?`s and ANNEswers

Ten minutes to write. Less time to read.


After yesterday’s visit to Kaminski Farms, we had to test the meats we purchased there. So tonight  I cooked the two petite filets we bought. Added garlic bread, pattypan squash, fresh tomato salad, and fresh peaches.

I also tried a new recipe for the beef. Since I had the oven on for the squash and garlic bread, I researched how to cook tenderloin in the oven rather than on the grill or the stovetop.

I’m sure you’re not interested in the side dishes. Suffice to say they were wonderful, given it’s fruit and veggie time in southwest Michigan.

As for the filets, they were exquisite. Earl said they were as good as what he’d eaten at LaSalle Grill in South Bend. I would agree, except that at the restaurant I don’t have to do any of the preparations.

It all goes to show you can eat well at home if you know where to shop. As for the lady who helped us at Kaminski Farms yesterday, she was right. We’ll be back.

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Kaminski Farms Meats

This afternoon Earl and I had an adventure. He had read an article recently about the difference between meat one buys at a supermarket and meat one buys directly from a meat farm.

Farm fresh meat has no preservatives, while the supermarket variety needs them to make it look fresh and give it a longer shelf life. Buying farm fresh meat also means you know specifically where it came from and how it was raised.

I told Earl if he could find such a farm around here, I’d be willing to check it out, provided we didn’t have to buy a quarter or a half of an animal to do so. He countered by finding Kaminski Farms Meats ( www.kaminskifarms.com) and suggesting I study that site. I did and was impressed not only with the variety of products – beef, pork, poultry, lamb, and goat – but also with the pricing. Granted, it was a little higher than the supermarket, but not exorbitant. And I expected better quality for the difference in cost.

And that’s how the afternoon found us near Three Oaks, MI, on a country road looking for Kaminski Farms. And quite a place it is. The retail store is filled with several freezers, each holding one type of meat in various portions and cuts.

We chose four half pound burgers, four all beef hot dogs, and two small tenderloins while we listened to the lady of the house describe how she sends the animals to be slaughtered, packaged, and flash frozen once a month. We told her we’d never done this before, but if we liked it we’d be back.

She smiled as if she already knew we would return.

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July Oneth

How quickly the summer season passes. It’s already July. Granted, there are two full months to go, but it seems as if the days pass with the speed of light.

I looked up the definition of the speed of light and it is the fastest speed in the universe, And, if you’re older, it’s got you in its grip. More than one of my friends comment that they don’t know where the days go. I don’t either.

So what to do about July Oneth?

Maybe stop and consider the clouds? Today it was in the mid-seventies here; perfect weather for just enjoying the weather. Maybe watch the sunset; there haven’t been many good ones this year – although I don’t know why – so we should enjoy those that are. Maybe smell the roses. Or the lilacs. Or eat a tomato from a farm stand.

Or stop and appreciate all simple things because the speed of light waits for nothing.

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Book Club

Tonight was my monthly book club meeting, and I was the moderator. We read A Doll’s House, written by Henrik Ibsen in 1879. I chose it because its themes of feminine servitude are relevant today, especially with recent Supreme Court rulings.

Book clubs are curious things. I’ve been in two over the past twenty years, and each is markedly different from the other. The first one I joined had a lot of members. So if you didn’t read the particular book, you could hide in the weeds. The books were interesting, for the most part, but the conversation wasn’t. It wasn’t even about the book sometimes. After about fifteen years, I resigned.

My idea of a book club is that you analyze the book. You consider the plot, the dialogue, the characters. You talk about the writing. For instance, what person is it in? Who is the protagonist, the antagonist? What do we learn from the experience?

The book club I’m in currently has only five members, which means we all show up having read the work. The others would know if one of us tried to fake it. And we actually discuss the book in the way I alluded to above. It’s a wonderful thing.

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Farmer’s Market

Every Saturday during the summer St. Joseph has a farmers’ market on the bluff. When I think of a farmer’s market, fruits and vegetables – maybe eggs too – come to mind. But this market has a variety of other offerings.

