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So…my question is, if bats (Myotis lucifugus–lucifugus means “flees the light”) are supposed to have such a great echolocation system in their little heads where they emit sounds and then decipher the rebounding sound waves to avoid obstacles and catch their dinner, why can’t they figure out the fact that my front door is wide open so they can just wing their way our instead of circling the living room one hundred an fifty-four times while I sit on the porch waiting for their exit?
Just as I had–with some trepidation–been congratulating myself at having got through the summer (Well, it is almost over) without a visitations from die fledermaus , an occurrence that has been a pretty regular thing for quite a while.

It must be me; even when I lived in a two-and-a-half room apartment, there were bats in the basement who tried to come up from the basement into the living room through a knothole in the floor (the apartment building being even older than my present residence).  The rental agent at that time was the mayor of Garrettsville and he solved the problem by nailing a tin can lid over the hole…nice decorative touch.  But, of course, they were still hanging around–literally–down there and once when I went down to see about some laundry, one of them started whizzing about  in a typically scary fashion (I think it’s scary because it’s so erratic, not because they’re actually attacking).  Anyway, I crouched down–you know how one does– and headed for the stairs to escape and ran, full tilt, into the bottom edge of the handrail with my head.  MAJOR PAIN !

The pet of the moment was a toy poodle of mixed ancestry (Mother : an indiscreet apricot toy poodle; Father : a traveling salesman with an interesting line of goods) and she sat on the floor watching as I did my piggybank imitation with a slot in the top of my head, no doubt wondering her little doggy-brain, such as it was, why I wasn’t getting up to get her a treat instead of just bleeding and whining like some sort of cat, for goodness sake !

Any way, it was a while before I got that load of unmentionables out on the line, it was pretty quiet for a while and my ventures downstairs took place mostly in the daylight.  One day though, I went down to the big deep sink to get water for something and discovered a petrified bat in a plastic bucket.  I figured he had dropped in for a drink and the sides of the bucket were too slick for him to climb out; he just croaked …unfortunate for him, fortunately for me , I hadn’t decided to fetch a bucket of water to do the floor or something ( I knew that cleaning was dangerous!  I’ve sworn off!).

So then I moved down the street into a house with a checkered past(Somebody living here had an association with Harbison-Walker, there was a ton of fire-brick allover outside and in the garage foundation), a floored but unfinished attic, a just-barely floored basement and a suspect chimney.  And guess who showed up in the dark of night–hint : it wasn’t the Welcome Wagon–to do a “Welcome to the Neighborhood” flight over the bed?  And they kept welcoming me…about once or maybe twice a summer, even as I blocked off the chimney, replaced the windows, dry-walled the attic, remodeled the house…persistent little devils.
The dog was replaced eventually by cats and they were of no particular help at all.  I think that they cornered one in the bathtub once but he escaped and took his own sweet time about leaving altogether.  In fact, I’m not sure that he left under his own power because later–never mind how much later–while vacuuming, I lifted the corner of the rug to sweep and found  that what I had thought was a missing cat toy was, in fact, a petrified bat.  Had he been hiding or been hidden for later entertainment?  The cats aren’t talking.
I  haven’t even got to the episode where the County Health–pitiful as it is–insisted that I get the standard series of rabies shots (That’s five shots in the fundament…not to  be confused with “fun”) since there had been a bat in the house.  Both Dr. Liu and I argued that it really wasn’t necessary but, when it comes right down to it, what am I going to say?  “Oh, no thanks, I’d rather get hydrophobia and die”?

Mostly, I just open the doors and wait for the little devils to flutter out (This doesn’t work so well in the winter–yes, they do show up in winter).Which, of course, means that plenty more lunchmeat on the wing drifts in from the outside for my little visitor to snack on as he swoops through the house.  I have carpet burns on my knees and elbows from crawling to the door to open it.   The cats think this is hilarious and chuckle as they join me on the front porch to wait until the swooper finally leaves.  They also take the opportunity to attempt to escape into the night themselves; they know that I’m not about to go back inside–I’m probably lucky that they don’t decide to shred the furniture.  Additionally, there’s a fishnet for last-ditch efforts to capture the little blighters if necessary, stashed next to the bed, and–if anyone did notice it–they’ve been polite enough not to ask about.  Nothing kinky, honest!
This whole, on-going drama might call to mind the last musical number in the Strauss opera : “Oh bat, Oh, bat, at last let thy victim escape!”

While this summer has not been the best summer for the vines, we are still getting ready to harvest our grapes next month. Between the wet Spring we had and minimal hot, sunny days this summer our grapes are a little behind schedule. But at least there are grapes on the vines and my pruners are being sharpened for harvest season.

As we prepare for the start of harvest season, I have received a lot of questions around if or how you make an organic wine. Organic wines have really jumped in popularity now with the “Green” movement and having people become more and more earth friendly or earth conscious. While we do everything possible to be green, unfortunately we are not set up to produce organic wines. However, there are some local wineries that are making great organic wines if you are interested in learning more about the process.
But before I discuss the wineries, let me give you some background on what it means to be an organic winery. In plainest terms, to be organic, the winery does not use chemical pesticides, herbicides, fungicides or fertilizers in the vineyard. So from the time the vines are planted to the time the grapes are harvested all natural chemicals are used to protect the vines from disease, bugs and other elements. Also, during the fermentation process, no sulfites are added to the wine and finally the bottles are rinsed with an organic cleaning solution instead of a chemical sanitizer.

As the winery relies mostly on natural fertilizers or beneficial insects to deter other bugs or birds, the manual labor of maintaining the vineyard is quite expensive. While this cost is usually passed onto the consumer, organic wines are well worth the price. I recently had a bottle of Chardonnay from Maple Ridge Vineyard in Madison, Ohio that was excellent. It was very smooth and had a wonderful butter finish. I also had the opportunity to try some of their red wine and while it wasn’t as good as the Chardonnay, I didn’t have a problem finishing the bottle.

If you are ever out in Madison, I recommend calling Maple Ridge in advance (440.829.8783) or visit their website (www.mapleridgevineyard.com) as their hours vary.  It is quite a technique and process that organic wineries go through so I am sure they would be more than willing to sit and chat with you to discuss how unique they are.

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

I could not keep back the tears last month while attending a junior doll club event with my precious granddaughter, Mattie. As I helped her to get settled at the large banquet table in what must have seemed a massive banquet room at a hotel in Beachwood, it occurred to me how blessed I am.  There we were, grandmothers with their granddaughters, mothers with their daughters and an occasional niece all brought together across the generations for the love of the hobby of doll collecting as well as the love for each other.

In a time of iPads, computers, and cell phones and such fast pace living something as simple as a doll, in this case Eloise had brought us all together and it was difficult to determine who was enjoying it more.

We all had the same interest in the story of Eloise, how she was created in the form of a book, written by Kay Thompson in 1955, while living in New York City’s Plaza Hotel. Later the illustrations of the precocious little girl were interpreted into a doll by Madame Alexander and later many other doll artists.  Seeing the dolls lined up around the room and the girls giggling with each other with the anticipation of winning one of the raffle prizes was not the most memorable moments for this seasoned doll collector. It was the sharing of this time and the passing from one generation to the next the love and passion of this most simple hobby. It was very apparent to me as I observed the girls in the room both young and young at heart that the memories we were sharing would go far beyond this day or this one event.

As so many generations before us have handed down their stories and even important historical events through much the same way of folk tales, story tellers and yes even doll collecting we were doing our share that wonderful fun filled afternoon with our precious daughters and granddaughters to promote our hobby and teach them the appreciation of the art and that the meaning goes beyond the enjoyment of the one day and any one doll.

For Mattie and myself, we look forward to many more doll events and much more sharing from Harry Potter dolls to her knew venture of collecting The Pirate’s of the Carribean dolls. I am sure all of our doll collecting friends  will also continue to look for that next doll we just have to have right along with us knowing all the while we are sharing, loving and building memories for the next generations to share with their daughters and granddaughters.

Did you know that Ohio ranks in the top 10 of wine-producing states and employs more than 4,000 people in the wine industry? Anddid you know that Ashtabula County alone is home to 20 wineries, which are visited by nearly 500,000 people annually? Even more interesting (this fact surprised me!) northeast Ohio contains over half the wine grape acreage in the state, and over 70% of the state’s 151 wineries are located in Lake, Geauga, Portage and Ashtabula counties.

So with everything that Ohio has to offer, it was really neat to hear some great news while we were at Vintage Ohio last weekend.

Representatives from Kent State University – Ashtabula Campus were on hand to make a very important announcement! Kent State has become the first university in Ohio to receive accreditation for a two year associate degree program in Enology (the study of wine and winemaking) and Viticulture (the study of vine growing and grape harvesting).

Starting this Fall, you can register to attend both online and in class courses to learn about the entire grape growing process. Through an affiliation with the Viticulture Enology Science and Technology Alliance (VESTA), these two-year programs are the first college degrees related to winemaking offered in the state of Ohio.

In a recent press release between Kent State and the Ohio Wine Producers Association, Dr. Susan Stocker, dean and chief administrative officer of Kent State Ashtabula commented “We’re very excited to provide students the opportunity to study and eventually work in this industry that is so important to our region.”

“For us it’s an economic development issue,” Stocker continued. “Having our program adjacent to the largest growing district in the state provides students with invaluable hands-on learning opportunities which will enhance their employability, both here and in wine regions across the country.”

Courses are offered both online and in the classroom, covering topics such as sensory evaluation, winery equipment operation, geography of wine and regional vineyard management. The program is designed to be convenient for both traditional and non-traditional students to earn a degree or take a few classes. Plus, students will participate in hands-on training at local wineries and vineyards, of which there are many. This is a great opportunity for Ohio and I am looking forward to checking out some of their classes.

Amanda is the Co-Owner of Candlelight Winery located at 11325 Center Street, Garrettsville. For more information on winery dogs or the winery’s anniversary, please visit www.candlelightwinery.com

Holy Schmoley!  It’s-a some kinda hot out there!  How much more of this is there going to be?  We get a sort of “teaser” when the temperature is just hot–not an inferno–and then the whole thing turns on us and you can start looking for the hinges of H-E-DOUBLE TOOTHPICKS again right across the road.  Wheww!

Leaving aside the fact that a whole lot of people don’t understand the difference between climate and weather (Weather–as I used to tell the seventh grade–is what you see out of the window or feel in your hip from an old football injury or hear on the nightly news; accuracy is not part of the equation.  Climate is   average weather over a long period…ten years, a hundred years, whatever.  Weather is directly observable phenomena–rain, wind, temperature, air pressure, tornado, sunshine, cloud cover, etc.  Climate is all about trends and “big picture” stuff.), It would seem to me to be quite clear that there is something big going on in the way of climate change; warming is only part of it.  It’s all about extremes : hottest temperatures since the 1930’s, record snowfall in Colorado, worst flooding since 1913, drought in the southeastern U.S. stretching across Texas and into the southwest, famine in the Horn of Africa,  record low temperatures and snowfall in Europe.  The permafrost is thawing, the birds come back to find that the stuff that they eat has bloomed and gone or moved north to a new habitat.  Poison ivy is flourishing, along with mosquitoes.  The “good old days” were only about eighteen months ago, weatherwise; the changes are upon us.  Batten down the hatches.

And who’s responsible for all of this…well, the biggest part anyway?  Somebody roll out the big mirror!

Sure, sure, there have always been changes in climate caused by natural and utterly uncontrollable events–Volcanoes and/or earthquakes throw millions of tons or dust and ash and who know what else into the atmosphere (causing things like “the year with no summer” in 1815 after Krakatoa blew up in what’s now Indonesia), they change landscapes too, leading to heaven-know-what other alterations; comets and asteroids and various chunks of interplanetary debris smack into us from time to time (causing mass extinction of species, not so much because they were all directly struck but because their environment was irrevocably changed; solar flares and cosmic rays probably have their effects as well…haven’t you read the Superman comic books?

But for good old rapid-fire, cataclysmic, blind, “devil take the hindmost” alteration of the earth and anything on it, you can’t beat Homo sapiens.

No sooner did we master the whole agriculture thing–“Look, I just drop these little round tings we’ve been eating into holes in the ground and wait until new plants come up    and I have more to eat!”–and the animal domestication thing–“Say, I’ll bet that  whatever it is that baby animal is getting to eat we could eat too.  C’mere, little critter.  C’mere, mama beast,” than we start changing the landscape, changing the plants and animals themselves, herding and breeding, eating and moving all over the place, shaping land, altering watercourses, saving some things, wiping out others…sort of like fire ants.

Then comes fire, the real stuff.  First thing you know we’re chowing down on roast beast, then building steam engines–time flies when you’re having fun.  Burn up those forests!  Ignite those black rocks!  Boil down those right whales!  Light up the Seneca Rock Oil!  Burn, Baby, burn!   Smoke?  Soot?  Particulate matter?  Carbon Dioxide?  Aaaah, the wind will take care of that.  Not our problem.

Well, no, not right away, but researchers studying ice cores from wherever there’s year ‘round ice find layers of the stuff, beginning around the time of the Industrial Revolution.  Dendrologists–they study trees–find signature rings in ancient trees indicating that things they are a-changin’…and not necessarily for the better.

For better or for worse–I’d put my money on “worse”–there is NO MORE earth being made, no more coal or gas or oil…or water (Trees are trying to hang on but we’re decimating forests at a great rate).  Seems to me that it behooves us to get our heads around the idea that we’ve got to stop using up every last jot and tittle of the finite resources on the planet (mountain top removal, fracking, long-line fishing, etc.) and redouble our efforts to find new, safe power sources and resources of all kinds, for all kinds of uses.  In the New Testament we learn the “the meek shall inherit the earth”; that may be because they’ll be the only ones not complaining about the shape it’s in.

Thus endeth the rant for today.

“A friend of mine died several years ago and I was trying to find the death certificate. I don’t want to have to pay for a copy; is there any way you can help me find the information?” The Newton Falls Public Library staff began the online search.
The USGenWeb Project [www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ohtrumbu/info/vital.htm] had information about how to request documents from the Warren City Health Department and Ohio Department of Health. Both these agencies charge for copies of death certificates.
We were able to do a Records Search at the Trumbull County Clerk of Courts’ site [http://clerk.co.trumbull.oh.us]. With the friend’s name inserted into General Index Search Criteria form, we were able to bring up the Coroner’s Summary of the death. Though it included a cause of death, there was not much additional information.
Through State Library of Ohio and OhioWebLibrary.org, we are now able to offer our patrons Ancestry Library Edition [www.ancestrylibrary.com] on the library’s computers. Even though this death was fairly recent, the staff decided to try to see if there was any information available at this website. We typed in his name and birth year and were very surprised to find information from the Social Security Death Index. Also attached to the name was a record for Ohio Deaths, 1908-1932, 1938-1944, and 1958-2007. This seems to contain the information which would appear on a death certificate. The information was given to our patron at no charge.

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, also visit our website at www.newtonfalls.org.

