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.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sept. 28 - Lisa's Musings (on teeth) and Every Day Life

Yikes ... tomorrow will forever be known in my life as a red letter day of a different sort.

I'm calling it "New Chomper's Day."

At 11 a.m., I will be in the dentist's chair saying goodbye to my old, rotted teeth and hello to my new fake ones. And hopefully, I will be totally unaware of the changing of the chomper's guard as I am hoping that I'll be happily in la-la land.

And be totally oblivious to the whole thing. Wake me up when it's all over.

Yup -- 52 years old and I will have top dentures. Not too sure how I feel about that but it's time and I can blame my dad for his part in my horrible, usually painful teeth.

He suffered from the same bad teeth syndrome.

So, I'm busying myself writing away today so I don't think too much about it. I'm covering a meeting tonight in Chelsea and plan to come home and write the stories, then take a modern pharmaceutical that will relax my mind and let me sleep through the night.

I've been having nightmares that include, but are not limited to, my new teeth landing in someones lap, talking and sounding like I have a serious speech impediment, and the dentures looking like something out of a bad Halloween costume.

Now, rationally, I know none of the above will happen, but ... it's hard to control a subconscious reaction to the unknown.

On the flip side, I'm excited for the chance to eat things like granola bars and steak and other crunchy and chewable foods that I've avoided for so many years.

I hope to blog tomorrow about the experience, but that depends on how I feel.

So forgive me if I miss blogging for the first time since I started this adventure more than 360-some blogs ago.

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Sept. 27 - Lisa's Musings (on Monarch Butterflies) and Every Day Life

There was a great story in Sunday's Detroit Free Press (via The Grand Rapids Press) about a family in Jenison, Mich., who have made a business out of raising Monarch Butterflies.

I want to do that. How hard could raising butterflies be? Although I'm not quite sure how much it would cost to feed them.

OK, so the story says the family spent 3-4 hours a day "cleaning out caterpillar pens, watering plants and (maintaining) the nectar stations," in July and August. This must be peak butterfly season.

I admit, I don't know jack about butterflies -- other than they're pretty.

The Ward family raised the monarchs from egg to butterfly and even found a pair of white monarchs in the bunch. Apparently, the white ones are super rare.

So, how do you think they know which ones are the girls and which ones are the boys? Maybe their markings give them away?

Ever since that butterfly landed on me when I was having such a rotten day, I've been a big fan of these bright orange and black butterflies.

How cool would it to raise some of my own in the backyard?


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sept. 26, Lisa's Musings (on the AA Sunday Artisan's Market) and Every Day Life

I write about the different artists at the Sunday Ann Arbor Artisans' Market every week. I've done so since the start of the A2 Journal.

I love these artisans and they make incredibly different, fun, and beautiful pieces. From candles to baskets to wood products.

There are fiber pieces and bird houses, paintings, glasswork and clothing of all sorts.

Photography, paintings, pastels, dolls, puzzles and pottery -- the list goes on and on.

I don't understand why more people don't take a trip there to check out the amazing creativity of these artists. It's every Sunday folks and parking's free.

It's kinda sad because this is the perfect place to find a one-of-a-kind gift for any occasion. I know, I've found delightful gifts in every price range for those hard-to-buy-for people in my your life.

These pictures are just a few of the artists who are there each Sunday. Hopefully, you've already seen and read about many of the others who sell their work there.

And I hope as we head toward the holidays that you will take a trip to Ann Arbor and support these local artists and their amazing handcrafted work.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Sept. 25 - Lisa's Musings (on rabbit shows) and Every Day Life

It’s been a very long time since I’ve been to a rabbit show.

In another life, I raised and showed Holland Lop rabbits. In fact, I was one of the top breeders in the country and flew them to specialty and national shows all across the USA.

So it was fun to go to the Ann Arbor Rabbit Breeder’s Show at the Farm Council Grounds today. And see judges I hadn’t seen in many, many moons.

The last time I attended this club’s show, it was held in the summer and was a midnight madness show, which started in the evening and continued into the wee hours of the morning.

I drove all the way from Virginia to Ann Arbor because it was the last points show of the season, and I was running national points with my rabbits that year.

I remember it well. It was hot, hot, hot and my rabbits got their cute little butts kicked. Needless to say, it was a long drive back to Virginia without the points I needed to move any of my rabbits up in the point standings.

But, that was a long time ago.

Today, it was all about taking photos and talking to club members for a story. And it brought back some fun memories.

It was great to see those cute little Holland Lop rabbits I spent so many years raising, enjoying and showing. And the good news was the faults I'd worked so hard to breed out of my Holland lines were no longer a problem for today's lines.

