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So I went to get new license plates, since my old ones were still on the poor , pitiful “Revolution Orange Metallic” car that got totaled, and this meant a sojourn in the local(Ravenna) office of the State of Ohio   Bureau of Motor Vehicles…turned out to be quite instructive, in a decidedly eccentric sort of way.

First off, one is required(Well, that is if you actually want to achieve your objective of getting license plates or  renewed driver’s license or stuff of that ilk) to take a number—just like at a busy deli or bakery– from a gizmo mounted on a pole right at the entrance doors.  It’s always a shock to look at the number you’ve got and at the crowd of people sitting there already waiting.  My number was 26; the first number called after I got there was 7.  O.K., this is going to call for settling in.  Unfortunately, I had forgotten to bring any reading material—I usually do bring something on expeditions like this—so I whipped out my trusty pen and paper and took notes; people looked at me funny.

First of all, the set-up is better than it used to be; whatever it is that you want, when your number is called, you step up to the counter and the clerk who called will deal with your request.  Once upon a time, specific clerks dealt with specific operations and the issuer of license plates might be snowed under with people waiting  and waiting, while the driver’s license clerk was able to sit at her leisure to examine the new nail color that she had chosen and  tempers tended to shorten as the wait time lengthened.  Well, that’s done with…and none too soon.

The décor is quite enlightening, consisting of old Ohio license plates—predominantly in red, green or  blue, with  some yellow or black thrown in( For awhile there, the idea was to use the colors of the principal state universities—OSU, Miami, Ohio U, BG, Kent, etc.—as they were celebrating their centennials or sesquicentennials or whatever, but then the field expanded and budgets faded and who knows what the  Bureau of Motor Vehicles is thinking now?); 1933 was orange. The earliest date that I saw on the wall was from 1916; there was a1920 next to a 1921 and from then on it was consecutive to the present day. Most were for your standard passenger car but historical vehicles, trailers, farm conveyances, dealers, vanity plates, government vehicles and school buses were also represented.  Then there were plates from all of the states, from Alabama to Wyoming on the lintel above the service desk.  I must say, the design that the BMV has come up with for our Ohio plates is certainly lame, compared to some of the others on display.  I remember  several years ago we( or the BMV, anyway) got all in a snit when North Carolina beat us to the license plate slogan “First in Flight”  commemorating the Wright Brothers exploits at Kitty Hawk.  Somebody was asleep at the switch down in Columbus, probably.  “Birthplace of Aviation” doesn’t have the same ring to it.  “Ohio, the Heart of It All” was pretty good but somebody dropped that one  and currently it’s just sort of nondescript, a barn and an airplane or shadowy words about accomplishments or something behind the numbers; definitely forgettable.  Their whole design concept is less than arresting, that’s for sure. The chairs are black and lined up in rows of four across and there are what look like army surplus church pews running along one side(So you can pray for a lower number?).  The walls also have framed vintage automobile ads(I think that I remember some of them from the LIFE Magazine; that tells you just how vintage they are).  I spotted Dodge Plymouth, Ford, Mercury, Chevrolet, Jeep and Nash(How’s that for a blast from the past?);there was an Atlas Tires  blurb too.  There is also an  antique Ohio Driver’s Manual, some temporary tags, a reminder about  being an organ donor—don’t forget that one—and a display of the old paper driver’s licenses; I remember those too.   Somebody’s bad typing and my own ineptitude caused me to be driving for a whole year on an  expired license.  The last number was typed right on the line on the right side of the little box and I thought—having looked at it carelessly—that I had another year before needing to renew.  WRONG!  It was a nerve-wracking time between when I turned myself in and when I could  get an appointment to retake the driver’s test—written and driving.  Good thing I was still walking to work then and didn’t get into any high-speed car chases.

And speaking of displays….  Everybody’s got a tattoo.  The variety is stunning.  Everything from names inside of hearts—Mom, Emmy-Jo, USMC—to skulls and dragons and Disney characters to Maori designs, spider webs and faeries.  I knew a guy once who had a fly tattooed on his big toe; at the time, this was pretty far out; he’d be a wuss now.  Lots of the displays were on phone screens, everybody seemed to have someone to contact by text, the talking was not a factor.  The big TV screen was being mostly ignored.  The game show that was on was not real inspiring and nobody seemed to be paying much attention…including the contestants.

I must say that the clerks seemed very helpful.  One poor gentleman showed up with no I.D., no passport, nothing attesting to his place of residence; I think he was connected to the University and didn’t have the drill down yet.  The young lady helping him sent him to another office across the hall to figure all of that out; he came back and got through it, chop-chop.  Good thing, since another sign announced that  the whole place was appearing on closed circuit TV and there was an audio monitor in use.

So eventually my number came up , I had all of the necessary papers—including my checkbook—and I now have a new set of plates that I have to remember to put on the car before my 30-day tags run out.  This means that I will have to learn a new set of numbers and letters…oy!…and update my insurance…the fun never stops!

“The reunion”, he says. “Oh yeah, you’ve gotta go”, says my friend Don, 80 years old and hasn’t missed a reunion yet.   Class Reunion……These are words that strike terror into the heart of…… me. The word brings trepidation, apprehension, a dredging up of time spent in….limbo.  It seems to hit me in the face with horrible thoughts about what is now and what is no more. This reunion to me is a thing out of time and very out of place. “But you’ve gotta go—it’s your 50 year Class Reunion”, they say. “You will never have another.”

Most of what I am today, whatever that actually means, has little to do with that first 17 years of my life. Of course that is developmentally not true, but characterologically it is so.  High school, particularly when compared to the rest of my life, was not a grand time. It was not even a good time.  It was a plodding through time, a marking time, a waiting for ……dawn?  It is not unlike now again.   Now I am marking time again, waiting for ?????  Am I down to existing to feed the dog?

I force myself to drive to the banquet center and then to walk into the building. I really do not want to be there. I no longer have an ally to fallback upon, no partner. It is not a good feeling.  There are a few others arriving early and likewise walking in.  But I do not recognize them, not even remotely. They could be just people off the streets, a gathering of people from the Cleveland Stadium perhaps. Maybe they really are. I get in line– it is a short line at that early hour—30 minutes before we are supposed to be there. Why am I always so early?  Why can’t I be late?  I’m so damned obsessive compulsive!

There are four or five people at the greeting desk. I vaguely recognize some facial characteristics.  The guy has on a name tag reading “Randolph Peccarillo”.  I don’t recall going to school with any Randolph Peccarillo. There was a Randolph something or another though.  He was the quarterback of the football team. I was a defensive lineman. I guess if I had a last name like that I’d probably change it too. If I had a name like Roy, I’d change it. I couldn’t actually do that though.  It would dishonor my father.  So that must be old Randolph the quarterback.

The greeting party looked at me; I looked at them. No recognition!  Someone said, “Name?”  I said Schweitzer.  “Oh yes, Roy. You must be over here. Let me look in this pile.”  Sort… sort…. sort. “Now I have to believe it is here.  How do you spell it again?”  SCH……..I say.  “Oh maybe that’s why I can’t find it. I’m at the end of the S’s. Ah, here it is, Roy…..Skip Schweitzer….did they ever call you that in high school?” (No, I think to myself, my life didn’t begin until I left high school. I don’t really recall what they called me in high school).  They gave me a name tag….with Roy Skip Schweitzer on it. It likely should have said Skip Roy Schweitzer –as in, just skip him totally—it would have been more accurate. I say, “Sorry, I haven’t been called Roy in 50 years—it’s very strange to me now.” I recognize one of the ladies at the greeting table. It is Donna something or another, one of the prettiest girls of the class, someone I would love to have known but someone who was in a different galaxy than me when I was in high school (probably my perception, not hers). Fifty years and she hasn’t lost a thing.

