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June 2019

Mornings at the Lake

I haven't been up to our lake cottage "up north" yet this season.  Between crappy weather and a busy schedule, I've opted to stay at home so far -- while Tom has traveled up for frequent fishing trips.

But I'm here now!

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It's such a treat to work from my office-in-the-woods -- outside on the back deck, surrounded by trees and bird song and a gentle breeze.  (And, thankfully, no mosquitoes at the moment.)

I love being up here!  Life is slower.  There isn't anywhere for me to go or anthing I need to rush off to take care of.  No appointments.  No gym.  No garden to weed.  (But still plenty of chores.  Always with the chores.)  I'm looking forward to a few days of quiet re-freshing.  (Until the Fourth of July crowd arrives.  Then we'll head home again.)  Reading.  Thinking.  Knitting. Sitting around the campfire with Tom.  And enjoying the lake in the morning!

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When I wake up, I always take my coffee out on the deck.  That sunrise over the lake usually beckons -- and before long, I'm heading down the steps to the lake, where I can just sit on the dock and enjoy the peace of the lake in the morning.

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Most mornings, it's still and quiet, the water like glass.  Usually there's mist, rising from the surface of the water.  Some mornings there are a few folks fishing, but not today.  (Plenty of fish rising, though!

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This morning, when I turned around to head back up to the cottage, I noticed how very l-o-n-g my shadow was!

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See my legs on the dock?  And my head . . . way over on the shore?  (And in between, the lake -- perfectly reflecting the trees overhead).

Mornings at the lake. . . a pretty great way to start the day!


For Further Reflection

Toward the end of each month, I like to spend a little time reflecting on my word for the year -- intention.  It's always nice to have some sort of observation or "learning" about my word to share.

But, y'know?  Sometimes things just don't work out that way.

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June has been a fun-filled, crazy-in-a-good-way, running-with-my-hair-on-fire kind of month.  I have (pretty much) loved every single minute!  But . . . well . . . let's just say there hasn't been a lot of time for reflecting (on much of anything) this month.

Still, my word is right there . . . in my head all the time, just rattling around in there, and loosening up these thoughts (for future reflection) (you can count on that):

  • Intention . . . is a tricky word.  It's not about goals or focus or things I want to DO.  It's more about the purpose for my actions.
  • How do I make sure my actions are aligned with my intentions (or should I say purpose)?
  • A clear set of values seems like a great place to start.  After all, values can't be checked off a list; they don't change all that much over time.  My values are overarching (underlying?).  While I can probably articulate my values, I've never tried to create a list.  (Hmmm.)
  • Goals vs. Intentions.  Goals are future-focused, destination-specific, external achievements.  Intentions are lived-each-day, in the present moment, and independent of specific destinations.
  • We make time for the things we really want.  If I'm consistently not making time for something I think I really want to do . . . what might that mean?  What's out of alignment?  What should I do about it?

As you can see . . . it's all a bit of a muddled mess right now.

How about YOU?  What's going on with you and your word these days?

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Last call for this month's Stash Giveaway!  If you're interested, be sure to leave a comment by 5:00 pm EST TODAY!

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Want to find your Ravelry number?  Follow this link (it's a Love of Ravelry group post) for the how-to.


Start Your Engines

Another Monday.  Time to . . . 

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On Mondays, I share some things I've collected over the weekend . . . to get the week off to a good start.

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A Quote

"There is a lie that acts like a virus within the mind of humanity.  And that lie is, 'There's not enough good to go around.  There's lack and there's limitation and there's just not enough.' The truth is that there's more than enough good to go around.  There are more than enough creative ideas.  There is more than enough power.  There is more than enough love.  There's more than enough joy.  All of this begins to come through a mind that is aware of its own infinite nature.  There is enough for everyone.  If you believe it, if you can see it, if you act from it, it will show up for you.  That's the truth."
--- Michael Beckwith

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A Word

There are a few words that just don't seem to stick in my brain.  I've looked them up over and over (and over) again.  For whatever reason, I continue to need to look them up every time I encounter them.  (Does that ever happen to you?)  (Please tell me it does.)  Anyway.  Here's one of them . . . 

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To Read

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I often say flowers are magical.  According to this lovely essay by the late Oliver Sacks, they really ARE!  Read about the healing power of gardens.  Nature . . . is a powerful force!

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A Challenge

This week, make a point to spend some time in a garden -- either your own or a friend's or a public garden in your community.  Enjoy the blooms, listen for bird joy, watch the butterflies.  

