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Monday, March 27, 2017

Columns & Editorials

Home Columns & Editorials

“You’re your own worst enemy.”

As a professor and student advisor,  my father spent a lot of time listening to people’s goals and their struggles on their way to meet them. Most often, these people would be highly critical, either of others or of themselves. My father would analyze their motives, character flaws and excuses as they made their case. More often than not —...

Parks and Trees…

Well...isn’t April –now that we’ve finally got some weather that resemble Spring—just the greenest month! We’ve got Earth Day.  We’ve got Arbor Day.   We’ve got Happy Birthday for the National Park System (which will actually be running all year to mark the centennial of the founding of the NPS in 1916...by President Woodrow Wilson, no less—at the direction of...

Cicadas Back by Popular Demand… Not!

As we make the transition from spring into summer, the wildflowers are fading, flowering trees and shrubs are ablaze in color, and the mosquitoes, deer flies, and other insects are making their presence known in one way or the other. We are all too familiar with the biting and blood sucking insects that cause us so much irritation, but...

Boaty McBoatface

Always be careful of what you wish for; you may get it.  A warning nicely illustrated by a recent item on various news media. It seems that some British outfit called the National Environmental Research Council, preparing to launch a brand-new $287 million—aw, let’s call it $300 even, like all of those government project go—polar(south) research vessel, thought it would...

7 Quick Tips to Spruce Up Your Home

April is Keep America Beautiful Month-so let’s Keep America Beautiful by Making Your Home Beautiful.  Here are some quick tips to spruce up your home without breaking the bank. 1. Paint changes everything.  Obviously, the quickest and least expensive way to change a room is to paint the walls.  A fresh new color on your walls can totally transform your...

Events at Candlelight

I have lived in the Cleveland area  all my life and am still amazed to see the temperatures change from 20 degrees and snow to 75 degrees and sun in less than a week. So since it looks like Spring (or perhaps even Summer) is here, it’s time to open the patio, enjoy the outdoors and plan some great...

Retirement Now vs. Retirement Then

Decades ago, retirement was fairly predictable: Social Security and a pension provided much of your income, you moved to the Sun Belt, played tennis or golf, and you lived to age 70 or 75. To varying degrees, this was the American retirement experience during the last few decades of the previous century. Those days are gone; retirees must now assume...

Bean counters try to control us

This is the ongoing story of how the greedy medical prescription drug insurance companies prey on us older retired people, who they presume won’t fight back but will just lay down and get steam rolled by them.  No one seems to have our back! This is my story so I am here to tell you that it is true...

Home Aquariums

One of our patrons was concerned about their home aquarium. They had maintained it for many years, but their older fish were starting to die off. They had started to add new fish, but a few of those fish had disappeared. Was one of the older fish eating them? Was something wrong with the environment? Assuming that the tank was...

Six Reasons A Real Estate Deal Can Fall Apart

You fell deeply in love with an updated Victorian, knocked a few grand off the asking price, and maybe even bought a spiffy camelback sofa for your new living room. Sweet! Still, until you close and the keys are in hand, there’s a sliver of dread in your mind: What if your dream of homeownership falls apart at the...

Bean Counters: A multipart saga of dealing with the Medicare Part D Rx insurance industry

This is the ongoing story of how the greedy medical/ prescription insurance companies prey on us older retired people, who, they presume, won’t fight back but will just lie down and get steam rolled by them.  This is my story, my experience, so I am here to tell you that it is true and I tell it to...

“In the book I’m reading, other characters call the main character the Sagehen. Why do you think they call her that?”

One of our patrons was enjoying “The Last Midwife” by Sandra Dallas, a work of historical fiction set in nineteenth-century Colorado. Gracy Brookens, the main character, is a midwife in a small mining town. Other characters sometimes refer to her as “the Sagehen.” Our first guess was that it was akin to calling Gracy a mother hen or a mama...

Fiscal Fashions

So...I’m listening to a radio program called “Marketplace” and discovered an interesting idea from some economic guru—Michael Bloomburg or Warren Buffett or some such multimillionaire.  Whoever this dude was, he said that he frequently followed the MUI—the Men’s Underwear Index(not to be confused with the Modern University of Information and Technology or the Multilingual User Interface)—when deciding the type...