Someone directs me to the next table. This guy looks somewhat familiar.  The nametag says Mike Piston. He was a running back on the team.  “Good to see you, I’m glad you’re here,” he says.  “How are you?”  I fumble…….. “Well, I’m here,” I hear myself say. I’d like to say, “Hi Mike, How are you, Good to see you”, but it’s not there, not in me just right now.  “Here, put those tickets in here; you may win a prize”, he says.   Mike hands me a coffee cup with some beads in it, some plastic flowers and trinkets, and a class picture with 250 people in it.   “Were you at the 10 year reunion/” he asks.  “I honestly don’t know. I don’t remember”, I say.  “Well, find yourself in the picture and were going to line up that same way and have a group picture taken, so you can compare now to then”, he says.  Yeah, right, that’s exactly what I want to do…. compare now to then.

I walk around in a fog.  There are a very few places to sit down except at one of the banquet tables.  There are maybe fifty tables scattered around the large room, all with six or seven place settings.  I think, 7 time 50 equals 350.  Are there that many people expected?  Well, maybe with wives and husbands. There were some 475 people in our class.

I am here alone, by myself.  Me, no wife, no guest, just me, like it was back then in high school. Nobody to turn to and say, “Boy this is strange.” I feel profoundly out of time and place. I don’t want to be here.  I fight the urge to walk back out the door, get into my car and leave.  I want to, though; I want out.  Inwardly, terror is mounting.  I don’t want to be here.

I walk around.  I see some pictures taped to the wall. It is the whole 1964 football team.  There I am in all my very young and innocent, radiant glory on the wall.  Who is that really? What universe did he come from?  That is not me. Was that ever me?  Next to the football team are maybe 50 pictures of other people.  It is an “In Memorium Wall”– people who are no longer with us, people who have died. Some of the prettiest girls are on that wall. Some of the more popular guys are on that wall. Raw memories flash through my mind. I can’t get away from that wall fast enough.

I walk around some more. My legs and back begin to ache.  I spot two chairs behind the reception desk–not exactly a great place to park but if I don’t sit down soon, my legs will give out.  But these people don’t know that. They don’t know that my lower back is crippled with arthritis and my legs get numb.   So I sit down, behind the scenes as they say.  I watch people file in, be greeted and go through the same schtick as I did.  I don’t recognize 99% of them. There is hugging, handshaking, backslapping.  I didn’t have any close enough relationships with girls to hug them back then. Hug them…Hell, I don’t even think I ever actually physically touched a girl until I was in college.  I was a very late bloomer.  I never ever had a meaningful relationship with a girl until I was out of high school and far away from these people. How can I now relate to these people that I have no established meaningful relationship with —Might has well be in Yankee stadium.

“How are you,” someone says.  What does that saying really mean? “Haven’t seen you in a coon’s age,” he says.  How long does a raccoon live anyways, 3-5 years maybe?  I say “I guess I’m still here.”  A terrible response, I suppose, but how I feel.  I’m marking time. Just try and stay until the dinner is served, I re-tell myself, then you can leave.  Two women I can’t identify come up to me and say, “Who are you?”  They look at my name tag and say, “Skip, Skip, Skip- did we have anybody by that name in our class?  Roy, Oh, Roy.”   Then they walk away.   Suddenly, out of nowhere a doddering, shuffling old man comes up to me –he looks far older than me, wearing a gray-brown suit. Maybe it’s one of the teachers—could be a 100 years old! “Is that seat taken”, he says?  “No”, I say, “be my guest”.   I don’t recognize him– his name tag is hard to see.  Maybe I should put mine backwards. It takes me a few minutes to make out his name tag.  It is Ken Sarter, a guy that I used to fight with in junior high school.  He was a cool guy in junior high school—an early bloomer.  I was just….a seed.  He doesn’t recognize me, doesn’t acknowledge who I am.  He just sits there for a long while, then he gets up and shuffles away. I think, “Whatever arthritis I’ve got, he’s got worse.  What a sad thing.  We used to fight, now………..this!”

By now the party center is filling up with hundreds of people.  I don’t know any of them.  I can’t really bring myself to strike up a conversation.  How do you relate to someone who you don’t have a relationship with?  I should put on my therapist hat, but it just doesn’t fit right tonight.  I fumble again when asked something. This happens when I am extremely out of place and uncomfortable.  “How are you?” someone says? Who is asking I can’t seem to ascertain.  “I don’t know really; I’m still here, I guess, whether I want to be or not,” I say.  That pretty much ends the conversation. What do I say to strangers? Strangers from a life lived before my time—an alternate universe or maybe a parallel universe that I was not in. I get an overwhelming urge to leave.  I feel my feet walking through the door without me—an out of body experience.  “Just stay until dinner is served. Hell, I paid $55 for it.  I should at least eat,” I implore myself.   I get up, look around. The place is filling up.  Where will I sit anyway? With more strangers, people I have no rapport with?  Alone in a stadium full of people.  I look down and find my feet walking out the door past some people in line.  As I go out I see no-one I recognize.  Out the door and into my car, I start it up and drive away.  I do not look back.  Never look back.

Well, that train left the station without me aboard.

I had been planning to take the Portage County Farm Tour but it turns out that it was held on Saturday instead of Sunday and my schedule was all wrapped around the Aurora Band show, Thunder Over Aurora, so it was a setback to open the Record on Sunday and see that I had missed the whole thing.  Too bad.  Those tours are really quite enjoyable and one gets to learn a lot of stuff when going on them.

The Mackenzie Creamery was a big “draw” as far as I was concerned; the cheese they make is amazing and the goats which are part of the operation are always a hoot.  I like goats; they are characters, they have personalities.  You can’t go to the fair and  go through the sheep and goat barn without seeing(and hearing) at least one of them with feet up on the rails of its enclosure, looking around, and giving a loud and raucous “Baaaah”   to express whatever it is that goats think about all of the rest of us.   I understand that the billygoats have some disgusting personal habits and the bad rap that they have concerning body odor is often well-deserved, but the creamery itself was clean enough to perform surgery in when I saw it on the last tour.  The possibility of exotically-flavored   cheese samples may have entered into the desire to go there again.

Then there was a stop at the Sand Hill Stables, which I’ve been itching to get a look at for quite some time– the demos by the farrier(They’re the ones that work at shoeing horses, not blacksmiths) would have been instructive, I’m sure, my feet being what they are ,tours of Beckwith Orchards, Inc, that venerable fruit emporium in Franklin Twp, Brugmann Farms on Frost Rd. in Mantua(They’re not all about sand &gravel), and Lazy B, an apiary ( a place where bees are kept; a collection of hives or colonies of bees kept for their honey)on Ryder Rd. in Hiram Twp.—we all ought to know more about bees and what we can do for them, since they’ve been having a rough  time lately, what with the “colony collapse disorder” and the  profligate use of insecticides in agriculture   and shrinking  areas of wildflowers—or flowers of any kind—for them to forage for food.  The little buzzers have been having a time of it and we should pay attention because a very high percentage of the crops that we raise to eat depend upon the honeybee (genus : Apis ) and their cousins(seven species, 44 subspecies) of all sorts for pollination. And I missed it all!  Bummer!  Watch for it next fall; there aren’t that many farms/agricultural enterprises in Portage County any more.  We should support them  whenever we can; that’s what the Farm Bureau is all about doing in organizing these tours.

Which leads me to think that I’m going to actually get down to learning how to do things with my new phone…like keeping a calendar.  I have a calendar at home with space to write things in, which I try to do religiously(I’ve been excommunicated a few times) but if I don’t scribble a note somewhere when I’m out and about, then transfer it to the calendar when I get home, It’s anybody’s guess whether I’ll remember or not.  Notes on the grocery list are just not very reliable.  My brilliant plan for getting this phone thing accomplished is to take it to the next QuizMasters practice and have the kids instruct me on everything from calendar set-up to weather aps.  Heck, I could probably take it to the sixth-grade girls’ volleyball practice and get the same kind of help.  Ditto for the car; it does things I haven’t even discovered yet.