So here we are in the Fun Season…the Fair Season. Everyone comes up with a reason to promote hot grease and sno cones and enough sugar to sink the island of Puerto Rico. On any given weekend one can drive across the Buckeye State and catch a whiff of the abovementioned gastronomic outrages at nearly every turn. Garrettsville’s SummerFest, Windham’s Bicentennial, Art on the Hill, Raccoon County Anything, St. Joseph’s Ox Roast Fair–we’ve all got ‘em. And we’re not the only ones!
State fairs are renown for being in the forefront of this stuff. There are lots of fairs but the State Fair is the big Lollapalooza when it comes to culinary cuckoo bites. In many places the vendors must “try out” their offerings before a panel of tasters before they’re allowed on the midway. This year Texas and Minnesota–by ByGolly!–seem to be in the lead when it comes to the fried and furious sweepstakes. Read on :
The land of Ten Thousand Lakes, the Land of Blue-sky Waters weighs in (literally) with spaghetti and meatballs on a stick tucked in a batter-ball and deep-fried (For brevity’s sake we will henceforth refer to foods as OAS–on a stick– or DF–deep-fried, where applicable). You can also get (Ho Hum) shrimp OAS or–we’re getting global here–camel OAS. Yup. The humped ones. Of course, Minnesota always features as well a Dairy Princess sculpted in butter (She sits in a rotating freezer wearing a parka while the sculpting is being done; people watch). But there’s competition.
Texas comes out swinging with beer in pretzel dough, DF, deep-fried bacon and, for the gourmets in ten-gallon hats, chicken-fried bacon. So there!
There’s more. In Wisconsin, America’s Dairyland, you can find chocolate-covered bacon OAS (Take that, Texas!) and Irish stew in pastry. Bet there’s a butter sculpture somewhere in that crowd too. California comes through with the DF White Castle cheeseburger at the Orange County Fair and tops it in Sacramento with, of course, avocado, corn dog-style, served with either ranch dressing or an herbed-oil dressing…like…gnarly! Pickle pops are available in Kansas. Koolickles–that would be frozen Kool-Aid, OAS, DF, in many colors and flavors make an appearance in North Carolina. In Florida the retirees can feast on a milkshake burger; that’s a cheeseburger with DF ice cream. Not to be outdone, Indiana offers a hot beef sundae: marinated beef with mashed potatoes, gravy, cheese, corn, and a cherry tomato on top. Massachusetts–they’ve apparently overdosed on baked beans up there–has a jelly bean funnel cake. Arizona has probably the funkiest item out there so far–selling briskly, by the way–a caramel apple rolled in–not chopped nuts, that’s for sissies–rolled in mealworms, frozen, I think, the very same things that get fed to the birds and fishes. Tweet tweet!
And I couldn’t even find where the frozen coffee OAS or the DF Norwegian Banana Split were to be found.
Maybe it was in Montana where one can taste the ultimate : Deep-fried Butterballs.
Careful, you could wind up with too little blood in your cholesterol stream!

Recently the Boston Globe did a story titled “Mommy Juice: Pushing alcohol on stressed parents” that has started a bit of controversy. The US wine markets are starting to see an increase in new wine labels that explicitly call out “mommy” on the label. For example, I recently had the opportunity to try a California wine called MommyJuice. While the wine was quite refreshing (I tasted the Chardonnay) and was very convenient to drink (it was a screw cap), I am not sure I would buy this in the store to have at home. Sure it’s a great gift for your favorite wine and mom connoisseur, but as the article in the Boston Globe suggested, are labels such as MommyJuice going too far?I had the chance to join three other moms and sit down with a journalist from WKYC Channel 3 to discuss this new marketing approach and it was interesting to see how the terms “Mommy Juice” will impact the market. Does it promote excessive drinking? Does it encourage kids to think that wine (or other alcohol) is okay since mommy is drinking it? Obviously, in our family, drinking wine is almost a daily occurrence. Our daughters can be found at the winery working next to us, helping us and learning about the wine industry. However, they also know the negatives of drinking and how it can impact you and your loved ones. Sure, when they saw the label, they laughed at how funny it was then asked why there wasn’t a label called “Daddy’s Juice” or “Grandma’s Juice”. From talking to the other moms, I don’t see how a label that calls out moms is any different than putting a cute penguin or dog on the label and marketing to all wine drinkers. So as the battle continues over the popularity or lack of popularity with mom’s wine, I will continue to drink in moderation and drink the wines that I like – regardless of the label or suggestions from the label.
Amanda is the Co-Owner of Candlelight Winery located at 11325 Center Street, Garrettsville. For more information on winery dogs or the winery’s anniversary, please visit www.candlelightwinery.com

So…there’s this big birthday party at my house, see…first big event here since Christmas, see…significant birthday, see.  Oy, oy, oy…such a party!So, the party is to be utilizing the park-like backyard and the covered porch and the custom deck and the flagstone patio and the flood-lit arbor (I told the local photographer, Ronda Brady, that the place was “wedding ready”) that had been just waiting for  an appropriate occasion.  But, of course, the inside of the house has got to get at least “a lick and a promise” to come up to snuff in case use of ”the facilities”  came to be necessary–doesn’t it always?  Now I clean my house once a year, whether it needs it or not, but this was going to require extraordinary measures!  Things moved, things were dusted,  surfaces were shined (Some, of course, refused to do this), curtains went up, cobweb came down, spiders were displaced.  The vacuum roared and the cats disappeared. The litter boxes in the basement even got an update.And, of course, the lawn had to be mowed and the new plants had to be watered so they didn’t look like some pitiful horticultural refugees and the weeds had to be–insofar as possible–banished and the hungry caterpillars who’d taken up tented residence in the crabapple tree had to be evicted. Every plant with buds on was encouraged to flower by 7:00 on Friday.  Hop to it, little chlorophyllites! No twiddling of green thumbs here!  I was still poking little, orphan, clearance-sale annuals into their beds at 4:30.  ‘S truth!Food?  Yeah, maybe a bite or two…the usual food groups…beef, pork, chicken…potato salad, pasta salad… on real plates…desserts.  Ah, desserts….The chocolate fountain became a chocolate pond but was still pretty popular, since there were plenty of items–fruit kabobs, angel food cake, pretzels–no fingers, please!–to dip. Beverages–adult and juvenile( Doesn’t hurt to have a guest who’s a wine importer)–had their own serving stations and ice chests The birthday cake was a three-tiered extravaganza with a forest of candles ranged around atop the lower level(twenty-four inches across).  It required the services of two–count ‘em, two!–“Maidens of the Flame”  wielding mechanical torches to get these all going before the first ones lit melted to puddles or the neighbors called the fire department to put out the conflagration.  The noise pollution people were speeding toward the gathering when the singing of “Happy Birthday” ended.The attendees were a mixed bag (Not you, Sis)–an up-scale bag such as Tiffany’s, no doubt:  Family, friends, neighbors, undercover agents for the FDA, business associates, a nine-month-old, two French bulldogs, heck, may be the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were that couple sitting in the back by the serviceberry tree.  Surely their invitation made it to London in time!  It was an intimate gathering of  something over a hundred and twenty-five.  Nearest and dearest, don’t you know!  Only the immediate world.Conversations were pretty mixed too.  One local light has taken up rowing crew on the Cuyahoga River–how cool is that!  One intrepid couple came in from Michigan…presumably, they did NOT discuss football with any of the locals–they were undamaged when they left.  Youth was served by representation of the under-thirty set (and the nine-month-old) and my mom, perking along at ninety-one, held her own.  Two party-goers were going to head  off next month to see my favorite county fair( Lorain) in Wellington…something to do with cows.  Geez, I couldn’t listen in on everything…but I gave it the old school try.Now, of course, it’s clean-up time.  I don’t do clean-up well, as anyone who’s been in my house during “down time” might notice.  I tried to talk the Tooth Fairy into this gig, whisking away the unwanted, but there’s been an outbreak of  emergent incisors to deal with so that’s out.  Actually, the tables are mostly folded up, the chairs are mostly stacked, the chafing dishes are mostly clean and ready to go off to their regular storage places–not here, thank goodness–the tablecloths are washed, the re-cyclables are bagged and ready–glass, aluminum, cardboard–the cats are recovering.  Man, they were out of sight for most of that evening.  Only one of them is truly anti-social but it was a case of “too many, too much” for about a week there and they all decided to “lie doggo”, so to speak instead of complicating the festivities.  Had one of them decided to investigate the serving table, things could have gotten ugly…literally!  The enormous, full trash bags are in the garage, waiting for the next pick-up( Local critters did some sampling on the lawn before the recovery began but they haven’t been able to open the garage door.  The space smells like potato salad.  Could be worse)And you know what?  IT WASN’T EVEN MY BIRTHDAY!.

The Biggest Game in Town came up aces for virtually the entire SummerFest weekend.  The brief, scattered showers didn’t seem to have deterred any of the fun-seekers who turned out morning, noon and night to enjoy all of the available activities.The opening of the Windham St. bridge provided a venue that was not available in 2010 and the Lions, the Boosters, all kinds of folks stepped up to make their presentations.  It was also a great spot to watch the duck races on Sunday and to pick up a ride on the ChooChoo which chugged here all the way from Indiana.Anyone who went home hungry just wasn’t looking very hard.  Maple dogs made their appearance once again–tasty!  The usual lemonade shake-ups, hot dogs, deep-fried cheese–gooey– and French fries–desperately greasy, hot and deelish–funnel cakes in an explosion of powdered sugar, slushies in jewel tones of syrup competed with and were complemented by the stromboli (veggie ones, even) the Louisiana pulled pork, the jerky ,the ice cream made on the spot in giant, motor-churned freezers, the Fudgie-Wudgie table, the fine dining at the Main Street Grille and Brewing Company, the pizza, the DQ Blizzards, McDonald’s old stand-bys, hot or cold.  Miller’s early riser specials probably got a spike, maybe even the B.A. breakfast and Cal’s saw more than the usual crowd.  The place was jumpin’!…and eatin’.  And there were still –mostly younger, emptier–people in the eating contests?  You betcha!Contest, yes, there were contests.  Besides the aforementioned duck races, the more active among us could participate in the canoe races for all ages and abilities  (I drove the Press Canoe in one of those–Long Ago and Far Away).  Runners and walkers (present company excepted; I was in church reporting on the recent Big Meeting) were out on the course, picking ‘em up and putting ‘em down to support the Friends of Melana (who were also on the main concourse in town) in their drive to support research into brain cancer in children.  The James A. Garfield Marching Pride ran a local permutation of the TV game show “Deal or No Deal”…lot of audience-participation in that one.  And that’s not even counting the Big Deal contest for Garrettsville Idol or the drawing for the Chevy Cruze on Sunday night.Parades, there were parades.  Saturday’s Tractor Parade, sponsored by Century 21 Goldfire Realty, was a hoot…or a toot or a braqaaakkkk in tractor-speak.  Big ones, little ones…red ones, blue ones, gray ones, green ones, orange ones, some with virtually no paint left…shiny, new ones, a couple who fought the cow and the cow won…a couple of the really enormous ones could have been lived in by the entire population of Quattar…there were little guys sitting on their dads’ laps and waving–tickled to death, ladies who knew a thing or two about the business end of a drawbar or power take-off, Jim Turos on a high-rise…it was amazing!  Upwards of one hundred and seventy, maybe as many as two hundred tractors wheeled down the road from the high school, all the way to the light and around town to the cheers of the assembled multitudes, many with drivers or riders sporting fluorescent yellow shirts– most of these had big grins on their faces.Sunday’s Grand Parade, organized by the super-competent staff over at the Middlefield Banking Company was no slouch either (Colleen knows her stuff).  We had the Mayor and Mrs. Mayor and a passel of grandchildren riding in a carriage/wagon driven by Sam Bixler, the Younger (with Karen and Sam Bixler the Elder), displaying his offspring as well–great families, great horses. What’s not to like?Irv and Hallie Higgins, the Grand Marshals, rode in the Chevy Cruze which was this year’s raffle prize, receiving recognition from the community  they’ve done so much for…and with.  Village council members were   there in all kinds of vehicles–Steve Hadzinsky was touting JAG Appreciation from the driver’s seat in a truck.  We had the newly-married couple who had just tied  the knot on Saturday (They were probably still humming “Goin’ to the chapel, and we’re gonna get mar-a-a-ried….”).  Garrettsville Idol contestants were there, as was our Ohio State Representative, Kathleen Clyde, waving like a trouper to all constituents and supporters.   Our guardians of public health and safety, the police, fire and emergency medical forces were in the thick of it and so was public education, when the James A. Garfield transportation department, Marching Pride Band and really loud cheerleaders got into the act.  There were churches, there were businesses, there were the Masons (since1854!), ball teams, antique fire trucks, antique Roger Angel of the DQ, dancers, jeeps, an excellent excavator,  F&S Automotive with some machines that could have hauled away the north side of town on a roller skate, horses…and the indispensable clean-up crew, Tim & Roger Farris, three party buses and the party organizers, Gretchen Cram’s crew of merry maids of the Middlefield Banking Company.  Whoooeee!  That’s-a some parade!The only untoward event that I heard was of an Amish buggy horse who was not a real big fan of the amazing fireworks display on Saturday night.  Whoa, Nellie!  The first boom went off, the first multicolored shower of lights illumined the sky and it was…”I’m Outta here!”  Head for the roundhouse, Nellie, they can’t corner you there!  Well, eventually they did corner her, after only minor damages and the show had gone on anyway.
Aaron King and committee, ya done good!  What’s for next year?

We get a lot of guests that mention they suffer from bad headaches from drinking wine. And, no, I am not talking about the headache you get from drinking too much wine, but some people will get a headache a couple of hours later after drinking just a glass of wine. There are proven studies that some wines may cause headaches, however there are numerous sources that may be the cause.There is a medical syndrome called Red Wine Headaches (RWH) which a lot of people suffer from. Many people automatically assume that the headaches are caused from sulfites which are added to the wine for preservation. Unfortunately recent studies found that less than 1% of the American population is allergic to sulfites and since sulfites also exist in most white wines, sulfites are usually not the main culprit.Since sulfites do not seem to be a big issue anymore, researchers started researching other factors. In a large study of wine drinkers, researchers found that many people had headaches from drinking red wine. Research was narrowed down to focus on the tannins in red wine. Tannins are the compounds in red grape skins and seeds. However, the idea pointing to tannins was dismissed when other foods such as soy, tea and chocolate (which all contain tannins) were also studied and most people did not report getting a headache.So as the research continued, histamines were evaluated. Many older wines, wines made in the1960’s) had a higher level of histamines in the wine, however with recent technology advances, histamines levels are much lower in the wines. Some people believe that wines which  have aged for a while don’t give them headaches while others believe the younger wines are safer to drink.As researchers continue to look at different causes of the headaches they suggest you continue to try different wines to see if you can identify wines that don’t give you a headache. If you know that you are allergic to sulfites, then you know that wines that contain sulfites are not for you. However, if you do not have any known allergies, I recommend that you try a half glass of wine. If you don’t notice the start of a headache in 15 – 20 minutes, then that wine is usually safe for you to drink.
Amanda is the Co-Owner of Candlelight Winery located at 11325 Center Road, Garrettsville. For more information on events or wine lists from the winery, please visit www.candlelightwinery.com or call 330.527.4118.

Well, it hasn’t been quite like that, but close.  The rounds of graduation open houses continues apace.  What shindigs!

