Home Columns & Editorials

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.

 

0 321

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!

 

0 473

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.

0 185

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*You are married and your spouse depends on your income

*You have children

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

Citations.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*Start a grandchild’s education fund.

*Fund a long term care insurance policy.

*Leverage your estate using life insurance.

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Citations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

0 251

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My tomato plant looks promising.

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

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

Do chickens have lips?

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

More Nearby Nature

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

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

 

Summer Youth Art at Hiram College – June 9-13

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

 

Hiram College Nature Camps – Summer 2014

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

 

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Carrot Cake(courtesy of onehundreddollarsamonth.com)

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

4 large eggs

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 cups carrots, grated

Frosting

1 1/2 cups cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

5 cups powered sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Directions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Citations.

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

0 195

Well, now, THERE was a week!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We’ll see.

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Citations.

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

¾ cup unsweetened

cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking powder

1½ teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon espresso powder

1 cup milk

½ cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup boiling water

chocolate frosting

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Open your mouth and say , “Aaaah”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ugly stepsisters, here’s your chance!

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Citations.

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the things that you can find in the dictionary!

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

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

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

This could be a vegan Bar-B-Q

 

Candlelight Cove Light Show at Candlelight Winery

Candlelight Cove Light Show at Candlelight Winery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

Baked Chocolate Glazed Mini Donuts 

(courtesy of bakerbettie.com)

 

Ingredients – Donuts

5 TBSP unsalted butter, softened

½ cup sugar

1 egg

½ cup milk

1 tsp vanilla

2 tsp baking powder

pinch salt

1 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

 

Ingredients – Glaze

2 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup whole milk

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

I can assure the readership that this will not be a critique of the famous Dickens novel of the same name, but a few ideas on how to make the most of your adventures when exploring Nearby Nature. When you go to the zoo you want to see the animals, the same can be said about hiking, camping, or fishing; you want to see and experience nature first hand. When the sun is shining, birds chirping, and you go out to experience nature, one of the most disappointing things that can happen is that by the end of the day all you have experienced is tired/aching legs and bug bites from your hike.

As with anything in life, a little planning and preparation can go a long way to make the experience enjoyable and meet your expatiations or the expectations your group may have. Technology has greatly aided in this regard with web sites and blogs highlighting what is occurring in our area or an area you are planning on making a visit to in the near future. All of the areas’ park districts have web sites with links to their calendars of events and/or newsletters which highlight what is going on or what to look for in their respective parks during the various seasons. However, I want to focus on two sites specifically, eBird ( http://ohioebirdhotspots.wikispaces.com) and Trek Ohio ( http://trekohio.com/). These two sites can almost guarantee your expectations will be meet.

Let’s take the Snowy owl as an example. You are determined to see one but don’t know where to go. Let’s visit eBird. Launched in 2002 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, eBird provides real time information on bird distribution worldwide. Individual birders submit checklists with species names of birds seen and/or heard and location into the main web site. These locations called “hotspots” will list the date and number of a particular species. Sometime the information is time-sensitive, especially during migrations. Birds may spend only a short time in a location before continuing on their journey.  Above is an example what the eBird screen looks like. I have chosen Portage County but you can pick any county in Ohio. In the Birdtrax data table is a compilation of all the bird sightings in the county by location. Specific locations can be found on in the middle of the page and by clicking on a location, trail maps, descriptions, and other useful information can be found. Also listed are rare bird alerts, historical data on species, and links to other birding web sites. The site is very user friendly and once you have spent some time navigating around the page you will be able to find the nearest location and  see that elusive Snowy Owl!

The TrekOhio Guide  http://trekohio.com/ is designed to help meet expectations of hikers and nature enthusiasts around Ohio. The site specializes in listing natural sites and activities in Ohio. Developed by a husband and wife team, Bob and Deb Platt, they have created one place online where you could learn about sites that are in the same geographical region regardless of whether the park, nature preserve, or trail managed by the federal, state, or county government, or a non-governmental agency. Broken down into five quadrants, the site allows the user to click on the region of interest of the state and a listing of the counties appears. Click on a county and a list of all the natural areas appears, complete with directions and points of interest. Along the right side is a listing of seasonal or special events across the state and nature blogs from various sources around Ohio. Of particular interest is the “nice to know section” and “hiking overviews.” The nice to know area is an excellent quick reference with pictures of plants and animals to be looking for during your hike. You can quickly see that a lot of time and effort has been put into this site and will surely meet with your expatiations.

Also Matt and I urge you vote May 6th and support the upcoming Portage Park levy.

 

How many times have you been to a wine tasting or even just had wine at home and someone says “Wow, this smells like cherries!” but in your mind you are thinking it smells like oil? Who’s right? Does the wine even smell like cherries or oil? Maybe it smells like roses? Well, maybe both of you are right or maybe both of you are wrong. Did you know there are almost 1000 genes in your body that are dedicated for detecting smells? Based on genetic variation you can smell something completely different than the person next to you.

