Inside the Newsroom @ A2 Journal

Welcome to Inside the Newsroom @ A2 Journal, a blog written by the newspaper's staff at A2 Journal, a new, weekly, community newspaper covering Ann Arbor. This blog is a place for members of the newspaper's staff to write their thoughts, observations, opinions and other informative pieces they put together while covering the rich history, interesting people, institutions and traditions that make Ann Arbor such a unique community.


Friday, April 30, 2010

May 1- Lisa's Musings (on a cracked coffee mug) and Every Day Life










This is a pre-recorded blog alert.

No, not a repeat, like on TV.

It’s a new post, but in the interest of full disclosure, I pre-wrote this blog – the day before it was posted.

But I dated it May 1.

Then left it in the blog edit mode.

Partly because I figured out after writing about 200 of these things that I can, and I wanted to try it.

Seriously, though, although the above is indeed true -- it’s really because I’m at a dog show. (See previous five blogs that mentioned it about 500 times.)

And since I’m not sure what time I’ll get home, you’ll have enjoy this post and wait until Sunday night to find out how I did.

Hey, you can read Daniel’s blogs from the president’s visit while you’re waiting.

So while I’m sure you were sending positive vibes our way, and crossing all of your fingers and toes for Driver and me all day Saturday, frequently checking this blog for news on those elusive group placements …

You’ll just have to wait a little longer.

Sorry about that.

Instead, I’m going to share a sad story with you.

I dropped my favorite mug and cracked it. I’m not sure if you can see it in the photo, but it’s there.

The crack starts on the right side of the block M continues through the A and ends at the bottom of the mug.

This shiny plastic one apparently doesn’t bounce on cement as well as the old not shiny plastic one.

I’m not sure if it will make any difference in how hot my coffee stays –
because I haven’t had a chance to give it a whirl post-dropping.

But it was a choice between the mug (five bucks) or My Baby camera (lots of hundreds of bucks).

It was a no-brainer.

I’m usually pretty good at balancing both but, apparently, not today.

Err, Friday.

(Full disclosure here.)

But, I’ll let you know how that turns out on Sunday, too.

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April 30, Lisa's Musings (on blooms) and Every Day Life



















I feel kinda bad about knocking Daniel's blog about security at U-M --pre-the president's visit tomorrow -- out of the top box with this one.

Especially since it's his first post on the A2 Journal site, and he's covering the president's visit, and he'll be up early (as will I), and he'll have a very busy day with the president in town.

Meanwhile, I'll be having fun at a dog show.

So yeah, I feel kinda bad, but, not that bad.

Sorry Daniel.

My blog is daily and hopefully my readers are expecting me to write something pithy, or funny, or aw-shucksy.

Rarely "real news'y."

So, I must keep up appearances.

Besides, which is more important to you -- seeing photos of my beautiful trees or one more story about the president's visit?

Don't answer that ... it's because Daniel and Jana are covering the president's visit tomorrow that I CAN take the weekend off and show my dog; while they're working like dogs.

(Thank you Daniel and Jana)

So, on with the show.

Spring has sprung on my property and many of my flowering trees have exploded in color.

The white ones – I think they are crab apples – seem to be overachievers; while the pink ones, also crab apples, are slackers.

The forsythia fall somewhere in the middle; but their flowers are pretty, too.

Next up are my lilac, but I have the late blooming ones – and I’m a little concerned because they got confused this winter and bloomed in like December, so I hope they didn’t shoot their flowering bursts for this year already.

I'll keep you posted.

And, for the first time since I’ve had my new baby (camera), I decided to capture these blooms in all their gorgeous petal-ed splendor.

That’s before the predicted rains come tomorrow and knock all the flower pedals off their branches, blanketing the ground -- and littering my house when they stick to the dog’s feet.

Drenching Daniel and Jana, who will be outside in The Big House; while I'll be warm and dry inside, showing my dog.

But I will have to get a little wet, that's if it's raining in Buchanan, while taking him outside to potty.

Only, he's a boy dog, so he'll pee on anything, and usually on something close to the building.

So, for today, I can ooh and aah at the presents that Mother Nature has given me.

No need for a card or a bow.

(Did I say thank you for covering the president tomorrow Daniel and Jana?)

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Excitement in the air

Mobile Blog 1
April 30, 2010
I am outside Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor to get a general feel for the president's visit tommorow. Already you can tell security is tight. Just approaching the gates to the stadium I was asked what the purpose of my business is. Overall there is an excitement in the air that radiates with the students. A lot of students are excited the president is speaking directly to them tommorow.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

April 29 - Lisa's Musings (on the weekend) and Every Day Life

It's been a long time since I've said, "bring on the weekend."

But I'm like a little kid before Christmas.

I realized it today when I was leaving our weekly editorial meeting.

As you know, the president's going to be in town Saturday.

And, I'm not covering it.

In fact, my editor asked me if I was going to whine about being bumped off A-1 for President Obama's speech to U of M graduates.

Nope.

Un-Uh.

Narry a whimper.

Take it away. No problem.

I know there are a lot of people who are really excited to see a sitting president in Ann Arbor.

I just don't happen to be one of them.

Been there, done that.

I've covered Nixon, Reagan, Ford, even Carter. Think that's all of them.

You see, I've realized that I'm getting a little long in the tooth to cover some things.

Like presidential visits.

And late night meetings.

I actually fell asleep during a meeting last night, which means I need to turn in my crown; it's official, I'm no longer the Queen of Late Night.

But I'm OK with that.

So, it's time to pass the baton on some assignments.

To younger reporters, who haven't had the opportunity to cover really big assignments.

Like presidents coming to town.

So, while I will be setting an early-morning alarm, like all the people who will see and cover the president on Saturday, I'll be heading in a different direction.

I'm taking the weekend off to show my dog.

And, I'm very excited about not working. And heading out of town.

Did I mention: Bring on the weekend?

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

April 28, Lisa's Musings (on kids doing fun stuff) and Every Day Life

















I was invited to Pattengill Elementary School today.

To Susan Beech's class where they were making cool stuff out of old junk.

Well, mostly old stuff, most of it would have either been tossed or recycled.

Susan will tell you she's a bit of a pack rat and for good reason -- because she comes up with all these really cool ideas for her classroom.

With a little help from books in the public library.

Today, the students made pencil holders from old tin cans and donated rulers, bean bags from scrap fabric and old beans, and decoupage glass jars.

Previously, they made tin can stilts from cans grabbed from the school cafeteria.

And although the kids don't really understand all the physics behind the stuff they made, the activities are setting the stage for math and science concepts of the future.

Since the story won't run until next week, I couldn't wait to preview some of the cool photos I took today.

And, as readers know, math is not my strong suit.

Perhaps if I'd had a math teacher like Susan Beech when I was in third grade, my life would have been a lot different.

Then again, I might have chosen a whole different career path and you wouldn't be reading this.

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

April 27 - Lisa's Musings (on good days) and Every Day Life













You know when you wake up and you just know it’s going to be a great day?

Before your feet hit the floor.

The kind of day when your coffee tastes really, really good, and the birds are chirping loudly?

And, the sun’s out, but it’s cool enough to wear a vest -- but not cold enough to wear a coat?

As I headed to Project RED at the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds, I was in the kind of mood that the morons who cut me off didn’t faze me.

