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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] 

 

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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.

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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]

 

April showers bring May flowers, eh?

Somebody alert the providers of floral items.  They’re either going to be left twiddling their thumbs because the general public is inundated by blooms of exotic sizes and descriptions springing up along every highway and by-way or their own backyards…or…there will be wholesalers of flowers lurking around corners trying to off-load cheap orchid and baby’s breath that they just happen to have a truckload of in a back alley somewhere.  “Hey, little girl, want some real cool Dianthus barbatus?  Try it, you’ll like it.  Give it to your friends.  I’ll come back tomorrow.  Bring your lunch money.”

So this week you could celebrate the one hundred forty-second anniversary of the first Arbor Day, begun in Nebraska—where they really needed trees—in 1872(If you don’t count Villanueva de la Sierra in Spain in 1805).  J. Sterling Morton was the organizer of that first event and over one million trees were planted in Nebraska.  Later, Major Israel McCreight of DuBois, PA, after listening to Theodore Roosevelt’s speaking of his interest in conservation and a national park system, declared that the speeches shouldn’t be directed  only at businessmen, but at schoolchildren.  Gifford Pinchot, head of the United States Forest Service, picked up that ball and ran with it.  On April 15, 1907, Roosevelt issued         the Arbor Day Proclamation to the School Children of the United States about the importance of trees.

You might want to try planting a bald cypress.  They like moist soil.  We’ve got that.

Anyway, check with your local county Soil and Water Conservation District(Every county’s got one, I think.);they’ve got evergreens, deciduous trees, shrubs, flowering & fruiting trees( lots of native plants) at good prices.  Some get sold out early, some get left over and can be picked up for a song.  Last year I got American Chestnut whips and a subscription to the Ohio Nut Growers Association magazine, “In A Nutshell”.  No smart remarks, please.  Just reading about the plants and their characteristics is really interesting.

You can get fish too.  Might need them for the back forty.

 

While we have “Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang” and “A Dictionary of Americanisms on Historical Principles” available in the reference section here at the Newton Falls Public Library, both are more useful for looking up the origins of specific words and phrases. Putting “cowboy slang” into an online search engine brings up quite a few websites, but we had a tough time finding one that cited its sources, and so we weren’t sure how authentic they actually were.

Looking through CLEVNET, however, we found “Cowboy Lingo” and “Western Words: A Dictionary of the Range, Cow Camp, and Trail.” Both are written by Ramon Frederick Adams, a respected Western writer, historian, and bibliographer, and both can be put on hold and sent to any other CLEVNET library.

Here at Newton Falls, we have Candy Moulton’s “The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in the Wild West From 1840-1900,” which has a short chapter on language along with a wealth of other information, including sections about the clothes people wore, the food that they ate, and what they did for fun. We also have “The Cowboys” by Time-Life Books and a selection of more general books about the American West, including Geoffrey C. Ward’s “The West: An Illustrated History” and James D. Horan’s “The Great American West.”

 

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.

 

By now you probably have seen the Girl Scout Cookie booths at your favorite grocery stores, banks, malls and Wal-Marts so if you didn’t pre-order your cookies, make sure you pick them up while you are at the winery as cookie booth season is over!

As the proud sponsor of Girl Scout Troop 402 in Garrettsville, the winery has been converted into Girl Scout cookie headquarters for our troop to get their cookies to you. While the Girl Scouts did an amazing job of selling cookies, a few curious parents have asked what wine pairs well with the rest of the Girl Scout cookies after last week’s article? There are so many options with 8 great cookies this year, so here are the pairings for the remaining cookies.

Let’s start with my favorite Girl Scout Cookie – the Samoa. This delectable caramel, coconut and chocolate-covered cookie has so many flavors that pairing it with a particular wine is tough. However I had a bottle of Tawny Port and sampled it with the cookie. It was so unexpected. The nutty flavors of the Port really brought out the caramel and coconut of the cookie without losing the cookie flavor.

Next is the Trefoil cookie. This shortbread cookie could be paired with almost any wine since it is so light. However I found that an oaked Chardonnay paired quite well with this cookie. The buttery overtones in the Chardonnay matched quite well with the buttery taste of the Trefoil.

The newest cookie was introduced a couple of years ago and seems to be picking up in sales. The Thank U Berry Munch has mix of cranberry and white fudge chips. My initial thought was to pair this with our Cranberry wine but I found that I liked the cookie much better with our Iced Wine which is a much sweeter and almost syrupy wine. The combination of the cranberries and white fudge chips made the wine perfect for dessert.

Finally, for this week I paired this year’s new cookie, Savannah Smiles, with our Chambourcin. This lemon crispy cookie covered in powered sugar can be difficult to pair since lemon is such an overpowering flavor. But the smooth finish of the Chambourcin reduced the bite from the lemon flavor and made this a great pair. The Savannah Smiles cookie is the signature cookie representing the Girl Scouts 100th anniversary is a great way to end our cookie tasting this year.

Not a fan of cookies — or sticking to your New Year’s Resolution? You can still support the Girl Scout Troops – we have challenged our troop to raise enough money to send 400 boxes of cookies to the troops overseas! Stop by the winery to help this great cause!

 

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.

A little phrase that may mean a big difference. When you read about investing and other financial topics, you occasionally see the phrase “tax efficiency” or a reference to a “tax-sensitive” way of investing. What does that really mean?

* The after-tax return vs. the pre-tax return. Everyone wants their investment portfolio to perform well. But it is your after-tax return that really matters. If your portfolio earns you double-digit returns, those returns really aren’t so great if you end up losing 20% or 30% of them to taxes. In periods when the return on your investments is low, tax efficiency takes on even greater importance.