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And in the Audacious BADASS Department . . . 

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We have Ravelry (following in the footsteps of RPG.net) banning Trump and his administration in a brave, bold move to put an end to white supremacy, hate, and bigotry on the site.  I am so proud to be a knitter today.  Read Ravelry's statement here.  Check out RPG.net's list of citations and reference materials here.  And read this opinion piece from The Mary Sue for a glimpse of just how audacious and badass Ravelry's move really IS!

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And, lastly, if you're interested in my monthly Stash Giveaway, be sure to let me know by tomorrow evening at 5:00 pm EST.  I'll contact the winners by email on Tuesday night.


A Convergence of Sorts

When I hear the word convergence I usually think of streams or small rivers coming together to form a larger river.  Or paths converging to become a road.  That sort of thing.  (And that is the main definition, according to my Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary . . . "the act of converging and especially moving toward union or uniformity.")  But every once in a while, I experience my own personal kind of convergence.  The kind where all manner of things and events converge in one little corner of my calendar.  

And, well.  
I'm there right now!

Not only is our summer solstic party happening this Friday, but last night I was one of the co-organizers of a wine tasting fund raiser for a group I'm involved with.  And tonight is the big, annual potluck-book selection meeting for my book group.  And we just met Brian for dinner in Grand Rapids (he was in town for a job interview; keep your fingers crossed).  And my dad has a medical procedure re-scheduled . . . for tomorrow morning.  

I mean, really.  It doesn't get much more convergent than this when it comes to balancing a 3-day stretch of calendar. 

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How am I managing?  Oh, pretty well.
(Although let's not ask Tom.)

What am I doing to keep myself moving forward?

1 - Finding the time to meditate.

2 - Keeping up with my fitness stuff.

3 - Lists!  All the lists.

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What do YOU do to keep the balls in the air when All the Things . . . converge?

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Remember to leave a comment by next Tuesday if you're interested in my June Stash Giveaway!

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Be sure to join Carole today for more Three on Thursday posts!

 


On My Needles and Out of My Stash

I warned you that I was mixing things up around here . . . I'm switching my monthly Stash Giveaway from the third Monday to the third Wednesday of the month.  (Rocking your world, I'm sure.)  

Anyway.

Different day, different deadline -- but same giveaway, same rules.  Comment by next Tuesday, and your name will be placed into a hat (seriously) for a random drawing.

This month, I'm culling my sock yarn collection.  I have so many lovely skeins of sock yarn -- but I don't knit socks very often, and the yarn is too good to just sit in a container in my closet.

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First up, I have a skein of Biscotte & Cie (now-discontinued) Felix sock yarn in the Conte de fée colorway.  This yarn is self-striping, and quite soft and durable for socks.  (You can see how the stripes work out in this Ravelry project.)  The yarn is 80% superwash merino wool/20% nylon, and the skein is 100 grams/384 yards/351 meters.  The colors in this photo are very true.

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Next up, I have a skein of Pagewood Farm (now-discontinued) Denali sock yarn in the Violet Fushion (yep, that's how it's spelled on the skein) colorway.  The yarn is 80% superwash merino wool/20% nylon, and the skein is 4 ounces/450 yards.  There is a good mix of blues and violets in there -- with some olive green/grey for interest.  The color here is pretty true (in real life, the blues are more prominent and the violet more subtle).

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As you can see, these skeins are just too lovely to live in my drawer!  It's time for me to spread the joy "new" sock yarn can bring.  If you're interested in either (or both!) skeins, just leave a comment by Tuesday, June 25 at 5pm EST and let me know.  

Meanwhile . . . what's on my needles?

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I'm test-knitting a new sweater design for Kirsten Kapur.  It's a perfectly-ME kind of sweater:  simple design, oversized, just a hint of texture.  I can't wait to wear it!  (And that yarn?  It's not really brown.  It's more a hellebore purple shade.  Just sayin.)  Stay tuned . . . 

How about you?  What's on your needles this week?


The More The Merrier

Back in April, I started a "conversation" here about wellness -- and specifically about fitness, and especially as we age.  Based on your comments, I'd say we all pretty much fall into one of two camps:  

(1) those of us who have discovered strategies to make fitness a part of our lives, and 
(2) those of us who would like to.

I thought it might be helpful to have some of the folks in the first camp . . . share their fitness and workout strategies with those in the second camp.  First, I shared my sister Diane’s, story – about developing a walking routine for the long term.  Then, I shared Carolyn’s story – about mastering a self-directed fitness/video routine. 