Back when I graduated (There was parking for the dinosaurs out back of the barn and we had to rub sticks together to cook the roast beast.), it was pretty much a given that if you had an open house to celebrate your graduation, it would be held shortly after the ceremony, after you had got out from the auditorium with your robe and funny hat (I don’t recall anyone throwing them either) and headed on home to where the relatives had set up the punch bowl and put out the sandwiches and cut the cake (decorated in school or class colors–ours were maroon and white/ turquoise and black…now there’s a combo).  Graduates generally had to forego attending each other’s fetes to stay at home and murmur thanks for gifts and talk to Aunt Faye about college plans or what was up with the local news.  Besides, who had cars of their own to gallivanting off to eat somebody else’s sandwiches and cake?  We ate that stuff for weeks afterwards. I do seem to remember trays of nut bread and punch…maybe mints and/or nuts…but it was all pretty sedate.

Boy , is that ever OVER!  I quite sympathize with anyone who rents a hall to host the festivities.  The very thought of trying to clean and cook and communicate in a civil fashion with the people wandering in and out of the house during the weeks and days and hours before graduation gives me the willies.  Besides, having an indoor venue means that one does not have to be quite so obsessive about checking (and occasionally cursing) the weather person.  This can, of course, be done at home but when one has to seriously consider icing down the cat dishes for stashing chilled beverages or setting up chips & dips on the ironing board (It’s an antique!), it means that you either have too many friends (NEVER) or a too-small house to consider a plus-size party for this occasion.  And you don’t have to mow the lawn (Who’s been able to count on doing that , with the weather we’ve been having?) if somebody else will be taking care of that…and the parking is not your problem.

So, lately, the thing has been to go with a theme…something beyond “Thank God she made it out!” or “My bankroll can’t take much more of this–and there’s college yet to go!”  One very pleasant tropical-themed one recently introduced me to lychee fruit, of which I had read/heard but never tasted .  These are tropical/subtropical fruits (the only member of its particular genus of the soapberry family…doesn’t sound promising, does it?) that made it into the Charlie Chan movies because they began to be cultivated in China somewhere around 2000 B.C.  What are called “lychee nuts” are really just the dried fruit rinds that are red and kind of bumpy.  The actual fruit is sort of translucent, sweet and slippery–an odd sensation to say the least–that’s been removed from the rind, looks a bit like scallops in a bowl–totally different taste and texture.  Anyway, the funny little guys fitted right into the whole party, with the pool open and the sun shining and the water splashing and the locals coming and going in their native costumes.

There is, of course, plenty of down-home, y’all come entertaining out there as well.  I requested a recipe for one humungous salad-type dish that had–I inspected it closely–beans, corn, black olives, bacon, sour cream, cornbread, I think, and salsa or plain tomatoes, I’m not sure which.  Tasty stuff and a nice contrast to the peanut butter-chocolate fudge bar found at another location.  You’ll notice that I was grazing my way through these gatherings, trying to pace myself and not O-D one any one particular culinary offering.  It’s one of the hazards of the season.  This is all on top of the southern barbeque and Greek delicacies featured last week.  So far no one has thought to go for an Alaskan Cruise or North Pole Party…probably has something to do with the shortage of whale blubber or seal steaks in the local IGA…walrus liver too, I’ll bet.

Anyway, more power to ‘em, I say.   There is still one question that I have about such gatherings.  If it’s an “open house” why are the initials R.S.V.P. (Respondez S’il Vous Plait–Reply, If You Please) on the invitation?  Is this a ploy to keep out the riff-raff so that not every one within the immediate area doesn’t show up looking for dinner–or at least a hefty snack?  Is it a heads-up to the party-throwers to order up another vat full of jo-jos?  Is the house open or not?   Do we attendees have to have the secret password in order to sneak a peek at the living room or the downstairs bathroom?  Whatever.  I get to as many as I can to wave goodbye as the train pulls out of the station headed for a new leg of life’s journey.


Bon Voyage!



A very frustrated patron approached the Newton Falls Public Library staff, saying “I’m trying to register for unemployment and the site is saying I already have an account. I don’t remember doing this.” Unfortunately, at that time, the staff members were not able to resolve the situation, and he went home planning to phone the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services (JFS).

While attending a Project Compass workshop, a staff member learned what may have caused this problem. When a client registers by phone with JFS an account is created. A selection may be made to access that account by mail and phone and/or online. If the former option is the one chosen, the account cannot be accessed through the Internet and the client will need to phone JFS.

The library has numerous books to assist job hunters including Guide to Internet Job Searching by Margaret Riley Dikel and Frances E. Roehm, Expert Resumes for People Returning to Work by Wendy S. Enelow and Louise M. Kursmark, and You’re Hired!: secrets to successful job interviews by Sharon McDonnell.  Excellent free online resources are Ohio One Stop [www.onestopohio.org], Ohio Means Jobs [https://ohiomeansjobs.com] and the Job & Career Accelerator at the Learning Express Library where more than five million up-to-the-minute local and national job postings can be found.  The Accelerator can be accessed by going to www.OhioWebLibrary.org, and selecting A+ LearningExpress. It is necessary to register as a user to access the information.

Later in the year, the library will also be offering Make It Work: job hunting, networking, & resumes. The program is for those still looking for a job or wishing to find a different one and includes how to network, job seek, and write a resume that will get you noticed.  The final session is a basic Word class that teaches how to create a resume using Word and is especially useful for those responding to those employers who wish to have resumes emailed. Anyone who is interested is asked to contact the library, leaving your name and contact information.

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, also visit our website at www.newtonfalls.org.


Red? White? Dry? Sweet? Sparkling? Fruit? Have you ever been to a wine tasting and faced with all of these choices and not know where to start? Well before you head out to your next wine tasting, let me provide some guidance.

Depending on which wine magazine you read, which web site you look up, and which winery you visit, you may hear a variety of “proper” ways to taste wine. I don’t recall ever seeing the “official” order of tasting wine so here is my “preferred” way of tasting wine:

White (start with the driest wine you like and work towards the sweeter white wine)

Red (again start with the driest working your way to the sweetest)

Blush (if you are offered multiple blush wines be sure to ask which of the wines is drier)

Fruit (start with a white fruit wine such as Peach before trying a red wine such as Cherry)

Sparkling/Champagne (many people prefer to start with a Sparkling wine but I love to enjoy sparkling wine at the end of a tasting)

If you are not a fan of one of the wine categories, feel free to skip that portion of the wine tasting. However, I highly encourage you to at least sample a few to see how your taste buds change throughout the tasting.

Now you may be asking why do you taste in this order? The main reason is so you don’t overwhelm your tastebuds with the sweetness and eventually “tainting” the drier wines. Have you ever walked into your favorite restaurant and ordered dessert first, then tried the baked potato and finally the steak? While it may be a lot of fun to eat that way, by the time you get to the steak, it just doesn’t taste the same. Your taste buds have gone into sensory overload.

If you are not sure how dry or sweet the wine is, don’t hesitate to ask, it’s an important question to know the answer.  Also, please note that if you are tasting wines at an Ohio winery or wine retailer, it is state law that you pay for the samples so call ahead and find out what the sampling fee is.

Now that you know how to sample wines, be sure to check out some of the wineries in the area and local wine festivals to put your new knowledge to work!

Amanda is the Co-Owner of Candlelight Winery located at 11325 Center Road, Garrettsville. For more information on events or wine lists from the winery, please visit www.candlelightwinery.com or call 330.527.4118.

“I have this shrub growing in my garden,” said the Newton Falls Public Library patron, as she showed a small branch to the library staff member. “Can you help me figure out what it is?” The branch had small white flowers, about an inch long, growing in pairs from a single stalk. The leaves were opposite of each other, rather than alternating.The library has numerous books about trees, shrubs, and wildflowers, but sometimes using the Internet can be easier for trying to identify things.  We Google searched the terms “shrub paired white flowers opposite leaves” to see what sites were suggested. The first site was thefreedictionary.com with the definition of honeysuckle. We also tried limiting the search to images, to see if any of the photographs matched our patron’s plant.Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission’s website [http://www.glifwc.org/invasives/Lonicera_spp/nat_hist.html] has a section on Eurasian Bush Honeysuckles. From the descriptions of the various honeysuckles, it appears that our patron has either a Morrow or Amur bush growing in her garden. North Carolina Wildflowers by Jeffrey S. Pippen [www.duke.edu/~jspippen/plants/lonicera.htm] has a photograph of the Amur, which are described as having leaves with a “drip tip.” The one belonging to our patron has a more gradually decreasing tip. The Winter Honeysuckle on this page also looks similar, but the leaves are more rounded. The Ohio Department of Natural resources website [www.ohiodnr.com/dnap/invasive/1amurhoneysuck/tabid/1996/Default.aspx] has photographs and a factsheet about the Amur, Morrow & Tatarian Honeysuckle. The photograph and description confirm that our patron’s shrub is a Morrow.
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, also visit our website at www.newtonfalls.org.

We think that the second dove has not returned to the boat (Genesis 8:6-14) so we might be able to begin thinking about returning to what passes for normal around here.Normal  is  a pretty flexible term.  It included the annual academic awards program, recognizing just rafts of outstanding individuals, many of the usual suspects who’ve been raising the bar in accomplishment from the very beginnings of their high school careers, and some surprises, people who found one specific class or area where they could take their first real step into the spotlight of achievement.  As they say “Down Under”, “Good on ya.”The Seniors of the Year–Emily Hartman and Josh Lawrence–were unveiled,  top ten students introduced, departmental honors awarded, scholarships announced; there was recognition galore!  Solemnity and loss shadowed the presentation of the Logan Sanders Memorial Scholarship, given in memory of a much-missed recent graduate.  Coach John Bennett, who made the presentation, urged all in attendance to actually talk to each other more without the filter of electronics and with the awareness of the precious connections we all have and need.  A near-tornado raged outside and rain could be heard on the roof; administrators quietly checked on shelter areas; lights flickered but by the time the ceremony came to an end, the weather was in remission and everyone made it home safely.With the sun finally making some of its scheduled appearances, a number of other things began showing up as well.  The first Cruise Night–opening the line-up of special events for the summer–took place on Main St. on Saturday evening.  Attendees ranged from very small children and  dogs who were there strictly  because somebody else brought them, to major motorheads who admired the deeply-shining paint jobs, the amazing chrome and the attention to detail in many of the restorations.  I loved the rumble seats.  I seem to remember that somewhere in my ill-spent youth, my aunts had a runabout of some sort (Was it a Model A?  I know that later we had a Model A truck…of which more some other time) with one of those accommodations–too cool!  Almost as much fun as getting to ride on the –very high up–backs of Grandpa’s draft horses(Dick and Betty) coming in from working in the fields and heading for the water trough.  Anyway, Jerry and the band were parked opposite High St. and alternated toe-tapping tunes with giveaways and promotions for the strolling crowds.  The new tables down at the Main Street Grille and Brewing Company seemed to be popular.  It was a nice evening to be out and plenty were.Weeds have fared rather better than purposely-planted green stuff.  I figure that if it has a taproot that goes straight down and turns left at China (rather like a wisdom tooth that I had “Duke“ Pesicek remove from my jaw many moons ago), it’s probably a weed.  All of the more desirable greenery seems to be more delicate, with a tendency toward having a fit of the vapors when it’s too cold or too hot or too…something.  The weedy guys often have other undesirable characteristics as well : they’re smelly or they’re scratchy or they’re sprawly or they spread like wildfire and choke out the wimpy hybrid types that are not ready to duke it out for control of the perennial border space.  Anything green around here better be prepared to take on all comers for territory–survival of the fittest!  I will only give aid-and-comfort to the shy little woodland sorts that are used to hiding under big leaves and bigger trees.  Those appear to be hanging on O.K. and even popping up in some places where I had not expected them to get a toehold.  Still need some more hostas  to stick in blank spots but those are nearly always available…hardy too, the ones planted last year have all survived, even in inhospitable territory.Along with the greenery, the insects seem to have been revived, especially the mosquitoes.  Luckily, we do not usually harbor the really mean ones like the Aedes aegypti that spreads yellow fever, although in the early days that disease truly was a menace, ditto for the Anopheles, which spreads malaria.  Pioneers had those hazards to contend with that we never give a thought to.  Anyway, sitting on the back porch is going to be much more enjoyable once I lay in a supply of OFF or citronella candles.  Most of the critters that I’ve seen so far have been big enough to spot from across the street, so maybe I’ll just go after them with a baseball bat.  If mosquitos are here ,can Junebugs…cicadas…ants…etc. be far behind?  Something to look forward to.

I am so excited that we have had a few days of sunshine and are finally starting to see the vineyard dry out. And I am even more excited that the official start to summer is right around the corner – and that means one thing to me! The Annual Summer Solstice, Wine, Art and Blues Festival is almost here!Sarah’s Vineyard Winery and Art Gallery in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio will be hosting the 9th Annual Summer Solstice, Wine, Art and Blues Festival from June 17 – 19th. Located directly across from Blossom Music Center at 1204 W. Steels Corners Road, nestled in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park , Sarah’s Winery offers a relaxing atmosphere and for this festival, there’s a great selection of wine, artists, food and music. Admission is only $8/person each day which gives you a Sarah’s Vineyard wine glass and the opportunity to browse and shop with artists who will be displaying jewelry, pottery, prints, handmade tiles, handmade soaps, stained glass, metal working, wine accessories, watercolors, candles, soaps, wood carvings, fiber artists, nursery plants, floral wreaths and photography (wine and food are not included). If you come out for the wine sampling, you will be able to enjoy some great Ohio wines including: Breitenbach Winery, Candlelight Winery, Klingshirn Winery, Viking Vineyards & Winery, Maize Valley Winery, The Winery at Wolf Creek, Troutman Vineyards, Mastropietro Winery, Red Horse Winery, Stoney Ridge Winery and Sarah’s Vineyard. If you are looking for something fun to do for Father’s Day Weekend, here is the full festival schedule.Friday, June 17th (4 pm – 10 pm): Admission includes a Sarah’s Vineyard Crystal Wine Glass and Music by The Jeff Poulis Blues Revue (4pm-6pm) and The Howard Street Band (7-10pm).Saturday, June 18th (12 pm – 10pm): Admission includes a Sarah’s Vineyard Crystal Wine Glass, and Music by The Steve Cipriano Band (12pm-2pm), The Mike Lenz Band (3pm – 6pm) and The Bluestones Band (7pm-10pm).Sunday, June 19th (12pm-6pm): Admission includes a Sarah’s Vineyard wine glass and Music by Alan Greene Band (11am-2pm), and Frankie Starr (3pm-6pm).This is a great festival and every year we have a great time so be sure to stop at our booth to say hi!
Amanda is the Co-Owner of Candlelight Winery located at 11325 Center Road, Garrettsville. For more information on events or wine lists from the winery, please visit www.candlelightwinery.com or call 330.527.4118.

“Is there a reason why there is a specific finger for engagement and wedding rings?” asked the patron, who assured us that he had no immediate plans. The Newton Falls Public Library staff is aware of the custom of wearing these rings on the next to last finger of the left hand, but never considered the reason behind it.Knowing that the library has an extensive collection of materials for wedding planning, the staff began with a book having the definitive title of The Official Know-It-All’s Wedding Planner: your absolute, quintessential, all you wanted to know, complete guide by Edith Gilbert. The book lived up to its title with the information in Appendix A: Wedding Customs. This chapter covered both The Evolution of Wedding Customs and Wedding Customs. According to Gilbert’s book, giving a ring dates back to the Old Testament when it was a sign that an important or sacred agreement had been sealed. Later, the ancient Greeks gave betrothal rings.The section on wedding rings states that the wearing of them evolved from engagement rings and the earliest record of wedding ring symbolism was in an Egyptian hieroglyphic, a circle representing eternity. Use by Christians can be traced back to 860 AD. “The custom of wearing it on the third finger of the left hand grew from the belief that this finger connected directly to the heart via the vena amoris, or ‘vein of love.’ (p. 263)” Though we most often see the ring worn on this finger, throughout history wedding rings have been worn on both hands, such as the Elizabethans’ practice of wearing on the thumb and the Jewish tradition of placing it on the first finger of the left hand.For more information about weddings, or for answers to other 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, also visit our website at www.newtonfalls.org.