* Tax-sensitive tactics. Some methods have emerged that are designed to improve after-tax returns. Money managers commonly consider these strategies when determining whether assets should be bought or sold.

* Holding onto assets. One possible method for realizing greater tax efficiency is simply to minimize buying and selling to reduce capital gains taxes. The idea is to pursue long-term gains, instead of seeking short-term gains through a series of steady transactions.

* Tax-loss harvesting. This means selling certain securities at a loss to counterbalance capital gains. In this scenario, the capital losses you incur are applied against your capital gains to lower your personal tax liability. Basically, you’re making lemonade out of the lemons in your portfolio.

* Assigning investments selectively to tax-deferred and taxable accounts. Here’s a rather basic tactic intended to work over the long run: tax-efficient investments are placed in taxable accounts, and less tax-efficient investments are held in tax-advantaged accounts. Of course, if you have 100% of your investment money in tax-deferred accounts, then this isn’t a consideration.

* How tax-efficient is your portfolio? It’s an excellent question, one you should consider. But this brief article shouldn’t be interpreted as tax or investment advice. If you’d like to find out more about tax-sensitive ways to invest, be sure to talk with a qualified financial advisor who can help you explore your options today. What you learn could be eye-opening.

 

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. 

 

Out like a lamb?  Maybe a drippy-wet lamb.  Maybe a lamb looking up at the occasional flurries and possible thunderstorms lurking in the wings next  week.  Baaaa! Enjoy it while you can.  Quoting The Old Farmer’s Almanac here, “Showers often; the earth softens.  Sunny and sweet.  Watch out for sleet!”

Sounds  like Winter : Lite to me; a sunnier version of what we’ve had going on since November or so.  The next entry is, “Dry feet.  (around Palm Sunday) A soaking, no joking!  Peepers croaking (Easter)” Well, we have THAT to look forward to.  Those participating in Easter egg hunts might want to bring along a minnow net.  The summer map predicts a hot and dry summer in our area but the specifics of May look pretty damp.  Methinks the Old Farmer is hedging his bets.

I have got bulbs of various sorts that desperately need to get out and sink their little green toes in the dirt—have to wait until the dirt thaws.  I have snowdrops lifting  their shy little heads and looking around the front lawn.  There are two clumps of golden crocus (croci? crocuses?) and one anti-social singleton out there.  I finally took down the Christmas wreath on the front porch pillar.  Spring must surely be here.

“You can step on the flowers but you can never delay the Spring.”—Pablo Neruda

Looking through my latest spring issue of Popular Science , I’ve spotted a number of interesting items on the page revealing new products available.

How about a transportation gizmo that looks “like the love child of a motorcycle and a unicycle.”  Called the Ryno, it’s a single wheel with a seat and handlebars; a gyroscope and accelerometers (whatever they are) keep the rider upright.  Speeds up to 10mph may be reached by leaning forward.  What a hoot!  Can you just see people buzzing around town on these machines?  No mention of how many miles per gallon but it would have to be amazing.  Don’t believe they’re quite “Turnpike-ready” but a little plaza-cruising would not be out of the question.  Drag racing with riders really dragging off the machines running  on their own!  $5300

The world’s first beer-flavored jelly beans have been produced by the Jelly Belly people.  It is, apparently, a Hefeweizen-style confection, has no alcohol, and can be paired with a Red Apple jelly bean to approximate  an apple cider shandy(beer mixed with apple juice or a soft drink or lemonade, popular in Germany).  You won’t see a Budweiser commercial for this one next Super Bowl.  $8.99/lb.

Here’s something that you didn’t know that you needed, a cubic rubber band, made by Nendo.  Right, it looks like one of those illustrations in the plain geometry textbook.  There was no indication of how big it is, no scale but PS did comment that it was easier to pick up than the standard round rubber one.  Also mentioned that it might be difficult to shoot the thing.  Too bad, little boys!  $10 (No mention o whether this was for just one or a box of the little buggers, the way rubber bands are usually sold)

How about the Flir One, a thermal imaging device for the iPhone which detects infrared energy from 32 degrees to 212 degrees (freezing to boiling).  Suggested uses include seeing in the dark, locating heat loss (energy assessments, like around doors and windows to determine  ways to reduce your energy use) and cheating at hide and seek.

And, finally, the latest from Kings Island, The Banshee.  This is the world’s longest inverted roller coaster.  Oy! Speaking as one who gets dizzy and suffers from borderline vertigo just looking out of a second story window( I passed up the opportunity to go up in Seattle’s Space Needle and the CN Tower in Toronto.  I was clutching nearby structures at the time), I don’t think that this will be on my summer plans.  Speeds of up to 68mph can be reached (not by me!) in a transit time of approximately two minutes and 40 seconds.  Zoweeee!  No wonder they named it the Banshee (In Irish folklore, a woman who starts to wail when someone is about to die; a messenger from the underworld; a keening woman whose wail can be so piercing that it shatters glass).  The one about to die would be me, were I to, somehow,  be put aboard such a ride from—and to– the pit of Hades.  I have to be with a particularly charming child to get on a carousel, even with a Joe Leonard-carved horse.  The last such contraption that I was on was dubbed the “WildMouse”  and was just about the size you’d imagine with such a name.  Small children ride the roller coaster and wave their hands in the air; I stand on the ground and quiver just watching.EEEEEEEEEEEEOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWW!