Missed World Pet Day on Sunday but the pets here are doing pretty well anyhow, except one of the original trio is heading for that last Big Lap in the Sky.  There’s only one cure for old.

I did go to the Thunder Over Aurora band show, which was fine and loud, as usual.  The official T-shirt this year was designed by a member of the Aurora flagline, utilizing caricatures of the  mascots of the participating schools—NDCL Lions, Southeast Pirates, Riverside Beavers(Riverside Regiment), Jackson Polar Bears(the Purple Army), the Garfield G-Men and the Aurora Greenmen .  There were the inevitable redundancies, two different bands playing the same tune, but the arrangements and instrumentations were so different that sometimes you could hardly tell.  Choreography abounds–on the flaglines and dance corps, by the instrumentalists, among majorettes(The Purple Army had a much-awarded feature twirler, she was really good)—everybody is “tripping the light fantastic” at the least provocation.  Calls to mind a line from an ancient ’40’s tune : “It must be jelly, ‘cuz jam don’t shake like that.”  Or maybe “Shake a Tailfeather” from the ‘60’s (It got into  the Disney film “Chicken Little in 2005, as well); there were plenty of shakos on the field.  There was—as occasionally happens at large gatherings–a little lost boy at intermission, a young sprout just sort of dripping tears, not sobbing yet but clearly in danger of heading that way.  A kind  young woman—she had a light green hoodie, so I assumed that she was an Auroran got him to the concession stand and the guys there relayed a call to somewhere to help find Mom ; everybody was very reassuring so the little fellow didn’t lose it, even after Mom did appear.  Actually, by that time, she was probably more likely to be teary than he.  And , Finally, I think that I shall  prod our athletic director (Look out, Mr. Pfleger) to find an equipment sponsor which will provide an “OFFICIAL golf cart” for big events at our school.  Those Greenmen have all the cool stuff…and the event was very well organized.  Thank you, Booster Parents!

Oh, and I saw T-shirts : Fear God. Love Your Neighbor.  Hunt Ducks…. Eclectic Genres…What does this mean?

Last weekend I had the chance to try an excellent Vidal Blanc white wine. Everything about it was perfect – the nose, the color, the taste and the finish. In fact, if I would have judged this wine just on the color, I would have assumed someone poured me a glass of water, it was so clear. Unfortunately someone in our party was disappointed that the color was so clear and felt that it might have been flawed. If we hadn’t sampled the wine, we might  have assumed that the winemaker filtered the wine too many times to strip the color from it, however, some white wines can be made so well that they are clear.

There are a few things, though, that you can learn about a white wine by looking at the color. First, when you are looking at the wine, make sure you have a white piece of paper or a white tablecloth as the background. Then tilt the glass at a 45 degree angle in front of the background. If a wine is golden or amber it may mean one of a number of things;

1) The wine is older. As white wine ages and depending on how well the wine is stored, any light on the bottle will start to impact the color.

2) The type of grape variety. Chardonnays tend to have a deeper or more amber color than a Vidal Blanc or Riesling.

3) The wine was aged in oak. By the nature of oak barrels, the white wine will pick up some of the color of the wood.

4) The wine has oxidized. This is the worse situation for a white wine to be in. If the bottle is not sealed correctly or has been open too long, the wine will start to turn an amber color and eventually a brown color. In this case, the wine usually tastes bad.

When we have attended wine tastings in the past it is always interesting to hear how people describe the color of white wine. I may say the wine is a pale yellow while you may feel it is gold. Similar to taste and smell, color is based on each person’s perception so there never is a “right” answer to what color a wine may be.

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.

Ya know…ya can’t make this stuff up.

Some dude, a financier with AGI Capital in San Francisco named Jesse Herzog, has come up with something that he calls the “Suitsy”, which is a “onesie”—familiar to the parents-of-infants crowd—for adults, specifically, adult male business-types.  He claims it will appeal to guys who appreciate “class, convenience and comfort”. “Imagine looking professional but feeling like you’re wearing pajamas.”

The Suitsy is a jacket connected to a shirt, attached to pants with fake shirt cuffs showing at the end of sleeves and a zipper(hidden beneath the fake button placket; tie, belt and shoes are extra) running the length of the front exposure from neck to crotch.  Aye, there’s the rub, to shanghai Shakespeare, and “Hamlet”, into the conversation…in a one-piece garment—coveralls, anyone?–this critical location, the crotch (or “crouch” as Mama calls it in “Music Man”) tends to move in concert with the shoulders, up, down, whatever.  So anyone wearing a Suitsy should think twice about ever raising his arms, or even doing a major shrug.  Either that or have a specially-crafted one made with the crotch somewhere south of its customary position.  And you don’t think that anyone would notice that?

The other concern out there is about the whole zipper issue.  Think about it.  Ladies wearing Spanx have had to do this for quite some time.  It can make “intestinal distress” into a category 5 disaster.

One commentator remarked that it was as though a business suit and a jumpsuit had produced a lovechild.

Anyway, anyway…this dude is touting his invention/device/garment on a website called Betabrand(the promo says “Better Than Fresh Camel Milk”, so you just know they’re about serious stuff) that apparently kind of does market  surveys to see if some new ideas are worth considering for manufacture and distribution…and funding, of course.  At last count, the Suitsy had 375 votes.

And Jesse Herzog has had previous business experience; he once ran a hot dog shop in San Francisco named Zog Dog which put the first hot dog into space.  What?  You missed that?  Gotta get with the program if you’re going to get rich.

***And you might get rich if you’re into Sumo, Sumo wrestling.  Yes!  The United States is the biggest venue for amateur sumo wrestling outside of Japan.  As a matter of fact, the U.S. Sumo Open was just recently held at Cal State–Long Beach and was quite an event.  Yeah,  there were videos with big pounding drum sounds from a drum corps   considerably different from what we might see on a Friday night football scene, ads for sumo equipment, sponsors—Sapporo Premium Beer, Hazutsuru Sake (couldn’t read the Japanese last one)—cheering crowds…the whole enchilada—or sushi roll, if you want to go in a different ethnic direction.  They do weight classes, both men(70) and women(15) and it’s certainly something to watch those very large persons tossing each other about in the middle of that ring.  Clearly, though, it’s not just weight that carries the day.  A competitor must either push/pull/maneuver the opponent out of the ring or cause them to hit the canvas surface.  A lot seems to be about redirecting momentum to bring about the desired result, rather than simply overpowering and outweighing.  And speaking of weighing…do they use a truck scale or what?  Those folks are BIG!

The current reigning champ is—get out your Spellchecker—a Mongolian dude named Byambajav Ulambayar, who’s won the last seven titles.

Sumo may be becoming popular because it is QUICK, sometimes as little as 5 seconds for a match; no commercial breaks, no breaks in the action.  Scoring is simple : is he down? Is he out? No seventh-inning stretch needed.  The uniform sales might be a bit problematic, since the standard garment is pretty much a precision-folded loincloth( 30 ft., linen or cotton or silk); not something the average  Joe-Sumo would be likely to wear to the local adult-beverage emporium.  Oh, some individuals wear what looks sort of like bike shorts under the mawashi or mokko-fundoshi (literally, “earth-basket loincloth”) which is the usual attire, but there are several styles to suit personal preferences Where would one put the college/team logo?

*And finally, check out the bunch of teens that were in an SUV automobile accident when one of their number (the dumbest one) used a lighter to set the driver’s armpit hair on fire.

Like I said, you can’t make this stuff up.

Well, actually, it wasn’t all that wild but it definitely was interesting and fun.  The Portage County Park District is offering opportunities to scope out some of the features of the newly-funded (THANK YOU, VOTERS)county parks with knowledgeable  and  entertaining volunteer naturalists (or  one, at least, Thank you, Joe) to get a good look at just what’s out there.  There is a lot.