I’m sure that in the backgrounds of some of these rabbits are the bloodlines I so carefully developed during my years in the fancy.

And it made me smile.

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Sept. 24 - Lisa's Musings (on leaving) and Every Day Life

I'd planned to just say good-bye on Oct. 1. My last day.

But as more and more people find out I'm leaving the A2 Journal, I figured I better say something about it.

I've loved my time with the paper but I have two other jobs and a book to write. It came down to not enough hours in the week for work and for me.

It was high time that I won.

But I'm not really leaving for good.

I've agreed to still do some freelance writing for all the Heritage papers.

October will be mostly a month of rest and relaxation for me. I really need it.

A time to recharge my batteries (they take longer when you start getting older), a time to recover from all the oral surgery I'm about to go through to fix my teeth, and then I'll be back.

So I hope you'll enjoy another week of my daily blog and after that, ya never know, I might be back with a new blog.

Or not.

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sept. 23 - Lisa's Musings (on new teeth) and Every Day Life

Well, I've decided to just do it.

I'm finally getting new chompers. I had an appointment with a new dentist yesterday and am going for it.

I can't even type all the details because I told the dentist not to get graphic because I don't do pain or needles or blood.

What I can tell you is I will walk into the office, in a loopy, happy place, have my top teeth removed, and walk out with new 'teethies'. (Hopefully while I'm still in a happy daze).

My friend, Becca, will be by my side as she's been for many years of multiple tooth removals and root canals. She knows the drill, so to speak.

Then when I emerge from my time with marvelous modern pharmaceuticals, I'll have to figure out how to speak with the new teeth. I'm told I may sound like Tweety Bird for a while. And then there's not spitting on people while speaking to worry about as well.

I'm told it takes a while to get used to dentures.

And I'll find out soon enough.

People have been asking me if I'm scared to have all these teeth removed and yeah, I guess I am. I'm a real weanie about blood and pain. But anyone who knows what I've been through with what's left of the teeth I still have, knows the agony I've endured for years and year and years.

Or the food that I've not been able to eat because I can't chew it.

Anything that's hard or that requires real chewing has been out of the question for many, many years as I've tried to baby what's left of my teeth.

And I'm told it will be quite a while longer to find out what it's truly like to eat an almond or a steak, but find out I will.

And quite frankly, I'm looking forward to it. No matter how long it takes.

And the first hard thing I plan to eat -- a fat pretzel stick.

But in the meantime, I've stocked up on all the stuff I can eat and lots and lots of soft stuff to baby those new chompers once they're in my mouth.

I might even have some peanut brittle at Christmas.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sept. 22 - Lisa's Musings (on new rules) and Every Day Life

There's nothing meaner than a hungry reporter.

I know. I get really, really nasty when I'm starving.

Maybe it's true of people in other professions, too, but I can only speak to what I know. So, I always bring snacks (sometimes sandwiches) and other "provisions" to meetings.

I'm rarely without my mug of coffee and when that runs out, I become the queen of vending machines. Mountain Dew, anyone?

And although I've been known to grab a free snack here and there, I'll admit it, after an invitation from one of the Ann Arbor Board of Education trustees, I had a plate of dinner before the last board meeting that began at 5:30 and lasted until after 11 p.m.

So today, all the reporters who cover the AA Board of Education got this note from the board secretary.

Food - I have food available for trustees whenever there is an early meeting (5:30 pm or earlier), and meals may be provided if the meeting takes place over many hours (typically more than 3). For budgetary reasons, I typically order meals for the trustees and meeting participants (administrative staff) so I appreciate your being sensitive to that. You're more than welcome to enjoy the snacks, coffee and cold beverages that are typically available.

Length of Meeting - Breaks are an infrequent occurrence, and even though a time limit may be given, please allow me, the superintendent or another board member to gather the remaining trustees to restart the meeting.

(I think this one was directed at me because the break was supposed to be 10 minutes and after 20 minutes, I announced that I was heading out into another room to round up the troops and get the meeting restarted. I have better things to do with my night than spend it waiting around. Even if I am getting paid.) So I plead guilty to this one.

Meeting Attendance/Participation - As guests of meetings, you are requested to sit on the periphery of whatever meeting room is being used, or at the spaces designated for media. Conference table seating is reserved for trustees and those participating in the meeting itself. If warranted, and whenever possible, a meeting will be moved to a larger room in order to accommodate an overflow of guests.

OK, I'm fine with this because I always sit away from everyone else on the sidelines (by myself) wherever possible. Less germs that way.

Questions/clarification - should you need to clarify information for reporting purposes, please see me prior to or after meetings, or during break times. It's fine to ask questions of trustees before or after meetings, or during break times as time allows.

I'm good with this one, too, as I've always asked my questions at the appropriate times.