 

This weekend, I had the opportunity to make some homemade mozzarella and ricotta cheeses with some friends, and the results were simply delicious. Although ricotta cheese can be made using basic ingredients most of us have in our kitchens, I chose to use a cheese-making kit, which includes everything needed to make either ricotta or mozzarella — you simply add the milk.

The kit contains cheesecloth, a thermometer, and enough rennet, citric acid, and cheese salt to make 30 batches of either ricotta or mozzarella cheese. It also includes simple recipes and tips to help you get stated. Since the process was so simple, I thought I’d share the recipes and step-by-step instructions, in case you want to try it for yourself. You can use your fresh cheese on pizza, in lasagna, or in any recipe you wish.

We sliced our mozzarella and arranged it over sliced tomatoes, sprinkled it with torn basil leaves and drizzled olive oil and balsamic vinegar on top. We enjoyed the ricotta spread on crusty wheat bread, topped with a splash of olive oil, chopped sundried tomatoes and Italian spices. Any combination of those ingredients would make a wonderful Italian-style grilled cheese sandwich. The possibilities are endless — so what are you waiting for? Get cheesy!

Mozzarella Cheese (Makes about ¾ pound)

Ingredients

1 gallon milk (make sure your milk is not Ultra- Pasteurized)

1 1/4 cups cool, chlorine-free water

1 1/2 tsp. citric acid

1/4 rennet tablet

1 tsp. salt

 

Tools

1 gallon stainless steel pot

thermometer

slotted spoon

colander

knife

glass bowl

 

First, dissolve 1/4 rennet tablet into 1/4 cup of cool water and set aside. Then mix 1 1/2 teaspoons citric acid into 1 cup cool water and pour into your pot and stir until dissolved. Then add the milk into a large stainless steel pot and heat to 90 degrees while stirring constantly.

Remove the pot for the stove and add the rennet mixture, then stir the mixture for about a minute.  Next, cover the pot and let it sit, undisturbed, for five minutes. After five minutes your mixture should congeal and look sort of like a floating mass of tofu. (If not, let it sit for another few minutes.) Take a knife and cut the curd into small squares, then place your pot back on the stove and heat to 105 degrees while slowly moving the curds around with a spoon.

Once the temperature has reached 105 degrees, remove the pot from the stove and continue to stir the curds for another three to five minutes.  Then pour off the liquid, which is called whey, and use a slotted spoon to transfer the curds into a large glass bowl. Reserve the whey for another use*.

Next, microwave the curds for 1 minute. Then drain any excess liquid, shape into a ball and add 1 teaspoon of salt. Place the cheese ball back in the bowl and microwave for another 30 seconds.  Drain, and check the temperature — The cheese must be 135 degrees to stretch properly. Stretch the cheese a few times and form it into a log or ball.

Place your stretched cheese in a bowl filled with cool water and let it sit for five minutes. Then add one cup of ice cubes to the bowl, and let it sit for an additional 15 minutes to cool down completely. You can now eat the mozzarella, cook with it, or store it in an airtight container for up to a week.

Ricotta Cheese (Makes 1 ¾ – 2 pounds)

Ingredients

1 gallon milk (make sure your milk is not Ultra- Pasteurized)

1 teaspoon citric acid

1 teaspoon salt, optional

 

Tools

large pot

thermometer

measuring spoons

cheese cloth

strainer

mixing bowl

slotted spoon

 

Pour the milk into a large pot and set it over medium heat. Let it warm gradually to 195°F, stirring constantly.  Remove the milk from heat. Pour in the citric acid and salt, stirring gently to combine.

Let the pot of milk sit undisturbed for 10 minutes. After this time, the milk should have separated into clumps of milky white curds and thin, watery, yellow-colored whey. Set a strainer over a bowl and line the strainer with cheesecloth. Scoop the big curds out of the pot with a slotted spoon and transfer them to the strainer. Pour the remaining curds and the whey through the strainer. Reserve the whey for another use*.

Let the ricotta drain for 10 to 60 minutes, depending on how wet or dry you prefer your ricotta. If it becomes too dry, you can also stir some of the whey back in before using or storing. Use your fresh ricotta right away or refrigerate it in an airtight container for up to a week.

 

*Don’t dump that whey! You can use it in place of equal parts water in bread or pizza dough, or add it to smoothies for an added source of protein.

 

Wow what a winter! It is like the children’s fairy tale “The Never Ending Story” instead we should call it “The Never Ending Winter.” To date, 93% of the Great Lakes are frozen and some say it is the coldest since the winter of 1977-78. Believe it or not, spring IS on its way. Hopefully this is the last week of below average temperatures. Since we at Nearby Nature are eternal optimists, we thought there was no better way to think about spring than to talk about Morels.  

Maplewood, beware!

I’m thinking that the cats—at least some of them—need occupational/vocational counseling.

One of the guys(It’s always the guys)apparently thinks that he is a watchcat, protecting us all from  dangerous gray tiger cats out on the back porch.  He pays no attention at all to the calico incipiently-maternal feline that appears on the front porch.  When  he spots this gray interloper looking in the window, he growls in the fiercest possible manner, from somewhere south of his liver and paces along the top of the handy chair back, hurling threats and imprecations at this creature that had DARED to look in the window.  Sometimes he yowls really loudly and runs to  another window to repeat the whole thing…maybe he’s trying to give the impression that there is a whole cat posse inside here  just itching to get out and make short work of the trespasser.

However, if I open the door, guess who takes off and heads for far parts?  Got it in one.

