Faces, Places & Voices from Around Town

John Schneider


Lansing's renowned storyteller and columnist John Schneider brings you his Perspective on Life

Around Town

Short Stories from Around the Communities of Mid-Michigan

Stories about the people, places, and things that you'll find Around Town

Mert's Specialty Meats Family Meals


From their family kitchen to ours, Mert's Specialty Meats in Okemos brings us recipes and more 

Animals All Around Us


Capital City Canine Agility Club Hosts CPE Agility Event in Williamstson

Columnist - John Schneider



Oct. 15 -   As Michigan’s archery deer season gets underway, some ruminations on the blood sports …

If I were to tell you that hunting is, for me, all about communing with nature, you could point out that immersion in the natural world requires no weapons. You would be right. I could sit in my tree stand without bow or gun and still enjoy those exquisitely subtle shades of light that bracket each day, turning night into morning, then daylight into darkness.

I could still admire the urgent industry of squirrels preparing for winter. I could still chuckle at the noisy awkwardness of turkeys landing in their treetop roosts, then ricocheting down a few limbs, like a ball in a pinball machine. I could still marvel at the gaudy glory of the pungent autumn forest. I could still listen to acorns falling, let my mind wander, achieve that state of relaxation I find nowhere else. I could still envy the stealth of my fellow predator, the coyote, as it slinks like a ghost through the brush.

But that wouldn’t be hunting and, the fact is I’m a hunter, for better or for worse. If the proper opportunity comes along - a high-percentage shot at the right deer - I will launch an arrow (or a bullet, when the firearms season comes around), doing my best to make a quick kill and recovery, then feeling a curious mixture of elation and regret as I stand over the carcass.

If I were to say that I hunt because my household depends on venison, that, too would be a false claim. On the other hand, when venison is handled, butchered and prepared properly, it’s as tasty as any other source of protein and better than most. It’s cage-free, carbon-neutral, lean meat. Venison has allowed my wife and me to eliminate beef from our diet. Call it hubris if you wish, but taking a wild animal from the field to the table without outside intervention makes me feel self-reliant.

If I were to use a euphemism that has become popular in certain sectors of the hunting world - “harvesting” venison - you could accuse me of trying to sugarcoat the truth and I would agree with you. Cutting corn, picking apples, gathering morels … that’s harvesting. You would never hear a hog farmer describe the slaughter as a “harvest.”

The unvarnished truth is that the procurement of venison - as with cheeseburgers, spare ribs, lamb chops and chicken nuggets - requires bloodshed. That goes for fishing, too. So how is it that some of the same people who see hunting as cruel view fishing as a harmless activity that conjures visions of Tom Sawyer walking down a country lane with a cane pole and mess of catfish on a stringer?

That’s only one irrational aspect of public attitudes toward hunting. The most glaring one, of course, comes from the mouths of people who will gladly slap a rack of ribs on their Weber, but condemn hunting.

If you’re a vegetarian who opposes the blood sports, I will respect your conviction and consistency. If, on the other hand, you cherish your Thanksgiving turkey, but express a general contempt toward hunting, I will suggest that you reexamine the rationality of your convictions.

If you eat meat, you’re either killing your own animals, or you’re paying somebody to do the killing. I choose to do it myself. Maybe you don’t and I can understand that. It’s messy business. Hunting is an anachronism these days, when meat comes wrapped in cellophane, and people can so easily ignore the consequences of their appetites.


Oct. 1 - My daughter, a modern young woman with limited tolerance for certain traditions, never liked the idea of being “given away” at her wedding last month.

Caitlin understood, of course, that it was merely symbolic, a relic of the days when women lived at home - under the protection of their fathers - until they married. In a sense, they were the “property” of their fathers, until they became the “property” of their husbands. They weren’t slaves, exactly; they were more like beloved pets who would never outgrow their need for protective custody.

At age 32, Caitlin had been on her own since graduating from college. She had lived and worked in both Los Angeles and New York City and had lived with her husband-to-be - in Brooklyn - for at least three years. So, it’s no mystery really, why the prospect of her old man handing her off - like a family heirloom - to a husband struck her as slightly ridiculous.

It’s not that she spurned nuptial traditions entirely. She wore a wedding dress. She and Tony exchanged vows, under an open sky, before a licensed officiant. They kissed to seal the deal. At the reception, she and I kicked off the party with a father-daughter dance, although it was hardly a traditional foxtrot.

But the father-to-husband giveaway, like the garter removal or the bouquet toss, was never in the cards.

“No offense, Dad,” she announced, as the wedding date approached, “but I don’t want to be given away.” 

No offense taken. I had many other things for which to be grateful: Caitlin had landed with a good, kind-hearted, gainfully employed man who clearly loved her. They were getting married, not necessarily a given for today’s long-range relationships. It said something, I think, about their commitment to each other. And they had enough love and respect for their extended families to want them to be part of the celebration.

Very early on, they talked about eloping. Then they considered a small, immediate-family-only wedding in NYC. Ultimately, with no parental prodding as far as I know, they decided that a blowout was one tradition they wanted. The guest list started to grow and eventually stabilized at 135.