I “Glee”-fully sang The Beatles’ “Hello, Good-Bye” loudly to the radio version, and although I knew it was horribly off-key, it was OK.

It was the kind of day when it sounded great, anyway.

Project RED, as always, was lots of fun. Lots of kids oohing and aahing over the farm animals.

I think my video will tell the story – and I’m waiting for my Internet connection to come back up, so I can get the code and Facebook AND Tweat about it.

I know my photos turned out really, really well and I couldn’t help myself, I’ve included a few since the story won’t appear in the paper until next Thursday.

My house smells like herbs because I stuffed and am roasting a chicken with some of the ones that I’ve been growing since I bought an herb garden from Gracia Greenhouses at the Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market.

It’s the first time I’ve harvested and used them so I’m excited to taste the difference between the bottle variety and the ones I grew myself.

Yes, I knew when I woke up this morning it was going to be a great day and by George, it’s been a dandy humdinger.

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Monday, April 26, 2010

April 25, Lisa's Musings (on loppers) and Every Day Life

I'm feeling pretty darn good about myself right now.

I did battle with a whole bunch of ratty, invasive, very evil tree-lets, tree shoots, nettles and a bunch of other bad, bad, nasty green things that grow on my property.

And I didn't go crazy and take out everything in sight -- whether I knew what it was or not.

I found out the hard way that some "good" growing things can start out looking like bad growing things, but then turn into something that I really wanted to have growing there.

Oops.

For the last few years I've been so busy that when I see these vile invasive things -- usually while mowing -- I vow to take them out.

While they're still young and easily whacked into submission.

But, when I'm done mowing, I'm tired and don't feel like doing more work.

Or, I find other (more fun) things to do with my outdoor time.

So, for the last few years, "they" have not only won the battle, but also the war.

Part of the problem is that I have an ancient pair of loppers that really need to be replaced because they are incapable of snipping through a trunk or stem wider than say 1/4 of an inch.

My loppers are dull, wobbly, and have seen better decades.

But, let's face it, loppers are one of those boring, but necessary, things that I own that I don't think much about.

Until I want to use them.

And when I want to use them, I want to use them right then; not an hour later, after heading to the store and buying new ones.

Subsequently, they haven't been replaced.

No, it's not like I have some attachment to these worn-out loppers, like I do to Old Faithful, the lawn tractor.

It's just one of those things I don't think about buying.

Probably because the hardware store is not my favorite place to go. It has all those tools that I can't name and don't know how to use.

So I have to ask for help to get what I need.

So I avoid doing it.

But after surveying what I could and couldn't rid from my property today, I came inside and added a new pair of loppers to the shopping list.

And that's like etching something in stone.

So if you see me in the Chelsea ACO looking lost, I'm trying to find the lopper aisle.

Feel free to take pity on me and point me in the right direction.

You'll be doing your good deed for the day and saving me the humiliation of asking where the loppers are hidden.

And, I'll invite you to the ceremonial retirement of the old loppers.

They've worked hard for it.

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

April 25 - Lisa's Musings (on Project RED, cows) and Every Day Life

Anyone who has read my blog for more than 5 minutes knows that I have a love affair with all things cow and cow-like.

So, today, in honor of Project RED (Rural Education Days), which will take place at the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds this week, I'll pass along some cool dairy facts.

In fact, anyone can go to the Farm Council Grounds to learn more about agriculture and natural resources (including dairy cows) Wednesday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Included will be a special 20th anniversary celebration.

Project RED has reached more than 43,000 students, teachers and chaperones and is made possible by more than 300 volunteers and 30-plus organizations, businesses and local farms.

Thanks for this blog, however, goes to the best farming cub reporter I could have in my corner, (hear that, KS?), because she provided me with these United Dairy Industry of Michigan tidbits.

* There are approximately 2,100 Grade A dairy farms in Michigan.

* The average milking herd in Michigan has 150 cows.

* Michigan dairy herds produce approximately 7.7 billion pounds of milk on an annual basis.

* Dairy farming is the top ranking segment of Michigan’s number two industry: agriculture.

* The dairy industry in Michigan annually contributes $5.9 billion to the state’s economy.

* The average Michigan cow produces approximately 22,180 pounds of milk each year. That’s 2,579 gallons of milk a year or more than 8 gallons of milk every day of her milking period. That’s enough for 128 people to have a glass of milk every day!

* There are about 350,000 cows producing milk in Michigan. The large, black and white Holstein is the most common. Other breeds include: Guernsey, Jersey, Brown Swiss, Ayrshire, and Milking Shorthorn.

* In 2008, Michigan ranked 9th nationally in annual milk production, representing 4 percent of the total U.S. production.

I, for one, can't wait to attend Rural Education Days because every year, I learn something new.

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

April 24 - Lisa's Musings (on good deeds) and Every Day Life











I don't know what you did today, but I witnessed a lot of people doing something special for other people.

Today was Christmas in Action in the Ann Arbor area and hundreds of people spent their day helping their neighbors.

They cleaned, mulched, painted, roofed, ripped up carpets, fixed railings, spruced up yards ... the list is a long one.

This afternoon, at Colonial Lanes, former and current U-M football players spent their time putting smiles on the faces of children who'd had organ transplants.

Today was a fund-raiser for a special camp called Camp Michitanki for children who've had organ transplants.

Recognize any of these faces?

Mike Hart, perhaps? Who said he was heading to training camp tomorrow but wanted to do his part today for the kids -- before he headed to Indianapolis. Pro football hasn't changed him one bit -- he was still all smiles, gracious and happy to play a part in making kids feel special.

Hart and his senior football class were a class act of athletes who spent a lot of time in the community, working with kids, but they never got the recognition they deserved.

I know this because I was one of the people who frequently crossed paths with these guys and they were a great bunch.

Also on hand was Jamie Morris, who kept everyone in stitches. Another class act and all-around good guy.

Tate Forcier was terrific with the kids as well.

Plus, there were a host of current defensive players who, between signing footballs, kept asking the kids whether offense or defense was their favorite position.

Despite some coaxing from the adults, who kept reminding them that defense wins football games, care to guess which side of the line was the kid's favorite?

You can read the stories of all these selfless people who took part in both special events in Thursday's A2 Journal.

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Friday, April 23, 2010

April 23 - Lisa's Musings (on your day) and Every Day Life





















What kind of day did you have today?

Hopefully not an I-Need-To-Stroke-a-Lamb's-Ear kind of day.

Was it a bright and cheery Gerber Daisy kind of day?

Or, an early purple iris kind of day.

Was is a majestic Red Tulip Day?

An perhaps a bright orange tulip one?

Maybe, just maybe, it was a bright and cheery Yellow Tulip Day?

Or was it a small, but pretty, Yellow-and-White Tulip Day?

Whatever kind of April 23 you had, I hope that one of these photos added a smile or an ahhh to your Friday.

If you're wondering what kind of day I had -- it was a beautiful day in the neighborhood kind of day for me because I was actually able to shoot these tulip photos before the rabbits or the deer discovered and destroyed them.

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Recent online poll results

Thank you to everyone participating in our online polls. Here are the results of our most recent questions.