Then there’s some individual here who is laboring under the delusion that he, or maybe she, is a florist or horticulturist of some sort.  I bought flowers, see, just  because the place could use  some color and some illusion that winter might come to an end someday.   Company was coming and while running the  vacuum was a necessity, it wasn’t real uplifting…so…flowers.  They were O.K. as long as there were people in the house but under cover of darkness, SOMEBODY removed the baby’s breath and fern and the flower buds and blossoms from the vases and strewed them artistically across the top of the buffet and down on the carpet; different  arrangements on different occasions  You haven’t lived until you’ve stepped on something small and soft  and unmoving… in the dark.  It’s a wake-up call, for sure.  This happens every time there are flowers are in the house.  Somebody else is chewing off the leaves on a shamrock plant(Not much Luck of the Irish here) but the miniature daffodils are safe, so far.  The escapades have continued from poinsettias to primroses and roses.  Whoever is doing this is not picky, just determined.  Anything green is regarded as a challenge.

Then again, there’s somebody  around here who is , perhaps, pursuing a career in writing or in interior decorating.  Pens move around.  Papers travel.  The lid to the kitty water fountain downstairs keeps moving off to new locales and the cat food cups can’t be counted on to stay in the same place for more than a day or two.  I don’t use them, honest. I wouldn’t even mind all of this movement, if I could just count on them to clean up once in a while.  Not happening.   One of them has taken to curling up in the bottoms of the drapes.  Certainly picturesque but not really helpful.  A couple, the older ones, I think, make  a point of watching for my return by sitting in the window and watching for the headlights.  This is why the front windows have got nose prints.  The back door has got paw prints, from the littlest guy standing up on his back legs and scratching away at the glass to let me know that he wants out—NOW!  He’s really good at making known his desire to come back in too.  He just stands there staring in…staring with yellow eyes and real intensity.  Never takes very long to get my attention.   This is a smart cat.  When it was REALLY cold, he would go to the door  to be let out and I would go and open the door.  He would put maybe one paw out into the frigidity then turn around, come back in and give me a look which was clearly meant to say, “Are you kidding me?”  Nope.  Still COLD.

And we won’t even start on the soccer players… the balls have bells..games at night.

 

Is a tax refund coming your way? If you have already received your refund for the 2013 tax year or are about to receive it, you might want to think about the destiny of that money. Here are some possibilities.

Start (or add to) an emergency fund. Many people don’t have a dedicated rainy day fund, only the presumption that they might have enough cash in case of a financial tight spot.

Invest in yourself. You could put the money toward education, career training, personal improvement, or some sort of personal experience with the potential to enhance your life.

Use it for a down payment on a car or truck or real property. Real property represents the better financial choice, but updating your vehicle may have merit – cars do wear out, and while a truck also ages, it can help you make money.

Put it into an IRA or workplace retirement account. If you haven’t maxed out your IRA this year or have a chance to get an employer match, why not?

Help your child open up a Roth IRA. If your under-18 son or daughter will earn income this year, he or she can open a Roth IRA. Your child’s contribution limit is $5,500 or the amount of his or her earned income for 2014 (whichever is lower). You can actually make this Roth IRA contribution with your own money if your child has spent his or her earnings.1,2  

Buy some warehouse memberships. If you have a large family or own a small service business, why not sign up to save regularly?

Pay down debt. Always a smart choice.

Establish a financial strategy. Some financial professionals work on a fee-only basis. If your tax refund is substantial, it could pay some or all the fee that might be charged for a review of your current financial situation and a plan for the future, with no further obligation to you.

Pay for that trip in advance. Instead of racking up a bigger credit card bill, consider pre-paying some costs or taking an all-inclusive trip (some are not as pricey as you might think).

Get your home ready for the market. A four-figure refund may give you the cash to spruce up the yard and/or exterior of your residence. Or, it could help you pay a professional who can assist you with staging it.

Improve your home with energy-saving appliances. Or windows, or weatherstripping, or solar panels – just to name a few options.

Create your own food bank. What if a hurricane or an earthquake hits? Where would your food and water come from? Worth thinking about.

Write a proper will. Your refund could pay the attorney fee, and the will you create might end up more ironclad.

See a doctor, optometrist, dentist or physical therapist. If you haven’t been able to see these professionals due to your insurance situation or your personal cash flow, the refund might provide a way.

Give yourself a de facto raise. Adjust your withholding to boost your take-home pay.

Pick up some more insurance coverage for cheap. More and more affordable options exist for insuring yourself, your business and your property.

Pay it forward. Your refund could turn into a charitable contribution (deductible on your 2012 federal tax return if you itemize deductions).

Last year, the average federal tax refund was $2,744. That’s a nice chunk of change – and it could be used to bring some positive change to your financial life and the lives of others.3

 

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:  1660 West 2nd Street, Suite 850 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 – wellsfargoadvantagefunds.com/wfweb/wf/retirement/ira/faq.jsp [2/11/14]

2 – kiplinger.com/article/saving/T046-C001-S003-often-overlooked-opportunities-to-save-in-a-roth-i.html [1/28/14]

3 – blog.seattlepi.com/irs/2014/02/04/irs-kicks-off-2014-tax-season-check-your-eitc-eligibility/ [2/4/14]

 

 

Like many of you, our family and employees are saddened by the loss our town suffered this past weekend. We have grown to know many of the business owners and their families over the years and are working with the fundraising groups in Garrettsville to host a number of events. More details will be posted to our website as well as the Chamber of Commerce website as the details are finalized. As many of you know Candlelight Winery is also heavily involved in Girl Scouts and are working with our local troops to get some additional fundraisers going as well. While this is a sad time for many, I know how strong Garrettsville is and will quickly shine again. Until then I hope this article starts to bring back a sense of normalcy and humor to you.