So how do you know if the professionals are right? Well, professional wine tasters actually take classes on detecting smells. Usually a scent is poured into a sterilized glass and the wine tasters start to train their nose to recognize certain smells. If you have ever seen a professional wine taster during a tasting, they usually have their nose as far into the glass as possible. This is to minimize the other smells that may be in the air (for example, perfume, food, or other odors).

If you would like to start training your nose, I highly recommend trying to smell different fruits, vegetables, flowers and even some of the bad odors like wet dog, gasoline and oil. The more scents you grow accustom to, the better your accuracy will be when attending a wine tasting.

But keep in mind that even your nose can be overwhelmed by smells. In order to help your nose focus on one smell, wine tasters recommend that you smell the top of your arm between your elbow and wrist. Since you are used to your bodily smells, this is sort of a “reset” button for your nose and helps your nose refocus on the next smell.

 

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.

Stocks rise, fall … and rise again. Volatility certainly came back to Wall Street during the first several weeks of 2014 in the form of a 7.2% descent for the Dow Jones Industrial Average and a 5.9% retreat for the NASDAQ. The declines gave investors pause: was a correction underway? Would bulls be held back for 2014?1

As it turned out, no. On February 27, the S&P 500 settled at a new all-time peak of 1,854.30, with dovish remarks from Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen providing lift. On the same market day, the DJIA closed at 16,272.71 and the NASDAQ at 4,318.93.2

Ups and downs are givens when you invest in equities. Still, the skid stocks took in 2008-09 has made everyone from millennials to members of the Greatest Generation anxious about any string of down days for the big indices. If the benchmarks lose a couple of percentage points in a week, or more in a month, headlines and news alerts emerge and encourage collective fears of a stock bubble.

Be patient; be prepared. We don’t really know what will happen tomorrow, and therefore we don’t really know what will happen on Wall Street tomorrow (though we can make educated guesses in both respects).  Because of that, it is wise to diversify your portfolio across different asset classes and rebalance it from time to time.

Would you rather have a portfolio that might perform at least decently in varied stock market climates, or a mix of investments that only makes sense in a bull run? We recognize that diversification is wise, especially for the long run … and yet, when things go really well or really poorly on the Street, impatience and anxiety readily lure us away from the age-old wisdom.

The S&P 500 rose 29.6% in 2013, 31.9% with dividends included. Rationally, investors realize that such phenomenal stock gains won’t happen every year. Even so, the temptation to go full-bore into U.S. stocks and stock funds was pretty strong at the end of 2013 … comparable to the call to invest in gold or bear-market funds back in 2008-09.4

If an investor relied on impulse rather than diversification across these past few years, he or she might be poorer and/or awfully frustrated today. Gold is in a bear market now, and according to Morningstar, the average bear market fund has lost 33% annually since 2008. Stocks are firmly in a bull market now, but an investor hypothetically going “all in” on domestic stocks at the end of 2013 (i.e., buying high) would have faced a market decline early in 2014 and might have impatiently sold their shares.3

Strategies like dynamic asset allocation attempt to leverage better-performing sectors of the market while shifting portfolio assets away from underperforming sectors. Such tactical moves may lead to improved portfolio performance. Of course, the strategy also seeks to foster intelligent diversification across asset classes.

Dynamic asset allocation is a strategy best left to professionals, even teams of them. Most retail investors would be hard pressed to even attempt it, even at a basic level. This is why the buy-and-hold approach (buy low, sit back, ride it out, sell high years later) is so often suggested to those saving for retirement and other long-term objectives.

Hang on when turbulence affects the markets. Staying in the market can prove the right move even when the news seems cataclysmic – look at how stocks have rebounded, and hit new highs, since the precipitous fall the S&P took in the recession. Sticking with principles of diversification can prove wise in both challenging and record-setting markets

 

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 – marketwatch.com/story/the-markets-in-for-a-wild-but-clearly-bullish-ride-2014-02-27 [2/27/14] 

2 – thestreet.com/story/marketstory.html [2/27/14]

3 – marketwatch.com/story/dont-try-to-time-the-market-2014-02-21 [2/21/14]

4 – tinyurl.com/k9ul3af [12/31/13] 

 

0 168

O.K., it’s Thursday, this must be springtime.

Holy cow!  What a wild one!  Haul out the long johns, Maudie, the daffodils done froze!  And what does the Old Farmer say?  Not much.  But you’ll be happy to know that on April  18, 2009, Aaron Caissie set a world record by balancing 17 spoons on his face.  Now there is a skill set!

