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Not one of my better weeks; suffice it to say that I’m now looking for a new car and not a rehab facility.  That’s the good part.  Time to move on.

The rollercoaster begins again : school is starting!  Whooeee!  Anyone got an office/coffee klatsch/bowling league/civic group/ neighborhood betting pool going on whether the newly -added-on-to Garfield Elementary School will make it to open in time?  Well, it’s GOT  to, of course.  Time and tide and fifth graders wait for no man.  There will be, undoubtedly, opportunities for volunteers to step up to the plate and help move all of the miscellaneous stuff stashed all over the district buildings into its appointed places in the Elementary School.  Stay tuned on that one.

The Portage County Randolph  Fair is on–on the same week as the Lorain County Fair in Wellington, Ohio( often still referred to as the “Wellington Fair”).  They have similar histories, actually.  Once upon a time in each of the counties there was a county fair and the Randolph  Fair / Wellington Fair.  Folks took their prize-winning peach pies or their fattest hogs to whichever festivity was closer or had the best prizes (or the least competition).  Then the real estate prices got to rising to the point that there was NO point in using prime acreage just once a year for the fair and so the “more rural” location became the de facto county fair location and the state of Ohio Agricultural Society declared that it would only support and sanction the awards given at official county fairs.  A couple of fires on the fairgrounds might have contributed to the switch as well.

Some years I can make it to both of them, some years, not.  The Lorain County Fair is my old stomping grounds.  In my misspent youth I garnered a 4-H pin that attested to the fact that I had made the best apron—brown and orange print, it was—in the county .Take THAT, Martha Stewart!  It was stunning, I’m sure.  The dress that I made, not so much. (All of my handmade items—potholder, tea towel, whatever,   tended to have kind of brownish edges  where I had to take out and re-stitch with my grubby little hands; laundering was another skill learned at this time.)  It was an interesting twist of fate that one summer  when I was young and foolish(I’m older now; we won’t go into the rest)and recently moved to Garrettsville, I consented to assist in being the advisor to the girls’ 4-H sewing club in town.  Mrs. Ford was the real advisor, I think that she just wanted help with crowd control.  At least I don’t remember anyone sewing through a body part as I did with the edge of my thumb.

I also have a cherished set of three GENUINE Swiss cowbells that I, or, rather, my livestock won in the cattle competitions over the years.  Trophies be darned, we were showing Brown Swiss cattle and the Brown Swiss Breeders Association wasn’t handing out some chintzy plastic trophies.  Two of the bells came mounted on little wooden  cradles, the other one came on a leather strap that a Swiss cow would wear up on the mountain.(Anybody remember Heidi?  She did goats, I think.  Same principle, you can’t milk the creatures unless you can find them; that’s what the bells were for.  To be honest, cows OR goats will usually head home when it’s milking time.  Like looking for a rest stop on the turnpike, there’s a certain discomfort factor involved, if you get my drift.)  Anyway, they do make a really, really loud noise at a football game…or anywhere else for that matter.

Now-a-days, I notice there are camping set-ups all over the fairgrounds in designated areas for the kids and their parents to stay overnight to keep an eye on their animals.  Back in the day when I was one of the 4-H ‘ers with a project, only the BIG boys were to be found around the barns after, say, ten o’clock and they were usually sleeping with the cows…which is O.K. if the cows are sleeping too but getting stepped on in the middle of the night by a half-ton milk-producer-in-training is no picnic, I’ll tell you.  Cozying up to the livestock doesn’t do much for one’s personal hygiene ratings either but this was trumped by the “cool” factor of getting away with hanging out at the fairgrounds basically unsupervised and the subsequent opportunities for making up big fat lies about whatever it was that the guys did there.  There are, at least, shower facilities available at most fairgrounds which allow overnight stays.  Still, it doesn’t hurt to stay upwind until the campers can be checked out.

Other exciting things can happen at the fair too.  Thursday evening used to be the Junior Fair Parade, where the kids showing livestock of all sorts—calves, cows, goats, sheep, horses, ponies (Not many chickens were in the parade)—would bring their animals to one entrance to the racetrack, walk them past the grandstand(To frenzied applause of relatives and friends) and exit out the other side entrance and, thence, back to the barns.  One fateful year the affair was going on, even as big purple clouds were gathering …and gathering…and piling up…and darkening in the west.  The wind picked up and we were hustling along, hoping to get to the other side before all hell broke loose; a vagrant breeze caused the blue ribbon on my calf’s halter to flutter, the lightening cracked, the thunder rolled and that headstrong bovine decided right then and there that she’d had enough and was heading for home …NOW!  Rain or no rain, she was outta there.  I was hanging on to the halter strap for dear life and running as fast as I could, considering that she had four feet and I had only two ,which were only touching the ground on a part-time basis.  Luckily, my dad had anticipated a fiasco of this nature, was at the exit and managed to get a hand on both of us to slow things down just a tad.  We were soaked, of course, by the time we reached the barn—much faster than we had left it—but at least we got back there; there were others attempting to round up critters for quite a while after that.  Long live the fair!

Apropos of nothing at all except the virtue of proofreading is this notice in a newspaper about a 4-H fundraiser : Small Animal Pancake Breakfast.  So…are these pancakes made in the shapes of bunnies or pygmy goats or chickens…or do the pancakes contain hamster toes or duck eggs or goose grease…or are the foods being made by sheep chefs or a pony maitre patissier or an alpaca cook at the grill?

Make you think…right?  Somebody get Disney on this.

The stock market may be up and down this year, but America’s economic recovery seems to be proceeding at a decent pace. Anyone who wants some evidence of that can find it in some key fundamental indicators.

Pessimists may counter: didn’t the economy grow just 0.1% in the first quarter? Indeed, that was the federal government’s initial estimate – but the initial estimate of quarterly GDP is twice revised, and often drastically so. Other key indicators point to a healthier economy, and some suggest that March and April were better than presumed.1

Jobless claims reached a 7-year low this month. They decreased to pre-recession levels at last, with a seasonally-adjusted 297,000 applications received in the week of May 3-10, the fewest in any week since May 2007. Economists Reuters polled thought 320,000 claims would appear.2

Hiring has picked up. April saw employers hire 288,000 people with gains in the manufacturing, construction, and professional/technical sectors. Even state and local governments hired.1

From November to April, non-farm payrolls grew by an average of 203,000 jobs per month. From January through April, the gain averaged 214,000 jobs per month. That is the kind of steady growth that pulls an economy out of the doldrums.1,3

Yes, the jobless rate hit a 5½-year low in April partly due to fewer jobseekers – but when fewer people look for work, it often translates to an indirect benefit for those in the hunt. That benefit is higher pay. Analysts think noticeable wage growth might be the next step in the labor market recovery.1

So has consumer spending. With a 0.9% increase (0.7% in inflation-adjusted terms), March was the strongest month for personal spending since August 2009. While the gain on April retail sales was just 0.1%, the March advance was just revised up to 1.5%, representing the best month for retail purchases in four years.3,4

The sequester is in the rear-view mirror. Major federal spending cuts probably exerted a significant drag on the economy in 2013. In 2014, they are gone.

The manufacturing & service sectors keep growing. The Institute for Supply Management’s globally respected monthly PMIs monitor these sectors. ISM recorded economic activity in the U.S. manufacturing sector expanding for an eleventh straight month in April; its service sector index has recorded growth for 51 straight months.5,6

Inflation is normalizing. In the big picture, inflation is not necessarily a negative. At the turn of the decade, our economy faced notable deflation risk. The euro area is still facing it today – as of April, consumer prices there had risen just 0.7% in a year. A return to moderate inflation is expected as the economy recovers. Interest rates should move higher, and in the long run, higher interest rates should lend a helping hand to the savings efforts of many households and the incomes of many retirees.7

Pending home sales went positive again in March. Before the 3.4% gain in that month, this leading indicator of housing market demand had been negative since last June. An increase in contracts to buy homes speaks to a pickup in residential real estate. The gain brought the National Association of Realtors’ pending home sales index to a reading of 97.4 in March, close to its origination (or “normal”) mark of 100.8

Some analysts think Q2 should bring solid expansion. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch expect GDP to hit 3.5% this quarter, and in the Wall Street Journal’s May poll of 48 economists, the consensus was for 3.3% growth in Q2.3,9

More inflation pressure, tightening by the Federal Reserve … how can that be good? In the short term, it will likely hamper the stock market and the housing market. In fact, the Mortgage Bankers Association has been tracking a reduction in demand for home loans, and that and any wavering in consumer spending may lead the Fed to ease a little longer or less gradually than planned (news Wall Street might welcome).7

Normal is good. Over the past several years, we have witnessed some extreme and aberrational times with regard to market behavior and monetary policy. A little equilibrium may not be so bad.

 

Christopher Perme may be reached at 330-527-9301 or cperme@financialguide.com www.permefinancialgroup.com 

 

Christopher Perme is a registered representative of and offers securities, investment advisory and financial planning services through MML Investors Services, LLC. Member SIPC. (www.SIPC.org) Supervisory Office:  2012 West 25th Street, Suite 900 Cleveland, OH  44113. 216-621-5680. Perme Financial Group is not a subsidiary or affiliate of MML Investors Services, LLC or its affiliated companies. 

 

 

Citations

 

1 – mercurynews.com/business/ci_25684116/u-s-has-best-month-job-gains-two [5/2/14]

2 – reuters.com/article/2014/05/15/idUSLNSFGEAGK20140515 [5/15/14]

3 – marketwatch.com/story/sales-at-us-retailers-barely-rise-in-april-2014-05-13 [5/13/14]

4 – tinyurl.com/q88a338 [5/1/14]

5 – ism.ws/ISMReport/MfgROB.cfm [5/1/14] 

6 – ism.ws/ISMReport/NonMfgROB.cfm [5/5/14] 

7 – blogs.wsj.com/moneybeat/2014/04/30/macro-horizons-all-eyes-on-fed-but-central-banks-overseas-more-interesting/ [4/30/14] 

8 – usnews.com/news/business/articles/2014/04/28/contracts-to-buy-us-homes-up-1st-time-since-june [4/28/14]

9 -  projects.wsj.com/econforecast/#ind=gdp&r=20 [5/14]

If you’re planning a trip in this last stretch of summer and you want to plan ahead and find out how much cash you’ll need to pay the tolls, you’re in luck. Every state we’ve checked has a website with a fare calculator. Ohio’s, for example, is at http://www.ohioturnpike.org/travelers/fare-calculator/. While the sites are all set up a little differently, they all give you the option to choose your vehicle class as well as the points that you’ll be getting on and getting off the toll road. If applicable, the sites also provide the fares for toll bridges.

We have another patron who’s planning to walk around the entirety of Lake Erie next spring. He wanted to know if he could walk across the bridges in Detroit and Niagara Falls that cross from the United States into Canada. Again, we were able to go to the websites of the bridges in question and find the tolls listed there. While the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls lists a fifty-cent charge for pedestrians and bicyclists [http://niagarafallsbridges.com/], the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit only gives charges for motorcycles and automobiles, so our patron will most likely need to find a ride across.

For avid travelers, we have an assortment of travel guides available for borrowing, including “The Rough Guide to the USA,” “Lonely Planet USA,” “Lonely Planet Canada,” and “Off the Beaten Path: Ohio.” Though it’s in our reference collection and not available for checkout, we also have the most recent Rand McNally Road Atlas here for anyone to page through.

 

For answers to your questions, visit the Newton Falls Public Library, 204 S. Canal Street, Newton Falls or phone 330-872-1282. For information about all the free library programs or hours, visit our website at www.newtonfalls.org or our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/NewtonFallsLibrary.

 

So…I’m thinking that my gardening endeavors are in need of divine intervention—for the fungus or whatever it is that’s devastating the hollyhocks  and the tomatoes, the slugs and/or whatever is feasting on the berry bushes, the infant poison ivy that seems to be popping up all over the place, the ”sweet violets”, AKA Chameleon plants that are sending out their smelly but vigorous roots everywhere but in the “dead zone” where I’d like them to move in—and I was reading a murder mystery involving a public garden with a statue of a holy fellow called St. Fiacre(Irish–Fiachra, Latin—Fiachrius) patron saint of gardeners (…and maybe cab drivers…who knew?).    Why not give him a shot?

Well, maybe not.  There’s more to the guy than one might think.  He’s not just a second-string St. Francis.  Mercy, no.

So, the saints tend to have specialties.  If you want to sell your home and the bids aren’t coming, you can appeal to St. Joseph; bury a statue of him in the back yard—upsidedown– and first thing you know you’re calling the movers.  ‘S’truth.  St. Jude specializes in lost causes, just ask Danny Thomas, that’s why he named that hospital after him.  St. Genevieve is the patron saint of cats because she was originally invoked to protect  grain stores against rats and mice( I need to speak to her).  St. Patrick watches out for snakes, engineers and Ireland.   St. Wenceslaus looks out for brewers.  St. Isidore of Seville has even been called upon to take an interest in computers and the internet; the list goes on.

So St. Fiacre (That’s St. Fiacre of Breuil, not the other two guys), whose feast day is approaching on August 30, has some , shall we say…interesting…areas of consideration.

St. Fiacre is, number one, the patron saint of gardeners, those who raise vegetables and/or medicinal plants.  Statues of him often depict him with a staff , masses of blooms and a bunny.   He was granted as much land as he could entrench in one day to build an oratory for the Blessed Virgin and a hospice for travelers.  Instead of digging , as the grantor no doubt expected, he simply dragged his staff along the ground and the soil turned itself over—the ditch dug itself!  Anyway, the good man dealt with all manner of travelers’ complaints and seemed to specialize in urology and proctology, particularly sufferers from venereal diseases (Probably why his name is seldom given to helpless children).  Also, riding distances on a horse, mule or donkey , or camel, for that matter, was certainly no easier then than now, so the good man’s intercession was implored for those afflicted with hemorrhoids (known in medieval times as “St. Fiacre’s figs).  Do we want this guy hanging around?  Sounds like his expertise is not really focused on fungus and slugs.

And, besides that, I think that I might have a word with St. Ambrose; Saint Ambrose is the patron of beekeepers.  Not sure whether he has any influence with the non-honeybee (genus : Apis) critters but I was sure in need of somebody who had some recently.

I had placed an out-of-service litter box on the back porch in hopes of encouraging a semi-feral momma-cat in the neighborhood to have her litter there where we could get a hand on them and socialize just a little.  No such luck.  So the box sat there, upside-down facing the wall, abandoned, for all intents and purposes.

Sunday I went out to clean up the porch for expected company—sweep, straighten up, that sort of thing—took a broom with me; good thing.  When I bumped the box, what I had thought was just an idle bee or two buzzing around exploded into a swarm of really, REALLY angry critters that thought I was attacking their homeland and THEY were going to put a stop to it.  Whooeee!  Sure did!  I beat a hasty retreat, swatting all the way, and got the heck out of there.  From a somewhat safer spot I looked back to see what the situation was then fetched my broom to get the box, the rug and the bees off of the porch an out onto the lawn where they could be dealt with a little more safely.  Not a one-shot deal!  Took about three tries, slapping as we went, to get the box and rug out but some of the bees…yellow jackets, whatever they were…were sticking around, just hopping mad and itching for a fight, flying around their former location, stingers at the ready.  Finally, what did the trick was the garden hose.  I washed what was left of their real estate out of there and brought out the insect spray to convince them to look for new digs.  Still took them about an hour to give up and move on.  The remains of their apartment building are out on the lawn until I’m sure they’ve gone for good.

The adventure was not without injury.  I got stung about four times but only one seems to be actually swelling up.  The last time I remember and event like this, I was stacking hay on a wagon  when the baler ran over a nest on the ground.  Zoweee!  Those bees were just as mad  but I was a lot faster then.  We—my sister and I—shot from of that wagon and took off for parts unknown, shedding our long-sleeved shirts as we went.  Finally wound up in the creek, dropped trou’ and put mud on the stings where the bees had gone up our pants and shirts.

Who says that living in the country is boring?

 

If you want significant reward, you will have to assume some risk. Anyone investing in securities – particularly stocks and funds – must accept that reality.

Investing in the markets gives you an opportunity to accelerate the growth of your savings and outpace inflation, and you definitely want that chance – but how do you cope with the risks linked to it?

Here are the four varieties of investing risk – and tactics that may help you manage or counteract them.

Diversification & concentration risk. This occurs when a portfolio isn’t varied enough. Some investors have everything in a handful of stocks or a couple of funds representing just one or two “hot” market sectors. If macroeconomic factors hurt those companies or industries, that undiversified portfolio may suffer a major setback. Even a bad earnings season may do significant damage.

Tactic: Diversify across asset classes, moving money into funds that provide broader market exposure. Avoid a glut of holdings in a given sector – even a sector everyone insists is “hot.” The flavor of the month can sour next month. Broad diversification gives investors a chance to capture gains in different market climates, and sets them up for less pain if a particular sector or asset class dives.

Reinvestment & timing risk. All investors would like to buy low and sell high, but some succumb to impatience and leap in and out of the market. In attempting to time the market, they end up hurting the long-range performance of their portfolios. The weakness of buying high and selling low has caused too many investors to miss the best market days. Besides that, bond investors commonly face reinvestment risk – the hazard that a bond’s coupon will end up reinvested someday in a lower-yielding security.

With regard to stocks, here are some long-term statistics worth noting. Standard & Poor’s research shows that if a hypothetical investor had simply parked $10,000 in an index fund mimicking the S&P 500 on January 1, 1994 and just watched it for 20 years, he or she would have wound up with $58,350 at the end of 2013. If the same investor was out of the market for just five of the top-performing days during those 20 years, he or she would have amassed only $38,723. Investment research firm DALBAR estimates that from 1991-2010, the average mutual fund investor earned 3.8% a year compared to an average 9.1% annual return for the S&P – and that 5.3% difference no doubt relates to buying high and selling low.1,2

Tactic: Instead of jockeying in and out of stocks and funds, buy and hold while scheduling consistent income through bond laddering. Use dollar cost averaging to pick up more shares of quality companies in down markets, with anticipation that they will be worth more in better times. Employ tax loss harvesting: harvest losses to offset capital gains, with the objective of bettering the after-tax return of your taxable investments.

Credit quality, interest rate & inflation risk. As you invest in the bond market, these three risks must be watched. A corporate bond’s rating (credit quality) may be downgraded by S&P or Moody’s, for example, implying a greater default risk for the bond issuer and signaling less certainly that you’ll redeem all coupons and principal. Interest rates can climb, sending bond prices south. Rising inflation can turn a bond that seemed like a “can’t lose” investment years ago into a loser at the date of maturity.

Tactic: Use individual bond issues in a laddered strategy and/or target maturity bond funds; think about zero-coupon or revenue muni bonds, or explore hybrids like preferred securities or structured notes.

General market risk. Anyone with a foot in the markets must recognize systemic risk – the potential that many or all market sectors may be riled by shocks such as a geopolitical crisis, an act of terrorism, a recession or a natural disaster. How do you cope with that?

Tactic: If you hold stocks that have logged significant gains, consider adopting a collar strategy for them – that is, writing a call option and purchasing a put option on equivalent shares. This move essentially gives you a covered call and a protective put and targets two exit prices for the underlying stock. Collars can be highly useful when volatility strikes Wall Street, and they may let you hedge positions in certain funds when conditions turn bearish. In the bigger picture, you could look into a core-and-satellite approach to investing: passively managed investments at the core of a portfolio, actively managed investments as the “satellites” seeking greater returns in different market climates under the guidance of a skilled money manager.

 

Christopher Perme may be reached at 330-527-9301 or cperme@financialguide.com www.permefinancialgroup.com 

 

Christopher Perme is a registered representative of and offers securities, investment advisory and financial planning services through MML Investors Services, LLC. Member SIPC. (www.SIPC.org) Supervisory Office:  2012 West 25th Street, Suite 900 Cleveland, OH  44113. 216-621-5680. Perme Financial Group is not a subsidiary or affiliate of MML Investors Services, LLC or its affiliated companies. 

 

 

Citations

 

1 – fc.standardandpoors.com/sites/client/wfs2/wfs/article.vm?topic=6064&siteContent=8339 [5/5/14]

2 – cbsnews.com/8301-505123_162-57402744/why-investors-are-their-own-worst-enemy/ [3/26/12]

3 – news.morningstar.com/classroom2/course.asp?docId=3035&page=4&CN=com [5/8/14]

 

We checked the Milton Township website [http://www.miltontownshipohio.org], which includes information on its history. From the website, we learned that Milton Township was originally home to the Erie Indians until the Iroquois Confederacy went to war with them in 1653. Settlers, including Nathaniel Stanley, Aaron Porter, and John Van Netten, arrived in 1803. The town was one of the most sparsely populated in Mahoning County until development of the lake began.

However, not finding any information on the origins of the town’s name, we brought in reinforcements and called the reference librarian at the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County. The librarian we spoke to was extremely friendly and willing to help. Since she didn’t know off the top of her head either, she consulted “Ohio Place Names” by Larry L. Miller. According to Miller’s book, Lake Milton most likely takes its name from Milton, Connecticut, which makes sense given that it was originally part of the Connecticut Western Reserve.

As it turns out, we have a copy of “Ohio Place Names” here in the library. Out of curiosity, we looked up Newton Falls and found that it was originally just called “Falls.” The “Newton” was added later, either in reference to Newtown, Connecticut, or to honor Eben Newton, an 1812 schoolteacher.

