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.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

July 31 - Lisa's Musings (on farm fresh meals) and Every Day Life

Every morsel of today's lunch was locally grown and farm fresh.

Even the shrimp burgers ... yes, locally grown shrimp. You can find them at the Thursday Westside Farmers' Market.

Please note all the pretty colors of vegetables that were steamed; they got the attention of the two four-legged chef's helpers as well.

And yes, I ate some of every one -- from beets to kohlrabi. And I don't even know what kohlrabi is ... There was also some mystery root thing that neither Nancy nor I could identify, but it was consumed, too.

The veggies came from three different farmers and the multi-colored "super" carrots were grown by interns at Food Gatherers.

So, I'm proud to say that my quest to eat more vegetables by buying a share in a CSA, actually, I bought a share in two, is working. And I'm even supplementing them. I can't tell you how many ears of corn on the cob I've eaten this year. As meals.

And for dessert?

Come on, there has to be a prize for eating my vegetables, right? Homemade Angel Food Cake with fresh sliced peaches. Also purchased at the Ann Arbor Farmers' Market.

Does it get any better than that?

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Friday, July 30, 2010

July 30 - Lisa's Musings (on supporting local businesses) and Every Day Life

I love my local businesses.

Let me repeat this, a little more slowly - I Love My Local Businesses.

And during the last few weeks I've done my part to keep them in business.

First, it was the replacement of four major appliances and the addition of a fifth from Heydlauff's in downtown Chelsea.

For those who might have missed it, Mark Heydlauff came to my house to make sure that what I'd picked out not only was correct for its individual power source but also that it fit in its special space.

As Murphy's Law would have it, the day the appliances arrived, I lost power for 24 hours and still haven't had a chance to read all the instruction books, but, I've got the general hang of how to use most of them anyway.

Today, my hat's off to Village Motors.

I noticed Sunday that my van had developed a vibration, and so did my friend, who could feel it on the passenger side as well. I kinda laughed it off saying, I feel like a NASCAR driver, "(fill in the name of your favorite driver's crew chief)I've got a vibration."

But I had a very busy week and the shaking kinda came and went until Wednesday afternoon when I drove on the highway going 70 mph.

Then, I REALLY felt it.

But Thursday I had to be at an editorial meeting and had a couple assignments lined up, so it wasn't until this morning that I called Village Motors and explained the situation.

I was told they were slammed with business, but I could bring it down and have one of the mechanics take a look.

So, someone will tell me that the van won't blow up until you can get to it, I asked.

I was assured that this would happen.

So, with grocery list in hand, (Polly's is right next door), I headed to the car dealer.

The moment I arrived, Chad took care of me, and a very nice mechanic hopped in the passenger side of the van and we headed for a little drive -- so he could feel the vibration, too.

It didn't take long.

In fact, once he felt it, I looked over at him and his face looked like it had lost a little color.

When the shaking and the odd noise became more and more obvious, he got paler and paler.

As we were headed back, he told me it was a bad ball bearing.

So this is bad, I asked.

Very bad, he said.

I forgot to ask what a ball bearing did, or what would happen if it broke completely, but I got the distinct impression that he was very relieved when we were parked at the dealer.

Maybe it was because he quickly hopped out of the van and I'm not positive, but I think I heard him whisper a few Hail Mary's as he headed to safety.

By the time I got inside the service center, Chad explained that the van wasn't going anywhere -- not even to Polly's right up the hill.

In fact, he kinda grabbed the keys out of my hand, in a nice way, of course, and told me it was a safety issue.

That's not good.

But then the bad news: they might get to it today, or maybe tomorrow, but probably not until Monday.


During our test drive, I'd told the nice mechanic I was a reporter and I had a bunch of assignments this weekend, and my editor wasn't going to be pleased when I told her I was grounded for the weekend.

I think almost felt sorry for me.

Norm, the nice person who drives people to and from their homes if their vehicles are in for service, took me home.

I settled in to write a story and maybe an hour or so later, the phone rang and it was Chad from Village Motors -- my van was fixed.


Oh, and Norm would be coming to pick me up after he came back from lunch. Then a second phone call -- Norm was en route.

talk about awesome customer service. No wonder they're busy, busy, busy.

I personally thanked everyone in the entire dealership for getting me back on the road. Then I found the mechanic and said while bowing reverently, "This is your world and I'm just a visitor."

I love my local businesses.

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Lisa's Musings (on National Lasagna Day, bed bugs) and Every Day Life

Garfield would be proud.

