While I have a couple of hours respite and sister spends the day and afternoon with Mom, I thought I’d quickly throw together—ladies and gentlemen, I do mean in reckless haste—many of our best images with a sampling of cell-phone videos I managed during our Family Getaway this past June to Mackinac Island, Michigan. A teaser, if you will.
As you read on, please play this musical accompaniment to better set-the-ambiance of this magnificent island stuck in a most charming bygone time…
Why did I wait six-months to share these pictures and videos? It wasn’t intentional, I assure you. There are some days and nights on Mackinac which in my amateur production expertise (which is none) deserve a brief backstory and context. Along with my perfectionistic cinematic ideas, I have wanted to make this feature presentation as delightful, humorous, eye-popping, and as memorable, for Mom especially, as was possible and even accompanied by Victorian-Edwardian time-period music in the background. It deserves in my mind nothing less. Furthermore, since my high school days I have dreamt onto my Bucket List a trip to the Grand Hotel ever since one of my favorite 1980 romantic films, Somewhere In Time was released. I am and always have been a huge sucker for time-travel stories!
Obviously, six-months later this dramatic award-winning aspiration has proven more problematic for me than I first thought. I imagined I’d have significantly more free-time upon our return to create this Oscar- and Emmy-nominated short motion picture. It hasn’t happened. Grrrrrr, Murphy’s Law-firm: 6, Dwain: fat donut-hole. 😒
Without further ado, here is a quick Teaser of what I hope will arrive here sooner rather than much later…
Day 1 — on the grand veranda at The Grand Hotel after finally checking-in about 3:00am in the morning due to my brain-fart at the Detroit Metropolitan International Airport. More on that in the final production.
Day 3a — exploring the island after relocating to our second accommodations at Harbor View Inn. Our two nights at the Grand Hotel when all said and done ran a measly $1,799.82. Harbor View Inn was a welcomed relief on the pocket-book, hah!
Day 3b — horse-carriage ride into town to Main Street to grab a visitors map, then Astor St. for lunch at the Yankee Rebel Tavern. I had a remarkably good Summer Orchard Salad with Bell’s Amber Ale on draft, a combination I couldn’t get enough of over our stay, followed by a walk on Market St.’s shops and parlors.
More themed music for your reading, listening enjoyment…
Day 5 — the family splits up! What? Say it isn’t so Nellie! I want to visit the military fort and museum, Fort Mackinac, and for some unfathomable reason, the ladies had no desire whatsoever to steeply climb the walkway up to the harbor-side gate, watch a celebratory 6-pounder cannon fire over the town, and witness a 19th-century soldier reenactment firing his M1873 .45-70 Springfield rifle. Seriously? What could possibly be more fun than hearing a barrage of Springfield rifles firing in unison? Here is what they did, pffft…
Here’s what I did, furthering my vast historical, military, and cultural knowledge of northern Michigan and the old U.S. frontier:
I promised a few of you birding, butterfly, and insect enthusiasts a video of Mackinac Island’s Butterfly House & Insect World and I am delivering! Now, granted I am not a professional videographer, not even with my own Motorola moto e5 Go. In fact, I was sternly criticized by a dear female friend for two production-and-editing screwups: 1) what’s my malfunction with recording horses-asses all the time, and 2) “hold the damn phone sideways Steven Spielberg wannabe!” Case and point:
I will have to stop here. I know, I know… many of you are crushed by this. My sincere apologies, but I have run out of free-time. Sister has returned with Mom and she must dart off to her mandatory house-meeting before the Xmas weekend and holidays officially start tomorrow. Until next time when I finagle a bit of solo time, I will endeavor to work hard on the entire final, award-winning feature with full Victorian-Edwardian music accompaniment. It should be something Mom will cherish—at least that’s my hope.
Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always
Today me and my family have much to be grateful for in spite of so many recent events in our lives and country. Hence, on this day we enjoy the company of loved ones, laughing together, remembering all the good shared, missing those who in leaving this life took a part of our hearts with them. Together in gratitude we listen to music (two songs) befitting our mood and fortunes.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all with warmest wishes from the Miller-Strange family.
Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always
Today’s blog-post is going to be slightly out of blogging character for me. Well, in the sense that I don’t often unveil amorous secrets behind the curtains of the Professor’s heart, today I am sharing a portion of my private, romantic, sentimental side. WARNING! For any Alpha-hyped He-Man reading this, if you have aversions to being swept away in passion and raptured in the moment, then look away! Read no further! This will not be your pitcher or keg of beer. Sorry mate. No bowed-up pectorals or brawling here.