Do you think Sgt. Tim Casey should be demoted from sergeant to police officer over the firecracker incident (in Milan)?
Yes: 55 percent
No: 45 percent

What does spring inspire you to do?
Get outdoors and exercise: 36 percent
Gardening work: 27 percent
Clean house: 20 percent
Home fix-it projects: 16 percent

What's your main dish for Easter?
Ham: 64 percent
Chef's Choice: 17 percent
Something vegetarian: 12 percent
Turkey: 7 percent

What kind of content would you like to see from your community this summer?
More youth sports coverage: 33 percent
Gardening content with expert advice and video garden tours: 33 percent
Local home tours with photos and video: 22 percent
A wine column by an expert with video: 11 percent

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

April 22 - Lisa's Musings (about Dunkin' Donuts) and Every Day Life

CNN Money dotcom had a story on-line today that featured the most popular franchises in America.

Subway, Quiznos, the UPS Store, Diary Queen and Cold Stone Creamery made the list.

Ah, but there was another... Dunkin' Donuts.

I have a serious love affair going on with Dunkin' Donuts. When there was a franchise near the corner of Jackson Road and Stadium, I'd drive there every couple weeks and buy a few bags of Dunkin' Donut regular coffee beans.

I like to grind them myself -- fresh.

But then one day, it disappeared, and I was very, very sad.

The next closest place was in Ypsi and for a while, I'd take a road trip from Chelsea to that store and buy a bunch of bags of regular beans in a pop.

But it was, quite frankly, a pain in the butt to drive that far -- even for my favorite coffee.

So I switched to another brand. But I didn't like it as much, even through it arrived at my doorstep so I didn't have to drive anywhere to get it.

Then one day, quite by accident, I discovered that I could have Dunkin' Donuts beans delivered to my house -- thanks to the nice people at UPS.

That other brand came via the mail and quite frankly, couldn't be counted on to arrive the day is was supposed to.

And I'm sorry friends, but my day must begin with a great cup of coffee and Folgers, and the other brands found in the grocery store, just don't cut it.

And yes, I know, I can now buy Dunkin' Donuts at the grocery store, but I have to tell you -- not only are the packages smaller and more expensive, I haven't been able to find the beans.

I want to grind my beans and smell that delicious smell. It's an aphrodisiac.

So, for the last eight or so years, my favorite coffee has been delivered to my house in a nice little box that's great for storage of other things or to reuse to mail books and such across the country.

I run on Dunkin', America runs on Dunkin', and so do 31 other countries, according to this story. In fact, there are 9,000 Dunkin' Donuts stores around the globe.

(And, yes, I know it's Earth Day today -- and I probably should have written about that, but I mentioned it just now, and since this is my blog, that will just have to suffice.)

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

April 21, Lisa's Musings (on learning lessons) and Every Day Life

In the last two days, I learned two important lessons.

Yesterday, I learned why it's not a good idea to put metal in the microwave.

Today, I learned bad things happen if the oil cap isn't screwed back into place on the lawn tractor.

I know about the microwave and metal thing. Really.

I took a big ole peanut butter cookie (made by one of the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market vendors) out of its plastic bag and put it on a plate to warm for 15 seconds.

About 5 seconds into the warming, I heard an bad popping sound; one that signaled hit the stop button fast -- don't pass go, don't collect $200.

Make it stop ... now.

I opened the door and something didn't smell quite right, so I jerked the plate out of the oven.

That darn twist tie, the one that had been on the plastic bag, had hidden itself under the cookie on the plate.

Good thing I was standing right there, and that I was using a plate I didn't love because plate, twist tie and cookie ended up in the trash.

The twist tie had melted into the plate, but the oven's fine.

Onto the oil. Before I start the lawn tractors, I always check the oil.

Hey, I'd even bought a new eco-friendly bottle of the stuff for the mowing season.

And I was poised to use it.

Since the grass was so long, I decided to take out the new mower because it has a mulching attachment.

So off, off and away to start on my five-hour mowing adventure.

I was bee-bopping along, enjoying the sunshine, smiling as the robins swooped down the moment I had a section finished, and then I noticed spots on the nose of the mower.

Hummm.

I finished the front and headed to the dog yard and had to turn it off to open the gate.

So I decided to investigate the spots and found oil everywhere -- what the heck?

So I opened the hood and quickly found the problem. I'd failed to tightly screw on the oil cap when I checked it.

Oops.

I thought about just driving it back to the garage and parking it but then decided that I somehow needed to burn off the oil because, well, oil and water don't mix, so it wasn't like I could hose it off.

So, I continued mowing -- until it started raining. Then I brought it inside and opened the hood.

When the sun came out 15 minutes later, enter Old Faithful, my noseless, ever chug-a-lug, work horse mower.

The two of us rode around the back 40, readied the agility field for the equipment's arrival from the shed, chugged on through a short shower and finished the rest of the property.

Old Faithful and I understand each other. We appreciate each others quirks and work through them ... together.

I ignore the rows of grass clippings she leaves in her wake, and she doesn't quit working when a run over a small tree or drive her over a rock.

And when I was done, I looked back over my shoulder and smiled.

They say every dark cloud has a silver lining, but today, there was a rainbow.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

April 20, Lisa's Musings (On The Big Chill) and on Every Day Life

Hockey fan alert.

Tickets for The Big Chill -- the hockey game vs. MSU in the Big House on Dec. 11 -- go on sale tomorrow at 8:30 a.m.

Yup, U-M sports is becoming like NASCAR -- this hockey game is being called "Arby's Presents The Big Chill at the Big House."

First, the spring football game has a sponsor's name, now a hockey game.

So, will the athlete's be thanking their sponsors at the beginning or end of each interview?
'
"Yes, 'The Ann Arbor State Bank' play worked really well; it surprised the defense."

"It was 'The Arena' stance that stopped the drive."

"No one expected us to come out of the huddle and go with a 'Peaceable Kingdom.'"

Next, we'll be adding sponsor's names when we sing the "The Victors."

I get that sponsor's money is important to sporting events, but I long for the days when the Rose Bowl was just the Rose Bowl and the Sugar Bowl was just the Sugar Bowl and ... well, you get it.

I'm a traditionalist.

That said, I think this will be really cool -- probably even downright cold.

It's one thing to sit inside and watch hockey, it's quite another to sit outside and watch it.

In December. There could be a foot of snow on the ground.

I'll have to think long and hard about whether I want to go to this one.

That said, the game has it's own Web site: www.thebigchillatthebighouse.com.

End zone tickets are $15 and groups of 15 or more can get tickets for $10 each.

GO to www.mgoblue.com/tickets or call 866-296-MTIX.

Go Blue.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

April 19 - Lisa's Musings on Every Day Life

I'll be leaving soon for what looks like a very long night at the Ann Arbor City Council meeting tonight.

But, ya know what, it's OK.

I know I don't say that very often, but I'm trying something new -- flinging positive vibes out into the universe, in the hopes that they'll boomerang back at me.

Ala "The Secret."

I made out entry forms for a couple more dog shows last night and they went out in the mailbox this morning so I have something fun to look forward to in May.

And, I got lots of work done during the day.

In all, it's been a very good day.

So even though it's one of those Mondays, I'm looking forward to a lovely drive to Ann Arbor because it's a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

Hear that, Mr. Rogers?

