release, the Wares stated:  “Our family loves Mackinac and the Great lakes Region.  We look forward to helping this very special property realize its full potential while remaining a time-honored tradition for families to visit year after year.”  The Wares are already planning a multi-million dollar renovation to the 239 room resort, including a new spa and pool complex and upgrading the existing rooms.  Congratulations to the Wares on their purchase!

A special note from the Island:  Do you ever wonder what the ladies on the Island like to do over the winter?  One thing they’re most all passionate about is reading, and this year they’ve started a Winter Book Club.  Just for fun, I thought I’d publish their book list.  If you’ve read any of these and recommend them, let us know in the comment section!  Still Alice by Lisa Genova; The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown; The Fig Eater by Jody Shields; Empty Mansions by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell; A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout; The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin.  I’ve read only one of these – A House in the Sky – and would recommend it highly.

MEANWHILE, BACK IN THE LAND OF PALM TREES

We finally got our yellow shutters and door!

We finally got our yellow shutters and door!

I picked Blake up at the Daytona Beach Airport this week and had to get a snapshot of their amazing Poinsettia Christmas tree - all live!

I picked Blake up at the Daytona Beach Airport this week and had to get a snapshot of their amazing Poinsettia Christmas tree – all live!

Maddie and Bear are always happy to have another person in the house to spoil them rotten!  Jason arrives Dec. 23, so they will be ridiculously rotten by the day after Christmas!

Maddie and Bear are always happy to have another person in the house to spoil them rotten! Jason arrives Dec. 23, so they will be ridiculously rotten by the day after Christmas!

On Friday the lift guys arrived . . .

On Friday the lift guys arrived . . .

. . . and by the end of the day, our lift was in!  Our boat is being delivered on Dec. 28!

. . . and by the end of the day, our lift was in! Our boat is being delivered on Dec. 28!

We're still getting one amazing sunset after another!

We’re still getting one amazing sunset after another!

Special Note:  My new friend, Linda (I told you about the amazing way we connected in last Sunday’s blog) and I met at the Java Joint last week (along with her adorable Airedale, Spirit) and spent two hours getting to know each other over coffee.  She and her husband are from Pittsburg and spend their winters here.  More to come as that friendship unfolds . . . . .

Here we are.  Only a few days until Christmas and 10 days away from 2015!  Ted and I can hardly believe we’re about to escort 2014 into history and welcome a brand new year into existence.  Twelve months ago we had just signed the contract on the new house and had no idea what a wild ride of a year we were about to start experiencing.  Looking back now – and thinking about all the ups, downs, drama, and emotions we encountered along the way – it’s pretty easy to say “if we’d known what we were getting ourselves into”, we could have decided the end result might not have been worth the ordeal it took to achieve our goal.  But then again, at our age we’ve learned the things that come easily are not necessarily the things we most appreciate.  Each time we cross the Flagler Beach bridge and see the vast expanse of Atlantic Ocean and know this is now where we live, we can’t help but realize all the turmoil was well worth the outcome.  We live at the beach now.  We start and end each day with spectacular sunrises and sunsets, we walk on our cinnamon-colored sand, we hear waves crashing as we go to bed each night and as we wake up each morning.  We can eat fresh seafood any time we like, and – on most days – have the windows open in December.  As our days here grow more numbered, I know this place will grow roots within our hearts.  It will become more than the place where we live.  It will become home.

Personal note:  I’ll be back after the New Year, but for the next few days I’ll be enjoying celebrating the birth of Christ with Jason, Blake, Julie, Matt, Jordan and Matthew.  On New Year’s Eve Dawn and Stevie, two dear friends from the ri’vah, are coming for a few days of beach fun, and we can’t wait to see them and enjoy time together. 

Ted and I pray for each of you a Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year! 

See you back here Sunday, January 4!

God bless.

Palm trees wave, are you listenin’?

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 Palm trees wave, are you listenin’?

In the pool, water’s glistenin’,

A beautiful sight, we’re happy tonight

Livin’ in a FLORIDA Wonderland.