I went out last week —one of the times when it was warm, remember—to poke around in the back yard to assess what might need to be done, and  I have decided that this place is a big-time cafeteria setting.  There are nut trees in the back, so the squirrels, when they’re not raiding the bird feeders, are sitting on various branches( front OR back yard) to chow down and fling their remainder nutshells all about; they litter.  But HOW do they get those shells open?  Walnuts, butternuts, hickory nuts…they’re all pretty tough to crack without the use of an iron anvil and a major hammer.  Yet the squirrel, and maybe a chipmunk or two, can get those buggers open using just their little, spidery fingers/toes…in addition to some prodigious teeth.  What’s THAT about?  Lots of the shells show up with gnawed      holes in them but plenty are just perfectly halved with the insides gone.  I often save them, just because I think that they are so elegant-looking.  What a design!  Rough on the outside, smooth on the inside, curved and mysterious.  Had I any rustic craft chops, I would surely mount some sort of a display but so far, I’m just collecting.

Anyway, I’m out pulling up invasive plants—there are more of them all of the time, it seems, result of “global connections”, no doubt…that and STUPID people, the same ones that have Burmese pythons as pets then when the reptiles get too big(that would be about six inches, in my book) they turn them loose in the Everglades, where they have no predators and proceed to terrorize and devour the native flora and fauna and grow to enormous size—and a mosquito(family : Culicidae) who had waked especially for the occasion settled down for a sip of my vital fluids made the mistake of stomping his feet hard enough that I actually noticed him.  Smack!  End of meal.

The forget-me-nots are coming out to take the place of the crocuses, which are on their last legs.  The snowdrops must be chuckling at the recent turn of events…either chuckling or shivering.  The spring beauties are showing up in singles and pairs, scattered around.  Some little blue-flowered spikes have appeared in places that I did not put them.  The two volunteer Easter lilies have just peeked their shoots up to get the lay of the land but they are surely not going to make it to see The Bunny any time soon.  There seem to be some ex officio excavations around where SOME critter has dug up bulbs for a midnight, or mid winter, snack of some sort.  Not much like cold pizza but, hey, no delivery charges.

The flowering crabapples to the west of the drive apparently were not to the taste of any of the local scavengers; the deflated fruit is lying around on the ground.  SOMEBODY must eat them eventually, otherwise, I’d have little tree-lets all over the place.  So far, this has not happened but I’m keeping my eyes on the possibility.  The berry bushes must be supporting  wildlife of some kind, because I sure didn’t get a single pie’s worth last season.  Some of them were attacked by a mosaic mildew infestation, which I hope to get rid of at some point.  In the meantime, I’m still looking for pick-your-own patches to restock my freezer.

Pussy willows are showing their catkins .

Speaking of which…anybody want a kitten?  One of the porch kitties is doing a calico caricature of the Goodyear Blimp and looks as though we’re going to hear the pitter-patter of little paws pretty soon.  She’d love to sneak inside to make her maternal donation but so far I’ve managed to shut the door fast enough to forestall that ambition.  The local candidate for paternity seems to be mostly black but there are also gray tiger and pale orange/ginger ardent swains in the neighborhood.  Heck, she could have been hooking up on Face Book, for all I know.  Adoption line forms to the left.

Not long ‘til May.  Go to a track meet.  Plant a tree.

 

bluegillOur extensive collection of gardening books at the Newton Falls Public Library includes several on water gardening, such as Helen Nash’s “The Pond Doctor,” Richard Bird’s “Water Gardens,” and Peter Robinson’s “Complete Guide to Water Gardening.” However, these books all dealt more with the ornamental kinds of fish such as goldfish and koi. We couldn’t find any mention of bluegill in David Alderton’s “Encyclopedia of Aquarium and Pond Fish” either.

Fortunately, searching online brought up the answer. According to the BioKIDS website (which is run by the University of Michigan and can be found at http://www.biokids.umich.edu/), bluegill typically live from four to six years in the wild, although in captivity they can get to be as old as eleven.

For more information on enjoying a pond, including tips, lore, and recipes for fish, frogs, and crawdads, Louise Riotte’s “Catfish Ponds & Lily Pads” is available for borrowing.

 

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.

 

Isn’t 65 the traditional retirement age? Perhaps, but baby boomers are modifying the definition of a traditional retirement (if not redefining it altogether). The Social Security Administration has subtly revised its definition of the traditional retirement age as well.

If you glance at the SSA website, the “full” retirement age for Americans born from 1943-1954 is 66, and it is 67 for those born in 1960 and later. (The “full” retirement age increases gradually from 66 to 67 for those born during the years 1955-1959.)1

When Social Security started, the national retirement age was set at 65. In 1940, a 21-year-old American man had a 54% chance of living another 44 years (according to the federal government’s actuarial estimates). By 1990, that chance had improved to 72%. For 21-year-old women, the probability of reaching age 65 increased from 61% to 84% in that same time frame. Americans also began living longer after 65. Increased longevity led to financial dilemmas for Social Security and the necessary redefinition of “traditional” retirement age.

What do you lose by retiring at 65? The financial opportunity cost is considerable, and maybe greater than some baby boomers realize. If your full retirement age is 67, you’ll reduce your monthly Social Security income by around 13.3% if you start taking benefits at age 65. Moreover, for every year that you refrain from claiming Social Security until age 70, your Social Security benefits will rise by 8%.1,3

In addition to trimming your long-term retirement benefits, you may also forfeit some salary. If you are still working at age 65, you might be at or near your peak earnings level, and if that is the case, Social Security income may pale in comparison.