If you’re interested in knowing where your own town’s name comes from, feel free to give us a call or stop by!

 

For answers to your questions, visit the Newton Falls Public Library, 204 S. Canal Street, Newton Falls or phone 330-872-1282. For information about all the free library programs or hours, visit our website at www.newtonfalls.org or our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/NewtonFallsLibrary.

 

pizza pocketsOur summer has been filled to the brim with softball games, family road trips, and impromptu picnics around town. To make packing lunches a little easier, we decided to make some homemade sandwich pockets to keep on hand. They are a quick lunch or snack at home, and are an easy, healthy option to pack up for quick picnic fare. As an added bonus, this recipe is simple for kids to help at any step — by measuring ingredients, mixing & rolling dough, choosing & adding filling, sealing, and topping with seasonings.

Pocket Sandwiches (adapted from abeautifulruckus.com) 

Makes 10 Pockets

3 cups flour

1/4 cup powdered milk

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 tablespoon yeast

1 cup warm water

Diced, cooked meat and/or veggies

shredded or sliced cheese

 

2-3 tablespoons of milk to brush tops of pockets (and help adhere sprinkles)  more cheese or spices for topping, including parmesan cheese, garlic powder, Italian spices, etc.

Combine flour, powdered milk, sugar, salt, yeast, and water in a stand mixer or in a bowl and knead well.

Once the dough is well combined, divide it into 10 equal portions. Take each portion, and roll with a rolling pin to form rectangles. Top each rectangle with filling, and then fold in the sides and ends to create a pocket. Place pockets, seam side down, on parchment-lined cookie sheets. Brush with milk, then top liberally with cheese and seasonings of choice. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly brown.

Serve while warm, or cool completely, then wrap and store in the freezer.

With one batch, we chose pepperoni and mozzarella cheese filling, topping with pizza spices and grated Parmesan cheese. My taste-testers gave these two thumbs up served warm, with or without marinara sauce. For another batch, we filled with ham and cheddar cheese, topping with shredded cheddar, and these, too, were a hit. They’re great at room temperature, and simple for kids to warm in the microwave for a quick bite.

Additional savory filling options we’d like to try include diced chicken, cooked broccoli & cheddar cheese, scrambled eggs & sausage, grilled vegetables & shredded cheese. Really, whatever flavor combinations your family enjoys will probably make tasty hot pocket fillings. Sweeter filling options could include cream cheese & berries, or Nutella & preserves, sprinkled with powdered sugar or icing once the pockets have cooled completely. Not to rush past summer, but these would be great in lunchboxes in the fall.

 

One of the features of the ship’s itinerary is to make a couple stops at the local villages so that we might get the flavor– experience the ambiance– of the area. One of the towns is Petersburg, settled by Norwegians in the 1800s.  We motored for about three hours south of Juneau on the inland waterway passage of Frederick Sound.  This is part of the inland waterway that stretches from Seattle to Alaska. You can travel all the way and never be exposed to the open Pacific Ocean.  Among other benefits, the water is much calmer than the open ocean.  It is also a world class prime grounds for sighting whales (inset photo) , seals, sea lions and other marine mammals. The water is deep—sometimes 2000 ft. in places but most often 400-600 feet deep.  It never freezes over, and is in the temperate zone where, despite many snowcapped peaks on all sides, the temperature never goes below zero in the winter and summer temps are in the 60-70s.  There are about 110 inches of rain per year making this a temperate coastal rainforest. There are more than 18 hours of daylight in June and 6 ½ hours in December—you can read the paper by natural light at 3 AM in the morning during the summer. The tide can vary as much as 23 feet in one day from high to low tide. If you, perchance, dock at say, high tide, you will undoubtedly have an alpine climb down to your boat if you return 10-12 hours later.

We docked at Petersburg, another village that you can only get to by air or by sea. It is one of the very few outposts of modern civilization in coastal Alaska, most of which are likewise accessible only by air or water. Technically, it is on an island, one of truly countless many in Alaska. (You can’t drive to Juneau, the state capital, either, mostly because of hugely high snowcapped mountains, glaciers and other insurmountable natural barriers.) Fishing is the backbone of the economy, producing 36 million dollars worth of  seafood each year.   Petersburg is an ancient village, the roots of which go back many hundreds of years to when only Native Americans inhabited the area.  Native American Tlingit tribes used the area to fish for salmon and halibut and hunted in the area all year around

These days, Petersburg is a city of about 3000 people.  80 % are Caucasian, 10 % are American Indian and Alaskan Natives, and 10% others. The federal, state and local governments are the largest employers and fishing is the driving force in today’s economy. The town’s seafood processors employ about 1100 people.  Besides fishing, tourism and timber also drive the economy.

As you approach the harbor from the water, at a mile away you begin to make out the masts and deck cranes protruding from many large ocean going fishing boats.  As you get closer you see row upon row of fishing boats like you see on TV’s Deadliest Catch. The vast majority have extremely high bows to fend off large ocean waves and swells.  This is an indication that they don’t just fish the inland waterways but frequently venture out into the open ocean. They are smartly painted, have a couple deck cranes to hoist the nets and crab pots, and are in good repair.  These boats are each worth well over a million dollars and the majority are family owned.

The whole village is about 8 blocks long and three blocks deep—maybe as big as the village of Fairport Harbor on Lake Erie. But the many rows of these magnificent fishing boats are the most impressive sight.

According to the Petersburg Visitors Guide here are some of the more (some less??) memorable things to do in Petersburg: 1) Adventure Tours—local companies can provide Wilderness tours by land sea or air. 2) Fish for king salmon.  3) Bird watching. 4) Nature walks.  5) Check your E-mail. 6) Eat Lutefisk.  7) Restaurants (two). 8) Visit the Viking Ship Valhalia in the Sons of Norway parking Lot.  Checking your E-mail might seem one of the more mundane if not ridiculous options to list……until you realize that you haven’t been able to have any cell phone reception or E-mail reception for 4 days because you are so far out in the bush/mountains/uninhabited water ways.  Eating lutefisk……let’s just say that following the bears to the garbage dump to wallow in dead fish and rotting vegetative matter is a very similar sensual experience.

This is prime whale watching water. Of the estimated 6000 humpback whales in the North Pacific about 1000 of them spend the summer feeding in Southeast Alaska and they enter through the Frederick Sound on which Petersburg is located.  On this trip we encountered myriads of whales frolicking about, feeding, and having a gloriously good time totally oblivious to our presence. The captain would stop the ship and we would expend thousands of photos trying to get just the right picture of a whale breaching or rolling or bubble hunting!  What?? You don’t know what bubble hunting is? I confess, neither did I.  So let me explain.  Whales frequently hunt in packs or pods. When they find a school of fish they will surround it, dive down under it and begin blowing a screen of tiny bubbles thus creating a surrounding wall much like a net, driving the school of fish closer together. Then they come up from under it with their mouths open until they reach the surface with mouths full of fish, krill and other things (lifeboats, Pinocchio). As they hit the surface there are 4-6 whale mouths and upper bodies protruding skyward out of the water for an instant.  The trick is to snap that photo at just the right moment, and why all of us on the boat have hundreds of shots of ……water, having just missed the correct timing. This pod hunting may go on for hours and hours. It takes a while to fill up a 40 ton animal.

Hump backs may reach 55 feet in length, the average being 45 feet.  Whales frequently travel in pods of several whales, often related to each other. (I don’t really know how we know that—maybe the biologist do DNA sampling, or when you get your whale driver’s license you have to submit to a DNA Test).  They may stay submerged for up to 30 minutes.  Frederick Sound humpbacks have been tracked to Maui, Hawaii where they make a 2800 mile migration and can do it in as little as 39 days.

The last page of the visitors guide has the obligatory warning to be cautious around the bears (grizzlies) which are numerous in this area  Don’t feed the bears….garbage addicted bears become nuisances…….. Don’t set up your camp where there are signs of bears eating, and imitating a bear’s sounds ranks as one of the most foolish things a human can do!

Bears are very nice. Bears and I have a love-hate (fear, actually) relationship going back to a trip to the Canadian Rockies some years ago when a lovely grizzly left a smoking 25 pound turd right in front of us on the wooden walkway “just so we knew he was there”. It apparently wasn’t enough that he was shaking trees and creating havoc in the skunk cabbage like a herd of wrestling wolverines.  I like to see bears often—most often from the short side of my long binoculars with me on the short side, or from my 400 millimeter telephoto lens. The bear warning page of the pamphlets on the ship warns strongly not to leave any garbage out that bears could get into.   Bad bears that have eaten garbage quickly become addicted (apparently garbage is to bears what heroin is to humans). Then they have to be whisked away, sometimes to the other side of the earth so that they don’t come back to that spot for a fix.  Often though they have been known to somehow make their way back home again, oh, by hopping a tramp steamer, hiding in the wheel wells of jet planes….who knows how they do it, but getting back to that garbage dump in Petersburg, Alaska is all-important.  So don’t feed the bears, or be the bear’s feed!

 

 

Do you fish, hunt, trap, travel, camp, go for nature walks? What else do you do outdoors? Drop me a line at THE VILLAGER, 8088 Main Street,  Garrettsville 44231. E-mail me at Skipstaxidermy@yahoo.com or give me a call at 330-562-9801. I’d like to hear from you.

Royal Crown Cola’s Diet-Rite, introduced in 1958, was one of the first diet sodas on the market. Once the nation started watching its weight and Royal Crown Cola started advertising Diet-Rite as a soda rather than a specialized diet product, the Coca-Cola company knew they had to do something to compete.

In 1963, Coca-Cola introduced TaB, their first diet soda. Snopes.com, a website dedicated to investigating rumors and urban legends, gives the origin of the name, which some people have erroneously assumed stands for “Totally Artificial Beverage.” [http://www.snopes.com/business/names/tab.asp] Coca-Cola was unwilling to dilute their brand by referring to their diet soda as Diet Coke. Instead, they came up with a list of three- and four-letter combinations and put about two dozen of them through market tests. TaB emerged victorious. According to Coca-Cola, it brings to mind keeping “tabs” on your weight.

Knowing a little more about TaB, now we needed to find its Pepsi counterpart. The Pepsico website has a timeline section that goes back to the sixties, but there’s not much information there. However, searching “Pepsi drinks 1960s” in an online search engine brought up the Wikipedia page for Patio, which jogged our memories. Introduced by Pepsi in 1963, Patio came in several different flavors including cola, orange, root beer, strawberry, and grape.

Fans of the television show Mad Men may be familiar with the drink. In one episode, the characters put together an ultimately unsuccessful commercial for Patio imitating the opening song in “Bye Bye Birdie,” but changing the words to “Bye bye, sugar.” A year later, Patio Diet Cola was replaced by Diet Pepsi, though some of the flavored sodas stuck around into the seventies. TaB, however, can still be found in some stores today.

For more information about Pepsi’s history and their rivalry with Coca-Cola, Pepsi: 100 Years by Bob Stoddard and The Cola Wars by J.C. Louis are both available through CLEVNET.

 

For answers to your questions, visit the Newton Falls Public Library, 204 S. Canal Street, Newton Falls or phone 330-872-1282. For information about all the free library programs or hours, visit our website at www.newtonfalls.org or our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/NewtonFallsLibrary.

 

It hasn’t quite hit me yet because it really seems like just yesterday my husband and I were talking about opening a winery. Young and naïve, only 25 at the time, we said, let’s give it a go and see how far this thing goes. Then we started talking after our first anniversary – “if we make it to 7 years in the business, we’ll have done better than most.” Then year seven came and we agreed that we were having too much fun to stop then. And now as we get ready to celebrate the winery’s 10th anniversary it’s amazing what we have learned, what we have accomplished and most of all how all of you have welcomed us into your neighborhood and have supported us from day one.

From the day we opened our doors on August 13, 2004 every moment of having the winery has been exciting. We had guests lined up an hour before we opened that day, had people stopping in all the time to see what we were working on and to see how they could help. Sure – some of the moments we have experienced in 10 years have been challenging (especially the moments Mother Nature has thrown at us), but nevertheless each moment has gotten us to where we are today.

As we have in years past, we will celebrate the 10th anniversary on Saturday, August 9th with a huge benefit for Ohio Pug Rescue. For those of you that do not know the story, our pug Mynde, passed away suddenly on the winery’s first anniversary. Shortly after her passing, our other pug Mork, needed a companion so we reached out to Ohio Pug Rescue and adopted two more pugs, Ellie and Truman. Every year since Mynde’s passing, we have celebrated with a benefit to Ohio Pug Rescue.

We will open the winery to all friendly dogs and their owners to enjoy wine (especially our Pink Pug wine and Pink Pug Sangria), live music by singer / guitarist Ellen Burke from 2-5pm and local favorite Steve Vanderink from 7:30 – 9:30pm, great $10 food options, awesome $10 deals on bottles of wine. Shop over 10 vendors, enter to win more than 10 huge raffle prizes and so much more! We will have everything set up outside by our pond, so bring some lawn chairs or a blanket to enjoy the day with us.

The day is dedicated to all dogs (pugs especially!) with music, food, Pug Wine, and of course, plenty of dogs. So if you have a special dog, plan on joining us on August 9th from 2pm – 10pm. All friendly dogs are welcome!

 

Amanda is the Co-Owner of Candlelight Winery located at 11325 Center Road, Garrettsville.  For more information on other wine topics  please visit www.candlelightwinery.com.

TOD, JTWROS...what do these obscure acronyms signify? They are shorthand for transfer on death and joint tenancy with right of ownership – two designations that permit automatic transfer of bank or investment accounts from a deceased spouse to a surviving spouse.

This automatic transfer of assets reflects a legal tenet called the right of survivorship – the idea that the surviving spouse should be the default beneficiary of the account. In some states, a TOD or JTWROS beneficiary designation is even allowed for real property.1

When an account or asset has a TOD or JTWROS designation, the right of survivorship precedes any beneficiary designations made in a will or trust.1,2 

There are advantages to having TOD and JTWROS accounts … and disadvantages as well.

TOD & JTWROS accounts can usually avoid probate. As TOD and JTWROS beneficiary designations define a direct route for account transfer, there is rarely any need for such assets to be probated. The involved financial institution has a contractual requirement (per the TOD or JTWROS designation) to pay the balance of the account funds to the surviving spouse.1

In unusual instances, an exception may apply: if the deceased account owner has actually outlived the designated TOD beneficiary or beneficiaries, then the account faces probate.3

What happens if both owners of a JTWROS account pass away at the same time? In such cases, a TOD designation applies (for any named contingent beneficiary).3

To be technically clear, transfer on death signifies a route of asset transfer while joint tenancy with right of ownership signifies a form of asset ownership. In a variation on JTWROS called tenants by entirety, both spouses are legally deemed as equal owners of the asset or account while living, with the asset or account eventually transferring to the longer-living spouse.3

Does a TOD or JTWROS designation remove an account from your taxable estate? No. A TOD or JTWROS designation makes those assets non-probate assets, and that will save your executor a little money and time – but it doesn’t take them out of your gross taxable estate.

In fact, 100% of the value of an account with a TOD beneficiary designation will be included in your taxable estate. It varies for accounts titled as JTWROS. If you hold title to a JTWROS account with your spouse, 50% of its value will be included in your taxable estate. If it is titled as JTWROS with someone besides your spouse, the entire value of the account will go into your taxable estate unless the other owner has made contributions to the account.4

How about capital gains? JTWROS accounts in common law states typically get a 50% step-up in basis upon the death of one owner. In community property states, the step-up is 100%.5

Could gift tax become a concern? Yes, if the other owner of a JTWROS account is not your spouse. If you change the title on an account to permit JTWROS, you are giving away a percentage of your assets; the non-spouse receives a gift from you. If the amount of the gift exceeds the annual gift tax exclusion, you will need to file a gift tax return for that year. If you retitle the account in the future so that you are again the sole owner, that constitutes a gift to you on behalf of the former co-owner; he or she will need to file a gift tax return if the amount of the gift tops the annual exclusion.5

TOD & JTWROS designations do make account transfer easy. They simplify an element of estate planning. You just want to be careful not to try and make things too simple.

TOD or JTWROS accounts are not cheap substitutes for wills or trusts. If you have multiple children and name one of them as the TOD beneficiary of an account, that child will get the entire account balance and the other kids will get nothing. The TOD beneficiary can of course divvy up those assets equally among siblings, but in doing so, that TOD beneficiary may run afoul of the yearly gift tax exclusion.2

JTWROS accounts have a potential a drawback while you are alive. As they are jointly owned, you have a second party fully capable of accessing and using the whole account balance.2

As you plan your estate, respect the power of TOD & JTWROS designations. Since they override any beneficiary designations made in wills and trusts, you want to double-check any will and trust(s) you have to make sure that you aren’t sending conflicting messages to your heirs.2

That aside, TOD & JTWROS designations represent convenient ways to arrange the smooth, orderly transfer of account balances when original account owners pass away.

 

Christopher Perme may be reached at 330-527-9301 or cperme@financialguide.com www.permefinancialgroup.com 

 

Christopher Perme is a registered representative of and offers securities, investment advisory and financial planning services through MML Investors Services, LLC. Member SIPC. (www.SIPC.org) Supervisory Office:  2012 West 25th Street, Suite 900 Cleveland, OH  44113. 216-621-5680. Perme Financial Group is not a subsidiary or affiliate of MML Investors Services, LLC or its affiliated companies. 

 

 

Citations

 

1 – dummies.com/how-to/content/bypassing-probate-with-beneficiary-designations.navId-323700.html [5/5/14]

2 – galaw.com/the-dangers-of-pod-and-tod-accounts/ [2/4/14]

3 – fidelity.com/estate-planning-inheritance/estate-planning/asset-strategies/brokerage [5/13/14] 

4 – theyeshivaworld.com/news/headlines-breaking-stories/167700/what-is-probate.html [5/10/13] 

5 – newsobserver.com/2013/06/08/2944839/advice-on-joint-tenancy-with-rights.html [6/8/13]

 

In addition to pareidolia, I occasionally suffer(if that’s the right word) from bouts of mondegreen; I don’t think that it’s covered by any reputable insurance(though it’s likely on the docket for some fly-by-night, blood-sucking outfit from the late-night TV)but it can be sort of debilitating when you’ve got it.  Pareidolia, as you must recall, is usually seeing significant images in totally random contexts, like the guy down in Louisiana who cut open an eggplant and beheld the word “God” spelled out in seeds.  Elvis and the Virgin Mary are apt to turn up anywhere, from a toasted cheese sandwich to pictures in mildew on old walls.

Mondegreens, on the other hand, are audio rather than video effects and have only been defined since 1954, when the word was coined by Sylvia Wright in an essay which appeared in Harper’s Magazine.  It’s even in dictionaries now.  The Wikipedia definition is : a mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase as a result of near-homophony(sounding alike) in a way that gives new meaning; most often created by listening to a poem or song  but not hearing clearly, substituting words that sound similar to the misheard lyrics…sort of making sense.  The columnist in the Record who mentioned this the other day cited his mishearing of the ‘70’s song “Chuck E.’s in Love” as “Chuck Easy, Love”.  Not real intelligible, but close.  He gives a couple of other examples, like “very close veins” for “varicose veins” and “old timers’ disease“ for Alzheimer’s disease.  My contribution to these slightly-skewed interpretations     was my confusion over a ‘60’s tune by Elvis (See, I said he was everywhere) titled “Return to Sender”;  for years  I puzzled over why Elvis was singing about “The Prisoner of Zenda”.  Not that I actually knew anything about “The Prisoner of Zenda”—it was written in 1894(Just a tad before my time—maybe I was channeling Grandma) and made into movies in 1913, 1922, 1937, 1952 and 1979 (a Peter Sellers flick, must have been interesting).  I wasn’t that into Elvis, truth to tell, so I probably didn’t listen too carefully.

Anyway, some other examples of the phenomenon are :

“Surely Good Mrs. Murphy shall follow me all the days of my life….”  from the 23rd Psalm, “Gladly, the cross-eyed bear” from the hymn “Keep Thou My Way” and “O Say Kansas City” opening the “Star-Spangled Banner”.  Pop songs, possibly because of the really poor enunciation found among the groups singing them,  are frequently episodes of mondegreens, for instance, the Creedence Clearwater Revival line “There’s a bad mood on the rise” morphed into “There’s a bathroom on the right”.  The original “Twelve Days of Christmas” had “four colley birds”—not any more understandable than “four calling birds”, really—until the early twentieth century.  The cartoon feature, “Olive, the Other Reindeer” had its origin in the song “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer”.  One of my personal favorites was  the line from the Catholic rosary, where the line hailing Mary (See, I told you she was everywhere too)”amongst women” became “a monk swimmin’” and some little kid looking at a Nativity scene at Christmas trying to find “Round John Virgin”.  I even had to participate in a reverse mondegreen in the third grade when we had a music program and sang a novelty song, popular at the time, “Mairzy Doats”; the immortal lyrics were : “Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey; A kiddley divey too, Wooden shoe?”  Great stuff, eh?

And there are examples of the same kind of wordplay in lots of languages, not just English; one mentioned  was the Hebrew song, “Hava Nagila”(Let’s be happy)—always showing up in Jewish wedding movies where everyone goes around in a circle and they all end up stamping and yelling “Hey”  at the end.