Today, I’m happy to share Patty’s fitness story.  Patty has developed a fitness and support community to help her stay active for the long haul. 

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Some of you already know Patty from her blog - Purly Spaniel.  Patty is a happy wife, mom and dog owner (Hi, Boone!). She works full time as a project coordinator, and has held the same job for almost 20 years. Patty says she wasn’t raised in a particularly active family, though they did spend a lot of time outside when she was growing up. Patty’s husband, Doug, was very active when they met, and Patty says that helped guide her into a more active life.

When I asked Patty why exercise is important to her, and why she “bothers” with fitness in the first place, here’s what she told me:  “The #1 reason I exercise is weight management. I want to be able to eat pretty much what I want, and especially once I crossed the age 40 mark, regular exercise became a necessary part of being able to do that. Though I’ve reigned the snacking in over the last 5 years, a treat of potato chips or a plate of cheese and crackers is still very important to me!”

Besides the potato chips, though, Patty also says that she’s done a lot of reading and learning about the important of maintaining bone density, heart health, and mental health  -- all through physical fitness.  That’s been a big incentive for her to keep up her exercise routine, too.

What does Patty’s fitness regimen look like? 

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Patty stays active with regular walking and running . . . with a group of fitness friends.  She also takes an early-morning class at her local Y . . . where she is part of a caring, fitness-focused group of people who have become pals. 

See the connection here?  Working out with friends!  Patty has built herself a fitness-community!

Patty tells me, “I am extremely lazy by nature. I absolutely will not exercise alone.”  She says she may walk the dog alone, but that’s it.  When Patty’s son, Dan, was young and “we were a family getting everyone where they needed to be,” it was clear that early mornings were the only time available for Patty to exercise.

She spent about 15 years running - two or three mornings a week - with two or three other women. According to Patty, the support she gained by exercising with these women allowed her to reach beyond anything she would have been able to do on her own.  And it went far beyond fitness support to build long-term friendships that still nourish her today.  Patty says, “I think it’s amazing that a conversation with an acquaintance in the grocery store one day . . .  led to life-long friendships grown through early mornings in the dark . . . through all 4 seasons.”  Patty and her husband still exercise every weekend with these early-morning-running friends and their spouses.

What makes this work?  Why . . . the expectation all around that they’re all going to show up!  Patty says, “If you ask them they will come!  We stick to an 8:00 start time -- and it’s an hour of your day. Social, healthy and quick.”

(Can any of you guess that when it comes to Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendency Quiz . . . Patty is an Obliger?)

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In addition to the weekend running, for the past 5 years Patty has become a regular participant in a 6 am strength and flexibility classes -- with a side of cardio -- at her local YMCA.   Patty had a serious arm fracture a few years ago, and after a year of PT, realized that if she didn’t do something, she was going to be weak - forever.   According to Patty . . . “I’ve said it more than once - that broken arm changed things!  I was 55 and slowing down in my running and motivation.”  

This YMCA class has been a game-changer for Patty.  The class members span from 25 – 70 years of age – and they’ve formed a strong bond . . . a real fitness community.  They celebrate staying fit together – as well as birthdays (that’s Patty in the photo below – turning 60, alongside classmate Rick, who is turning 70), new babies, and other life events.  Patty says that if you miss a class, you can count on a friendly call-out during the next class!  They also check in on members who’ve been out for a bit, and encourage them to return.

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Patty says that, hands down, ACCOUNTABILITY is the key to her fitness success.  The best parts of fitness for Patty are the friendships and the laughter. She admits to being very tired of getting up at 5:30, but also knows that it’s hard to ignore the facts. “Inactivity will catch up with you eventually, and as I age I am very aware of this.” 

Patty knows herself well enough to know she won't get any kind of substantial work out after a long day at work. Patty says, “I make this early morning routine work by going to bed at a reasonable hour -- so I do get up in the morning.”

I asked Patty if she ever gets bored with her workout.  Nope!  Patty says, “fortunately boredom is not a factor these days. Our instructor changes our classes up all the time so we don’t ever know what’s ahead.” For Patty, that is key.  “In a setting where the classes stay the same for a month or three, I would easily talk myself out of going ‘oh I don’t feel like blah blah today.’ With this class, I can’t make an excuse!" 

Before Patty had the built-in variety provided by her class, she would mix up her activity on her own.  If she was getting bored with walking, she’d suggest biking instead.  When she was tired of her run, she’d change the route.  And if she doesn’t have a friend to exercise with, she puts in her headphones and listens to a book or a podcast. 