It may or may not come as a surprise to some of you who follow my blog that I am a sucker for serendipitous enchantment on matters of the heart. If this beguiling moment includes windows of history, windows I’ve been enamored by since I was a boy, then just count to three and ring the bell because I am out, done, a goner. I will be so lost you’d think I was hypnotized or lobotomized. Add aspects of time-travel in the story and like Richard Collier, I will never return. Yes, with hands in the air I confess; my propensity for moments when time stands still is my kryptonite.
Who is Richard Collier you ask?
Funny you are wondering. Elise asked the same question, sort of, and she could barely take a breath waiting for the answer. But I will come back to this moment in time a bit later, hah, apropos teaser intended. What I want to first spill is how our long-awaited family trip unexpectedly came about.
For over two years Mom has been itching to travel somewhere. For several years she has yearned to see Australia and her Great Barrier Reef. This has been a long-time dream of hers and her closest sister, her now late sister, unfortunately. Recently though if it was with her domestic partner, or a close friend, or with me and my sister, it didn’t matter. She’s wanted to go before it’s too late, at her advancing age, and medical issues make it impractical. The last three years she has been reminding us how thrilled she’d be to go and experience another part of the world, somewhere, anywhere she hadn’t experienced.
Lately we’ve been pummeled, so to speak, with her getaway-gestures every month, if not every week. The getaway bug-n-itch had had a grip on Mom for some time. I’d say it no longer itched, it turned into a damn rash! Her pleading was unrelenting sometimes! Yep, Mom’s former years as an Eastern Airlines flight attendant (above image) had been reenergized with a vengeance! Mom was once an Eastern Airlines Flight-attendant in 1958–1962, based out of LGA, JFK, and EWR, New York and New Jersey respectively. She wanted to fly a lot longer, but a special surprise from her then boyfriend (my father) stopped those plans after their very “romantic weekend” in San Antonio, TX in the former Robert E. Lee Hotel downtown. But I am rambling and digressing; apologies. Back to our story.
For years we had been tossing around destinations, but never made a final decision. Then came the COVID-19 pandemic along with the predictable outcomes and repercussions the last two-plus years. Pfft, no more elaboration needed on that world catastrophe.
Moving on. Fast-forward now to February 2021, but skipping over our two hellacious winter storms that came within a few hours of wiping out Texas’ entire electrical grid for a long, long, very long time.
With mass production of Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, etc, vaccines finally rolling out once competent federal leadership in D.C. took office January 20th, followed by mass distribution scaled much higher and wider than the previous Administration ever cared to do, getting the vaccines into cold-storage, out to sites, and proper staff to stick Americans twice, our family getaway was back on and indeed probable. Hold your horses cowboys and cowgirls! Now comes a number of new stumbling blocks. I had the honor and privilege to temper Mom’s jet-setting excitement, if that was even possible.
I explained to her and sister that if we were going to make this dream-trip happen and safely, our first major hurdle was going to be full vaccinations for all three of us, in a timely immediate manner at that. Easy? No, not really. In fact, I thought I might have to persuade Mom to postpone our excursion for another year—ugh, after having just done that in 2020 due to the pandemic. Moreover, I knew how formidable it was going to be to motivate my sister to get fully vaccinated soon. I would have to hound her even more than I was already doing! Mom and I have received both our shots, my sister received her second shot this past week. Done! First couple of hurdles behind us.
Skipping back a month, when the three of us were able to finally coincide our three different schedules/calendars and meet for a weekend in mid-April 2021, we toss about places such as the Grand Canyon National Park, Glacier National Park, Sequoia National Park, Gatlinburg, Colorado Springs, Nags Head North Carolina, Portland in Oregon, The Finger Lakes in Upstate New York, and Augusta, Maine. Then I threw into the pile of possible destinations, one of my personal wishes: Mackinac Island and the Grand Hotel. To my dismay my sister and Mom became very intrigued. Mom was immediately sold on the Lilac Festival and the Butterfly House & Insect World, and my sister to the fact that it was an island completely unlike a hectic 21st-century tourist bee-hive rat-race with way too many rude people scurrying by you and over you. After all, she did suffer from panic-anxiety attacks easily triggered by too much perceived chaos. My sister is also an artist and art fan. She still paints when time allows. Mackinac Island has a sizable artsy twist as well, with art shops and an art museum. It seemed I had hit a homerun with my longstanding longshot, teenage dream destination! They had all sorts of questions. They wondered too how I even knew about this island lost in a bygone era. Answering their curiosity, I return to the beginning of this blog-post.