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The first department store in Portage County (Chic & Shabby/the Root Store)transformed into a  source for home decorating with a distinctive touch…a craftsman fascinated by and devoted to clocks… a fledgling lawyer, an experienced attorney…the Barber of G-Ville…lawn and garden equipment gurus…a quilt shop drawing craft persons  from all over the state and beyond…a podiatrist…an audiologist…a community food cupboard offering a lifeline to community members in difficulty…tools for every need and every handyman…a dream-come-true shop full of one-of-a-kind items, fun to own, fun to sell…memories…gone.

The Newton Falls Public Library offers free computer classes and one-on-one times three Mondays and one Saturday every month. However, we understand that everyone has busy schedules. Fortunately, there are online resources available. Cynthia Casterline, our technology educator, recommended LearningExpress Library and GCFLearnFree.org.

LearningExpress Library requires that you set up an account first at a participating library (such as Newton Falls Public Library), but after that, you can access it from anywhere. Along with tutorials on everything from the very basics to Adobe Photoshop, LearningExpress Library also offers practice exams for the SAT, ACT, GED, AP tests, CDL exams, NCLEX-PN and NCLEX-RN, and many others. It also provides math and English practice and help.

GCFLearnFree.org can be accessed anywhere even if you don’t have a library card. It offers math, English, and career help as well, along with a wealth of computer tutorials on Google, Facebook, Microsoft Office, using the mouse, Skype, iPads, iPhones, and many more.

 

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

 

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The wind still whistled through the curious puppy’s floppy ears, but Doodle Dog had so much fun at the park he decided to go back again today to see what more he could find. As he made his way down the sidewalk, his little legs tilted his body slightly to the side as if automatically remembering how to curve and sway as the go-kart zipped and swerved and whipped through the blurry lines of competition. Doodle Dog almost had to convince himself he was now safe on firm ground! But as his furry paws met the solid concrete, it wasn’t long before the floppy-eared puppy found his land legs and it wasn’t long after that he found them leading him to the grassy green carpet of the park.

One of the most frequently asked questions I get at the winery is “Can you taste the difference between an expensive and inexpensive wine?” This is always a tough question to answer but usually I can tell the difference between the two wines. However there are some inexpensive wines that have really surprised me.

I have had my share of really expensive (over $50) bottles of wine that were terrible and I have had my share of inexpensive (under $8) bottles of wine that were amazing. Regardless of the price range, a lot has to do with how the wine is stored and handled before you drink it. Assuming that the bottles are both stored in the right temperatures and on their side you may be surprised how comparable the two wines are.

Another factor to look at is the type of winery the wine comes from. Some of the smaller boutique wineries may have more expensive wines because they might have smaller quantities of that wine or the wines may have been aged longer than the others. However some of the larger wineries will also offer more expensive wines based on the amount of work that goes into the grape growing process, thus making the quality of the wine much greater.

One of my favorite deals is when an expensive wine goes on sale. You do have to watch though because sometimes it means the wine is starting to go bad, however most of the time, wineries will have a sale because the next vintage is about to be released. If you are lucky, you can even buy an older vintage at a lower price and the newer vintage at its regular price so you can compare it.

Regardless of the price, you may be surprised on how good an inexpensive wine tastes. I recommend setting aside a wine budget and every once in a while try the more expensive bottle of wine.

 

 

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.

The Oxford English Dictionary has just come out with its quarterly revisions and additions.  Some nine hundred new words and phrases have now been deemed worthy to grace its pages, some of them pretty far out there.  How often do you wish to know the meaning of Empedoclean? ( Don’t go there.  It’s about some Greek philosopher dude named Empedocles who posited  the theory that all matter was made up of four elements—earth, air, fire, water—and has morphed into a new Empedoclean Evolution theory where change is caused by attraction and repulsion.  It is also connected—somehow—to a so-called Project Mayhem featuring—would I make this up?—Chaos and Pain.   Sounds attractive, eh?)

How far back can you remember into your childhood?  I’m guessing that most people can’t remember much before 4 years old.  I’ve read that approximately 4 years of age is somewhat of a threshold of actively recalled memory experiences. This is not to say that there aren’t occasional flashback experiences—dreams and visual recalls.  Some of them are often strange and seemingly unrelated to general life themes.  For example, I remember a scene in our apartment, from which we moved ‘long about 1949, wherein I wanted some more milk and my mother showing me an almost empty milk bottle saying “the rest is for your Father’s coffee”.( Yes, I’m sure we could psychoanalyze that one!!) Certainly unpleasant repressed experiences are somehow retained on an unconscious level. Pleasant things are likewise often retained as an aura or overall good feeling.   I surely can’t remember much prior to four years of age but I do have a sort of flashback memory in the context of automobiles. How odd!  Does this mean that automobiles are somehow genetically programmed into me?  If you buy Darwin’s theory of evolution (being of a scientific background I certainly do!) then it is certainly possible and more than likely so.   Hey, generations of birds seem to automatically be programmed to ….fly south, then north again, visit the same bird feeders, and eat the same things, generation after generation, right?   Without a doubt old cars are a major part of the Schweitzer lineage dating back to the beginning the automobile era and my Grandfather Charles. He would have been about 12 years old at the turn of the century—1900—and witness to the beginning of the great age of automobiles.  Yes, I know, the old nature verses nurture debate comes into play. Why me and not my sister or brother who have little interest in automobiles? I buy the genetics!