O.K.  So I want to invite everyone to the second annual M-O-M / T-A-T (Machine -O-Mania / Touch-A-Truck) coming up–rain or shine– on Sunday, May 22 from 10:00 to 2:00 at J. A. Garfield H.S.; admission: adults–$5.00, kids–$3.00. It’s a fund-raiser for the Garfield Academic Challenge team, the QuizMasters, and gives kids of all ages a chance to see fire trucks and eighteen-wheelers and the dragster, Time Bandit, bucket lifts, the Portage County Emergency Management Mobile Command Center–giant wheels and engines of many kinds and colors.  There will be sirens and bells and noise…what’s not to enjoy?  Make it your finale for the big community-wide yard/garage sale this weekend.So you’re invited.  You should come…provided Sunday actually comes, that is.See, there is a group of people, a sort of amorphous group, actually, which believes that there will be no Sunday…or at least not one that most of us would choose to experience.  Their belief is that on May 21 will come the beginning of the end, terrible earthquakes and all the attendant death and destruction, the beginning of “the Rapture” wherein    the saved will be taken up into heaven while the ones “Left Behind” (Remind you of a fictional series?  A movie?) suffer unimaginable pain and torture until THE END–really, of the whole thing–comes on October 21.  Oh, and Jesus will return in 2050.All pretty scary stuff.  It’s pretty largely based on the pronouncements of one Harold Camping, who claims to have unlocked the Biblical code which describes all of this ( Of course, using the proper code, one could probably prove that Queen Victoria was Lady Gaga’s grandma and Newt Gingerich is the Great Satan  Oh wait, that one’s true).  Now I’m sure Mr. Camping is earnest in his intent and beliefs but he has been wrong before.  He previously announced that the world would end on September 6, 1994; his research was incomplete, he now says.Of course, the end of the world has been predicted before.  Quite a few individuals have pointed out that the Mayan calendar (which was better than anything your ancestors or mine had at the time) ends with 2012  In 1844, the Millerites sold their goods, donned white robes and gathered on hilltops on October 22 to await the end.  Since you’re reading this now, you can see why it was known as “The Great Disappointment.” Charles Taze Russell, founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses predicted the end in 1914.  In 1925, a Margaret Rowan claimed that the Angel Gabriel had set the date for February of that year.  Disappointment again.     Now since the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, many feel that the signs pointing to the “end of times” are being made manifest right and left–wars, rumors of wars, destruction of all kinds–earthquakes, floods, etc.  But there are some free-lancers out there, like a certain Dorothy Martin whose contact with extraterrestrials led her to announce that the east coast, England and France would be swept away, believers would be transported and the planet was doomed.  In 1997  the Comet Hale-Bopp prompted some mass suicides by persons believing that a spaceship shadowing the heavenly visitor would take them all away while the planet was being cleansed and rejuvenated.  The Church of Subgenius–headquartered in Cleveland, OH, can–for $30–give you permission to live forever, no matter what.Dr. Jimmy DeYoung of “Prophecy Today” and a Rev. David Jeremiah, presumably with a connection to Family Radio Worldwide where evangelist Camping holds sway, are both on board with this and are probably out there right now running up their credit card bills since they will never have to p[ay them off.Anyway, the Bible says that the saved will be twelve thousand from each of the twelve tribes of Israel.  That’s one hundred forty-four thousand, right?  There are already more Jehovah’s Witnesses than that.  Is there going to be a Great Duking It Out to see who’s really on the passenger list?  This could get ugly.And besides, Jesus said that no man would know the day or hour…of the end and the return.  They’re going to argue with Jesus???So Happy Birthday, Mom.  If the card doesn’t get there, you’ll know why.

I know I have said this in past articles this Spring, but this rain really needs to stop. While some rain is good for new vines, it is definitely not healthy for mature vines. Unfortunately this much rain is not good for any age vine. As most farmers will tell you, they have learned to deal with Mother Nature’s wrath and we will bounce back from this weather, we just don’t know when. But after looking through our past weather tracking documents we are starting to see some similarities between Spring 2011 and Spring 2008.The Spring and Summer of 2007 was amazing! Warm temperatures, little rain and lots of sunshine, very similar to Summer of 2010. Unfortunately Spring of 2008 was filled with cooler temperatures, increase in rain fall and the amount of rain we received in some of the spring storms really caused some challenges for the 2008 production. Amazing how much that sounds like Spring of 2011 already!Grapes grow the best when they are slightly stressed searching for water and cooler temperatures. The amount of sunlight allows the grapes to produce higher levels of sugar in the grape clusters. So, given the limited amount of sunlight and the excessive rain we have experienced, we are at a greater risk for disease in the grapevines.  I wrote about dealing with Black Rot a couple of weeks ago and how to prevent it, so if you are seeing some problems with your vines, let me know and I will be happy to share that article with you again. We have been combating this problem with a spray program that has been more frequent than last year due to current conditions. While I do not mind the cooler temperatures, it has been perfect weather for the bugs to come out and weeds to grow around the base of the vines.  We’ve already sprayed for ants who like to eat the baby grapes currently growing on the vines. The next pest we expect to see are the Japanese beetles who love to eat grape leaves.  We have also started spraying for diseases that love high humidity, such as powdery mildew, in preparation for a hotter summer.  Also another threat we are starting to watch is the invasion of the Asian lady beetles (similar to the ladybug), but they will not make an appearance till later in the year. While we followed this program in 2008, we also saw a very hot end to the summer of that year and ended up with an amazing harvest. So as we continue to spray for diseases, bugs and weeds, we are monitoring the vineyard to maintain great quality grapes and look forward to find out what the 2011 harvest will bring us.
Amanda is the Co-Owner of Candlelight Winery located at 11325 Center Road, Garrettsville. For more information on events or wine lists from the winery, please visit www.candlelightwinery.com or call 330.527.4118.

Rows and rows of brilliantly colored flowers lined the sidewalk as Doodle Dog scampered through town, each stem straight and proud like vibrant guards standing at attention during a parade. Each blossom turned toward the sunlight, the painted petals brightening like a sea of miniature Easter hats. He bounded from one neighborhood to the next, weaving between houses, fields and gardens until he finally made it to his destination. There, just up ahead over the hill, Doodle Dog knew would be his favorite place on his walk.

The park at the edge of town was usually filled with people but somehow still remained a quiet and peaceful nook when Doodle Dog needed a spot to think the day away among the rush of everyday life. And when he needed a friend or two with lots of energy who could keep up with him, running around and around in circles until they were dizzy enough to fall to the ground, well, the park was also sure to be just right for that too. The perfect mix, in a little floppy-eared puppy’s humble opinion, of the best way to spend any normal day. But today it was not a normal day; it was very special, in fact.

Hearing the excited giggles of children and the matching yips and barks of their dogs, Doodle Dog grew more excited as he came to the top of the small hill. From his perch on the grassy knoll he could now see what he’d only known by sound before: in the very center of the park, on the flattest part of the meadow, had been placed a GIANT pole with a decorative ball on top. The topper looked to be about the size of a basketball from Doodle Dog’s distance so he knew it must be much bigger up close! Hanging from the glistening ball were dozens of long, colorful ribbons whipping cheerfully as a quick wind suddenly caught them up. As the gust settled, the streamers fluttered against each other, a blend of light shades and bright hues as varied as the petals on the flowers Doodle Dog had seen on his way.

In a large circle around the maypole, several children had gathered, patiently or not-so-patiently waiting for when they would be told it was time for the festivities to begin. Next to each child was a cat or a dog sitting obediently or not-so-obediently, one furry friend for each two-legged companion. Half of the bright, shiny streamers had a child in front of it; the other strips were meant for the pets. There was one ribbon with no one near – a beautiful bright green sliver of silk that sparkled as though it was covered in glitter. That one was meant for Doodle Dog! He made his way over and took his place, catching the end in his mouth as it flipped in the wind, and grasped it tightly in his teeth. He didn’t want it to fly away as the procession was about to begin! All the other children and their pets picked up their ribbons too, some with pink or purple, some with yellow and blue. A few even had green ones like Doodle Dog.

A tall woman with flowers in her hair swayed back and forth in a flowing dress that seemed to dance in the wind like the ribbons had done. She clapped her hands and a man standing next to her began to play a melody on a tiny flute. The tune wafted over the wind and seemed to float under the ribbons right along with the breeze. It was time for the dance!

Doodle Dog lifted his head up proudly and followed the steps he had practiced, weaving in and out, in and out between the children and their four-legged escorts. As the song continued on, its notes melting with the gentle whisperings of the wind, the children and the animals continued as well, their ribbons melting together into one beautiful pattern, their delighted shrieks and purrs and grrrs adding to the sweet sounds on the air. What a wonderful way to welcome in Spring!

Doodle Dog was enjoying working together with his neighborhood pals, as it was certainly taking all of them to complete the design. Each of them had a role to play, and Doodle Dog was excited to be a part of it! He danced along and pranced under this streamer and over that one, humming along to the song as he went. But suddenly he could go no further! Uh oh! Had he run out of ribbon? He tugged on his strip to see… No, he still had plenty left to go around the pole a few more times… He looked behind him to find a little girl had gone over when she should have gone under and had managed to wrap her streamer around his tail! That’s why he couldn’t move. Oops! The little girl giggled sweetly as Doodle Dog unwound and unwound himself, around and around himself he went, her ribbon untangling with each turn. No worries, let the fun continue! Doodle Dog thought. And so, with the tiniest of hiccups behind them, it very much did!


“I’m having a problem with my cable company and can’t resolve the issue. I was told to contact my local franchise authority, but I can’t seem to locate a contact number. Can you help me?” Many of the Newton Falls Public Library staff also have cable service and were curious to see what could be found to assist this consumer.

Doing an Internet search of “local franchise authority cable Ohio” brought up the link [www.szd.com/media/news/media.1194.pdf] to the article Local Franchising of Cable Television in Ohio: A Review of SB 117 by Greg Dunn, Attorney, Schottenstein, Zox & Dunn. In the article it states “In the future, cable franchising in Ohio will be referred to as video service authorization (VSA). The Ohio Department of Commerce will ultimately handle all of the cable television licenses (i.e. franchises) in Ohio.”

Taking this information, we searched Ohio.gov and found www.com.ohio.gov/admn/vsa. The page about Video Service Regulation includes links to the article Consumer Service Standards and File a Complaint. The latter link was for the flyer, The Cable Consumer Hotline [www.com.ohio.gov/admn/docs/admn_Cablehotlinecomplaint.pdf]. This had the information our patron needed for contacting someone about her problem.

• “Call toll free (800) 686-7826, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. (The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) Call Center will answer your call and pass the information along to the Department of Commerce.) (TTY/TDD: 1-800-750-0750)

• Fax a copy of the completed complaint form to (614) 644-1469.

• Email the completed complaint form to VSA@com.state.oh.us.

• Mail the completed complaint form to: Ohio Department of Commerce,  Attn: Video Service Section, 77 S. High Street, 23rd Floor, Columbus, Ohio 43215

A copy of the complaint form is available at:http://www.com.ohio.gov/admn/vsa/complaint.aspx”

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 library programs or hours, also visit our website at www.newtonfalls.org.


“Rain, rain, go away…”  If only a simple song could get rid of this rain, my job would be so much easier.  Unfortunately, the vineyard is starting to see some problems with all of this rain.

As I mentioned in last week’s article we are getting ready to plant more grapevines at the winery. The posts are in, the trellis is in place and the grow tubes have all been put together. Due to the amount of rain we’ve had, digging a hole for the vines has proven to be very difficult. If I were digging holes to make mud pies, I would have a very successful business this year!

As for the vines that have been in the ground for a while now, they are surviving the rain for now. By now, we are usually starting to see bud break and some growth in the vineyard. But for that to happen, we need some sunshine to offset the amount of rain. This delay in bud break isn’t too harmful to the vine but the longer we go without bud break, the greater the risk is for a shorter growing season.

Also, another concern we will start to monitor once the rain stops is the chance for diseases to hit the winery. A common disease that will hit most of the wineries this year will be Black Rot, which will infect the leaves, young canes and the grapes. Any standing water around the base of the vines can accumulate a number of molds and diseases which can either slow any growth down, impact the taste of the wines or, in severe cases, could kill a vine.

Identifying the possibility of black rot is key in preventing it from attacking the vineyard. A combination of a fungicide and pesticide spray schedule will minimize the spread of black rot and other diseases. However, we will also be walking through the vineyard a number of times a week to see if any of the young canes are impacted. If a cane does become diseased we will remove that cane to stop the spread through the rest of the vine.

So while we are very busy around the vineyard dealing with the rain, I guess it could have been worse – this could have been snow!

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


You missed it!  You missed the LAF/SOMe bus trip to the Dunham Tavern Museum and the West Side Market.  What a hoot!

The museum was neat; it’s an oasis of green on concrete and steel Euclid Ave. With the main building, a reconstructed log cabin, a barn suitable for larger group activities and actual garden space out back and at the side, it’s an anomaly in the area and a welcome one.  The docents knew their stuff and were able to impart considerable information about early Cleveland.  The furnishings depicted a simpler, smaller, time(The beds and chairs were shorter, narrower, harder than anything we’d put up with now…or fit into.).

Then it was off into the bowels of Cleveland, through the Euclid Renewal Project, past Playhouse Square and the Soldiers and Sailors Monument and the big sports venues, across big bridges.  And there we were!

My Grandpa Walker used to get up at 2:30 a.m. to deliver fresh produce (from then-bucolic Avon and/or Avon Lake which are now both suburban, with a capital URBAN) to the West Side Market and I venture to guess that, whatever has happened to suppliers, the market itself is very much the same.

The variety of goods on offer is simply staggering.  The produce venue is not completely outside, although when the weather gets better(How long, O Lord, how long?) some vendors may well be in the fresh air and on the ground.  For now, they’re kind of chilly but under cover on raised areas on either side of the walkway.  Samples and prices are offered–One dollar a basket!  One dollar a basket!  You wanna try?  Here , lemme show you!–for all kinds of things, fruits, vegetables, nuts, flowers, you name it.  The signage was amazing!  Some of the most amazing and creative spelling that I’ve ever seen…and reading seventh grade papers all those years, I’ve seen plenty…to wit :Rhubbarb, Tangerins, Mutzu, Baking Pottoes (Those are the simple ones), Brusselle Sprouts, Koussa Squash (Is that misspelled or just one I don’t know?), Aspargus, Gaurenteed, and my favorite, Golden Deliciled.  Speaking of which, if you run across a new variety of apple called Pinata, give it a try, very tasty, much like Honey Crisp.

So then go inside, where you can get the protein quartet–meat milk, fish ,eggs– in a multitude of forms,  bakery goods unlimited, beverages in bottles Coke never dreamed of (nor the ingredients, either, for that matter; there was one that had basil seeds with honey), ethnic eats from at least four continents…maybe five (I wasn’t really counting on Antarctica to come up with much), sauces, condiments (How about some Liquid Stoopid? That’s a hot sauce, as are Toad Sweat and Asbirin.  Maybe you’d prefer Saffron Threads or Ground Noni?  Saffron, I know is crocus pollen, but Noni?  Got me.); one stand specialized in nothing but extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and balsamic vinegar.