Think of life after 65 as your “third act” that needs funding. Do you think of 65 as late middle age? It may be. As the SSA website notes, about 25% of today’s 65-year-olds should live to age 90. About 10% of them should reach age 95. Even if that doesn’t happen for you, you should know that the average 65-year-old today can expect to live into his or her mid-eighties.4

Let those statistics serve as a flashing red light, illuminating two new truths of seniority. The first truth: for many Americans, “retirement” will represent 10, 20 or even 30 years of activity and opportunities. The second truth: to stay active and pursue those opportunities, retirees will need 10, 20 or 30 years of financial stability.

Most Americans haven’t amassed the equivalent 10, 20 or 30 years of retirement savings. Many want to “stay in the game” a little longer: a 2013 Gallup poll found that 37% of Americans expect to retire after age 65, compared with 14% in 1995.5

How many Americans can work full-time until age 65? The bad news is that according to the same Gallup poll, the average retirement age in America is 61. The good news is that it was 57 in 1991. Assuming we keep living longer and healthier, it seems plausible that the average age of retirement might hit 65 – if not for the boomers, then for Gen Xers.5

Regardless of when baby boomers retire, growth investing will continue to have merit. Even moderate inflation erodes purchasing power over time, and its effects can be felt in less than a decade. Who knows: the portfolios held by 65- and 70-year-olds in 2035 might look more like the ones they hold now instead of those held by their parents generations before.

When should you retire? If that question is on your mind to any degree, consider an evaluation of your retirement readiness – a review of what you have, an estimation of what you need and a clear look at the possibilities before you. It should be time well spent.

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 – ssa.gov/retire2/retirechart.htm [2/20/14] 

2 – ssa.gov/history/lifeexpect.html tml [2/20/14]

3 – money.usnews.com/money/blogs/on-retirement/2013/10/18/why-65-is-too-young-to-retire [10/18/13]

4 – ssa.gov/planners/lifeexpectancy.htm [2/20/14] 

5 – money.usnews.com/money/retirement/articles/2013/06/10/the-ideal-retirement-age [6/10/13]

 

If your summer travel plans usually include visiting far away wineries but the economic downturn is stopping this year’s excursion, I hope this article can provide some great alternatives this year. There are 3 new trends that we are starting to see in the wine industry which are great alternatives to expensive summer trips.

Have you ever walked into a winery and said “wow – this would be so cool to work here”? Wineries around the world are benefitting from people who are looking at a “trial run” in the wine business. Volunteer vacations offer a great way for you to visit a winery, try some wines and help out with miscellaneous jobs at a discounted travel rate. Some of the larger wineries are offering free meals and a bed to sleep on if you book a 7 day trip. Depending on the winery, you can work 3 or 4 days and have either 3 or 4 days off to travel around the region.

If working at a winery isn’t your idea of a summer vacation but you still want to try some new wines, look around for a winery that is offering an online tasting. Wineries are starting to send out smaller bottles of wine to their clients to host an online wine tasting. The winery usually sets a date for the tasting to occur and you receive the bottles 1 or 2 days prior to the event. If you have a web cam for your computer, you can video into the tasting or just visit sites like facebook.com or twitter.com to post your comments about the wine.

Finally, if you are looking to get away, pick a local state or region and do a search for wineries in that state or region. Every one of the 50 states has at least one winery (yes, even Hawaii and Alaska have wineries) so you have some opportunities to visit some great places. Even if you can just get away for a weekend, check out the wineries webpage to see if they have a deal going with a local bed and breakfast. Ohio has a great program for this – simply check out www.OhioWines.org and under the Maps of Wineries section there is a listing for lodging options in that area.

Happy traveling!

 

 

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.

0 298

This is about the Portage County Park District, first in what will probably be a series of rants.

Portage County DOES HAVE a park district. CATCH : Over 800 A of the land comprising the district are currently inaccessible because of a lack of funds.  The budget has been severely cut, with the 2014 revenues projected to be only $99,500 to manage 1300 A of parkland and 14 miles of hike and bike trails.  To paraphrase Barney Dyer who witnessed the famous Ravenna Glassblowers’ Wreck, where two trains got on the same track, heading for each other, with predictably disastrous results, “That’s a helluva way to run a park system!”

Our neighbors to the north in Geauga County have a marvelous system, with programs for all age and mobility levels, seasonal attractions and programs, inviting trails and structures, professional staff.  To the west, Summit County co-ordinates with the CVNP (Cuyahoga Valley National Park) to offer its citizens a multitude of outdoor experiences and programs, managed and protected by a professional staff.  Further to the west, in Lorain County, my home stomping grounds, there are parks from the Lake (Erie) to the southern flatlands along the Black River, with lodges available for local activities and varieties of programs.  People USE these.  They hike, they run, they camp, they picnic, they fish, they canoe/paddle around, they learn and enjoy.