I admitted to them that I have always had a weakness for serendipitous romance, history, the Victorian-Edwardian Eras, and a very soft spot for time-travel stories, books, and films. Re-enter Richard Collier and Elise McKenna:
“Is it you?” Woah, I get goose-bumps every time I watch that scene because of what Richard Collier went through to get there with Elise. This 1980 cult-classic “Somewhere In Time” was filmed on Mackinac Island, Michigan because the Grand Hotel and island’s Tourism Bureau vowed to freeze time and banned all modern, polluting, combustible-engine vehicles as well as other “modern” developed fossil-burning machines in order to preserve its uniquely vintage history—its Victorian-Edwardian Age on Lake Huron. There is no other island like it within the United States proper. The island is seemingly and delightfully stuck in time. Needless to say, I was and I am beyond myself, ecstatic to be traveling there with Mom and sister in just a few weeks.
If any of you are unfamiliar with the timelessness of Mackinac Island, MI, then I give you a quick photo-montage (below) followed by a link to the island’s Bureau of Tourism. I hope you too can see why I have always held a special place in my heart for this island… lost Somewhere In A Time not so long ago when finer things in life were patiently appreciated, savored, sought, enamoring, and embraced. I start with images from the movie with Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve at the Grand Hotel. Following those images are current photos of the small Victorian-Edwardian town, popular sites like the Butterfly House & Insect World—the place where Mom and sister will spend many hours—tea houses out on grand patios, Al fresco dining spots, Fort Mackinac where I plan to visit, and one location Mom and I plan to lounge many times: the Grand Audubon Wine Bar.
Should you be interested in more details and information about this incredible island, visit the Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau. There you can also view online their 72-page guidebook which introduces you to the island’s historic splendor.
We will return home after eight nights and nine days there. Travel will take two half-days. I do hope to bring back with me many photos of our getaway on Mackinac Island. This might be my last blog-post until then, after we return to Austin, TX, then I back up to Dallas. In the meantime, the anticipation is mounting, ugh, as if time is slowing down. Imagine what time will be when we are there!
Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always
Happy remembrance of Memorial Day Weekend everybody on this 4th of July, 2020! Simply check the infection rates and hospitalization rates for coronavirus to see what took place then and as a result is happening now.
As all the fireworks go off Friday night, July 3rd and Saturday night July 4th, let’s remember not just war veterans who have made the ultimate sacrifice for this country, but also every single one of those ordinary citizens who, over the past Memorial Day weekend defiantly ignored warnings of the seriousness and lethality of the COVID-19 pandemic since February 2020. They either lie in a hospital bed now, maybe in ICU barely clinging to life, or are already deceased from the deadly virus and are now six-feet under.
FOX4 News reported yesterday: Dallas County reports more than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases, setting single-day record.
This is just one county out of five major populated counties encompassing the DFW Metroplex. Dallas County has bounced back and forth with Harris County (Houston) as the #1 most infected counties in all of Texas the last three months.
On this day of America’s Independence from Great Britain in 1776, let’s step back about 8-weeks to May 10th with A Salute Before the Storm and May 12th with Color-coded Alerts? followed by May 27th with It’s Over, We’re Free! and the images in that blog-post where Americans, especially Texans in my home state, arrogantly defied safety orders and the invisible, lethal virus just to get out on beaches among hundreds of thousands of other celebrating rebels for loads of self-pleasure. As a result, Texans today are on world wide news almost daily because of our stupidity and lack of any intelligent leadership both on the federal level and state level to heed warnings and strong advice by real epidemiological and virological experts, who almost cried publicly to say ‘do not reopen businesses so prematurely.’
With all the numbers spiking upward once again, what do the majority of Texans plan to do this July 4th holiday? Here’s an abbreviated list* of DFW municipalities and their plans for the weekend in the wake of Gov. Gregg Abbott’s latest About-face orders and admonishments to “Stay Home”:
FRIDAY, JULY 3RD
Spirit in the Sky Fireworks 9:30 p.m. Best viewing area: Within one mile of the corner of W. Exchange Parkway and N. Watters Road Encouraged to watch from your home or car.
Independence Day Fireworks 9:30 p.m. Globe Life Field (Parking open to public in Lot B, C, F, M and N) Encouraged to remain at and around their vehicles, maintain social distancing, wear a mask when appropriate and bring their own food and drinks.
Concert by the Lake 7:30 p.m. The city is asking people to consider wearing masks and to practice social distancing. But, that’s not a requirement for the concert or fireworks shows over the weekend. Fireworks shows will happen on both Friday and Saturday night in Rockwall, as well as a downtown Rockwall parade Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m.
SATURDAY, JULY 4TH
Frisco Freedom Fest 9:30 p.m. FC Dallas parking lots available to the public for viewing. Fireworks will also be streamed live on FriscoTexas.gov. All patrons are encouraged to stay in their vehicles.
