The Clinton Theater

On a rainy Monday night in March I experienced something I never dreamed possible.  Clinton, Michigan, population approximately twenty-three hundred, is about a fifteen minute drive from the farm.  In this tiny village, there’s a movie theater.  Even though I drive through at least twice a week (if not more), I never paid much attention to it.  When a group of us decided to see Beauty And The Beast, an internet search showed that it was playing there. 

Admission to the theater is four dollars.  That’s right, $4.00.  Since we went on a Monday night, it was half off popcorn night.  That’s enough right there for me to be a customer for life.  But then . . . the sign said . . . Eden organic popcorn.  With real butter . . .  and sea salt.  What’s that in the cooler?  Virgil’s Root Beer?  Oh yes.  If I were to open a movie theater, this is what it would look like.

While there are previews of other films, there are also old music clips playing in between.  Artists range from the Monkees to songs in German to Reggae.  It’s weird and fascinating all at the same time!  It was so much fun to watch a movie in this quaint old theater, that a couple of weeks later, I went to see Kong: Skull Island.  There’s no way I would ever go see that movie except that I wanted to sit in the theater with my giant bucket of half off popcorn, sipping my root beer, having the theater experience. 

After the movie, owners Karie Dorsten and Frank Cianciolo were kind enough to chat with me for a few minutes.  After I gushed on and on about how much I loved the place, I asked them how they are able to offer movies and snacks for a fraction of what it costs at the big theaters.  Karie said that they keep it simple, they are a family owned business and they do everything themselves, from selling tickets to running the concession.  There’s an interesting article here that tells more about some upgrades they did to the theater in 2011 and how Frank’s band, Frank Allison and the Odd Sox played to raise funds for it.

So far his year I think I’ve seen more movies than I have in the last five and I’m sure this trend will continue.  In fact, I’ve got plans to go again next week!  Since the cost is nominal, it’s easy to take a chance on a movie I might not otherwise see and I love being able to support a local business.  If you haven’t experienced the Clinton Theater, and are close enough to be able to, I encourage you to treat yourself to a night out.  You just might see me there, munching on a giant bucket of popcorn!

Time For A Break

Spring is a busy time at the farm.  One thing I’ve learned is that if you don’t tend to your fields and gardens, the weeds quickly take over.  We’ve been clearing the weeds and overgrowth bit by bit and in the process have found many things left behind by the previous owners that were buried under grass, burdocks, thistles, and grapevines. An entire blog post could be written on that alone! It’s not easy work for someone over fifty-five who has spent much of her life sitting behind a desk. Things are shaping up really nicely at the farm, though, so it’s worth every aching muscle.

Spring also brings wildlife, birds who’ve made a nest right outside my bedroom window, geese that have returned in droves, and, unfortunately, raccoons and possums.  Apparently they have been undeterred by Hannah’s presence, to her delight and my dismay. Yes, wildlife is cute, but it’s also smelly and destructive (and they hiss and growl at you when you inadvertently get too close!). They also like to eat eggs and chickens, which seems pretty rude since they haven’t contributed anything toward our poultry operation.  At the moment, it looks like there are only domesticated animals in the vicinity of the house and barns and I’m hoping it stays that way! 

There’s still so much to do and we haven’t even planted the garden yet!  Our four page to-do list has many tasks completed, but it seems like I add four new items every time I scratch something off.  Despite the daunting list, the sun was shining on Wednesday and it seemed like the right time to take a break and enjoy nature in a different setting. 

Not far from here lies the Waterloo Recreation Area, twenty-thousand acres of woods and lakes and wildlife.  My aunt and I enlisted the guidance of my cousin Laura, who is a much more experienced hiker (and we hoped would keep us from hurting ourselves or getting lost).  She also had an app on her phone with maps, which turned out to be a really good thing.

The three hikers

Waterloo Recreation Area Trails

Tiny spring flowers

Eastern Skunk Cabbage

This sneaky snake crossed our path.  There was an even bigger one at the farm last weekend.

Some kind of mushroom growing on a tree

Look at these beautiful little flowers!