There’s the couple that sharpens knives and charges by the inch of the blade. My friend A got three knives done for $22, cash. There’s the boba tea stand and the hard cider stand, the frozen meat purveyor and the fresh flower merchant. And the hot dog stand. Yes, there are fruits and vegetables; but they don’t seem to be center stage. Perhaps it’s because it’s relatively early in the growing season. As July appears and then August, there could be more produce vendors.

I support a couple local farm stands that are open seven days a week, so I usually don’t purchase items at the farmer’s market. It seems to be more for the tourists who storm our communities in summer and are enamored of Michigan produce. Trust me, it truly is something to treasure.

But at the local farm stands, there are no knife sharpeners or hard cider options. It’s all about the produce. And about supporting local farmers.

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I understand the media are all atwitter about last night’s entertainment featuring Biden and Trump. Although entertainment is probably not the right word. Perhaps it’s ‘drama.’

Earl and I watched about twenty minutes before deciding a good book would be a better use of our time. In that brief period, what I saw was two old men, one who lies and the other who appeared distracted.

I refused to read opinion pieces about each person’s performance this morning, although I’ve heard that this group said Biden won while that group said Trump won. Regardless of which camp you are in, this “debate” probably didn’t sway you to join the other.

I look at it this way: No matter who wins, our country just has to get past the next four years; because neither man will be eligible to run again. Perhaps younger talents will then prevail.

However, if I look at the team Biden has surrounded himself with versus Trump’s team when he was president, I am struck with the contrast. One man, whether you like his policies or not, seems to have hard-working, knowledgeable people in place. The other, when he was president, had a variety of future felons.

It’s something to think about.

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Tonight’s the Night

This blog’s title is the name of a famous Rod Stewart song, but don’t be misled. I’m not channeling  Rod.

I’m writing about the face-off  on CNN between Biden and Trump which will occur at 9 PM eastern time. Perhaps it’s politically incorrect not to put their titles in front of their names, but everyone who doesn’t live on a deserted island already knows them. Perhaps it’s also politically incorrect to think this ninety minute program is really not necessary except for the media hype. Sensationalism sells.

While I’ve been in Chelsea the media has ramped up its rhetoric about the “debate.” Over the past twenty-four hours, there have been articles and sound bites regarding five tips to win for each person, the liabilities each must overcome, and each man’s oratorical style. There are also diatribes about their ages, their backgrounds, their children. And their approach to the southern border. And student debt. And the economy. And . . . and . . . and.

I, for one, am tired of it all. It’s style vs. substance, because the audience most likely will take the debaters’ comments at face value instead of checking them in the morning light. If they did, they’d see that many statements are not really accurate.

Still, I’ll record the program because I want to see how it unfolds instead of reading an opinion column tomorrow. I don’t need a filter to tell me what to think. Instead,  I’ll base  my judgment on the opponents’ behavior – smirking, head shaking, etc. – as the evening wears on.

Come to think of it, maybe I should search YouTube for Rod Stewart’s rendition of “Tonight’s the Night,” It would probably be more enjoyable.

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On the Subject of Sleepovers

Our friendship was only a few years old when I moved from Detroit, where both N and I lived, to Chicago. But it was forged in the kiln of our mutual interest in learning about almost anything.

Which is why when I moved, we decided to schedule adult sleepovers. Leaving husbands and children behind (We both had two preschoolers at the time.), we met overnight in a motel to catch up on each other’s activities and opinions.

We’ve been doing this regularly for almost fifty years and have never run out of things to say. Perhaps it’s because there were phases. There was the stay-at-home Mom phase when our children were young and we were into crafts and kids’ sports and women’s magazines. This period was punctuated by visiting shopping malls, Bill Knapp’s restaurant, and chocolate covered pretzels. Only chocolate covered pretzels remain today.