38th Annual July 4th Fireworks Extravaganza 9:30 p.m. Lake Grapevine (Parking with a fee offered at Oak Grove Park, Rockledge Park and other locations) No walk-in traffic allowed. Boat traffic only allowed at the Dove Loop Ramp and at the softball fields. Face masks required.
Liberty by the Lake Fireworks 9:30 p.m. The vicinity of The Colony Five Star Complex, 4100 Blair Oaks Encouraged to watch from “the safety and comfort of your car” or with social-distancing.
Fourth of July Fireworks Show 9:30 p.m. Independence Park Nearby parking map available here. Health department advised those who attend fireworks to stay in their vehicle or wear masks.
Stacy Fernández is one of Texas’ most prolific journalist on breaking Texas news having spent years first with NPR, The Dallas Morning News, and at News21 as a reporter, and she correctly writes in The Texas Tribune Thursday, July 3rd:
Health officials want people to choose Harper’s route, finding safe alternatives to yearly traditions. But with Texas’ recent history of temper tantrums by a small but vocal slice of the populace who don’t want to wear masks and insist bars and hair salons reopen, that seems unlikely.
“We have learned in the past these gatherings that took place during the Memorial Day holiday did lead to the spread of COVID-19,” Gov. Greg Abbott said in a Friday interview with KSAT. “If people gather on 4th of July the same way they did in Memorial Day it is going to lead to a massive increase in the number of people testing positive, the number of people who will be hospitalized, and it could lead once again to an increase in the number of people who lose their lives.”
“It’s shocking to me that so many people aren’t taking this seriously. I’m curious to see how the fourth is going to be as far as what changes and numbers,” Harper said. If Texans socialize this weekend as they did over the Memorial Day weekend “it could be catastrophic,” said Phil Huang, a doctor and director of Dallas County Health and Human Services, in a press conference Thursday.
Abbott also amended his executive order and lowered outdoor event limits from 100 to 10 people. Outdoor gatherings, like those typically held for the Fourth of July, must be approved by local officials if they more than 10 people are expected. The few exceptions include religious services, outdoor sports and summer camps. Outdoor events of 10 or less do not need prior approval.
That same day, in response to Abbott’s order, Collin County Judge Chris Hill approved all gatherings of more than 10 people.
2020 July 4th Partiers, Lake Lewisville, TX — Juan Figueroa/DMN Staff photographer
July 4th Partiers, Lake Lewisville, TX 2020 — Juan Figueroa/DMN Staff photographer
Since this past February and March—I really wish then I had been wrong—I have tried to politely explain to as many Texans as I could that if all of us do not go the full long distance, no matter how long it takes, with all known effective measures of stemming this lethal virus from spreading out of control, over-running our hospitals, those consequences are guaranteed to be worse. If we don’t do this together, then we are looking at September or October for flattening the curve (again) and at the earliest. An even more catastrophic impact will take place on all sectors of the economy lasting for many more months after. Since last December and January the true experts have been proven right at every surge and resurge of the coronavirus. We better listen and obey this time around.
Texans, instead of celebrating your own personal independence from tyranny, inequality, oppression of your civil rights, and obligations to those less fortunate than yourself, why not celebrate the HOPE of independence from this deadly virus taking your life, your child’s life or that of your immediate family members, or a dear cherished close friend. I say that’s worth celebrating, alone, or with one or two others who tested negative for COVID-19.
Added July 6, 2020: FC Dallas out of MLS is Back Tournament amid coronavirus cases — this is the result of North Texans defying Governor’s orders for COVID-19 protection and determent for all North Texans’ safety, and the exact same thing can and will happen to their beloved Dallas Cowboys and Texas Rangers season-openers if they refuse to take the deadly virus serious!
Live Well — Stay Home — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always
During this time of year, the holidays or Christmas and New Years, have always been a jolly, entertaining time of year of expectancy, of buckle your seat-belts and brace for anything. Sixteen days or so of all things good, sparkle and wonderment, uplifting or mysterious it all was/is possible. Taking time for the less fortunate in a plethora of ways. Reuniting with family around meals, in the kitchen or living room for games, maybe telling stories past or present with traditional beverages and libations for cheer. Most things are fluid, undefined precisely, other things traditional, conventional, predictable, and new. The exception? Young children. Then holiday gatherings are certainly fluid, very undefined, traditionally loud, unconventional, unpredictable, and newly broken. Messy. Pass the broom and dustpan.