See, they’re everywhere.  And don’t get me started on soramimi—songs that produce unintended meanings when translated homophonically into another language.  I always wonder about the ones in the Methodist hymnal that have versions in Cherokee or Japanese.  What if we pronounced them wrong and sang something scatological? Might even have some connection to the urban legend that the Chevy Nova had to have its name changed when sold in Latin America because competitors  claimed that it “No Va”—“Doesn’t go”  Or on eggcorn…or mumpsimus (That one makes me crazy).

Malapropism is another story.  Time for bed.

 

From the edge of the red and white blanket, Doodle Dog watched his favorite kind of humans splashing in the slight surf at the edge of the shore. As much fun as he was having listening to stories and snacking on yummies, the floppy-eared puppy couldn’t very well spend all afternoon on the blanket, especially being that he was still in the middle of a goopy mess. A very tasty, frosty, creamy mess, but a sticky, slimy, icky mess all the same. It had been fun for a moment or two, but Doodle Dog did not quite wish to stay covered in this concoction that made him appear as though a vanilla volcano erupted all over his fur. Licking the tips of his paws only worked so well because soon his tongue became just as sticky as his toes and he found the more he tried to get clean, the more he was actually getting gooey! The melty ice cream drops started to turn a bit gummy as they mixed with the fuzzy flecks on his feet and, well, it was NOT what the floppy-eared puppy had in mind when he thought maybe he would try a new look for summer! This was definitely a fashion faux “paw” of puppy proportions! Doodle Dog certainly didn’t want to commit such a canine crime, even if it was of the yummy confectionary kind, so he wondered how he could get himself out of the – quite actual – sticky situation.

There! A very simple solution to his current condition shone in front of him by the form of the sprawling, shimmering lake where the little humans splashed and scampered. As their toes swished in the ripples, it appeared they had the right idea to get un-sticky! Splashing and scampering are what the floppy-eared puppy does best so not another moment went by before Doodle Dog decided to join in the fun. As his paws swished in the ripples, the spaces between his toes loosened and the clumps in his fur disappeared. Dozens of boys and girls were scampering, splashing, swimming and shrieking with delight as gentle waves washed over them. Skipping over the ripples, the little red wagon boy was now leading something other than a pile of books. Several children danced and pranced along beside and behind him as he made his way down the shore to the far end of the lake, his bare feet leaving a trail of toe prints in the sand as he went, toe prints which were soon joined by those of the other children and then the paw prints of one very curious – and now considerably cleaner! – floppy-eared puppy. At the curve of shore just up ahead, Doodle Dog could now see what everyone was excitedly approaching. A wide ladder, which really more resembled a series of steps, reached up from a solid, sturdier piece of ground off to the side of the sandy bank spread under their feet. And, at the tippy top of the staircase ladder, a length of colorful lumber stuck out like a long, flat limb jutting out of a tree. The little boy immediately scurried up the sturdy rungs and balanced on the protruding panel, his small feet light tan against the bright orange overhanging from the ladder. Doodle Dog couldn’t help but think the diving board resembled a flattened traffic cone that hadn’t jumped out of a bicycle’s way in time. He also couldn’t help thinking that he generally avoided objects that reminded him to take caution!

Despite the friendly child beginning to bounce up and down on it, that diving board did not appear very welcoming to the curious but cautious floppy-eared puppy. As the other children scrambled up the ladder to watch the boy take his leap into the liquidy lagoon below, Doodle Dog preferred the view from right where his paws were planted. He could see plenty from right there on the safe shore.

But as the brave little boy went to the very end of the diving board, wrapping his toes over the edge, and bounced once, then twice, the floppy-eared puppy watched first in fright, then in anticipation and awe when the boy’s toes left the platform, then excitement as he splashed in, and then finally in eager delight while waiting for the jumper to resurface. The onlookers cheered from their various positions on the platform, the ladder or on the ground waiting to climb up themselves. One by one the group thinned out as its members took turns scrambling, springing and splashing. Soon the floppy-eared puppy was the only one not swimming.

The children in the water called out to Doodle Dog, encouraging him to try the dive himself. Several pets dove with their humans: a Golden Lab had already taken the plunge and was now happily chasing a small ball as it bobbed up and down in the wrinkly waves and a very wet German Shepherd shook itself dry after returning to the shore right next to the floppy-eared puppy. Doodle Dog knew if he was going to try it, this was his chance. If he waited too long, everyone would be tired of splashing around and he’d be all by himself at the top of the ladder! Eep!

Taking a deep breath, he put one front paw on the bottom rung of the staircase ladder, then his next front paw and then finally his two back paws cautiously followed. Rung by rung, one at a time, one paw then the next and then the rest, the floppy-eared puppy climbed. When he reached the top, he didn’t bounce out to the board right away like the little wagon boy, but instead stopped to look out over the lake and the treetops surrounding it. Then he took a deeper breath and slowly scooted paw by paw, inch by inch along the traffic cone-colored beam. This must be what it’s like to walk the pirate plank! Doodle Dog imagined all the sea stories he read with sleek ships and salty air. A swift wind made him shiver as he went to the very end of the diving board and wrapped his paws over the edge, his claws digging in slightly while he convinced himself to take the path between holding on tightly and letting go to fly in the air. Taking his deepest breath of all, the floppy-eared puppy bounced once… then twice… and … SPLASH!

The onlookers cheered from their various spots in the surf and on the shore as Doodle Dog resurfaced and swam to the water’s edge. Doggie paddling? Now that’s something he can do quite well!

 

Even as hot as it’s been lately, one of our patrons is looking ahead to colder months, concerned for the deer that have to weather them. We found our answers in Leonard Lee Rue III’s “The Deer of North America” and “Way of the Whitetail” and the websites of New Brunswick’s Natural Resources Department [http://www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/departments/natural_resources/ForestsCrownLands/content/DeerWinteringAreas.html], the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department [http://www.vtfishandwildlife.com/cwp_elem_spec_dwa.cfm], and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife [http://www.maine.gov/ifw/hunting_trapping/pdfs/deer_yards.pdf].

In the fall, deer begin to grow out their winter coat. Grayish-brown in color, the winter coat is comprised of hollow hairs and a dense undercoat and provides excellent insulation. Deer’s metabolism will also drop, allowing them to get by on less food.

Even with their winter coats, cold winds can chill, and deep snow requires a lot of energy to move through. To avoid the wind and snow, deer in the north will move to wintering areas, also known as deer yards, which can be anywhere from a few to a hundred acres and can draw in deer from all over the area. The most important function of a deer yard is to provide cover, so they’re typically found in swamps and gullies with good stands of evergreens.

While moose will lie down in the snow and use it as a blanket, deer prefer to make their beds by pawing down to the leaves and sleeping there. As another way of conserving energy, they’ll move as little as possible. During a bad snowstorm, they may not even leave their beds – an impulse many of us can understand.

 

For answers to your questions, visit the Newton Falls Public Library, 204 S. Canal Street, Newton Falls or phone 330-872-1282. For information about all the free library programs or hours, visit our website at www.newtonfalls.org or our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/NewtonFallsLibrary.

 

As the moon goes to bed, the sun comes up

And here we meet a sleepy pup,

Who was walking through G-ville one bright sunny day,

Then saw The Villager and decided to stay.

 

The best place to find the sunshine and the best way to see it for sure is to go outside and today was as good a day as any for meandering through town. Doodle Dog ambled out the office door, his tail wagging excitedly as he hopped down the front step and dropped onto the sidewalk.

Not only was the sun right there where he expected it to be, a bright, bold yellow ball high in the sky above him, but that sky itself surrounding that sunny orb spread a brilliant, beautiful blue on top of, below and every which way around it. A few white clouds here and there dotted the atmosphere like fluffy versions of the smattering of stars scattered in patterns on the fabric flags hanging from patriotic poles and delicately draped over balconies bursting with the colorful pride of the season.

The floppy-eared puppy scampered past the shops along the main street of town, only stopping for a moment to admire a simple scene of summery selections carefully clustered together to create a lovely window display. A red and white checkered blanket cushioned a tiny inflatable pool with plastic walls clear and see-through so passersby could spot the family of rubber duckies lazily floating on the top of clean, sparkling water tinted blue for extra effect. Soft ripples bobbed each duckie up and then down, one by one, as Doodle Dog watched the gentle, peaceful motion, and he only slightly wanted to jump after the creatures and chase them! (But he managed to refrain.) However, causing him to pause for much longer than a moment, the storefront a few windows down caught the floppy-eared puppy’s attention entirely. The bake shop had been decorated with several yummy designs, strawberries, blueberries and vanilla icing serving as edible art supplies. Masterpieces made of assorted munchies lined up like soldiers on the shelves and petite pastries were arranged just so that they became one small part of what turned out to be a giant star if viewed just right. Mmmmm! Doodle Dog would have to remember to come back to nibble a puppy-friendly treat, but not now. No, he was too excited that the sun was still following him and wanted to make the most of the day. Stars and bites would just have to wait!

As soon as he returned to his path, Doodle Dog noticed a small boy tugged a little red wagon filled with something else quite wonderful. The brim of a blue baseball cap pulled way down low shielding his eyes from the sun way up high, the boy took great care with each step to make sure his cargo stayed in place. Filling the space behind him, stacks and stacks of prettily-bound books formed a sort of fortress in this child-size carriage. Doodle Dog wondered how long it would take for the little boy to read all those stories, or maybe he already had! And then, perched on the books and riding in the very center of the wagon, a white cat as fluffy as the clouds above politely meowed at the floppy-eared puppy as he padded past. It would be easy to read all those books with a buddy to hear the stories too! Before continuing on his way, Doodle Dog took a moment to nudge the back of the wagon a few squares on the concrete to make the load a little easier for the boy to pull. From under his baseball cap, he giggled gratefully as he let his temporary guard dog give him a helping paw.

Down the hill the little boy went, his wagon, his books and his cat in tow. The floppy-eared guard dog could see they would be just fine on their journey, but decided it would be a good idea to follow them at a short distance behind in case they needed him. Eep! Not quite. They may not need help, but the guard dog might! Doodle Dog ducked as a bright cherry red cardinal and a blue jay with markings the color of a muted blueberry zipped after one another in an airborne game of tag so intense that for a moment all the floppy-eared puppy saw was a blur of purple until the birds finally became separate streaks zooming around him. The not-so-guard dog dropped to the ground and hopped out of the way as the feathers flew above him. When all was clear he followed where the wagon, its passenger and its conductor had disappeared on the path, sniffing his way to find them. Soon his nose picked up the scent of pages, fur and metal warmed by the sun and he not only found his new friends, but the glistening blue lake behind them. Next to the lake, a giant blanket spread over the ground, its tiny red and white squares playing patterns that disappeared under a plate and reappeared on the other side of a mug. Seated around the blanket were various humans chattering happily while smaller humans splashed on the shore. A little girl ran up and down the sandy bank of the lake trailing a kite, a patch of red floating against the blue sky and white clouds. The little boy took out his books and shared them with the other humans sitting there, making sure to place one next to him for his cat too. Then he patted a spot for Doodle Dog as well! Along with the tales, which were definitely treats in themselves, an assortment of summery yummies were spread on the blanket. The little boy chose an ice cream cone, soon beginning to drip from the warm day. The goopy vanilla swirled on top just like the icing on the cupcake in the bake shop window. Mmmm! The little boy offered the floppy-eared puppy a bite, but as Doodle Dog took a lick he wound up with frosty, sugary drops dripping ALL over his nose! The drops went from his nose to his paws and down to the blanket making it covered in red, white and goo! Ew!

 

Will you live to be 100? If you’re a woman, your odds of becoming a centenarian are seemingly better than those of men. In the 2010 U.S. Census, over 80% of Americans aged 100 or older were women.1

Will you eventually live alone? According to the Administration on Aging (a division of the federal government’s Department of Health & Human Services), about 47% of women aged 75 or older lived alone in 2010. If that prospect seems troubling, there is another statistic that also may: while 6.7% of men age 65 and older lived in poverty in 2010, 10.7% of women in that age demographic did.2,3

Statistics like these carry a message: women need to pay themselves first. A phrase has emerged to describe all this: longevity risk. As so many women outlive their spouses by several years or more, a woman may need several years more worth of retirement income. So there is a need to consider income sources – and investment strategies – for the years after a spouse passes away.

What does this mean for the here and now? It means contributing as much as your budget allows to your retirement accounts. Procrastination is your enemy and compound interest is your friend. It means accepting some investment risk – growth investing for the long run is looking more and more like a necessity.

You will need steady income, and you will need to keep growing your savings. In 2012, Social Security income represented 50.4% of the average annual income for unmarried and widowed woman aged 65 and older. Having a monthly check is certainly comforting, but that check may not be as large as you would like. The average woman 65 or older received but $12,520 in Social Security benefits in 2012.4

You will likely need multiple streams of income in retirement, and fortunately forms of investment, housing decisions and inherited assets can potentially lead to additional income sources. A chat with a financial professional may help you determine which options are sensible to pursue.

Your income and your savings must also keep up with inflation. Even mild inflation can exact a toll on your purchasing power over time.

Risk-averse investing may come with a price. In 2013, the investment giant Allianz surveyed Americans with more than $200,000 in investable assets and unsurprisingly learned that their #1 priority was retirement savings protection. What did surprise some analysts was their penchant for conservative investing during a banner year for stocks.5

Memories of the 2008-09 bear market were apparently hard to dispel: 76% of those surveyed indicated that given the choice between an investment offering a 4% return with protection of principal and an investment offering an 8% return but lacked principal protection, they would take the one with the 4% return.5

A substandard return shouldn’t seem so attractive. If your portfolio yields 4% a year and inflation is running at 1% a year (as it is now), you can live with it. Your investments aren’t earning much, but the Consumer Price Index isn’t gaining on you. If consumer prices rise 3.3% annually (which was what yearly inflation averaged across 2004-07), you are barely making headway. You actually may be losing ground against certain consumer costs. If inflation tops 4% (and it might, if interest rates take off later in this decade), you have a real problem.6

Cumulative inflation can really eat into things, as a check of a simple inflation calculator reveals. An $18.99 steak dinner at a nice restaurant in 2000 would cost you $24.54 today given the ongoing tame-to-moderate inflation over the last 14 years. That’s 36.3% more.7

As much as we would like to park our retirement money and avoid risk, fixed-income investments don’t always offer much reward these days. Retirees can feel like they are being punished by low interest rates, as they can see prices rising faster around them at the grocery store and for assorted services and goods. Interest rates will rise, but equity investments have traditionally offered the potential for greater returns than fixed-income investments and in all likelihood will continue to do so.

Growth investing is a necessary response to longevity risk. After all, you can’t risk outliving your retirement savings. Keeping part of your portfolio in the stock market offers you the potential to keep growing your retirement money, thereby offering you the chance have a larger retirement fund from which to withdraw proportionate income.

Christopher Perme may be reached at 330-527-9301 or cperme@financialguide.com www.permefinancialgroup.com 

Christopher Perme is a registered representative of and offers securities, investment advisory and financial planning services through MML Investors Services, LLC. Member SIPC. (www.SIPC.org) Supervisory Office:  2012 West 25th Street, Suite 900 Cleveland, OH  44113. 216-621-5680. Perme Financial Group is not a subsidiary or affiliate of MML Investors Services, LLC or its affiliated companies. 

 

Citations

1 – census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/2010_census/cb12-239.html [12/10/12]

2 – aoa.gov/Aging_Statistics/Profile/2011/6.aspx [4/10/14] 

3 – aoa.gov/Aging_Statistics/Profile/2011/10.aspx [4/10/14]

4 – ssa.gov/pressoffice/factsheets/women.htm [3/14]

5 – foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2013/10/24/wall-streets-rallying-so-why-are-boomers-so-scared/ [10/24/13]

6 – usinflationcalculator.com/inflation/current-inflation-rates/ [4/10/14]

7 – usinflationcalculator.com/ [4/10/14]

“Back in the Saddle Again…Out where a friend is a friend…Where the longhorn cattle feed on the lowly Jimson weed…We’re back in the saddle again….” (Was that Gene Autry?.  Gene had a sidekick named Pat Butram,  I think, who always says said his name so that it sounded more like “artery”. Made him sound like a medical condition. I know Roy Rogers did “Happy Trails to You”.   Roy had a horse named Trigger and a dog named Bullet. Where did Gabby Hayes come in?)  But I digress….

It’s good to be , once again, bringing you the latest news flashes.  The paint has dried!

I don’t know about anybody else on the ol’ Villager Ranch, but I spent a good deal of the “down time” between   the end of SummerFest and the Fourth of July being asked about the results of various competitions and contests (My pies did well!); unfortunately, I had no idea how things all came out.  This week’s edition should enlighten everyone about those basic facts.  The next time this happens—SummerFest being piled upon the Fourth, all higgledy-piggledy—I’m just going to make things up.  In matters of fact, I cannot be trusted.

It WAS quite a stretch there, getting things organized and set up (Thank you crews of every stripe, you were golden.  The seating, the electric wizards, the clean-up forces…ya dun good)as well as the actual events (I’m talking the Garrettsville SummerFest and the Hiram Fourth of July) ;everyone pitching in made a BIG difference.

Kudos to the Eagles, who’ve made their corner of downtown an attractive focal point.  Ditto for Mike Maschek, who’s made an amazing improvement to the “face” of the village by cleaning up the eyesores in back of the old gristmill and gutting the structure so that it can be restored.  The reseeding of the Buckeye Block space is looking good too (The Eagles went ballistic and sodded their territory.  Primo!)  Hiram’s “Old Fashioned Fourth” has lost none of its appeal and even keeps on growing, with the Bloodmobile available and activities for everyone(Music and strawberries are an awesome combination).  The Community Band had a good, solid brass section that tooted and oom-pahed through a varied program with a remarkable cast of all ages. Think about dusting off that old high school instrument yourself for next year(The regular bass drummer needs support and some of the other players—Sax-y Anna is 84—would love to have some too).  It’s really fun.

Good fireworks, both ways  …and a shout-out to Newton Falls for that big time production of lights and sound on the 4th.

And maybe that everyone was all wound up after such a stretch of celebration, but there were sirens—police, ambulance, fire, who-knows-what-all—going off lately at all times of the day and night.  Just wanted to get in on the excitement, maybe.

More Cruise Nights and a Peach Social still on tap for the rest of the summer.

Saddle up, Pardner.

bald-eagleSince 1782, the mighty Bald Eagle has been the national emblem for the United States of America. Long before that it represented, and still represents, a spiritual symbol for Native Americans. Now that our July 4 celebrations are over, I thought we should learn a little more about this spectacular bird that reminds us of independence.

Mature, not bald!

This probably comes as no surprise, but Bald Eagles (Haliateeus leucocephalus) are not bald. At maturity (which may not be until 5 years of age), their head is distinguished by white feathers. “Bald” was at one time used to describe a white head.

The scientific name (Haliateeus leucocephalus) comes from Greek and accurately translates to ‘sea eagle with white head’. Their white-feathered heads provide stark contrast to their brown body and wings.

Trouble from the start

The Bald Eagle almost wasn’t our national symbol. Benjamin Franklin was concerned about using an animal as a symbol of our new country that was at times a scavenger with thieving tendencies. “I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the representative of our Country. He is a bird of bad moral character.” (Cornell Lab of Ornithology). Ben’s preference? The Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo).

Regardless, the Bald Eagle remained our national emblem and has inspired generations since. However, the road has been difficult for Bald Eagles and nearly ended in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Following decades of pesticide use (primarily DDT), hunting and habitat destruction, their numbers plummeted. In 1978, the bird was listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act. This protection and a ban on DDT use in pesticides a couple of years later have resulted in a dramatic resurgence of Bald Eagles. In 2007, the Bald Eagle was removed from the Endangered Species list, although it remains protected as a Stewardship Species (a collaboration between the U.S. and Canada).

The Ohio Story

In Ohio, Bald Eagles were a common site in the 19th century but were rare sightings even in the 1920’s. In 1979, only 4 breeding pairs existed in the state. Last year, 190 active nests were surveyed across Ohio, the majority of them along the Lake Erie shoreline in northwest Ohio. However, viewing eagles in our neck of the woods is much more common. I have observed an eagle flying high over Jack Lambert Stadium at Crestwood High School during a track meet. I also watched one land in a tree 20 yards from me in the front yard of a house near the intersection of SR 82 and Chamberlain Rd. My son and I paddled under an eagle on the Cuyahoga River just downstream from the industrial buildings in downtown Mantua. There are nests and eagle activity in Tinker’s Creek State Park (Summit County), LaDue Reservoir (Geauga County), Headwaters Park (aka East Branch Reservoir, Geauga County), Grand River Wildlife Refuge (Trumbull County), Lake Rockwell (Portage County) to name a few. Another local area to see eagles is Sunny Lake Park in Aurora.

Bald Eagles, like most birds of prey, are subject  to continued threats, including lead poisoning from fishing and hunters’ ammunition, collisions with vehicles and man-made structures, and habitat destruction of shorelines. Environmental pollution takes a heavy toll as well. In 1989, the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Prince William Sound, Alaska killed an estimated 247 Bald Eagles. Fortunately, the local population rebounded to pre-spill levels by 1995.

Natural History

The easiest way to distinguish a Bald Eagle from hawks while flying is their size. Bald Eagles dwarf all other raptors. It has a heavy body and large head with a long hooked bill that is yellow as an adult. While flying, Bald Eagles hold their broad wings flat like a board. Adult Bald Eagles have white heads and tails with dark brown bodies and wings. Their legs and bills are bright yellow. Immature birds have mostly dark heads and tails.