Gone away is the blizzard,

Here to stay is the lizard,

A warm sunny day, we like it that way,

Livin’ in a FLORIDA Wonderland.

On the beach we will have a picnic,

Turtles, sand, seagulls and sun.

Christmas dinner is an old tradition,

It’s Grouper and Stone Crabs by the ton.

Later on, we’ll perspire,

As temperatures rise, even higher.

A warm sunny day, we like it that way,

Livin’ in a FLORIDA Wonderland!

I’ve received this parody of Winter Wonderland from friends at least five times in the last week, and if there’s ever been a week that lives up to the words above, it’s been this one.  Even though we’re going through a little “cold” snap, Ted and I have already learned that “cold” is relative down here.  If the temps dip below 70, you’ll see folks at the grocery store in snow boots, fleece jackets, and wool caps.  You know immediately that those folks are Florida residents – so eager for winter in its REAL form that the slightest suggestion of “cold” in the forecast has them digging for the arctic gear.

On the other hand, the folks who come to Florida from up north to get AWAY from harsh winters merrily greet below 70’s temps by hanging out in T-shirts, Bermuda shorts, and flip flops.

Ted and I fall somewhere between those two groups.  Having spent some cold (really cold, not Florida cold) days on Mackinac Island, we both own what I call REAL winter gear.  I even possess some actual snow grips for my shoes (from when I visited Mackinac during the winter).  Our coat closet is stuffed with all levels of outerwear, mittens and caps, but we’ve yet to pull on anything heavier than a sweatshirt and maybe some corduroy pants.  Maybe the folks who’ve lived here all their lives are so acclimated to hot weather that even the slightest shift downward has them running for those North Face jackets.  Maybe we’ll do that too in the coming years.  Stay tuned.

EXPLORING

It is a beautiful, sunny day here, and Ted and I drove about five miles up the road to Washington Oaks Gardens State Park for their Holidays in the Gardens show.  Talk about a perfect example of winter in Florida!

Seriously now, where else could you find ferns growing in the trunks of palm trees in the middle of December!?

Seriously now, where else could you find ferns growing in the trunks of palm trees in the middle of December!?

Although small, this state park was so beautiful, with lush vegetation and lovely bodies of water throughout the acreage.

Although small, Washington Oaks Gardens is really beautiful, with lush vegetation . . .

tttttt

. . . and lovely bodies of water throughout the acreage.

In approximately the center of the park is a citrus garden, with limes . . .

In approximately the center of the park is a citrus garden, with limes . . .

. . . oranges . . .

. . . oranges . . .

 

. . . and grapefruits growing side by side.

. . . and grapefruits growing side by side.  There were also lemon trees.

We could have done our own little Tropicana commercial right there in the Gardens today!

We could have done our own little Tropicana commercial right there in the Gardens today!

Huge palm trees.

Huge palm trees.

The Rose Garden was a little depleted this time of year (will definitely come back in the summer), but . . .

The Rose Garden was a little depleted this time of year (we’ll definitely come back in the summer), but . . .

. . . there were still a few gorgeous specimens to be seen - like this red rose . . .

. . . there were still a few gorgeous specimens to be seen – like this red rose . . .

. . . and this yellow one.

. . . and this yellow one.

 

The park borders on the Matanzas River and has a small sand beach.

The park borders on the Matanzas River and has a small sand beach.

 

We saw most of the park in under an hour, but it was well worth the trip.  This gazebo standing at the edge of a small pond was my favorite spot.

We saw most of the park in under an hour, but it was well worth the trip. This gazebo standing at the edge of a small pond was my favorite spot.

MACKINAC ISLAND PHOTOS

The most beautiful library ANYWHERE - as seen from the beach side.

The most beautiful library ANYWHERE – as seen from the beach side.  (Photo:  Poppin)

Fort Holmes after the latest snow - so desolate, so beautiful.  (Photo: Amelia Hurt)

Fort Holmes after the latest snow – so desolate, so beautiful. (Photo: Amelia Hurt)

 

Oh. My. Gosh.  I LOVE this photo.  The woods along Cupid's Pathway, one of our favorite routes home over the years.  Sunlight shining on the snow-covered tops of beautiful old trees.  (Photo: Brian DePlonty)

Oh. My. Gosh. I LOVE this photo. The woods along Cupid’s Pathway, one of our favorite routes home over the years. Sunlight shining on the snow-covered tops of beautiful old trees. (Photo: Brian DePlonty)

I know I had a Christmas tree lighting photo last week, but this one from Nicole Doud was so beautiful I just had to share it.

