View from the porch: Island vacation

Busy marina.

Sit back and relax with me on a lazy summer day on Mackinac Island, Michigan. I didn’t have to move to get these photos: I just watched as the world of Mackinac Island passed by my vantage point on the wide veranda of The Island House Hotel.

Departing ferry and Round Island Lighthouse.

New bride’s ride.

Porch railing flowers.

Taxi driver.

No rest for a busy harbor bee (look closely!)

© Huffygirl 2012


Football Saturdays

I am a college football fan, mostly out of necessity. I’ve been the minority gender at my house since 1976. Having a husband, two boys and no girls was great most of the time, but left me with the choice of a) becoming a football fan so I’d have someone to talk to from August to January, or b) not becoming a football fan, and having lots of time to do girl things by myself. I didn’t want to miss a whole chunk of my children’s growing up just because they were, well, boys, so I became sort of a football fan. When my boys were younger I’d read Sports Illustrated for Kids while were at school. When they got home and excitedly paged through the magazine, I’d be ready. I could talk football, and most sports with them,  and not be left out. And it turned out to be fun.

As the kids became older it got easier. First, I had learned more by then, and second, they had other things they wanted to do besides talk to me, so I didn’t have to keep up with quite so much. So I’d just read up on Michigan (the University of Michigan that is) and the Chicago Bears, and I’d be set. And then I’d follow my favorite quarterbacks, because while working hard to become a faux football fan, I actually found a few things I liked about football. Doug Flutie for instance.

Then, something happened to up the ante. First born son entered the University of Michigan and began to play in the marching band. Suddenly, I didn’t just have to know about football, but I had to GO to it. Well, I didn’t HAVE to go, I wanted to go to it, because what mom wouldn’t want to see her first-born child marching across the field at The Big House. And so I went. I became the postal worker of football – through rain, snow, sleet, and dark of night, I was there. I’m usually the kind of person who does not voluntarily sit outside once the weather is colder than 60 degrees, but I went in all kinds of weather. Sometimes I had to slide a slab of ice off the bleacher before I could sit down. More than once  I sat in driving rain, wearing that true fashion statement, the rain poncho. Suddenly, I owned more cold-weather gear than Edmund Hillary. I bought hand-warmers by the case. But it wasn’t all cold work and no play. I got to go to the Rose Bowl with my whole family in 1998. And I got to spend countless hours with my boys as they were growing up, that I would have missed had I eschewed football for only girl things.

Huffygirl and new grandson Zach (© Huffygirl)

Today, I have  new football buddy. Grandson Zachary entered the world as we were heading down the highway to yet another Michigan game. As I sat shivering in the chilly wind, singing “Hail to the Victors” for the umpteenth time, I kept pulling out my phone to look at the picture of my sweet little newest Michigan fan. Before too long we’ll be able to toss a little football, and talk about quarterbacks, the secondary, and interceptions. I can’t wait. 

Huffygirl’s related football posts:

Weekly Photo Challenge: Fall

Lone red leaf.

The faces of fall in Michigan

I always mourn the passing of summer a little bit, because I hate to see the end of enjoying days spent outside, walking on a warm Lake Michigan beach, biking until after 9 PM, gardening in our back yard, and just for a short time, not freezing to death every day of my life as I do the rest of the year. The consolation  is that fall in Michigan is a beautiful time. The air has the crisp autumn smell of leaves and chill. The trees take their time changing colors, so one can enjoy them for a while. The apple crop is finally ready, and for a couple of months we can eat fresh instead of storage apples, and bake all sorts of delicious apple deserts.

Here in Michigan, it’s too early to find a dramatic display of fall colors, so I’ve brought you a little bit of all the tastes of early fall. Enjoy.

Autumn Joy, my favorite

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© Huffygirl 2011

Passing on a family tradition: Making pasties

Okay, first, it’s pah-stee, not pAy-stee. I’m talking about food. Pasties, or Cornish pasties, are self-contained meat pies. Legend has it that the pasty was brought to this country by immigrants from Cornwall, England, who came here to work  in the mining industry, in the upper peninsula of Michigan and upper Minnesota. The miner’s wives made this tasty delicacy with a mix of meat, potatoes, onions, and rutabaga, wrapped in pie crust. The miners would tuck a towel-wrapped pasty into their pockets and take them to work, where they would stay delightfully warm until lunch time. Right.

I can’t speak for Minnesotans, but anyone raised in Michigan, or anyone who has traveled to the upper peninsula, should know what a pasty is. Michiganders know that the best pasties are found the farther north you go of the Mackinac bridge. In fact we all heard the expression growing up “you can’t get good pasties this side of the bridge.” Today you CAN buy pasties south of the bridge, usually at local diner-type restaurants, but I contend the best ones are still north of the bridge (Houghton maybe) although we have found good pasties in St. Ignace, just across the bridge, at a mom and pop store that sells pasties, fudge, magazines and bait.

