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Now that the baseball has officially started–with a few fits and starts as well as a false spring heat wave–you might notice a few things different from last season. Sure, sure, there are new players; that happens every year, more or less. No. Look at what they’re playing WITH…new bats. Not just new, as in “We bought these this year,” but NEW, as in “These meet the BBCOR regs.” What’s up? The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFSHS) has up-dated its equipment standards to be congruent with those of the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association), following a research study by the NCAA concerning player safety. First, it was wooden bats, next, the move was to aluminum and then to composite bats. They got lighter, the kids got more powerful, the hits were longer…and anybody that got hit by a batted ball was, most likely, in a world of hurt, especially pitchers. This was because the composite bats had a higher BESR–ball exit speed ratio–the material of the bat itself caused the hit ball to go like the Olympic motto : Citius, Altius, Fortius–Faster, Higher, Stronger. It was a bonanza for hitters; for pitchers and fielders, not so much. Scores in the College world Series reached unheard-of totals. Injuries rose. What to do? Enter the new bats with a lower BBCOR–bat ball coefficient of restitution. The material of the bat will not produce the “boost” that was giving sluggers the upper hand. The “sweet spot” will be smaller; the balance will be different. Starting in 2012, all non-wood bats must meet the BBCOR standard set in NFSH regulation 1.3.2 in order to “minimize risk, improve play and increase teaching opportunities.” That’s the point made by Garfield’s Coach Norton. Play will be safer; practice will shift to more fundamentals and emphasis on defense, more practice on bunting and placement. There will still be home runs but they’ll be big deals, not ho-hum non-events. There’ll be more emphasis on RBI’s (runs batted in); no more cheap base hits. These things don’t come cheap, of course. The new bats will be priced in the $200-$300 range, for the most part, with bargains here and there and gold-plated ones for the elites. One of the things that got the kibosh put on the earlier composite bats was the fact that they could snap when hit just right (Or wrong, depending on how you look at it). Another was that over time, with use, the bats would slip out of compliance and exit speeds (BESR) would increase by as much as 10-15mph–DANGER! DANGER! Listen for the new sound too. Play Ball!

Global climate change on your mind lately? Several days in the 80’s in March might cause you to consider its validity. Well, it shouldn’t because the unseasonable warmth we have experienced throughout March (actually all winter) is just variation in our weather. The saying goes ‘if you don’t like NE Ohio weather, wait a day and it will change’. This is probably more true in spring than any other time of the year. Notice though, that it is not called ‘global weather change’. The word climate is inserted because it means something different. Let’s review a couple of important terms. Weather describes the current or recent conditions, for example rainy and cool, or sunny, hot and dry. Climate, on the other hand, is the long-term average of weather. Some climate data is a compilation of over 100 years of weather data. Thirty years or more weather data goes in to describe climate. For the most part, our climate in northern Portage County is temperate, which means we have cold winters, hot summers and mild spring and fall seasons. Our climate also indicates we will amass 39 inches of precipitation each year. Most people would guess that April is the rainiest month of the year. It actually ranks 4th with slightly less than 3 ½ inches of rain. May, June and July are actually the rainiest months in Hiram, Ohio. Wondering about our average high temperature in March, particularly after the 70 and 80oF days we have experienced? 45oF! March 2012 will certainly go down as one of the warmest in history, but it will do little to change the climate records from the past 100 years (58oF is the average high temperature for April). So if summer temperatures in March don’t change your mind about climate change, what might? Phenology, of course! What is Phenology? “Many of the events of the annual cycle recur year after year in a regular order. A year-to-year record of this order is a record of the rates at which solar energy flows to and through living things. They are the arteries of the land. By tracing their response to the sun, phenology may eventually shed some light on that ultimate enigma, the land’s inner workings.” –Aldo Leopold, A Phenological Record for Sauk and Dane Counties, Wisconsin, 1935-1945 Naturalist Aldo Leopold began recording season observations at his shack in Wisconsin in 1935. For the next 11 years, his observations recorded the arrival of spring birds, melting ice on the nearby rivers and ponds, the familiar wedge of Canda Geese flying south and much more. Simple, careful observations that provided the basis for his famous work, A Sand County Almanac, still a must read for anyone interested in ecology, natural history, conservation or just a good story. The story that A Sand County Almanac tells is about phenology, the study of plant and animal life cycles changes due to climate and seasonal changes in the environment. Phenology is derived from the Greek word phaino meaning ‘to show or appear’, and is therefore used to describe the science concerned with the dates of first occurrence of natural events in their annual cycle. Animal migrations, plants budding and blooming, insect emergence, frost and ice-over and ice-out dates, and other data are important to understanding changes to climate. These observations are often referred to as “greening-up” (observing spring buds and flowers) and “browning down” (observing fall colors and leaf fall). Farmers are excellent sources of phenological data. They often keep careful records of last and first frost dates, rainfall, soil temperature, planting and harvest dates and much more. Each piece of data is useful for the next year and helps to maximize crop production. Actually, many of us keep track of such information, even if we don’t record our observations carefully. We know that daffodils usually bloom in April and even teach our children that “April showers bring May flowers”. Nature lovers know that the last week in April and first week in May is often the best time to observe trilliums and other spring wildflowers. Birders know that Mother’s Day weekend is often the best for viewing spring migrants. Fortunately, there are people and organizations that have been recording phenology data for many decades. These long-term observations have been essential to understanding climate change. More and more information from phenology studies demonstrates long term trends and shifts in climate. Record warmth in March or even a warm winter does not indicate a trend. Decades of data are necessary. Plants are budding and blooming earlier than 30 or 40 years ago and some are growing in areas that have been too cold. Migrating birds are returning days and sometimes weeks earlier to summer breeding grounds than they have in the past. The USA National Phenology Network (USA-NPN) monitors the influence of climate on the phenology of plants, animals, and landscapes. This organization of scientists, resource managers and volunteers (aka, citizen scientists) learn how to make observations and submit data as a means to understand environmental change. Visit http://www.usanpn.org/about. Project Budburst (http://neoninc.org/budburst/phenology.php) and Journey North (http://journeynorth.org/) are two other resources to learn more about phenology and to get involved in viewing interactive maps and participating in making observations. The Ohio State University has been promoting Phenology Gardens to record dates of blooms and ultimately assist with identifying insect activity. The list of plants for the gardens has been carefully selected because of their close relationships with pollinating insects. Gardens can be planted at schools, businesses and backyards. For more information, visit (http://phenology.osu.edu/default.asp). Did You Know… The famous Washington D.C. Cherry Blossom Festival happens during the first two weeks in April. Over the past two or three decades, the cherry trees have bloomed earlier and the closing parade often happens after the blossoms have lost their luster. The festival may be blossom-less altogether this year as the cherries were already blooming in mid-March. More Nearby Nature Burton Wetlands: Saturday, April 7 (9:00am-Noon) Explore trails and pathways of the Burton Wetlands, the largest and one of the most important wetlands of the Lake Erie watershed. The area provides habitat for bald eagles, river otters, sandhill cranes, and a host of other wildlife. Glacial lakes, bogs, swamp forests, marshland and the old and new Cuyahoga River are all part of this fascinating complex. Sponsored by the Friends of the Hiram College Field Station (hiking fee: $5 for members, $8 for non-members). To register, call 330.569.6003 or email sorrickmw@hiram.edu. Directions provided upon registration. Audubon Bird Walks: April 15, 22, 29; May 6, 13, 20 (7:30-9:00am) Experienced and beginning birders are invited for these walks as we set out early Sunday mornings to learn and record the sights and sounds, indicating the return of our feathered friends from distant lands. Bring your binoculars and meet at the JH Barrow Field Station on Wheeler Rd. (between SR 305 and SR 82) near Garrettsville. It is a great way to learn birding from experts. No registration is necessary. For questions, call 330.569.6003.