Bald Eagles are usually found near water. They are most abundant throughout the marshes and shoreline of Western Lake Erie. Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge has 10 actives nests alone and Old Woman Creek National Estuary is a great place to see dozens of eagles congregate, particularly during the winter. Fish is their main food source, although they will hunt small mammals, gulls and waterfowl. They are happy to scavenge meals. Bald Eagles often go after other creatures’ catches, harassing Osprey and hawks until they drop their prey.

Eagles build massive nests and add to the nest year-after-year. It is typical to find eagle nests that measure 6 feet across and 4 feet tall. Both sexes are involved in gathering nesting materials but the female does most of the placement. Sticks are woven together with softer materials such as grass, moss or cornstalks filling in the cracks. The inside of the nest is lined with softer material including lichen, fine woody material, and downy feathers. Nests may take as long as three months to complete.

Many of us are old enough to remember the years in which Bald Eagles were absent from our skies. Fortunately, conservation efforts and environmental regulations have enabled this majestic flier to once again soar over Ohio and most of the lower 48 states. You may even see one fly over your neighborhood if you keep an eye to the sky.

 

 

Did you know…

Bald Eagles can live well into their 20’s in the wild. The record is 28 years. Bald Eagles are powerful fliers and immature eagles spend the first four years of their lives in exploration of vast territories, regularly flying hundreds of miles per day.

 

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Well, it’s been a quiet week in Little Garrettsville. (Lake Wobegone was another story)

BUT…things are moving along.

gristmillThe paving over the “grooved pavement” is inching toward finished; there are lines and everything.  Crews are on-site to take down the perennial eyesore downtown which has been “slip-slidin’ away” for –LO!—these many years.  Haz-Mat suits and all, they seem to be doing their level best to beautify the space, which would be improved by making it into just about anything, including parking space.  The Eagles will, no doubt, be pleased if that is exactly what happens there, ‘twill give them more space to entertain the public at their new lawn on the corner—with sod, yet!  Looks like picnic space, for sure.

The Liberty Street Bridge—the one that’s been out of commission for a loooooong time—seems to be likely to open  a tad ahead of schedule, thus ending the aggravation of having to go around on the “grooved pavement” to get to the other side of town.  Here’s hoping that Ohio’s Largest Tractor Parade can be routed  over it when the grand procession comes to an end.  Would make it easier on the traffic planning to get all of the participants back to the starting point at the high school.

Improvements are being made here at the estate.  New plants are going in and most of the old ones seem to have survived the demon winter that we had.  The black raspberries are going gangbusters; they were covered with blossoms and the little green fruits are forming right now.  I did plant them at least partly to make sure that the birds would have plenty to eat but I do think that it would be nice if I were left a few to eat myself.  The ferns were invigorated by something–the cold weather, the timely rainfall, something—because they’re doing a fine impression of jungle foliage all around the house.

Anyone like to have a butternut seedling?  The squirrels were getting ready for a really rough winter, apparently, because they buried all kinds of nuts all over the place and the nuts are now doing their thing and coming up in the middle of flower patches and borders with total abandon.  Butternut trees(Juglans cinerea), sometimes known as White Walnuts, grow rapidly(and don’t I know it), having alternate compound pinnate leaves and oblate, bunched fruits, across most of the northeastern United States and Canada.  Because the soft covering of the nuts is, like walnuts, such a coloring agent(as you would know if you ever were inveigled–willingly or not–into removing the husks to get at the nuts), they were once much used to dye fabric, especially in rural areas.  As a matter of fact, the uniforms of many units of Confederate soldiers in the Civil War were said to be “butternut brown”, and faded to gray as the time of service lengthened.  All of you spinners and weavers out there, here’s your chance to get genuine dye materials right in your backyard.  The wood is softer than walnut, takes polish well and is frequently prized by wood carvers.  The bark was said to have cathartic properties…now there’s a selling point!  Anyway, I have got seedling butternut trees, sapling butternut trees, adult, nut-producing trees.  Any takers?

And speaking of squirrels….  Actually, speaking of chipmunks….  The porch kitties have decided to reward me for my support over the winter by leaving deceased chipmunks—or parts of them—on the steps, on the porches, on the walk, anyplace that these treats can be discovered and admired.  Lucky that I don’t step out on the porch to get the paper in my bare feet.  Surprise!  I don’t even count the mole that was buried between the concrete and the foundation.  I think that some creature was just stashing that away for future reference.

And that’s about it.

Well, unless you count the business opportunity that I spotted in the news the other day; I don’t see a franchise opening here real soon but you never know.

It’s called Rent-A-Gent and it’s about what you might think…or not.  For $200 per hour you can have a “sexy, smart, sophisticated” dude at your beck and call for events such as bachelorette parties, special occasions like openings or charity balls (I get a lot of those).  You can hire a handsome chef, a sexy bartender, a Renaissance philosopher, a musician,  a plumber studying for his Ph.D., whatever.  The founder of the operation, a Ms. Sara Shickhman, says that these guys are on the up-and-up, no gigolos; they are in business in eleven states and the District of Columbia.  She says—from experience—that the hirable hunks are perfect for attending anything where you want to have a hottie dancing attendance on you to make your ex jealous…arm candy to the max!  One of the ad photos shows a group of chicks in pink T-shirts that said, “Don’t support him.  Rent him.”  Some franchise!

 

One of my favorite things about wine is the memories that wine creates. Looking at a label can quickly take you back to a special dinner, a time when an important announcement was made or even sad memories – a break-up, the loss of a loved one. You may have that special wine in your house ready for the next event or maybe just to have every day so keep reliving that memory.

My husband is notorious for showing me a wine label or bringing home a bottle of wine and starting the conversation with “Where did we have this wine at?” I’m getting pretty good at this game but there are definitely times where I have to give up and ask for a hint but each time takes me back to a memory that I can relive while drinking that bottle.

Granted we have a couple of bottles of Rosa Regale – a wonderful red sparkling wine – that allows us to go back to a memory of walking through Epcot at Walt Disney World sipping on some Rosa Regale as our kids (age 2 at the time) slept in the stroller. Sure, it’s not a monumental memory, but it’s one of my favorite memories and now favorite wines.

Maybe it’s not a specific wine that conjures up a memory but the scent of a wine that takes you back. We have many guests that walk into the winery and smell our Illumination or Afterglow and have them tell us how they feel like they are back in their grandpa’s basement during harvest time and how everything in the basement smelled like grapes. Or other customers comment about how our Candlelight Winery takes them back to helping their mom in the garden planting different flowers.

Memories around wine are some of the best conversations we have at the winery. But my favorite memories are the ones that I cherish from sharing a bottle of wine with our guests. Here’s to many more memories…

 

 

Amanda is the Co-Owner of Candlelight Winery located at 11325 Center Road, Garrettsville. For more gift ideas or wine lists from the winery, please visit www.candlelightwinery.com.

When turbulence hits Wall Street, are you stressed out? If you have taken on too much risk in your portfolio – which can happen through intention or inattention – stock market volatility may make you anxious. So from time to time, it is a good idea to review how your assets are invested. Your asset allocation should correspond to your tolerance for risk, and if it doesn’t, it should be adjusted.

A balanced portfolio may help you come out of stock market dips in better shape. Stocks and stock funds aren’t the only investment classes you can choose from, and you won’t be alone if you decide to examine other investment options.

Treasuries, bonds and bond funds become attractive to investors when Wall Street turns especially volatile. Certain forms of alternative investments gain attention as well, particularly those with low or no correlation to the equities markets. Bonds tend to maintain their strength when stocks perform poorly. Some cautious investors maintain a cash position in all stock market climates, even raging bull markets.

Downside risk can particularly sting investors who have devoted too much of their portfolios to momentum/expensive stocks. A stock with a price-earnings ratio above 20 may be particularly susceptible to downside risk.1

Underdiversification risk can also prove to be an Achilles heel. Some portfolios contain just a few stocks – in the classic example, someone has invested too heavily in company stock and a few perceived “winners.” If a large chunk of the portfolio’s assets are devoted to five or six stocks, the portfolio’s value may be impacted if shares of even one of those companies plummet.  This is why it is wise to own a variety of stocks across different sectors. The same principle applies to stock funds. If the S&P 500 corrects (that is, drops 10% or more in a short interval), the possibility grows that an aggressive growth mutual fund may dive.1

Are you retired, or retiring? If you are, this is all the more reason to review and possibly even revise your portfolio. Frequently, people approach or enter retirement with portfolios that haven’t been reviewed in years. The asset allocation that seemed wise ten years ago may be foolhardy today.

Many people in their fifties and sixties do need to accumulate more money for retirement; you may be one of them. That sentiment should not lead you to accept extreme risk in your portfolio. You’ll likely want consistent income and growth in the absence of a salary, however, and therein lies the appeal of a balanced investment approach designed to manage risk while encouraging an adequate return.

Why not take a look into your portfolio? Ask a financial advisor to assist you. You may find that you have a mix of investments that matches your risk tolerance. Or, your portfolio may need minor or major adjustments. The right balance may help you insulate your assets to a greater degree when stock market turbulence occurs.

 

Christopher Perme may be reached at 330-527-9301 or cperme@financialguide.com www.permefinancialgroup.com 

 

Christopher Perme is a registered representative of and offers securities, investment advisory and financial planning services through MML Investors Services, LLC. Member SIPC. (www.SIPC.org) Supervisory Office:  2012 West 25th Street, Suite 900 Cleveland, OH  44113. 216-621-5680. Perme Financial Group is not a subsidiary or affiliate of MML Investors Services, LLC or its affiliated companies. 

 

What was once allowed is now prohibited. In 2008, an affluent New York City couple made a series of withdrawals and transfers among contributory IRAs, rollover IRAs and non-IRA investment accounts, all with the long-established 60-day deadline for tax-free IRA rollovers in mind. As esteemed tax attorney Alvan Bobrow and his wife withdrew and rolled over a series of five-figure sums within a six-month period, they assumed their actions were permissible under the Internal Revenue Code. In January 2014, a U.S. Tax Court judge ruled otherwise.1

This Tax Court opinion has prompted the IRS to tighten the IRA rollover rules. In the past, some clever taxpayers have effectively treated themselves to interest-free loans from their IRA funds by using multiple IRA accounts to sequence multiple 60-day rollover periods. In the court’s view, the Bobrows were exploiting this loophole, and the IRS is closing it.1,2

Starting in 2015, you are allowed one IRA-to-IRA rollover per 365 days – period. A subtle but important change has been made. Publication 590 has long stated that a taxpayer can generally only make one tax-free rollover of any part of a distribution from a single IRA to another IRA during a 12-month period. That didn’t preclude a taxpayer from making multiple IRA-to-IRA rollovers using multiple IRAs during such a timeframe.1,4

In response to Bobrow v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo 2014-21, the IRS issued Announcement 2014-15. Effective January 1, 2015, the once-a-year rollover restriction applies to all IRAs maintained by a taxpayer. So the tactic of making multiple IRA-to-IRA tax-free rollovers during a 12-month period is kaput.3,4

So beginning next year, you can only make a tax-free IRA-to-IRA rollover if you haven’t made one within the past 365 days.3

Don’t grumble just yet. If you want to move money between IRAs more than once next year, there is still a way you can do it. The new IRS rule change doesn’t apply to every type of IRA “rollover.”

The financial media uses the phrase “IRA rollover” pretty loosely. When you read a story about “IRA rollovers,” the term may refer to IRA-to-IRA rollovers, distributions from a workplace retirement plan going into an IRA, or a trustee-to-trustee transfer of IRA assets between financial firms in which the taxpayer never handles the money.

Here’s the good news. IRS Announcement 2014-15 states: “These actions by the IRS will not affect the ability of an IRA owner to transfer funds from one IRA trustee directly to another, because such a transfer is not a rollover and, therefore, is not subject to the one-rollover-per-year limitation of § 408(d)(3)(B).”3

In other words … the new restriction does not apply to trustee-to-trustee transfers. The IRS has clearly defined in the above language that it does not regard these transfers as rollovers. Some transition relief is also available: the IRS won’t apply the new limitation to any rollover involving an IRA distribution that happens prior to January 1, 2015.4

Some important questions beg for answers. As Bloomberg BNA notes, the new limitation actually muddies the waters a bit. Some taxpayers own both traditional and Roth IRAs; will they be allowed to take one distribution from their traditional IRA with the intention of a tax-free rollover and another distribution from their Roth IRA pursuant to a tax-free rollover within the same 12-month period? Could an IRA owner and his/her tax planner argue that a succession of linked IRA distributions pursuant to a single outcome substantively amount to a single distribution, citing the step transaction doctrine in defense?4

It is possible that further guidance from the IRS may emerge. Regardless of whether it does or not, IRA-to-IRA rollovers are about to be scrutinized more closely.

 

Christopher Perme may be reached at 330-527-9301 or cperme@financialguide.com www.permefinancialgroup.com 

 

Christopher Perme is a registered representative of and offers securities, investment advisory and financial planning services through MML Investors Services, LLC. Member SIPC. (www.SIPC.org) Supervisory Office:  2012 West 25th Street, Suite 900 Cleveland, OH  44113. 216-621-5680. Perme Financial Group is not a subsidiary or affiliate of MML Investors Services, LLC or its affiliated companies. 

 

 

Citations.

1 – wealthmanagement.com/retirement-planning/seeing-double [2/4/14]

2 – marketwatch.com/story/new-ira-rollover-rule-coming-in-2015-2014-04-04 [4/4/14]

3 – irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/a-14-15.pdf [4/16/14]

4 – tinyurl.com/lnd86vs [4/24/14]

It’s a good question. We couldn’t find a definitive answer in either R. Brasch’s “How Did It Begin?” or William S. Walsh’s “Curiosities of Popular Customs.” However, we’ve always heard the explanation that showers are so-called because the guest-of-honor is “showered” with gifts. Several websites second the theory, including BrideAndGroom.com. (It also gives the legend for the origin of the bridal shower: when a bride’s father withheld her dowry because he didn’t approve of her husband-to-be, her friends stepped in to provide her with everything she needed to start her new home [http://www.brideandgroom.com/wedding-articles/wedding-traditions-2.asp].)

The shower of gifts may also have been a literal one — Beth Montemurro’s “Something Old, Something Bold” (available through CLEVNET) mentions the Victorian bridal shower custom of placing small gifts inside a parasol, which would rain down on the bride-to-be-when opened.

Baby showers seem to have taken their name from bridal showers. While celebrating the birth of a baby is a long-held tradition in many cultures, referring to it as a shower seems to be relatively recent.  [http://www.randomhistory.com/2008/11/01_baby.html]

For anyone looking to throw either a baby shower or a bridal shower, Becky Long’s Themed Baby Showers, Courtney Cooke’s The Best Baby Shower Book, and Michelle Adams and Gia Russo’s Wedding Showers are available here at the Newton Falls Public Library.

 

For answers to your questions, visit the Newton Falls Public Library, 204 S. Canal Street, Newton Falls or phone 330-872-1282. For information about all the free library programs or hours, visit our website at www.newtonfalls.org or our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/NewtonFallsLibrary.

 

You know those orange and white saw horses that the ODOT crews used to have marking off forbidden territory when the summer construction season started? (They have up-dated all that now with tall, skinny cones and plastic tape)  An ironic gentleman of my acquaintance once proposed that they   should be designated the state animal…probably because they spent even more time in the road than the white-tailed deer which IS our state animal (The deer’s encounters in the road often end badly).

Anyway, the whole construction thing figured prominently in my most recent highway happenings, beginning with venturing off to the wilds of Huron County to the (very) small town of New London to attend an estate sale.  The sale was O.K., in the end but getting there was an adventure in itself.  I had no recollection of where New London was, even though the high school there had been one of the big rivals that Wellington High School had.  So I went to Wellington (I 480, St Rte 10, U.S. 20, St. Rte 58), picked up my mom and prepared to follow my sister, who had directions.  Only she wasn’t planning to be followed and took off for parts unknown with us tracking  as closely as possible.  You know that Army song, “Over hill, over dale, as we hit the dusty trail”?  It was sort of like that—two-lane county highway, up and down, up and down, trying to keep a small red car in sight.  The auction barn was not that hard to locate—in a park, by the school.  Looked over the merchandise and the crowd—both a mixed lot—then the bidding started and my Scots genes kicked in and I only bid on one item.  Time to go home,(sans Mama, she stayed with my sister) but how?  No need to go back through Wellington.

Whipped out the GPS, punched in my home address and listened in astonishment as it directed me to go in exactly the opposite direction from what I was expecting.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?  So I was off.

St. Rte 60 to U.S.224, bear left to U.S. 42 & U.S.224—OOPS—the GPS lady didn’t mean us to stick with U.S.42.   RECALCULATING.  Turn right onto Holden Rd.,  turn right on Sullivan Dr. turn left onto U.S.Rte 224—OOPS—she didn’t get the memo about that road being closed.  Back up, turn around  . RECALCULATING.  Turn right onto Colby Rd.  Turn right on Fairhaven Rd.  Turn left onto U.S. Rte 224, O.K., we’re good.  Lovely farm country, four-lane highway, out-in-the-country high school…cruisin’. Take exit whatever  to I 71.  All righty then, making good time, interstate speeds.  Take exit whatsit to I 271, still rolling along.  Look!  Up ahead, it’s the turnpike.  Do I have any change or small bills?  Whatever.  Off in Shalersville.  St Rte 44, St Rte 303, St. Rte 88…home.  Total time—even with the detours—just about the same as the usual from Wellington, MPG , a remarkable 42.

Next, a medical run to University Hospitals’ Orange Place facility for blood work (That I just found out can be done now in Garrettsville).  Not wanting to  do a long stretch on the grooved pavement we went from St. Rte 88 to St. Rte 305 up St. Rte 700 to U.S. 422.  ERROR, ERROR.  U.S. 422 is also under construction; two of the four lanes are nothing but a memory, one lane, WITH grooved pavement nearly into Solon.  Not going there again if we can help it.  On the way home, after a successful shopping experience, I decide to take  Chagrin Blvd ( St. Rte. 87) all of the way out to Burton/Middlefield  and come home that way.  WRONG!  The sign, about half of the way out of the big city says “Road closed.  Local traffic only”.   I always want to try those just to find out what the definition of “local” is but not at the risk of winding up in some stranger’s driveway.  So next, we’re turning south, heading east,  turning south heading east, roads sounding familiar, but not really.  Finally emerged onto St. Rte 306 and the edge of Aurora.  Hallelujah.  Grooved pavement ahead but at least it’s going to be familiar grooved pavement.

Then the surprise!  Road crews are working like navvies on the road (St. Rte 82) from the bottom of Derthick’s hill all of the way through Hiram.  Yay!  First thing you know it’ll be real road through Garrettsville all the way to the Trumbull County line.

One last thing contributed to the adventure of it all.  The hatchback lid of the trunk had been a little ”iffy” lately, not latching properly when closed—a little red light comes on on the dashboard, looks sort of like a bug, a car silhouette in red with little doors open on both sides, meaning that something is not secured.  So, the last time I shut the thing, I gave it a significant smack-down.  ERROR, ERROR!  When I attempted to open the sucker next, it was having none of it, not budging, not even jiggling a little bit.  Crawling over the folded-down back seat got me to the lock panel but it was no help either.  The internet revealed that this was a hanging offense for the Honda Corporation a while back, so I’ m hoping that this will be a freebie when we jaunt off to get it fixed this week.

Did the pioneers have these kinds of transportation difficulties?  At least with an ox wagon you could eat the problem.  Of course, next planting season, they’d have to hitch up the oldest child…or the wife.  No, thank you.

 

My husband and I had the opportunity to sneak away for a relaxing dinner at a very expensive restaurant. It was the perfect setting, sitting on the patio watching the sun set on the lake, music by Frank Sinatra playing in the background and a wine list that was a mile long. We selected a couple of wines and after ensuring which wines were not screw caps, we selected a moderately priced bottle of red wine with dinner. The waitress, who was relatively new to being a waitress, did a great job of presenting the bottle to us and started the daunting task of opening the bottle at the table.

She was doing great until she pulled the cork too quickly and it snapped in half in the neck of the bottle. While this isn’t the first time corks have broken in half in the neck of the bottle, her next steps unfortunately required us to get another bottle. Assuming that she could continue to use the corkscrew to get the cork out she unfortunately pushed the cork into the bottle.

Now I know many of you are smiling because this has happened to you and if you are at home, I am sure you have continued to drink the wine (at least that is what I do). However, if you have company there are a few things that will help save that bottle. First, if the cork breaks off in the neck of the bottle, remove the one half of the cork from the corkscrew. Then slowly take the corkscrew and start to use it as you normally would to get the cork out. However, as you are screwing it into the cork, continue to pull the corkscrew straight up so the corkscrew is getting into the cork but not pushing the cork back in the bottle.

If you do end up pushing the cork back into the bottle, grab a cheese cloth and place it on top of the bottle. Empty the bottle into a pitcher (or decanter if you have one available). If you have a decanter, you can simply serve the wine from there. However if you used a pitcher I recommend washing out the bottle to ensure all of the cork is out of the bottle. Then carefully (and over a sink) pour the wine back into the bottle. It’s as good as new!