Patty’s advice for others looking to build a fitness community:

  • Ask! Invite a friend or a new acquaintance to go for a walk, bike ride, or to try a new class together. It’s amazing how many people want to go – but might be hesitant to ask.  Just go for it!
  • Plan! Once you do one walk or bike ride or class together, make a plan for the next time. In Patty’s opinion, that is where you can find success ... always plan for the next activity!  Make the plan. Be accountable to each other.
  • Remember! If you’re hesitant to go to a class please know that there are modifications for everyBODY.  Everyone in a class is participating at a different level – but everyone is just on the same page...looking for better health!

Patty's fitness regimen is all about commitment and dedication, early mornings, getting out there even when the weather is bad -- all the stuff that makes exercising . . . uncomfortable.  What makes the difference for her, though, is friends!  For Patty, she can get herself up and out the door because she knows she has a community of fitness friends:  people she can count on to work out with -- and who count on her right back!  

So.

What do you think?  Would a fitness-community help you be more consistent about exercising?  And if you’ve built a fitness-community of your own, what advice might you add?


Start Your Engines!

It's Monday.  And that means it's time to . . . 

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On Mondays, I share some things I've collected over the weekend . . . to get the week off to a good start!

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A Quote

Each week, as I set up my calendar, I find a quote that seems appropriate for the week ahead.  Here's my quote for this week:

"Sun is shining.  Weather is sweet.  Make you wanna move your dancing feet."
                            --- Bob Marley

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This Friday, we celebrate the Summer Solstice.  Here in my corner of the world, summer can't seem to get a good grip on the season (very wet, very cool).   Maybe if we collectively think pleasant, sunshine-y thoughts, Summer will wake up and join us?  

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A Word

I first heard this word as a child (it's in the lyrics to Bippity-Boppity-Boo Impossible from Disney's Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella*).  I've always loved saying this word out loud (usually followed by ". . . and fiddle-dee-dee"), but never bothered to look up the definition or proper spelling until recently.  Now, I'm looking for more ways to use it in casual conversation!

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To Read

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Looking for something new and interesting to read this summer?  Why not start here . . . with this new paperback series from The Modern Library.   Challenge the classical canon!  Discover overlooked women writers who deserve a place in classic literature.

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A Challenge

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Remember to look up!  
(You find the most surprising things.)

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Happy Monday!  
I hope your week is off to a smooth start.

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One last thing.  I know that I typically do my monthly Stash Giveaway on the third Monday of each month.  I've decided to switch that feature to Wednesdays, beginning this month.  So be sure to check back on Wednesday when I'll be telling you about this month's Stash Giveaway.  (Hint:  It's sock yarn.)

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* And one more thing.  Thanks, Pam, for pointing out that I mixed up my Cinderellas!  (I always liked Rodgers & Hammerstein's version better, so I don't know what I was thinking. . . )


Giving Yourself a Decade

As my kids have grown older, we've had quite a few discussions about . . . oh, adulting.  About purpose.  And imposter-syndrome.  And tedium and routine and same-ness and is-this-all-there-is?  (Ahh . . . the 20s . . . )  My usual advice is . . . 

Give yourself a decade.

As in, look back at where you were a decade ago.  Sit there for a moment or two and think about how far you've come, how much has changed, how different life looks now . . . a decade later.  And then, think a decade into the future.  Project; try to imagine . . . because your life today is going to be THAT different from the life you'll be living in a decade.

I've been doing a lot of giving-myself-a-decade lately.  It's easy for me, because I have this huge life-marker thing going on this year: a decade post-cancer.  I love thinking back to the person I was before-diagnosis . . . and comparing her to the person I am now.  Realizing . . . how much can really change in a decade!

Like this, for example.

This is the view across my patio . . . right now.  The wisteria are exploding.  The air is so perfumed you can smell it in my kitchen.  The pergola and the swing and the surrounding gardens feel like they've been there forever.  

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But . . . a decade ago?

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Ummm.  Not so much.

A decade ago, I had just completed the Master Gardener requirements for the Garden Design certification.  I hadn't really started working on my plans for expanding my garden yet . . . when that stinking cancer diagnosis came in.  But I used those months during chemo to think and dream and plan.  It gave me something to do, and - mostly - it gave me hope for a future. 

My initial plans and sketches looked like this . . . 

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(And while there isn't any wisteria in that design, it was always there in my head.)