So apparently I jinxed myself in last week’s article. I mentioned how great the weather has been and how lucky we were to get a head start on the growing season. Then unfortunately the weather took a turn for the worse and warnings of frost and hard freezes were running across the bottom of my tv screen. We are currently about 4 weeks ahead of the growing season and usually are not “safe” from a frost until mid-May. However if you recall the Spring of 2010 we had a mild March, a nice April and 3 feet of snow in May followed by a week of temperatures in the 20’s around May 23rd. This year is looking eerily similar to 2010 except the temperatures in March this year have been a lot higher than expected. As temperatures dipped to the low 20’s we had a lot of our customer asking what the impact has been. We won’t know the full damage until late April / early May but here is a quick reference chart that we use to estimate how much damage we should expect. Many thanks to Tom Zabadal at Michigan State University, Southwest Michigan Research & Extension Center for putting this together for wineries in frost zones. If the vines are still dormant we can survive some really cold temperatures, however if the bud is just beginning to swell, meaning the bud is brown but no other color temperatures can drop to 13 degrees before we start to see some damage. However if the bud is in full swell where the bud is starting to look pink or green once temperatures reach 26 degrees most wineries will see damage to about 50% of their vines. Right now a lot of wineries are in this swell state however a number of them have reported they have bud burst (leaves are just starting to form on the vine). If temperatures drop to 28 degrees they will see major damage. In late May 2010 we were at the stage of seeing the third leaf in almost full bloom when temperatures dropped to 21 degrees two nights in row. During that time we lost 90% of the vineyard to frost damage and lost an entire season of crop. So hopefully Mother Nature is on our side this year and quickly warms back up for a fantastic year of grape growing! Amanda is the Co-Owner of Candlelight Winery located at 11325 Center Street, Garrettsville. For more information on some of these events or wine lists from the winery, please visit www.candlelightwinery.com or call 330.527.4118.

The primary election is over. Except for the Presidential campaign, some of you may not have known there were elections. Let’s be honest. Many of us realized for the first time at the poll that we had LOTS of decisions to make. For those of us who voted a partisan ballot, whether Democrat or Republican, we voted for several offices. So what are these offices we are electing? At the risk of trying to “outshine” my high school government teacher, I want to refresh your memory of the positions for which we will vote again in November. As most readers know, I work in government. But I realize that many people do not regularly interact with government other than paying taxes. So the goal of this article is to jog your memory of what each position does. Every two years we elect a State Representative. This person will represent you in the Ohio General Assembly. Of course, this is our government in Columbus. In short, they make Ohio laws. Income taxes, gun legislation, rules about hydraulic fracturing, and most other topics are decided by these folks. This year we vote on this important position as well as for State Senators. At the county level, we will elect two County Commissioners, the Sheriff, Recorder, Treasurer, Prosecutor, and Clerk of Courts this year. The Sheriff enforces the law and investigates crimes in unincorporated areas (townships). The Prosecutor is supposed to prosecute crimes and represent the county in court in civil matters. So what do the other positions do? The County Commissioners are responsible for the overall operation of the county and, more importantly, the county budget and spending. The Treasurer collects and invests county money. The Clerk of Courts maintains all court files and accepts incoming documents in court cases. And the Recorder records documents such as deeds and maintains previously recorded documents. Aside from Sheriff and Prosecutor, the others may seem “ho hum.” That is probably a fair assessment. But consider how these positions might be important. If you buy a house, do you want an accurate record that you own it? A responsible County Recorder is in charge of this. If you are found “not guilty” of a crime, would you like the official records to reflect this? The Clerk of Courts is in charge of this. Do you want your tax dollars to be spent responsibly? The County Commissioners are charged with doing so. These positions seem more relevant when we consider how they might affect our own lives. At the risk of repeating from prior columns, these are the reasons that make voting important. Whether you voted in the primary or not, please exercise your right to vote in the November election. Obviously the President of the United States is important and your vote matters. But the state and county positions also matter. I encourage everyone to look at each candidate on the ballot. Will they make the decisions that YOU want them to make? If so, they deserve your vote. And if they do not, find the person who will make decisions like you. After all, it is our money and our government.

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.