Prodigality

O.K., I can definitely understand the viewpoint of the older brother in the Prodigal Son scenario and I have to wonder if there might be a story to be told about how family life went on after the younger brother returned, all contrite and  grateful for a crust of bread, let alone the Fatted Calf.  The older brother, upon...

It’s All About The Home

Today I had a customer in the store looking at bar stools.  Before we could get to the fun stuff like style and color, we had a few “technical” issues to iron out.  Issues like what size and how many were going to fit at her kitchen island.  It was at this point that I realized I could turn...

Shysters Extraordinaire

Shyster: A person who uses unscrupulous,                                            fraudulent or deceptive methods in business. I am often contacted by individuals locally and from other states and asked to inspect a Model “A” Ford that they are considering purchasing.  I am not...

College Funding Options You can plan to meet the costs through a variety of methods

How can you cover your child’s future college costs? Saving early (and often) may be the key for most families. Here are some college savings vehicles to consider. 529 plans. Offered by states and some educational institutions, these plans let you save up to $14,000 per year for your child’s college costs without having to file an IRS gift tax...

Return of the Prodigal Cat

I started with a dog, you know. Her name was Samantha, which rapidly became “Sammie”; her mother was a purebred apricot poodle   and her father was a traveling salesman of some sort...whatever he was selling, she bought it.  Anyway, Sammie was a nice dog, a good dog...and not much more discreet than her mama—had three puppies under the couch...

Will You Avoid These Estate Planning Mistakes?

Will You Avoid These Estate Planning Mistakes?

Many people plan their estates diligently, with input from legal, tax, and financial professionals. Others plan earnestly, but make mistakes that can potentially affect both the transfer and destiny of family wealth. Here are some common and not-so-common errors to avoid. Doing it all yourself. While you could write your own will or create a will or trust from a...

Minks and Otters

As promised, we will continue up the family tree of the toughest family on the block, the Mustelids.

As promised, we will continue up the family tree of the toughest family on the block, the Mustelids. This week we will be discussing the “middle “children of the family. But make no mistake, they are just as tough, fearless, and bloodthirsty as their siblings. Next time we will discuss the big boys, the Martens, Fishers, and Wolverines. Now...

“I have two Labradors and they’re always licking each other’s ears. Why do they do that?”

“I have two Labradors and they’re always licking each other’s ears. Why do they do that?”

According to What Dogs Want  by Arden Moore,  Caring for Your Dog  by Bruce Fogle, and the article Why Do My Dogs Lick Each Other’s Ears? by Lisa McQuerry, there are a few possible reasons. Dogs lick to relive stress or just for something to do, so they could be anxious or bored. It’s also a way to show...

Making and Keeping Financial Resolutions

How will your money habits change in 2016? What decisions or behaviors might help your personal finances, your retirement prospects, or your net worth? Each year presents a “clean slate,” so as one year ebbs into another, it is natural to think about what you might do (or do differently) in the 12 months ahead. Financially speaking, what New Year’s resolutions...

“Respect is earned; not given.”

While Marlon Brando in The Godfather usually gets the credit for this quote, he was actually borrowing a bit of wisdom from  the Pakistani Beggar King Hussein Nishah (1538–1599), who wrote, “Treat people the way you want to be treated. Talk to people the way you want to be talked to. Respect is earned, not given.” My father often drove...

The Name Game

Speaking of winter storms....  This whole naming thing apparently started with the Weather Channel and a Latin class somewhere.  This was apparently so that the on-screen prognosticators could get us all to focus on a particular weather event at a particular time and to nudge us toward acknowledging the fact that all of this weather stuff is related rather...

From Grandma Tr’ybl’s Table

This was one of our favorites that my father’s mother served in the early 60’s.  It was a wonderful meal served on potato dumplings, a mound of mashed potatoes or on freshly-made egg noodles. But most of a time, it was on Grandma’s very tasty potato dumplings (we will visit that recipe on a future visit.) As wonderful as this...