I'm wearing a bright cheery outfit; the dogs are out for their pre-meeting romp in the dog yard.

They'll get an early dinner, and I know they'll like that, because din-din is always a popular time of the dog's day.

Followed closely by breakfast.

I plan to eat a nice yummy little fillet to sustain my energy level into the wee hours of the morning.

I'm ready world, bring it on.

Happy Monday all.

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

April 18 - Lisa's Musings on (dog show day two) and Every Day Life

I won't keep you in suspense.

No group placements today.

In fact, we didn't even get a second look from either of the judges in the Gun Group ring.

But ya know what? It's fine because I got to spend the day with little Driver today. Just the two of us.

and If it's possible to love my young dog more today than yesterday, I do.

He showed so well and I'm so proud of him.

And he even had a surprise "fan" arrive at the show to watch him today.

You see, other than me, Becca is his favorite person in the whole world.

And, truth be told, sometimes, I think he likes her better than he does me -- but that's because he doesn't get to see her all that often.

He likes my friend, Nancy, too, but he sees her more often, so she's not as cool.

But Driver adores Becca.

And that was probably the highlight of his day -- it set his little Toller world on full-out, tail-wagging euphoria.

Sure, Driver made lots of new friends this weekend -- he loves all dogs and all people -- but we both enjoy spending time with Becca.

UKC dog shows, like agility shows, involve a lot of hurry up (to get there and set up )and wait(for your time to show).

And wait. And wait. And wait.

This weekend was no different.

Maybe that's why I saw a lot of long faces and even some bad sports today when their dog didn't win.

Conformation is a beauty contest, folks, and even though dogs are judged against each other based on their standard of perfection, it's still a very subjective sport.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder -- in this case, the judge.

So I tell my students that if you're going to show your dogs, no matter what happens in the ring, you have to love your pet as much when you leave the ring as you did when you entered it.

And, if you can't do that, then don't show.

When winning (or losing) a dog competition is more important than the time you spend with your furry pet, it's time to get back to the reason you got the dog in the first place.

Driver, or any dog, cat, horse, ferret, rabbit, the list goes on -- doesn't care if he wins or loses. Or if he gets a ribbon or not. Or even what color it is because of course, dogs don't see in color.

What Driver wants is to see me smile at him and tell him he's a good boy.

And get a treat. Or 10.

He wants to please me and that's exactly what he does -- everyday.

At home or at a show site.

Yes, he's a show dog, but he's my pet first.

And I'm a very proud pet owner every day.

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

April 17 - Lisa's Musings (on today's dog show) and Every Day Life

It was a Day Off and a Dog Show Day Saturday.

The best kind of day except for the getting up at 6 a.m. part, getting to the show site by 7:30 a.m. part, and then the not showing until 2 p.m. part.

But, that's a UKC dog show for you.

I relaxed a bit, finished a really good book, meet some very nice people and had a good time.

Driver was the only one of his breed so once again, we needed a group placement and, well, we were (-) close.

In the first of two shows, in a huge gun dog group, and despite some puppy behavior, the judge placed us fifth.

When she pointed to us, we raced behind the other dogs she'd pulled out of the 20 or so dogs in the line-up.

Then I started counting ... one, two, three, four ... rats ... we were No. 5.

Which is kinda like kissing your brother (or sister) depending on whether you're a girl or a boy reader.

But, it was a nice show of support for the young guy and the judge's way of saying she liked him, just not as much as the four dogs in front of us.

So, we'll put her name in the judge that likes us book and show to her again some day in the future.

In the second show, we didn't even get a sniff ... but, that's the way the dog show cookie crumbles.

So, we'll head to bed soon and dream of better placements to come.

Maybe tomorrow.

We have two more shots at it.

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Friday, April 16, 2010

April 16 - Lisa's Musings (on snakes) and Every Day Life

My dogs killed a snake today.

And I was an accomplice, even though I didn't mean to be.

Although I don't like snakes -- I jerk up my feet when I'm on the lawn tractor when I see one, and I won't move "suspect" agility equipment after I picked up a pole a bunch of year's ago and a snake came out -- I know that garter snakes are good snakes.

I'm told there is such a thing.

So, when snakes are dumb enough to sun in the dog yard and I see them, I turn on my heal and head the other way.

Usually, the dogs follow me and the stupid snake is smart enough to slither away while we're not watching.

Today, however, Driver found the snake before I did and it made the grave mistake of moving.

And, for those who don't know, moving or flying things are highly fascinating to retrievers.

Especially puppies.

So, while Driver tried to figure out what a snake was, Ryan already knew. He jumped over his brother and like a hawk, snatched up that snake like a furry creature of prey.

It happened so quickly, there was nothing I could do.

Ryan shook that snake, tipping his head back and forth really, really fast, whacking it against the ground and his body.

He dropped it once, it moved, so he grabbed it again. And, well, he whacked it around a bunch more times.

By the third time he picked it up, he dropped it pretty quickly again, and I was able to get close enough to determine ... it was dead.

My first clue was that its head wasn't exactly firmly attached to its body anymore.

My second clue was it was pretty icky looking and was really, really still.

Still enough that Ryan left it there -- because it wasn't much fun anymore.

If it doesn't move or fly, it's not very fascinating to retrievers.

Driver picked up the snake remains and trotted off with it, but he, too, got bored because it wasn't moving or flying anymore.

Plus, it didn't squeak.

So, that left it to me to scoop it up with a pooper scooper, and give it a proper snake burial.

I tossed it in the woods.

Some animal will have me to thank for a yummy dead snake dinner.

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Local reporters win Excellence in Journalism Awards


Three Heritage Newspapers reporters swept the sports columnist category in the Society of Professional Journalists Detroit chapter's 2009 Excellence in Journalism Awards.

At a dinner held April 14 at the San Marino Club in Troy, Jana Miller, Mike Larson and Don Richter won first through third place, respectively, in the sports columnist category in print, Class B, with a circulation less than 100,000.

In addition, reporter Gerald LaVaute won third place for investigative reporting for his piece "Police Compensation Comparison."

LaVaute is a staff writer for The View in Belleville and The Milan News-Leader.

Miller, a former Saline and Milan sports reporter, is a copy editor and reporter for The Manchester Enterprise. Judges noted that all three of her entries were award worthy. They were "Hush, hush controversy brings sex into sports," "Academics and athletics can mix" and "Gender equity in sports."

Richter, a former sports reporter for The Chelsea Standard and The Dexter Leader, now covers sports for The Saline Reporter and The Milan News-Leader. His winning piece was his farewell column to Chelsea and Dexter readers.

Larson, a sports reporter for The Ann Arbor Journal, a new publication launched July 9, 2009, by Heritage Newspapers, won for his column "Medal More than Award." This is the first award produced from the A2 Journal. The other Heritage publications have a long history of winning journalism awards in the SPJ contest, as well as in the Michigan Press Association Better Newspapers Contest and Suburban Newspapers of America editorial contest.

This year's competition was judged by the North Central Florida Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, SPJ Minnesota Pro Chapter and Chicago Headline Club.

More than 100 Excellence in Media awards were given to area journalists during the banquet.

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

April 15 - Lisa's Musings (on tax day) and Every Day Life

April 15, and I was one of those people today.