Bet you didn't know that today is National Lasagna Day, but after yesterday's foray into 16 different types of chocolate delights, I think I'll pass.

I feel hungover, so I'm blaming the chocolate, since I didn't have a drink.

But it you can find a BRAVO! Cucina Italiana or a BRIO Tuscan Grille (Caps come from the press release, really) in your neck of the woods, lasagna's half-price today for dine-in only customers for either lunch or dinner.

Do we even have either of those restaurants in the area? I don't eat out much, but I've never heard of either of them.

And in other not-so silly, news, apparently, the bed bugs are biting and biting hard in New York City. So hard in fact that Bedbug Central is having a buggy ole time providing up-to-the-minute information to people who are being invaded by these pests.

There's even a press conference at 2 p.m. today at City Hall set up through the New York Mayor's Office and the NYC Bed Bug Advisory Board (ya gotta love it) to discuss "New York's new bed bug public education initiative."

Yup, makes me really want to hop on a plane and head to New York City, which is close to where I grew up, to check it out.

You may insert your own joke here, but from what I've been told, bed bugs are no laughing matter and entomologists are having a field day figuring out how to manage this growing pest problem.

Like there aren't enough rats and pigeons in New York City to deal with, now bed bugs? So, I'm guessing here, but if there is such thing as a bed bug epidemic, apparently, New York's in the midst of one.

And, if you are so included, you can go to and get all the information you care to access, but perhaps were afraid to ask in polite adult company.

So folks, be thankful tonight when you turn down those sheets, that Michigan may be suffering from a lot of bad things, but at least from what I know, a bed bug infestation, isn't one of them.

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

July 28 - Lisa's Musings (on judging a chocolate chip creation contest) and Every Day Life

I may never eat chocolate again.

Today, Peggy Haines and I were judges for the 4-H Youth Show Creative Chocolate Chip Contest.

Last year, when I suggested the idea, it seemed like a good one. But after taste testing 16 delicious chocolate chip creations made by Washtenaw County 4-H members, I've had my fill of chocolate.

Maybe for life.

Truth be told, I'm not a choc-o-holic and if someone told me I could never have another piece of chocolate for the rest of my life, I'd be fine with it.

Unlike Peggy who admitted she was a huge chocolate fan.

Me, I'd much rather have a mint.

But I must say this group of 4-Hers out did themselves. I tried chocolate chip pancakes for the first time. I had chocolate chip PB and J made with raspberry jam. There was zucchini and pumpkin bread with those delicious chips adding a tasty zest.

Both Peggy and I were blown away by the creativity of using chocolate chips to make a hedgehog cake.

The biggest surprise, however, was only one youth made the obvious -- chocolate chip cookies. There were bars and cakes, truffles and ice cream. Sixteen different concoctions in all.

And, apparently, there's an art to judging a contest comprised of sweets. Small tastes.

Something I failed to realize until it was too late.

So by the time I got to the last entry, eating another chocolate bite was a matter of mind over stuffed tummy.

But when I heard the child who made that last entry say to his friend, the judges will taste mine next, I was reminded of the importance of putting on a happy face.

And while I finish digesting this year's recipes, I'm already looking forward to next year.

Looks like it'll be sandwiches. Hold the mayo, please.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

July 27 - Lisa's Musings on (a Harris Poll about cooking) and Every Day Life

A new Harris Poll says three in 10 Americans love to cook, and "for many Americans there is that one dish that is their signature one or the one they dream of perfecting."

One I'd like to perfect is a souffle. So maybe I'll have better luck with my new oven.

The poll, which consisted of about 2,500 respondents who were surveyed online, found that four in five Americans, or 79 percent, say they enjoy cooking.

I'd put myself in that category on the rare occasion that I have the time to create something fun. With lots of ingredients. However, that doesn't happen very often.

Interestingly, men are more likely to say they like cooking than women ... perhaps because they don't have to make three meals a day for a family?

Humm, I wonder what industry this poll was commissioned for...a new cooking channel perhaps? That information wasn't included.

However, this information was ... "considering the proliferation of cooking channels and cooking shows, one might expect more people to actually say they love to cook. Maybe this is one of those times where people enjoy watching others do what they themselves cannot do or do not like to do."

I watch several cooking shows but I can honestly say I've never tried cooking anything that the chefs prepare.

Tomorrow, however, I'll be a judge for a food contest. And the chefs? 4-H kids who will be making recipes that must contain chocolate chips.