For the meetings today, please be prepared to provide your own meals; I will have water and coffee and limited snacks available for the public. We have a kitchen available with a refrigerator and microwave. Feel free to make use of the extra tables that will be in the conference room for your laptop, etc.

No problem -- not going to this meeting so ...

But "assisting in" getting those trustees back in session -- now that one I have a problem with ... guess I'll have to bring more magazines to the next meeting.

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sept. 21 - Lisa's Musings (on helping others) and Every Day Life

They say there's a sucker born every day and maybe I was one yesterday, but I'll never know.

Here's what happened, so feel free to tell me what you think.

I pulled into the Westgate Shopping Center last night to go to Staples. For, duh, office supplies.

So, as I was pulling into a parking spot, a kinda scruffy man approached my van, and I rolled down my window.

He explained that he needed $11 for a new radiator hose; that he and his friend were stranded. He was very specific to show me a wad of cash and said he wasn't a bum.

Although I have to tell you, he sure looked like he could use a shower.

He said he hadn't had a job in nine months and was down on his luck. Plus, he was recovering from a (very evident) broken jaw. I did not ask how he got it.

He also had an ace bandage wrapped around his forearm, and proceeded to pull down the bandage to show me what he described as a spider bite that had gotten infected. It looked more like a stab wound to me, but what do I know?

So, I gave him eleven bucks. He thanked me profusely and vanished. I didn't watch where he went.

The whole thing took about 5 minutes from start to finish, so I really didn't give it a lot of thought.

I just handed him my money, and to be honest, I hoped that his story was legit and that I'd done something nice for my fellow man.

So, here's what went through my head: The guy did have a wad of cash on him and he asked for $11 bucks -- not a dollar or ten dollars or could I spare some change. He had a goal to reach and I may or may not have helped him reach it.

I'll never know.

But one thing I do know is this guy was down on his luck and had definitely seen happier (and cleaner) days. And I guess if I was in trouble and had to ask perfect strangers for help, I'd like to think that someone would take pity on me.

Maybe I'm a sucker and the guy took me for a ride, but I truly believe that good deeds come back in kind.

So I ask you, what would you have done?

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Sept. 20 - Lisa's Musings (on fall) and Every Day Life

Happy Monday, everyone.

Yes, your eyes aren't deceiving you -- I'm having a fine, fine Monday.

I just love this cool weather, just two days before the official start of fall. It's my favorite, favorite, favorite time of year.

Well, OK, except for the leaf dropping thing ... that's kind of a pain, but before they flutter to the ground, they sure look pretty, so that makes the clean-up part worth it. Or at least in my book.

And, as I drive around I'm beginning to see those marvelous colors, too. Bring it on.

Pumpkins, chrysanthemums, gourds -- did I tell you about the ones I bought recently that look like different breeds of birds? They are amazingly cool.

Corn mazes. You have to love all the corn mazes that have cropped up, so to speak, in recent years in the area. I can't wait to spend a little time in them. And soon.

But for tonight, it's a trip to Ann Arbor for a city council meeting and you better believe I'll have my special rump and back saver seat cushion in place. I forgot to mention two weeks ago that it got its first real test and passed with comfy colors.

Oh, and by the way, don't tell me what happens on "Dancing With the Stars" or "Castle" tonight, I'm DRVing them to watch tomorrow.

Happy Monday, everyone. Hope it was a good one.

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sept. 19 - Lisa's Musings From Every Day Life

Sometimes a sacrifice must be made for the greater good.

I made one today, so let me explain.

There are lots and lots of trees on my property. Pines of all sorts, maples, oaks, birch, a corkscrew willow, apples, pears, cherries, ornamental something's or others and I'm sure I've missed a few. Or 50. And then there are my two favorite trees, which are Rose-of-Sharon.

Well, one of them was leaning against my expensive dog yard fence and although it bloomed like a champ this year, parts of it were rotting and although it's supposed to grow upright -- at was in such bad shape, it was growing parallel to the ground.

My friend, Becca, told me a few months ago, it needed to come out but I insisted it wasn't going anywhere.

Well, today, with my little brother here helping me clean gutters and change light bulbs and replace and rehang shower curtains, I made the fateful decision.

One of the two Rose-of-Sharons will have a new purpose in life as a nice place for little rabbits or squirrels or chipmunks or other little woodland creatures to hide under this winter. It now lines on the side of my property with the other brush that's been removed from its original location.

We tried to trim it to help it along, but branches I thought were happy, in reality were really unhappy, and I think it's profuse blooming this year was a last gasp attempt to show its appreciation for a great life.

Its cousin, or maybe its aunt or uncle -- not sure which -- got a nice branch trim and we cut out the other scrub trees that were taking away some of its sunlight.