I know I had a Christmas tree lighting photo last week, but this one from Nicole Doud was so beautiful I just had to share it.  The lighting ceremony on Mackinac is such a huge community event, with year-round residents turning out to sing carols, drink hot cocoa, see the tree lighting, then hop on snowmobiles to return home – or go shopping at the Christmas Bazaar the same weekend!

OTHER GOOD STUFF FROM FLORIDA!

One of the most important reasons we moved to Florida was to spend more time with our grandchildren, Jordan and Matthew.  This week we’ve attended two of Matthew’s basketball games, and after the one on Friday evening, he asked if he could come home with us to spend the night!  Well, you know what our answer was!

By the time his dad picked him up Saturday morning for another basketball game at noon, we had gone down to the Java Joint for breakfast, walked out to the dock through the nature preserve, and he and Ted had gone on a bike ride almost into Flagler Beach and back.  It's a wonder he could even PLAY basketball that day.  But he did (and they WON)!

By the time his dad picked him up Saturday morning for another basketball game at noon, we had gone down to the Java Joint for breakfast, walked out to the dock through the nature preserve, and he and Ted had gone on a bike ride almost into Flagler Beach and back. It’s a wonder he could even PLAY basketball that day. But he did (and they WON)!  Here, Ted and Matthew are watching guys check the depths in our canal to see if dredging is needed.

Our view as we top the Flagler Beach bridge coming into town.  We hang a left at the Atlantic Ocean, and then it's about three miles down A1A to our house.

Our view as we top the Flagler Beach bridge coming into town. We hang a left at the Atlantic Ocean, and then it’s about three miles down A1A to our house.

WHY I LOVE SOCIAL MEDIA!

A few nights ago I received an email from someone I didn’t know.  I would have probably not opened it, but the subject line said “Neighbor with Airedale”.  Since I’m a fool for anything about a pooch, I hit “open”.  The jist of the email was that this lady belongs to a Facebook group for Airedale owners, and when she mentioned on Facebook she lived in Flagler Beach, someone ELSE in the group asked if that was near Beverly Beach.  She said yes, it was.  The second person said she knew someone who had just moved to Beverly Beach, and maybe the two of us could connect.

Long story short – the second lady was Chris, one of my loyal blog readers, and the lady from Flagler Beach was Linda, who spends her winters in Flagler with her husband.  Small world, huh?  But, wait.  It gets better!

On our very first visit to the Java Joint – before our house was even started – we met a lady there that morning who had a young Airedale with her, and we started a conversation about therapy dogs (her Airedale was in therapy dog training).  Her name was Linda.

Guess what  . . . . . SAME Linda!  It took us exactly one more email to figure all that out, and we have a date to meet at Java Joint Tuesday morning!

LOVE IT!

Gotta go now and take the pooches for a walk with Ted.  Oh wait . . . it’s 67 degrees.  I better put on my snow boots first!

God bless.

The Week in Photos 12/7/14

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Can you believe we’re at the end of the first week in December?  I can’t even wrap my head around the fact that Thanksgiving is over, and here we are decorating Christmas trees and addressing Christmas cards!

Ted and I have officially unpacked all we plan to unpack at this point, and  everything else is hiding out in the garage (since we can only get one vehicle in there, we might as well use it for storage – right?)!  We (mostly Ted) put together a five-shelf storage rack this week and piled a lot of unopened boxes (filled with things we just had to bring, but obviously don’t need) on the shelves.  We’re thinking maybe one more rack the same size will get all our un-needed stuff organized, so it can sit for the next “x” number of years in a perpetual state of suspended animation.  The positive outcome of this organization of un-needed stuff is that Ted now has room in the garage to set up his gym equipment (with the promise that the garage door will ALWAYS be closed unless the one vehicle it holds is backing in or out.  I know I’m a fanatic on this point; but I mean really, have you EVER seen a garage that is attractive on the inside?  If you have, please send me a photo – because only then will I believe it!