 

Amanda is the Co-Owner of Candlelight Winery located at 11325 Center Road, Garrettsville. For more gift ideas or wine lists from the winery, please visit www.candlelightwinery.com.

I got an E-mail from someone named Hilda. She desperately wanted some help in evaluating and setting a price on her Dad’s old Ford truck.  He had passed away and they were in the process of settling the estate.  She said that she had absolutely no idea what the vehicle was worth, or even what kind of truck it was.  (Ford made “AA” trucks that were “real trucks” with much heavier frames, wheels, running gear etc., and they also made car based pick-up trucks, station wagons and sedan deliveries).  All she could really tell me was that it was crank start and that her Dad bought it to drive in parades. The crank start made me suspect that perhaps it was a Model “T” Ford truck though all Model “A”s also had the capability of crank starting but had electric starters.  They are not generally known as crank start vehicles.   Somehow the American Pickers TV show had become involved and she had no idea what the vehicle was worth. (Now, in my opinion the American Pickers are famous for paying way too much for antique cars which seems to be one of their frequent dilemmas highlighted on the show.  I remember the time when they paid about $8K for a Model “A” barn find that I valued at about $3K— as a parts, or total restoration project.  At the end of the show an expert noted that there were likely near a million Model “A”s still in existence and this was no great find.  The Pickers ultimately admitted that they paid way too much for it.)  Over the phone I was able to establish that the title listed the vehicle as 1929, and that Hilda said it reminded her of a pickup truck.  My best guess was that it might be a 1929 Ford Roadster Pickup, condition unestablished via phone conversation.

Untitled-1Because I write old car columns that appear in several magazines and am the current president of the Northern Ohio Model “A” Club, I frequently get calls and E-mails of this nature.  I am the contact person.  Whenever the calls are reasonably close by I try to personally visit the person and help out. My ulterior motives include, 1) maybe a good story lurks here, 2) I like to help out people, 3) the America Pickers connection piqued my interest, and 4) probably someone in the Club will be interested in the vehicle.  So, off I went to have a look.

As I got there and the garage door opened, what I saw confirmed that it was indeed a 1929 Roadster pickup, more properly known as an Open Cab Pickup Model “A” Ford.   These days all pickups are generally sought after as “desirable to restore” vehicles.  The open cab pickups were the lowest priced trucks at the time and even today are slightly less valuable than their closed cab counterparts. That being said, pickups generally sell well.  Two ladies—sisters– proceeded to push the vehicle out into the sunlight, as it, indeed, would not run.  They were careful to note that someone who looked at it yesterday said that it probably wouldn’t take much to get it to run and “these things are easy to get running—don’t let anybody tell you otherwise”.

I responded, “He didn’t buy it though, huh?”  I got no response from either lady.

It quickly became apparent that the two ladies were somewhat disgruntled from yesterday’s experience, but exactly why was not so apparent. My objective was to do what they had asked, for me to look the car over and give them an idea of what it might be worth.   So I proceeded to look over the car.  What I saw was a vehicle that was probably restored 25-30 years ago and had little or no maintenance done to it since. The tires were worn out, dry rotted and dangerous.  The car was restored to exactly as Henry had made it.  There were no upgrades such as electric fuses, lights, brake improvements—all important safety concerns.  The body was in very good shape with no dents and a paint job that was skillfully put on…..a long, long time ago.  Now there was fading, chipping and much paint crazing (associated with older lacquers).  The car had a general coat of dirt, dust and road grime associated with an old car. Though it had newer chrome bumpers (the originals were nickle plated and by now would have been very rusty and dull) the rest of the bright work was dull and rusted.  In fact the radiator shell was so dull that I honestly couldn’t tell whether it was just faded nickle plate or just faded silver spray paint.  As I opened the driver side door it promptly dropped a good inch indicating that the hinges were extremely well worn and in need of replacing.

To sum up, what I was presented with was a condition #4 car defined by the Old Cars Weekly price guide as: “a probably drivable vehicle needing minor work to be functional, also a deteriorated restoration or a poor amateur restoration.  All components need restoration.  Though it is useable as is, it needs a lot of help.” The fact that it did not run was offset by the good body that was in need of restoration and paint. The suggested value was $6,740.  What this means is that a buyer, restorer, would likely have to invest $7-10K to bring it up to acceptable modern safety and display standards.

I told them my assessment which produced an obvious look of dismay on their faces.  One lady responded, “I’ll let it rot for that.  My father paid $15,000 for it; the lawyer has it insured for $25,000, and it is an antique. He should know what it is worth.  It has to be worth at least $18,000 now and as soon as I get it running it will be worth $23,000.” I pointed out to no avail that most antique cars have lost value over the past 10-15 years and that value-wise, it was extremely important to maintain the car in good condition.

I suggested that they pick out an independent appraiser from, say Hemming’s Magazine, and get a more objective and formal evaluation.  The response was more disgruntlement about the lawyers ripping them off, etc., etc., etc…  About the American Pickers connection: one of  the sisters had apparently called the show and was told that Mike Wolf (one of the Pickers) was no longer interested in old cars but would pass on the information to others. It turned out that the two people who viewed the car yesterday had offered a similar amount or less and the sisters were very insulted.

Sensing their anger and disgruntlement with the situation I thanked them for their time and offered that if they wanted to sell it I would be glad to put it in our Club newsletter.  I further reiterated that they place a realistic price based upon an independent Old Car assessment.

It is too often that I find this story repeating itself these days.  I suspect that some of the reasons include the much televised and publicized famous car auctions and the ridiculous TV shows wherein much over valued cars quickly change hands between a small group of millionaires and car fanciers. On these shows sometimes drivers in Nevada are stopped on the streets and their cars bought out from under them. Now this is certainly not the real world that I live in.  One can only hope that cooler heads prevail as the sisters settle the estate.  I can’t help but wonder though how many Model “T”s and Model “A”s are now sitting in barns and garages rotting because we common people can’t seem to pay those high prices for them!

 

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As the moon goes to bed, the sun comes up

And here we meet a sleepy pup,

Who was walking through G-ville one bright sunny day,

Then saw The Villager and decided to stay.

 

The silver bumblebee glittered at Doodle Dog from his bookshelf, glinting as though reflecting  an unseen source of light. Nestled among the stories sleeping there, the tiny insect reminded the floppy-eared puppy of all the wonderful things that could surround him when he immersed himself in the world. Doodle Dog thought how fun it might be to see if any real bumblebees were flittering about with their black stripes and white wings sailing them through the airy landscape, so he scampered outside hopeful of what he would find.

But when the floppy-eared puppy reached the other side of the office door, it was not a bright, dazzling day that greeted him. As his paws touched the sidewalk, gray and smooth, the clouds overhead mirrored the same subdued shade. The quiet puffs made it look like rain was coming or as if the sky was about to cry, though no tears had fallen yet. Doodle Dog continued  through the streets hoping to find something to brighten the day, but as he meandered by storefront after storefront, it became more elusive still. He paused for a moment at the window of the yummy bakeshop, the treats of which usually cheered him up. Today, instead of the brilliantly-hued icings on cakes and puppy-friendly pastel pastries that always caught his curiosity, the platters in the treat case were filled with teeny truffles shaped perfectly round like mini moons, full circles in the sky. A few were cut open to reveal the creamy cookie center and they did look quite tasty. Covered in the darkest of chocolate, Doodle Dog knew these delicacies were not for four-legged friends so he kept going to the next window on his route! But as the floppy-eared puppy continued along, every view was the same. Even the formalwear shop in town that usually had bright dresses in the front windows – the display there too was bare of color as prom season was over and now smart tuxedos stood by each other enticing potential groomsmen to stop on in for summer ceremonies.

Enough of this! Doodle Dog decided to go to the park where he knew there was always another world of vivid and vibrant creations. As the floppy-eared puppy went by the last shop on the street, a stack of newspapers piled in front of the stoop toppled over from the wind and slid right under his paws. Stepping gently on and then off the newspaper, Doodle Dog continued along… the newsprint leaving a grayscale trail of paw prints on the stone-colored cement sidewalk behind him. Turning down the path that he’d walked many times before, Doodle Dog expected to see the lush, sprawling lawn of the park any minute now. He DIDN’T expect a series of black tiles alternating with a series of white tiles to be covering the meadow as he approached! A giant chess board greeted him, the oversized horses guarding the gate to the park seeming quite a lot more enormous than they already were to the little floppy-eared puppy looking up at them. His petite paws pattered across the slick surface as Doodle Dog carefully avoided a tower that resembled a castle and made sure not to run smack into a cluster of similar-looking pieces making up an army advancing across various parts of the pale panels and their contrasting counterparts. With their limited color palette, the sights around him were all starting to resemble an old timey movie with the voiceless actors – Doodle Dog half expected lines of static to roll across the scene in front of him.

The floppy-eared puppy had yet to see a buzzing bumblebee, but another type of tiny winged creature the color of a starless sky at midnight circled over the treetops. The crow quietly looped in and out of the forest’s edge clearing the very tips of the branches. And, on the other side of the park, Doodle Dog noticed another bird floating above the land too – a dove the color of the ocean’s snowy surf peacefully dipped on the air currents over the meadow. As he watched the pair of flying friends soar across the sky, the clouds above them billowed from a steely gray to silver to slate to a smoky charcoal as Mother Nature seemed to be in quite the murky mood! Even the soil surrounding Doodle Dog’s flower garden was under a shadowy blanket as the baby bulbs slept soundly. But there, in the middle of the garden, poking just out of the dirt, was an itty-bitty blossom the neon color of a bumblebee’s other brighter stripes. A yellow tulip shone through the shadows like a miniature sun, gleefully glowing with all its might. The tough, tiny tulip seemed to smile at Doodle Dog as he gave it a friendly sniff. And with that the floppy-eared puppy knew that even though today was gloomy and gray, the sun was only sleeping, and there would be more sunny days around the corner. Just in case, he knew the spot where his own personal planted sunshine bloomed and he would be sure and visit any time he felt lonely or needed some extra cheer!

 

Author’s note: In honor of my feline furbaby, Alistair, who is the inspiration for many “Puppy Tails” adventures and never minded that I write stories about a dog. You will be my sunshine always.

The season of wine festivals is upon us and people all over the greater Cleveland area are celebrating. But during a recent festival, some new wine drinkers had some great questions that I have always taken for granted. So after thinking about their question, I figured of few of you might have similar questions.

The question that I received the most was why are some wines listed as sweet and some as dry? What’s the difference? And how can a wine be dry? Isn’t it a liquid? These are great questions and all valid topics for new wine drinkers (and even seasoned wine drinkers that need a refresher).

The sweetness of a wine is determined by a concept called Residual Sugar. Residual Sugar (sometimes listed as RS on wine lists) is the measure of the amount of sugar that remains unfermented in the finished wine. Measured by precision tools, the residual sugar is calculated based on the grams of sugar in a liter of wine. Usually wines that have residual sugar calculated over 45 grams/liter are classified as sweet.

If a wine has zero residual sugar, there is very little sweetness and is classified as a dry wine. As the sugar level in the wine increases it is listed as being sweeter. Many sweet wines have residual sugar content around 5%. If you like Ice Wines (a very sweet wine that is harvested in the winter) RS can range anywhere from 12% – 20%.

One item to remember about residual sugar, it is rare to find a wine that is over 22%. So if you are wine-hopping,  people may look at you a little strange if you comment that your favorite wines have a residual sugar of 75% -  unless you are having a sip of wine with a tablespoon of sugar!

 

 

Amanda is the Co-Owner of Candlelight Winery located at 11325 Center Road, Garrettsville. For more gift ideas or wine lists from the winery, please visit www.candlelightwinery.com.

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Pretty generally, my cats are NOT about excitement.  Mostly, they’re about conserving physical resources, i.e., lazing around, with as little movement as possible.  Oh sure, there is the occasional wrestling match, when one of the “guys” has to show how tough he is(This is the same one who is afraid to go outside when the door is open; he simply likes to beat up on the rest of them.), there’s the one guy who LOVES to play with things and will carry the jingle-balls around to entertain himself with and actually hauled a boxed light bulb up from the basement so that he could chew on and play with it; the three old ladies each have their own sphere of influence—upstairs, downstairs, outside—to hang out in.  Just the other day, Bob, he of the partly-missing tail, smallest of the lot of ’em, had a genuine outdoor adventure.  Well, I describe it as an adventure, he’d probably call it a “near-death experience”.

So, I’m returning home from some expedition or other, just about to turn in to my driveway, when I spot a large dog on the east side of the house, a dog which I’d never seen before, a large dog, with big hair.  As I watched, the dog took off in pursuit of something and out of the corner of my eye, I saw that this object of interest  was Bob, who had been out for his first constitutional of the day before I left.  Whoosh!  Around the back of the house they went, the dog barking, the cat running like a bat from the bad place, between the Brock house and my garage, past the car , across the front lawn, down the sidewalk and by the time I got out of the car, the marauder dog was at the base of a tree, barking, and there was a black cat with a stump of a tail and a ratty, jingle-bell collar up in the tree, rump-first, looking back to see if that big beast was going to follow him up there.

Well, no.  A young man from the family who had just moved in across the street came running up, carrying a box of dog treats (Always keep these handy in certain neighborhoods and with certain pets) and attempting to entice the  dog—I never quite got the name—to return home.  This wasn’t real effective, as the dog was having a fine old time and probably thought that this was just the best game ever since she—I think it was a she—had moved in to this new place.  Every time the young fellow zigged, she would zag, when he went forward, she went back.  Great fun!

Finally, he attempted a grab and she took off; he followed.  I and the other spectators—Alicia and Matthias Witte from down on the corner—went back to rescue Bob, who was still up there.  Easier said than done.  Nobody even thought about calling the GFNVFD, they have better things to do.  I briefly considered the extension ladder; we all just looked up at Bob, who wasn’t going anywhere.  Then Alicia said,” I can get him down.  That tree would be easy to climb.”  And it was too; there was one low-ish, good-sized branch just below where Bob was still hanging on for dear life.  So…up she went and held out a hand to him.  But Bob had had just about enough excitement for one day; he took the short-cut—straight down…and out.  He landed on his feet (Don’t they all?) and took off for parts unknown, not to return until considerably later that evening when the coast was clear and there were no more threatening visitors.  I tried calling him several times( He really does usually come when called) but he waited until it was pretty dark and he had scouted out the territory, besides, he was probably hungry.

Well, it didn’t merit a YouTube sensation like the surveillance video of the cat who saved the little boy from an attacking dog ( The cat later got to throw out the first pitch at a minor league baseball game, not easy when your claws catch on the stitching, I’ll bet) but it was more excitement than we usually get…if we don’t count the uproar the other night around ten o’clock when a strange, wandering dog (Boxerish? Pit Bullish?)with a collar but no tags showed up and drove the two eastside neighbor dogs into a barking/growling/yipping frenzy  (That’ll set   you right up at that time of night, uh huh).  Sounded like somebody was being massacred, no foolin’.  So here I am in my jam-jams, barely shod, clutching a flashlight(Remarkably enough, it had working batteries) hustling out of the house to see who had just died or been horribly dismembered—it was pretty quiet again—and found the Wittes, Alicia and Dad, Mark, holding on to the aforementioned dog  who, basically, wanted to play…or at least go for a run.  Somebody had taken in the other dogs who had been involved in the commotion and we were back to as close to normal as it gets here.  Called the police at my house, they said no missing dogs had been reported.  I kept the dog while the Wittes went home to be sure that their dog, Max, was in and quiet, then let the intruder go, hoping that she’d head home.  Apparently she did; we heard no more that evening.  Hope she did not enjoy the experience and will not return.

Other than that, the biggest excitement has been all of the transplanting and lawn work and the fact that I finally got the kitty condos off the front porch and the people-seating on.  The usual.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The Earth laughs in flowers.”

Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha !!!!!

 

 

When was the last time you looked at your life insurance coverage? Why not do it now? Life insurance can be a remarkable utility as an estate planning and tax-saving tool. Whether you have no life insurance, or you haven’t reviewed your policy in a while, it is always a good idea to be aware of your options and be prepared.

About 40% of Americans have no life insurance. LIMRA, an insurance industry group analyzing insurance trends in the U.S., recently found that among men and women, ownership of life insurance policies has hit its lowest level since 2004. LIMRA’s study shows 39% of men without even term life coverage, and 43% of women in the same boat.1

Alarmingly, the population of married men aged 35-54 who had life insurance dropped more than 10% from 2004-10. Men who fall into this age bracket are usually in or near their peak earning years, and about half of them are fathers.1

Another alarming finding from the survey: a third of new parents admit they have insufficient life insurance coverage, yet only about 40% try to rectify that problem within two years of the birth of their first child.1

Any family, anywhere, any time. Watch a life insurance commercial, and you’re likely to see a young or maturing family. However, this is hardly the only context in which life insurance matters.

*It can be a vital part of a financial strategy for empty-nesters who want to retire to a comfortable lifestyle.

*A buy-sell agreement funded with life insurance can allow a surviving business owner to buy the company interest of a deceased owner at a previously established price. Key-person insurance can aid a business if a core employee passes away. (It is possible for a business to fund a buy-sell agreement and key-person insurance with pre-tax dollars, making these moves truly tax-efficient.)

There are numerous options when it comes to life insurance: whole life, term, and variable to name a few.  But what are the differences? How do you choose?  The differences between policy types can be significant.  So, which is right for you?  There are many factors to contemplate when deciding what type of life insurance will best suit your needs. If you haven’t reviewed your insurance lately, or don’t think you need life insurance, consider the following potential life factors:

*You are married and your spouse depends on your income

*You have children

*You have an aging parent or disabled relative who depends on you for support

*Your retirement savings and pension won’t be enough for your spouse to live on

*You have a large estate and expect your heirs will owe estate taxes

*You own a business, especially if you have a partner

*You have a substantial joint financial obligation such as a personal loan for which another person would be legally responsible after your death

If your circumstances match with any of the items above, or you anticipate a change, you may have a need for life insurance, or to update your current coverage.

Life insurance is a way to protect your loved ones financially after you die. In each of these cases, the proceeds from a life insurance policy can help them manage financially as they adjust to life without your income. The proceeds can also be used to meet funeral and other final expenses, which can run into thousands of dollars.

Permanent life insurance offers a death benefit plus the opportunity to build cash value over time. There are even tax perks in such coverage: not only are the death benefits from the policy received tax-free, but the cash value has the opportunity to grow tax-deferred during your lifetime, and any loans taken against the policy’s cash value aren’t subject to federal income tax as they aren’t considered cash distributions.2

Underinsured? Uninsured? If certain life events have caused you to think about insuring yourself, check in with an insurance professional before September ends. It represents the right thing to do for you, your spouse and your family.

A way to help you as you plan to build wealth. There are cash-rich life insurance policies with tax-advantaged savings features that offer you the potential to earn interest based on the gains of an equity index. Others permit you to direct a percentage of your premiums to investment sub-accounts which may generate tax-free earnings. These policies can be useful when it comes to business continuation and employee benefits, retirement planning, education planning and estate planning.

Are you adequately insured? Are you using life insurance smartly? Life insurance is like the Swiss Army knife of estate planning: there are so many ways you can use it as you plan to pursue your goals. Whether you simply need to insure yourself or need to protect your estate through sophisticated planning, it’s time to think about life insurance – and all the ways it can potentially help you financially.

 

 

Christopher Perme may be reached at 330-527-9301 or cperme@financialguide.com www.permefinancialgroup.com 

 

Christopher Perme is a registered representative of and offers securities, investment advisory and financial planning services through MML Investors Services, LLC. Member SIPC. (www.SIPC.org) Supervisory Office:  2012 West 25th Street, Suite 900 Cleveland, OH  44113. 216-621-5680. Perme Financial Group is not a subsidiary or affiliate of MML Investors Services, LLC or its affiliated companies. 

 

 

Citations.

1 – limra.com/Posts/PR/Industry_Trends_Blog/LIMRA__Life_Insurance_Findings_and_Father%E2%80%99s_Day.aspx [4/14]

2 – newyorklife.com/products/tax-advantages-permanent-life-insurance [4/14]

 

In my spare time I love to run. Whether it’s inside or outside, I just love to set a pace and go, leaving all of my worries behind, it’s a great way to get away for a while. But what does my running have to do with my wine column this week? Well this weekend I ran in the Cleveland Rite Aid 10K and one of the advertisements was a list of 6 races that all have to do with wine!

Napa Valley has a long list of races throughout the Summer and into the Fall. Some of my favorite races include the Napa to Sonoma Wine County Half Marathon that will be taking place on July 20th. This overly popular race requires you to enter a lottery to be accepted into the race. How neat would it be to run 13.1 miles through wine country in California? Or get ready for the Wine Country Half Marathon along California’s Central Coast Vineyards in May 2015. The winner of the half marathon is awarded their weight in wine!

Looking for a few races on the east coast? Head on over to Loudoun County, Virginia next weekend (May 31) Virginia Wine Country Half Marathon. This race has plenty to offer, winding roads, hills and valleys, plenty of scenic vineyards to run through and a lot of champagne to enjoy at the end of your race.

Another great race that is even closer to home is the Farmatholon that is on July 19th this year at Maize Valley Winery in Hartville, Ohio. This is a great cross country race that covers approximately 3 miles or a 5K that has obstacles that are farm-themed. If you have ever heard of the Warrior Dash or other off-road “Mud Race” it is sort of similar to that. For instance they have included hay wagons, both large rounds and smaller square bales of hay, obstacles in the vineyard, logs, barrels, mud pits, farm creeks and more. For details, go to www.maizevalleywinery.com.