We got to see the fall flowers—goldenrod(several varieties), asters(lots of  colors and sizes), lobelia, to name a few.  We got to see lots of mushrooms, from decorative turkey tail shelf mushrooms to cute little red-topped poisonous ones (Amanita muscaria, red fly agaric, which contains the toxic, psychoactive alkaloid, muscimole which used to be left out in dishes to kill flies…probably bumped off a few  curious others as well)  and the  little, filament-like “fairy fingers”.  We got to see frogs and toads and spiders, mostly little-bitty guys.  We got to see an abundance of trees (What? You thought the place was paved?)and shrubs, both native and invasive species, a couple of stages on the succession of forests and the remnants of vernal pools.  No wild animals to speak of appeared to cross our path but a few had clearly been there for a woodland picnic because the bones of their appetizers were spotted in a couple of places and the odd one or two stray turkey feathers indicated that somebody was celebrating Thanksgiving early(and it wasn’t the turkey).

The day was perfect for an exploratory amble through field and/or forest.  Our ever-resourceful guide had fortified himself with a GPS app to make sure that we’d be getting back to where we’d started and not still be out there looking for a fenceline.  He also helpfully passed out laminated plastic cards describing the local tick population and what to do about them.  They certainly are ugly little buggers and they hang out with a murderer’s row of diseases—Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis(that’s always mentioned in the papers that you have to read before giving blood),Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme Disease, Ehrlichiosis, Heartland Virus—not warm fuzzies that one would like to invite home.  Cats are about the wildest things that I can stand.

So….  That was Sunday.  On Saturday, the band—the James A. Garfield Marching Pride—went to the Solon Band Show and for the first time in recent memory, the evening was dry and , while cool, was   bearable, temperature-wise.  Mirabile dictu!  I tell you, you haven’t lived until you’ve been on a bus packed full of band kids soaked to the skin and unable to get any concession-stand food that wasn’t drenched by the run-off from under the spectators’ seating.  Not a pretty picture!

Kudos to the Windham band, also in attendance, for showing what a rebuilding program and a lot of spirit can be capable of.  They did their school and their supporters and themselves proud.   The big  schools—Solon, Hudson, Kenston, for example—can blow down the walls but small can be MIGHTY mighty too.

The Marching Pride exemplified this as well, with a display of energy and enthusiasm and musicianship that captivates audiences.  One dude in the announcer’s booth said, “I love this band; they’re always so ON!”  That’s what I thought too.

And the kick-off(Ha!  That’s a joke, son.) to the weekend was—as always—the football game , with our first look at real football weather for this year.  Truth to tell, it wasn’t nearly as bad as some of the weather people were hinting prior to the first whistle.  Several times I heard dark hints about the  temperatures plunging after the warm week that we had earlier…incipient Polar Vortex, for sure!  More on that later; I now have both the Farmer’s Almanac and the Old Farmers’s Almanac, which, I have noticed have both hedged their bets by saying that this could all be a pile of brown stuff if the El Nino weather pattern kicks in…or pigs fly…or hell freezes over.

And speaking of cold….   It’s a tad chilly out in space, right?(Is this a segue or what?) And there are radiations of various sorts, right?  Well, fear not, Japan’s cartoon favorite feline and exemplar of the Kawaii (“cute”) culture, Hello Kitty (Her real moniker is Kitty White; the other is just a stage name), is whirling around way up there with a special space suit and paint job designed to protect from  UV and cosmic rays.  Yes.  The little white cat with a pink bow is cruisin’ in the Japanese nanosatellite(It’s really little), Hodoyoshi 3 and getting messages from various earthbound fans—one of said messages will be drawn by lot and broadcast every day, a different one every day, from space.  She went up on June 19; it was announced on August 12, probably to make sure that no misfortune came to the little 4cm  model   which was celebrating her 40th birthday.  Somebody spent $40million on this to boost Japan’s education and science industries.  I could have got them a much better deal to celebrate MY birthday for a mere $10 million.

Cake would be extra.

If you’ve left a bag of potatoes sitting around for a while, you might have noticed them starting to grow green, white, or somewhat purple sprouts. That’s the potato trying to grow into a new plant.

The sprouts themselves, as well as any green part of the potato, are home to a toxic alkaloid called solanine and must be removed. Eating them will make you sick – the National Library of Medicine even has a page on their website devoted to potato plant poisoning [http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002875.htm] – though it would take quite a few to do it. The solanine gives the potato a bitter taste, so it wouldn’t be worth eating anyway.

As long as the sprouted potatoes are still firm and haven’t started to shrivel up, there’s no reason to throw them away. Once the sprouts and any green part of the potato have been removed, it’s safe to eat.

You can also plant your sprouted potatoes, though “The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible” by Edward C. Smith recommends using seed potatoes (which are available from garden supply stores and were grown for the express purpose of being planted) rather than supermarket potatoes for gardening.

To inhibit sprouting and keep your potatoes in their best condition, store them in a cool, dark, dry place with ample ventilation.

For more information on growing potatoes, check out “Food Grown Right, in Your Backyard” by Colin McCrate and Brad Halm, “Ortho’s Complete Guide to Vegetables,” or “The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener” by Niki Jabbour, available at Newton Falls Public Library. If you’re looking to learn about the potato’s history, Andrew F. Smith’s “Potato: A Global History,” John Reader’s “Potato: A History of the Propitious Esculent” and Michael Pollan’s “The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-eye View of the World” are all available through CLEVNET. For recipes, we have Kay Halsey’s “Potatoes” on the shelf here at Newton Falls. Or you could order Alex Barker’s  “Potato: The Definitive Guide to Potatoes and Potato Cooking” through CLEVNET and get information on potato cooking, gardening, and history.

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.

The clock is ticking. Between now and April 30, 2016, 100% of 401(k) plans, profit sharing plans, and other tax-qualified plans that use an IRS-approved prototype plan document must be amended and restated.1

If this doesn’t occur by the above deadline, these retirement plans risk losing their tax-qualified status and the corresponding tax advantages they offer to plan participants. Any amendments to the current plan document must be incorporated into a fresh “core” document.1,2

Here’s your chance to refine your plan – to possibly lower its costs, to get more out of it. A little analysis from a consultant (and perhaps a little surveying of your plan participants) may allow you to answer some crucial questions.

Are the plan fees still reasonable? The required annual benchmarking gives you an opportunity to compare, contrast and see how they measure up vis-à-vis other plan providers.

Are employees nudging you about more provisions? Do they want a Roth option, or a chance to make in-plan Roth conversions? Are they able to take loans? Should non-spousal beneficiaries be eligible for rollovers?

Is there room for improvement when it comes to deductions and allocations? Is the business getting the maximum deduction? Do the highest-salaried workers often end up with percentages of their 401(k) deferrals refunded back to them?

Should the vesting schedule be revisited? Should you change from three-year “cliff” vesting to a six-year gradual vesting schedule, or vice versa? What benefits might result from such an alteration?

Have employee demographics at your business shifted? Do the plan participation criteria need adjusting? Is auto enrollment a good idea, and should there be an automatic escalation option?

This is the time to “look under the hood” of your plan. You will probably need to rewrite or at least notably revise your 401(k) plan document by the spring of 2016. Why not opt for a formal review of your 401(k) plan in the process? Some plans only permit changes at the start of a calendar year, so looking ahead now is quite wise.

Who has the ultimate responsibility to make sure that your plan complies with ERISA? You do.

Don’t risk controversy and possible legal action from plan participants as a result of inattention or procrastination. Ask today about a plan review – it could be very illuminating, and it could help you amend, reassess and improve your company’s 401(k).

 

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 – irs.gov/irb/2014-17_IRB/ar08.html [4/21/14]

2 – claconnect.com/Private-Client/Wealth-Advisory/2014-Tax-Qualified-Retirement-Plan-Restatement-Reasonable-Fees.aspx [4/1/14]

 

Signs of fall abound, a chill is  in the air,  you can see and hear the familiar V formation of geese flying south, Monarchs flit among the flowers making their way to Mexico, and  the woods are becoming quiet as many songbird species leave for winter. The autumnal equinox announces fall is officially here on September 23, 2014. But to many, Goldenrod, Solidago species, is synonymous with the final days of summer.