I sure hope its not too lonely now.

But I vowed to plant it a replacement friend next year.

In the meantime, I snipped off several small branches with blooms that hadn't opened yet, stripped off some of the leaves and placed the twigs in a vase on the kitchen table in the hopes that the blooms will open.

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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Sept. 18, Lisa's Musings (on U-M football) and Every Day Life

I can now say I watched a game this year from inside the new Big House.

And, as I've gotten used to seeing it's new look from the outside, I have to say I kinda like its new look while sitting in the inside, too. Although I did so from a different vantage point than I'm used to having.

I sat with my little brother, Eric, in his seats, which were on the 30 in row 64. I'm used to sitting higher up and closer to the 50, so it was a different look. Not a bad look, just different.

And, when we left this morning, it was cool and raining so I dressed appropriately. Turtleneck, vest, sweatshirt and rain gear. We parked on Pauline in a new spot -- and paid $20. Note to self -- always choose the ones that say easy in and easy OUT. We were the second car parked and there were six behind us. The nice person who owned the home gave as instructions that we had to be back within a half hour of the end of the game ... but more on that later.

So, first we headed to Allmendinger Park to spend a little time at my dad's bench and took a few photos. Had a nearby tailgater take both of our pictures and just hung out.

Once inside the stadium -- the sun came out and it warmed up. Fast. And I started shedding layer after layer after layer until there were no more appropriate layers to be shed. Did I mention that I'm used to sitting in the shade? And I hadn't considered that we might be sitting in the sun. The rain, yeah, but not the sun.

Sad start to the game as U-M paid tribute to a true Michigan man Ron Kramer who died a week ago today. Surprisingly, there were lots of people wearing a jersey with his name on it and my brother and I decided they'd had them made specially.

So, between U-M's horrible defensive effort and sweating in a turtle neck when I'd have been fine in short sleeves, I was happy to go (Lady) Ga-Ga at half time. It was a fun and clever show. Plus a chance for me to get up and stretch.

Going into the half, the play had improved and the start of the third quarter was pretty good as well and then ... let's just say I was glad for the win ... and the end of the game.

And then it was off to retrieve the van ... and apparently, the last guy parked in the driveway didn't get the memo about being back to his can within a half-hour of the end of the game.

So we waited and waited and made some new friends from the UP and Ohio, and waited some more as all the guys debated the prospect of physically moving the last car in line so the rest of us could get out. There was enough man power waiting, that was for sure, but there was also a lot of beer being consumed so ... I was glad they thought better of it.

And since I'm writing this, the guy did show up and we managed to get out, have a lovely dinner at Knights and still get home in time for the MSU-Notre Dame game.

My little brother wanted me to mention that he thinks MSU's new uniforms are really ugly. So I have.

Is it wrong to root for Notre Dame?


Friday, September 17, 2010

Sept. 17 - Lisa's Musings (on traditions) and Every Day Life


And, for the first time in a long time, I'll have company for the weekend.

Little brother, Eric, is flying in tonight from New Jersey to go to the U-M football game tomorrow. So, I'll be heading to the airport to pick him up and, yeah, take him back on Sunday.

The family always gets together for at least one game each year, then heads to Webber's afterward for dinner.

Last year, it was to celebrate (or memorialize depending on how you look at it) my dad's life.

This year, things will be quite different.

It will be a much smaller group. Four of the cousins, Eric and I.

We'll have a little Big Sister-Little Brother bonding time. The two of us have never gone to a game together. It was always my dad and I.

And one of the cousins decided he didn't want to go to Webber's -- he wanted to try some place else.

So, since I live here, I was tapped to come up with an alternate place.

It didn't take long. Who doesn't love Knights?

New season.

New restaurant.

New traditions.

Sometimes change is good.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Sept. 16 - Lisa's Musings (on post No. 365) and Every Day Life

Well, here it is ... the magic mark ... post number 365.

Now I know I haven't written all of them, but I know I've written 99 percent of them and I think that's something special.

I have blogged every day without fail since I began this adventure last year.

On days off. When I was out of town. On weekends.

It's truly been a daily blog and I proved to myself that no matter what, I could come up with something to write about for umpteen days in a row.

And yeah, some of them were better than others. And some of them were rather clever. Or funny. Or sentimental. Or newsy. But the one thing they had in common was that people who faithfully read this blog enjoyed spending a few minutes in my every day life.

Hopefully, my life, despite spending many hours of it as a reporter, is a lot like yours.

Some days are better than others. The little things in life should not be ignored. Even in the most annoying or frustrating situations, just the littlest thing can flip the negative to the positive.