Yup, I headed to the Chelsea Post Office this afternoon with my tax forms.

And, I have to say, I was kinda disappointed.

Perhaps I should rewind a bit here -- to get you up to snuff on why I wound up at the post office today, Tax Day, to get that all important April 15 postal stamp on the large manila envelopes.

For starters, I was a little late getting my stuff to my accountant this year. Usually, it's in by the end of February. This year, I didn't get it there until the first week in March.

That happened, after spending an entire weekend adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing numbers, those dreaded horrible things, because I didn't keep my books in shape during the year.

So, as is the norm, with step one complete, and I promptly forget about it until the accountant's office calls with questions

Well, there was a slight glitch this year -- my accountant got sick during the crunch time, so he was late getting everything done.

So it was Saturday, when I got the call, with the annual questions.

And the preliminary bad news on how much I owed.

Yesterday, I picked them up and got the full really bad news.

Which brings me to today ... and my trip to the Chelsea Post Office.

I've heard about and seen the long post office lines on April 15. And I know in the past that some post offices stay open until midnight, the witching hour, for people like me.

Chelsea isn't one of them.

So, I grabbed my envelopes, and headed inside, fully expecting to find others of my last-minute ilk.

There weren't any.

I walked in, and there were three people in front of me -- all mailing regular stuff.

I asked the postal clerk if there had been a lot of people mailing their taxes today, and she said it had been pretty steady, but, nothing all that out of the ordinary.

But, she didn't forget to ask if I wanted other supplies and if there was anything liquid, perishable, yadayadayada in the envelopes.

So, I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Not that I'm complaining, I was in and out in 5 minutes.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

April 14 -- Lisa's Musings (on bison) and Every Day Life







Today was Bison Day.

Yup, Bison Day, something I've been looking forward to for a few weeks.

In fact, I happily got up early for Bison Day.

And the coolest thing? It lived up to everything I hoped it would. Well, except the sun wasn't where I needed it to be for the best photos and there wasn't a lot I could do about it.

But, aside from that, it was way cool.

I was in a field with living, breathing, grunting bison. Not on the ground with them, mind you, because, well, they're bison, and like their personal bison space.

Bison, I learned are very different from cattle, even though the girl and boy terms -- bulls, heifers and cows, are the same.

They're really rather quiet creatures that love their herd life almost as must as they like their calm and quiet lifestyle.

And they're curious creatures, too, especially when it comes to the new calves.

Yes, wee bison and they were too cute for words.

However, although bison look warm and fuzzy, they aren't the petting type.

But when you've gotten as close to these American icons of prairie life as I did today, it brings into personal technicolor all those Westerns, and that "home, home on the range," early Americana life.

In a modern, I'm in Michigan, sort of way.

I learned a LOT about buffalo/bison, today. Such as, the two terms are, indeed, interchangeable.

I was schooled by a bison expert and herd manager today.

In fact, in his first big bison competition earlier this year, he kicked all the other bison breeder's rumps.

And took the Rookie Bison Breeder of the Year Award, too.

Did I mention, he was a patient, genuinely awesome guy, too? A well educated, herd manager, who was more than happy to answer a barrage of questions about the animals under his care.

I don't want to give away all the details before I write the story, but stay tuned because it's going to be a good one. Complete with video.

But I just couldn't wait that long to share.

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

April 13 - Lisa's Musings (on meeting fun people) and Every Day Life


As a reporter, I meet a lot of people.

And I mean a LOT of people.

Pretty much on a daily basis and today was no exception.

This morning, I had the chance to meet a new business owner in Ann Arbor named Jesse Hernandez, who just three weeks ago, opened 1st Stop Auto near the corner of Main and Depot in Ann Arbor.

It's an auto repair shop where he employs two mechanics -- Mike Skalski and Carlos Carnica.

I don't want to give away the story, because it won't be published until next week, but the guys are working on something really cool in the auto repair shop behind Van Winkle Mattress Company.

Hernandez says he, Mike, and Carlos, all state certified mechanics, will take on any auto repair project, and are offering a special $14.95 oil change.

He says he got involved in the business 10 years ago and moved his shop from Detroit to Ann Arbor.

Oh yeah, the guys will work on both foreign and domestic vehicles.

His father got him into the business, Hernandez says, while admitting that "I just like fixing stuff."

I admit, I don't know the first thing about auto repairs, but if his personality is any indication of his ability to fix a car, I have a really good feeling that anyone who brings a vehicle to this new business will drive away thrilled -- not only at the cost of the work, but also the whole experience.

I hope if you need any auto repairs done, you'll give Hernandez a call. He can be reached at 734-302-4277.

And, tell him that Lisa sent you.

I don't normally write this kind of testimonial in my blog, but I was really taken by Hernandez.

He was, quite simply, a super nice guy.

I like meeting these kind of people.

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Monday, April 12, 2010

April 12 -- Lisa's Musings (on NOTM) and Every Day Life

There are Monday's and there are Monday's.

Some good; some bad.

Some with Ann Arbor Council meetings; some not.

Today is a "not" kinda Monday, as in Not on this Monday ... oh, wait, that would be "NOTM."

As in ... there is no Ann Arbor Council meeting tonight.

Ah, a blessed NOTM Monday.

I worked all weekend so I could enjoy this NOTM before I head out on what should be a really fun assignment tonight.

Yes, I'm still working tonight, but it's gonna be a fun kind of working.

Three-time Newbery Honor winner Gary Paulsen is in town at Nicola's Books and I spent most of the day reading "Woods Runner," one of his recently released young adult titles.

He'll also be signing copies of "Lawn Boy Returns," which was published at the end of March.

Paulsen has about 200 titles to his credit, and based on the two books I read, if you are the parent of a young teenage boy, he'd be an author I'd recommend.

So, I'll be heading to the book store soon and I'm fairly confident that I'll be home in time to catch the end of "Dancing With the Stars" and all of "Castle".

Then it would be a really, really, really good NOTM.

And, of course, you'll be able to read about Paulsen's visit in A2 Journal next week, sooner on www.A2Journal.com.

Next Monday will be one of those Monday's, but I'm not dwelling on this today.

I'm having too much fun enjoying NOTM.

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

April 11 - Lisa's Musings (from Sunday papers) and Every Day Life

The things I learn from reading the Sunday Free Press.

Truth be told, I don't want to read real news on Sunday morning, I want to read fun news. So, I skip all the hardcore stuff and head to the sorts of things below.

Here's my Top 10, complete with comments about the most interesting tidbits I read this morning.

In no particular order.

1. The (hapless) Lions are adding boxing as another way to train for the football season. Oh, goody, more potential excuses for penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Apparently, the players want to learn more about hand-to-hand combat. So, is this to fight off all the angry fans or what?

2. In southern Utah, homegrown Prairie Dogs will be honored on April 30 at Bryce Canyon.

I guess there's not a lot to actually honor in Utah, so, I'm all about giving these this endangered species a day to call their own.

But how will they know what time to show up for the party?

3. "Ugly Betty" ends its run on Wednesday. Betty's shed her braces and so goes the show.

I kinda liked it's aw-shucks premise and hope Betty rides off into the sunset happy. If nothing else, her teeth are gorgeous.

4. "Glee" returns on Tuesday. If you haven't given this very cute show a chance, try it out this week.