Portage County could do the same but it must provide reliable financial support for the system.  One full-time (the remarkable director, Chris Craycroft) and two part-time employees cannot do everything that needs to be done…but they’ve already done an amazing amount, working with volunteers and garnering grants from all over the place to keep things going.  Even such efforts cannot carry the whole load forever.

What is the load?

1.Towner’s Woods  2. Dix Park  3. Portage Bike and Hike Trail  4. Headwaters Trail  5. Breakneck Creek Preserve  6. Chagrin Headwaters Preserve  7. Walter Preserve  8. Camp Spelman  9. Gray Birch Bog Preserve  10. Seneca Ponds Park  11. Dix Preserve  12. Morgan Preserve  13.  Berlin Lake Trail  14. Red Fox boat access—Upper Cuyahoga State Scenic River  15. Frank lin Bog Preserve

Some…most… are open only for guided tours.  Some contain biologically important water features and significant vegetation found   in not very many places.  Some have most of the features—picnic shelters and grills, special events, fishing, cross-country skiing, trails for all seasons, etc.—that encourage participation in outdoor activities.  There could be more, but not unless there is a reliable funding source.

Not to put too fine a point on it, our governor and legislature have about  sprained their collective arms giving themselves a pat on the back for “balancing the budget” and giving Ohio a “rainy day fund” but they have done this by slashing local government funds(Ask your township trustees, county commissioners, mayors & councilpersons… or school boards, they got stiffed too), so that the state of Ohio is sitting on about $8 billion while all of us out in the fly-over country are looking at constant   requests for passage of levies for things that we want and things that we  had thought we would get help for from Columbus.  Nope.

So…If we could just see our way clear to give up, maybe one, maybe two pizzas over the course of the year, WE COULD DO THIS!  Sounds like a deal!

We could even get out and USE this asset as it expands.  And maybe we wouldn’t personally expand the way we have been.  Right, Wide-Load?

For Fun…

For Health…

For Life…

PARKS,

YES!

May 6, 2014

 

While we couldn’t find the answer in our copy of The Religions Book, nor by looking under “monasticism” and “vow” in Merriam-Webster’s Encyclopedia of World Religions, searching online turned up a variety of resources.

As it turns out, the Christian monks most strongly associated with silence are the Trappists. However, according to www.trappists.org and www.ocso.org (OCSO stands for “Order of the Cisterians of the Strict Observance,” the less common name for the religious order to which Trappists belong), they never take an actual vow of silence. Rather, they take a vow of conversion, which is a promise to live the monastic way of life and also covers a promise to be celibate and to practice voluntary poverty. While there is a pervasive atmosphere of silence at a Trappist monastery, there are several circumstances where the monks will typically speak. According to www.ocso.org, “there are three reasons for speaking: functional communication at work or in community dialogues, spiritual exchange with one’s superiors or with a particular member of the community on different aspects of one’s personal life, and spontaneous conversation on special occasions.”

For more information, Jeremy Mesiano-Crookston wrote an article called “How Silence Works: Emailed Conversations With Four Trappist Monks” [http://www.theawl.com/2012/06/how-silence-works-trappist-monks]. Also, Patrick Leigh Feymor’s A Time to Keep Silence, which includes a section about his stay at a Trappist monastery, is 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.

 

If you are anything like Joe and me, we are big supporters of our county park systems. County parks provide us with beautiful natural places to hike, bike, canoe, picnic, sled ride, fish, bird watch and much more. They also help to preserve habitats for plants, animals and other living things. As a result, the air we breathe and the water we drink is cleaner.

Growing Up In Nature

We should all be thankful for having wonderful parks in Northeast Ohio. Parks have been a major part of my life and my family’s lives. My daughter was born while we lived in Chardon and Geauga’s Best Park was a wonderful location to put her in a stroller and watch loons dive and fish. The steep ravines and stately hemlocks of Big Creek Park remain one of our favorite places to visit. My son was born while we lived in Leroy, in Lake County. Indian Point (the bumpy road to get to the park may have induced labor!) provides stunning views and clean water to search for salamanders and crawdads. Nearby Girdled Road Park was the rendezvous for my family to meet me after work with a picnic basket and change of clothes more appropriate for hiking. Now teenagers, my kids still want to visit these parks, play in the creeks and hike the trails. On a side note, my son was born the year of the periodical cicadas emergence (1999). He is now 14. In three more years, we will be revisiting some of these parks so that he can observe for himself the emergence of these long-lived and harmless insects.

We have lived in Hiram now for 13 years and enjoy bike rides and walks along the Headwaters Trail from Mantua to Garrettsville (often rewarding ourselves with an ice cream cone for Dairy Queen) and on the Portage Bike and Hike Trail from Ravenna to Kent.