As for the The Walk …

The venue for the ceremony featured two aisles, both of which led to a kind of raised patio where the vows would be exchanged. The plan was that my wife, Sharon, and I would walk Caitlin down one aisle while, simultaneously, Tony’s parents walked him down the other aisle.

At one point Sharon asked me if this plan in any way bruised my feelings. Not at all. Sharon was at least as much involved in bringing Caitlin this far along as I was - maybe more - and there was no reason why she shouldn’t be involved in these symbolic final steps.

When the time came, I took one of Caitlin’s arms in mine and Sharon took the other arm. Side by side by side, we walked, the three of us, non-traditionally, toward that most traditional of bonds. It felt as natural as could be.


Sept. 15 - In the art of child-rearing, as in rocket science, failure to launch is not a positive outcome.

We all know people - middle-aged, or older - who are parents of offspring who refuse to spring. They may leave the nest temporarily but, like water stains on a ceiling beneath a leaky roof, they keep coming back.

Believe me when I say that I have no desire to install a revolving door at our house. Nor do I relish the thought of hosting a basement dweller who spends the day looking for direction in TV sit-com reruns. I accept the argument that it may take a little longer, in these times of fewer roads to the middle class, to get started in life. Nonetheless, the journey to full adulthood begins, like every journey, with the first step. On the road to complete maturation, the first step can be only in one direction: away from the familiar, toward the unknown.

On the other hand, launching too successfully comes with its own consequences. New census figures show that college graduates are bailing out of Michigan at the fastest rate since 2010.  Don’t I know it? None of my four kids - all over 30 - lives in Michigan. My younger son settled with his wife in Los Angeles. My older son, his wife and two sons live near Indianapolis. My younger daughter and her new husband make their in New York City (and soon will be making a career-related move to the West Coast). My older daughter resides in heaven. (For her, I would make an exception to the no-loitering rule. If she returned to the realm of the living and showed up at my doorstep I would gladly take her in - at least until she got readjusted to life on earth.)

As for the other three, I’m happy to report they are self-sufficient. They are gainfully employed, partnered up for life (I hope), living in their own spaces and medically insured. Which means, of course, that I don’t see them nearly as much as I would like. That’s the downside of a successful launch; there’s no adjustment dial marked "reverse"; only "forward." And the plain fact is, I miss them.

From the time your kids are born, you school them to be independent and adventurous. You encourage them to pursue their dreams. Then their dreams turn out to be in another state. By then, it’s too late to alter the lesson; you can't impose a 90-mile radius on dreams.

I must admit that I feel a pang of envy whenever friends, or siblings, or people I meet at dinner parties start talking about children and grandchildren who live just a couple blocks away, or in a town just a half-hour down the highway. They pretend to complain about being pressed too often into child-care duty, but you can tell they don’t really mean it.

The great irony of parenthood is that our main job - our over-arching goal - is to achieve and ensure our own obsolescence.

But who wants to be obsolete?


John Schneider, who was inducted into the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame in April of 2019, wrote a daily general-interest column for the Lansing (MI) State Journal from 1988 until 2012. Before that, he wrote a weekly column (along with other duties) for the State Journal (from 1977 to 1988), and before that (from 1973 to 1977) he wrote a weekly column (again, as one of many duties) for the Sidney (Ohio) Daily News.

His non-fiction book, “Waiting for Home: the Richard Prangley Story,” published in 1998, documents the life of a man wrongly institutionalized for 15 years.  His play, “Voice Mail,” staged locally, takes place in a news room, naturally.

He grew up in Detroit and went to Wayne State University on the G.I. Bill after a hitch in the U.S. Navy. He majored in journalism and graduated in 1973. He and his wife, Sharon, live on 12 acres in Alaiedon Township. They have four grown children - one in heaven and three on earth - and two grandsons.

He continues to write a daily blog and is in the process of finding a literary agent to represent his recently completed novel - "Afterlife.” He has two other novels in the works.


Haslett Community Church Welcomes"All the People"

Haslett Community Church, United Church of Christ believes everyone is on a journey with and toward God, and we welcome all the people to take that journey together. Join Sunday at 10:00 a.m. and check out haslettcommunitychurch.org for information on our vibrant youth groups and more!

Around Town


Mason Ribbon Cutting for Timeless Treasures

The Mason Area Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors provided a ribbon cutting on Saturday, September 21, 2019 to celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of the Mason Farmers Market. The market takes place on select summer Saturdays on Maple Street in downtown Mason. Assisting market master Elaine Ferris are Mike Waltz, Mark Voss, Chris Waltz, Ryan Petty, Fifi Trierwalter, Bill Smith, Donna Craft, Betty Rice, and Karla Spoor. (MACC Courtesy Photo). 

Williamston's Dr. Adam Spina's "Superintendent's Blog : Work at WCS"

Work at WCS:

As we move into the second month of the school year there remain a number of vacant positions within the district. We are looking for candidates who are motivated to be a positive influence in the lives of our students and actively contribute to the success of the district and community. Openings are listed below along with links to more information as well as the appropriate point of contact.