The cast was on "Oprah" last week, so if you want to keep up with coworkers at the water cooler Wednesday, tune in.

5. Look out Michigan, there's a political invasion about to take place on May 1.

I knew President Barack Obama would be the keynote speaker at U-M's graduation but I didn't know Sarah Palin would be in the state as well.

Palin will be Clarkston to speak at the Defending the American Dream Summit. Whatever that is.

Do you think either of them will bring any jobs with them?

6. Robins rule. I'm guessing you knew the robin was Michigan's (and Connecticut's and Wisconsin's) state bird?

According to the recent Great Backyard Bird Count, the 13th annual one by the way, robins rule the roost as the most counted bird. The count -- 1.85 million.

The Canada Goose can honk we're No. 2 with 748,356 counted.

7. Michigan has set an 11,742 bear limit for this season's bear hunting quota.

I had no idea that Michigan even HAD that many bear roaming around to shoot at, but I guess it's a big state, and the UP must see a lot of them.

8. Leave it to the Brits to try to change the game and the rules again. I guess they didn't learn their lesson in 1776.

Scrabble Trickster, a variant of the popular American board game, will allow proper names while playing.

Is absolutely nothing sacred on the other side of the pond?

9. Earth is expected to dodge a rather large celestial bullet, er, asteroid, Thursday.

The rock is estimated to be about 71 feet wide and is supposed to miss hitting our planet by a mere 223,000 miles.

Is that is real miles or just close enough for government work?

10. After reading a story about the S.S. Badger, I'd like to take a ferry ride across Lake Michigan from Ludington to Manitowac, Wis.

I've never been to Ludington but I have been to Manitowac and it's a very cool town.

According to the story, the S.S. Badger is the last coal-fired ship on the Great Lakes. It's also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

It takes about 4 hours to make the 60-mile crossing; I think I'll add it to my To Do List.

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

April 10 - Lisa's Musings (on squirrels) and Every Day Life






If you're familiar with Ann Arbor squirrels, you know they're not shy.

And if I were a little smarter, I'd have had my long lens with me to take close-up photos of this guy.

What you can't see is this squirrel's prize.

A big, fat, sweet, cherry donut prize.

While parked along State Street, near the athletic admin building, I spied this guy or gal, not sure which, racing down the sidewalk with a huge donut in his mouth.

He zipped up that tree to a nice comfy branch and began to pig out.

Since I had a few minutes before my assignment, I had to see if I could get close enough to him to snap a few photos without spooking the little guy.

Needless to say, he was an bona fide Ann Arbor squirrel -- he could have cared less that I was under the tree shooting photos as he happily munched away.

Yeah, he kept an eye on me, but I think he sized me up pretty quickly and realized I wasn't a threat.

One problem was the sun, which was in the wrong place to get the best angle.

The second problem was that I failed to bring all the photo equipment I should have with me at all times.

I'm kicking myself for not having a long lens with me.

Leaving a lens at home is like heading out with one pen. Which I also did.

What happens if the pen quits working? Like it did, despite having lots of ink in it.

And if a tall building had caught on fire while I was in town? Which it didn't.

The point is, I know better.

I've been doing this for longer than 5 minutes -- even if at times it doesn't seem like it.

So because I failed to follow a photographer's golden rule -- I missed a great photo opp. One that I'll never have again.

But I did get lucky in the pen department when I found a stray one on the floor that worked.

At least fate saved me from looking really stupid.

A reporter without a pen? Or paper?

Doesn't look too good.

A photographer without a key piece of equipment.

Really dumb.

But, I did have the flip cam with me, so we'll see how the video turned out.

And as for the squirrel ... my guess is he's either racing around Ann Arbor on a sugar high or sleeping it off somewhere.

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Friday, April 9, 2010

April 9 - Lisa's Musings (on the U-M Spring Football Game) and Every Day Life

I got a reminder about the annual U-M spring football game via e-mail today.

It's next Saturday, by the way, and I'm glad to pass along the details -- but I won't be going.

For the first time in more than 10 years, (minus the year it was moved because of stadium renovations), I've chosen to skip this spring ritual.

And, it's not like I haven't enjoyed going to this fun event.

In fact, last year was the best ever.

Just amazing. There were tons of people there. We were all excited to see the new players for the first time in the flesh, so to speak.

I borrowed a very expensive lens from a friend, and dragged my (camera) baby, a monopole, and assorted other lens with me.

Well, truth be told, I probably didn't lug all this stuff myself. My friend Nancy agreed to go with me, and if my time-honored tradition of not carrying heavy objects myself held true, she probably ended up carrying the lion's share of the heavy stuff.

But I can promise you, I carried my baby.

I was all geeked to shoot real football for the first time, so we got there early and I positioned myself for the best view -- taking into account the sun and angles.

Then managed to miss capturing every single touchdown pass, and there were a LOT of them.

I got great photos of the fans, the flags, the team warming up, individual players and coaches, former players and coaches. I got great photos of just about everything EXCEPT the shots I really wanted -- those great catches in the end zone.

In fact, as I looked through my shots -- time after time -- it got to be a running joke.

And yup, the joke was on me, the former sports reporter.

In a past life, I took pride in being a pretty good football reporter (yes, as a girl!), but apparently, that didn't extend to being a pretty good football action photographer (as an old goat).

I suppose I could go back on April 17 and try again, but to be honest, I just am not all that excited about it this year.

Maybe it's post-dad dying syndrome or something. He and I went to many of the games together.

Or, maybe it's a carry-over from two consecutive years of no bowl games.

But when it came down to making a choice of how to spend April 17, I chose to enter a dog show instead.

I've enjoying showing little Driver and I'm still, of course, chasing a couple more group placements at the UKC shows.

Call them the pre-game shows before we head into the real season -- AKC shows later this spring, summer and fall.

But don't let me stop you from attending the spring game. Stadium gates open at 10 a.m. There's an alumni flag football game at 11 a.m. and the real fun begins at 1 p.m.

Go to www.mgoblue.com for all the details as there's stuff the night before and early in the morning on April 17.

So, have fun and Go Blue!

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Thursday, April 8, 2010

April 8 - Lisa's Musings (On Puppy Fear Periods) and Every Day Life

My brave and darling puppy is going through a fear period.

What this means is every noise, every bump in the night, every gust of wind is a bad, bad thing.

I knew it would happen eventually -- all puppies go through this stage at one point or another in their life.

Sometimes its lasts a couple days; other times a week or more.

And during these fear periods, it's scary times for pups.

And a pain for their owners.

Because everything that was once fine and dandy becomes The Boggy man in disguise.

Driver's fear period started last Saturday. Quite unexpectedly, actually.

But these growing up stages creep up on you without the background music that gives you a warning that bad things are about to happen.

Like in the movies.

And once I realized why he was tucking tail and clinging to me like ivy on the side of the house, I rationally attempted to assess the situation.

I concluded that the only thing that was different in the house was my new hanging baskets on the three-season porch.

If you remember, it was a bit windy last Saturday and I figured that adding those new baskets combined with the wind gusts, was the culprit.

So I closed the doors to the three-season porch in an effort to calm his frantic heartbeat while he was curled up in as small a ball as he could make himself and still breathe -- while in my lap.