Each day is special and I intend to enjoy each and every one.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sept. 15 - Lisa's Musings (on cleaning) and Every Day Life

I'm sorry, but I just can't get into this cleaning thing. I know lots of people are into spotless homes but I promise you, they don't have dogs.

And they do it every day. And like it -- or so I'm told.

My idea of it's-time-to-do-some cleaning is when the dog's rub their head's on the carpet and come up with more red hair on their muzzles then they started. It's theirs, of course, but they've shed it long ago. And apparently, it's my job to rid the house of it.

And I do. Sometimes. When I can actually see it. Or when my socks are covered in it. Or when company's coming. My friends are dog people -- for the most part, anyway, so dog fur isn't something they even notice.

Even when it gets really bad. And I, in turn, don't mention it to them if I see it in their houses.

It's one of those unwritten dog-owner rules.

Or something.

She who lives in a glass house and all that.

But my little brother is coming here Friday-Sunday for the U-M game, And, he's agreed to take up where my dad left off -- helping me with two-person tasks I can't do alone. Yucky stuff like cleaning the gutters and cutting down tree branches and replacing burned out light bulbs in high places.

My dad worked for food. My little brother works for beer.

So, I plan to buy a bunch of it because, if he's in a slightly buzzed daze, perhaps, he won't notice all the dog fur. Or if he does, he won't mention it.

Yeah, I cleaned the guest room and vacuumed and will do some dusting, but it's going to take a whole lot more than that to get rid of all the dog fur, and spider webs, and dust bunnies and dust and dirt.

There's way more of it than there is of me. I'm out numbered, out roomed, out "every-thinged."

And as longtime readers know, I haven't had a lot of spare time to deal with it.

But my little brother's still in his 20's and I'm hoping he hasn't grown up all that much. He's got his mother and his wife to clean up after him.

All I have are the dogs and they aren't helping much.

I'm always amazed at the mess two dogs and one person can make.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sept. 14 - Lisa's Musings (on nature) and Every Day Life

I was in Allmendinger Park today and spotted this squirrel.

It seems that Mother Nature has been calling to me this week and far be it from me to not heed her call.

So, as I started through the park, I spied this squirrel and started shooting from a distance. Then got closer and closer. And closer.

He or she, not sure which, was eating a nut and it wasn't until I was pretty darn close that I was even noticed.

There seems to be a huge difference between country squirrels and city squirrels.

The country variety would never let me get this close. They work hard for those choice nuts, fruits and berries. They'll spend hours figuring out how to get into my bird feeders to get the black-oil seed.

The city squirrels are a different breed. They get so many handouts that they seem to expect every human to have one for them.

Do you think there are Republican and Democrat squirrels?

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Sept. 13 - Lisa's Musings (on the little things) and Every Day Life

My Monday began by cleaning up multiple piles of dog diarrhea from a pink carpet. And I'm still not sure which dog was the guilty party.

I headed to Ann Arbor to take photos at the downtown library only to be told I couldn't take pictures of the children. Huh? I called Friday to give the library the head's up and I've taken numerous photos at many events in this library.

So, I turned around and drove home photo-less. And, yes, just a wee, wee, wee bit annoyed. Translated pissed as hell.

And it took until I was almost in my driveway before I stopped growling. Two wasted hours, mileage and parking fees for nodda. nothing. zilch.

So I decided to do something about it and what better way than to look to Mother Nature for a smile?

First stop, my bird feeders. Saturday, I'd gone to Dexter Mill and bought new bird seed (black oiler sunflower and thistle seed). By the time I got home Saturday, it was raining and yesterday, I didn't go far from the bathroom so ... I hadn't had a chance to put it out yet.

From there, I walked outside into the dog yard to let the dogs out. And Mother Nature saw fit to reciprocate my kindness and in the process make my day.

While standing there watching Driver bounce and run around, while Ryan rolled in the grass and dirt in a sunny spot -- two dogs content doing their individual thing, a Monarch butterfly landed on my shoulder.

Better than a blue bird (no poop to worry about) this bright orange butterfly hung out for a few seconds, then flew away leaving me with a completely new attitude for the rest of the day.

Don't ever poo-poo the little unexpected moments in life. It's the little things in life that can make your day.

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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sept. 12 - Lisa's Musings (on being sick) and Every Day Life

The sun's shining, the Kerrytown BookFest has started and I'm home feeling like, well, something the cat (or dog) dragged in.

And, I'm missing one of my favorite Ann Arbor events.

Although there is absolutely nothing I can do about it, it's still a bummer.

After being sick most of the morning, I began to feel better, so took a shower, got dressed and got in the van to go. Fingers crossed.

But ya know when you've been feeling really, really punky. You're shaky and fuzzy headed and just not fit to be behind the wheel?