How many 401(k)s have more than $100k in them? According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), the average 401(k) balance at the end of 2012 was $63,929. Even with stocks rising last year, the average balance likely remains underwhelming.1

Is this enough money to retire on? No – and this is only part of America’s retirement dilemma. There is inequity in retirement savings – some households have steadily contributed to retirement accounts, others have not. Additionally, IRAs, 401(k)s and 403(b)s can suffer when stocks plunge, with the most invested potentially having the most to lose. 

If you are an avid reader of this column, you know that I love getting together with friends and pairing different foods and wines together. We’ve paired Halloween candy, BBQ sauces, pizzas, Girl Scout cookies and desserts. This past weekend we had a fantastic time sitting with Chef Gary from The Rolling Pig to pair wines with his gourmet dips.  

It seems that most everyone is Irish, at least on Saint Patrick’s Day. And although my family is truly Irish (just ask Grandma Flanagan!), we haven’t inherited a love of many of the Irish foods typically served this time of year. Sorry, Grandma, but cooked cabbage has been pretty much banned from our house due to its pungent aroma, and corned beef, looking all red and stringy, is just not our cup of tea either. While we do enjoy potatoes, since they’re such a menu staple, they don’t bring on the St. Patty’s Day spirit. My husband and children would be content to celebrate with Lucky Charms cereal, which is also a staple in our home (don’t judge!), but I want to go with something a little more traditional. And while Irish and Irish-for-the-day traditionally celebrate with green beer, whiskey, Baileys, or Irish coffee, I’m looking for a more family-friendly way to mark the day at home. 

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The Old Farmer says of the month of March (and I quote), “In like a sea lion, cold and wet with fishy breath. Rain to snow and snow to rain—di-si-do and back again!  This month can’t be trusted; the hinge of spring has rusted.”

There are two annual book sales at the Newton Falls Public Library, one in the spring and one in the fall. There’s also a small cart in the lobby where people can buy books year-round. All sales are put on by the Friends of the Newton Falls Public Library.

The Friends of the Library is a non-profit organization founded in 1979 dedicated to supporting the library. The money from the book sale, as well as what’s brought in from their other fundraisers, pays for supplies, prizes, and special programs during Summer Reading. The money also goes toward projects to improve the library, such as siding the garage, and all of our other speakers and programs throughout the year, including the Harvest Fest.

Along with running the book sales, the Friends also volunteer at the library and sponsor programs like the Annual Poetry and Short Prose contest. Membership is open to anyone, and those interested can pick up an application at the library’s circulation desk. The Friends of the Library are currently running a spring membership drive, and any new or renewed memberships between March 3 and May 20 will be entered into a drawing to win a Kindle Fire HD, so it’s an excellent time to join for anyone who’s interested.

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.

 

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.

 

Have you noticed? It’s getting lighter closer to breakfast and is still light out after supper! The temperatures have warmed (albeit very slowly) but you know spring is around-the-corner now that the sap buckets are hung and local breakfasts are serving hotcakes and maple syrup.

It was time to go outside – Doodle Dog was tired of being cooped up indoors! Some furry rodent had supposedly predicted that winter would be camped out for quite a while longer, but some other furry rodent claimed that wasn’t true. Doodle Dog didn’t know who to believe so the only thing he could do was go and find out for himself and see what his own floppy ears told him!

As the cold stabilization stage starts to wind down this year, I had the chance to sample some of the new wines we are going to release this year. Sampling some of the wines before they are finished is one of my favorite jobs around the winery. This sort of sampling, called barrel sampling, can really give you a great idea on how the wine is going to finish.

One of our patrons, an avid walker and biker, was making plans to spend a few weeks in late spring or early summer going around the Little Loop of the Buckeye Trail.

The Buckeye Trail winds around the interior of Ohio. It’s made up of twenty-six sections and covers around 1,444 miles altogether. The Little Loop is comprised of the Akron, Bedford, Burton, and Mogadore sections, as well as part of the Massillon section. According to a post on the www.buckeyetrail.org Trail Talk forums, the Little Loop covers 229 miles [http://buckeyetrail.org/TrailTalk/index.php?topic=439.0].

The official Buckeye Trail website, www.buckeyetrail.org, states that 93% of the Akron section, 68% of the Bedford Section, 41% of the Burton section, 32% of the Mogadore section, and 47% of the Massillon section are off-road, suggesting that they may not be ideal for biking. The Trail Talk forums confirmed our suspicions. When a member posted in the forum asking whether it’s possible to bike sections of the trail (though not the Little Loop specifically), others discouraged them. The Buckeye Trail is intended for hiking, and biking could actually damage parts of it [http://buckeyetrail.org/TrailTalk/index.php?topic=144.0].

Our patron checked out Robert J. Pond’s “Follow the Blue Blazes: A Guide to Hiking Ohio’s Buckeye Trail,” other copies of which are available through CLEVNET. For more Ohio hiking routes, Diane Stresing’s “60 Hikes Within 60 Miles, Cleveland,” Ralph Ramey’s “50 Hikes in Ohio” and “50 More Hikes in Ohio,” and “Ohio Trails and Greenways,” edited by Annemarie Kuhn, can be checked out here at Newton Falls Public Library. For bike routes specifically, “Biking Ohio’s Rail-Trails” 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.

 

Why do some people let their potential for lifetime wealth slip away? Some people are better off economically at 30 or 40 than they are at 50 or 60. In some cases, fate deals them a bad hand. In other cases, bad decisions and inaction are to blame.