The mission of the Portage Park District is to conserve Portage County’s natural and cultural heritage. This is accomplished by conserving unique and critical natural areas for wildlife habitat and water quality protection, creating parks and trails for healthy recreation, providing nature education programs, and working to efficiently manage the parks. Currently, Portage Park District manages 14 miles of hike and bike trails and 1,300 acres of parkland. All of this is under the direction of Christine Craycroft. Under her outstanding leadership, Portage Parks has grown and expanded and touched the lives of many people in the area. She has single-handedly (or nearly so, at least) brought millions of dollars of grant funds into the county to purchase and preserve unique natural areas, to link communities with trails and to educate people about the environment and the natural and cultural history of our region.

How do the parks in Portage County compare to Geauga, Lake, Summit, Cleveland Metroparks and other nearby counties? They don’t. There is no comparison. What’s the difference? Support. Residents of these other counties support and value their parks. Portage County has not yet supported the Park District. Sure, there are lots of park users and supporters. But, we have a struggling park system because the funds don’t exist to make it even better.

An Urgent Need

Unlike other area park districts, which have been in existence for 50 or more years and have taxpayer support, Portage Park District doesn’t have any tax levy support. As a result, our parks don’t compare. More than half of Portage Park District property (800 acres) is not open to the public because funds don’t exist to build trails, offer programs and maintain the property. Additionally, lack of funding has hampered the ability to receive additional grant funds to purchase and develop new land for parks.

Our neighbors to the north and west enjoy wonderful parks, thanks in no small part to levy support. Summit County Parks receives $17 million per year (about $32 per person countywide). Geauga County Parks receives $9 million per year (about $96 per person countywide). What about Portage Park District? Our county operates its parks on less than $100,000, costing each person in the county about 61 cents per year. In fact, nearly half of the annual budget for the parks comes from donations. Portage Park District has never had a levy but with dwindling financial support from the state and county, the Park District is in serious need of long-term funding support.

A Small Request…A Great Value

On May 6, county residents will vote on a proposed ½ mill, 10-year operating levy. This levy will cost the average homeowner in Portage County about 2 large pizzas…A YEAR!

What will we get in return? More beautiful miles to canoe or kayak downstream. More miles to hike and bike throughout the county. More bird and butterfly and dragonfly watching. More places to spread out a blanket and enjoy a picnic under the shade of a tree. More fun nature programs for the family. In other words, more of everything that we already love about the outdoors.

Additionally, our parks and trails will be better maintained. More land will be opened across the county and more critical habitat and water quality protection can be protected. Some of the properties to be developed and open to the public with levy funds include:

•  Chagrin Headwaters Preserve (95 acres, Mantua Township)

• Breakneck Creek Preserve (63 acres, Ravenna Township)

• Morgan Preserve (504 acres, Shalersville Township)

 

Additionally, new parks and trails will be sought with matching grants to:

•  Extend the PORTAGE Hike and Bike Trail to West Branch State Park

• Link the Franklin Connector Trail with the rest of the PORTAGE Hike and Bike Trail

• Extend the Headwaters Trail to Aurora

• Accept the donation of property to create the Shaw Woods Equestrian Park/Buckeye Trail Link

 

Please support the Portage Park District by voting “Parks YES!” on May 6. Learn more about Portage Parks at www.portageparkdistrict.org.

 

The opinions presented in this article are those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Weekly Villager and its staff.

 

 

More Nearby Nature 

Thinking about summer? Think about Nature Camps at Hiram College and enjoy exploring nature and discovering its many wonders. For more information, visit www.hiram.edu/summerathiram or call 330.569.6003.

•  BioBuddies (July 14-18 or August 4-8) – Ages 3 & 4

•  Half-Day Hikers (July 14-18 or August 4-8) – Ages 5-7

•   Nature Explorers (July 14-18 or August 4-8) – Ages 8-10

•  Adventure Naturalists (July 7-11) – Ages 11-14

•  Adventure Expeditions (July 18-20) – Camping trip for high school students to the Grand Canyon of the East

 

On a pile of soft, cozy picnic blankets the floppy-eared puppy snoozed, very nearly to the point of snoring, in a slumber soothed by the calm breeze blowing through the nearby trees. The patches of grass newly filled with budding bulbs circled in their wavy lines around and around him, but he didn’t notice the patterned lands at all as he napped in complete relaxation on the colorful carpet. Doodle Dog contentedly curled and flexed his paws in drowsy oblivion, unaware of the goings-on near him but still safe, secure and blissful all the same. 

As he dozed, a dream took over his subconscious, directing his imagination in a fantastical dance while he slept. Nearly perfectly still in reality, Doodle Dog’s mind was anything but as it zipped and zoomed from one scene to the next almost as quickly as an inner tube soaring over the top of the lake or a go-kart going round and round the meadow. At a particular moment when it finally calmed, the sleeping Doodle Dog found himself in quite the strange world his thoughts had created.