One of the most common wildflowers in North America, there are more than 100 species of this perennial plant native to North America. The name solidago means “to make whole” and Goldenrod has been used by many throughout history for medicinal purposes. Hence the common name “woundwort.” Goldenrods vary in height, with the shortest being S. brachystachys (under 12 inches) and the tallest topping out at 4 to 6 feet (S. rigida, S. gigantea, S. rugosa, and S. altissima), and all are characterized by  large clusters of small yellow flowers that appear from the end of summer until frost. Most species propagate by a dense spreading root system called rhizomes in addition to seed. Estimates range from twenty-two to twenty nine different species found growing naturally in Ohio. The majority of the species are found in sunny meadows especially S. canadenis (Canada Goldenrod) and S. graminifolia (Lance Leaved Goldenrod), but there are others quite at home in the partial shade of the woods,   S. flexicaulis (zigzag goldenrod), S. ulmifolia (elm-leaved goldenrod), and S. caesia (wreath goldenrod). There are also goldenrods growing only in bogs or fens (S. uliginosa, S. ohioensis, S. patula, and S. Tenufolia.

Goldenrod gets a bad rap from hay fever sufferers, when it is the Ragweeds (Ambrosia sp.), that should get the blame. Blooming at the same time as Goldenrod, ragweed is the real culprit for the misery of fall allergy season. Ragweed is pollinated by the wind, similarl to grasses, another allergy producer. Only by releasing billions of pollen grains into the wind can they ensure that some will find their way to the female flower of another ragweed plant and produce seed. Again similar to grasses, ragweed does not need visually attractive flower parts. They are an inconspicuous green color. People suffering from allergies in September look for a flower to blame and goldenrod get the rap because they are so visible and abundant. The pollen grains of goldenrod are relatively large, fat, and sticky so that they will adhere to visiting insects and be transferred by them to another flower and are not airborne.

Analogous to a food court at the mall, Goldenrods attracts every manner of insect. Since it is one of the last flowers of the season, bees, wasps, butterflies, moths, flies, and others visit for nectar and pollen. Monarch butterflies rely on the Goldenrod as they make their way to Mexico. Caterpillars, aphids, and other small insects eat the leaves and stems. Wasps, spiders, praying mantis, lacewings, ambush bugs, assassin bugs, beetles, and birds prey on the insects Goldenrod attracts.

Often visible in the winter, many goldenrod stems have strange growths present on their stem and/or at the top of the plant. These are called “galls” and are the homes of three different insects, the Goldenrod Stem Gall Fly, the Goldenrod Gall Moth, and the Goldenrod Gall midge. The larva overwinters inside the gall which provides protection and provides the larva with a food source. The round “apple” or “ball” gall is characteristic of the Gall Fly, the spindle shaped or “elliptical ” gall is characteristic of Gall Moth, and the strange growth at the end of stem of some Goldenrods is the result of the Goldenrod Gall Midge. Once again the Goldenrod provides an important source of food for over wintering birds. Woodpeckers and other birds have learned a tasty snack lives inside these galls and can be seen prying opening the galls during the cold winter months.

What’s in Franklin Bog?

9/28/14   Franklin Bog   2:00 pm -4:00 pm

No it’s not bigfoot or the creature from the Black Lagoon, maybe buried treasure?   Join Park District volunteer naturalist and we will search over hill and dale, well actually a “bog” to see what hidden gems might be lurking there.

Wild Hikes Challenge Guided Hikes Schedule

If you’d rather hike in a group, or learn a little more about nature along the way, please join us on the following naturalist-guided hikes—even if you’re not taking the Wild Hikes Challenge!

Sept. 21 – Chagrin Headwaters Preserve – 2:00 pm

Oct. 5 – Headwaters Trail Rt 700 – 2:00 pm

Oct 26 – Headwaters Trail Buchert Park – 2:00 pm

Nov 9 – Franklin Bog Preserve – 2:00 pm

More Nearby Nature

Dunes Hike  – September 20th at the Headlands Dunes State Nature Preserve

Join the preserve manager as we ramble through one of Ohio’s most unique natural areas. This sand dune community is one of the very few remaining opportunities to see some of Lake Erie’s natural coastal features.  Fall is a great time to visit the beach and explore.  The hike will begin near the information kiosk at 10:00 am located just north of parking lot number 1 at the east end of the Headlands Beach State Park, 9601 Headlands Rd. Mentor, OH. This is a free hike and registration is not required. For more information contact Adam Wohlever at (330)-527-5118.

Fall Tree Identification Hike –  October 11th at Eagle Creek State Nature Preserve

Join the preserve manager as we take in the beauty of fall in one of NE Ohio’s most diverse nature preserves. This hike will include some basic tree identification skills and application as we trek through the upland forests and bogs of the preserve. The trees will be “showing their true colors” as we discuss the changes we see in the foliage this time of year. The hike will begin at 10:00am at the preserve parking lot located at 11027 Hopkins Rd. Garrettsville, OH. This is a free hike and registration is not required. For more information contact Adam Wohlever at (330)-527-5118

Kent Bog Fall Foliage Hike October 18th at Kent Bog State Nature Preserve

Join the preserve manager this fall as we explore the Kent Bog State Nature Preserve during a time of change. We will spend some of our focus on one of only two deciduous conifers in this region of the United States, the Tamarack. The hike will begin at 10:00am at the preserve parking lot located at 1028 Meloy Rd. Kent, OH. This is a free hike and registration is not required. For more information contact Adam Wohlever at (330)-527-5118

Autumn Wetlands Hike October 18th at Tinker’s Creek State Nature Preserve

Join the preserve manager as we explore the vast wetlands of Tinker’s Creek State Nature Preserve. We will discuss wetland ecology and take time to view the bald eagle nest. This is preserve can also be a spectacular location for any “leaf peepers”! The hike will begin at 1:00pm at the preserve parking lot located at 1230 Old Mill Rd.  Aurora, OH. This is a free hike and registration is not required. For more information contact Adam Wohlever at (330)-527-5118.

I guess its official – the end of summer is quickly approaching and the great holidays like Halloween and Christmas are even closer – or at least that’s how it appears at Walmart, Target, Giant Eagle and Jo Ann Fabric stores. What makes me even sadder is the number  of requests we are receiving to book Christmas parties, order Christmas party supplies and Christmas gifts. So, since everyone else seems to be ahead of the game, it’s time for me to get involved in the excitement.

How many of you will have to give a toast at the holiday party this year? Or maybe you have some other great party before the holidays you need to have a toast prepared. What do you do? What do you say? How do you give a toast? Well, thanks to stores for the reminder the first thing you need to do to give an excellent toast is to be prepared and give yourself ample time to write your toast. So, since the stores are preparing for the holidays, maybe now would be a good time to start thinking about that toast.

Now that you have all this time, what should you do next? I recommend writing down a couple of sentences as you think about the toast. You don’t need to sit for an hour and think about it but as you are preparing for the event, keep a pen and paper close by in case you come up with some ideas. Then a couple of weeks before you toast, compile the list of thoughts and start to compose your toast.

Remember – short and sweet is the key to a good toast. You are keeping your guests from food and drinks so no one wants to listen to a 30 minute toast while they see the food getting colder. Keep your toast positive, even if the economy hasn’t been the best this year, keep the troubles out of your toast – this is supposed to be a fun party.

When the day finally arrives to give the toast, take a few deep breaths. Then, as your time comes to toast the group, stand up straight and grab your glass. As you come to a close in your toast, be sure to end it with another positive sentiment and either “Cheers” or “To our guests” to signal that it is okay to drink.

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.

Well , it’s not just about football, ya know.  Or volleyball or baseball or cross country or golf or soccer or any of those sports where you get all sweaty.  Much more refined than THAT.