That was me.

My reactions aren't what they're supposed to be and even though I was technically sitting down, I was operating a vehicle.

Not good.

So, after 10 miles of knowing I should not be behind a wheel, I decided to do the smart thing. I turned around and came home.

On this beautiful day. When BookFest was going on.

Sometimes doing the right thing isn't easy. But I decided that it was more important to get off the road and not hurt anyone, and get home where the chances were slim that I'd hurt anyone.

But possibly myself.

I hate being sick.

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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Sept. 11 - Lisa's Musings (on Michigan football and one of its greats) and Every Day Life

With the excitement of a U-M victory over Notre Dame today comes the sadness of the death of Ron Kramer, a true Michigan man is there ever was one.

Not to take anything away from Denard Robinson's terrific performance today, but Kramer is probably recognized as the greatest all-around athlete to ever grace the U-M campus.

He played football, ran track and played basketball. And he was a fun and all-around great man.

I had the chance to sit down and have lunch with him at his favorite restaurant -- Max and Erma's -- while doing research for a book I'm writing about Don Canham.

I have terrific photos of he and his dog and he and Peg Canham -- the two were best buds.

So while younger fans are celebrating today's victory, the close knit, old-timers are mourning the passing of one of Michigan's true legends.

I sure hope Kramer and Bo and Woody and Fritz and Bennie and Don are including my dad in all the great football stories of yesteryear.

Go blue.

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Friday, September 10, 2010

Sept. 10 - Lisa's Musings (on agility trials) and Every Day Life

Today was the perfect day for an agility trial, so I headed to the Ann Arbor Dog Training Club to take some photos and find some friends I hadn't seen in a "dog's" age.

You see, it's been a long time -- probably about four years -- since I've shown at an American Kennel Club agility trial. In fact, the last time I trialed was in Wisconsin at the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever National Specialty and Widgeon, my first Toller, got his third and final qualifying score needed for his agility excellent title.

With his untimely death not too long thereafter, I haven't had a Toller who loved agility the way Widgeon did. Consequently, I haven't competed.

I'm a believer of the "agility is fun school" and Ryan, my dear, dear Ryan, doesn't share my enthusiasm for the sport. With me at least, so I never showed him in AKC.

Driver, on the other hand, is very game to play this agility sport, but I've been so busy being a reporter, I haven't had a chance to really show him all the skills he needs.

And, I don't show my dogs until I'm sure they know their part in this team sport and, I've never shown a dog in agility until they're at least two years old. He's just 18 months old at this point, so his turn will come.

But in the meantime, I've put on blinders and ignored the whole thing. Until today.

All it took was one look at all those dogs out on course running, jumping, zipping through tunnels and weave poles to remind me what I've been missing.

I came home, edited my photos and vowed that this fall and winter Driver and I would do some training and be ready to play this spring.

So, today, not only was I able to reconnect with old friends, but also I reconnect with a sport I love and was reminded of the bond that dog and owner form while playing in agility.

Sometimes, when I least expect it, I'm reminded of the really fun stuff in life. And it's time I partake in a little more of it.

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Sept. 9 - Lisa's Musings (on dirt) and Every Day Life

Let's face it, when you live alone -- well, without another human -- there are certain things you just can't do by yourself.

Like move bulky or heavy objects.

As the song goes, "It takes two, baby, it takes two."

And that's where best friends come into play. Now, of course, best friends are great for lots of things, but when you have friends who will come to your house to help you with dirty stuff -- now that's the mark of a true friendship.

Take today, for instance. My friend, Becca, took two hours out of her day to come and ... are you ready for this ... nail screen protectors into place on my three-season porch. It was one of those two-person jobs but instead of me smacking my thumb with the hammer, she took over the job.

Now, I don't expect the mosquitoes or moths to respect these additional barricades, because to really keep them out I'd need to replace all the screens and quite frankly, that's not gonna happen anytime soon.

The purpose, at least in my mind, for these adjustable screen thingers is more of a visual barricade for the dogs, who have poked holes in the screens when they stand with their front feet on the window sills to bark, and scream -- yes, Toller's actually scream -- at the deer. The deer could care less, of course, but they think they are doing something to protect me, I'm sure.

But in doing so, their toenails made some pretty serious gashes in the screens and the bugs have taken advantage of these holes and are flying around my house.

So, task No. 1 complete -- thank you, Becca.

I was relegated to holding onto Driver so he didn't lick Becca in the face the whole time.

We moved onto task No. 2. Moving my plant stand and my kitchen table, so I could actually clean the accumulated dirt, dog hair and dead bugs from underneath. And, yeah, clean the floor for the first time in, oh, more than a year.