Hungry?  Lay your lip on bratwurst with sauerkraut, fresh-sliced gyro meat on a warm pita with tzaziki sauce, chicken satee, a Cornish pasty (pronounced PAST ee) or a pasty of some other nationality if you prefer.  Have a Fern Cake, a Lady Lock (I have fond memories of those from the Kaase’s Bakery, puff pastry baked in a hollow cone shape and filled with ooey-gooey, marshmallow-y cream filling.  Mmmm! The lady locks here just about equal the ones in my memory–a pretty tall order. Wash it all down with Lemonata, San Pelligrino or Aranciatta .  Or you could simply hit the café’, where the selection was good and the service remarkably fast, considering the crowd.

Looking for something to take home?  How about a jar of guava paste for your Central American treats?  How many kinds of rye bread can you carry?  One sign said, “Mossman tried the best cannoli in town, you should to [sic]” I don’t know who Mossman is but the cannoli looked pretty good , especially the Triple Moose ones There was also Ping Pao–whatever that is–available to go.

You want to cook it yourself?  Fine.  Hit the fish market.  Plenty of fresh stuff there…if you don’t mind your dinner looking back at you.  The butcher shops have everything from backs, necks and gizzards to tripe, hocks and trotters, ribs and drumettes through lamb shanks, young goat shoulder and ground chicken thighs.  I saw one gentleman toting home several pounds of peeled chicken feet.  I resisted the urge to ask just what one does with peeled chicken feet…wish I hadn’t, you never know when that information might be useful..not likely at my house, I’m just sayin’….

Interesting day.  Interesting place. About the most fun you can have with your clothes on. . Watch for the next adventure.


The month of March certainly has made statement so far – snow, ice, rain, sun; the weather sure has been difficult to handle. However now that Spring is here, I am hopeful that the worst is behind us. Unfortunately, some of us have already had to deal with some difficult times and from talking to a few guests at the winery, it sounds like some of your wine cellars are having a tough month too.
In the recent weeks I have taken a number of calls and sat with a number of guests that were saddened when their basements flooded earlier this month. I can sympathize with their turmoil during the flood… A number of years ago when we were living in Cuyahoga Falls, our basement (and first wine making lab) was victim to a flood. The water was about 3 feet deep in the basement and we had many cases of wine sitting in the basement when the flood hit. We tried to get as much of the wine as possible out of the basement as the flood was hitting but it came in so quickly that there was only so much we could grab.
As soon as we were able to get to the wine we immediately separated the bottles that were sealed with corks from the ones that were sealed with a screwcap. Wine that has been sealed with a screwcap is fine and is completely drinkable. This is one of the few advantages to a screwcap closure in my opinion. Any wine that has been sealed with a cork will need some extra care.
Once you have the bottles with the corks set aside, immediately remove the foil seal and turn them upside down to prevent water from being trapped in on the cork. Then rinse all bottles in a weak antiseptic solution, rinse and dry. The wine inside will be drinkable.
Unfortunately, during the flood many of our labels came off which left us guessing what wine we were drinking. Instead of dumping the wine we took it as an opportunity to do a blind tasting with the wine and had fun guessing what wine it might have been.
Keep in mind that wines that have been trapped in a flood are  not the worst thing – there have been many bottles of wine that have been recovered from sunken ships from the late 1700’s and early 1800’s that were completely drinkable. Hopefully, a little water damage to your wine doesn’t ruin the fun of drinking it!

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

Green things are appearing here and there about the estate.  Except for the crocuses–or is it croci, plural, you know–most of these items are a mystery to me.  No, I lied; I recognize the snowdrops too.  Pity they had to bring snow along as well.  This green outburst is certainly welcome, after I spent time last fall poking bulbs into the ground at various and sundry locations.  The next step will be to find the wrappers that the bulbs came in so that I have some inkling as to what these chartreuse cuties might be.    It is   a comfort to know that at least the squirrels and other hungry rodents did not get to serve them all up as appetizers at the big winter pig-out before hibernation.  There certainly were trilliums involved, red and white( the Ohio state wild flower, Trillium grandiflorum). Dutchman’s Britches are out there somewhere and so is something called Butterfly Weed.  Might even be some anemones.   I’ve been looking for the battered Jack-in-the-pulpit population…they got moved and mulched and generally subjected to stresses that shy little woodland types don’t do well at.  Hope that at least some will turn up in a few quiet spots.  The bloodroot and hepatica or liverwort (so named because the leaves are three-lobed, like your liver) have not yet shown their faces but the ferns are starting to stir themselves; the ones which hung tough all winter are looking even greener and the ones that went under cover are sending up knobby scouts to check out the status of temperature and daylight.  I’m hoping that the spring beauties return; they were plentiful in the front yard but the front yard underwent  a major transformation, with dirt being shoved hither and yon,  grass seed being introduced ( “How do you do. I’m here to beautify as much of this clay wasteland as possible”) and new shapes and shades appeared from one end to the other.  The weeping white spruce is starting to straighten up so that it doesn’t look so much like The Hunchback of Notre Dame and it has acquired a young cousin out in the back, replacing the blue spruce that was here just to give the place some class during the Christmas Walk.
The cherry laurel at the corner of the porch has gone to the Big Woodpile In The Sky, to be replaced by something else–birch? locust? dogwood?– that does not have little, black, juicy, POISIONOUS fruits that don’t match the colors of the carpet that they get tracked in on.  All of the horticultural descriptions mention that the tree is fast-growing, easy to grow, etc., etc.; nobody pays attention to carpet.  I have carpet.  The fruits did not appear until the tree was mature.  It looked good, shaded the corner of the porch, had nice fall color…all good…then, presto, there was fruit…messy!  Someone is going to have to make it clear to the next specimen to adorn that spot that mess from outside will not be tolerated; I have plenty of mess inside already.
And besides checking out the situation outside, I took a look–actually, it was more of a sniff–at the inside, the inside of the oven.  I was forced to do so when preheating the oven and opening the door to put proposed baked goods inside resulted in having the smoke alarm go off, startling me and the cats until the exhaust fan could “suck it up and blow it out”. The short-term solution is to fan the fumes away from the device but that’s not for the long haul. Blue clouds rolled out–could have been black raspberry cobbler or cherry pie juice, with cheese and / or pizza leaks a distinct possibility–and the whole house reeked of charred sugar for quite a while.  So…something had to be done before the GFNVFD showed up at my doorstep with hoses at the ready.
But that’s all in the past. We got “down and dirty” and cleaned the oven
The self-cleaning function is kind of a misnomer; the instruction booklet says to wipe up spills as they occur.  If I were going to clean the thing on a regular basis, why would I buy a appliance that purported to do the job itself?  So, anyway, I wiped out the crunchy stuff, vacuumed the crumbs, set the timer, locked the door…and away it went.  Smelled funny but not awful.  Took two hours to clean, one hour to cool down.  If I’d had the presence of mind to think ahead about the process, it would have been a fine opportunity to set some yeast rolls on top to rise; the top got pretty warm.  Maybe next time…assuming there IS a next time.  Cleaning is not something that I rush into, willy-nilly.  These things require thoughtful contemplation…planning…procrastination.  Either that or my mother plans a visit.

Over the last few weeks this has been a frequent question at the Newton Falls Public Library. “What happened to the recycling bins which used to be by the Community Center?” Our staff confessed we didn’t know, but we would find out.
We contacted the Newton Falls City Manager’s office and asked their staff. We were informed that because the city now has curbside pickup, the bins were removed. Information about city recycling can be found at: http://ci.newtonfalls.oh.us/news_files/NewtonFallsRecycle8.5×11-0828GREENLOGO9.pdf.
Individuals living in apartments and others who wish to take their recyclables to larger centers may take their papers, plastic, metal, and glass to the bins near the Newton Township Administration Building.  For more information the Township’s website is www.newtontwp.com.
The library has an assortment of materials to assist you in going green at home. The DVD Go Green Around Your Home, Mother Earth News, The Complete Compost Gardening Guide: banner batches, grow heaps, comforter compost, and other amazing techniques for saving time and money, and producing the most flavorful, nutritious vegetables ever by Barbara Pleasant & Deborah L. Martin, Easy Composters You Can Build by Nick Noyes, and A Guide to Green Housekeeping: live a calmer, healthier life, recycle and reuse, clean naturally, garden organically by Christina Strutt are a few of the titles which may be borrowed with a Newton Falls Public Library card.
Learn how easy it is to recycle the rain, go green, and save green on Saturday, May 14 at 1:00 pm.  The Trumbull Soil and Water Conservation District will present the program Rain Barrels – “Something old is new again” in the library’s second floor Palmer Meeting Room.
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 library programs or hours, also visit our website at www.newtonfalls.org.

Valentine’s Day has come and gone and while we celebrated with wine we still have some special bottles to open. Thankfully, there is still one more holiday in February that will force us to open our special bottles.
I am really looking forward to my favorite holiday this month…Open That Bottle Night (OTBN). The concept behind OTBN is exactly why I like to celebrate this holiday – why wonder what the future holds when this holiday celebrates what the past has given us? So what is OTBN you ask? Over ten years ago the wine editors from The Wall Street Journal wrote an article stating that they receive too many letters about what to do when that special bottle has gone bad when they finally opened the bottle. Unfortunately the answer is usually the same – dump it down the drain. After hearing about too many good wines being dumped, a holiday was started.
While the writers at The Wall Street Journal had been writing about OTBN for a number of years, OTBN was officially deemed a holiday in 2006. OTBN is celebrated on the last Saturday in February, so this year be ready to celebrate on February 26th. How many of you have a bottle of wine that you bought on a vacation hoping to catch a memory? Or how many of you received a special bottle of wine for a birthday, wedding or anniversary gift and thought it was too precious to drink on any regular night? Why wait for that special moment to open it? What if that special moment comes and the wine has taken a turn for the worse?
I highly recommend opening that bottle on February 26, 2011. Gather a group of friends around, grab a couple of glasses and share the stories about why the wine is special. Once the wine is gone, rinse out the bottle and place it back in that special spot on the shelf again. Now you have another great memory of that wine.

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

As you may have seen, we host and attend many wine-related dinners throughout the year. And, as you might imagine, plenty of wine is consumed. Many participants attend, and throughout the night, it becomes apparent there is some liability inherent in having people consume wine at a social function in your winery and then drive away. Thankfully, there are some great insurance policies that protect us, however, the same situation is true in your home. You should share my concern not only for your friends’ safety but for your financial security should something go awry and a tree jump out in front of your impaired pal’s automobile.

So the next time you are hosting a wine dinner, please keep in mind these three simple rules to make sure your guests have a good time but are also being responsible.

Rule number # One is fairly well known, but bears repeating:

Always serve plenty of food with wine. A stomach with something in it tempers the rate with which alcohol enters the bloodstream and avoids the one-glass-staggering-about-the-room syndrome. If you have ever attended an event at our winery, you will notice that cheese and crackers are prominent at each table.

But Rule # Two is less well known and, I think, much more effective, particularly at dinner parties where several wines and food is to be served. Have plenty of water available and keep everyone’s water glass filled. As people talk and eat and talk, you will find that if water is available, they will drink it, in great gulps, between taking, one hopes, smaller amounts of wine with food bites and between contributing sound bites.

There are several benefits to this strategy. People will consume water, which will dilute the alcohol level in their system with water and not become as tipsy. Wine, especially red wine, acts as a diuretic, and causes dehydration and thirst. By hydrating (with water instead of wine), your guests will avoid the drugged feeling that comes with dehydration and will also feel less of the effects drinking wine causes some people the next morning.

Rule #3 is one of my most important rules. If you know that you will be attending a wine-related dinner, please have a designated driver. The only times we do not have a designated driver is if we are staying at the same hotel that is hosting the dinner and therefore no driving is required. Your safety and the safety of your guests is really the most important part of enjoying any dinner..

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

Portage County – As many of our readers know, I have recently been elected as a County Commissioner.  Along with Maureen Frederick and Chris Smeiles, my job as Commissioner is to oversee the operations and budget of the county including employees and facilities.  This column will provide updates of issues before the Board of Commissioners.  Like all government meetings in Ohio, our meetings are open to the public.  We generally meet beginning at 9:30 am on Tuesday and Thursday.  The agenda for any given session is available at www.portageco.com.  Please join us and hear for yourself what is new in our county!

The beginning weeks of the year have been busy.  After much public debate, we will have a public-private partnership for economic development beginning February 1.  Although the county is the initial stakeholder and investor, the Portage Development Board has assured the county taxpayers that private investment is on its way.

The week of January 24 will be almost exclusively dedicated to the decision of whether to annex a parcel of property from Hiram Township to Hiram Village.  After this hearing concludes, the Board of Commissioners will issue a decision within 30 days as provided by Ohio law.

This column represents only the personal opinions and perspectives of Tommie Jo Marsilio and does not represent the position, statement, or official record of the Portage County Board of Commissioners.

“Can you help me to find information about a piece of property?” Over the years, this question has been asked of Newton Falls Public Library staff members for a variety of reasons. Some individuals want to find information about their own property; others are looking to purchase a parcel or home.

If the patron has the name of the owner or the address, the auditor of the county in which it is located often has information online.  In Trumbull County that would be http://property.co.trumbull.oh.us, there it can be searched by parcel owner, commercial address, dist/map/route, intersection, as well as advanced search. Trumbull County also offers reports on weekly sales, neighborhoods, and comparable sales. Parcel information includes the base, land, valuation, sales, sketch, tax, and improvements. The property base also includes a photo of the building. From what our staff can tell by looking at this site, the sales section will list the amount the property has sold for since the mid 1980s.

Besides offering maps and satellite views of the neighborhood where a parcel is located, Google maps [http://maps.google.com] sometimes has street views. The photographs can be rotated 3600 to see the areas surrounding the properties. There is also a zoom feature permitting a closer view.

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 library programs or hours, also visit our website at www.newtonfalls.org.

January is one of my favorite times of the year at the winery. Even though January brings in our “winter hours” (Friday and Saturdays from 3pm – 9pm) we are quite busy working behind the scenes at the winery. We are doing the usual work in the cellar, checking the wine from this past fall, monitoring the juice to make sure it stays at a stable temperature, cleaning up the bottling line to get ready for our next bottling session and completing our year end inventory.

But the fun in January doesn’t end there for us. We are taking the time to finish all of the plans for 2011. Our live music schedule will return just in time for Valentine’s Day on February 12th, we’ll celebrate our annual Pug Day in August and of course we are looking forward to some great wine festivals this year.

But we’ll also have some new events for you this year. Plans are underway for a special Valentine’s Day Dinner. Some new features and songs are being added to our light shows in the summer and later this year I’ll have more information about a winter light show coming to the winery in November!

In order to kick off all of these great events we have our biggest event of the year coming up on January 29th! WKYC’s Mark Nolan will be joining at the winery for the annual Nolan Night party benefitting Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital. We will be releasing the first new wine of 2011 – Mark Nolan’s Racing Red – a sweeter wine with a fierce grape bite to it.

This event is a great way to get you out of the doldrums of winter and enjoy a night out! Your ticket includes a full dessert buffet, live music, a logo’d Mark Nolan glass and the chance to win some great door prizes!