Specifically, it’s the Sinquefield Cup Chess Tournament.  Held this last week in St. Louis, MO, the event saw a stunning  performance by Fabiano Caruana, a twenty-two-year-old Italian grand master(He became a grand master at the ripe old age of fourteen.)  Prior to this occasion he had been ranked third in the world by the FIDE (Federation Internationale des Eschecs…sort of the NFL of chess)but he took care of the number-one-ranked dude, Magnus Carlsen(age 23) of Norway (Who is also a model for advertising campaigns and was named one of the “sexiest men of 2013” by Cosmopolitan) in short order and went on to best such big names in chess as Veselin Topalov and Hikaru Nakamura.  He finished with seven…SEVEN…wins(in a row) and one draw in the tournament and won $100,000.  This is unheard of in chess competitions, where winning frequently is decided by the number of draws and losses—it’s soo hard to win outright against all of these “brainiacs”.  Judging from the ages of the top two finishers, it could be the beginning of a fierce competition   to go on for some time.

Then again, you never know.  Two competitors at the Chess Olympiad held in August in Norway kicked the bucket while the event was going on.  One, from the Seychelles had a heart attack at the venue, one, from Uzbekistan, was found dead in his hotel room.  Pressure’ll get to you.

No sweat!

And then, of course, there’s the Spanish Vuelta.  What, you’re not following the Spanish Vuelta?  It’s one of those European bicycle road races that we all care so much about at this time of year. (  Since Lance Armstrong and the Tour de France deceptions we’ve lost all interest.  They could –totally–be riding unicycles and wearing clown suits for all we know…or care.) Anyway, the latest stage winner (Not sure what that means either) is a speedy dude named Przemyslaw Niemiec.  Nice Irish kid, right?  Imagine first grade, being a little tyke riding to school on your bicycle—probably in a Polish neighborhood—and having to learn to write your name on your school papers.  Imagine being his teacher and having to pronounce the tiny tot’s name on the first day for roll call.  Whoooeee!  I survived Viggiani, Chaykowsky and Gruchewski but this guy might have given me pause for refection.

While you were on the road, should you have been traveling in Canada, you might have run into—oops! poor word choice—you might  have encountered hitchBot, a robot designed and , presumably, programmed by David Harris Smith of  McMaster University and Frauke Zeller(Who also produced an art critic robot named kulturBot) which was   hitchhiking across the country from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Victoria, British Columbia.  Beginning on July 27 at the Institute for Applied Creativity at NSCAD (formerly Nova Scotia College of Art and Design),  it traveled 6000km (4000mi.) relying on the kindness of strangers and arrived  on the west coast on August 16.

It was originally plunked down by the side of the road at the airport in Halifax and within five minutes got a ride with a couple heading to camp in New Brunswick.  It then went on to crash a wedding celebration, join in a First Nations gathering, show off dance moves by doing the Harlem Shake at a festivity of some kind in Saskatchewan and become an international celebrity of sorts.

hitchBot can talk and has GPS capabilities.  Creators Smith and Zeller refer to it as “her”, so that’s what that’s about(Girls can do anything).  She survived having a cracked LED shield protector and by the end of the adventure her speech patterns had become a little more random (Heck. I get that way by the end of the DAY sometimes).  She’s got a beer barrel body(Been there, done that), yellow gloves—with one thumb up—for hands,  blue arms and legs, multicolored boots and red eyes—they wink –and she can smile.  She can carry on a conversation( with a brief quotation from Robert Frost) about as well as a lot of people I can think of.  She’s part of an investigation concerning the question of whether or not robots can trust humans and the functionality of Artificial Intelligence(The “real” kind seems to be getting pretty thin on the ground lately).  Her last ride around was with a gentleman named Steve Sxwithul’txw(Yup, that’s his name; he’s of the Salish Tribe  on the Pacific coast) who is a film producer, so we’ll probably soon see a documentary on hitchBot’s  trek across Canada.

I’d have picked her up

A patron was walking near the falls and grew curious about their history.

We were able to find a lot of information in “Fragments of History of Newton Falls and Newton Township, Ohio,” compiled, edited, and annotated by Wendell F. Lauth and the Friends of the Newton Falls Public Library and “History of Newton Falls,” compiled by Ella A. Woodward. “Fragments of History” even included a picture of the falls, circa 1900, with the Hoyle Woolen Mill on one side and part of the Eagle Mills on the left.

Mr. Canfield and Mr. Ruggles (no first names available) built a sawmill in 1806 on the site that would later house the Hoyle Woolen Mill. The woolen mill itself was built in 1825, enlarged and improved in 1843, and sold to Allen Hoyle in 1857. Under Hoyle’s ownership, it became well-known for the excellent quality of its products. According to “History of Newton Falls,” some of the blankets from the Hoyle mill were still around a hundred years later.

Canfield and Ruggles built the first grist mill (also known as a flour mill) in 1811, but a drunk man took refuge in it one winter night in 1817 and ended up burning it down.Twelve years later, Horace and Augustus Stephens (or Stevens, depending on the source) built the Eagle Mills, another grist mill, to take its place. The Stephens were bought out and their mill rebuilt by the Porter family in 1871, who renamed it the Eagle Mills of Porter and Sons.

Both the Eagle Mills and the Hoyle Woolen Mill seem to have been bought up by an electric company around 1908.

We’re fortunate enough to have a dedicated volunteer who works in the local history room most Wednesdays and may be able to pull more information and old pictures. Give us a call any Wednesday to see if she’s available!

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.

Americans have a great deal of disposable income relative to many other nations, yet our free spending can take us further and further away from the potential for financial freedom. Some people fall into crippling spending habits and injure their finances as a consequence.

Bad habit: failing to save. Saving – saving even $50 or $100 a month – isn’t that hard under most financial conditions. Even so, some households don’t put much of a priority on building a cash reserve of some kind, a portion of which could be used for equity investment.

When you don’t make saving a goal, you don’t have any money to withdraw in a pinch – so if you need to get ahold of some money, where do you find it? Basically, you have three options. One, turn to friends or Mom or Dad. Two, divert money that would go toward a core need (food, rent, the heating bill) toward the sudden crisis. Three, charge your credit card. (There are other options, but they are best not explored.)

Good habit: save just a little, then a lot. You can start a savings campaign by saving “invisibly” – that is, just spending $10 or $15 or $20 less on a regular expense each month. Maybe two or three, even. That’s less than a dollar a day per expense. When your earnings climb further above your financial baseline, you can increase the amount you save/invest.

Bad habit: buying things on a whim. The correlation between impulsive spending and credit card use isn’t too hard to spot. Spending money you don’t have on material items that will soon depreciate doesn’t put you ahead financially.

Good habit: set a budget when you shop. As you arrive at the market, the mall or the local power center, arrive with a limit on what you will spend on that shopping trip and stick to it. Take an hour (or a day) to mull over any big buying decisions – are you buying something you really need? Lastly, use cash whenever you can.

Bad habit: living on margin. Living above your means, charging this and that credit card – this is a path toward runaway debt. You may look rich, but you’ll carry a big financial burden that risks being “out of sight, out of mind” in between credit card statements.

Good habit: strive for lasting affluence, not temporary bling. Possessions symbolize wealth to too many Americans. Real wealth is measured in accumulated assets. They aren’t usually visible, but you can count on them in the future, in contrast to ever-depreciating luxury goods.

Bad habit: buying unnecessary services. Cable subscriptions, extended warranties, service contracts for highly reliable items, health club memberships that translate into little more than an alternate place to shower – they all add up, they all siphon some of our dollars away each month. In many cases, we pay for options rather than necessities.

Good habit: evaluate who benefits most from those services. Are they benefiting the provider more than the consumer? Are they entrees to a “main course” – a steady, long-range financial exploitation?