Perhaps I'll borrow a recipe or three from them.

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Monday, July 26, 2010

July 26 - Lisa's Musings (from the 4-H Youth Show) and Every Day Life

This is one of my favorite weeks of the year.

It's Washtenaw County 4-H Youth Show Week at the Farm Council Grounds and I was honored to judge the club educational exhibits today.

OK, so, I'll admit it, that was after I got there.

It was a tough one getting up early for the third consecutive day. I was still tired (and sore) after two days of dog shows during the weekend. But once I got moving (thank you three Advil and two cups of coffee) and the aches and pains subsided, I started having fun.

I want to give two thumb's up to all the 4-Her's. There were some really clever exhibits this year and judging with former County Extension Agent Glenda Kilpatrick was a blast.

This wasn't the first time I've judged these exhibits so I knew what was in store, (a long day on my feet with already tired legs) but it's always nice to be surprised by the creative efforts of tomorrow's leaders.

So, If you have a minute, take a look at the video I uploaded earlier this evening. It was shot by my terrific intern who is heading into her last week working for the A2 Journal. I'm going off topic here, but I'm sure gonna miss her. We've tag-teamed more than one story this month and it's been fun to offer my insight into this crazy business we call newspapering.

This video, story, photo effort from today's judging is just one of the stories we've gone out together to cover.

And, of course, I couldn't resist the cow photos.

Moo to you.

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

July 25 - Lisa's Musings (from a dog show) and Every Day Life

I'm exhausted.

Between weekend company, dealing with no power, two days of dog shows, figuring out how to use the new appliances, and trying to get my home back into some semblance of order, it's 8:15 p.m. and I'm ready for bed.

So first, the dog shows. Saturday, it didn't go very well for either Ryan or Driver. Today, however, we finished with a bang.

Make that a Best In Show.

Yes, Ryan, with my friend Nancy at the end of the lead, finished his alter championship today by not only beating another Toller (so he got a point and will be invited to the big UKC dog show called The Premiere next year) but also going out with a Best In Show Altered.

So, let's recap, this is the first dog that Nancy's ever shown in the stand-and-eat-food ring and she got his championship by taking two Runner-Up Best in Shows and a Best in Show.

Not too shabby, eh?

Driver, who pretty much went along for the ride, since she's already a championship, also beat another Toller so he got a point and will get an invitation to The Premiere next year.

In addition, he took a Group 2 -- his best group placement to date, as well as a Group 4.

So, all in all, today definitely trumped yesterday and not just in the dog show arena.

I've gained a new appreciation for electricity now that the power's back, and I've tried out the oven, the dish washer and the washing machine.

Still to go are the dryer and the freezer.

Now I need to deal with all the food that will have to be tossed out.

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Results of our recent online polls

Results of our recent online polls:
How do watch newer movies at home:
39 percent: NetFlix or Blockbuster by mail
29 percent: Pay-per-view on cable
23 percent: Traditional movie rentals
10 percent: Watch on premium cable channels

Do you think summer will be:
63 percent: Hotter than normal
25 percent: End much too soon
12 percent: Quite normal
0 percent: Cooler than normal

When mowing the lawn, do you:
78 percent: Do it yourself
11 percent: Get a family member to do it
8 percent: Hire a service
3 percent: Pay a neighbor

How do fireworks figure into your Fourth of July celebration:
47 percent: Neither, not into fireworks
32 percent: Go watch professional fireworks show
13 percent: Some of both
8 percent: Do-it-yourself backyard fireworks


Saturday, July 24, 2010

July 24 - Lisa's Musings (on not having electricity for 24 hours) and Every Day Life

I almost broke my streak of 300-plus consecutive blogging posts today. And had it happened, it would have been Mother Nature's fault, not mine.

At 5:59 Friday night, the lights went out, and it was 24 hours before they came back on.

That's 24 hours without air conditioning, water, lights ... it was ugly.

I do not rough it well. Especially without hot coffee.

This was the first time that the lights have been out for more than a few hours since I moved to this house more than 10 years ago. The last time was when Richard Hatch won the first "Survivor," and I missed it. I was not pleased.

So, as you know, I got five new appliances yesterday and thanks to a nasty storm that came through here, I was not able to use them.

So, picture this ... I have company here from out of town to show at the dog show in Ann Arbor this weekend. She arrives with two dogs and within two hours, we have no electricity. No shower. No water. No air conditioning. No way to make food for dinner.