They buy depreciating assets, instead of allowing assets to appreciate. In 2012, a Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances noted that only 52% of American households earn more money than they spend. They rack up debt and live on margin. What are they spending so much on? It isn’t just consumer staples – it’s not unusual for a family to “keep up with the Joneses” and buy the latest nonessential items.1

Contrary to the bumper sticker, he who dies with the most toys does not necessarily win, and he may leave a pile of debt and little savings behind. Today’s hottest cars, clothes, flat-screens, phones and tablets may be tomorrow’s discards.

They never contribute to an IRA or qualified retirement plan. For all the flak directed recently at workplace retirement plans and IRAs, they still provide a tremendous opportunity to save and invest. They are tax-advantaged, which contributes to greater compounding of the assets within them. With a Roth IRA, qualified withdrawals are tax-free for the original owner.2

They never build up an emergency fund. Financial challenges will arise, and a rainy-day fund can help you meet them. Even the wealthy need cash reserves.  Striving to save for that rainy day also helps to promote good lifelong saving habits.

They never seek to own. Who gets rich by renting? Ownership of real property or a business comes with its headaches, but it may also leave a middle class or working class individual much wealthier over time.

They invest without a strategy. Chasing the return at any cost, impulsive stock picking and market timing – these are behaviors that may lead to frustration instead of financial freedom. Clichés become clichés because they are true, and the financial cliché of “get rich slowly” has proved true for many. Instant wealth seldom comes from picking a hot stock or fund; indeed, that wealth may be fleeting. These truths don’t stop people from “putting it all on black” – hazardously assigning an excessive portion of their assets to one investment or market sector.

They accept a “forever middle class” mindset. Some people define themselves as middle class and accept that definition all their lives. The danger is that this can amount to a kind of psychological barrier, a sense that “this is it” and that “getting rich” is for others.

With all the dire articles out there about the diminishing middle class in America, the fact is that upward mobility is much more common here than in many other nations. Yet in this land of opportunity, people have some intriguing perceptions about the middle class.

Last year, the Pew Research Center conducted a poll of 2,508 American adults which had some interesting results. Only 48% of those earning at least $100,000 identified as upper class or upper-middle class. Amazingly, 6% of respondents at that income level actually felt that they were lower class or at least lower-middle class. Additionally, 18% of those with incomes from $50,000-99,000 identified themselves as lower class or lower-middle class, though 65% (correctly) believed they were middle class.3

The poll also asked how much money a family of four would need to live a middle class lifestyle. Answers to that question varied by income bracket: while the median response across the poll was a reasonable $70,000, respondents with family incomes of at least $100,000 gave a median response of $100,000, while families earning less than $30,000 said $40,000 would do.3

Behavior & belief may count as much as effort. It takes some initiative to create lifetime wealth from present-day affluence, but a person’s outlook on money (and view of the purpose of money) can influence that effort – for better or worse.

 

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:  1660 West 2nd Street, Suite 850 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 – business.time.com/2012/10/23/is-the-u-s-waging-a-war-on-savers/ [10/23/12]

2 – schwab.com/public/schwab/resource_center/expert_insight/retirement_strategies/planning/saving_for_retirement_ira_vs_401k.html [10/10/12]

3 – economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/23/who-counts-as-middle-class/ [8/23/12]

 

“Maple syrup is a unique product made in a limited part of the world, and Ohio is fortunate to be located in the heart of it,” explained Nate Bissell, owner of Bissell Maple Farm and board member of the Ohio Maple Producers Association. Bissell and his colleagues at the Ohio Maple Producers Association want you and your family to visit them to find out how they make this local treasure during the ‘Maple Madness Drive It Yourself Tour,’ which starts this weekend.

Mardi Gras, that is.  Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, beginning of the Lenten season.  Carnavale, Carnival, Carnaval, Karneval, Faschtnact/Fasching…whatever your ethnic background, if there’s a shot of Catholic in there anywhere (or even if there’s no Catholicism but a lot of fun-lovers), you may be acquainted with Mardi Gras, one way or another.

SANK!  The word is SANK!  The past  tense of “sink”  is “sank”…”sank”, not “sunk”.  “Sunk” is the perfect tense, which is either being shamefully abused or ignored most of the time by people who ought to know better.  If I have to listen to some talking head on a TV screen or hear a faux-authoritative voice on the radio tell me, “That-there ark Mr. Noah was buildin’ just up ‘n’ sunk on the way to Mt Ararat this mornin’”, I’m likely to scream…as I have been known to do upon other occasions.  Whole bunches of other words have lost any connection to their past, present and future tenses as well.  The word “might” has been kicked unceremoniously aside for the use of the word “may”.  It makes me crazy.

One of our patrons stocks several bird feeders year-round. With the cold weather we’ve been having lately, she was worried about how her birds were keeping warm. Putting “how do birds stay warm” into an online search engine showed that this is a popular concern.

Some birds will fly south for the winter, especially the species that eat insects rather than seeds. However, the ones that stick around in snowy climes have their own ways to stay cozy. Birds’ natural oils help waterproof their feathers, and some birds will grow extra feathers for the winter. Like people, they can shiver to stay warm, and they’re also known to sit in the sun when they can, sometimes spreading their wings to get as much sun as possible. When sunshine isn’t an option, they fluff up their feathers to trap pockets of air, which then serve as excellent insulation. On especially cold nights, some will enter a torpor, dramatically lowering their body temperature and heartbeat so as to conserve warmth. They may also huddle together and share heat that way.

To keep their legs warm, birds can either stand on one leg, tucking the other up under their feathers, or hunker down to keep both legs cozy. According to an article at birding.about.com, the special scales on birds’ legs also can help retain heat [http://birding.about.com/od/birdingbasics/a/howbirdskeepwarm.htm].