Go against the norm – it might leave you a little wealthier. In April, Gallup found that 62% of Americans liked saving money more than spending it. Just 34% liked spending more than saving. This appreciation of frugality is relatively new. As recently as 2006, 50% of Americans told Gallup that they enjoyed saving more than spending with 45% preferring spending.1

If we love saving money, a key statistic doesn’t reflect it. According to the Commerce Department, the typical U.S. household was saving 4.8% of its disposable personal income in May. The personal savings rate for 2013 was 4.5%, the least in any year since 2007. Compare that to 6.7% across the 1990s, 9.3% across the 1980s and 11.8% during the 1970s.1,2

Perhaps many of us want to save but can’t due to financial pressures. Perhaps the economic rebound is encouraging personal consumption over saving. Whatever the reason, Americans on the whole don’t seem to be saving very much. That’s the status quo; going against it might help you build wealth a little more easily.

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 – gallup.com/poll/168587/americans-continue-enjoy-saving-spending.aspx [4/21/14]

2 – bea.gov/newsreleases/national/pi/pinewsrelease.htm [6/26/14]

I am so lucky to have so many friends that have beautiful gardens. From a variety of fruits, vegetables and even flowers, everyone’s gardens have been bountiful this year! And now, as harvest season is approaching the vineyard, many of you have already started to harvest your peppers, tomatoes, peaches, apples and many more foods. The amount of fruits and vegetables that my friends have given me this year has been amazing.

However, with all of this food it can be tough to pair wines with the variety of vegetables. As a fan of dry red wines, many fruits and vegetables seem to get lost in the heavy flavors of a dry red wine. So this harvest season I have started a few experiments that I thought I should share with you.

My first experiment was to make a garden salsa and figure out what to wine would be good match. I made two batches of salsa – a nice tame salsa of green, yellow and red peppers, tomatoes, celery, onions and cilantro. Then since I love spicy foods, I made a spicier salsa that included all of the items from my tame salsa but added about 5 different hot peppers to it.

Since there were so many different flavors in both salsas that any heavy bodied (Cabernets, Sangioveses, Chardonnays) would overpower the salsa. So I started with a crisp Riesling and paired it with the salsa. It was so good that I set aside some extra salsa and added a splash of Riesling to it as a marinade. Anytime I have a spicy dish I make sure that I have a good bottle of Gewürztraminer on hand.  The peppery finish from the Gewurztraminer really compliments the spicy peppers in the salsa.

I am also enjoying the chance to eat fresh salads topped with fresh fruit and vegetables. However pairing wine to a basic salad is difficult at times so adding this much flavor to a salad makes the pairing a little more difficult. Depending on the salad dressing, I usually stick to a Vidal Blanc wine. With a creamier dressing I try to go a little drier with a Sauvignon Blanc wine or a Pinot Gris. If you have a light dressing or even a fruit dressing (like a raspberry dressing) I bring out the Vidal.

Depending on the size of your garden you can also look at making wine from some of the fruit and vegetables. Next week I will share some of my favorite “fresh from the garden” wine recipes.

 

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.

With the freshly made doggie biscuits out of the oven and cooling on top of the counter, Doodle Dog could smell the delicious flavors wafting from the trays, off the tippy top of the table and all the way down to puppy-sniffing level. He could see the steam rising from the still-warm treats as it swished and swirled above the cookie sheets, seemingly twisting and twirling with the yummy scents of the completed recipe. Weaving together on the wind, it appeared that not only were the smells dancing around the bakery kitchen but they were so excitedly looping from one spot to the next it looked as though they might just escape right out the window! Not only did the floppy-eared puppy’s gaze follow the silvery steam and his nose follow the airborne aroma as it circled around the cooking area, but as it went out the exit to the outside world, so did he, chasing it right into the garden behind the store. Still hot on the trail, Doodle Dog emerged from the back door of the bake shop to find that more wonderful whiffs awaited him.

Just beyond the bakery building, a patch of grass served as the perfect place for a picnic and several of the other culinary class participants were already settling in around a beautiful blanket spread over a section of the yard. The soft covering created a cozy space to land as Doodle Dog scampered toward his friends. But before he settled in he wanted to explore the assortment of odors mixing around him! He had been smelling the cookies for a while now, waiting patiently as they baked, and there was a plate near him ready for the picnic, but he couldn’t quite figure out the enticing scents mixing with those tasty treats. The floppy-eared puppy could still see the steam and smell the biscuits, and now his paws could feel the soft sod under him as he searched out this new flavor just tempting him to taste! But what was it and where was it hiding? He paused a moment to listen to the wind gently rustling in the leaves of the nearby trees hoping it would direct him but all he heard was the faint giggling of his friends getting comfortable on the colorful squares covering the ground. Hmmm…

Lush hedges bordered the yard, so high they were that the floppy-eared puppy couldn’t begin to look over them. He bet the taller humans wouldn’t even be able to try to see what was on the other side! Poking out of the thick foliage in its varying shades of green, tiny flowers peeked through as though they were bright polka-dots on someone’s shirt. Tucked into the leafy bushes, the buds seemed cozy and content, their colors calling out to the curious Doodle Dog who immediately snuck a sniff. There! The floppy-eared puppy eagerly bounced from one blossom to the next, promptly poking his nose into the center of each one and drawing in its delicious scent. All around the boundary of the backyard little flowers posed on display in their shrubbery frames and Doodle Dog was determined to smell them all. He was so excited in fact, as he scampered from petal to petal that he nearly forgot about the other source of his nose’s enthusiasm ~ the yummy treats he could actually eat! Distracted by the tempting scents and the eye-catching colors, the floppy-eared puppy didn’t hear his friends telling him the biscuits were ready for munching, nor did his tongue remind him how much he wanted to taste the peanut butter and pumpkin bites he’d made with his very own paws. Well, it probably did, but the floppy-eared puppy was doing a pretty good job ignoring it for the moment! But then, as the soft, silky petals tickled his nose, a leftover drop of dew, cold and wet, stuck to the top of Doodle Dog’s mouth and he instinctively licked it off. It reminded him of the icy treats they had put in the freezer and he suddenly remembered how much he had wanted to try them!

The floppy-eared puppy immediately bounded back to the blanket in search of those puppy popsicles and as soon as the picnic party was in sight he could see the display of everyone’s treats dotting the green grass like the flowers did in the wall of flattened trees. Doodle Dog was glad he could share the treats he helped make! And as everyone else brought their recipes to share too, the arrangement of edibles enticed even the most patient of pups.

Doodle Dog set about excitedly sampling each one, taking in their delicious smells and also the bakers’ gleeful smiles that came with them, each four-legged friend and human too gathered together to enjoy their handmade recipes just as wonderful as the unique posies nearby!

As the afternoon sky melted into its own evening blanket, Doodle Dog couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the summer as it melted into autumn.

 

According to the “Wild Discovery Guide to Your Cat,” a cat’s pregnancy will typically last between nine and ten weeks. They don’t start to look bigger until around four or five weeks, so if your cat’s very visibly pregnant, she’s probably quite well along. You can prepare a birthing box for her by cutting a hole in a clean, covered, cardboard box (low enough that she can use it as a door, but high enough that the kittens won’t be able to crawl out of the box right away – about five inches) and lining the bottom of the box with shredded newspaper and clean cloth. However, there’s no guarantee she’ll use it – strays tend to try to hide their kittens from people.

You can bring the mother cat in to be spayed once her babies are weaned – usually about five to six weeks after they’re born. It’s possible for her to get pregnant again while she’s nursing, though, so keep her separated from tomcats. The kittens can be spayed or neutered once they weigh at least two pounds [http://pets.thenest.com/spaying-cat-after-pregnancy-9707.html]. Sources vary on how old they need to be, anywhere from eight weeks to twelve, so it’s best to check with your veterinarian and see what they recommend.

Because spaying and neutering cats and dogs is vital in reducing the overpopulation problem that leads to so many homeless animals being euthanized, animal welfare programs provide a lot of resources to make it as easy and cost-effective as possible. The ASPCA provides a searchable database of low-cost spay/neuter programs across the country [http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/spayneuter] so you can find the one that’s most convenient for you.