Tickets are $20 / person and will go on sale on Wednesday, January 19th by calling the winery. Or watch WKYC’s Morning Show for your chance to win a pair of tickets!

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

The bustle and rush of the holidays were done and Doodle Dog was excited for the brand new year full of days to enjoy, chances to play, people to meet, and adventures to be had. He knew the children would be going back to school soon and downtown was growing quieter and not as crowded since the hurrying holiday shoppers were now in their homes, surely resting after the flurry of the season!

Snow still covered the ground, and Doodle Dog’s paws left little prints behind him as he walked down the street. He could see the tracks from all the other animals that had gone that way already. Doodle Dog followed the trail, looking at each print the different creatures made. There were skinny V-shaped ones where a bird had walked, long thin oval ones in pairs where a rabbit had hopped along, square indents from hooves that must have been from Santa’s Reindeer, and ones that looked just like his own but much, much bigger. He wouldn’t want to run into the owner of those giant paw prints! Mixed in with all of them were also human tracks, each one as different as the many animal ones: some were heavy and solid, probably from thick winter boots, some were tiny and pointy from a woman’s high heels, and some were made by smaller feet with pretty designs left in the fluffy white dust from the tread of a child’s sneaker.

As Doodle Dog roamed, he took the time to smell the freshness of the air, clean and cold from the recent snowfall. He could hear the rustle of the bare branches in the trees, swaying without their usual leaves, and the tinkling of the frozen icicles hanging from a nearby roof. The more they glistened in the sun, the more they seemed to ping like tiny bells. Blending with the quiet sounds, excited voices floated on the air. Doodle Dog’s ears perked up to listen to what they were: he was nearing a playground and could see children running and jumping. He watched from a distance until a little boy who was swinging alone on the monkey bars caught sight of the cute puppy with floppy ears sitting at the edge of the park.

The boy slowly approached Doodle Dog so as not to frighten him, and Doodle Dog happily wagged his tail as the boy made his way over. The little dog ran around the little boy’s legs, curiously sniffing the air around this new friend. The boy laughed and tugged gently on Doodle Dog’s tail to get him to slow down! Doodle Dog stopped his circling and gently tugged on the boy’s long, colorful scarf in return. The boy turned around and around trying to get loose and Doodle Dog playfully followed him, which only made the boy’s smile even wider.

Finally, Doodle Dog let go and the little boy dropped down, landing on the soft powder. He plopped flat on his back and started moving his arms and legs to make a circle on the ground. When he stood up there was a beautiful pattern where he had been. A snow angel! That looked like fun ~ Doodle Dog wanted to try, too! So he dropped down and rolled in the snow like the little boy was doing. He jumped up and looked back at his work. It was a perfectly crafted snow…ball? He tried again. This time his tail made an imprint that looked like a Christmas bell with its clapper. Or a snow…pancake? Snow….dog? Hmmm…

Doodle Dog’s usually brown coat was now white with the snowflakes from the ground. As he stood up and shook his fur, he noticed the little boy gathering snow in his hands. It looked like he was making sand castles on the chilly white beach that was the playground. Not a castle ~ it was a little doghouse! And next to the house was a long, thin snow log with two snowballs at one end and two snowballs at the other. Doodle Dog scampered over to the snowbone the little boy had made for him and took a big bite. His teeth went right through the lightly packed fluff and it was COLD! Brrrrr!

At that moment a man with a kind smile appeared from the other side of the park. He had the same nose and eyes as the little boy and softly called out to them. The little boy brushed off his pants, waved to Doodle Dog, and hurried to meet the man. It was time for Doodle Dog to find his way home, too.

Once in the office door he wound up tracking in wet snow prints across the floor. They would dry before anyone could step in them! When Doodle Dog reached the fireplace, he found a real chewy bone waiting for him on the hearth. As he curled up in his bed, Doodle Dog thought of his new friend from the park. He hoped to see him again!

I know; this may not be news to some but I was sort of hoping to avoid a swift descent to the fiery furnace for another decade or so, maybe more if I kept moving and eating enough  dark chocolate.

This assessment has been confirmed by finding in yet another slick magazine in my too-wide assortment of subscription reading material( It was some kind of a package deal that brought me publications ‘way outside my usual selections.  Martha Stewart heads out to commune with her two alpacas, five cats, three horses, four goats and eight cows in the back forty whenever someone mentions my name being on her mailing list).  All of these publications, even Popular Science, are prattling on about getting organized…weeding out your closet, straightening up your file drawers and/or cabinets, classifying the victuals in the pantry, arranging the linen closet and the workbench, boxing and storing the Christmas stuff.  It never ends!

Actually, at my house, it hardly even started…ever.

I’ve decided that it must be genetic.  I’m missing the “tidiness gene”.  Some chromosome took a wrong turn and wound up in the Save-A-Soul Mission to the Acutely Disjunctive instead of lined up neatly waiting to jump into my gene pool.  And now look!

I should look into the possibility of installing one of those track systems like they have at the dry cleaners in every room in the house.  In the kitchen–push a button–zoom, zoom here come the plates, zoom, zoom, there’s the sugar, zoom, zoom, cereal on the way, zoom, zoom, say, grab me some ketchup there.  If you didn’t recall just exactly what it was that you wanted, you could have the whole shootin’ match go by again until you either remembered or decided on something else.  Ditto for wardrobe.  Have the shirts go by while you hold up the pants to check for color match or available socks or whatever.  If you can click the remote to skim through available programming on the TV, why not broaden your horizons on the domestic front?  Might not function real well in the bathroom.  How many choices of towels does one need, after all?  Cosmetic and “personal care” products might work but you’d have to be aware of the speed of the mechanism.  Too much and you could wind up flinging “Tangee Purple Passion”  at the shower curtain…with unfortunate results…or  splashing Listerine on the cat who wandered into the wrong place at the wrong time (Cats do that); the  draft from the passing robes and jammies might not be what you’d desire while standing there in the altogether after a nice warm shower either.

There’s probably a Twelve-step program somewhere for those afflicted with this problem but I’ve no doubt lost the information on it.   There’s no hope.

My grandma used to say that if you saw a shooting star and said , “Money.  Money.  Money,” before it went out, that you’d be rich.  Well, that may be, but it has–at long last, after years of frustration–finally occurred to me that if you’re the kind of person who has the presence of mind to think of saying, “MoneyMoneyMoney,” upon catching sight of one of these celestial spectacles, instead of just thinking, “Oooh, loooook!” then you’re likely to be the sort of person who will have the focus to get rich on your own hook, without resorting to lucky chants.

Sooooo… “Ya pays yer money, Ya takes yer choice”.  I kind of think that when that last school bus pulls out with me on it, I’ll not be heard muttering, “Should have run the vacuum more.  Needed to scrub the shower more often.  Polish!  I left things to be polished!”

Nope.  As long as the neighbors and the Health Department (Ha!  This is Portage County, we’ll have starved the Health Department to death before that.  There’ll be germs the size of draft horses camped out here by then…heck, maybe by next year) don’t come in on a kamikaze raid dropping  Clorox bombs on the front porch, I’m most likely to muddle through another year as usual.  It can’t be Christmas Walk all of the time.

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It’s been over a year since I’ve written a column for the Weekly Villager. Thankfully our practice has become very busy and I have not had time to write. But, I just can’t stand by idly and not comment on recent events that have befallen the dental community.

An event occurred last week that that is outrageous, sad and unfortunate. ALLCARE DENTAL AND DENTURES, INC. closed its doors on its unsuspecting and trusting patients.  How can a dental care organization that is entrusted by the public to provide dental services be allowed to accept money when they know that those services are not going to be completed?  Did they just figure out that, “By gosh, we’re surprised that we don’t have money today…let’s close?”

Really, there’s no point in beating a dead horse, so to speak. They closed, people were left high and dry and it’s time to figure out what to do next and how to protect themselves so this does not happen again. This is true not only in selecting a dentist but extends to all walks of life. Whether you are buying a new mattress, piece of jewelry or having a roof installed on your house it is imperative that you DO YOUR HOMEWORK AND ASK QUESTIONS…LOTS OF QUESTIONS.

Since having been a dentist in both private practice and in the insurance industry for over 26 years I’m going to limit my views, opinions and suggestions to this field that I know best.

The old axiom, if it is too good to be true then it generally is, with a new coat of “dental paint” could sound like this: if every dentist I call charges somewhere in the vicinity of $1000 for a single denture how is it that this dental organization can do it for $350?

Explanations for such a difference in price can be chalked up to: the use of grossly inferior materials (resulting in more frequent repairs and replacement), dentists with limited clinical experience, using a dental laboratory that lacks adequately trained professionals, and an insufficient amount of time spent with the patient by the dentist to observe and record accurate information that needs to be conveyed to the dental lab for proper denture construction.

I just finished Googling” topics that are relevant to the ALLCARE closing and I’m appalled that ALLCARE is transferring their records to other dental organizations and offices. PEOPLE, WAKE UP!! ALLCARE EXECUTIVES ARE TELLING THE PATIENTS THEY JUST SWINDLED WHERE TO GO TO GET THEM OFF THEIR BACKS!  REALLY?. They must think their former patients are the village idiots to go along with such a laughable and ridiculous scheme. The patients are true victims, hard working, trusting and in need of dental help.   I would think LONG AND HARD before going to a dentist recommended by ALLCARE. Period.

Before going to another dentist, do some homework. Call the Ohio State Dental Board and ask them if there have been any actions taken against the dentist you anticipate seeing.

When you visit the dentist for the first time here are some questions and topics that I believe may help you:

1. What is the name of the dentist/owner?  Does he/she actually practice at the location you are considering going to?  Is the owner an out-of-town/out-of-state corporation?   It seems logical that resolving a problem with an owner who is local is easier than if he/she is out of town.

2. Tell me something about the dental lab that you use to make my denture. Dental labs should be in the USA only and never out of the country.  A reputable dental office should be able to tell you the name of the lab, where they are located and how long they have been in business. As a rule of thumb a dental lab and/or the lab technician should be in business for a minimum of 5 to 10 years.

3.  How many visits do you require to make my denture?  Generally, it takes University Dental, Inc.  five appointments to make a complete (full) or partial removable denture. When you’re consulting with a dentist he/she should explain the steps it takes to make the denture in understandable language. Also, there should be ample opportunity to ask questions. MAKE SURE YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU ARE BEING TOLD. Don’t just nod in agreement if you truly don’t understand.  You should also be provided with a summary of the fabrication steps so that you can review the information out of the office.

4. Ask the dentist if the price of the denture(s) includes adjustments and for how long after the denture has been seated.  This information should be in writing. In my office we give every denture consult patient an information sheet that I wrote. Also, ask what is NOT included in the price of the denture.

The take-home message here is basically caveat emptor, which means let the buyer beware. Ask questions, listen carefully and follow your gut. My office is always available to answer general questions over the phone.

Dr. Richard Behrman and Dr. Thomas Pesarchick are co-founders of University Dental of Garrettsville, Inc. Please contact Dr. Behrman at 330-527-3368 with any questions.

2011… wow – I can’t believe it! Where did 2010 go? Oh well… now that 2011 is here, it is time for me to get started on all of my exciting plans for this year and not dwell on last year. I know that 2011 is going to fly by just as fast so I am ready to start planning my first goal.

A couple of months ago I wrote about trying a rice wine from South Korea that was excellent. After some additional research I am anxious to try other rice wines. I’ve learned that depending on where the rice wine is from it may be called sake, takju or cheongju. So one of my goals this year is to go to a rice wine tasting or host one myself.

During my research I learned that if you are hosting a rice wine tasting, the wine should be stored in dark, dry places, similar to how you store wine. You can also purchase sparkling rice wines which are very similar to champagnes. Since rice wine is usually bottled in smaller bottles, you will want to make sure you purchase enough bottles for your party (for a tasting count on 2 ounces of each wine per person).

Glassware is quite different for a traditional rice wine tasting. Instead of wine glasses, a traditional way to serve the wine is in a small wooden box made from hinoki. Since most people do not have this style of container, ceramic cups can be used.

As with a normal wine tasting, there is an order in which to try the rice wines. Starting with a pure rice wine, one that does not have added distilled alcohols, will allow you to taste the purest form of rice wine. Then you can move on to trying rice wines that have additional alcohol or flavoring added to them. If you purchase a wine that still contains rice sediment, you should save this for your third tasting as it will overpower some rice wines.

To finish your tasting you should end with either a sparkling rice wine or a sweet dessert style rice wine. Both will pair nicely with fruit or chocolates for dessert.

So after all of my research, I am out to find some more rice wines to try. When I do, I will be sure to let you know which ones to try.

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

Was that it?  The Spring Thaw…New Year’s Day was the whole thing?  When the subject comes up for the rest of the season we get to say, “ Been there. Done that.”  Doesn’t seem right somehow.  We ought to get a chance to get out and wash cars or something; mine is middling filthy–salt-splash and  mud-luscious décor bumper to bumper, not to mention the detritus piled on the floor and seats–plenty of melted snow and just-in-case stuff like extra boots or mittens, at least one spare snow scraper, a couple of blankets, flashlight, umbrellas, raincoat, spare water bottles, a reeeeeal old Quaker Oats cookie bar( never know when a person might be stuck in a ditch somewhere).  I’m thinking that a lot of this could be considered superfluous if  I’d just remember how to use the cell phone…or to have it with me all of the time.  I’m working on it.

I’m also working on summoning up enough gumption to begin thinking about possibly starting to commence planning  the removal of most of the remains of the Christmas Walk 2010.  Finding all of the boxes and containers of various sorts that things go in is going to be a challenge, seeing as most of that prep stuff had been tossed into the attic or the basement to meet whatever fate was in store.  Staying “in the mood” for over eight weeks has reduced my cheeriness capacity considerably at this point and the youngest of the resident felines has decided that all of the  foreign items introduced here are about to be “naturalized” and subject to exploration or demolition; more and more shiny objects are appearing on the floor, behind furniture or beneath cushions.  Something periodically rattles in the corners; the poinsettias have all turned up their little botanical toes and are on the way to that Great Greenhouse in the Sky (Honest, I did water them, it was the lack of sun what done ‘em in).

The other greenery  is holding up about as well as could be expected…which is to say that the real stuff went some time ago from inside the house, to be replaced by some perfectly respectable ersatz pine on the mantel and over the doorway…at which time, the original stuff could have been more truthfully be described as “brownery”.  The outdoor décor–done by Art-N-Flowers–is amazing, all things considered, still pretty verdant in the back  where it’s been protected from the sun, toasted-looking around the garage door where it hasn’t.

The red and green spotlights in the rear elevation are going to go soon; the neighbors have probably had about enough of that display.  From Center St. it must have looked like a landing strip for an Elf-O-Copter.  The elves have all gone back to the North Pole so we can close the facility down.  The front porch still is pretty festive but is suffering from MAJOR droop; the mailbox is about to lose its bow and spruce swag–don’t want to create a hazard for Dan the Mailman.

And–God knows–we wouldn’t want to add to the impediments already out here : snow, rain, heat (not right now, check back in August), gloom of night, etc.  Gotta keep the way clear for the delivery of tax documents…which have begun and will continue through the month of January.  The first batch that arrived met a watery fate of some sort ; apparently the rear door of the aforementioned mailbox got bumped opened on one of those duck-friendly days that we had. Anyway, most of the mail was soaked and had to sit on the bathroom heat source to recover (My village sewer bill will be suggestively wrinkled when I pay it; they may want to use tweezers).  The IRS has never been squeamish about such things, however, as long as the paperwork is in on time.  More about that later, I imagine.