No this is not a B rated movie review from the 50’s, but a way to alert our readers that spring is well on its way! Turkey vultures, crocus, red-wing blackbirds are a clue; however, a sure sign of spring that we are all familiar with is the sound of spring peepers and wood frogs. As the temperatures rise, so does the crescendo, reaching a fever pitch in early to mid April. In our last article, “Vernal pools: Murky Puddles of Fascinating Life”, we discussed what a vernal pool is and the importance they play in nature. Since both of us are educators, the rationale for writing this column is twofold, first to educate our readership on the fascinating natural world in which we live and, second, to get people out to enjoy that same natural world…..hence the title, “nearby nature”. We are blessed with a plethora of parks and opportunities to get out and enjoy the wonders of nature. The Geauga Metro parks, Hiram College Field Station, Nelson Ledges State Park, Eagle Creek Nature Preserve, Mosquito Lake State Park, not to mention your own back yard or the woods nearby. We can’t think of a better way to spend a bright sunny day! In the next series of articles we will try to help point out what is occurring, try to identify some common plants, wildflowers, or birds to look for as you venture out. (In our best classroom voice) Boys and girls let’s start today’s lesson…… In the last article we talked about vernal pools, let’s review how we determine what makes up a vernal pool. It is small and shallow, isolated from other bodies of water or other wetlands, fills seasonally and occasionally dries out, is situated in woodland or old field, has obligate species and lacks fish. In this article we will focus on the “obligate species” or “indicator species”. It is important to be able to identify what you are looking at when you go out into the woods this weekend. The following will help you distinguish between a spring peeper, a wood frog, and/or a toad. What the egg masses of each species looks like in the pool. What are the differences between frog egg masses and salamander egg masses. Help identify some of the common salamanders that you may see migrating into the pools. And finally…. creatures from the deep you might see. (You must talk like Boris Karloff when you say that) Eastern Wood Frog (Rana sylvatica) 1 ½ -2 ¾ inch long The wood frog is the most terrestrial frog in the woods. For most of its life it prefers moist woodlands to ponds. However in March even before the ice melts, it finds its way into vernal pools. During courtship the males produce a series of five or six loud clucking notes. Eggs are laid in large gelatinous masses with spherical-shaped black eggs. Egg masses are attached to submerged vegetation. Northern Spring Peeper (Hyla Crucifer) ¾ -1 ¼ inch long The peeper can be easily be identified by the prominent dark X marking on its back and rounded tree-frog toe pads. This small tree frog lives in moist woodlands and swamps. Small in stature, size of a quarter, this familiar call is a short high-pitched, one-syllable whistles. A full chorus of peepers can be deafening. Egg masses are similar to wood frog egg masses Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma Maculatum) 6 -7 ¾ inches long These large salamanders are found throughout Ohio in low-lying moist woodlands adjacent to ponds and wetlands. They are reclusive by nature, burrow underground and are rarely seen except in early spring. They migrate in large numbers during the night to the same pools they were born in year after year, imprinted like mammals and birds. Salamander egg masses can be distinguished from frogs egg masses in that they are a solid fist or softball-size gelatinous mass that is attached to a small stick or other ridged structure. Unlike frogs with thousands of eggs, salamander egg masses only contain around one hundred or so eggs. Northern Red Salamander (Pseudotriton ruber) 4 ¼ – 6 inches long This salamander inhabits the eastern parts of the state and can be found under logs, moss and rocks. It also has a distinctive yellow iris and stout body. In addition to the wood frog, spring peeper, and salamanders; invertebrates such as giant water bugs, water scorpions, leeches, crawling water beetle, caddisfly larvae, whirligig beetles and dragonflies and many others are indicators of a vernal pool. Other amphibian species such as the American toad, tree frogs, green frogs, various types of turtles, and snakes can inhabit a vernal pool. Wood ducks also make use of vernal pools to raise their young. Now class, take out your pencils it’s time for a pop quiz!! Did You Know? e Wood frogs can freeze solid and thaw out without any serious injury. e The American Toads lay their eggs in long viscous strands that loop around and through the vegetation at the edge of the pool or pond. e The largest salamander in Ohio is the Eastern Tiger Salamander measuring up to 8 ¼ inches long. UPDATE on the maple syrup article: Mark Apple reports that he will make around 500 gallons of syrup this year. “It was a strange year with lots of sap; however the sugar content was low.” GET OUTSIDE AND COME JOIN THE FUN. GET OUT AND ENJOY NEARBY NATURE…… Vernal Poolooza! March 23 – Join the vernal pool party and see first-hand how these unique habitats team with fascinating life in early spring. This will be our first vernal pool monitoring of the spring. If we are lucky, we will hear the “quacks” of wood frogs. Registration is a must (call 330.569.6003 or email sorrickmw@hiram.edu) as below-freezing temperatures will postpone the party. Dress warm, wear waterproof boots and pack a flashlight as we hike to some vernal pools to begin our spring monitoring and observe some of the first signs of life in the ponds. The party begins at 5:30pm. Meet at the James H. Barrow Field Station in Hiram Township, located between Hiram and Garrettsville on Wheeler Rd. (between SR 305 and SR 82). The Field Station is managed by Hiram College as a nature preserve for research and education.