There was the era when each of us returned to graduate school, N first, to stimulate our brains that had been on hold during the previous phase. And the middle-aged meetings that traded conversations on women’s fashions for health regimes. By then our children were moving out the door, and our husbands were moving toward retirement. Well, at least N’s husband was. So we spent hours wondering what that looked like.

And so it went. Currently we are in the I-can’t-believe-we’re-old phase. But that hasn’t stopped us from talking about politics, religion, our families, and various aches and pains. And yes, our friendship. Our childhoods were markedly different as was the trajectory of our adult lives. Yet, we’ve remained staunch friends.

I have a couple other friends I’ve also known fifty years or more. We work hard to keep in touch and  I cherish each of them for their unique qualities. But N and I are the only ones who have had fifty years of sleepovers. Which, by the way, is really a misnomer.

Sleeping is the least of it.

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I’m leaving in about an hour for Chelsea, Michigan, just west of Ann Arbor where I’ll meet N, a friend of sixty years. She lives in a northern Detroit suburb, and Chelsea is a convenient meeting place almost halfway between our homes.

We’re having a girlfriends’ sleepover, something we started in the 1970s when I was getting divorced and she was not. Over the years, we’ve met in many different Michigan and Indiana locales; but Chelsea is our favorite.

If you look the city up in Wikipedia, you’ll learn the basics about its history, geography, climate, and demographics. If you visit the Chamber of Commerce website,  you’ll learn about its current economies, major industries, and nearby tourist attractions. But if you really want to get a sense of this charming town (the home of Jiffy Mix and its famous cornbread), you should visit firsthand.

Our favorite places include The Potting Shed, which doesn’t offer potting services and is so crammed with items it assaults the senses (But it does have the funniest lines of greeting cards); Zou Zou’s, a café that we have watched expand and thrive over the years and was named for Jimmy Stewart’s youngest daughter in “It’s A Wonderful Life”; and Bumble, a stationery and curio shop with a rabbit as its logo and the saying “Trust the Rabbit” as its motto. The rabbit has never steered us wrong.

We have our favorite eateries too: Coney Island, which is simply a diner; Cleary’s, an Irish pub, and Smokehouse 52, a barbecue place that used to serve the best frickles on the planet. Unfortunately, the recipe was changed after the pandemic, so we don’t trust the frickles anymore.

A special attraction to N and me, that is probably not on anyone else’s top ten list, is the local cemetery. Since Chelea was settled as early as 1820, you can imagine how old the earliest headstones are. That section of the cemetery includes large monuments as well as modest markers, all shaded by giant trees that create a sense of time.

There are other sections that are newer, where the headstones include photographs, etchings, and knickknacks around the bases. The trees are more like saplings and contribute to the overall newness of the scene. We take the few pieces of information one can glean from a headstone and weave stories about the inhabitants resting beneath it.

It’s Spoon River Anthology brought to the twenty-first century.

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Clean House

My cleaning lady, A, comes every two weeks and makes our lives easy. Actually I have always liked cleaning my home, but as I get older and have less energy, it’s okay with me if someone else approximately 35 years younger does the heavy lifting.

A is not from a cleaning service such as Call the Mrs. or Molly Maids. While those companies bond and insure their personnel, which is a plus in case of some accident, that benefit is offset by the fact that you never know who is going to show up at your door. So it feels like a revolving door.

A has her own cleaning service, so she is always the one who comes. Since this is her company I assume she has bonded and insured herself, although I’ve never asked. She came highly recommended from someone who is pickier than I am; and I had to wait several months for her to have an opening.

That was six years ago. Since then, her three daughters moved from grade school through high school and beyond. Her father passed away, and she returned to Europe more than once to settle affairs.

Because Monday is my day for A, there are several times a year when a holiday messes with our schedule. In those instances, A comes on the previous Saturday instead. I doubt Molly Maids does that. .

Finally, A does not charge by the hour; she charges by the size of the house. This means if we want to chat a few minutes, there’s no meter running. There’s no “In at 9; on to the next appointment at 11:30.”

Of all the cleaning ladies who have crossed our path, A is definitely the best.

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