So get this -- not only did she help me move stuff, she actually helped me clean the months and months, OK, probably years, of dirt off the metal stand.

What I've found is the problem with planning to clean one thing turns into more than one thing because once you get in there to do one job, five others present themselves. So, when I sprayed the plant stand, the stuff hit the window behind it which meant, yup, I then had to clean the windows.

Ya see, that's the problem with dirt. If you don't find it, it finds you.

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Sept. 8 - Lisa's Musings (on reading, writing, but not arithmetic) and Every Day Life

OK, I admit it, I had to look up the spelling of arithmetic (twice) to make sure I'd spelled it correctly.

That's bad. But it pretty much goes hand-in-hand with my lack of math skills. We all have our strengths and I play to mine -- as much as possible.

The writing part is a no-brainer ... I'm constantly writing story after story after story after, well, you get it.

So, about the reading part -- I've been on a cozy mystery reading tear, pretty much reading a new book a week. The problem is, finding time to write the reviews. So, it's on the list for this week since I'm now four books behind.

Readers will soon be reading reviews of "Delicious and Suspicious," "The Last Quiche Goodbye," "Roast Mortem" and "Murder Past Due."

Since I began reviewing books for the papers, I've got a publicist on "e-mail speed dial" and all it takes is a request and voila, the books magically appear in my mailbox.

So far, I've managed to pick ones I've really enjoyed, so while videos are uploading, or photos downloading, or I'm while waiting for a meeting to begin, or if a meeting's really, really boring (but I have to stay for something later in the agenda) -- I'm not without a book in hand.

My editor is always asking me how I find time to read -- I'm an opportunist, what can I say?

And, thanks to my dear not-such-a-puppy-anymore Driver, I'm up at 6:30 a.m. many mornings, so the first two cups of coffee are drunk with a paperback mystery in hand.

When I hit the bed at night, that book is in hand and most nights, when my eyes begin closing, I'm still awake even to put the bookmark in it, turn off the lights then go right to sleep.

So, you might say I spend at least a part of every day reading and writing, while trying to avoid math.

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Sept. 7 - Lisa's Musings (on going back to school) and Every Day Life

I spent the first day of school at Logan Elementary today.

Surprisingly, I saw no teary-eyed kindergartner's parents and Logan Principal Terra Webster made mention of not needing a box of tissues this year, either.

What I saw were excited teachers and students who couldn't wait to get on with the school year.

And I learned the Logan cheer, too.
"Hey Logan!
We're Logan!
Where are the leopards?
Right here!
We've got spirit!
We've got smarts!
We will work with all our hearts."

And, I'm sure they will.

Wish I could have stayed for lunch -- hot dogs were on the menu, but I had to head out to a Road Commission meeting.

And once I finish this and feed the dogs, it's off to the Ann Arbor City Council meeting.

'Tis a busy Tuesday.

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Monday, September 6, 2010

Sept. 6 - Lisa's Musings (on Labor Day) and Every Day Life

Rain, cool temps, and a day off -- I so seldom take one, I'm enjoying a day of relaxation from my "labors."

But, tomorrow I'll pay -- it's the first day of school, a Road Commission meeting and an Ann Arbor City Council meeting at night.

I think I've earned a paid day of rest.

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Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sept. 5 - Lisa's Musings (about Dancing in the Streets) and Every Day Life

Oh what a difference a day makes.

As promised, I did read every word about U-M football in the Free Press today and smiled. Yesterday's game was a great start to the season and no "but, but, but" could take that away from me. And it shouldn't take anything away from the team, either.

Enjoy it for a couple days, folks. Quit looking for negatives and savor what happened on the field yesterday. Please.

I am. In fact, I pseudo danced in the streets of Ann Arbor this afternoon.

But, it's not what you're thinking. I covered the annual Labor Day Weekend event in downtown called "Dancing in the Streets."

And, lots of people were doing it. Some already knew how; others were learning. But what they all had in common were the smiles on their faces.

If I hadn't been lugging my camera and a notebook and a pen, I'd probably have joined them. I did dance in place a bit and swayed back and forth.

It was perfect weather, the live music was terrific, and to quote one person I spoke to for my story, "This is quintessential Ann Arbor."


How many cities do you know that will close the streets so people can dance in them?

So tap your feet for U-M.

Go Blue.

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Saturday, September 4, 2010

Sept. 4 - Lisa's Musings (on Michigan football) and Every Day Life

Well, the State of Michigan football began on a positive note today with both U of M and MSU winning their opening day games.

Woohoo ... I can't wait to see the headlines in the Sunday papers.

And I'm happiest for Denard Robinson who set a Michigan QB record and was a one-man offensive machine today. Kinda like Mike Hart, only at QB.