Tom and Brian and my dad worked together to bring my plans to life.   Tom did the digging.  My dad designed the pergola.  Brian was eager to learn.  Together . . . 

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they built it for me!

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Give yourself a decade . . . and things can really change!

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Plans can become reality.  
Beauty can take root.  
Hope can flourish.

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Whenever you feel a bit stuck, or think nothing ever changes, just . . . 

give yourself a decade . . . 

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and see where it takes you!

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P.S.  Before I had cancer, I doubt I'd ever have plunged into a major garden project like this one.  (And I'm not sure I could have convinced Tom, Brian, and my dad to become such willing participants, either.)  I would have gotten bogged down in the planning; I would overthink it; I would say . . . maybe-someday.  But having cancer really did change the way I thought about things, and it made me much more willing to go for it and take some risks.  It also helped me just . . . embrace beauty and create something for the future.

 


Mackinac Magic . . . And About That Dress Code

Last week, my sister and I spent a few days on Mackinac Island in northern Michigan.  Mackinac is truly a Michigan treasure.  (I have never met another Michigander who doesn't sigh and nod when you tell them you're headed to Mackinac . . . and then say, "I love that place.")  (And - just so you know - it's pronounced Mack-i-NAW.  You just ignore that "c." )  (Trust me.)

There really is something magical about the place.  Maybe it's the bridge . . . 

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The island offers clear views of the 5-mile Mackinac Bridge joining Michigan's upper and lower peninsulas.  (You can reach the island by ferry from either peninsula.)

Maybe it's the lack of cars . . . 

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Motor vehicles are prohibited on the island.  (No cars.  No trucks.  Period.)  You walk or ride a bike -- or take a horse-drawn carriage.  Even deliveries are handled by horse drawn freight carriage.  It's very quiet, except for the clopping of horses.  (But you do have to watch where you step.)

Maybe it's the fudge . . . 

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Mackinac Island is America's "fudge capital," and there are fudge shops up and down Main Street.  So. Many. Fudge. Shops.  (Seriously, you can't walk 10 steps without finding ANOTHER fudge shop.)  It's good.  It's tradition.  You visit Mackinac Island, you come home with fudge.

Maybe it's the island itself . . . 

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There's just something fascinating about being on an island.  And especially an island you can walk or bike around in a manageable 8.2 miles.  (My sister and I opted to walk.)

Or maybe it's the magic of the Grand Hotel . . . 

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Totally living up to it's name, the historic Grand Hotel is, well. . . pretty darn grand!  We splurged by staying at the Grand Hotel for our time on Mackinac.  Here's a little peek inside:

The lobby . . . 

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The Cupola Bar . . . 

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Our room . . . 

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(We squealed when we saw the canopy beds.  We always wanted canopy beds when we were little girls . . . )

All VERY . . . Grand!  So in the spirit of Three on Thursday, here are Three Things About the Grand Hotel:

1 - The Porch

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The porch of the Grand Hotel is truly fabulous.  Guests of the hotel can sit in the rockers and sip a drink while enjoying some of  the most spectacular views on the island.  It is such a treat.  (Folks who aren't staying at the Grand Hotel can enjoy the porch, too.  But they have to pay to enter the hotel.)  Personally, the porch at the Grand Hotel is my favorite thing about Mackinac Island.

2 -- The Geraniums

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The red geranium is the official flower of the Grand Hotel -- and you find it everywhere . . . in planters, in flower boxes, on the carpets, in each room, on stationery, in the lotion and shampoo in the bathrooms.  Everywhere!  (Maybe next week I'll do a post on all the geranium carpets I found in the hotel.)

3 -- The Dress Code

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Yep.  There it is.  You must "dress" for the evening at the Grand Hotel.  Or . . . you can't eat dinner there or hang around in the main areas of the hotel after 6pm.  (You really do kind of feel like you've stepped back in time . . . with the clopping of horses and the dressing for dinner.)  It's pretentious and off-putting . . . and pretty lame.  (Because, trust me, just because you slap on a tie and wear a jacket . . . or put on a dress . . . doesn't mean you're more presentable than my sister and I in our "slacks.")  Anyway, we got around it by not eating dinner at the Grand Hotel, and then we just hung around in the Cupola Bar (which is not included in the dress code) or our room after eating dinner elsewhere on the island.  It's weird.  But I will trade the dress code nonsense for the porch any day.

So.  What do you think?  Have I sold you on the magic of Mackinac?

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Be sure to head over to Carole's for more Three on Thursday posts today!