Bird lovers have several ways to help their feathered friends make it through the winter. Providing good winter food such as suet and black oil sunflower seeds will give birds the calories they need to stay warm. Keeping a heated birdbath will give them a reliable source of drinking water. Finally, having a clean birdhouse, roost box, or just a yard full of evergreen trees and shrubs can give birds a snug place to roost. Sally Roth’s “Attracting Birds to Your Backyard” suggests putting your old Christmas tree outside where it can serve as a shelter.
For information on building birdhouses and birdfeeders, patrons can check out some of the books we have here at the library, including Paul Meisel’s “Bird-Friendly Nest Boxes & Feeders” and Don McNeil’s “The Birdhouse Book.” For information on attracting and feeding birds, we have “North American Birdfeeder Guide” by Robert Burton and Stephen W. Kress, and “Attracting Birds to Your Backyard” by Sally Roth.

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.

One thing I have learned over the years is that wine tastes the best when shared with friends with some friendly competition. On any given Sunday night you can find us hanging out with the owners of Sharon James Cellars (11303 Kinsman Road, Novelty, Ohio – www.sharonjamescellars.com) enjoying some wine and playing a variety of board games.
Between Apples to Apples, 5 Second Rule to War, and even Go Fish, to Scrabble or Monopoly, we almost always have some type of board game going. The topics we cover in conversation, the bets we place on the next move and the laughs we have from each game make it memorable each week.

So as we were talking one night we thought why not bring this type of friendly competition to the winery. So, think your strategy is best for winning Connect Four? Or maybe your drawing skills will have you crushing the competition in Pictionary? Do you have the lucky hand at rolling Yatzee??

Then we have a fantastic event for you! Join us at Candlelight Winery for our first Game Night on Saturday, March 8th from 7-10pm! You and a team member will play a round of 3 games against other teams throughout the night. The teams with the highest scores at the end will win some fantastic prizes.

There is no charge to play but please make a reservation by calling the winery or stopping by so we can put the brackets together.

Many are the stories of family wealth lost. In the late 19th century, industrial tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt amassed the equivalent of $100 billion in today’s dollars – but when 120 of his descendants met at a family gathering in 1973, there were no millionaires among them.1
Barbara Woolworth Hutton – daughter of the founder of E.F. Hutton & Company, heiress to the Woolworth’s five-and-dime empire – inherited $900 million in inflation-adjusted dollars but passed away nearly penniless (her reputed net worth at death was $3,500).1,2
Why do stories like these happen? Why, as the Wall Street Journal notes, does an average of  70% of family wealth erode in the hands of the next generation, and an average of 90% of it in the hands of the generation thereafter? And why, as the Family Business Institute notes, do only 3% of family businesses survive past the third generation?1,3
Lost family wealth can be linked to economic, medical and psychological factors, even changes in an industry or simple fate. Yet inherited wealth may slip away due to a far less dramatic reason.
What’s more valuable, money or knowledge? Having money is one thing; knowing how to make and keep it is another. Business owners naturally value control, but at times they make the mistake of valuing it too much – being in control becomes more of a priority than sharing practical knowledge, ideas or a financial stake with the next generation. Or, maybe there simply isn’t enough time in a business owner’s 60-hour workweek to convey the know-how or determine an outcome that makes sense for two generations.  A good succession planner can help a family business deal with these concerns.
As a long-term direction is set for the family business, one should also be set for family money. Much has been written about baby boomers being on the receiving end of the greatest generational wealth transfer in history – a total of roughly $7.6 trillion, according to the Wall Street Journal – but so far, young boomers are only saving about $0.50 of each $1 they inherit. If adult children grow up with a lot of money, they may also easily slip into a habit if spending beyond their means, or acting on entrepreneurial whims without the knowledge or boots-on-the-ground business acumen of mom and dad. According to online legal service Rocket Lawyer, 41% of baby boomers (Americans now aged 50-68) have no will. Wills are a necessity, and trusts are useful as well, especially when wealth stands a chance of going to minors.1,4
Vision matters. When family members agree about the value and purpose of family wealth – what wealth means to them, what it should accomplish, how it should be maintained and grown for the future – that shared vision can be expressed in a coherent legacy plan, which can serve as a kind of compass.
After all, estate planning encompasses much more than strategies for wealth transfer, tax deferral and legal tax avoidance. It is also about conveying knowledge – and values. In the long run, nothing may help family wealth more.

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:  1660 West 2nd Street, Suite 850 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 – tinyurl.com/qblyk6v [3/8/13]
2 – investorplace.com/2013/08/woolworths-heiress-outspent-a-near-billion-dollar-fortune-died-penniless/#.Us8-D7SLXs8 [8/2/13]
3 – fa-mag.com/news/why-wealth-disappears-8227.html [9/7/11]
4 – forbes.com/sites/lawrencelight/2013/11/22/how-to-inherit-wealth-without-screwing-up/ [11/22/13]

Doodle Dog uncurled his little body and slowly stretched his legs so that they peeked out over the edge of his cozy bed, extending his paws so that they untucked from the soft blanket keeping the floppy-eared puppy, his legs and his paws quite warm and comfy. About to curl right back up again, Doodle Dog thought of all the woodland creatures who lived in the park, in the meadow and in the forest at the edge of the lake with the warm blankets of grass and flowers and leaves and thistles to keep them cozy. He wanted to keep exploring outside today, but one glance out the window (that he still thought was hung in the wrong place) and he could see the land still dressed in snowy white. Many of the other animals spent this time of year tucked in their warm homes and snoring away. They had the right idea – Doodle Dog thought hibernating sounded pretty good right about now!

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