In any case, in that same vein, if you’re a resident of Romania (This just in from the Associated Press), watch out, the labor laws have just changed to crack down on wide-spread tax evasion.  Astrologists, embalmers, valets, driving instructors and witches are now considered to be working real jobs, subject to income tax.  At least one of the affected witches has threatened retaliation.  Now there’s something to think about.  Sort of on a par with the thought that the United States–or at least the Smithsonian Institution–now owns the Hope Diamond and there’s supposedly a curse on that fabulous stone (Who comes up with these things anyway?  Ancient traditions are constantly popping out of the woodwork…prophecies…predictions…National Enquirer stories…all about the same credibility on the Truth-O-Meter, if you ask me.  No one has.).

So we’re off on another year.  Let’s try not to do as the cheerleaders used to encourage after somebody sank the front end of a two-shot free throw .  They’d chant : “Let’s have another one, just like the other one!”

We can do better.

All of this talk about Champagne last week really put me into the holiday mood and the best way to celebrate the season was to go out and find some champagne to recommend for your holiday parties. I selected two bottles from the label of Domaine Ste Michelle which is located in the Columbia Valley in Washington State. During this particular shopping trip I selected their Brut champagne and the Extra Dry champagne. Both retailed for $15.99.
We started our tasting with the drier of the two champagnes, the Brut. Unlike wine, smelling champagne before drinking it does not enhance the tasting as the majority of the bouquet of the wine will be the CO2 escaping from just opening the bottle. The Brut was quite smooth for being so dry. We even had some sweet wine drinkers try this wine and found the Brut to be much sweeter than they expected.
Next we moved onto the Extra Dry champagne. This was my favorite wine but I was quite surprised to see that the others did not find this champagne to be as smooth. It was definitely a bit sweeter but had a little bit of a bite at the first sip. It was quite bubbly and left a nice floral finish at the end. Both champagnes were very good and were winners with our tasters.
Once you have selected your champagne, let me give you a few pointers about opening the bottle. Now, I know this first tip will upset many of you, but my first tip is DO NOT shake the bottle before opening it, unless you are at someone else’s house and you don’t have to clean up the mess. Next take off the foil around the top of the bottle, loosen the wire cage around the neck of the bottle but do not remove it. Many people have a tendency to remove the wiring which may cause the cork to fly out prematurely.
Now the professional way is to take a cloth and place it over the top of the bottle. Place one hand on the top of the bottle and the other near the base of the bottle. Turn the bottle gently while keeping your hand over the cork in place. This will stop the cork from flying across the room. If the champagne starts to run out of the bottle, wait until it settles for a minute before pouring it.
Amanda is the Co-Owner of Candlelight Winery located at 11325 Center Street, Garrettsville. For more gift ideas or wine lists from the winery, please visit www.candlelightwinery.com.

You might think that, with currently high unemployment rates, it will be an employer’s market forever. But, you would be wrong. Even today, as unemployment remains stubborn, some industries are having difficulties filling their job openings.
Today, your industry could be in a buy or sell mode as far as attracting top employees is concerned. But there will come a time when you likely will battle your competitors for the best talent. So, the steps you take today to attract and retain that talent could decide how successful your company becomes when the talent drain becomes more pronounced.
Demographics don’t lie
In the United States, workers are getting older. The huge Baby Boomer generation, those people born between 1946 and 1964, has already started to enter the ranks of the retired. The greater the number of Boomers who retire, the greater the potential shortage of workers becomes.
Not all, of course, will automatically retire. Some may continue to work because of financial necessity. Other Baby Boomers might work — at least part time — because they’re living longer and are healthier than previous generations. For some people, work provides a continued outlet for creativity or contribution.
Future employee shortages
Understanding the make up of today’s workforce may give you an idea how this potential shortfall may affect your company. Worker shortages in some businesses, particularly in manufacturing, are not a problem and haven’t been for many years. We are no longer primarily a manufacturing society.
Other areas, such as health care and technology, continue to experience worker shortages through boom and bust times. But there are nuances that relate to every profession. Even within certain industries, some positions have a glut of available workers while other positions are hard to fill.
For example, manufacturers in some green technology businesses can’t find enough qualified workers. Other companies with jobs that cater to an aging Baby Boomer population, for instance, may have trouble filling positions.
Take action
You can learn what the outlook is for your company’s industry by looking at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook. The 2008-2009 edition, for example, cites the continuation of a long-term shift from making goods to offering services. Education and health services are forecast as the fastest growing areas.
While all this information may provide a helpful background, it won’t help you run your business. No matter what your industry may be, you want to attract and keep the most qualified employees. To do that, you’ll need to give them a competitive compensation package. And part of that compensation is employee benefits. Your licensed financial professional can offer product ideas that are tailored to your specific situation.
FINRA Reference #FR2010-0203-0506/E
Christopher A. Perme is a registered representative of and offers securities, investment advisory and financial planning services through MML Investors Services, Inc. Member SIPC. Supervisory Office: 1660 W. 2nd Street # 850, Cleveland, OH 44113. 216-621-5680.

Since it is Christmas, we are shopping.  For most of us, that also means we do not have much money and so we shop with credit cards.  Some stores offer “zero interest” on a purchase or on a credit card.  But be cautious!  Read the fine print and get all of the details.
I had a client recently who made a purchase with one year “same as cash.”  About ten months into the arrangement, the company actually changed the billing statements.  The date the money was due was listed, but not clearly identified.  At the end of the year, the client got a letter saying that $700 was due for interest.  When we looked back at prior statements, the very tiny print listed the due date.  However the “amount due” in big bold letters said there was no money due.  So read every statement very carefully, including the back of the statement and any small print.  Should you find yourself at odds with a credit card company or store, remember the basics.  Be nice.  Although you are angry, screaming at people actually does not make them more likely to do what you want.  At most businesses, there is a customer service department and then a customer service supervisor.  I usually ask for a supervisor early in the conversation.  If you calmly explain your concerns, they will often perform your request.
For those shopping with coupons at the last minute or at “after Christmas” sales, I also caution you to read the fine print.  Several department stores have additional discounts only if you use their credit card.  Check your receipt immediately to see if you received proper discounts.  Remember, you can use the store’s credit card to get the discount then immediately pay off the balance.  This is a perfectly legal way to “beat the system.”
I am pleased to say that this column is celebrating its one year anniversary.  Many thanks to our editor for her patience.  I look at deadlines as “guidelines” and she takes them more seriously.  Based on the feedback, however, it seems most of you are enjoying the subject of law and government.  We appreciate the readers and advertisers that make it possible.
I wish all of our readers a beautiful Christmas and healthy New Year.  The past year has been eventful, to say the least.  I am grateful to everyone who has helped me in the establishment of my own business and in my recent endeavor to serve the citizens of Portage County.  Besides my Villager “family,” I am grateful to my family and my friends.  Real friends are the ones that love you when your column is great and even when it is not your best work.  Real friends love you whether you win or lose an election.  Real friends help you put up Christmas decorations to get ready for your Christmas party.  So to Mattie, Mom, Dad, Jamie, Joe, David, Caryl, Sam, Sammy, Michelle R, Barb, John, Michael, Carlie, Tom, Michelle Z, Chris, and Heidi – I love you guys.  Merry Christmas!

This column does not seek to provide legal advice.  Neither Tommie Jo Marsilio nor the Villager are providing legal advice to readers.  This column is for education and entertainment only.  The advice of an attorney or other professional should be sought regarding any individual situation or legal question.

The lady on the phone asked, “Can you help me?  I got a Christmas card, I can’t read the signature, and I don’t recognize the return address. I tore off the label and my dog ate it. All I can remember was her first name was Ruth, and she lived on [names changed to insure privacy] Clinton Avenue in Paddle, Oklahoma. It’s driving me crazy that I can’t figure out who this person is.” The Newton Falls Public Library staff was not sure if they could find the answer to this woman’s question.

We began our online search, at www.whitepages.com. Using the reverse address search, we typed in the street name, city, and state. There was only one Ruth living on Clinton Avenue in Paddle. Our patron was still confused as why she would be getting a card from her. Our staff said the site gives approximate ages and the names of household members, including a man’s unusual name which was familiar to our patron. We also gave the caller some of the other information listed on the site; mentioning a middle name and a maiden name. Now, the card sender was sounding more familiar. Our caller went and got the card to reexamine the almost illegible signature. She happily realized that the card had been addressed and labeled by the out-of-state daughter of a close friend who has Parkinson’s disease.

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 library programs or hours, also visit our website at www.newtonfalls.org.

Well, 2010 is almost in the history books and 2011 is just around the corner. Between getting together for holiday parties, making holiday treats and, of course, dealing with the snow, I recommend taking this week to pick up your champagne for New Year’s Eve. But how do you know which champagne you should buy? And what if you don’t like champagne but still want to celebrate with everyone else? Here is a rundown of the different kinds of champagne as well as some sparkling wines.

First, did you know that 50% of champagne sales are made each year before Thanksgiving? Twenty-five percent of the sales are made between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day and another 25% of champagne sales are made in the week between Christmas and New Years Eve.

Now you see why I recommend buying the champagne soon – the demand for champagne will be high in the next few days. When you go to select the champagne, know that there are four main types of Champagne – Brut, Extra Dry, Dec and Semi-Dec. Depending on how much sugar is added before the second fermentation determines how sweet the champagne is thus determining the type of champagne.

Brut champagne is the most popular type. This is the driest of the champagnes and goes well with most foods served during the holidays. Extra Dry champagne is a little bit sweeter than the brut and tends to have more of a floral flavor to the taste. Dec and Semi-Dec champagnes become much sweeter and usually are best served as an after dessert drink. If you are a fan of sweet wines, I recommend having a bottle of a Semi-Dec champagne on hand.

However if you are not a fan of champagne, you may want to look into a sparkling wine. I have mentioned sparkling wines in a couple of articles and really like sparkling wines, as they tend to have a wider range of flavors and sweetness. Plus, the different colors from sparkling wines really make for a festive table centerpiece.

If you have some champagne left over, make sure you have either orange juice or fruit punch to make your own mimosas to ring in the new year.

Happy holidays to you and yours,

The Candlelight Winery Family

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

Wholeeee Snowleee!  When the real thing hits, It’s gonna be “Bessie bar the doors!” if this is just the preview.  Wouldn’t you know that this exercise in inclemency–weather division–happens in the year that the powers-that-be down in Columbus, where the sun never sets, have decreed that there will be only three snow days.  Kiss the early end of school goodbye…or Presidents’ Day off…or spring break…or whatever…if this is the model for the rest of the year.

And we owe this, at least partly to the fact that the fall was so balmy that Lake Erie didn’t get anywhere near freezing early-on.  So now, when the Alberta Clipper or Sasquatch Saskatchewan or Manitoba Snowmobile or whatever comes whooping down from the north, it sucks up enormous amounts of warm-ish moisture from Our Great Lake, hauls it as far as the highland rim of the lake ( They’re not called Cleveland Heights, Cuyahoga Heights, Shaker Heights, Kirtland Hills, Highland Heights, etc. for nothing, you know), where it gets colder as it rises, then starts dropping the stuff in the Snow Belt…and the Secondary Snow Belt(That’s us, son)…and as far south as the supply holds out and the temperature stays down.  So…basically, we’re going to continue to get this drubbing by the Jack Frost Frigid-Air until the lake freezes over.  Then we can start worrying about warm moist air coming up the Mississippi and Ohio Valleys and striking the Horripilation Howlers full of cold air from our Canadian friends and creating a reprise of the Blizzard of ’77-’78.  Now there’s something to look forward to!

And how are procrastinators like myself supposed to get out and boost the national economy, putting our cash in circulation by purchasing Christmas presents( It’s all about patriotism)? Most likely, it’ll be Internet to the Rescue for a lot of folks: let the Fed Ex and UPS people figure out how to get packages where they need to be when they need to be there.

In case you’re looking for some last-minute items, the web has a few juicy suggestions:

Check out the Husqvarna ‘luxe lawnmower, a high-end robotic garden tool if there ever was one, sort of a “Roomba for the grass” at only $2700–$300additional for solar power.  Mom, this is for you!  The John Deere could be history!

No?  O.K., so you’re artistic with a camera.  How about the Leica M9, featuring a titanium body, with Nappa leather and a sapphire crystal screen     ?  A steal (Well something’s missing anyway) at only $26,500.

The Herman Miller Sayle office chair could be a stocking-stuffer for the ecological set.  It’s a design knock-out, PVC-free, made of  93%   recycled materials and going for only $679…hard to fit in those little canvas shopping bags though.

So maybe you want to splurge (Or have somebody else splurge on you, that’s usually better), here’s the ticket.  The 2011 Veyron Super Sport by Bugatti boasts(I’ll bet somebody does!) 1200 horsepower, put out by 16 cylinders cranking along in a quad-turbo engine (Whatever that means)and rolling smoothly on handmade Michelin tires ($42,000, the set).  Can get up to 258 mph…no mention of how many mpg, probably not comparable.  At 2.5 million, wouldn’t that look good under the tree (A very tall tree, of course)?

If you’re looking for entertainment, try a holiday wrestling meet/tournament.  The matches are engaging but watching the coaches is a hoot!  Some of those guys could get Emmys or Tonys or Oscars or something…I’d include Grammys but they mostly just bellow…no beat, not dance-able, as they used to say on the American Bandstand Show. Basketball coaches usually spiff up a bit, you know, DRESS, a tie, maybe even a button-down shirt; none of that here.  We’re talking BASIC : school colors are about the max  They do their own stunts too.

Heaven only knows what’s in their stockings!

Do things talk to you?  You know, THINGS, do they address you with plaintive tales about their origin, the treatment that they should get, a recital of their finer qualities, a subtle urging to purchase more of their little friends?
With all of the buying going on, I think that I must have just run into more of these than I was previously aware of.  Some marketing genius apparently figured out that having garments declare that “any variations in color or texture are results of the artisanal nature of the fabric and the individual creative process”  gets them off the hook when the purchaser spots a dropped stitch in the sleeve of a hand-knitted sweater or a turquoise streak down the back of a navy skirt…after it’s been carted home and checked off the gift list, of course.
It’s borderline cute when the talking tag is on a stuffed creature of some sort (Not you, Uncle Elmer), a teddy bear, say, a plush puppy or those once-upon-a-time must-have sensations, the Cabbage Patch Kids.  Soft, clearly-toy items are at least tolerable. The mind boggles at the thought of what one of the farther-out Barbies (Frontier Dermatologist, for instance), might tell about herself…don’t go there.
Just this last week I bought a dwarf Alberta spruce tree–cute little thing, nice shape (We’re back to the Barbie-thing, sorry), perfectly suitable for spiffing up my front entrance.  Now, admittedly, I did not check the tag on it carefully (I know, you’re Shocked, SHOCKED at that one ), but when I looked on the reverse ( Or is it obverse, I never know the difference) side , here is this miniature piece of greenery speaking right up, saying “I am a living tree .”  The diminutive piece of fauna goes on to tout its investment value as a feature in my home’s landscaping…and issue a directive: “Care for me, I’m Alive!”  The means of doing this is outlined–watertight container, soaking the root ball,  gradual introduction to the great outdoors after being inside a sheltered environment, that sort of thing.  Then it got personal : “I like small cool ‘twinkle lights’ for decoration.”Makes me think of that song by Carol Channing in the 1949 musical, “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”, “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend”–small, cool, twinkle–it’s all there; the tree is angling for commitment of a permanent nature.  This is no annual floozie here; we’re talking Picea Enana Alberta with an attitude.
So I caved.  It’s sitting by the front steps–with small, cool, solar lights (No twinkle)–covered with snow–isn’t everything?
And speaking of ice…the diamonds, you know…we’ve got plenty and a warming trend would be appreciated, so…if heat can be invoked by dancing, maybe if we all hummed “There’ll Be A Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight” (Written in 1896 for the McIntyre & Heath Minstrels, it was popular among the troops during the Spanish-American War and was the unofficial school song at Michigan before they adopted “The Victors.”  It’s the only tune that the Hooterville Volunteer Fire Department Marching Band could play.  Bessie Smith had a cool version)
The words of one version reference the Chicago Fire :
Late one night
When we were all in bed,
Old Mother Leary
Left a lantern in the shed
When the cow kicked it over
She winked her eye and said,
“There’ll be a hot time
In the old town tonight.”
Worth a try.