Lots of it was just stuff. You know, things that have to be done but really not planned for except in a sort of fly-by-night fashion–medical events, grocery shopping, yard work– that kind of stuff. Then there were actually scheduled activities –lunch with the Nelson Literary Musical Club (All decked out in green they were; I wasn’t), choir practice, 20th Century Club meeting at the James A. Garfield Historical Society ( Some of the members are as historical as the exhibits). Then there was the good stuff. On the spur of the moment I drove up to Middlefield to the Dutchland (a reference to the Amish as “Pennsylvania Dutch”, presumably) Hunting and Fishing Show and Sale up in the old Paul’s building in Middlefield. Interesting. The ad–in The Villager, natch–said : hunting equipment 50%-75% off ( Like I would know the difference!), fishing equipment, boating, camping, seminars on fishing, food plot management (Do you suppose that’s a garden?), deer, turkey, coyote hunting seminars. Just the kind of thing for me, right? How could I pass this up? No activity like this is without merchandise for sale. There were T-shirts (I seriously considered one that said “Pro Staff” on the front…. Didn’t say “Pro” what, now did it?), fishing tackle–lures & hooks, rods & reels, tackle boxes, fishing line guaranteed to be strong enough to haul in Moby Dick, knives–oooh, lots of knives– plain and fancy, Native American tschotschkes of all sorts (Ever notice that Native American faces on these things always look like us WhiteEyes with really good tans?), blankets & leather belts, decoys, deer lures, outboard motors, camo wardrobe improvements, archery equipment with compound bows that Hiawatha never would recognize (some of them were pink), other items that I could only guess at. Plenty of booths touting outdoor adventures–big game, just regular game (bear, bobcat, deer, coyote), Maine woods trips, charter fishing (Lake Erie, Pymatuning, points north, like Quebec), the Trumbull County Rod & Gun Club, the Trumbull County Beagle Club, a bear skull, plenty of displays of the taxidermist’s art (one cooler chest full of plasticized fish,) the U.S. Coast Guard. There was a video shooting simulation; there were turkey calls (being tried out by all and sundry–it was noisy in that part of the building), there were targets and stands, raffles and giveaways and seminars. There were wonderful names : Lucky’s Jerky, Tru-Trip Deep Divers for walleye, crappie jigs, Froggy Toggs. And a few incongruities : Bath Fitter, Ohio State Water proofing, Tom Warren, running for state representative–those politicians will go anywhere. My personal favorite was the display by Birds in Flight Sanctuary, Inc. They had there several rescued sick, injured and orphaned raptors which they had cared for. Gotta love owls! And the food! Amish bakery goods! Hungarian Pepper Relish! Meatball wraps! Bowl-O-Meatballs! One stop had Hickory Syrup. Hickory Syrup? The ingredients list said: Hickory, Sugar. Was it the bark? The wood? Nuts? Interesting flavor. And speaking of nuts…. St. Patrick’s Day in Garrettsville was a big green success. Anything that could be even remotely connected to the Auld Sod was being played, displayed, photographed, eaten or drunk…happily…for most of the day. Sam Bixler and his big Shire horses were taking wagon/carriage-loads of merrymakers on trips around the downtown area. Jason Adkins, the Balloon Dude, was making fantastical creatures (He says that he was not responsible for Leppy and his crew; lets hope not). Most of the restaurants in town were doing a land office business in corned beef in all of its many permutations–hash, sandwiches, with eggs or potatoes or both, even as reubens. Green was the color of the day, of course, though orange would have been equally apropos, unless you’re inclined to discriminate against Northern Ireland and/or Protestants. It went beyond Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham to green beer and Grasshopper Pie, maybe Key Lime, in a pinch. Guiness was flowing like water; several partakers subsequently required pouring into their respective beds later in the evening, which went on for quite a while. The streetscape patio at the Main Street Grille and Brewing Company (AKA, The Mill) was buzzing from early until late; ditto for Sean’s Pub, Slim & Jumbo’s, Sky Lanes…you name it. I got to sing an Irish ditty about a little red fox with the musicians ensconced in the Bookstore playing on guitar, harp, flute, buttonbox concertina, whistle and the Uillean pipes (That’s one Irish take on bagpipes; most of us only know the Scots version. Virtually every western musical culture has some variation). Maith thu’! And in there somewhere, I stopped for pancakes with the Garfield Middle School football program, courtesy of Coach Apple and his expert flapjack flippers. Great syrup and they did a special-order stack of wheats that landed with a thud and stayed with me all day. Great stuff! Bigger and better next year…if the weather repeats. Dia ar sabhail!

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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.

Wow – this weather is fantastic!! I have been enjoying it as much as I could, cleaning up the branches, opening the windows in the house to let the fresh air in, going for a jog… it has been a great feeling. Unfortunately, as much as we have been enjoying the temperatures lately, I am quite fearful that we are going to have at least one more drop in temperatures before we fully get to enjoy this for the rest of Spring and Summer. When that drop happens or how low it goes, I don’t know but I sure hope it happens soon. We have pruned the vineyard and unfortunately were already starting to see the buds swelling. If this great weather trend continues the vineyards are going to start coming out of their dormant stage and start budding way too early. Unfortunately, if the temperatures do drop below freezing, this could be detrimental to the vines. Last year we saw similar activity where we had some great days in early March, followed by a freeze in April. Thankfully, our vines escaped much damage during that timeframe but we ended up with a very late frost in early May which killed most of our vines. So what can you do to prevent this? Unfortunately there’s not a lot that you can do. If you have planted flower baskets, you can always bring the plants into a garage or a basement during the late frosts, but when you have three acres of grapes, it’s not as simple as bringing them inside. Many wineries have now invested in wind machines and sprinklers that help control the temperature of air and keeps the grapes wet enough that the water on the vines freeze but not the new buds. For smaller wineries, if we know there is a frost coming, we have the option of burying the vines with mulch; however, if the vine has already started budding, we are out of luck and decide that there’s always next year. In the meantime, I won’t worry about what kind of weather is yet to come, so I might as well enjoy the weather we have now. Amanda is the Co-Owner of Candlelight Winery located at 11325 Center Street, Garrettsville. For more information on some of these events or wine lists from the winery, please visit www.candlelightwinery.com or call 330.527.4118.

For investors who seek to defer capital gains on the sale of investment property, one complex yet effective option is a 1031 exchange (also known as a Starker exchange).
Named after Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code, 1031 exchanges became more popular and accessible after a key ruling by the IRS in 2002, which for the first time allowed property owners to exchange qualified real estate for fractional-ownership interest in larger investment properties.

Can we please have a rest until closer to November?

Good Grief!  It got so that I was seriously thinking of just letting the phone ring–I never do that–until the machine picked up or the caller got tired–no caller I.D. here, Chatty Kathy, no screening of calls.  In the end, I did not do that; I’m always worried that I might miss something or be accidentally rude (If I’m going to be rude, I’d rather be it on purpose).  But, boy, it was a temptation  when the political calls were tracking each other–Bam–Bam–Bamm–at lunchtime, at suppertime, Sunday afternoon, Monday morning, all of the above.  Whoooee!

And the resemblance to Middle School social interaction was unnerving : He said this ; He did that; I’m smarter; He’s ugly; I’m going to….; He won’t….; This person likes me better; That person is on his side.  Lordy, Lordy, you could tune in to this kind of stuff in any locker room in the country…with a comparable basis in fact and relevance.  Could we please try to raise the level of public discourse somewhat above this juvenilia? Puts me in mind of an old saying by Abraham Lincoln, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

Some of these dudes should have just shut up. But that would be too much to ask, given that the means of communicating has expanded so amazingly.  You’ve got your landline telephone, your cell phone, your Blackberry, your Facebook page, your Twitter account, your email, your “snail mail” box –filled with flyers–at the house or at the post office; there are posters on poles, posters in yards, posters at every intersection.  The robo-calls and polls and testimonials are irritating to the maxxx; they always come in when you’ve got other things happening…or trying to.