While in reality the sky above Doodle Dog was a soft blue, misty in parts from a smattering of cottony clouds here and there, in his dream the natural ceiling swished and swirled with the melted rainbow from the racetrack, dashing across a cloudless canvas. The brilliant hues twisted and tangled over the treetops, reds and purples mixing with greens and blues. A radiant round sun shone through the shining shades, making the yellows even brighter. Within moments, a cluster of fluffy white wisps drifted onto the scene, the clouds poufy like a bunny’s puffy tail. One by one they floated through the curtain of color, dipping out to the other side and leaving a translucent trail. One by one each white puff entered the celestial crayon box, and then, unexpectedly, when they emerged each one was tinted a different color! Soon not only was the sky itself glittering with streaks of its own colors, but the beautiful backdrop was speckled with spots of painted clouds continuing to glide along, lazily wafting above the landscape below.

And it was to that landscape below that Doodle Dog’s imagination turned next without any particular reason or intent. His dream melted from one scene to the next almost as seamlessly as the clouds changing colors above him and soon he found himself watching the ribbons of the rainbow reach down to the ground, each separate shade aimed directly for the center of each earthly pothole that the floppy-eared puppy had helped dig not that long ago. While in reality the potholes were covered with their soft, cozy sod blankets, in his dream the little curious puppy saw the flowers sprout up from their beds, pushing through the earth and silently saying “good morning” to the spring. As he crept closer to the tiny baby buds, Doodle Dog did not see flower petals, silky and delicate, unfolding to feel the sun’s warmth. Instead, when the sun spotlighted on each previously-slumbering specimen, a shiny sparkle glinted from it! Carefully creeping even closer still, the floppy-eared puppy could now see that what had sprouted in front of him was not a tulip or a rose or a daisy or a snapdragon. Where a lavender-colored tulip should have been was a sparkling violet amethyst! And where a radiant red rose should have been was instead a ruby. Now every color of the ribbons from the rainbow connecting the earth to the sky were not only represented in the dipped clouds but were now being reflected, quite literally, in the colors of the gemstones growing up from the ground!

As the floppy-eared puppy continued down the winding rows of precious jewels, enjoying the view of emeralds the shade of evergreens and sapphires the deep blue of the ocean’s waves, he wondered if there had ever before been a bouquet of such bedazzling buds! The string of gemstones almost seemed as though Mother Nature was getting dressed up for a special occasion and the flowers-turned-sparkling rocks of a different sort served as just the perfect accessory. On and on they went, curving their colors up the hillside, the amethysts, rubies, emeralds and sapphires intertwining with unusual garnets and aquamarines as they too awoke newly sprouted. Then Doodle Dog, wanting to give each the attention it deserved, came upon the very last gem in the pattern. It had no color at all! Though it seemed at first glance to be an imperfection in the line of treasure, the perfectly clear, colorless crystal sparkled up at Doodle Dog, more unique and special than all the rest. He didn’t have a chance to find out its secret in his dream, however, as the warm sun in reality persuaded the floppy-eared puppy to wake up from his nap.

As he reluctantly coaxed his eyes open, the tree next to him caught Doodle Dog’s gaze. And there, nestled among its branches, was something that wasn’t wood or leaf or furry creature. As the sunlight glistened down on the earth, warming the sleeping buds in their earthy beds, it also shone on a speck that was rather familiar. Dangling from a nearby twig, a sparkling crystal-like object caught the light just so, and one by one the sun’s rays went in through the clear container and slipped out to the other side leaving a translucent trail. One by one each entered the colorless crystal, and then, unexpectedly, when they emerged each beam was a different color! The tiny crystal seemed to hold all the colors of the rainbow in one beautiful bundle. The floppy-eared puppy HAD found a gemstone bouquet in a very unique and special little package!

 

I know many of you are sick and tired of seeing the snow, the gray clouds and having to deal with the colder temperatures. But as I mentioned in last week’s column there are some sure signs that Spring is around the corner.

Need some fun events to bring you out of the winter doldrums? How about an Easter Egg Hunt for the adults? That’s right, an Easter Egg hunt for the adults (must be at least 21 years of age to join us)!!  The egg hunt will be held on Saturday, April 19th from 7:30 – 10pm and will be held outdoors rain or shine (dress appropriately)! Over 500 eggs will be hidden in the woods and lawn area so bring your own basket and flashlight to collect as many eggs as you can.

The event kicks off at 7:30 pm with local musician Steve Vanderink entertaining everyone with his great variety of songs! The egg hunt beginning promptly at 8:30pm. One grand prize egg will have a prize worth up to $100 with a second and third place egg worth up to $40 and $20 respectively. Plus, more than 100 eggs will contain prizes valued over $10! Nonrefundable tickets are $25 per person and reservations and prepayment required so be sure to call the winery today to join us for this great event!

Or want to express more of your artistic side? Then be sure to make reservations today for our first Wine & Art night! Local artist Carol Milani will be walking you through step by step instructions to paint a fantastic picture of Garrettsville. Tickets are $30 / person and a part of the proceeds will be donated to #Garrettsville Strong. Wine & Art night will be held on Friday, April 25th from 6-9pm. Reservations are required and seating is limited so be sure to book your spot today!