It’s All About The Home

Welcome to “It’s all about the Home”.  Please allow me to introduce myself.  My name is Jane Ulmer and I am the co-owner of The Wayside Workshop in Aurora.  The Wayside Workshop is our family business that my dad started in 1976 in Willoughby, Ohio.  We spent about 6 years in Chardon before moving to Aurora Farms where we...

The Old Farmer’s Almanac revisited.

What Dave Barry always calls “an alert reader” stopped me the other day in the PCDL and asked if I wasn’t going to write  some more stuff drawing on the abovementioned publication and it seemed like a good idea, so here we are.  The Old Farmer speaks : (Freely translated by yours truly) What is it that everyone quotes the...

The Pros & Cons of Roth IRA Conversions

If you own a traditional IRA, perhaps you have thought about converting it to a Roth IRA. Going Roth makes sense for some traditional IRA owners, but not all. Why go Roth? There is an assumption behind every Roth IRA conversion – a belief that income tax rates will be higher in future years than they are today. If you...

Welcome to 2016 — Need a Calendar??

Well, here we go again.  ”Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme.” As you, no doubt recognized, the above aphorism attributed to Jean-Baptist Alphonse Karr, means “the more things change, the more they remain the same.”  (You might also be aware that albums by the groups Cinderella, Machine Head and Bon Jovi used the phrase, either as album or song...

Not my fault!

Working at Garrettsville’s Precinct A  for thirteen hours on Election Day—with a fairly steady stream of citizens exercising their rights, good for them—was enough to occupy my time; I had no occasion to commit mayhem on the Portage County Board of Elections computer system, though I’m sure there are those who probably think that I could do it by...

Pumpkin & Wine

Pumpkin latte, pumpkin pie, pumpkin beer, pumpkin pasta… the list of pumpkin items goes on and on. Recently I’ve had a couple of guests ask me for some wine recommendations to pair with their pumpkin dishes since the spices in some dishes can greatly alter the taste of the wine. So if you’re not tired of pumpkin yet keep...

“Don’t stir up the hornet’s nest!”

“Why go looking for trouble?” Dad would ask. “Some trouble is sure to find you at some point in life, but only a fool makes himself a target by intentionally causing a commotion.” Don’t stir up the hornet’s nest is a familiar idiom, likening hornets to angry humans, dating back to the first half of the 1700s. In case you...

The Long Ascent of the S&P 500

No one knows what will happen tomorrow on Wall Street. Even the most esteemed analysts can only make educated guesses. As the old saying goes: past performance is not indicative of future results. All that said, the market has had many more positive years than negative years. The history of the S&P 500 is worth considering in light of recent...

Turnpike Proud!

Well, that was interesting...and informative...and fun too. The Ohio Turnpike had an Open House on Saturday, October 24, celebrating its 60th Anniversary; it officially opened on October 1, 1955, all 241 miles of it.  The construction took 38 months, in sections, employed some 10,000 workers—and 2300 bulldozers—at a cost of some $326 million, give or take.  It connected to the...

Trick-or-Treat

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 OOoooo! Uhhhh! Ooooo! Doodle Dog stretched out on what should have been a very cozy cushion, soft and squishy and usually perfect for relaxing. On most days he could...

Riding Out This Volatile Market

PixaBay https://pixabay.com/en/piggy-bank-save-money-finance-coin-661969/

When will the stock market stabilize? As the last trading week of August began, worried investors wondered just that. Gains for the major indices were hard to imagine at Monday’s opening bell, but few imagined the Dow Jones Industrial Average would drop 1,089 points as trading began – a new record, as the blue chips had never before sunk...

Halloween Candy and Wine Pairs

Last year I didn’t get a chance to write about the Halloween Candy and Wine pairing so this year a few faithful readers reminded me that I needed to get tasting! So, armed with a few bags of candy and a few bottles of wine I set out to come up with the best Halloween candy and wine pairing...

