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  • Writer's pictureAnthony Manuel Ramos

Just a little over a week ago, our daughter gave birth to our second grandchild – a baby girl! Our 17-month-old grandson is now a big brother and we couldn’t be happier. We traveled to upstate New York to visit our family and meet our newest family member. Our daughter and son-in-law certainly have their hands full but we have the utmost confidence in their abilities. Luckily, our other daughter has fully embraced the “Aunt life” and is right there helping out and providing them with assistance at every turn.

Our grandson is a bundle of energy and he’s such a good eater. Looking forward, to the not so distant future, I will be thrilled to spoil them both and teach them about food, the joy of cooking, and the vast culinary richness out there that motivates me on a daily basis.

Prior to heading back home to Michigan, I held that baby girl and broke down in tears. I was overcome with emotion and it has taken me a few thoughtful days to fully understand my emotions. The first layer of my feelings were directly related to the realization that our visit was over and we were leaving our family once again. We all get along so well, and we spent quality time with our grandson with trips to the park and long walks in his stroller. I did take a few days off from the kitchen because I was pining for ethnic food that we can’t easily access living in the sticks. High on my list were really good Thai, Italian, and Chinese food and everyone obliged me and we gorged on some great take-out. That left us ample time to sit around the table with multiple rounds of card games including Shanghai, Oh Hell!, and Euchre.

On our flight home, I pondered an unexpected question – how did I – become a grandparent? Some may think the answer is easy. I am lucky to be married to a man that has two amazing, talented and beautiful (inside and out) daughters. But in my wildest dreams, I never EVER expected to be a parent on any level or to be legally married for that matter. In my 51 years, the world has changed, social acceptance has evolved, and laws have been put into place that my 15 year old brain could never have imagined as I came to the realization of who I was and the challenges I would face growing up.

I believe, the tears I wept before we left New York this past trip where filled with joy, wonderment, and yes, a bit of sadness too. In cooking terminology a – bouquet garni – perfectly represents that parcel of mixed emotions.

I am so grateful for the family I married into – my mother-in-law treats me like a son, the aunts, uncles, and vast amount of cousins that have embraced me as part of their family touches my heart. Our daughters, grandkids, and son-in-law have all enriched my life in countless ways.

The loss of both my parents just a few years ago created a painful emptiness. My new family has filled that loss with shear happiness, laughter, and special memories. My sister and I have become closer and we speak almost every day. Our bond strengthened significantly after we rescued my Dad from a hospital in Poland after he had a major stroke while on a visit to that country. But that entire story deserves its own time and space or a Lifetime movie!

As we touched down in Michigan, I walked through the airport with a full heart, a greater appreciation of the love that surrounds me, and the knowledge that life throws out some wonderful and unexpected experiences that one could never imagine.

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  • Writer's pictureAnthony Manuel Ramos

Updated: Apr 4, 2021

The transition from living in an urban megalopolis like New York City versus living in rural Michigan has been interesting to say the least. When new people we meet find out we lived in Brooklyn they immediately remark, “Wow, how are you managing that change, how are you adjusting?” For over a decade, we have been visiting our lake home 5 - 6 times a year and I knew very well what the experience would entail as I was no stranger.

I think the biggest adjustment is how far we need to travel to go food shopping, go out to eat, or basically do anything - because we live in the sticks surrounded by farms and dozens of lake communities. The pace is decidedly slower as compared to NYC and my access to hard-to-find ingredients, fresh seafood, and quality produce is limited.

On the flip side on a positive note, we are tucked in among a hundred plus acres of woods and have ample lake front to enjoy. We are excited to ‘wake up’ our pontoon from its seasonal daycare and get it back into the water. We think in a few more weeks we will have it delivered to us and then we will be buzzing around the lake soon.

We are excited for the spring season to fully kick into gear, we’ve had some warmer days and we’ve had some dustings of snow. Last week, the ice melted away from our lake, it was amazing to see ducks and loons return almost immediately. The loons are my favorite wildlife ‘attraction’ on the lake. Each year, we have a pair of Loons that call Windover Lake their home. It has been a few years since we’ve had baby loons so our lake association decided to move the floating nest built by our neighbors to our cove. Maybe a change of scenery and a less busier boating area will result in some chicks. The best part is how loons communicate, it’s hard to explain if you’ve never heard one so I’ve dug up what Cornell Lab of Ornithology has posted.