My husband’s family got their pasty traditions from the family roots in Duluth, Minnesota. Shortly before we were married, my future mother-in-law schooled my husband and me in the art of making pasties, thinking she couldn’t let her first-born son starve to death with a wife who didn’t know how to make a pasty. There was no recipe – just Mom’s tutelage in making and rolling out the dough, spending what seemed like hours dicing up meat, potatoes and carrots (no rutabaga in this family’s pasties), filling the crust, trimming and baking.

Since that day many years ago I’ve added my own refinements – I no longer trim the dough into a neat half-circle as my mother-in-law did – it just wastes dough and time and adds nothing to the finished product. I now use one pat of margarine instead of two (cholesterol conscious I guess) and cut the prep time at least by half by chopping all the ingredients and making the dough in the food processor. Things aren’t diced as evenly and prettily, but hey, I’ve got better things to do than standing in the kitchen dicing half the day. And it still tastes great.

Recently, best husband and I passed on the tradition by teaching our first-born son how to make pasties. Besides explaining the basics, we passed on all the little tips that we’ve gleaned from making pasties over the years. I feel better knowing that someday when I die, I will have at least passed on the secret nuances of pasty-making that one will never learn  from reading  a recipe, hopefully to be passed on again and again, so the family pasty tradition will remain alive.

Recipe to follow.

Two generations of pasty makers: husband and first-born son.

© Huffygirl 2011

It’s historical! More backroads views of Mackinac Island

Historic Fort Mackinac and Marquette Park

There are plenty of historical sites to see on Mackinac Island, some dating back to pre-American Revolution. I’ll let the Visitor’s Guide the you can purchase on the ferry ride or visitor’s center (for only $1.00) fill in the details.

Fort Mackinac sits on the main street and is easily visible to everyone coming in on the ferry. It has historic buildings, museums, cannon firings and interactive activities.

The back of Fort Mackinac, a great place to exit.

To get to some of the out of the way historic sites, you’ll need to get to the higher interior parts of the island. An easy way to do that is to take the Fort Mackinac tour, exit at the back of the fort, and you’ll already be at the top of hill behind the fort. From there it’s a fairly short bike ride, then a short uphill climb via road or stairs to the site of Fort Holmes, the highest part of the island. There nothing left of the original fort, and very little left of the replica fort, but it’s a fun place to see with great view in all directions, and of course, a historical marker.

Historic Fort Mackinac Cemetery

On your way to Fort Holmes, stop at any of the three historic cemeteries, some with graves dating back to the 1820’s. At Fort Holmes, you’ll be quite close to Sugar Loaf rock, so it’s a good idea to stop there too unless you want to climb the steep hill into the interior again at another time.

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© Huffygirl 2011

A backroads look at Mackinac Island

The Huffys at the Grand Hotel Tea Garden

Best husband and I are just back from beautiful Mackinac (pronounced  Macinaw) Island, located in Lake Huron, between the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan. This quaint tourist spot is  home to many historic sites, including Fort Mackinac, where Dr. William Beaumont perfected his experimentation on the human stomach. No motor vehicles are allowed on the island, and visitors must get around on foot, by bicycle or horse-drawn carriage. Our favorite parts of the island are the upper and back roads, where we take our bikes to get away from the crowds, and explore the less traveled (and harder to get to) areas. Here’s some of our favorite spots.

The Grand Hotel

The world-famous Grand Hotel and surrounding gardens. Red geraniums, made voluptuously vibrant by the endless supply of horse manure fertilizer, are the signature theme of the hotel. The gardens and grounds are pristine and manicured. The hotel is formal, requiring dress clothes after 6 PM, and has guards posted at the east drive to prevent those messy-looking cyclists from cluttering up the view in front of the hotel (although those messy horses pulling carriages are allowed.) Always the rebels, we managed to circumvent this by biking up to the west bluff behind the hotel, then coasting down the steep, steep street that runs right into the Grand Hotel drive. They couldn’t catch us and couldn’t stop us, and we had a great ride down.

Notice the “blue sky” of the porch ceiling, repeated on the underside of the porch balconies.

Great view from the porch. Note the geraniums.

This oft-photographed classic phone booth was moved recently from its spot next to the stone church, to make room for a new house constructed there.

A genuine pay phone, for those who’ve never seen one before.

Coming up: Mackinac Island rocks.

© Huffygirl 2011

Coming up

Coming up this week on Huffygirl’s Blog – a back roads view of  Mackinac Island, Michigan.

Mackinac Island Harbor, viewed from East Bluff (© Huffygirl 2011)


I’m just back from a long weekend at Mackinac Island, Michigan and will be sharing my roads less traveled views later this week.

© Huffygirl 2011

Bee sting. Uh oh. ER.

I’m lying on  gurney shivering under three blankets in the small but efficient Mayberry-like ER? How did normally healthy, robust Huffygirl wind up here? Well, fast-backward about 30 hours to the second day of my vacation. ______________________________________________

It’s a beautiful sunny, Sunday afternoon. I’m walking on the beach with best husband and without any warning or provocation, I get a bee sting on my little toe. I’m pretty sure I’m not allergic, so, no big deal. I soak my foot in the lake for a few minutes to take the edge off the pain and try to walk if off. My toe continued to ache the rest of the night and the next day, but hey, it’s a bee sting – it’s supposed to hurt, right? 