Little by little we’re getting out of “moving in” mode and into “living here” mode.  We’re venturing out more, learning our way around Palm Coast and Daytona Beach (where most of our shopping is done – except for groceries/pharmacy), and meeting our neighbors here in Sunset Inlet.  We’re really a little community unto ourselves, and after all 31 home sites are sold, built out, and inhabited, we can foresee many years of happy living among folks who are mostly our age and have mostly the same interests we do.  And we figure those who are younger, older, and have different interests than us will just make life more interesting and teach us new things!  It’s all good!

Bear and Maddie have taken to beach living VERY easily.  They are enjoying at least two walks a day - either to the beach or out through the nature preserve to the Intracoastal pier.  The only thing they've found annoying are the sandspurs. but they've already learned which paths to avoid and which paths are safe!

Bear and Maddie have taken to beach living VERY easily. They are enjoying at least two walks a day – either to the beach or out through the nature preserve to the Intracoastal pier. The only thing they’ve found annoying are the sandspurs. but they’ve already learned which paths to avoid and which paths are safe!  Such smart doggies!

We're also learning how nice it is to have a bonus son living nearby . . . like when he volunteered to help Ted put together our new grill!

We’re also learning how nice it is to have a bonus son living nearby . . . like when he volunteered to help Ted put together our new grill!

 

The two of them working together had it done in no time at all!  Thanks, Matt!

The two of them working together had it done in no time at all! Thanks, Matt!

 

We rode downtown Saturday afternoon to take in the Flagler Beach Christmas parade and were surprised how many folks turned out!  Highway A1A was lined with folks to watch a parade that ran almost an hour . . .

We rode downtown Saturday afternoon to take in the Flagler Beach Christmas parade.  Highway A1A was lined with folks to watch a parade that ran almost an hour . . .

 

. . . and began with Santa Claus parachuting into Town Center.

. . . and began with Santa Claus parachuting into Town Center.

 

Had to get a photo of our mounted police force (which I had no idea we had)!

Had to get a photo of our mounted police force (which I had no idea we had)!  Please take note of the “clean-up” brigade behind the horses!

As in every Christmas parade, there were politicians . . .

As in every Christmas parade, there were politicians . . .

 

. . . fancy cars . . .

. . . fancy cars . . .

 

. . . dancers . . .

. . . dancers (our local Zumba group)

. . . local church groups (celebrating the REAL reason for Christmas) . . .

. . . local church groups (celebrating the REAL reason for Christmas) . . .

. . . a few pooches . . .

. . . a few pooches . . .

 

. . . a great high school band . . .

. . . a great high school band . . .

 

. . . the GRINCH . . .

. . . the GRINCH . . .

 

. . . and an awesome fire truck carrying . . .

. . . and an awesome fire truck carrying . . .

 

. . . Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus!

. . . Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus!

What made THIS parade so different than any other we’d seen was . . .

. . . we were standing right across the street from palm trees, sand, and the blue Atlantic Ocean!

. . . we were standing right across the street from palm trees, sand, and the blue Atlantic Ocean!

After the parade, we walked through town and checked out Santa and his reindeer-pulled sleigh . . .

After the parade, we walked through town and checked out Santa and his reindeer-pulled sleigh . . .

 

. . . and I took a pic of the same scene that evening as we turned the corner toward home.

. . . and I took a pic of the same scene that evening as we turned the corner toward home.  I admit it – seeing palm trees decked out for Christmas takes a little getting used to!

We've had several days of what they call "ocean fog".  Our neighbors have decorated their fence with lights, and it looked so pretty in the fog late one afternoon.

Christmas lights on our neighbor’s fence – in what the locals call “sea fog”.

We've decorated our first tree in Florida.  Looks a little empty under there, so that's a project for NEXT week - wrap gifts!