The plan was to hike a trail that was a little over five miles long. We brought snacks and a lunch and estimated that we’d finish in under two hours.  Our guide took a brief pause to take a humanity break and I forged on ahead knowing she would catch up.  Unfortunately, there was a fork in the road and I went left when I should have gone straight.  After a while, I was feeling a little hungry and asked if we were halfway yet.  That’s when we realized we were no longer on the right trail.  Oops!  We backtracked and ate our lunch on the way, which wasn’t exactly the idyllic meal we had planned, but it was fine.  We got back on the right trail and made our way back to the car.  In my defense, the signs weren’t completely clear and we’d been following the blue markings and I thought that was the right way.  Of course, I didn’t actually look at the map that was right next to the sign, but it’s fine, no one was upset about the detour even though it led us up some really steep hills that we then had to trudge back down. 

Why do people leave trash on the trail?  I took this picture at the bottom of the sign where I took the wrong turn . . .

It’s hard for me to take the time to do something for leisure when there’s still work to be done.  My entire life has been spent getting all the work done first, and then taking some time to goof off and play.  Sadly, that means that not a lot of playing occurred because it seems that the work, regardless of what kind it is, rarely gets one-hundred percent completed.  There’s a proper rhythm in life, which means I need to take time for leisure as well as do the work. 

Are you like me and always have to get the work done before you can do something fun?  How do you make sure that you have the right balance in your life?  I’d love to hear from you in the comments or on Facebook!

Tecumseh Bread & Pastry

On Tuesdays, I run errands.  The main reason I run errands on Tuesday is because I can stop by Tecumseh Bread & Pastry to get a chocolate croissant.  And bread.  And sometimes a cookie.  Or some other kind of pastry.

There are so many things I like about this place, I’m not sure where to start.  Last Tuesday was the first time I stopped by 3 Dudes & Dinner, the temporary home of Tecumseh Bread & Pastry.  Arlo Brandl greeted us and introduced himself, then walked us through the tantalizing display of pastries and breads.  Since I’d been dreaming about chocolate croissants every since I heard about this new bakery, I had to have one. 

arlo

Baker Arlo Brandl

Arlo was a gem and picked out the two biggest ones for my aunt and me.  We made ourselves at home on the couch, even though it’s not really setup for people to hang out and linger.  That day we took home a loaf of sourdough bread and a chocolate cookie, you know, in case we got hungry later.  We waited until we were back in the car, only slightly full from eating our enormous croissants, to start tearing into the fragrant, still warm, loaf of bread.  This week, in addition to the usual chocolate croissant, we got a loaf of bread with caramelized onion & gruyere – absolutely fabulous.  We ate big hunks while finishing up all of our errands. 

chocolate-croissants

Best. Chocolate. Croissant. Ever.

Another thing I like about TB&P is that they use local fresh ingredients whenever possible and the grains are freshly ground.  Arlo doesn’t compromise quality to use local, but he does source his craft from our neighboring states, Ohio and Indiana, when a Michigan vendor is not available.

When I asked Arlo why he chose Tecumseh instead of a bigger city, he said that when he compared the quality of life for bakers in New York City to the quality of life for a small town baker, it was an easy choice. I love that he wants to be the village baker for this tiny little town!

Recently Arlo left his day job to pursue the bakery full time. When I asked if it was difficult to get the wholesale side of the business going (he currently provides breads to 3 Dudes & Dinner, Evans Street Station, Tecumseh Brewing Company, and Cotton Brewing Company in Adrian) he replied that it was actually pretty easy – he just shared a few samples and they were ready to order.  That’s all it would have taken for me!

breads

See that lonely little bun in the front row?  I wanted to stuff the entire thing into my mouth . . . 

The bakery is currently open for business on Tuesday and Thursday, 5:00 am – 11:00 am and Saturday and Sunday 5:00 am – 1:00 or while supplies last.  Arlo and his wife Alisyn are planning to open a downtown Tecumseh storefront this spring and will be open every day of the week.  If you have a chance to go Michigan’s east side, I highly recommend a stop at Tecumseh Bread & Pastry! Be sure to get there early – you don’t want to miss out on the best selection!