In the meantime, my friend Nancy was already without power and I invited her here so she could do her wash -- in the new washer and dryer. Well, right after she arrived, the storms came in, the place went dark.

We now had five dogs here, and miracle of miracles, none of them had any storm fears, which is a good thing, because we all headed to the three-season porch to watch Mother Nature's light show, and what an amazing one it was.

We survived that night -- thanks to some high-powered flashlights, open windows and a nice breeze.

And today, in the dark, we got ready and headed to the Ann Arbor Dog Training Club where my friend had a great day -- finishing her flat-coated retriever's championship with two group placements.

And where neither of my dogs did a darn thing.

But the good news ... at about 6 p.m. tonight -- there was light.

And I got to give my new dishwasher a whirl.

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Friday, July 23, 2010

July 23 - Lisa's Musings (on new appliances) and Every Day Life

They're here!

All five new appliances have arrived and in two hours they were installed.

Now, just a "wee" bit of light reading so I don't break them the first time I try to use them, and I'll be ready to use them.

I hope.

I have a friend from Ft. Wayne staying here and she took these photos for me while I quickly wrote this between storms.

Storms, seriously, again?

Tomorrow, we all head to a dog show at the Ann Arbor Dog Training Club on North Territorial if anyone would like to come root us on.

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

July 22 - Lisa's Musings (on this and that) and Every Day Life

I admit it, I've let my pictures do my blog "writing" for me for most of the week.

And with the week I've had, I wish I had more photos I really liked, because I'd do it again.

The Townie Party, pre-art fairs, art fairs -- it's been a brutal week for me.

Tuesday, I realized how behind I was already was in my usual story-filing schedule, and now it's Thursday and it's even worse. The stories keep piling up (Sorry everyone who is waiting) and I just haven't had the time to sit down and write them. (Sorry Michelle, my editor).

Most of my waking hours have been spent in Ann Arbor and by the time I get home and write what I've covered, edit all the photos and write cutlines for them, blog, Tweat, Facebook, edit and upload video ... it's 10 p.m. and I'm so tired, I'm toast and head to bed.

The nice thing is, art fairs only happen once a year.

But next week is the 4-H Youth Show. And I'm judging on two days.

So deep breaths, and lots of coffee -- I'm switching back and forth between my two new mugs.

Something good from art fairs.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

July 21 - Lisa's Musings (on Art Fairs) and Every Day Life

I survived the first day of art fairs.

And in addition, I broke my non-buying streak, and came home with not one, but two, items.


Neither were fine art or anything artsy-fartsy. I didn't go that far, but I did see a lot of people who did.

And that's why these 1,000 artists keep coming back. I heard over and over they do this show because people here appreciate art, understand its value, and are willing to fork out the money to take it home.

Besides, who doesn't love art (or chicken) on a stick?

So, both my purchases were functional -- items that can be washed in the new dishwasher that arrives Friday. Care to guess what I bought?

I am the proud owner of two new coffee mugs. One's bright red with black specks and has a really cool looking handle. It was made by Jason Parsley of Cincinnati, Ohio and Parsley Pottery. He was on Main Street, near the art fair bus stop.

The first one I bought came all the way from Spring Hill, Fla. and the hands of Marshall Lanz. It's brightly colored -- oranges and greens and has this neat-looking frog on it. His booth was on State Street.

Frogs seem to be big this year, as one artist said, "Who doesn't love a frog?"

In addition, I know what I'll purchase next year. A piggy bank. I could not believe how many different sizes, shapes, and colors of piggy banks there were.

Every year, I look at them and say I've always wanted one of these.

Next year, I'll fulfill my dream.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

July 20 - Lisa's Musings (on the day before art fairs) and Every Day Life

Well, it's here. The week that Ann Arborites either love or hate.

And I was in the thick of the pre-art fair preparations this morning, interrupting a number of artists who were setting up their booths.

The nice part -- they were more than willing to take a few minutes to chat, even without a sale on the line. And all of them seemed genuinely excited for tomorrow to arrive.

The artists I spoke to had nothing but positive things to say about Ann Arbor's Art Fairs -- including the diverse patrons, the friendliness of the town, the professionalism of organizers.

So, for those of you who plan to go, (or not) here's a look at the what it looked like today.

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Monday, July 19, 2010

July 19 - Lisa's Musings (on the Townie Party in photos) and Every Day Life

Here's a look at tonight's annual Townie Street Party in photos.

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