The next morning I got up early for a bike ride. but was feeling a little achy and stiff. Am I getting to old for this? I didn’t even think about the bee sting, which still aches. Best husband and I started out and got the hills over with in the first part of the ride. Finally with 10 flat miles in the home stretch I think  “This should be a cinch. ” But it wasn’t – it was feeling harder than it should for a flat ride. And I’m starting  to ache and ache and ache some more. “I really AM getting to old for this,” I rationalize as I finished the ride. By the time I get the bike gear put away and get into the shower, I’m shaking with chills, aching like the worst case of flu anyone could ever have, and just plain worn out. And it continued – all day. I knew what the problem was  but didn’t want to admit it. Despite the fact that my toe did not look too bad, I knew I was developing cellulitis, an infection of the skin and surrounding soft tissues, from bacteria introduced from the bee sting. The stinger acts just like a needle, bringing infection quickly into even a robust, healthy person like me. You might as well just inject yourself with a syringe-full of germs and save yourself the trouble of going through the sting.

But hey, I’m on vacation. Maybe it’s not cellulitis – maybe just a virus. So, I waited. I dragged myself through the day trying to do family vacation stuff. But I felt worse and worse. By the time we had an afternoon tea party with first granddaughter, I was too tired and aching to even crawl down onto the floor to join her. A long nap while swathed in blankets failed to revive me. Finally, by 9 PM I succumbed and went with best husband to the small town emergency room.

Despite the Mayberry-like atmosphere, the ER staff was professional and efficient. “Hmmm,” the ER doctor said, after greeting me with “How do you do?” a salutation I confess with which I’ve never been addressed by anyone, anywhere. “Fever and chills less than 24 hours after a bee sting? We’d better do…blood cultures!” This sounds serious. By now I’m wishing I hadn’t waited ALL DAY to get here, something that surely would have sparked a lecture from me to any of my own patients who had done such a foolish thing.

Meanwhile, three warm blankets and my husband’s sweatshirt (Michigan of course) are still not keeping away the chills. Best husband settled down with his book while I shivered and waited out the tests.

Well, I dodged the bullet and turned out pretty okay – a localized infection, but not body-wide. So I went off with antibiotics and the stern lecture to come back the INSTANT anything became worse.

Not too old for cycling after all! (© Huffygirl 2011)

Did I recover? Several days later I was completely back to normal and no longer questioning if I was getting to old for cycling. And of course I had a dramatic story with which to regale anyone who was willing to listen, about my vacation trip to ER in Mayberry. 

Remember that old insurance commercial where a disaster has occurred and the commentator says seriously “Don’t let this happen to you!” Well, don’t. If you get a bee sting, a scrape or cut and start to feel signs of infection like fever, chills, body aches, redness, swelling, take it seriously and get health care promptly. I don’t want to lose any of my readers to a bee sting.

© Huffygirl 2011

Ice Capades

The elusive red-bellied woodpecker catching an icy bite. (Photo: Huffygirl)

A lone leaf caught in deep freeze. (Photo: Huffygirl)

Icicle feeder? (Photo: Huffygirl)


Summer grasses heavy with icing. (Photo: Huffygirl)


Maple freeze. (Photo: Huffygirl)


Icy hedgerow. (Photo: Huffygirl)


Hungry visitor. (Photo: Huffygirl)


Belsicle (Photo: Huffygirl)

Iceman. (Photo: Huffygirl)

Frozen in time. (Photo: Huffygirl)

Today, my corner of the world is encased in ice. Enjoy the beauty.

© The author and Huffygirl’s Blog, 2010 to 3010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and Huffygirl’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Blizzard or Schmizzard – you decide

The Great blizzard of 1978. Taken on Maple Str...

The great blizzard of 1978 (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Well, it’s time to weigh in on the recent snow and cold that swept the country the past couple days. In my corner of the state, it did indeed turn out to be over-hyped: 6-8 inches of snow, lots of cold wind and drifting, but hey it’s Michigan, and nothing we can’t handle. Certainly not the blizzard of 1967, where we had over a foot of snow in 4 hours, schools closed for over two weeks, and folks like me and my family literally snowbound for days. Certainly not the blizzard of 1978 where our driveway was drifted in with 3-4 feet of snow and the only traffic on main streets for several days was sleds and snowmobiles.

Huffygirl shoveling our little bit of snow. (Photo: Huffygirl)

As we’ve seen on the news, other places across the county were hit very hard with extreme cold, snow and ice. What was your experience where you are? Did your weather turn out to be over-hyped, or snowmageddon? Blizzard or schmizzard – let me know what you decide.

© The author and Huffygirl’s Blog, 2010 to 3010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and Huffygirl’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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