Anyone considering taking in a cat or kitten is welcome to come check out Eric Swanson’s “We’re Having a Kitten!: From the Big Decision Through the Crucial First Year” and Wendy Christensen’s “Complete Guide to Cat Care,” both 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.

 

A first-world problem, and nothing more? Not quite. Getting rich quick can be liberating, but it can also be frustrating. Sudden wealth can help you resolve anxieties about funding your retirement or your children’s college educations, and newfound financial freedom can lead to time freedom – greater opportunity to live and work on your terms.

On the other hand, you’ll pay more taxes, attract more attention and maybe even contend with jealousy or envy from certain friends and relatives. You may deal with grief or stress, as a lump sum may be linked to a death, a divorce or a pension payout decision.

Windfalls don’t always lead to happy endings. Take the example of one Bud Post, who won more than $16 million in the Pennsylvania lottery in 1988. Eighteen years later, he passed away owing more than $1 million after business failures and bad investments. Along the way, his girlfriend successfully sued him for some of the money and his brother hired a hit man to try and take him out, hoping to inherit some of those assets. That weird and tragic example aside, windfalls don’t necessarily breed “old money” either – without long-range vision, one generation’s wealth may not transfer to the next. As the Wall Street Journal mentions, on average 70% of the wealth built by one generation is lost by the next. Two generations later, an average of 90% of it disappears.1,2

So what are some wise steps to take when you receive a windfall? What might you do to keep that money in your life and in your family for years to come?

Keep quiet, if you can. If you aren’t in the spotlight, don’t step into it. Who really needs to know about your newfound wealth besides you and your immediate family? The IRS, the financial professionals who you consult or hire, and your attorney. The list needn’t be much longer, and you may want to limit it at that.

What if you can’t? Winning a lottery prize, selling your company, signing a multiyear deal – when your wealth is publicized, expect friends and strangers to come knocking at your door. Be fair, firm and friendly – and avoid handling the requests yourself. (That first, generous handout may risk opening the floodgate to subsequent handouts). Let your financial team review appeals for loans, business proposals, and pipe dreams.

Yes, your team. If big money comes your way, you need skilled professionals in your corner – a CPA, an attorney and a wealth manager. Ideally your CPA is a tax advisor, your lawyer is an estate planning attorney and your wealth manager pays attention to tax efficiency.

Think in stages. When a big lump sum enhances your financial standing, you need to think about the immediate future, the near future and the decades ahead. Many people celebrate their good fortune when they receive sudden wealth and live in the moment, only to wonder years later where that moment went.

In the immediate future, an infusion of wealth may give you some tax dilemmas; it may also require you to reconsider existing beneficiary designations on IRAs, retirement plans and investment accounts and insurance policies. A will, a trust, an existing estate plan – they may need to be revisited. Resist the temptation to try and grow the newly acquired wealth quickly through aggressive investing.

Now, how about the next few years? What does financial independence (or greater financial freedom) mean for you? How do you want to spend your time? Should you continue in your present career? Should you stick with your business or sell or transfer ownership? What kinds of near-term possibilities could this open up for you? What are the concrete financial steps that could help you defer or reduce taxes in the next few years? How can risk be sensibly managed as some or all of the assets are invested?

Looking further ahead, tax efficiency can potentially make an enormous difference for that lump sum. You may end up with considerably more money (or considerably less) decades from now due to asset location and other tax factors.

Think about doing nothing for a while. Nothing financially momentous, that is. There’s nothing wrong with that. Sudden, impulsive moves with sudden wealth can backfire.

Welcome the positive financial changes, but don’t change yourself. Remaining true to your morals, ethics and beliefs will help you stay grounded. Turning to professionals who know how to capably guide that wealth is just as vital.

 

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 – money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2014/01/24/5-things-to-do-if-you-receive-a-windfall [1/24/14]

2 – tinyurl.com/qblyk6v [3/8/13] 

 

Well…seasons have started…football season, soccer season, volleyball season, cross country season,  interscholastic golf season (The regular duffers have been going at it all summer), marching band season…you name it, the season has started.  School is like the opening gun for all sorts of stuff.

There are, however, plenty of competitions out there which we “wot not of”.  Such as:

Amazon has just agreed to pony up a ton of money–$970 million—for some outfit called Twitch which makes it possible for video gamers to watch—just watch, not play themselves—other video gamers play…what else?…video games!  This is causing great commotion in the online world for some reason and many of the big names—whatever they are, in the online gamers world are all a-buzz about it.   I am not one of these people.

Let us get this straight; people can get on their computers to watch other people play video games.  Just what IS it that these watchers DO?  They don’t have to even move their fingers, just barely their eyeballs.  Do the actual players get any feedback on their play?  Are there electronic/digital cheerleaders chanting algorithmic encouragement from the in-the-cloud sidelines?  Any rain delays when a server goes down?  The questions have only just begun to roll in.

On the other hand, there will be no ambulances with emergency medical staff standing by in case of injury.  The playing field, such as it is, acts as its own scorekeeper and referee, so there will be no overheated spectators booming out insults about the officials’ suspect ancestry or eyesight.  No more trekking to the concession stands for sustenance, you can set up your screen to watch next to the refrigerator and/or microwave and never have to brave the cruel outside air.  You can watch in your Jammies and who’ll be the wiser.  And as evolution marches onward, humankind will devolve into creatures with two  myopic eyes, three fingers on each hand(Those two on the ends don’t do much on a keyboard or controller anyway)and enormous butt-ends to sit upon in front of the ubiquitous screens that are part of the sports scene.  What a picture!

On the other hand, there are the World Tug-of-War championships presented by the World Tug of War International Federation (more than one; divisions by weight class—in kg—and gender) drawing participants and spectators from all over the world.  This past weekend the big competition, sponsored by the United States Tug of War Association, was held in Madison, Wisconsin, the fourth time that it has been staged in the U.S.(Oshkosh, WI—1984, Rochester, MN—1998, 2004).

Pretty much the opposite of the abovementioned sport (?) competition, this features teams of eight pullers per team who have to be weighed in—and stamped on the wrist and thigh—before the contest to ensure the weight requirements are met.  All pulling is done bare-handed—oy—no sitting is allowed( there are officials who issue cautions if this does occur and three cautions equal a disqualification and a loss of the match.  In  the videos on YouTube, the teams sort of resemble sixteen-legged insects with  uninspired choreographers; legs on the left, step, legs on the right, step, everybody LEAN BACK.  The noise is pretty visceral too, mostly uuuhhh, uuuhhh, UUUHHH—in unison.  Coaches (called drivers) can stand alongside their team, sort of like a coxswain in front in rowing( or wrestling coaches yelling “Chicken wing!  Chicken wing!), and  speed up the count or direct the lean or whatever—all pretty sweaty work    from the look of it.  Not where one might expect to see ladies’ teams but they’re on deck too and just as determined.  Ladies don’t sweat, they “glow”.

Actually, the tug of war was part of the Olympics when the modern games restarted in 1896 and had a considerable history from as far back as ancient China and classical Greece…not to mention tales of the Vikings pulling animal skins over pits of fire to decide who got what share of the plunder from hapless European peasants.  After the 1920 games the number of sports was reduced and the tug of war got the ax.  It is regularly  a part of the World Games, where teams from Egypt, Cambodia, Japan, Sweden, Ireland, Scotland and everywhere else get into the act.

Injuries resulting from accidents in tug of war can be rather gruesome, back strains being the least of a participant’s worries.  Not so much concussions as amputations ,caused by the ropes snapping or getting wrapped around the wrong thing.  Uh-oh!

Makes one pine for the good old days of Tiddly-winks

…and speaking of winks ….

We haven’t  yet seen a bikini coffee bar in the neighborhood.  It’s the latest thing in some locales.  Somehow the thought of a “Peek-A-Brew” or “Natte Latte” in Portage County isn’t really flying in my imagination but you never know.

 

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.

 

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!

 

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.

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]