We’ve decorated our first tree in Florida. Looks a little empty under there, so that’s a project for NEXT week – wrap gifts!  No, wait!  First, we have to BUY them!

Bear - as we were leaving on date night Friday evening.

Bear – as we were leaving on date night Friday evening.

A FEW MACKINAC PICS!

This is how Market Street looked on Black Friday.  Sure would have loved being there!  (Photo: Liz Burt of The Quilted Turtle Blog)

This is how Market Street looked on Black Friday. Sure would have loved being there! (Photo: Liz Burt of The Quilted Turtle Blog)

God's light shining through over Mackinac in both this photo from Clark Bloswick . . .

God’s light shining through over Mackinac in both this photo from Clark Bloswick . . .

. . . and this one from Patrick Conlon.

. . . and this one from Patrick Conlon.

A panoramic shot of Turtle Park from Josh Carley.

A panoramic shot of Turtle Park from Josh Carley.

 

A simply beautiful snowy scene from Orietta Barquero.

A simply beautiful snowy scene from Orietta Barquero.

The Christmas Bazaar was this weekend on Mackinac, which means the lighting of the Main Street Christmas Tree - beautifully shot by Main Street Inn & Suites.

The Christmas Bazaar was this weekend on Mackinac, which means the lighting of the Main Street Christmas Tree – beautifully shot by Main Street Inn & Suites.

SOMETHING DIFFERENT

Many of you who read the comments on this blog are familiar with blog reader Jason (he calls himself the “other” Jason to differentiate himself from my son Jason).  This Jason is in Afghanistan and heads up the training and administrative duties of the handlers and service dogs who protect American bases and private industries in that country.  Jason’s time in Afghanistan is coming to an end soon, and he wants to return home to his family in Texas and open a dive shop, while working to complete his commercial pilot’s license.  Jason and wife Sirena were married at Mission Point on Mackinac Island.

Jason contacted me recently about helping him come up with a creative name for his dive shop, and gave me permission to open it up to my Facebook and blog readers.  Some of you have already shared your ideas through Facebook, and I’ve passed all those names on to Jason.  So, this challenge is for those who didn’t get a chance to offer up your suggestions on Facebook.  Jason will be teaching diving in Texas lakes as well as on the coast.  He will be offering lessons at reduced prices, and has already had invitations to teach children in neighborhood pools and club facilities.

Jason has sweetened the pot and offered free diving certification for whomever suggests the name he decides on!  Of course, you’ll have to get to Texas to take him up on this offer!!

Let’s hear it, readers!  Send your best, most fun and creative dive shop names to me at brendasumnerhorton@hotmail.com, and I’ll pass them on the Jason!

That’s it from Florida for this week.  Hoping everyone has an awesome week!

God bless.

Settling In . . . . 11/30/14

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One of my readers said in a recent comment that it takes a complete year of “firsts” to feel settled into a new home. Having just celebrated our first Thanksgiving here in Florida, that only leaves our first Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, wedding anniversary (St. Patrick’s Day), Easter, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Ted’s birthday, my birthday, Father’s Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Veteran’s Day, and Halloween. When you stretch it out like that, it sounds like a VERY long time to feel “at home”, but I understand exactly what she meant.  Enjoying our Thanksgiving dinner of turkey, dressing, and all the trimmings – with the sun streaming in through the sheers while we looked down our little canal to the Intracoastal – was certainly a different sort of day.

We picked Jason up at the Daytona Beach airport on Tuesday afternoon and Blake up at the Jacksonville airport early Wednesday evening.  Unbelievably, Blake’s flights from Turkey and then from New York were all on time, and he made all his connections with no problems.  Jason and Blake both LOVE our new home.  The way I know that is both of them SAID it many more times than once.  With guys, who never gush about anything (mine don’t anyway), you have to go by subtle clues.  So when they pointed out different things they liked and commented on them SEVERAL times, we were assured they really loved the house and the location we chose.

After an early afternoon Thanksgiving dinner, we rode down to the pier and were surprised to find a lot of folks doing the same thing – enjoying a chilly, but beautiful day on the beach.