A beautiful morning awaited Doodle Dog as he wandered down the main street of town. Chasing leaves had been so much fun, but now he wanted to take his time and see everything there was to see. The crisp air turned just a bit colder which meant winter would soon be here! As Doodle Dog turned the corner from the office, a fluff of icy snow landed on his nose. It melted instantly, but there was more where that came from ~ soon dozens of snowflakes dotted wet spots all over his coat! Doodle Dog jumped after a few that floated down from the sky and scampered after some that managed to escape his paws. The frosty finds were refreshing and soon Doodle Dog was wide awake. Shaking briskly to get dry, he showered water droplets all over the sidewalk and a few nearby trees.

Just up ahead, Doodle Dog noticed several people enjoying the day as well. Many had big, bright packages in their arms, but others were simply strolling along, peering in at the shops every so often. Holiday decorations lined the streets and the storefronts, and it was cloudy enough that the streetlamps and strings of colored lights shone a little brighter. What a perfect day to do some window shopping!

A little girl and her mother were standing in front of a quaint store, looking at the charming window display. The woman had her hand to her ear and was speaking loudly to a tiny little person Doodle Dog couldn’t see, and held her daughter’s hand tightly as she spoke. The woman was too tall for Doodle Dog, and too busy to notice him, but the little girl was just the right height and she smiled sweetly when he came over and gently nudged her free hand with his nose. The little girl giggled and waved as Doodle Dog continued on up the path, making sure not to get under the feet of all the other shoppers. He paused at another store, brightly lit from the inside and smelling of gingerbread, and put his front paws up on the ledge to see a little better. A few of Santa’s elves posed in front of a small house covered in shreds of snow that didn’t melt, with a tiny sleigh full of presents bigger than it was! Doodle Dog looked at the pretty scene in the window and then down the street at all the people hurrying to get home with the giant packages from their Christmas lists. Doodle Dog thought about what HE might want for Christmas and immediately he knew:

Doodle Dog hurried home to the office and asked me to help him write a letter to the North Pole. Not to the Big Guy in Red, though. No, Santa was surely busy getting all the toys for all the little girls and boys ready. Doodle Dog thought of someone even better:

Dear Santa’s Reindeers, he began.

All the reindeer are very smart, especially Rudolph ~ he’s the brightest of them all! Doodle Dog knew if anyone could help him with his wish, it would be them. He has everything he needs ~ a warm place to sleep, yummy snacks, and a family who loves him ~ but Doodle Dog thought of all his four-legged friends around the world that may not have the same.

Dear Santa’s Reindeers,

My one wish this Christmas is that all the cats and dogs and other animals will be able to find a warm home and a family to hug them forever, and that they may know, wherever they are, that they are loved. I know it’s a big job, but if anyone can help me, you can!


Doodle Dog

He signed it with an inky paw print and sent it right away ~ Christmas will be here sooner than you think and he needs all the help he can get!

It’s been a good year, actually, let me rephrase that – it’s been a GREAT year! Sure, this year has definitely put up a good fight for us… we’ve survived some bad economic times, we’ve dealt with a loss of crop from a late freeze last year, we’ve dealt with losses of loved ones this year but as I take a look back at the entire year, we have been truly blessed.

I have met some great new wine fanatics, had the chance to visit a number of local wineries this year and — the best part — I have had the chance to spend more time with my kids. But before 2010 quietly slips out the door, we want to celebrate one last party with you!

We will be hosting an early New Year’s Eve Dinner at the winery on December 31st from 6-9pm. We are really excited about this event as we are keeping everything local for you. A full dinner buffet with chicken, pasta, crab cakes, vegetables and dessert is being catered by The Garden Bistro. As you and your family and friends sit down for dinner, local singing sensation, Steve Vanderink, will be entertaining you with all of your favorites.

But before you leave our place and head to watch the ball drop with friends, family or in the comfort of your own home, we will be sampling our new Ice Style Wine. We will be releasing this wine in 2011 but would like to help you end 2010 with this great sweet wine. Made from Vidal grapes, we froze the grapes and crushed them to get the highest sugar concentrate from the grapes before they thawed. If you have never tried an ice style wine, this is a great opportunity.

Tickets are $69.99/couple or $38.99/single, not including tax and gratuity.  A full menu is available on our website (www.candlelightwinery.com). Reservations are required with a $30 non refundable deposit and will be accepted until December 24th.  Just call us at the winery or stop by to make your reservation.

Amanda is the Co-Owner of Candlelight Winery located at 11325 Center Street, Garrettsville. For more information on the winery feel free to call us at 330.527.4118 or please visit www.candlelightwinery.com

A friend recently had a fire at her home.  Fortunately, no one was injured.  It did cause lots of damage and has left our circle of friends all pitching in to untangle an insurance claim.  Few things in my legal career have been as frustrating as insurance claims.  The following should help if you ever have a claim.

1. The best place to start in avoiding problems is choosing the right agent.  When you shop for insurance, ask the agent about the claims process.  How long does it usually take to get back to you?  Ask details.  How much do I have to do myself if there is a fire or crash?  Will the company help me find the appropriate repair people if I want help?  Will the agent be involved at all?  An agent’s answers to these questions should give you an idea of their real knowledge and cooperative attitude.  If they do not know any of these answers – find someone more seasoned.  I always recommend someone local so they are near if you have a problem.

2.Read your insurance policy BEFORE you have a claim. This applies to your homeowner’s (or renter’s) insurance as well as auto.  Read the policy and ask the agent or company any questions you have in advance.  Then, put the policy somewhere  you will be able to find it.  The last thing you want is to have the insurance company deny your claim and have no idea how to verify what they say about your policy.

3.If you have an accident, fire or other loss and make an insurance claim, your claim will be assigned to an adjuster.  This adjuster works for the insurance company.  Remember, the less they pay you for your claim, the more money the company makes.  The adjuster generally does not have the final word on the value of your claim.  You can, and should, negotiate with them.  Be prepared to give them facts, not opinions.  “That does not seem fair” is not a statement that will interest most adjusters.  However, saying, “I have a receipt for the new lawnmower that was lost in my garage fire” will be helpful.

4.If you experience property damage that will require re-construction, I highly recommend working with a contractor who has previously worked with insurance companies.  This person may consider clean up or construction details that you may not.  Furthermore, they will likely be able to communicate effectively with the insurance company.

5.Despite some hassles along the way, most people get an appropriate amount of money to cover their insured loss.  If this does not happen, seek the advice of an attorney as a last resort.

This column does not seek to provide legal advice.  Neither Tommie Jo Marsilio nor the Villager are providing legal advice to readers.  This column is for education and entertainment only.  The advice of an attorney or other professional should be sought regarding any individual situation or legal question.

“I was looking at a magazine and I saw this little ceramic bird stuck in the middle of a pie.  Can you tell me anything about it?” Some members of the Newton Falls Public Library staff were familiar with this cute item known as a pie bird, but having some personal understanding about a topic does not always supply the complete information needed by a patron.

We were successful in discovering information in the first two items we examined. Warman’s Flea Market Price Guide, 2nd edition by Don Johnson & Ellen T. Schroy describes them as “little birds with their beaks wide open . . . designed to act as a vent for a pie with a top crust. . .” [p.265]. Rose Levy Beranbaum, author of The Pie and Pastry Bible, seems to have very strong feelings about pie birds. Beranbaum states on page 670, “The purpose . . . is to create and maintain a fanciful opening in the upper crust of the pie for the steam and bubbling juices to vent.  I find they are impractical, as they displace too much of the pie’s filling . . .” Both resources said that many people considered them to be collectibles.

There are also websites dedicated to this interesting piece of kitchen equipment. www.piebirds.co.uk shows the birds as one of a type of pie funnel, which have been used since Victorian times. Besides pie birds, the funnels include people and other animals.  The June 8, 2010 posting Brief History of Pies and Pie Birds on the blog Civil War Reenacting and Cooking [http://civilwarcooking.blogspot.com/2010/06/brief-history-of-pies-and-pie-birds.html] also refers to these birds as whistles and chimneys.

Our patron thought that these would make delightful Christmas gifts for her family members who bake. Her next question concerned where she may purchase them and how much they cost. Searching online, we discovered multiple sites offering pie birds for sale, listing of local stores which had them, and prices ranging from $1 to almost $135.

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 library programs or hours, also visit our website at www.newtonfalls.org.

No flies on us last weekend.  The place was hoppin’.  Basketball games all over the place; Geauga Theater opened its holiday run of “It’s A Wonderful Life”; Santa and his clones–you know they’re all the REAL Santa wherever they are–were breakfasting and eating pizza and just chatting with the younger set at several venues ‘round and about; the Home 44444 the holidays parade stepped off  to open the Newton Falls community activities; Curtains Up Theatre sponsored the annual Holiday social, with the Boy Scouts of Troop 62 producing their renowned doughnut holes (among other things), crafts and cookies and talent on display, tickets to “Miracle on 34th Street” available on presale (opens on December 10, get your seats now),; girls’ basketball was drawing a crowd; the Garfield High School Band–the James A. Garfield Marching Pride– the Choir and the Black and Gold Swing Machine were all raising the roof with Christmas standards and new riffs on old favorites (the  combined rendition of the ”Hallelujah Chorus” was a knock-out); St Ambrose Adult Choir and O.K. Chorale children’s ensemble were, as usual, inspirational, uplifting and –BIG TIME–jolly (Bless your heart, Amy McCoy) to place the focus of the season squarely where it belongs (Chloe Ann Vincent will never hear the last of it).  Ho – Ho – Ho !!

And that’s just the start of it.  Christmas parties are breaking out all over like a bad case of the hives; check your calendar so you don’t miss anything, your local group or organization won’t be as festive without you.  There are still musical offerings on tap : December 10 at the Garfield Meeting House in Hiram at 7:30 p.m.–choral and instrumental, Kent Trumbull Theatre does “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever”, Braceville Christian Church has a live nativity  on the 10th and 11th, the Garrettsville United Methodist Church presents “Follow the Star, Follow the King” at 7p.m. on Sunday, December 12, Bainbridge Community Church has a Christmas Cookie Walk on December 11, if you’re just not up to baking another single thing but still have a craving for gingerbread and icing and nut rolls and date pinwheels and  red & green sprinkles and chocolate chips and…where was I ? …did I mention cherries and candied fruit?…all of that stuff that you really could have any time but it wouldn’t taste the same.

The People Tree still needs more ringers; there are probably still kids and families on various “Giving Trees” around town that could use your help; the Salvation Army red kettles are still out at the malls.  Go local (see above) or focus on the wider world–Happy Trails Farm Rescue, Operation Christmas Child, The Heifer Project, for example–‘tis the season to “think outside the box”–the gift box, that is–to unwrap the all of the joy  that you can for all of the people you can (Shades of John Wesley!).  No messy clean-up!

The expression “oops” is a very useful one. However, there are times when one really, Really, REALLY does not wish to hear it…or even speculate upon what might be the occasion for its use.  In surgery, for instance, “oops” is not a good omen, nor is it in some aspects of cooking–the addition of chili peppers, perhaps, or garlic powder.  After  a loud crash, “oops” seems a bit inadequate and/or ominous and when the source of the utterance is then silent on the particulars of the event, it frequently bespeaks a disaster of considerable magnitude and extent.

Certain computer operations fall into this category.  The classic examples being hitting the “delete” key, (causing the disappearance into the ether of a vital document) after the completion of a particularly long and arduous project of some sort  with an associated deadline and punching “reply all” to an email when the response was intended to go to some specific, sympathetic correspondent rather than to all of the individuals in an address list ( Your sister, for instance, might be expected to be more inclined to  agree with your characterization of your boss as a “crass, overbearing, malevolent toad” than would the weasel co-worker who wants a promotion.  Well, the co-worker might agree but they’d be happy to pass your opinion along to the aforementioned boss–with predictable results).

All of which is brought to mind by the recent release of thousands of pages of diplomatic correspondence by some wretched outfit called WikiLeaks, which claims, apparently, that dumping all of this supposedly confidential information out into the public prints is somehow going to advance openness and world peace.  Balderdash!  Codswallop and camel hockey, I say.  Much as we might chafe sometimes at diplomatic circumlocutions and puffery, much as we might wish for international exchanges to “call a spade a spade”, we’d probably be no more inclined to accept with equanimity the opinions of other nations and individuals  about our practices and procedures than they will prove to be about ours.  Admit it, we’ve all probably said things that were not intended to be broadcast to all and sundry and would not be well-pleased if that happened.  Referring to anyone else’s foibles and shortcomings, physical anomalies or behavioral quirks in disparaging terms is not what Dale Carnegie would have recommended (How) to Win Friends and Influence People and it certainly doesn’t help that dumping this whole bunch of back-and-forth between and about other countries and their leaders…and our counterparts… is not going to do anyone any good and, in some cases, may actually cause harm.  Bad enough to leak the stuff on our side, let alone the comments and come-backs from others that they had every reason to believe would remain confidential.

The WikiLeaks crowd is a bit reminiscent of the sibling who purloins a diary or journal and distributes it at school or on line to see what devastating effect is forthcoming.  Adjectives that come to mind include–but are not limited to–immature, callous, mean, underhanded, attention-seeking, malicious…add your own term of disparagement…lowlife, maybe?

Oops might also apply for anyone thinking that the recent–unseasonably–warm weather would last  until the actual seasonal pivot of the solstice, coming on December 21.  The Christmas Walk did well this year (Something north of two thousand visitors, reportedly)due, at least in part, to some very fine blue skies and  relatively comfortable temperatures.  My mother and I sat out on the back deck in perfect comfort on the second Saturday; mint juleps would not have been out of line There was one nippy morning when I was out sweeping off my back decks ( It was like brushing a Slushy down the steps) but over all both week ends left little to be desired in respect to the co-operation of the elements.

So now we’re in for it.  Those intermittent lows in the twenties and thirties, those barely-visible snow displays…just a warm-up.  We’re about to get “down ‘n’  dirty” (literally)  real soon.  This will coincide with various holiday parties and concerts and dramatic productions and family gatherings and stints as bell-ringers (Call Kim at 330-527-4873 to sign up).  I was waiting for one more warm-up to get out and put the Rain-X on my windshield.