Eventually, he calmed down and took a nap -- in my lap -- all 40 pounds of him.

And eventually, of course, I needed to get up.

Apparently, enough time had passed and all seemed to be right with the world.

But I hadn't closed the doors to the three-season porch firmly enough, and when I sat back down, the wind blew them open, which prompted yet another dash to my lap, heart racing, puppy clinging to as much of my body as he could.

Now, I want my dogs to think of me as their safe zone. As the one thing in their lives that will never hurt them.

I can always be counted on to be their super hero; no bad things can happen to them when I'm close by.

Of course, should they stray too far from me and something kinda yucky happens because of it, this then reinforces my Cat Woman status to them.

And this is good.

But as the week's progressed, and the wind has managed to slam doors and knock things off counters because I've had the windows open. So this has served to reinforce that wind is bad.

It does scary things in the house and subsequently, when it blows, Driver has been constantly underfoot.

Or in my lap.

And, it's become rather extreme. If the wind's blowing, he doesn't even want to step foot into his domain -- his dog yard. To go potty.

Not for love or money. Or even a dog treat.

Unless I go with him. And even then, the decision is marginally, just kinda, the right one for a few nanosecond.

But I expect this too shall pass -- once the wind calms down.

And all will be right with the world once again.

I wonder if he'll still curl up in my lap for a dog nap?

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

April 7 - Lisa's Musings (on carrying heavy stuff) and Every Day Life













There's nothing like personally trying something to really ram it home.

Today, after a lovely lunch at Common Grill catching up with a former newsy co-worker, I headed to the Chelsea fire station for a story.

Originally, I thought it would be an easy, two phone call deal, but the chief asked me to come to the firehouse to speak to him personally about it instead.

So I did.

And, if you've been reading this blog for a while, you know I have nothing but the utmost respect for my fire department.

I know, I know, it's the Chelsea Area Fire Authority, but, for the purposes of this blog, department it shall be.

Knowing most of the guys at the fire house and having seen them in action on numerous occasions, it's one of the many things that gives me peace of mind every night.

I don't want to give away the gist of the story but I had NO idea that these guys carry 75 pounds of stuff on their backs. Think about that. The gear, hats, masks and air tanks they wear are heavy.


Really heavy.


I guess in all my fire coverage, it never occurred to me how heavy.

Now I know.

Especially when I attempted to pick up an almost 100-pound bag that was filled with fire hose. Of course, I had no idea it weighed that much. On the outside, it didn't look that heavy.

But looks can be deceiving.

Even the air tanks they wear on their backs aren't like picking up a plastic bag overfilled with canned goods.

These babies are heavy, too.

And those bags they arrive with when out on a medical call?

They weight between 50-75 pounds.

Yikes.

Think about tromping up a couple flights of stairs carrying 50-75 pounds, adrenalin racing because there's a person in trouble.

Now I know that pumping adrenalin can give people super powers because I actually moved a car one time in this state, but, I wasn't wearing 75 pounds of stuff and carrying another 100 pounds.

And I was 30 years younger.

Today, just attempting to lift some of that stuff off the ground was a struggle.

And these guys carry some of this stuff multiple times a day.

So next time you see a fire truck with its bells and sirens whirling, thank your lucky stars that these guys can carry this stuff and please pull over and get out of their way.

It's a weighty job.

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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

April 6 - Lisa's Musings (on tempting fate) and Every Day Life

You know what they say about being careful what you wish for?

Or ala "The Secret" think carefully about what thoughts you put out into the universe?

Well, consider me convinced.

I believe. I believe. OK?

Not gonna happen again.

If you recall, yesterday afternoon, I whined about having to cover an Ann Arbor City Council meeting because these meetings take forever, and the stories I plan to cover usually don't happen.

That'll teach me.

Last night's council meeting was the second longest meeting I've sat through in more than 30 years in this business, and truth be told, I didn't even stay until the bitter end.

But don't tell my editor.

Everyone was so tired near the end of the meeting that the council members didn't even know what they were voting on. One item needed three tries before everyone was on the same (and correct)page.

OK, so I left at about 2 a.m. and didn't get home until close to 2:30 because ... I then had to navigate violent weather -- wild thunderstorms complete with hail.

And I pretty much blame myself. I put this thought out there, and by golly, it smacked me across the face.

Hard.

Brutally hard.

This meeting was second only to a Dexter Township Planning Commission meeting about 10 years ago when there was a gas station proposal for a site at the corner of North Territorial and Dexter Pinckney Road.

OMG!

Almost 90 people spoke at a public hearing about a development called The Moravian near Fingerle Lumber in the Germantown neighborhood near downtown Ann Arbor.

And pretty much all of them took their precious three minutes in front of the cameras.

Now, I have nothing against public hearings. I'm all for residents having their say, but gez, oh Pete, after the first five people, the speakers started repeating the same thoughts, (sometimes using different words, most times not), over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.

Reader's Digest version: The opponents said the building was too big and didn't fit the neighborhood. The proponents disagreed and said they wanted more affordable housing for young professionals near the downtown.

Everyone agreed the project wasn't perfect; but what, besides a few rainbows in life, are perfect?

Someone can find something to complain about no matter what life has to offer.

But, by speaker 60-something, my brain was full, I quit writing -- except to log the next talking head.

Round about midnight, I could not stand it any more -- I had to get up and stretch every part of my aching body.

Did I mention that the seats in Ann Arbor City Hall are like old-fashioned wooden church pews?

The benches in The Big House are more comfortable. And I'm not one of those people who brings a seat cushion to a game.

But let me tell you, I'm thinking about buying one for City Council meetings.

The developer, who has been working on this project for five years, said he'd jumped through every hoop the city put in front of him, and made changes to the building based on resident comments. He reminded the city leaders that when the process began, he asked them exactly what they wanted and complied.

And THEN after a break, a few more public hearings, and a few other items... the council got its say on the proposal ... and asked questions and ...

The project was rejected.

So, the moral of the story is ... it didn't have a happy ending, except perhaps for the residents in the neighborhood, who dodged a bullet.

But I've been doing this a long time.

It ain't over yet.

Stay tuned.

There's either a lawsuit or another proposal on the horizon.

Oh and that corn field in Dexter Township? It's still a corn field.

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Monday, April 5, 2010

April 5 - Lisa's Musings (on This and That) and Every Day Life

It's an Ann Arbor City Council night, which means a long ass night for me.

There's an 8-page agenda, and if I had to guess, a good number of those items will be postponed, but not without a long debate, this IS the Ann Arbor City Council we're taking about here.

And, chances are, those items will be the ones about which I'd planned to do stories.

And the stuff that none of my readers care much about -- that's the stuff that comes first and the items that will drag on and on and on.

It never fails.

But I'm reading a pretty good book, and I'll bring it so I can pass the time doing something productive. Then try to read it without looking like I'm reading it.

Truth be told, if I knew ahead of time which items the city council would take action on -- and by that I mean NOT postponing them -- and which ones they wouldn't, I'd probably skip half the meetings.

But, I can never predict what might show up on the agenda at the last minute -- after I've already left for the meeting, of course. Or, what will cause a buzz and what won't, I'll be heading to Ann Arbor tonight.

It will be a lovely drive and I'll try not to think about missing "Dancing With the Stars" and "Castle." Grrr.