Finally one last race that I have to mention is the Geneva Grape Jamboree 5K in September. It’s an easy run, mostly flat ground but the finish at the Grape Jamboree festival is definitely a good motivator to cross the finish line.

 

Don’t forget Candlelight Winery is proud to be hosting a Food Truck Rally and Music Benefit for #Garrettsville Strong. The event will be held on Saturday, May 31st from 1-10pm! The Rolling Pig, Wholly Frijoles, Zydeco Bistro, Stone Pelican Rolling Cage and Premier Crepes will be serving their specialties all day while listening to local  musicians: Steve Vanderink (playing 1:30 – 3:30), The Usual Suspects (playing 4:30 – 6:30) and Steve Howell (playing 7:30 – 9:30).  Guests will have the opportunity to shop over 15 vendors, enter to win some great raffle prizes and so much more! A portion of the proceeds from the food trucks will be donated to #GarrettsvilleStrong as well as the money raised in the raffle drawings.

 

 

Amanda is the Co-Owner of Candlelight Winery located at 11325 Center Road, Garrettsville. For more gift ideas or wine lists from the winery, please visit www.candlelightwinery.com.

Just what is an RMD? After you turn 70½, the IRS requires you to withdraw some of the money in most retirement savings accounts each year. These withdrawals are officially called Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs).1

You must take an RMD from a traditional IRAs after you turn 70½, even if you are still working. If you don’t, a severe financial penalty awaits – you may have to pay a 50% tax on the amount not distributed. You are not required to take RMDs from a Roth IRA during your lifetime.2,3

You must also begin taking annual RMDs from SEP and SIMPLE IRAs, pension and profit-sharing plans and 401(k), 403(b) and 457 retirement plans annually past age 70½. If you are still employed, you may be able to delay taking RMDs from a profit-sharing plan, a pension plan, or a 401(k), 403(b) or 457 plan until you retire. The exception: you must take RMDs from these types of accounts after you turn 70½ if you own 5% or more of a business sponsoring such a retirement plan.2,3

The annual RMD deadline is December 31, right? Yes, with one notable exception. The IRS gives you 15 months instead of 12 to take your first RMD. Your first one must be taken in the calendar year after you turn 70½. So if you turned 70½ in 2013, you can take your initial RMD any time before April 1, 2014. However, if you put off your first RMD until next year you will still need to take your second RMD by December 31, 2014.3

Calculating RMDs can be complicated. You probably have more than one retirement savings account. You may have several. So this gets rather intricate.

Multiple IRAs. Should you own more than one traditional, SEP or SIMPLE IRA, annual RMDs for these accounts must be calculated separately. The IRS does give you some leeway about how to withdraw the money. You can withdraw 100% of your total yearly RMD amounts from just one IRA, or you can withdraw equal or unequal portions from each of the IRAs you own.3

401(k)s & other qualified retirement plans. A separate RMD must be calculated for each qualified retirement plan to which you have contributed. An exception: if you have multiple 403(b) TSAs, you can optionally withdraw the sum of all of the RMDs for them from one 403(b) TSA. RMDs for qualified retirement plans must be paid out separately from the RMD(s) for your IRA(s).3

This is why you should talk to your financial or tax advisor about your RMDs. It is really important to have your advisor review all of your retirement accounts to make sure you fulfill your RMD obligation. If you skip an RMD or withdraw less than what you should have, the IRS will find out and hit you with a stiff penalty – you will have to pay 50% of the amount not withdrawn.2

Are RMDs taxable? Yes, the withdrawn amounts are characterized as taxable income under the Internal Revenue Code. Should you be wondering, excess RMD amounts can’t be forwarded to apply toward next year’s RMDs.3,4

What if you don’t need the money? If you are wealthy, you may view RMDs as an annual financial nuisance – but the withdrawal amounts may be redirected toward opportunities. While putting the money into a savings account or a CD is the usual route, there are other options with potentially better yields or objectives. That RMD amount could be used to…

*Make a charitable gift. (With enough lead time, a charitable IRA rollover may be arranged; the IRA distribution meets the RMD requirement and isn’t counted as taxable income).

*Start a grandchild’s education fund.

*Fund a long term care insurance policy.

*Leverage your estate using life insurance.

*Diversify your portfolio through investment into stock market alternatives.1,4

There are all kinds of things you could do with the money. The withdrawn funds could be linked to a new purpose.

So to recap, be vigilant and timely when it comes to calculating and making your RMD. Have a tax or financial professional help you, and have a conversation about the destiny of that money.

 

Christopher Perme may be reached at 330-527-9301 or cperme@financialguide.com www.permefinancialgroup.com 

 

Christopher Perme is a registered representative of and offers securities, investment advisory and financial planning services through MML Investors Services, LLC. Member SIPC. (www.SIPC.org) Supervisory Office:  2012 West 25th Street, Suite 900 Cleveland, OH  44113. 216-621-5680. Perme Financial Group is not a subsidiary or affiliate of MML Investors Services, LLC or its affiliated companies. 

 

 

Citations.

1 – jklasser.com/articles/taking-your-required-minimum-distributions/ [3/19/13]

2 – irs.gov/Retirement-Plans/Plan-Participant,-Employee/Retirement-Topics—Required-Minimum-Distributions-%28RMDs%29 [9/4/13]

3 – irs.gov/Retirement-Plans/RMD-Comparison-Chart-%28IRAs-vs.-Defined-Contribution-Plans%29 [4/16/13]

4 – foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2011/03/23/meeting-ira-withdrawal-rules/ [3/23/11]

According to “Ask a Geneticist” on The Tech Museum of Innovation’s website [http://genetics.thetech.org/ask/ask45] and “What causes people to have straight or curly hair?” by Robert Jones on www.howitworksdaily.com, curly hair is a dominant trait. However, if both parents actually have wavy hair, it’s possible for them to have a straight-haired daughter.

Remember doing Punnett squares in biology class? CC represents the curly hair gene, and ss represents the straight hair gene. If both parents have curly hair, they can each only contribute a C, so their children will have curly hair too. The same goes for two straight-haired parents – they can each only contribute an s, so their children will have straight hair. What about a child with one straight-haired parent and one curly-haired parent? Because one parent contributed a C and the other contributed an s, the child will have both genes and their hair will be wavy. (Although curly hair is technically dominant, hair type is an example of incomplete dominance, so the curly hair doesn’t cancel out the straight hair entirely.)

Wavy hair, then, is represented by Cs. A wavy-haired parent can either contribute a C or an s, so two wavy-haired parents have a fifty percent chance of having a wavy-haired child, a twenty-five percent chance of having a curly-haired child, and a twenty-five percent chance of having a straight-haired child. It’s the shape of the hair follicles that determine the shape and texture of the hair: rounder follicles will produce straight hair, while more oval follicles will produce curlier hair.

To make things even more interesting, according to Jessica Goldstein’s article for NPR “A Hair Mystery: Curly Hair Gone Straight” [http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=102074149], some people report that their hair’s been known to change shape and texture on its own as they age. No one’s quite certain exactly why it happens, though changes in hormones and body chemistry probably factor into it.

For more information on the secrets of genetics, Sam Kean’s “The Violinist’s Thumb: and Other Lost Tales of Love, War, and Genius, as Written by Our Genetic Code” is available at the Newton Falls Public Library.

 

For answers to your questions, visit the Newton Falls Public Library, 204 S. Canal Street, Newton Falls or phone 330-872-1282. For information about all the free library programs or hours, visit our website at www.newtonfalls.org or our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/NewtonFallsLibrary.

 

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If Jack-in-the-Pulpits are any indication, my yard is a veritable vegetation revival!  Nothing in the bulletin  tells  what the message is.  They’ve popped up in the front, the back, the side lawns.  They’ve out hustled even the ferns.  They’ve beaten the trilliums, hands down.  Wonder what got into them all of a sudden.  Maybe the ferocious cold that knocked off a bunch of the other stuff (at least one azalea, a rhododendron, my “Little Henry”—Itea  virginica—Virginia sweetspire, and who knows what else), has inspired the Jacks to new homiletic heights.  “Preach now!” I say.

Anyway, aside from letting the lawn get to near baling-height, I really have been out there putting in new stuff and trying to root out—literally– some of the unwanted stuff that has shown up.  I even spent time the other day over at the village maintenance building—after supervising the bridge reconstruction(How do those people manage without me?)—pulling out some of that invasive garlic mustard down along the creek.  There are places along there that are just a tad too steep for a refined type who will never see early middle age again but I did cause quite a lot of it to turn up little green toes and, presumably, die…we can only hope.

In my own patch, I’ve been digging out Sweet Violets.  They were an effort to cover up the ugly foundation of the old garage which must have been built somewhere in the late nineteen twenties or thirties ( I haven’t asked next-door neighbor John whose grandma lived in this house when it was first built.  She must have been a martyr)because it was only about as long as a Model A and had been added on to so as to accommodate a Nash Rambler or something.  The foundation, such as it was, featured refractory brick rejects from Harbison-Walker and a near-immortal forsythia bush and all of its relatives.  I thought violets would cover a multitude of sins and, besides, there’s that song, “Sweet Violets” that Dinah Shore—among others—recorded (Sweet violets, Sweeter than all the roses, Covered all over from head to toe, Covered all over with Sweet Violets)in 1951.  Not that a mere slip of a girl that I was at that time would remember.  A slightly raunchy version used to be sung on athletic team buses(girls’ teams…boys don’t sing stuff like this on buses) and it stuck in my mind, O.K.?  Be that as it may, when the new garage arrived and the addition to the house went up, dirt moved everywhere; I figured that that greenery was a goner and we’d start from scratch.  WRONG.

The violets showed up unannounced and proceeded to make a nuisance of themselves.  They’re NOT your usual “shrinking violet”.  THOSE violets are just fine with me.  The new guys have variegated leaves and they smell bad.  Variegation I can countenance, the smell bad part, not so much.  So they’ve been relegated to a patch on the east side where something is needed to anchor the slope and crowd out the  really weedy weeds, invasives and such.  The only thing that keeps them from sneaking back to their old haunts is to go after them with a trowel and take out as much root (They’re all interconnected) as possible.  Makes your hands smell bad.

The forsythia is resurrected as well but is so far under control.

Meanwhile, I’ve been plugging in some new plants, several of which I’ve never heard of or seen before, Tricyrtis Tojen and Tricyrtis Blue Wonder, for example.  Guaranteed to grow, it says on the package.  We’ll see about that.  It also says partial to full shade, which is just about all of my yard, especially in the back, and it says blooms late summer.  That makes them good to fill in between the tulips and the fall foliage.  All too often there’s kind of a lull when there’s nothing but green…which IS good but kind of boring.   The pictures on the packages make the blooms look almost orchid-like.  Whoa!  This is going to be big time competition for the Spring Beauties and the mystery flowers that look like disappointed tulips.

I bought some Lady’s Mantle at the Garden Club plant sale.  One of the reference sites called it Alchemilla mollis and one called it Alchemilla vulgaris; both of them said that it had medicinal properties but neither one was real specific about what it was supposed to be good for(Maybe the vulgaris part was a clue). Hang-overs?  Toothache?  Female troubles (Aren’t they men?)?  Anyway, it should have chartreuse flowers and perk up a boring spot.

My tomato plant looks promising.

The Eastern Wahooo that I got from the PCSWCD looks to be doing fine; the witch hazel should make it; the sassafras and Carolina beautyberry may soon be receiving last rites.  This “back-to-nature” bent can get kind of complicated.  The birds had just better appreciate the effort here next winter.

And speaking of birds….  DO NOT kiss your chickens.  The CDC indicates that this practice seems to have been the source of a number of outbreaks of Salmonella across the country, particularly in small-time ,backyard flocks (Perdue doesn’t kiss its chickens, I’ll bet…I sure wouldn’t).

Do chickens have lips?

 

Unfortunately when most people think of bats they are horrified with images of Dracula sucking the blood out of some poor woman’s neck.  They think of the caped crusader in the Bat Mobile saving Gotham City once again from the evil clutches of the Joker, a nocturnal creature flying  into your hair and getting tangled up in it, or the good old Louisville slugger. To the surprise of many, bats are incredibly important and their demise will certainly create a negative ripple effect in the natural order of things. First, let me introduce you to bats. No, not the baseball kind, but the furry little mammal.

batBats are the only flying mammal, found in nearly every habitat throughout Ohio. There are 13 species of bats recorded in Ohio; the most commonly encountered species generally include Little Brown Bats (Myotis lucifugus)  and Big Brown Bats (Eptesicus fuscus). Recently, you may have read in the paper about the Long Eared Bat and the Indiana Bat, both are endangered species in Ohio and research is under way to help preserve our remaining populations. Unfortunately, more than half of the bat species in the United States are in severe decline or listed as endangered. There are 1,100 species of bats worldwide, making up one-quarter of the world’s mammal population. There are forty different species of bats in the United States. There are only three species of “vampire bats”, bats that live off the blood of animals. None of those species lives in the United States. Bats are generally small but the Giant Flying Foxes or Fruit Bats of Indonesia have a wing span of six feet. Bats are very clean animals, and groom themselves almost constantly (when not eating or sleeping) to keep their fur soft and clean, like tiny cats. Purr Purr Purr

Typically, bats have two types of sites used for gathering and, yes, it might be a “bat cave”; a winter hibernation site and summer roosting site. Some bats migrate south for the winter, while others hibernate through the cold winter months. During hibernation, bats can survive in freezing temperatures, even after being encased in ice. Sound very familiar to the wood frogs? Unfortunately, this is the time when bats are most susceptible to “white nose syndrome.” Bats can enter buildings by using existing openings and cracks as small as 3/8 inch to roost in attics. Shag Bark Hickory trees are also a favorite summer roosting site for many bats. The summer roosts for maternal colonies, females and their flightless offspring, are usually where humans encounter large numbers of bats. During the summer, pregnant females are often found congregating in human-made structures where conditions are warm, dry, and dark. Babies are born in May and June and while baby bats have a quick growth rate, flying as soon as three weeks after birth, it can take six to nine weeks for babies to completely wean from their mothers. Bat mothers can find their babies among thousands or millions of other bats by their unique voices and scents. Most bats have only one pup a year, making them extremely vulnerable to extinction.

Ok, folks, now it is time to be amazed by these creatures and truly see why they are so important to our natural balance. Bats can eat up to 1,200 mosquitoes in an hour, and often consume their body weight in insects every night! The 30 million Mexican Free-Tailed bats from Bracken Cave in Texas eat 250 TONS of insects every summer night. They sometimes fly up to two miles high to feed or to catch tailwinds that carry them over long distances and can fly at speeds of more than 60 miles per hour. A single colony of 150 Big Brown Bats can protect local farmers from up to 33 million or more rootworms each summer. A nursing little brown bat mother can eat more than her body weight nightly (up to 4,500 insects). As you can see without a healthy bat population we would need to bathe in Off if we wanted to enjoy any time outside during the summer. In some parts of the world, bats are as important as bees in pollination of fruits, nuts, and vegetables.

Nearly 40% of American bat species are in severe decline or already listed as endangered or threatened. This is partly due to “white nose syndrome” (WNS), a fungus that is decimating bat populations in the northeast, including here in Geauga County. Initially WNS was found in upstate New York in 2007. Unfortunately it is spreading west at an alarming rate. White-nose syndrome is a disease affecting hibernating bats; named for the white fungus that appears on the muzzle and other parts of hibernating bats. Bats with WNS act strangely during cold winter months. Instead of hibernating the bats become active, flying outside during the day and clustering near the entrances of caves and other hibernation areas. This activity causes bats to use up their fat reserves and with no insect to eat they die during the cold winter days. In some cases 90%-100% of bat population in a given hibernation areas have died from WNS. It is estimated WNS has killed more than 5.7 million bats in eastern North America.

So next time you see a bat, hopefully you can appreciate, and maybe even enjoy, their subtle beauty instead of trying to kill it with a broom or tennis racket!

One final note, Matt, and I want to congratulate the Portage Park District and Director Chris Craycroft on the passage of the Park District Levy. The passage of the levy will ensure more areas to go out and enjoy Nearby Nature!

 

More Nearby Nature

Magic in the Woods: Dragons Breath & the Disappearing Creek – May 23

A trek in search of the an unusual magical plant material that grows in the magnificent old growth forest of the Hiram College Field Station. An actual demonstration of the “magic” will take place at the fire circle next to the disappearing creek. Meet at the field station (5:00-7:00pm). Hiking fee: FREE for members of Friends of the Field Station ($8 for non-members). Call 330.569.6003 or email sorrickmw@hiram.edu to register.

 

Summer Youth Art at Hiram College – June 9-13

Get creative at Hiram’s Summer Youth Art. Join local art teacher Libby Frato-Sweeney and Hiram College students as they plan fun and creative arts and crafts for children ages preschool through middle school. For more information, call 330.569.6003 or email sorrickmw@hiram.edu.

 

Hiram College Nature Camps – Summer 2014

Catching crawdads! Spying on snakes! Collecting insects! Making forts! All in a day of fun and excitement for kids ages 3-14 at Hiram College Nature Camps. Call 330.569.6003 or email sorrickmw@hiram.edu for dates and times.

 

Adventure Expeditions: The Grand Canyon of the East – July 18-20

Explore a personal connection to nature through hiking, camping, and canoeing expeditions into remote back country and remarkably beautiful natural areas. Each expedition is designed to challenge participants physically and emotionally through group discussions and journaling on topics such as self-motivation, community living, leadership, wilderness skills, and communication. This expedition will take high school students to the “Grand Canyon of the East” (PA). For information, call 330.569.6003 or email sorrickmw@hiram.edu.

 

 

 

Candlelight Winery is proud to be hosting a Food Truck Rally and Music Benefit for #Garrettsville Strong. Thirteen businesses were destroyed by a fire on Saturday, March 22 in downtown Garrettsville. While history was lost and made that day, Candlelight Winery has stepped up to assist in the rebuilding efforts.

The Food Truck Rally and Music Benefit will be held on Saturday, May 31st from 1-10pm! The Rolling Pig, Wholly Frijoles, Zydeco Bistro, Stone Pelican Rolling Cage and Premier Crepes will be serving their specialties all day while listening to local  musicians: Steve Vanderink (playing 1:30 – 3:30), The Usual Suspects (playing 4:30 – 6:30) and Steve Howell (playing 7:30 – 9:30).

Plus guests will have the opportunity to shop over 15 vendors, enter to win some great raffle prizes and so much more! A portion of the proceeds from the food trucks will be donated to #GarrettsvilleStrong as well as the money raised in the raffle drawings. Plus if you haven’t purchased your #GarrettsvilleStrong t-shirt or Garrettsville commemorative keychain be sure to stop by and get yours at this event!

We will have everything set up outside by our pond so bring some lawn chairs or a blanket to enjoy the day with us as we raise money to rebuild Garrettsville.

 

Amanda is the Co-Owner of Candlelight Winery located at 11325 Center Road, Garrettsville. For more gift ideas or wine lists from the winery, please visit www.candlelightwinery.com.

Ever since I first discovered the concept a few months ago, I had been intrigued to try a swap party. Just what the heck is a swap party, you ask? Basically, it’s a great way to make time to get together with friends, share some food and drinks, and swap for some cool stuff. The items for swapping are as vast as the number of ‘pins’ about swap parties you’ll find on Pinterest. For my first foray into swapping, I decided to limit the number of guests to around 10, and limit the items to something that was handmade or foraged. This worked well for our group, as each person brought 10 items, no one brought the same item, and everyone brought something as fun and fabulous as they are. But more about that later.

Untitled-1Here’s how a swap works. First, decide what type of swap you’d like to hold — it could range in theme from food, to health & beauty, home décor, clothing & accessories, plants or seeds, books, toys, or whatever your little heart desires. Next, send out invitations well in advance to give people time to make, sort, organize or forage for the items requested. Make sure to let them know the type of item you’re looking for and the quantity to bring. We kept it simple and did a one-for-one swap, which worked well. Lastly, provide food and drink. To keep it simple, and because this was the first swap, I decided to provide a light lunch, drinks, and dessert for everyone. (If you’re so inclined, you could throw a potluck affair.)

I’m so glad it worked out — it was a fun ladies’ afternoon of eating, chatting, and swapping fabulous stuff — and I’m really looking forward to doing it again. Here are the fun things we swapped: Homemade cavatelli pasta from Lori, gazpacho soup from Chris, lemon crinkle cookies from Christin, backyard eggs from Debbie, apple butter or rhubarb hibiscus jam from me, honey and homemade laundry detergent with wool dryer balls from Beth, creamy body lotion from Linda, quilted potholders or mug mats from Ellie, and handmade jewelry, cards and other crafty items from Julie. Your results may vary, depending on the coolness and talent of your friends. By the way, swaps, and my friends, totally rock!

We shared a simple lunch of potato soup and bread, and then had carrot cake with cream cheese frosting for dessert. This recipe was a big hit, free of chunky nuts or raisins, and perfect for a spring afternoon soiree.

 

Carrot Cake(courtesy of onehundreddollarsamonth.com)

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

4 large eggs

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 cups carrots, grated

Frosting

1 1/2 cups cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

5 cups powered sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour 2 round 9-inch cake pans and set aside. Sift together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, and baking powder and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil and vanilla. Add the flour mixture and stir to combine. Fold in the shredded carrots.