“Common Loons are famous for their eerie, beautiful calls. Among these are the tremolo, a wavering call given when a loon is alarmed or to announce its presence at a lake. The yodel is the male loon’s territorial claim. Each male has his own signature yodel. If a male moves to a different territory, he will change his yodel. The wail is the haunting call that loons give back and forth to figure out each other’s location. Hoots are soft, short calls given to keep in contact with each other. Parents might hoot to a chick, or one mate might hoot to another.” (Source:

My partner, Marc, has turned me into a bird nerd. His love of feathered friends – I believe – stems from his grandmother’s affection for these winged creatures. Bluebirds, Flickers, myriad Woodpeckers, Blue Herons, Owls, Wood Ducks, Goldfinches, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Red Winged Blackbirds, Nuthatches, Dark-eyed Juncos, cute little Black-capped Chickadees, Mergansers, Purple Martins, Hummingbirds, majestic Eagles, and of course the Loons.

At night, if we are lucky and the loons are chatty, we will hear that haunting wail. For me, it’s incredibly moving and reminds me of what a special place we now call home.

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  • Writer's pictureAnthony Manuel Ramos

Updated: Mar 20, 2021

The older I become, the more I can appreciate some of the philosophies my father was passionate about in his life. Growing up in an immigrant household, my parents were not only older than many of my friends’ parents they were also old-school. When I say ‘immigrant’ that conjures up lots of ideas – so, I’ll break it down. Both sets of my grandparents were born in Europe and made the life-changing voyage to the U.S. to become Americans. My mom was born in my hometown in NJ and my dad was born in New England.

My parents were in their early 40s when I arrived in 1969 – so, growing up and having older parents was something I had to learn how to navigate. Being the baby of the family, my older brother and two older sisters paved the way for me to get away with most everything. Not that I was a bad kid, I just didn’t think the rules were meant for me. By the time I was high-school aged my parents were in their late 50s – older than I am right now – and I was given more freedom than any of my siblings. I took that in stride and respected some boundaries.

One memory that has bubbled up in my mind is the persistence that my father had for buying products made in the USA. At the time, I didn’t understand the importance, and quite frankly found it annoying. I didn’t think about the big picture as I didn’t have the worldly experience to appreciate his demand. I was confounded and just thought it was one of those ‘Dad’ things that had no validity for me.

Little did I know… I’ve arrived at that same ideology. Building our new home here in Michigan - from lumber to kitchen appliances - I’ve worked hard to seek out, research and buy products that are made in the U.S. From building materials to finishing products, working with our general contractor we have tried to buy as much locally as possible.

Creating my kitchen design and layout was a daunting task. I’ve never done it before and I knew I had one shot to get it right. As the layout was being configured, I had the task of sourcing my appliances. Here’s where my ‘Made in the USA’ need was paramount.

I have been following a 130 year old company in Pennsylvania called Blue Star that manufactures ovens and range tops. So when it came time to pick those big ticket items, I knew exactly what I wanted and knowing that I was contributing to the bottom line of a product made in the USA made all the difference. I wanted commercial grade cooking appliances and feel confident that Blue Star was the right choice.

Blue Star's powerful 22,000 BTU burners

Our refrigerator is being manufactured by a company that has been in business since 1945 and all of their products are made in Wisconsin and/or Arizona. Our washer and dryer brand is Whirlpool. The company was founded in 1911 in Benton Charter Township, Michigan and is still headquartered there.

Making the conscious decision to buy American-made is our choice and some might say, why does it matter? Knowing that I am supporting a business, its employees, and the myriad people around that purchase makes me very proud. I feel like I am holding out my hand for a virtual handshake and doing business as locally as possible.

I finally can appreciate that lesson my father was trying to teach me in his own way.

Thanks, Dad – I get it now.

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