I can’t speak of TV ads, since I don’t see them, but I can’t imagine that there is any relief to be found there.  One radio report that I heard said that some “Super Pac” had spent 25 million on such advertising in one state.  Whoooeee!
And that’s another thing…the names of these groups.  Their names are all uplifting and patriotic and do-gooder-sounding but they get your attention almost solely to savagely attack anyone not in lock-step with them and them alone.  Think you might like to have a view of your own?  Think that there might be a question about the veracity and accuracy of the charges being made? Think that there might just be a “fly in the ointment” of the proposed miraculous solution?  Forgetaboutit!
And yet….  And yet…..

When you get right down to brass tacks ( and brass knuckles too, at least figuratively speaking), there have been worse times in the political history of the republic.  Oh yes, pretty ugly stuff.
George Washington may be just about the only President who escaped vilification and cruel rumors (though there were snide remarks about his expense accounts while commander of the Continental Army, the wine, you know).  John Adams and Thomas Jefferson and their supporters verbally duked it out in the election of 1800, calling each other vicious names(“blind, bald, crippled toothless, hideous and hermaphroditical, seeking mistresses and to marry his son[–that would be John Quincy–]to the king’s daughter…”; “would bring murder, rape, robbery, adultery and incest to practice in the land …soaked with blood).  Heck, Sen. Stephen Douglas called Abraham Lincoln, “a hatchet-faced nutmeg dealer”…and you thought he was just good at debating!

Probably the worst in terms of physical violence was the Sumner/Brooks Affair.  Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts was anti-slavery to the bone and made a vitriolic speech in 1856, ridiculing slave owners as pimps for “the harlot, Slavery” in the “Crime against Kansas” and calling Senators Andrew Brooks and Stephen Douglas–remember him?–.  “noise-some, squat and nameless animal(s)”.  Nice talk!  Rep Preston Brooks of South Carolina, a cousin, took umbrage and proceeded to walk onto the floor of “the world’s greatest deliberative body” and beat Sumner with a wooden cane, nearly to death.  Brooks resigned to avoid a censure resolution; his district re-elected him.

The advent of mass communication did not bring about a conversion to civility either.  For example, the “Daisy” ad of the campaign  in 1964 used a little girl and a flower leading into a nuclear count-down to slam Barry Goldwater as a warmonger (There was also a dust-up about him being born in Arizona when it was still Indian Territory.  Was he really a citizen?).  Michael Dukakis popping out of a tank was an object of ridicule. The patriotism, parentage and sexual proclivities of just about everybody have been called into question at one time or another; we didn’t all have to listen to it or see it so much, though.
Only eight months to go.  Hang on to your hats.

I  recently read a column about how the price of gas is increasing the cost of the wine bottle. I understand that it will cost more to ship but unfortunately the wine industry is seeing an increase in equipment and an increase in shipping. I am not alone when I say this isn’t fair but I know for the next couple of months or so I am going to have to deal with it.

The word vernal is Latin from “vernus,” meaning “belonging to spring.” Vernal pools refer to any wetland that fills annually from snow melt, spring rains and rising groundwater. They usually do not have an outlet stream and therefore most years dry out during the hot summer months or early fall. But don’t let these vanishing pools fool you.
Vernal pools are typically small, perhaps even a ‘vernal puddle’, but ecologically extremely important as they erupt with unique creatures in early spring when ice and snow melt and warm spring rains fall. They can be discovered in forests and fields, and even old tractor ruts. Vernal pools are valuable wildlife habitats because of the great variety of species that call them home. Being an aquatic organism and living in a habitat that normally dries up in a few months can be tricky. The organisms that live in vernal pools have adapted amazing survival strategies. Most important  is rapid growth from egg to larva to adult. This development can be accelerated by warm water temperatures and even shrinking water levels. Some of the adults fly, hop or crawl away, while others remain dormant and wait out dry conditions. Some species may survive dormancy as adults, larvae or eggs for several years until the pond becomes flooded again. Low oxygen levels and regular drying prevents the establishment of fish and large frog species from surviving and preying on eggs and larva in vernal pools, thus providing some refuge for those species that call these ponds home.
Indicator species (sometimes called obligate species), such as wood frogs, spotted salamanders and fairy shrimp distinguish vernal pools. These organisms depend solely on vernal pools for their survival. Facultative species, on the other hand, can be found in vernal pools but are capable of inhabiting a variety of wetland habitats for their various life activities. Facultative species include red-spotted newts, spring peepers, gray treefrogs, toads, predaceous diving beetles, fingernail clams, amphibious snails, caddisfly larvae, dragonfly and damselfly nymphs and many more.
The foundation of food webs in a vernal pool is dead leaves and plant material that fall into the water. Bacteria and fungi decompose this plant matter and are in turn consumed by zooplankton such as daphnia, copepods and rotifers, or insect larvae such as caddisflies. Frog tadpoles feed on leaves and other plant matter, as well as algae. Salamander larvae are carnivorous and feed on zooplankton until they are large enough to eat aquatic worms, insects, frog tadpoles and even other salamander eggs and larvae. The food web expands to the surrounding ecosystem as turtles, snakes, raccoons, owls, shrews and other organisms visit the pond for a meal or prey on organisms as they emerge from the pond to inhabit the surrounding land.
Vernal pools are important habitats not only for the life cycle of many species, but also to provide water for wildlife and temporary stopping points for traveling amphibians and reptiles. For organisms that depend solely on vernal pools, they may be the only suitable habitat for that organism and perhaps even the whole population of organisms in the area to survive. These organisms are so closely adapted to vernal pool habitats that they return to the same pool year after year to lay eggs. Salamanders and other amphibians return to the same pond from which they hatched to lay their own eggs when they are adults. Destruction of vernal pools by filling in, draining or polluting can seriously impact local populations of these little-known organisms.