And I watched both games with my dogs at home. Yes, you heard me right. I was home alone for the action.

It's not like I didn't have many invitations to go to The Big House. I did. Many of them in fact. I just didn't feel like it.

And this is probably the first time in 10-plus years I haven't been in the stadium for the first game of the season.

But for some reason, this year, I didn't want to go. And I can't pinpoint the reason.

Perhaps because I thought they'd get killed by UConn? Maybe.

Because it's the anniversary of my dad's memorial service? Perhaps.

Maybe a combination of both. Could be.

In fact, my little brother was in town from New Jersey for the game and I didn't even meet up with him. And, the thing is, it's not like I wasn't in AA today. I was. This morning. To pick up my CSA. But I couldn't get out of town fast enough.

I watched The Game. I watched the MSU game.

But I wasn't on the edge of my seat, and I didn't yell at the TV. My friends will tell you ... I ALWAYS yell at the TV.

I put today's win in my little brother's hands. And my dad's too, I guess. Because I know he was there in spirit.

A true Michigan man. Through and through.

I wonder what he thinks about the new stadium?

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Friday, September 3, 2010

Sept. 3 - Lisa's Musings (on new bridges) and Every Day Life

For the fourth time since I moved back to Michigan, I was given a close-up view of a new bridge.

First, I covered the refurbished Foster Road Bridge in Ann Arbor Township, then the rehabbed East Delhi Bridge in Scio Township.

In between was a completely new Main Street Bridge in Dexter – and for that one I was raised up above it in a Dexter Area Fire Authority ladder truck. Now that was both cool and scary – since I’m not big on heights.

Today, I was on site for the official reopening of the Dexter-Pinckney Road Bridge and I have to say this one was the best yet.

One of the neighbors, Willie Patterson, invited me onto her property so I could take photos and examine the structure from a really up-close and personal vantage point. Plus, she’d taken all kinds of photos, so I got to see it from start to finish.

But the best part was standing on her lawn and watching boats cruise under the bridge while cars drove over it. The weather was perfect. There were white caps on the lake and as far as bridges go, I have to say, it was rather pretty.

I’ve included a few photos so you can live my day vicariously.

Oh, and something blowing in the wind upset my Internet connection -- thus the reason for the late blog today.

Go Blue!

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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Sept. 2 - Lisa's Musings (on what you wish for) and Every Day Life

Yup. You may blame me for today's weather. I asked for it and I got it.

Thank you Mommy Nature. My grass thanks you. My strawberry basket that I forget to water thanks you and apparently, the wild turkeys thank you,too.

Yippee, my turkeys were back today.

It's the first time I've seen them in months. But I don't think they were doing the boot scoot boogie or the hootchie-coochie or any of those mating dance things.

I just think they came back for a visit. You know, see the ole dancin' grounds. Or something.

I tried to get their photo for this blog, but apparently, like the hummingbirds, they're not into mugging for the camera. Maybe it's something I said. I don't know.

But as soon as I got close enough to focus -- even with a long lens -- they took one look at me and walked really, really fast into the woods. Then I felt badly because they made such a hasty exit.

It wasn't very welcoming of me, I'm afraid.

And goes contrary to everything we're about -- out here in the country.

So, wild turkeys, if you're reading this ... I didn't mean to intrude on your special time on my front yard. Or your privacy.


You're welcome here any time.

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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sept. 1 - Lisa's Musings (on September and) From Every Day Life

Have you heard the saying, “Fair weather the first of September, fair for the month?”

Me, either, but apparently, it’s a traditional saying, and I kinda like it.

In fact, I’m all about getting on with fall. Quite frankly, I’ve had enough of this hot, hot summer. I’d had enough in July, but perhaps that’s because it’s been a record-breaking hot summer this year.

But today’s the first day of September and other than being a wee bit hot, (OK, really hot), this afternoon a nice breeze blew in and it was rather pleasant outside.

And, I don’t know what it’s doing out your way, but here, there are leaves flying.

Yet another precursor to my favorite time of year. Yes, fall. When the morning air is crisp – like the apples it brings – yet it warms up in the afternoon, then cools down for the evening.

Did I mention sleeping with open windows?

Ah, it puts me in a happy place just thinking about it.

Now, if I could make one wee request, (and I don’t want to bring a hurricane here), but my grass could really use a little rain. It’s looking rather, uh, straw-like, and since I like to walk around in bare feet, I haven’t been doing that much lately. This probably isn’t a bad thing because this is the time of year when the yellow jackets like to build nests in the ground.

And I’m allergic to bees.

Which brings me to another fun thing about this month – it’s National Honey Month.

So that means it’s time to re-read Winnie-The-Pooh.

Bzzz-bzzz-bzzz to you.

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