Memorial Trash

Another Trick-or-Treat for adults? I am referring, of course, to the semi-annual trash pick-up in the village—not to be confused with the weekly services provided (paid for on an individual residence basis) to dispose of our pitch-worthy household detritus and garbage.  Garbage Eve is observed every Wednesday night; no carol-singing or candles in the windows that I know of. The Trash...

Stuck in Ohio…And Proud Of It!!

During my lifetime I have been blessed with many opportunities to experience nature and our natural world. I have been to National Parks from Maine to California, talked to God in a grove of Redwoods, touched sequoias, climbed to 14,000 feet in the Rockies to sooth my feet in a cold alpine lake, hiked part of the Appalachian Trail...

Forget the Memoir

Everybody is writing memoirs lately.   It’s the literary style du jour in all of the magazines and reviews.  So I’m thinking, hey, my memories are as good as anybody’s, why not hop to it and make the big bucks? One reason may be that my memories are certainly just fine, but getting them to show up on cue is...

Whadda Prize

It’s awards season just about all of the time now.  There are awards in television, for the theatre, for movies, for sports of every stripe and description, for just about every genre of music that one can think of( and some that I don’t really classify as music, but, rather as “entertainment”)—country, pop, rap, classical, you name it.  But...

Collecting Fossils in Thermopiles, Wyoming

Perfect silence.  It is 10:15 in the morning and I am on a hill twenty miles north of Thermopolis and a half a mile off the highway. We got here at 9:30 AM and the temperature was about 70 degrees. It was 49 just before dawn at the motel.  By 11 AM it is at 85 degrees.  Yes there...

Pretty Fair Fairs

Well, I seem to have hit my quota again this year.  A little shy, perhaps, but got the basics done.  I am speaking, of course, of fair attendance.  I really like going to fairs.  It’s the food, mostly.  Nothing like hot grease wafting through the air to set the rustic mood and a culinary challenge. I got to the Portage...

Puppy Tails

https://pixabay.com/en/grass-blades-of-grass-nature-meadow-383284/

Wandering along the tree line at the very point where the edge of the meadow meets the edge of the forest, Doodle Dog sniffed the grassy ground, taking in all the woodsy scents from the earthy bark to the sweet, airy wildflowers to the sharp tangy note of moss gathering in deep green patches and carpeting the area under...

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

When many people hear the word “parents,” they picture a couple in their forties... not a couple in their seventies. The reality is that 6% of kids today live in households headed up by grandparents – a parenting situation that may lead to significant financial stress.1 How can grandparents protect their retirement savings? This should be a high priority, even...

Skin In The Game

Ever since  that piece about plastic surgery and the aestheticians who keep having the gall to send me email about how they can get me a “Facelift Miracle”(as if I needed such a thing), I’ve been noticing a number of items in the news about occasions where the focus is on skin and the display thereof. The first one to...

Getting It All Together for Retirement

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Before retirement begins, gather what you need. Put as much documentation as you can in one place, for you and those you love. It could be a password-protected online vault; it could be a file cabinet; it could be a file folder. Regardless of what it is, by centralizing the location of important papers you are saving yourself from...

Organic Wines

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As we prepare for the start of harvest season, I have received a lot of questions around if or how you make an organic wine? Organic wines have really jumped in popularity now with the “Green” movement and having people become more and more earth friendly or earth conscience. While we do everything possible to be green, unfortunately we...

Puppy Tails: The Ongoing Adventures of Doodle Dog

https://pixabay.com/en/grass-blades-of-grass-nature-meadow-383284/

  Chirp, chirp, cheep, chirp! Doodle Dog poked his nose into the open window, pressing against the tight wire screen. He thought he could hear a bird talking to him, but he couldn’t quite see it from this angle. A little twist to the left and a little scootch to the right and the frame of the window seemed to jump...

Cat-astrophe!

https://pixabay.com/en/animal-cat-kitten-funny-yawning-339400/

At one time, there were, give or take, six—yes, six—cats in this house.  That was, so to speak, the high water mark, but the tide seems to have receded rather precipitously lately. See, I started out, innocently enough, with just one, chosen from a litter just out of town advertised with a sign that said, “Free Kittens”.  He was orange...

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