Rowing on the River

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What a great way to spend a fall day: paddling down the Huron at the River Ecology Paddle this Saturday, Sept. 27, 12:30 p.m. ~ 4 p.m. The tour starts at Dexter-Huron Metropark and includes a stop at the Dexter Cider Mill, home of the greatest donuts in the world and the oldest continuously operating Cider Mill in Michigan. To register for the paddle call 1-800-477-3191 or 734-426-8211.

Tractors! Pulling! Heavy! Loads!

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Tractors: we see them hard at work in the fields; we try to pass them on country highways. But how fast can they really go and how much weight can they pull while burnin' rubber?

At the Michigan Tractor Pullers Association upcoming Tractor Pull you can find out! Three classes will definitely "pull their weight"--farm stock, classic, and antique. The sport of tractor pulling has something of a long history--the first tractor pulls date from the 1860s.

If you'd like to see for yourself what these motorized beasts of burden can do, then head to the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds on Sunday, September 28. 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. According to the event listing on Arbor Web, admission is free.

Discourse on Disc Golf

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Want a say in the redesign of the Disc Golf Course? Then head over to Cobblestone Park, Wednesday, September 10, 6:30 p.m. City and County staff will discuss the improvements planned and the limitations involved in reconfiguring the park. If you can't attend or would like to submit additional comments, please email Jeff Dehring, City of Ann Arbor Parks Planner, jdehring@a2gov.org or call 734.994.1913.

All Doggies in the Pool!

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Time for the annual Buhr Park Dog Swim. Bring your doggies (swimsuits optional) on Tuesday, Sept. 2 and Wednesday, Sept. 3, 3-8 p.m., and they can splish and splash to their heart's content. Pre-registration is required so call 734.971.3228 right away. Dogma-Catmantoo, Arbor Dog Day Care, Pet Emporium and Ann Arbor Biscuit Co. have donated prizes so this will be the premiere canine event this year.

1,000 Ultimate Travel Experiences

Whether you are a well-seasoned traveller with a mangled passport, or someone who rarely leaves your spot on the couch, it's likely you will find inspiration in A Rough guide to the world : Make the most of your time on earth. This hefty book is crammed full of amazing travel experiences grouped according to global areas, starting with Britain & Ireland, and finishing with The Polar Regions (you didn't think they'd forget the North and South Pole, did you?). Seeking a natural miracle? Visit Iguazu Falls in Argentina - more than two hundred cascades thundering over an eighty meter cliff, all surrounded by lush tropical forest. Seeking an event to remember? Try April 30th/Queen's Day in Amsterdam (police are forbidden to interfere with any activity, no matter how outrageous). Seeking a wonder of the ancient world? Try the unparalleled Roman archaeological site of Baalbek in Lebanon. (In the words of Robert Byron, it "dwarfs New York into a home of ants".) Seeking a journey closer to home? Grab your bike and ride the Slickrock in Moab, Utah. Personally, I am inspired to plan a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Lalibela in Ethiopia. I'll share my injera with you if you'll pay for my plane ticket!

Ypsilanti Heritage Festival

Summer is almost over. We're all out of money, unable to travel out of town, and classes will be starting again soon. But don't despair! There are plenty of cheap if not completely free options for fun coming up. For example, this weekend the Ypsilanti Heritage Festival is here and admission will cost you nothing. The festival features many fun events such as a soccer tournament, an ugliest car contest, a pie-eating contest, Native American artifact viewing, and a "vintage baseball" game. If you are interested in festivals, take a look at Arborweb.com's list of annual local events as well as the library's wide variety of resources on local attractions.

Recipes from America's Rich Immigrant Heritage

Preheat those ovens, dear readers, and grab a copy of Greg Patent's A Baker's odyssey : celebrating time-honored recipes from America's rich immigrant heritage. After visiting the kitchens of more than sixty bakers around the country, Patent (an immigrant himself) discovered the baking secrets, cultural significance and treasured recipes of immigrant families from a multitude of countries around the globe. His cookbook's authentic recipes are grouped by cooking style, rather than nationality, allowing readers to see the connections between regional specialties (like Chicken & Potato Sambouseks from Iraq vs. Samosas from India vs. Shrimp Rissois from Portugal).
If the idea of nibbling Australian Lamingtons (what chocolate cupcakes are to Americans), getting messy with Koeksisters (South African deep fried pastries) or baking up Szarlotka (Polish apple pie) sounds appealing to you, I highly recommend this book. The author includes a big list of mail order sources for baking gear and specialty ingredients that you may not be able to find in your local market. Also, for the baking challenged (like myself), a DVD is included with the book that demonstrates baking techniques for items like Cannoli, Schwabisch Pretzels and Thai Shrimp & Bean Sprout Fritters. One word of caution - if it isn't already obvious to you - these recipes are NOT for people on a diet! Mmm...bring on the butter.

Raspberry Picking

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On the lookout for something fun for the entire family, gets everyone to enjoy the great outdoors and is easy on the pocket book?

Then raspberry picking at Makielski’s Berry Farm should be your destination. Located on 90 acres of woods, ponds and berry patches just 8 miles from downtown Ann Arbor, this beautiful place is a wonderful gem you’ll want to return to year after year.

Pack a picnic, get the kids and the dog (yes, well mannered doggies are welcome) in the car and motor over to a wonderful day in the country and pay only $3 a quart for raspberries.

Then come home with your crimson treasure and start baking! Look at The Berry Bible, Luscious Berry Desserts, Good Housekeeping Best-Loved Desserts, Heirloom Baking With the Brass Sisters, Pure Dessert and Ice Cream and Frozen Desserts for inspiration.

Be sure to freeze some so this winter you can remember the gorgeous day you spent out there when you put raspberries in your oatmeal.

Summer Heat

Wow! It's been HOT outside lately! Many of us have taken refuge from the heat in ice cream shops, movie theatres, or even busted out our hat fans, but that just isn't enough. What we all need to cool off is a good old-fashioned cannonball into ice cold water. If you're feeling hot under the collar, take an afternoon off from the air conditioning and head for a pool or local beach. The area has many beaches to choose from including Heath Beach, the Waterloo Recreation Area, the Pinckney Recreation Area, and the Island Lake Recreation Area. Even thinking about hanging out at the beach is fun. When is the last time any of us built a sand castle?

Summer Reading for the Food Obsessed

I'm not much of a "foodie" but I do love to travel and was intrigued by the title Around the world in 80 dinners : the ultimate culinary adventure 50,000 Miles, 10 Countries, 800 Dishes, and 1 Rogue Monkey. In 2005 culinary experts Cheryl and Bill Jamison, known for award winning titles like The big book of outdoor cooking and entertaining, used their giant stash of frequent flier miles to head off on a three month vacation around the globe in search of food and adventure. In March they published this book, offering readers the chance to live vicariously through their journeys in Bali, Australia, New Caledonia, Singapore, Thailand, India, China, South Africa, France and Brazil. This is not a cookbook, although they do provide authentic recipes from their destinations, as well as travel information about hotels, restaurants and points of interest (like the National Elephant Institute in Lampang, Thailand). If you're looking for a literary masterpiece, this is not the book for you - due mainly to the quirky flip-flopping between first and third person narrative. However, if you seek some light, insightful and humorous reading, filled with enthusiasm for food and travel, this will make a great choice for summer.

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