Also SAVE THE DATE! Saturday, May 31st from 1-10pm we will be hosting a Food Truck Rally and Music Benefit for #GarrettsvilleStrong! Five food trucks will be joining us along with 3 great music concerts will be taking over the winery for the day to raise money for the rebuilding effort on Main Street. Plus we’ll have over 15 arts and craft vendors set up to sell their fabulous products and have raffle prizes available. Keep reading this newsletter for more information or check out our webpage – www.candlelightwinery.com for the latest details.

 

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.

Location, location, location … It matters when it comes to real estate, and it also matters when it comes to the way you hold and invest your retirement savings.

You can’t control what happens with the tax code, but you can control how your savings are held. As various types of investments are taxed at varying rates, some investments are better held in taxable accounts and others in tax-deferred accounts.

*Funds that trade frequently (such as bond funds and money market funds) are better off in tax-deferred accounts, as much of their yields represent taxable income.

*Traditional IRAs are tax-inefficient (relatively speaking), and by holding a traditional IRA within a tax-deferred account, you can delay paying tax on those IRA assets until you withdraw them in retirement (when you will presumably be in a lower tax bracket than you are now).

*What kinds of investments are usually better off in taxable accounts? Think index funds, growth funds, tax-managed funds and ETFs that tend to generate capital gains (growth funds especially are prone to reinvesting profits). In light of long-term capital gains rates, keeping these types of investments in taxable accounts makes sense.1,2

Timing isn’t everything, but … The timing of withdrawals from retirement accounts can have a major impact on your income taxes – and the longevity of your savings.

You don’t want to outlive your money, and you want your income taxes to be as minimal as possible once you are retired. To that end, you want to withdraw from your retirement accounts in a tax-efficient way.

By drawing down taxable accounts first, you’ll face the capital gains tax rate instead of the ordinary income tax rate. Most retirees will see long-term capital gains taxed at 15%; for others, the long-term capital gains tax rate will be 0%.3 In taking money out of the taxable accounts to start, you are not only giving yourself a de facto tax break but also giving the retirement funds in the tax-advantaged accounts more time to grow and compound (and even a year or two of compounding and growth can be significant if you have held a tax-advantaged account for decades). Withdrawals from tax-deferred accounts – such as traditional IRAs and 401(k)s and 403(b)s – can follow, and then lastly withdrawals from Roth accounts.3

Following these asset location and distribution approaches may leave you with more retirement income – in fact, Morningstar estimates that in tandem, they can boost a retiree’s income by about 8%.1

Tax loss harvesting can also help. Selling losers during a given year (i.e., stocks or mutual funds you have held for a year or more that are worth less than what you originally paid for them) will give you capital losses. These can directly lower your taxable income. As much as $3,000 of capital losses in excess of capital gains can be deducted from taxable income, and any remaining capital losses above that can be carried forward to offset capital gains in upcoming years. Additionally, whenever you sell stocks or funds with capital gains, strive to sell shares or units having the highest basis to reduce the gain.4

If you receive a lump-sum payout, don’t put it in the bank. If you take direct control of that money, you are triggering a taxable event and your income taxes for that year could be staggering. An alternative outcome: make a direct rollover of the lump-sum payout (qualified distribution) into a traditional IRA. That move will exclude that money from your total taxable income for the year, and put you in position to take taxable annual Required Minimum Distributions (RMD), with the taxable RMDs being smaller than the taxable lump sum. (Alternately, you could directly roll the lump sum payout into a Roth IRA, which would leave you paying taxes on the conversion but set you up for tax-free withdrawals in retirement if Roth IRA rules and regulations have been followed).5,6

Incidentally, it is often more advantageous to take an in-kind distribution of company stock rather than rolling shares over to an IRA. The question is whether you want to pay ordinary income tax or capital gains tax. If a lump-sum distribution is taken off the shares, the investor pays income tax on the original cost basis of the stock. If the distribution is in-kind (i.e., the  payout is in securities, not cash), the net unrealized appreciation (NUA) remains tax-deferred until the securities are sold. At their sale, the NUA is taxed as a long-term capital gain.5

Lastly, consider living in a state where taxes bite a little less. Not everyone can afford to move, but in the long run, living in Florida, Nevada, Washington, Texas or other states that are relatively tax-friendly for retirees can help. Even moving to another town within your current state might result in some tax savings.6,7

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.cnn.com/2013/02/11/pf/expert/retirement-tax-plans.moneymag/ [2/11/13]

2 – biz.yahoo.com/edu/mf/vra.html [2/13/14]

3 – tinyurl.com/l6lkrfu [2/12/14]

4 – bankrate.com/finance/money-guides/capital-losses-can-help-cut-your-tax-bill-1.aspx [9/19/13] 

5 – raymondjames.com/making_right_distribution.htm [2/13/14]

6 – wife.org/minimizing-tax-burden-in-retirement.htm [2/13/14]

7 – money.msn.com/tax-planning/retired-how-to-cut-your-taxes-mark-koba [2/6/12]