Did You Know…
Want to learn more? Join the party! Vernal Poolooza! – March 9 & 23 (5:30-7:30pm)
Join the vernal pool party and see first-hand how these unique habitats team with fascinating life in early spring. This will be our first vernal pool monitoring of the spring. If we are lucky, we will hear the “quacks” of wood frogs. Registration is a must (call 330.569.6003 or email sorrickmw@hiram.edu) as below-freezing temperatures will postpone the party. Dress warm, wear waterproof boots and pack a flashlight as we hike to some vernal pools to begin our spring monitoring and observe some of the first signs of life in the ponds. Meet at the James H. Barrow Field Station in Hiram Township, located between Hiram and Garrettsville on Wheeler Rd. (between SR 305 and SR 82). The Field Station is managed by Hiram College as a nature preserve for research and education.

An unusual and fascinating vernal pool invertebrate is called the water scorpion. This “stick-bug-like” insect can grow to be about 3 inches in length. It has long narrow legs and a slender body. Despite its name, it does not sting. However, it is predaceous and has a nasty piercing mouthpart to suck the body fluids of tadpoles, salamander larvae or other hapless prey.

The Ohio Environmental Council has established a vernal pool monitoring program to develop a database of information about vernal pools across the state. If you are interested in learning more about the Ohio Environmental Council and their vernal pool monitoring program, visit http://www.theoec.org/WaterVernalPools.htm.

More Nearby Nature
The following Nearby Nature programs are sponsored by the Friends of the Hiram College Field Station. Hiking fee: $6 for non-members or $3 for members. Call 330.569.6003 or email sorrickmw@hiram.edu to register. Early registration is necessary as space for both hikes is limited.

Liberty Park Lowlands – Sunday, March 4 (11:00am-1:00pm) An extensive landscape mosaic of over 3200 acres is preserved just west of Aurora. Liberty Park, part of the MetroParks Serving Summit County, is a major component of the preserve complex that includes forest, wetlands, lakes, and a large area of impressive sandstone bluffs. The landscape is rich in wildlife and there is evidence that a black bear ranges throughout the complex. The trails will be wet and muddy. Meet at the Liberty Park lowlands parking lot at 3973 East Aurora Rd. Twinsburg (Ohio Rt. 82) between Aurora and Twinsburg.

Liberty Park: Uplands – Sunday, March 11 (11:00am-1:00pm) Explore the brand new Summit County MetroPark trail that winds through part of the extensive sandstone bluffs on the east side of Twinsburg. This surprising natural area is one of the wildest parts of the Akron-Cleveland area. The trail leads to a wetland complex at the base of the bluffs and provides habitat for a variety of wildlife species. Meet at the new parking lot at 9999 Liberty Road in Twinsburg.

The old fishing car is a concept that goes way back in my family to at least the mid 1950’s, as far as I can remember. I was maybe 9 or 10 at that time.   For some reason my mother thought that we should have a second car, one that would be used primarily for fishing trips.  After all, fishing was the primary recreational activity for us.  It just seemed fitting to have a special car designated for that purpose.  It had to be an older car, one that could get messed up and dirty, and have a large trunk to hold oily outboard motors and smelly fish and bait.  My own associations to this fishing car concept include a particular old mohair smell, prickly seats, and dull, dark, interior colors. That old car mohair smell has long since vanished because the cars from the mid fifties and newer with the vinyl interiors just don’t have it.   My idealized version of the fishing car was likely based on my grandfather’s 1950 Mercury which we would sometimes take fishing.  I would, some years later, inherit that car.

Doodle Dog woke up and went to the window, sleepily tugging on the bottom of the curtain to make the fabric push aside so he could see the beautiful day outside. What a surprise then to find not the sun streaming through the glass and winter birds singing in the new morning, but rather the floppy-eared puppy found himself greeted by nothing but a wall of white smushed up against the window! The ground was undoubtedly covered in a fluffy white blanket, but Doodle Dog couldn’t know for sure since snow was piled higher and even higher on the other side of the window, so high in fact that Doodle Dog couldn’t see anything on the other side, anything resembling the world he knew was out there. At this very moment, all that existed was the little puppy and the igloo-like inside of the office he called home.

I also love seed catalogs.  They’re coming in now and probably will continue until Memorial Day; Hope springs eternal!

I used to get lots more.  That was before somebody apparently tipped off Burpee’s Seeds and Plants,  Stark Bros, Gurney’s, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Park Seeds, et al. that I had a particularly virulent “black thumb”.  Yes, sadly, for green things large and small, I am a chlorophylliate “kiss-of-death”.  Once-upon-a-time, single-handed, I caused the demise of an air fern.  Jungle Girl, I am not.

Seed catalogs are so hopeful.  One gets the feeling–planted by those wily horticulturists–that if the sun will just come up on a regular basis, fruits and vegetables will overflow all of the containers available for them and the neighbors can rely on your largesse for regular infusions of Vitamins A, B–all of them–C, D and probably E and K.

It’s all reminiscent of the early days of settlement in Freedom Township:  The proprietors of large tracts of land wished to sell much of it at a profit, so they put it about that this acreage out in the wilds of the Western Reserve was a veritable Eden of the West, where crops would grow with amazing abundance and rapidity.  When planting, the sower would have to be nimble about dropping seeds in the ground, lest they spring up and deliver a sharp rap on the chin to anyone lingering to observe them in the ground.  These early real estate entrepreneurs neglected to mention the “Great Swamp” in the middle of Portage County (Not connected, but not unlike the Great Black Swamp over in western Ohio which slowed “Mad” Anthony Wayne on his way to the Battle of Fallen Timbers but encouraged the growing of just about every kind of agriculture once the place had been mostly drained.).  One lady who had trekked all the way out from Massachusetts expecting to find Paradise; when she got here and saw what she saw, she wrote back to her sister, “If this be the Land of Freedom, I would like to know what the Land of Bondage will be.”

Anyway, the same people who come up with the titles for the little sample cards in the paint selection department work on the side coming up with names for new varieties of plants.  “Snow Sweet”, “Dwarf Wonderblue”, “Pinky Winky” (It’s a hydrangea),”Serendipity”, “Sugar Daddy”, “Buttercrunch”.  Do they sound luscious or what?  Then there’s “Green Arrow”(green peas), “Mucho Nacho Hybrid”(jalapeno), “Mammoth Sandwich Island” (Salsify…whatever that is), “Kong(as in ‘King’) Hybrid Sunflower”(12 feet).  One of my favorites is the “Firewitch Dianthus”, another is “Incrediball Hydrangea”.  Where do they get these things?  Great stuff!