There is also a never-ending amount of wishing. Wishing everything was neat and tidy. We wish you this, we wish you that, we wished you’d come, we wished you’d leave! Lots of wishing everywhere, wishing some things were different. Wishing other things and people were all the same, maybe equal. Identical? Wish you were like me, like him or her or it. Or a very popular wish of the last couple of millenia: wishing things were meticulously, undeniably true.
Not the case.
No matter what time of year it is I find things are wonderfully messy. People of all ages are messy. Life is messy, past and present, and near certainly will be in the future. That’s what it means to be human among 7.7 billion other humans. We are all alike, but equally different, from just as many different places and backgrounds. Normality and paradox somehow coexist. Going against this truth will eventually drive you mad. “Life plays and swims in paradox while the kill-joys go mad and the libertines live.”A quote from yours truly on my Favorite Quotes page. But enough with my rambling!
Why do we celebrate this time of year? When and where did this celebration begin? Who should I ask? Or should I not ask and go find out for myself? Ahh, more messy answers from previous messiness. “One is never served so well as by oneself” as Charles-Guillaume Étienne coined. The common version is “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” There is some truthiness to either one, I think. Some will exhort the Golden Chalice exists and certainly can be found! Others will posit no such thing exists. Still others will have no answers of any import. Perhaps it’s wise to saddle both, or maybe all three? HAH! A ménage à trois beaucoup! Oui?
Apologies. Now I’ve slipped into delicious hédonisme and débauche as the French would say with a sly grin.
There are many wrong answers to those questions, mostly wrong… most likely. Yet, if one puts on their forensic hat and goggles, with some persistence, equitable examination without rash simplification and disassociation, 😉 the messy truth can and will be found. It’s not so scary. Much of this messiness is well-known, checked and rechecked. Nevertheless, here are a few starter-fireworks, kindling if you will, sure to light-up and excite your holiday bonfire, conversation, and show:
Christmas is a multicultural Pagan festival dating back to at least the late Neolithic and Bronze Ages, i.e. 5000 BCE to 600 BCE, as winter solstice festivals.
The year and precise date of “Christ’s birth” is unknown, but the time of year is estimated by scholars to be in Autumn, not any later than September.
Earliest Christians from Yeshua’s (Jesus’) The Way Movement never celebrated his birth; it wasn’t until the 16th or 17th centuries CE that Western churches in Europe incorporated popular Pagan winter festivals in December into their Catholic Christ’s Mass or Mass for Christ.
Several Protestant denominations throughout the world banned Christmas celebrations completely, English and American Puritans, for example. Quakers, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the Church of Christ are three more examples.
Our familiar gift-giving charity originated in the Victorian Era (1800’s) and the traditional Christmas tree is Germanic-Teutonic in origin where greenery from outside is brought inside to cheer up the dormant, colorless, glumness of winter.
Christians of the mid-1st century to 2nd century CE celebrated Christmas in April to May; this greatly bothered the Church Leaders because Jesus’ place of birth, or death, or burial were completely uncertain, speculation and conjecture. Therefore…
Pope Julius I in 350 CE declared Dec. 25th as the official imperial birth-date of Jesus; it was the same time of Rome’s very popular PaganSaturnalia festival.
Nativity stories, plays, and decor are taken from several Pagan celebrations and imagery, like the ideas of shepherds, wise men (Magi), and an illuminating star were all secular in origin.
In the modern era Christmas has taken on more diverse forms, various rituals, and commercially energized out Rudolph’s cold, red ass; I mean, nose!
Saint Nicholas was an obscure 4th-century philanthropist and turned into a chimney-diving Santa Claus with elves and flying reindeer, a mingling and mixing of the ancient German king of the gods Odin and his Yule celebration.
The story A Christmas Carol was a quick-buck publication by Charles Dickens in 1843 turning traditional Christmas scenes into heavy sentimental, heart-grabbing sharing and giving.
The Advent Calendar of the holidays was once just an unromantic invention by a weary 19th-century Munich, Germany housewife to silence her pestering children who would not stop asking Momma, how many days until Christmas!?
Yes, now is the time for some good song! Hit play (below), give hugs, find mistletoe, and be of good cheer because it is the most wonderful time of the year!
As it turns out, if truth be told historically, the Christmas holidays actually have nothing to do with the birth of the anti-Semitic Greek Jesus Christ, but instead is a winter celebration and festival of diverse, all-inclusive, ancient cultural Coming Together. A gathering of family, friends, and strangers from many messy traditions and perceptions to form a messier, melting pot of holiday mess! I vote to call the winter celebration Good-mess. Goodmess Eve, Goodmess Day, and have a cheerful Goodmess New Year. Yes? Say Ho ho ho if you agree.