From the Flagler Beach pier we could look back along the coastline of cinnamon sand and watch the waves roll into shore.

From the Flagler Beach pier we could look back along the coastline of cinnamon sand and watch the waves roll into shore.

It seems a chilly, windy day doesn't stop surfers!

It seems a chilly, windy day doesn’t stop surfers!

 

 

Under the pier.

Under the pier.

Picture of a happy mom!

Picture of a happy mom!

Jason flew back to Atlanta on Saturday, but before we left for the airport we rode down to check out Marineland, only 14 miles from our house.  I remember visiting Marineland, the world’s first oceanarium and, in the 60’s, Florida top theme park, as a very young girl.  There were dolphin shows and all kinds of marine life to enjoy.  Today, Marineland has evolved into a research and training facility for other larger aquariums like Sea World and the Georgia Aquarium.

Visitors can participate in programs that allow guests to ine=teract with dolphins in intimate settings.  Guests can swim, touch, feed, and even paint with dolphins while learning about these animals and their habitat.  Definitely a place to revisit when we don't have a plan to catch!

Visitors can participate in programs that allow guests to swim, touch, feed, and even paint with dolphins, while learning about these animals and their habitat.

Definitely a place to revisit when we don't have a plane to catch!

Definitely a place to revisit when we no one has a plane to catch!

Blake with a huge piece of the coquina rock responsible for the cinnamon-colored beaches in our region of Florida.

Blake with a huge piece of the coquina rock responsible for the cinnamon-colored beaches in our region of Florida.

 

Jason - enjoying the ocean view.

Jason – enjoying the ocean view.

Blake will be leaving Monday morning to drive up to Georgia to visit his dad.  He’ll come back here on Wednesday and fly out to Colorado on Thursday.  Both my boys will be back in Florida for the Christmas holidays, and we’ll all be together at Julie and Matt’s Christmas night.  My cup runneth over!

MACKINAC ISLAND – MICHIGAN

I have such a huge surprise AND treat for you tonight.  After a long absence from writing, Greg Main, who lives year-round on Mackinac Island, has written a great newsletter and given me permission to share it.  I love Greg’s writing and the way he makes you feel you are right there with him – crunching through the snow!

Greetings to all!  Yes, it has been over three years since I’ve sent one of these missives.  Blame it on working two jobs, the ease of getting information as it happens via Facebook and Twitter or, perhaps, just because I had lost interest and/or interesting things to pass along. No promises yet that I will get these out at regular intervals.  We’ll see how things pan out as winter approaches and how long it sticks with us this season.

Well, when the thermometer here (near the bottom of the hill) peaked at 48 this afternoon, despite the gloominess of the day, there were simply no more excuses  to remain indoors.  Time for a long-overdue walk along the bluffs and  myriad trails lining the interior of the island.  Most notably, just 24 hours earlier, I was shoveling my way out of the Arnold Transit parking lot, on my way to Manistique for an overnight stay. Upon returning to said dock this morning . . . no snow to speak of.  The same can be said of the island roads and grounds.  How quickly things can change.  As the ferry neared the dock at the island this morning, it was as if we skipped ahead to the end of March. A few patches of white dotted the lawn at Marquette Park and snowmobiles sitting fast on bare pavement along Main Street.  Balmy.  Very Spring-like. We’re expecting one more day of melting before returning to cooler, possibly snow-making weather again. I know I’m in the minority when it comes to winter.  As long as I can remember, I’ve never actually liked winter. I simply tolerate it, making the best of it via skiing and long walks. Nope, not a fan of cold weather.
 
If there is any ‘big’ news to share (again, with Facebook and other online sources, nothing is actually ‘news’ anymore), it would be the gutting of the former Alford’s Drug Store.  The front of the building has been enclosed out to the edge of the sidewalk as work is being done to, I’m told, divide the interior from front to back in order for Doud’s Market to expand while the other side will be used for ???   I haven’t heard anything official yet.  As for the upstairs, I’m also in the dark.  My investigative abilities have been in limbo long enough, and since I wasn’t planning to begin these emails again, I haven’t been asking questions as I would in previous years.
 