Somehow, I got on a mailing list for Growers Supply–a division of FarmTek.  These folks obviously don’t know who they’re dealing with.  They’re peddling complete hydroponic systems, Solar Star Greenhouses, E-Z Haul wagons and carts, seedling heat mats and Tex-R Geodiscs for weed control.  Whoops!  They’re touting all of this wonderful stuff to someone who’s got beavers chewing down the last, remaining   semi-dwarf-gone-berserk apple tree in the backyard.  Tough sell.

Still, I usually fall for at least one of their blandishments and attempt to make some new green thing grow someplace.  Bob the Landscaper Dude will tell you that I will give it the old school try, but  our nemesis is shade.  I have lots.  All of the bright, colorful plants–perennials, I have no truck with namby-pamby vegetation that can’t survive on its own–come with directions to plant them in “full sun”.  Not much of that around here.

The other siren song that I often fall for is the “heritage” label.  Makes me think of our orchard at home. Lots of old, old varieties of fruit–Yellow Transparent I remember.  Maybe Baldwins?  A little yellow plum, about the size of a Bing cherry– sweet, sweet, sweet–grafted onto a larger plum tree.  Birds always got the cherries before any of us could.  Calves and chickens and pigs and sheep scarfed up anything that hit the ground.

I do hope that somewhere in a seed bank( Like the one up in Norway on the island of Spitzbergen, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault) or world-wide gene bank all of these “old timers” are just waiting to be rediscovered, re-used, re-purposed and appear again to be enjoyed.  Plants need a “Noah’s Ark” too, to protect against a loss of diversity, whether by accident or natural disaster or disease.  When we get down to just a few varieties–all of our eggs in one basket, if you will–we’re just tempting Fate, setting ourselves up for some really hungry times.  Funny, isn’t it, that perhaps the survival of the vast majority of our food crops may depend on a storage vault 810 mi. from the North Pole, chosen for its lack of tectonic/seismic activity and its permafrost–the place is kept at 0 degrees.

Clarence Birdseye would be proud.

If you participate in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, you may have concluded that you don’t need a traditional IRA. Many people see the IRA as unnecessary because they don’t exhaust the contribution limits on their employer plans. But don’t be fooled into thinking that an IRA can’t help you reach your retirement saving goals. Chances are actually pretty good that there’s at least one IRA rollover in your future.

One of my favorite places to visit is Orlando, Florida. While I am partial to Disney there is so much to offer there! In a recent trip to Orlando a wonderful sommelier sat down with us to review an extensive wine list from his outdoor restaurant. After explaining we love dry red wine but the 90 degree temperatures were a bit much for us to handle with red wine, he quickly stood up and ran to the cellar to retrieve a great surprise.

Upon his return he had in his hands a blush wine! Imagine our surprise to see a blush wine which is usually synonymous with sweet wines. After convincing us to try a sample I was pleasantly surprised to find this wine overflowing with strawberry and raspberry flavors but without the overpowering sweetness I expected. This blush wine, served chilled, was a wonderful compliment to the hot Florida temperatures.

Now imagine my surprise when I learned that the wine I was drinking was a Pinot Noir. To give you all the details, it was a 2006 Kenwood Estates (Russian River Valley, California) Pinot Noir Rosé. After returning to Ohio I quickly started my search for this wine to make sure I could enjoy my red wines all summer. So far I have found it retailing for $14.99 at Miles Farmers Market in Solon, Ohio (look on the shelf with the other blush wines). If you have the chance, be sure to pick up a bottle of the 2006 Kenwood Estates Pinot Noir (not Rosé) to compare the two.

I know that the weather here isn’t conducive to sitting outside and enjoying a rose but in a couple of months I promise the weather will be perfect for this wine. In the meantime I would pick up a bottle or two to have on hand for the first nice day to be outside with a bonfire and the grill going.

If you get a chance to try this wine, let me know what you think, I hope you discover this makes an excellent find for the summer.

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

Many friends and neighbors are talking about drilling leases.  I have had several clients bring them to me and have had dozens of people ask in general terms what they should say.  My best advice is to get an attorney and ask him or her to review your lease.  Even before you speak to an attorney, however, here are some things to keep in mind before you sell any rights to your property.

You own your property and are not required to sell any part of it.  That makes EVERYTHING negotiable.  You may negotiate initial price, royalties, quantity of land, and everything else.  One of the best ways to put yourself in a good negotiating position is to speak with your neighbors and negotiate as a group.

Make sure you are only selling the rights to oil and gas unless you intend otherwise. If an energy company has approached you about drilling for oil and gas, there is a no reason to give them the right to anything else.  We cannot know today what might be valuable in 20 years, but do not sell it!

Every lease should protect the landowner from any and every activity associated with drilling or their equipment.  This includes not only fixing problems with water and livestock, but should cover injury and property damage.

Keep in mind that the terms of a lease are only those items written within a lease.  A separate letter or a person’s promise are likely not legally binding.  If there is a disparity in what you were told and the language that shows up in the lease, there is a problem.

Finally, before you sign make sure you understand what you are giving up.  Most of the standard leases that I have seen actually restrict how you may use your property.  Furthermore, they are designed to operate very long term and are nearly impossible for landowners to cancel.  Once an agreement like this is signed, the landowner is stuck.  Therefore, getting the terms you want before signing is critical.

In general, many of us believe the new drilling interest in Ohio is great and is a revenue opportunity for land owners.  Make sure you are clear on what you are giving and what you are receiving.  Do not be afraid to negotiate with the company because they are big.  If they did not want the right to use your land, you would not have received the initial contact.

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.

Finally some snow! How does the old song go “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere you go”….well something like that. Since we discussed the Christmas tree in our last article, we thought it would be fitting to discuss two other traditional botanical icons of the season, the poinsettia and holly. Sorry mistletoe…maybe next year.


Did you Know!