Great Start Readiness Program, Little Hornets Preschool, Lead Teacher, Full-Time. Contact for more information: Betsy Rueckert, rueckee@gowcs.net


After School Caregiver, Kids’ Corner. Part-Time. Contact for more information: Betsy Rueckert, rueckee@gowcs.net

Meeting Minute Taker, Board of Education. Part-Time. Contact for more information: Janet Eidt, eidtj@gowcs.net

Food Service, Williamston High School. Part-Time. Contact for more information: Lynna Hassenger, hassenl@gowcs.net

Noon Supervisor, Elementary Campus. Part-Time. Contact for more information: Kelly Campbell, campbek@gowcs.net

Substitute Bus Driver, Transportation Department. Part-Time. Contact for more information: Pam VanSickler, vansicp@gowcs.net

*** WCS now offers among the highest substitute bus driver rates in the area as well as reimbursement for all training and licensing fees. Candidates may also be eligible for additional financial incentives.

More information on positions within the district can be found on the Human Resources page on the District website or by selecting the link here.

Rep. Elissa Slotkin Statement on Whistleblower Complaint

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (MI-08) released the following statement today regarding the whistleblower complaint released to Congress, alleging the President pressured a foreign leader to investigate a domestic political opponent, in violation of his oath of office. 

Slotkin is a former CIA analyst and senior Pentagon official, who helped stand up the first-ever Office of the Director of National Intelligence, established after the 9/11 attacks. On Monday, Slotkin was joined by six of her service and veteran freshman colleagues in coming out in support of moving forward with impeachment proceedings against the president if the allegations were true, citing grave national security concerns.

“As a former CIA analyst, I recognize the thorough, well-cited, and evidence-based case the whistleblower complaint lays out, adding breadth and depth to what the President and his lawyer have acknowledged publicly: that the President used the weight of his position to push a foreign leader to unearth dirt on a political opponent,” Slotkin said.

“This complaint walks through a deeply troubling pattern of behavior that was not limited to one phone call, but part of a concerted, multi-month effort by the President and his advisors to pressure Ukrainian leadership. It elevates my concern that the President is threatening our democratic process for the 2020 election, setting a dangerous precedent for any and all future American elections.”


Mealtime with Mert's Specialty Meats

Gingered Peppered Steak

2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 pound beef Teres Major, thinly sliced
2 medium green peppers, julienned
1 teaspoon canola oil
Optional: hot cooked rice

In a large bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch, ginger, soy, vinegar until smooth. Add beef, toss to coat; set aside.

In a large skillet or wok, stir-fry green peppers in oil until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes, remove and keep warm. Add beef with marinade to pan; stir-fry 3 minutes or until meat reaches desired doneness. Return peppers to pan; heat through. Serve with rice.
Serves 4

From prep to table 15 minutes

Learn More

Mert's Specialty Meats is the perfect meat and seafood shop. They are friendly and welcoming and have all you need for any meal or outing! Mert's makes fresh sausage, (including chicken) and offers an array of frozen ground beef patties.  

Open 7 days a week, they are located on Grand River just east of Okemos Road.  Visit Mert's Meats today! 

Animals All Around Us

Capital City Canine Agility Club Hosts CPE Agility Event in Williamston

Agility dogs and their owners came from as near as around the corner and as far as Ohio into Williamston September 23rd to enjoy and compete in a Canine Performance Events competition. The event was hosted by the Capital City Canine Club CPE and featured dogs of all sizes, classes and capabilities. 

“Agility is all about working with the dog and having a working relationship with them because you have to go out and run the course together. Frequently they’re numbered, sometimes you have to make up your own course and the dog has to listen so you have to have that relationship in order for the dog to trust you and want to go out there and do the thing. It’s a bonding experience.” Jennifer Kolasa explained. “This is about going out and having fun with your dog. It’s something that dogs enjoy doing, they get big rewards and lots of cookies afterwards!”

Getting involved is easier than you may think explains Capital City Canine Club of Lansing member Jill Griffet said after her events with her dog Tempest, a nine year old Pembroke Corgi. (photo) “The first thing is to come out and watch an event. Once you see how much fun it is and how much fun the dogs are having with the people, that’s the first step!” Then you start talking to the people, and there’s a lot of people here. We started this club in 1995 here in Lansing so getting know them and then getting into a class.”

Before you begin, you’ll need to have a basic obedience class under your belt, as the dog will have to have basic manners in order to control them, as well as teaching them to do the obstacles all in an environment that can be conducive to stress for inexperienced dogs. Once you begin though it’s easy to see why it would be so rewarding for someone to participate. It is all about the one on one time between the owner and their dog.  “I love spending time with my dogs, training my dogs, and my dogs absolutely love the agility.”  Griffet said. “They think it’s the most fun thing in the world and I like to have fun with my dogs!”

To learn more about the Capital Area Canine Club visit them on Facebook here