That said, I learned five interesting things from the Old Farmer's Almanac calendar today.

Did you know that:

1. Removing all unnecessary items from your car reduces the weight and increases your gas mileage? With gas prices going up again this is a cool tip.

2. Tuesday is a last quarter moon.

3. An earthworm can aerate about a 1/2 a pound of soil per day. Now, that's a busy bug.

4. If you want a light consistency when making a cake, be sure to cream the butter and sugar thoroughly.

5. And my favorite -- because I am directionally challenged and I've adapted T. Morris Longstreth's words for me: "Of course I'm not lost. I was merely where I shouldn't have been without knowing where that was."

(What he wrote was "Of course we weren't lost. We were merely where we shouldn't have been without knowing where that was.")

Unfortunately, I've been to plenty of Ann Arbor City Council meetings so I can't say I got lost and missed it.

But, I won't miss the last quarter moon Tuesday night and I'll leave the earthworms alone to their digging next time I'm doing some digging of my own.

And, I'll bet that my next cake will be lighter than ever before, so, for a Monday, what more can you ask for?

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Sunday, April 4, 2010

April 4 - Lisa's Musings (on Easter) and Every Day Life


Driver wanted to share his gift from the Easter Bunny with everyone.

The way I look at Easter is -- if Polly's is closed (and I found out the hard way when I headed there to pick up something I forgot yesterday), then I don't need to work, either.

Sorry CVS employees. I know you were working.

Happy Easter, everyone.

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Saturday, April 3, 2010

April 3 - Lisa's Musings (on the three-season porch) and Every Day Life




The three-season porch is my favorite room in this house.

It's not fancy, but it does have overhead lights so once the weather breaks, I can head out there and flop on the coach and chill -- day or night.

It has a ceiling fan, too, so if it gets stuffy outside, I can flip a switch and have a nice breeze overhead.

The former owner of this house thought of everything when it came to this room.

In fact, I've even "camped out" there overnight a few times. Just for fun.

The three-season porch is a space where once I cross the threshold, my whole body immediately relaxes.

I can suck in the fresh air and gaze out across my kingdom and remind myself of why I work as hard as I do. To own this house on this wonderful property.

So, when the temperatures begin to rise, you can usually find me sitting out there, cup of Dunkin' Donuts coffee in hand, reading, clearing my mind, watching the deer herd or the ground hogs.

It's that kind of space.

Friday, I swept the floor, got rid of the cobwebs, sucked up a ton of those biting Lady Bug impersonators in the dust buster (and took them outside to be free), and gave the room it's annual spring cleaning.

Trashed were last year's hanging baskets, which had nothing but dirt and dead twigs.

I brought out a colorful comforter to cover the couch, and then read for a few hours.

Today, I hit the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market and bought the first of the new flowers that will add color to my special place, and put a smile on my face each time to head out there.

Looks pretty cool, huh?

But I'm not the only one who likes this room. The dogs like nothing better than hanging out in it with me, sometimes barking at the deer and squirrels and keeping watch over their domain.

In fact, now that I've started going out there again, the annual spring morning routine has resumed.

As soon as Ryan's finished his breakfast, he scratches at the three-season porch doors so I'll open them up and he can take his morning nap outside.

I've had people ask me why I don't take my laptop out there and work, but it's not that sort of space.

It's my "Lisa Cave."

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Friday, April 2, 2010

April 2 - Lisa's Musings (about Face Book pages) and Every Day Life

Apparently, I missed an important birthday yesterday.

Or, at least that's what the Facebook page "Glenn E. "Bo" Schembechler -- The Consummate Wolverine" says.

The page had 1,626 members as of this morning, but I only joined a few days ago, so I'm not sure where I stand in the mix, and I guess I wasn't paying close enough attention to the page's updates, so I missed adding my cyber birthday wishes.

I'll make a note for next year.

Actually, I get a lot of page requests -- this social media thing is like kudzu.

Some page or cause requests I accept; others I ignore.

And some I've been known to join by accident because I wasn't paying attention -- like Florida Bartenders. After I accepted, I couldn't figure out how to un-accept, and it grabbed the attention of some of my Facebook "friends."

They wanted to know if I was planning a mid-life change of careers.

It's always good to have a Plan B, don't you think?

Hard as I try, all these new things, especially social media things, are confusing.

There seems to be a Facebook Page for just about everything these days from photos of Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers to Michigan sports to, well, you name it.

If I wanted to, I could probably spend a week sifting through all the Facebook Pages out there in cyberspace.

Or is it Googleland?

I guess anyone can start a Facebook Page about anything.

I got a request for a page for classy ladies who like to say f***. I didn't join, but I know which of my Facebook Friends did.

I thought about it, really I did.

By my publisher is on Facebook, and we're friends. Facebook keeps track of these things and let's all of your friends know if you've friended someone or become a fan of a page or a cause.

I'm not so sure my publisher would have been amused.

I'd start a Facebook Page for my two dogs, but then I'd have to figure out how to do yet another new thing.

And quite frankly, my brain is full -- when it comes to learning new things right now.

Especially after spending hours re-editing a video. Five times if I counted correctly, before the video was small enough to be uploaded to the A2 Journal site.

You can ask my editor about my frustration level because I called her and told her: And I quote, "As my editor, you've earned the honor of hearing me bitch about ..." but she's a really good sport about this kind of stuff.

She reminded me that it would get easier the more I do it.

Yeah, right ... it's been how many weeks now and STILL the video part of this new social media stuff is kicking my butt.

But I have a plan.

In addition to reading "What Would Google Do?" I have another book titled, "Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard."

I plan to sprawl out on the couch on my three-season porch in a few minutes with a fresh cup of coffee, enjoy the weather and start reading.

Change is good, right?

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Thursday, April 1, 2010

April 1 - Lisa's Musings on (All *You) and Every Day Life



I decided to try something new.

After I was sent a letter from a non-profit group offering magazines at a discounted rate, I bit.

The offer said I could pick four magazines for a varying number of issues depending on the title for $40.

And, the non-profit got a donation to boot.

Since I'm very familiar with trying to up the ante on magazine circulation numbers since I'm the editor of I Love Cats magazine, I decided to help sister publications.

Or, maybe they're cousins? I'm not very good at this family tree stuff.

As I perused the list, I found the one pictured above, thought the title sounded kind of interesting and gave it a nod.

Well, my first issue of all*you came last week, and I recently had a chance to flip through it.

It's like USA Today - only better.

It's fun and colorful and there are all sorts of informational snippets.

In fact, every page that doesn't have an ad -- and some that do -- are filled with terrific tidbits.

There are all kinds of coupons and great suggestions.

Each page is like an Easter basket full of treasures that can be quickly nibbled.

Fresh and hip, all*you is just what busy women need in this hectic-paced world we find ourselves trying to navigate.

Readers don't have to flip a page to get to the end of a Mac-story nugget.

It's crisp and concise, easily consumed in snack-sized portions.

I can't wait to try frozen banana 'custard' with warm chocolate sauce and mini frittatas -- both recipes look really good with costs per serving of 78 cents and $1.74 respectively.

How DO they figure out these things, anyway?

Your self, Your health, Your world, Your home.

My kind of magazine.

And that's no April Fool's joke.

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