Quiet was the word in the woods and along the East Bluff this afternoon.  Wonderfully quiet. A few chickadees and a few, or one very active, Pileated Woodpecker broke the silence now and then. The soft remnants of snow hushed my footsteps. Across Marquette Park, up the Crow’s Nest steps, left turn and on to Rifle Range Road, down hill to Arch Rock, then along the East Bluff Road (I know, I know, Huron Road) – still don’t understand that one- coming out of the woods at Lewand’s cottage.  Any attempt along the way to track various critters was fruitless.  Tracks disappeared with the melt. Ground fog was prevalent in several low-lying areas as the warm air mixed with what snow remained and coupled with the gloom and near silence, “eerie” would be a good word to describe some of the scenery among the wooded trails.  Eerie yet, peaceful. Exiting the woods overlooking Mission Point Resort, while there were no white caps on the lake today, the sound of the wave action coming ashore echoed up the edge of the bluff as the red warning buoy constantly, rhythmically belled notice to avoid the shallows.
 
It was a short walk, maybe an hour at best, but it felt good to get out again to keep in touch with some favorite places.  Of course, cottages are empty now, and I neither saw or heard anything human-related until touching back down on Main Street.  Today was the first of several 20% off days at Doud’s Market which always draws more than the usual number of people.  Yes, it felt good to breathe in balmy, Spring-ish air this late into November.  It won’t last.  Soon enough, the crunch and squeak of boots on cold snow will be with us and winter will return to stay.  For how long?  As long as it does!  I’m attaching three photos also.  Until next time, take care all!  Greg
Melted snow equals wet streets.

Melted snow equals wet streets.

 

Market Street

Market Street

 

First decorations up for Christmas at Chambers Corner!

First decorations up for Christmas at Chambers Corner!

A big “thank you” to Greg for sharing all the news from the island!

A few more Mackinac photos!

The Chippewa Hotel - either BEFORE the melt or AFTER the next snowstorm! (Photo: Josh Carley)

No melting snow here! (Photo: Josh Carley)

 

Friday afternoon - the beginnings of ice.  (Photo: Clark Bloswich)

Friday afternoon – the beginnings of ice. (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

Saturday afternoon - the east shore.  (Photo: Robert McGreevy)

Saturday afternoon – the east shore. (Photo: Robert McGreevy)

Three different photo taken Friday - 5 minutes apart.  (Photo:  Tracy Cowell)

Three different photos taken Friday – 5 minutes apart. (Photo: Tracy Cowell)

Personal Note:   We visited our first church this morning – kicking off our church home search by showing up at 11 o’clock for what turned out to be a 5th Sunday 10 a.m. service.  Let’s just say we DID make an entrance, and everyone sure knows the Hortons already!  We’ll return next Sunday when things are back to normal times!

As the Thanksgiving holiday comes to an end, I’ve decided to limit my blogging between now and the end of the year.  I didn’t take November off, and I’m feeling the need to take some time to just relax and enjoy our new home.  To be honest, friends, I’m just plain tired – body and brain.  I’ll still post occasionally – not so much writing as putting up some photos – and again, I’ll be on Facebook for anyone interested in keeping up with us that way. 

I’ve spent a lot of hours lately thinking about whether to continue the blog, and the decision is YES – it will continue.  I don’t exactly know what direction it will take after the new year, but change is good, don’t you think?  With as many changes as the Hortons have had in the last 12 months, it seems only right that the blog changes also.  Bree’s Connecting the Dots was a good format when we were back and forth between three places that were so different.  Now, we are permanently settled in Florida, but we’ll still be visiting Mackinac for 6-8 weeks each summer.  Mackinac will remain a part of the blog because it has such a huge part of my heart – and I know my readers love it as much as I do. 

As for the rest of it – our lives here – I’m all over the place about what/who/where to write about.  I’ve already begun to put out feelers about volunteering with Bear, so – if he stays healthy – that will definitely be something we’ll continue here. No worries!  We’ll all figure it out together!

I’ll see back here soon, my sweet friends.  I love you all dearly. 

God bless.