Divide the batter between the 2 prepared pans. Bake for about 45- 55 minutes {or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean}. Cool cake pans on wire racks. Remove cake from pans, wrap in Saran wrap, then aluminum foil. Place on a cookie sheet and chill cake layers for several hours or overnight.

To make the frosting, combined the cream cheese, butter and vanilla in a medium-size bowl with a wire whisk until creamy. Slowly add in the powered sugar. Place one layer on cake plate or stand, top with frosting, then add 2nd layer. Frost cake with remaining frosting, then garnish as desired.

After dessert, and as the chatting continued, the swapping began.  It was an afternoon of food and fun, and our only issue was figuring out how to carry our fabulous stash of goodies home. Next time, I’ll plan to have boxes, bags or baskets for each guest. And maybe try an evening event with appetizers and cocktails — the options are as endless as the items to swap!

In 1994, a financial advisor named Bill Bengen published research articulating the “4% rule”, which became a landmark of retirement planning. The 4% rule postulates that a retirement nest egg can last 30 years if a retiree withdraws 4% of it per year (incrementally adjusted for inflation), given a portfolio of 50% stocks and 50% bonds. Bengen studied numerous 30-year stock market time spans to arrive at his theory, which many retirement planners took as a guideline.1

Lately, the 4% rule has taken quite a bit of flak. At age 20, it looks less and less valid. Why? Two factors leap to mind.

The return of significant volatility. Bengen came up with the 4% rule during the 1982-2000 bull market, the greatest extended rally Wall Street has ever seen. Across that period, the S&P 500 rose 1153.94% (and 2041.47% with dividends reinvested). The S&P’s annual total return averaged 19.02% in that time frame. Back then, retirees and retirement planners harbored assumptions of double-digit annual returns, and withdrawing 4% a year from retirement savings seemed conservative.2

The bear markets of the 2000s were a rude awakening. Someone who retired in 1979 with a 50/50 mix of stocks and bonds in their portfolio would have enjoyed an average annual total return of 13.75% for the next 20 years – but a portfolio equally divided between stocks and bonds would have returned less than 4% in recent years, even in this current bull market. That brings us to the second factor.1

Low yields from fixed-income investments. In 1990, the 10-year Treasury returned better than 8%. In 2012, it yielded around 2%. Many fixed-income investments have yielded less than that in recent years. If you are withdrawing 4% a year from your retirement savings and less than half your retirement portfolio is invested in equities, you are staring at a problem.3

No retirement planner would urge retirees to put all their money in stocks – the volatility risk is just too great. Assigning half (or more) of a retirement portfolio to debt instruments, however, presents an undeniable opportunity cost. Consumer prices are rising only slightly, but interest rates remain in the vicinity of historic lows; retirees who want to keep ahead of inflation aren’t making much progress by investing substantially in bonds, and inflation may subtly erode their spending power.

The 1990s are gone, along with the old retirement planning assumptions. Even Bengen is revisiting the 4% rule today. He retired in 2013, and conceded in Barron’s that “we could have low returns for a long time … we’re in uncharted territory. It’s very hard to predict what will happen.” Recently, some respected voices in the financial services industry – including analysts at T. Rowe Price and American College professor Wade Pfau – have argued that retirees may be better off withdrawing roughly 3% of their savings each year.1

The era of “set it and forget it” has passed. Determining a retirement withdrawal rate today means considering plenty of variables, including changing market conditions and emerging economic trends.

 

Christopher Perme may be reached at 330-527-9301 or cperme@financialguide.com www.permefinancialgroup.com 

 

Christopher Perme is a registered representative of and offers securities, investment advisory and financial planning services through MML Investors Services, LLC. Member SIPC. (www.SIPC.org) Supervisory Office:  2012 West 25th Street, Suite 900 Cleveland, OH  44113. 216-621-5680. Perme Financial Group is not a subsidiary or affiliate of MML Investors Services, LLC or its affiliated companies. 

 

 

Citations.

1 – online.barrons.com/article/SB50001424053111903747504579177903984944392.html#articleTabs_article%3D1 [11/9/13] 

2 – financialsense.com/contributors/james-j-puplava/how-to-give-yourself-an-annual-pay-raise-part-1 [4/23/12]

3 – frbsf.org/economic-research/publications/economic-letter/2013/july/cause-decline-long-term-us-government-bond-yields/ [7/13]

 

 

 

 

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Well, now, THERE was a week!

Elections on Tuesday.  It was heartening to see that our precinct (Garrettsville A) was up over the prediction of the Board of Elections, not much,  but every little bit helps.  I think that Garrettsville B was over too but I didn’t check.  It’s also neat to see so many former students whom I exhorted in the seventh grade to step up to their civic duty and vote(“If you don’t vote, you don’t complain.”)  Not that I can take all of the credit, their parents were there too.  So that was good…and the parks issue passed too…Whoopeee!

Then Wednesday I finally found an auction that I could get to, a biggie.  So, as it turned out I was NOT the only one who got that memo.  The cars and trucks were parked  on the side of Sheldon Rd. for probably three-quarters of a mile on either side of the driveway to the auction site.  The driveway itself was likely a quarter mile long, so anyone going to the sale got in a fair amount of exercise just getting there.  The notice in the paper said that the folks who had lived there were collectors and the notice did not lie; those people had a little bit of all kinds of things and a whole lot of some others.  Antique furniture,  pictures of horses, pictures of long-gone relatives(of somebody, who knows who), pictures of landscapes, there was even an advertising picture of “the Peerless Girl” (in driving attire—hat, duster, glasses—very elegant.)  one of a set of possibly twelve young ladies.   A new girl appeared every year with the new model Peerless automobile  until the Cleveland , Ohio company succumbed to the Great Depression.  Each one was a pretty spiffy-looking young lady just waiting for someone to come by in a Peerless automobile—Barney Oldfield, maybe?  He drove their Green Dragon racing car.  People collect the antique prints of the gals but no one has ever found a print of # 12, so she may not be out there.  Anyway, somebody got this one and it wasn’t me.

There were two auctioneers going at the same time which means that one has to scout around to try to determine where the most interesting stuff is located.  Plenty of evidence that the owners were, indeed, collectors.  I did spot some wooden boxes, some little stools and side tables, miscellaneous knick-knacks (Oh yeah, I need more of those!)worthy of some attention and just kept circulating.  One of the attractions of estate sales like this is that a person can wander around in somebody else’s house.  This was a very large new house, built to look like an old one.  One look at the bathrooms( Yes, more than one), the kitchen and the closets (One walk-in per bedroom, plus linen and storage) and it was totally clear that this was NOT an old house.  I paid no attention to the two or three tractors and/or garden tractors OR the Honda Element and went back to the watch on boxes.  The pile I had my eye on also had a wood and brass antique level in it.  That’s what caused the mix-up.

The auctioneer picked up the level, described it and started the bidding.  I thought that I was bidding on the whole pile.  HE was selling me the level.  Oops!  When I went to take away the pile, after having won the bid, it was pointed out to me that I had the level, not the boxes, and another bidder had purchased the boxes.  Awkward.  The auctioneer was good enough to cancel my transaction and resell the level; he didn’t have to do that, and later I approached the guy with the boxes and managed to get him to part with three of them that I wanted.  Look on my kitchen shelf for a container with the words “cultivated dew worm farm” printed on the side.

Then it was off to the band banquet and recognition ceremony on Wednesday evening and the school groundbreaking on Thursday.  Friday was open.  Whewww.

Saturday I was out and about taking pictures of the various demolition/construction projects around town—the Liberty Street bridge, the curbs on St. Rte 82, the Buckeye Block fire clean-up.  That last one did me in.

I’m walking around the back by the truncated former parking lot, outside the fence, when the reason for those heavy boots that the demo guys wear became crystal clear.  Yup, a nail—a rusty, grungy-dirty nail—came through the bottom of my tennis shoe.  Luckily, it just grazed the bottom of my foot but the red mark was not clearly distinguishable as either a wound or a bruise.  When was my last tetanus shot?  Good question.  Got no time for lockjaw.  Well, then, it’s off to Urgent Care.

Do not trust your telephone book in looking for such a facility.  They lie.  When friend Becky found the correct information online, I got the hours and took off…after having washed my foot and doused it with peroxide.  “Urgent Care” seems sort of like a misnomer.  Nobody there seemed to be into “urgent” at all.  The receptionist was totally pleasant, gave me papers to fill out, some people left; I was glad that I had brought the Reader’s Digest.  Nothing moved.

I was eventually ushered into an exam room which had the approximate temperature of a meat locker and eventually a diminutive South Asian-type physician came and looked at my foot , asked a few pertinent questions and went off to write a prescription for an antibiotic and to send in somebody else to give me a tetanus shot.  Have to say, the shot-giver was good at her job.  Minimal hurt.  No lingering ache.  Good to go.

Called my mother on Sunday.  Heard about the demise of her refrigerator and its imminent replacement.  Planted flowers.

I don’t think that the meeting of The Friends of the Library this week can hold a candle to all that.

We’ll see.

 

If you have been watching the news lately or have been to a local winery the past couple of weeks you have seen or heard about the damage this past winter has caused. Unfortunately during our assessment in March we realized that only a handful of vines survived the winter. The few vines that survived still had a lot of damage to them and we made the decision to cut all of the vines back to the ground and start over.

So what does that mean for this year’s vintage? Unfortunately it’s not a good story. Recently the owners and vineyard managers from Chalet Debonne in Madison, Ohio were interviewed after they completed their assessment. Their results are showing a 97% loss of vines in their vineyard. As one of the largest grape producers in Ohio this is a major hit to the industry.

In previous years if we suffered through a tough winter we were able to rely on the wineries closer to the lake to supply grapes for us. With all of the wineries in northern Ohio reporting anywhere from an 80% – 100% loss of vines, we are starting to look at other alternatives to supply our grapes this year.

Many of our guests have asked us why didn’t we prepare for such a bad winter, or why didn’t we plant heartier vines? All of these questions are great questions and all of the wineries in the area have learned a lot from this past winter. Each year the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center assesses the weather conditions, soil content and wildlife impact. When we planted the vineyard 12 years ago we planted the hardiest vines for this area. We, along with other local wineries, never thought we would see a winter with the conditions we experienced this year.

During a recent meetings of local wineries, OARDC reported this was the worst winter on record in the past 75 years for vineyards. Usually our vines can handle temperatures below -20 degrees. However the vines are not hearty enough to withstand the extended low temperatures. So while we wait to see what vines will grow back we are learning about new types of vines that could handle an extended amount of negative temperatures and withstand severe winds. Until then we just need to look forward to warmer days and more sun to hopefully help the vines start to grown.

 

Amanda is the Co-Owner of Candlelight Winery located at 11325 Center Road, Garrettsville. For more gift ideas or wine lists from the winery, please visit www.candlelightwinery.com.

All of the computers here at the Newton Falls Public Library are installed with Google Earth, a program that allows users to take a virtual tour of almost anywhere in the world. We were able to type in our patron’s friend’s address and, from the comfort of a library computer in Ohio, take a virtual walk down her street, catching all the sights, from the outdoor patio in front of the pizza place to the little courtyard gardens.

While absolutely everywhere doesn’t seem to be mapped yet (for example, some Ohio country roads can be viewed from above, with buildings and landmarks clearly visible, but the street view doesn’t yet seem to be an option), it’s still a neat program to play around with. Another one of our Newton Falls Public Library staff members likes to use Google Earth when he’s going to be driving somewhere new, because it gives him an idea of which landmarks to expect.

After exploring on Google Earth, our patron also checked out a travel guide to France, several more of which are available through CLEVNET (such as “DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: France”) if she decides to take the trip in person!

 

For answers to your questions, visit the Newton Falls Public Library, 204 S. Canal Street, Newton Falls or phone 330-872-1282. For information about all the free library programs or hours, visit our website at www.newtonfalls.org or our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/NewtonFallsLibrary.

 

Our parents & grandparents saved much more than we do. Most people who have read up on the economy for any length of time have heard of the personal saving rate (PSAVERT), which the Commerce Department calculates as the ratio of personal saving to disposable personal income. The January personal spending report released by the Commerce Department in early March showed the PSAVERT at 4.3%.

As recently as January 2013, households were saving just 2.3% of their disposable incomes – so this can be labeled a short-term improvement. It still pales in comparison to the way Americans used to save.2

The “greatest generation” had a culture of saving. Its thrift was reinforced further by hard times and a call for personal sacrifices as the economy endured the Great Depression and stateside rationing during WWII. The Commerce Department began measuring household saving in 1959, and as unbelievable as it may seem today, households saved 10% or more of their disposable incomes through nearly all of the Sixties. In May 1975, the personal savings rate reached a historic peak of 14.60%.1,2

From 1959 to the present, the PSAVERT average has been 6.84 percent – but the 21st century shows evidence of a significant decline. The savings rate fell into the 1-3% range, dropping to a record low of 0.8% in April 2005.2

To some analysts, a declining personal savings rate signals a stronger economy. It implies more spending, and consumer spending has the biggest impact on GDP. You can’t have it all, however; more spending means less saving, and Americans are plagued by insufficient retirement reserves.

Are credit cards the problem? We borrow greatly, but there are other factors in play. You may have heard about America’s “shrinking middle class.” That is no exaggeration.

The most recent Census Bureau data shows the median U.S. household income for 2012 at $51,017. By comparison, median U.S. household income in 1989 – when adjusted for inflation – would work out to $51,681 today. From 1989-2012, annualized consumer inflation was mostly in the 2-4% range. All this illustrates a slow but notable erosion of purchasing power.3,4

During the same time frame, the cost of college went up dramatically, health care costs increased, and real estate values fluctuated. People saved less and borrowed more, and not simply on impulse; they wound up borrowing more to maintain a middle-class standard of living.

Real incomes aside, we are often lured into unnecessary spending. Advertising can convince us that we have unmet needs and desires, and that we must respond to them by buying goods and services. Urges, emotions, ennui, living without a budget – these can all lead us to spend more than we really should, especially given how much money we will need to adequately retire.

Our parents and grandparents really knew how to pay themselves first – and while economic pressures make it harder for many of us to do so today, that doesn’t make it any less of a priority.

It might be useful to think about future money when you think about making a discretionary purchase. Are those dollars you are spending at a mall or restaurant today better off saved or invested for tomorrow?

Think about your big dreams and goals, the ones you have looked forward to realizing for years. How many dollars are you putting toward them? Is your spending aligned with them, or in conflict with them? Could you spend less here and there and devote more money to those priorities?

Sometimes we have to borrow and spend more than we would like, but often we have a choice – and the choice we make may affect our ability to retire sooner or later.

 

Christopher Perme may be reached at 330-527-9301 or cperme@financialguide.com www.permefinancialgroup.com 

 

Christopher Perme is a registered representative of and offers securities, investment advisory and financial planning services through MML Investors Services, LLC. Member SIPC. (www.SIPC.org) Supervisory Office:  2012 West 25th Street, Suite 900 Cleveland, OH  44113. 216-621-5680. Perme Financial Group is not a subsidiary or affiliate of MML Investors Services, LLC or its affiliated companies. 

 

 

Citations.

1 – research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/PSAVERT/ [3/3/14] 

2 – tradingeconomics.com/united-states/personal-savings [3/6/14]

3 – billmoyers.com/2013/09/20/by-the-numbers-the-incredibly-shrinking-american-middle-class/ [9/20/13]

4 – tradingeconomics.com/united-states/inflation-cpi [3/7/14] 

 

He stands erect, like the captain of a ship, gazing out the upstairs window at the sea of lawn that surrounds our home. “We’re under attack!” he bellows. “I didn’t work by butt off all this time to let those worthless grubs destroy the yard I worked so hard to grow.” I ask him to calm down. My protests are met with exasperation. “Just look at this. We’re surrounded,” he hollers.

He would prefer to handle the offending pests ‘Chemical Ali’-style, by dousing the nasty buggers in enough caustic cocktail to kill them instantly. Preferably holding up little white flags of surrender before their untimely demises. I prefer a more natural approach. At least he realized that running through the yard, tearing up patches of lawn to squash every grub he saw, made him look, simply put, like a crazy person.

It doesn’t matter that we’ve spent money to introduce beneficial nematodes into the yard, trying to help get nature back in balance in our little corner of the world. We had to order them through the mail. He compared it to waiting for a packet of sea monkeys to arrive. He just applied our sea monkeys to the lawn yesterday afternoon. I ask him to give them a few days to take effect. “You clearly don’t understand,” he says, retaking his position at the healm, er, upstairs window.

We are at a stalemate in this battle of the grubs. And all I can think, rather flippantly, is, “Let them eat cake.” Chocolate cake, to be exact.

 

Chocolate Cake (recipe and photo courtesy of addapinch.com)

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

¾ cup unsweetened

cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking powder

1½ teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon espresso powder

1 cup milk

½ cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup boiling water

chocolate frosting

 

Preheat oven to 350º F. Prepare two 9-inch cake pans by spraying with baking spray or buttering and lightly flouring.

Add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk through to combine or, using your paddle attachment, stir through flour mixture until combined well.

Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture and mix together on medium speed until well combined. Reduce speed and carefully add boiling water to the cake batter. Beat on high speed for about 1 minute to add air to the batter.

Distribute cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool completely. Frost cake with chocolate frosting and enjoy. Perfect for spring holidays or insect debates alike.

 

 

You may recall about two years ago that I got very frustrated with the Cleveland Museum of Natural History for not having anywhere near adequate facilities available for disabled people to park and be able to attend the events that we museum members were entitled to. The end result of that trip was missing the lecture, dropping out of the museum,  and  slowly winding my way back home through old neighborhoods and accidentally discovering a wonderful Jewish bakery and their chocolate Bombe’ cupcakes.  I still savor those cupcakes in my daydreams…. but I haven’t made it back there since!   Well, there is always tomorrow!

Masochist that I am, I was, as a guest of others, back at the Museum this past weekend to attend a lecture by Jack Horner—dinosaur hunter extraordinaire—and his colleagues expounding on head crests, frills, bumps,  horns and accoutrements of duckbilled dinosaurs, what they were made of, and postulating what they were used for.  OK, I realize that I just lost half my readers with that sentence.  Let me digress and get back to the real world.

My daughter and her husband, both paleontologists, asked me if I would like to go to a lecture at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. I am a “closet paleontologist”.  That is; I started out in that field in college in 1964; ten years and the Viet Nam War later, ended up in psychology. I’m still very interested in dinosaurs and primordial animals.  If I could go back and start over……………  Yeah,……….. so the lecture featured Jack Horner, one of the most famous Dinosaur authorities of our times.  This was in conjunction with “Dinosaur Days” at the museum wherein hundreds of children and their families attended and made wooden dinosaurs, got their faces painted, got pictures taken with the various dinosaurs, and generally got to run riot around the museum while subliminally taking in all the natural wonders.  This is all well and good, and exactly how I got my children interested in paleontology.  What was even better was that I didn’t have to drive into Cleveland and negotiate the Wade Oval traffic mess and try to find a non-existent disabled parking place.  The heavily over crowded, virtually impossible to navigate confluence of three famous museums, Severance Hall, the Veterans Hospital, a Music School,  and the Botanical Gardens are a weekend traffic nightmare.

My kids dropped me and my little electric scooter off at the door and I waited patiently while they were forced to park a quarter mile away at the Art Museums’ high rise parking deck to the tune of $11 ( I take the electric scooter to museums because of extended walking and standing which is very hard on my legs.)

Now, what is wrong with this picture?  Here we have the greatest concentration of cultural facilities Cleveland has to offer and there is almost no place to park your car.   Even Disneyland has remote parking facilities where they bus you to the gate on an every ten minute basis for God’s sake! (Oh, there’s an idea!)  Our museums beg you, implore you, to come down and visit them, but there are few places to park your car.  “We cater to the handicapped”, they say, but there is no place for us handicapped people to park our handicapped vehicle.   News flash….here’s another idea.  Maybe, instead of constantly adding on wings to the various museums they should get together and add on a central high rise parking facility on and under the green central to the museums so that people could actually attend the events? And maybe the extremely minimal parking available close to the museum’s doors could be reserved for….handicapped people?     Just an idea!!  Currently there is no way I could, by myself, attend any event.  Might I expect a companion to drop me off and go in search of a parking spot?  Particularly at night this is, shall we say, not the safest of areas.   It is a dangerous area at night.  I should expect a female companion to walk a quarter mile at night in an unsafe area to retrieve a car?  I don’t think so.

Now, at the lecture we by chance had the unexpected opportunity to sit and chat with a lovely lady named Janet Neary who, it turns out, happens to be a Museum Trustee.  As we talked it became clear that she was somewhat dismayed at the minimal attendance at the dinosaur lectures and we chatted about whether or not it might be wiser to separate in time and space the kid’s events from the adult lectures.  And perhaps they needed to institute much more effective advertising of the world famous dinosaur paleontologists.  Oh, the lectures were announced in the Plain Dealer but no mention was made of whom the lecturers would be.  Now this is akin to, say, advertising that there would be a lecture on religion, and forgetting to mention that incidentally it would be by the Pope.  Somebody definitely missed the target in advertising this event!!  Ms. Neary noted my electric scooter and we then discussed the parking fiasco and more particularly the lack of handicapped parking facilities.

I must say that the lectures were delightful.  They featured Mark Goodwin from UC Berkeley, a paleontologist and former student of Jack Horner.  He has been studying the aforementioned top knots and frills of duckbilled dinosaurs.   And of course the second lecture was by Jack Horner himself.  Now, I haven’t seen Jack in about 15-20 years in person.  Not that I know him personally—I do not– but I have listened to him talk on several occasions, have read his books,  been to his university workshop, and did take my son some 25 years ago to his egg mountain dinosaur camp in Montana.  Jack is an exciting speaker and one of the paleontologists that has profoundly changed our modern view on dinosaurs.

Jack has put on a few years, since I last saw him.  But he is still an exciting speaker who can command the audience’s attention and keep them riveted. Twenty-five years ago Jack postulated that birds are really living dinosaurs, dinosaurs were endothermic (warm blooded) and that dinosaurs are much more related to birds than reptiles. This shook the dinosaur world to its core.  But since then our understanding of dinosaurs has been markedly redefined largely due to his influence.  He is a very important cog in the wheel of dinosaur paleontology. I do believe that if academia had been actually aware that Jack Horner was in town, they would have filled up the auditorium.  Of course I don’t know where they would have parked!

What to do about continuing my museum membership?  I’m not happy about the situation. It is not their fault that I can’t walk much anymore. But the limited accessibility due to the lack of parking certainly puts a crimp in the numbers of people visiting the museums and my participation in the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

 

Do you fish, hunt, trap, camp, go for nature walks? What else do you do outdoors? Drop me a line at THE VILLAGER, P.O. Box 331 Garrettsville 44231. E-mail me at Skipstaxidermy@yahoo.com or give me a call at 330-562-9801. I’d like to hear from you.

 

Open your mouth and say , “Aaaah”

Do physicians even DO that any more?  Well, according to an item in the Akron Beacon-Journal, you should not hand over your money before the doc sticks anything in your mouth.  That’s because  some researchers at New York University have discovered an absolutely stunning collection of bacteria,   viruses (Or viri?  Nope, virus has no plural in Latin), fungi (Now there’s a plural!) and plant pathogens on dollar bills… not to mention traces of anthrax and diphtheria.  YUK!  They uncovered—so to speak—all of this by using high-speed  gene sequencing and computerized data-base analysis on about 80  $1 bills from a Manhattan bank.  That George Washington you’re carrying around may have more than 3000 kinds of bacteria, your gateway to skin infections, stomach ulcers and other assorted afflictions of the flesh.  They found some 1.2 billion (Yes, that’s Billion) segments of DNA, about half traceable to humans.  Of the remaining material, about 20% could be identified.  O.K., that leaves 30%, give or take, not attributable to anything in particular.  Are we seeing  ALIENS panhandling on the corners here?  Yetis?  Abominable whatevers?  We’re talkin’  DIRTY money.

And in that same vein…you should pardon the expression… the latest news in competition sports is the Tough Mudders.  One description of the “sport” goes like this : “Tough Mudders are hardcore 10-12 mile(18-20 km) obstacle course challenges designed to test strength, stamina, mental grit and camaraderie—probably the toughest event on the planet.”  Oy!

A  couple of guys founded the whole thing in 2010, got about 4500 nutjobs to participate and it’s grown from there.  A rough estimate of the number of crazies having taken part so far hovers in the neighborhood of 1.3 million.  In 2013 the number of players reached somewhere around 700,000.  The company (What, you thought it was just a bunch of guys—it’s always guys, right?—who get together to get “down & dirty” crawling through mud and ice water?) which organizes and officially sanctions events is worth $70 million and has classified the competitions as Arena, Backwoods, Open Range, Off-road, , Mountain and Muscle.

The twenty to twenty-five different obstacles are presented as challenges to some of humans’ greatest fears—fire, water, electricity, height.  About seventy-eight per cent    of competitors finish the course.  Depending upon the course, a player can be facing dangling live electric wires, vats of ice chunks, water and other substances you don’t want to know about, greased monkey bars over ice pits, walls to scale, pipes to crawl through, planks to walk.  Oh, it’s a lot of fun!

Both individual and team competitions are part of the deal; male and female “Tough Mudders”   get into the thing but the predominance goes, of course, goes to the guys(Female “mudders” are already tough).  There are sponsors sometimes—Under Armor, Degree (Wouldn’t you know a deodorant would get into it?), Bic (What?  To take notes?), Wheaties (These pictures will NOT make the front of the cereal box), Dos Equis, Clif Bar—and usually some kind of a charity affiliation, often military-related.  Prizes are popping up occasionally.

And how’s all of this like the money?  All good clean fun, right?

Well, there seems to have been an outbreak, O.K. maybe more than one outbreak, of some really, really ugly intestinal disorders, caused by norovirus, for one.  This may have something to do with the fact that at least one of the competitions was WAY too close to an agricultural installation  and the mud involved was, shall we say, enhanced by unplanned substances.  Then, of course, you never know what that dude suffering next to you was infected with before the two of you were submerged in ice water.  DO NOT swallow the mud!

And, lastly, on the medical front– SPOILER ALERT for Prince Charming—it is now possible  to get what some podiatrists and orthopedic surgeons are calling “Cinderella surgery”.  “If the shoe fits, wear it,” has gone to a whole new level.

Women—wealthy ones, anyway– are having surgeries to make their feet fit their shoes, not the other way around.  Manolo Blahnik, Nicholas Kirkwood, Christian Louboutin, all high-end shoe designers, have opened  economic horizons for the medical profession by designing shoes that women cannot wear without either pain or reshaping of their feet.  Got “high heel foot”, “hitchhiker toe”, “toebesity”?  This can be dealt with  by getting a Perfect 10 (toe shortening), a Model T (toe lengthening) or a foot tuck(fat pad augmentation).  Don’t EVEN call it a bunionectomy any more.  It’s a “facelift for your feet” so you can fit into heels.  Don’t go for toe liposuction or pinky toe removal, those are stepping pretty close to unethical.  The originator of these procedures, Dr. Ali Sadrieh, says that it’s about a lifestyle choice and projecting confidence; a hallux valgus correction with osteotomy and screw fixation means that one can put on and wear a shoe that did not fit comfortably before.  What IS a stiletto after all, but a knife?

Ugly stepsisters, here’s your chance!

 

Peeking around the corner of the office building, Doodle Dog leapt back before a hurried woman rushing past him stepped on his paws. That was close! What was all the excitement about? The curious floppy-eared puppy crept out again, certainly not nearly as quickly as the two-legged traveler dashing down the driveway in front of him. Even at his easygoing amble, Doodle Dog soon came upon the very center of the town which seemed unusually busy, busy even for it being the most popular place at the most popular time of day. Keeping an eye out so not to get squished, the little floppy-eared puppy made his way down the sidewalk, weaving around ankles of lampposts and between the legs of the iron benches parked at various helpful points along the main street for weary shoppers to sit and peruse a while. But there was no time to be a spectator today as there was too much to see and too much of a chance of getting swept up in the current of activity! Well, that is, of course, unless you are a little puppy who has a talent for blending into the scenery and quietly observing.

Doodle Dog did just that, effectively disappearing into a crevice of wall between two shops. Melting into the impromptu mold, the puppy may very well have always been a fixture in that part of the structure rather than a momentary visitor to the architecture. From this vantage point, Doodle Dog was able to safely survey the scene on the sidewalk. At each section of every so many concrete squares, a table was set up with various merchandise and artistic wares. One table had wonderful smells wafting from it, scenting up the air with lilac one minute and fresh citrus fruits the next and chocolate chip cookies the next as a lady stirred a small pot filled with what appeared to be gelatinous, goopy crayons. Really yummy smelling gelatinous, goopy crayons! As she continued to swirl the little wand in the pot, the goo changed color and with it the scent in the air. Quite curious and magical indeed! Another table held similarly deliciously-smelling items, but these ones were not dissolving into a jar rather were being devoured by customers sampling the treats. Real edible ooey-gooeys like brownies and cinnamon buns, carefully crafted by a chef’s talented hands, were disappearing just as quickly as they appeared on an array of plates and platters arranged on the portable counter. On and on down both sides of the street the town’s delights were on display.

Meandering safely from his melted-in perch, the floppy-eared puppy’s nose found a particularly intriguing exhibit that did not include smelling sweets or tantalizing treats. Instead a stack of books next to a table caught his attention as he recognized the characters on the covers and the spines. He knew the legends were from an assortment, some written, some gathered, all collected by a pair of brothers who loved fairytales just as much as the little curious puppy and loved sharing the stories just as much as he did too. Sitting at the table next to the stack of books were two men busily hunched over their work. Though their facial features were similar enough that Doodle Dog figured they were brothers, that’s where the similarities ended. One had longish blonde hair that swished into his eyes as he peered over his glasses focusing on what was in his hands. Working quickly, he carved and etched something into a metal strip, fashioning it a bit here and then working the edge a bit there. Soon a set of stripes appeared and then a pair of giant eyes and some spindly legs and several wings. It reminded Doodle Dog of the shadowy shapes of the puppet show bugs. Ew! At least these ones wouldn’t bite! While the blonde brother worked, the other man concentrated on his own projects, just as varied from his cohort’s as their appearance. He had short dark hair which showed off a zealous expression in his eyes as he centered his attention on making tiny sculptures out of colorful clay. Soon a herd of miniature horses galloped in unison, the ponies prancing across the table in a dainty dance, some with wings, some with tiny spikes on their foreheads like a mythological unicorn in one of those fairytales, all with beautiful, unique markings on their multi-hued backs.

Doodle Dog stopped to indulge his curiosity for a while and as he watched the clay squishing between the artist’s fingers, soon they were not forming hooves and swishing tails, rather a paw suddenly appeared and then two floppy ears. Within moments it was no longer a ball of clay – it was a tiny Doodle Dog! The itty bitty floppy-eared puppy settled onto a clay fairytale book, the perfect perch for the petite pup! The artist gave Doodle Dog a kind smile as he gently placed Clay Doodle Dog into a small bag, tucking him into a cushion of plastic bubbles. And, just before offering the handle to the real floppy-eared puppy, the other artist dropped a tiny silver bumblebee into the bag too. It wasn’t as scary as the other kind of creepy crawly critters in the collection so Doodle Dog gave a grateful bark and continued on to explore the rest of what the fascinating setting had to offer!

 

Now or later? When it comes to the question of Social Security income, the choice looms large. Should you apply now to get earlier payments? Or wait for a few years to get larger checks?

Consider what you know (and don’t know). You know how much retirement money you have; you may have a clear projection of retirement income from other potential sources. Other factors aren’t as foreseeable. You don’t know exactly how long you will live, so you can’t predict your lifetime Social Security payout. You may even end up returning to work again.

When are you eligible to receive full benefits? The answer may be found online at socialsecurity.gov/retire2/agereduction.htm.

How much smaller will your check be if you apply at 62? The answer varies. As an example, let’s take someone born in 1952. For this baby boomer, the full retirement age is 66. If that baby boomer decides to retire in 2014 at 62, his/her monthly Social Security benefit will be reduced 25%. That boomer’s spouse would see a 30% reduction in monthly benefits.1

Should that boomer elect to work past full retirement age, his/her benefit checks will increase by 8.0% for every additional full year spent in the workforce. (To be precise, his/her benefits will increase by .67% for every month worked past full retirement age.) So it really may pay to work longer.2

Remember the earnings limit. Let’s put our hypothetical baby boomer through another example. Our boomer decides to apply for Social Security at age 62 in 2014, yet stays in the workforce. If he/she earns more than $15,480 in 2014, the Social Security Administration will withhold $1 of every $2 earned over that amount.3

How does the SSA define “income”? If you work for yourself, the SSA considers your net earnings from self-employment to be your income. If you work for an employer, your wages equal your earned income. (Different rules apply for those who get Social Security disability benefits or Supplemental Security Income checks.)4

Please note that the SSA does not count investment earnings, interest, pensions, annuities and capital gains toward the current $15,480 earnings limit.4

Some fine print worth noticing. If you reach full retirement age in 2014, then the SSA will deduct $1 from your benefits for each $3 you earn above $41,400 in the months preceding the month you reach full retirement age. So if you hit full retirement age early in 2014, you are less likely to be hit with this withholding.4

Did you know that the SSA may define you as retired even if you aren’t? This actually amounts to the SSA giving you a break. In 2014 – assuming you are eligible for Social Security benefits – the SSA will consider you “retired” if a) you are under full retirement age for the entire year and b) your monthly earnings are $1,290 or less. If you are self-employed, eligible to receive benefits and under full retirement age for the entire year, the SSA generally considers you “retired” if you work less than 15 hours a month at your business.2,4

Here’s the upside of all that: if you meet the tests mentioned in the preceding paragraph, you are eligible to receive a full Social Security check for any whole month of 2014 in which you are “retired” under these definitions. You can receive that check no matter what your earnings come to for all of 2014.

Learn more at socialsecurity.gov. The SSA website is packed with information and user-friendly. One last little reminder: if you don’t sign up for Social Security at full retirement age, make sure that you at least sign up for Medicare at age 65.

 

Christopher Perme may be reached at 330-527-9301 or cperme@financialguide.com www.permefinancialgroup.com 

 

Christopher Perme is a registered representative of and offers securities, investment advisory and financial planning services through MML Investors Services, LLC. Member SIPC. (www.SIPC.org) Supervisory Office:  2012 West 25th Street, Suite 900 Cleveland, OH  44113. 216-621-5680. Perme Financial Group is not a subsidiary or affiliate of MML Investors Services, LLC or its affiliated companies. 

 

 

Citations.

1 – socialsecurity.gov/retire2/agereduction.htm [2/26/14] 

2 – socialsecurity.gov/retire2/delayret.htm [2/26/14]

3 – socialsecurity.gov/cola/ [2/26/14]

4 – http://ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10069.pdf [2/26/14] 

 

Once, many years ago, I ran across a book with the title, Hollywood Is A Kosher Nutburger.  I think that I read it but who knows.  At any rate, it struck me that it was a fine shorthand for “This place is nuts!”

Well, the news lately—internet, the comics,  the news pages, magazines—all of it, is proof that  while time may march on, things are still really STRANGE!  For example:

New research has revealed that , monthly, Google has been used to find out “how to hide a dead body” at least 1000 times; “how to get away with murder” came up 1900 times and… the winnah is…40,500 queries on “why did I get married?”  Now there’s a “Dear Abby”  moment for you!  Might want to pair these pieces of information with a new app called Cloak which will alert you, via your cell phone or other mobile device, that your ex-friends, ex-lovers, bill collectors or other personally undesirable individuals are in the neighborhood.

Also having to do with, the internet, I got some kind of a scam thing going on which, when I hit the “information” button, took me to a website for Hildegardisschool, a Dutch elementary building in the Netherlands. Nothing wrong with little Dutch boys (Don’t they make paint?) and girls(She did cleansing powder, right?) but their connection with Bank of America must be tenuous, at best.

There’s a model somewhere out in La-La Land who’s suing Playboy Magazine and a Los Angeles radio host for “pain, suffering, worry and anxiety” because the dude was, apparently, not quite the golfer he thought he was when he attempted to hit a golf ball teed up on the young lady’s nether parts…he missed   and left her good side in bad shape.  She protests that she never thought(Well, duh, that’s obvious) that he would actually try to hit the ball.  Playboy sponsored whatever very refined event it was where this exhibition took place.  She’s seeking $500,000, according to a snippet in The Week magazine.

Here’s an interesting heads-up from aol news oddments about some of the more unusual names being given to children recently.  I’d read   the “Nevaeh” (Heaven, backwards) before but this one was ‘way past that.  What was it? Zzyxz.  Yup, Zzyxy.  How about them apples(That’s what Natalie Portman  named her little child, isn’t it? I think her other one is Moses.  Not so bad).  There’s a teacher’s nightmare, having a kid with a name like that show up on the roster with no clue how to pronounce it.  Now, personally, I would guess that Zzyxz would be pronounced “Zicks”, but the entry for this particular christening curse is to be “Zay zix” .  That better for you?  Good grief!  The things that people will do to poor defenseless children!

How about deep sea diving in a wheelchair?  Got to give the lady doing this particular challenge credit for guts but I’m a little confused as to the point of it all.  Sort of falls into the “Annie Oakley” song “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better” category, I would think.

And the things that you can find in the dictionary!

How about emetiphobia?  Wikipedia defines this as “an intense, irrational fear of or pertaining to vomiting.  Well, there you go!  Who hasn’t wrestled (sometimes   literally) with that one while waiting in the wings to do something that you got finagled into or foolishly agreed to (Just like the model above) never dreaming that it would come to THIS.  Sub categories include being at a VERY posh occasion with a touch of “Delhi Belly” or “Montezuma’s Revenge”.  What’s so irrational about that?  One researcher says that some people afflicted thus have trouble “comfortably leading a normal life .”  D’ya THINK?

And finally, I’ll bet that al most everybody out there has, at some time, suffered through a bout of sphenopalatine  ganglioneuralgia.  And you didn’t even know what it was!  You did know that it hurt, however, as you slurped up that ice cream cone after winning the ballgame or bit into a big chunk of DQ ice cream cake or chugged  a Slurpee from the Seven –Eleven.  Yup.  It’s the brain freeze, caused by super-cooling the back of your throat where there’s a whole pack of nerves that go straight to pain receptors in your brain.  Just like the express line, no waiting!

There’s more where this all came from.  Stay tuned.

This could be a vegan Bar-B-Q

 

Candlelight Cove Light Show at Candlelight Winery

Candlelight Cove Light Show at Candlelight Winery

One of the great things about enjoying wine is being able to check out so many great wineries. Each one of the 50 states has at least one winery so no matter where our travels take us we try to visit at least one winery during each trip.

Unfortunately there have been a few occasions where our trip to the local winery is disappointing. So during a recent wine outing we found ourselves at a winery that we did not like. We stayed through the tasting however, it was an experience that I would soon like to forget.

Instead of going through a tasting that you are going to regret, I have some pointers to get out of a winery situation. On our recent experience we had a feeling from the time that we pulled into the winery that we should turn around. This winery was on a farm that focused more on the farming part instead of the wine part of the winery. However we decided to check it out.

Once inside the winery, it took the winery staff about 10 minutes to acknowledge us at the tasting bar. As with most of our winery visits, even if the tasting bar is busy most of the tasting room assistants will at least acknowledge you. I am a believer that if someone doesn’t acknowledge you, the rest of the experience will be worse.

Since I didn’t take my own advice, we then suffered through the next 20 minutes trying wines that we usually wouldn’t drink because the tasting room assistant insisted we would like these wines. Unfortunately, we did not like the wines and quickly paid for the tastings and left.

If you are faced with this situation, be sure to tell the assistant that you will try a couple of wines (it’s always a good idea to expand your wine tastings) however, you prefer a certain kind of wine and if they could give you a good idea of the wines that match your preference you will be more likely to buy some wines.

If you find that you do not care for any of the wines, graciously thank them for their time, ask how much the wine tasting is and after you pay, quietly leave. If you make a grand exit you are only making the experience worse for you and the winery.

 

 

Amanda is the Co-Owner of Candlelight Winery located at 11325 Center Road, Garrettsville. For more gift ideas or wine lists from the winery, please visit www.candlelightwinery.com.

recipeThey say you can’t buy happiness. But, you can buy donuts, and it’s hard not to feel happy while eating a donut. The folks at Peace, Love, and Little Donuts seem to agree with that statement. Since 2009, when they opened their first donut shop, they’ve grown to 10 locations of, “the grooviest donut shop this side of the Milky Way.” There are three area locations to “feed your inner hippie,” with some of their funkadelic flavors like Oreo™, apple pie, s’mores, or maple bacon donuts.

If their tasty little works of art don’t have you doing a happy dance, then the 1970s inspired décor and music just might do the trick. And dancing burns calories, so it’s ok to eat some cute little mini donuts every now and again. To find a location near you, visit peaceloveandlittledonuts.com. To make your own mini-donuts at home, use this basic recipe, adding your own special toppings to craft the groovy donuts of your dreams.

 

Baked Chocolate Glazed Mini Donuts 

(courtesy of bakerbettie.com)

 

Ingredients – Donuts

5 TBSP unsalted butter, softened

½ cup sugar

1 egg

½ cup milk

1 tsp vanilla

2 tsp baking powder

pinch salt

1 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

 

Ingredients – Glaze

2 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup whole milk

optional: sprinkles, coconut, mini chocolate chips, or the groovy topping of your choice

 

Preheat oven to 325ºF, or plug in electric mini-donut maker. Lightly oil mini donut pan or donut maker and set aside. (If you don’t have a mini-donut pan or maker, you can use mini muffin pans.)

In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the egg, milk, and vanilla and mix until combined.

Mix in the baking powder, then the salt, until incorporated throughout. Then add in the flour and cocoa powder, stirring just until combined. If using mini donut pan or donut maker, transfer mixture into a zipper baggie with the tip cut off. Pipe into the pan only filling ½ of the way fill. If using the mini muffin pan, fill each well ½ full. Bake at 325ºF for 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool before glazing.

For the glaze, combine the powdered sugar, vanilla and milk in a saucepan over medium low heat and whisk until well combined. Dip donuts in warm glaze, top with sprinkles, if desired, and let them cool before enjoying.

You might start out having a nothing-special day, but after a few special mini-donuts, you just might be in a groovy state of mind. Can you dig it?