•  Seventy-four percent of Americans still prefer red poinsettias; 8 percent prefer white and 6 percent pink.

• Contrary to popular belief Poinsettias are not poisonous.

•  A fresh poinsettia is one on which little or no yellow pollen is showing on the flower clusters in the center of the bracts. Plants that have shed their pollen will soon drop their colorful bracts.

•   “Decking the halls with holly” is an ancient custom several thousand years old. The ancient Romans, Greeks, and Druids all decorated their homes with this plant.

•  Birds and animals depend on the holly berries for food during the winter months. Like the poinsettia, holly berries are not poisonous to humans but taste really bad.

[/pulledquote]The poinsettia has been associated with Christmas since the 1600’s in Mexico and most recently, due to the marketing and research by the Ecke family of southern California, since the early 1900’s in America. The botanical name, Euphorbia pulcherrima, was assigned to the poinsettia by a German botanist in the 1700’s meaning “very beautiful.” It is a small perennial shrub and can grow up to ten feet tall. It is actually native to Mexico. The milky substance that oozes from the stem and leaves when broken was used by the Aztecs during the 14th century for various medicinal purposes. The brilliant red colors of the bracts were a symbol of purity and were used in making red dye. The first time the poinsettia was grown in America was due to the efforts of Joel Roberts Poinsett, who was the first United States Ambassador to Mexico. Poinsett was an avid botanist and during his stay in Mexico he wandered the countryside looking for new plant species. In 1828 he found a beautiful shrub with large red flowers growing next to a road. He took cuttings from the plant and brought them back to his greenhouse in South Carolina. Subsequently in honor of Mr. Poinsett and the commercial success of Euphorbia pulcherrima (advertisers could not use the Aztec name Cuetlaxochitl), William Prescott, a historian and horticulturist coined the name poinsettia. Also to commemorate the death of Mr. Poinsett, on December 12, Congress in 2002 declared the day, national poinsettia day. There are over 100 varieties of poinsettias available for growers to sell. Approximately $220 million dollars of poinsettias are sold during the holiday season. Ninety per cent of all the flowering poinsettias in the world got their start at the Paul Ecke Ranch. Growers start cuttings around the first of September to obtain a saleable plant in early December. It takes approximately 80-90 days to grow a finished plant. Temperature, growth regulators, fungicide, and timely fertilization are extremely important in producing a saleable plant. A shortened day length is extremely important in the development of the bracts (modified leaves) or what most people think of as the flowers. Growers have to take into consideration “moonlight days” as the brightness of the full moon effects the development of the poinsettia, which sometimes requires the plants be completely covered with black cloth.

Holly or Ilex aquifolium has been part of the holiday season for centuries. With its shiny, prickly leaves and blood-red berries, holly plays an important part in the history of the Celtic peoples of Northern Europe as well as Norse, Roman, and Gaelic traditions. Holly boughs used as symbolic winter decorations were believed to have magical powers since they remained green through the harsh winter. The boughs were often placed over the doors of homes to drive evil away. The Celts associated the prickly holly leaves with the crown of thorns from the crucifixion and the red berries with the blood of Christ. The early Christian Church retained many of the Celtic and Roman traditions to help celebrate the birth of Christ. Holly is steeped in the folklore of several cultures. Northern Europeans believed that holly sprouted from the footsteps of Christ as he walked the earth. The Romans believed holly was a symbol of good will and protected them from lightening and witchcraft.  In Celtic lore, the Holly King was said to rule over the half of the year from the summer to the winter solstice, at which time the Oak King defeated the Holly King to rule for the time until the summer solstice again. The felling of holly trees was believed to bring bad luck. In Britain, the legend of the Green Knight and his challenge to Sir Gawain, one of the Knights of the Round Table, during the Yuletide season is a favorite among many.  In pre-Victorian times “Christmas trees” meant holly bushes.  In China, holly is used as decoration in their temples during the New Year’s celebration in February.  There are over 400 different species of holly, but most people are familiar with the English holly or the variegated holly. Hollies are dioecious, referring to a plant population having separate male and female plants. Both male and female plants produce flowers; it is only the female plant that produces the red berries. Hollies are native to every continent except Australia. Most hollies are evergreen; however, there are a few species that are deciduous. Depending on the species, holly can grow to heights of 50 feet. There is little or no grain in the wood and it is extremely hard.

I recently went out shopping for Christmas dinner and was so excited to see the displays of champagne. So now that I am in the holiday mood 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 the champagne before drinking it does not enhance the tasting. Because the majority of the bouquet of the champagne is the CO2 escaping from just opening the bottle, you cannot smell the grape. 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 in our group 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 eliminate the danger of the cork flying across the room. If the champagne starts to run out of the bottle, wait until it settles for a minute before pouring it. Enjoy! And Happy New Year!



Amanda is the Co-Owner of Candlelight Winery located at 11325 Center Road, Garrettsville. For more information on other winery topics, please visit www.candlelightwinery.com

I sure hope that I get the hang of this “Christmas shopping” thing soon. I always think that I will get a head start on it –August, say–and have gifts all wrapped and ready, tucked away somewhere (Attic? Basement?) so that the holiday rush will be a thing of the past. Well, so far what’s passed is the time for getting all of this done…without a whole lot to show for it. I have checked out and purchased a fair amount of stuff locally and am still on the lookout for the odd one-of-a-kind item or two (Shaker Tree, anyone? T & B Tools?) but there are some large gaps that are going to need to be filled pretty jolly-well quick or there will be “blood in the saddle”, so to speak.
The big trouble is that a very high percentage of the items that now strike me as being just the perfect thing for so-and-so or what’s-er-name turn out to be things that should have been ordered or purchased several whiles ago. Time to go to Plan B…or C…or whatever. Unfortunately, those plans appear to be a bit hazy too.
“Re-gifting”, while tempting, isn’t really a likely option in most situations…number one, because I’m not really positive who was the original gifter or, number two, I really like the item but haven’t quite figured out what to do with it or where to put it, or, number three, the color is just NOT going to fit just anywhere. Perhaps I should take a cue from the Rotarians, who have a White Elephant gift exchange, wherein they drag out idiosyncratic curios from the back of their closets or sale racks at some low-end Half Dollar Store, wrap this dross prettily and try to inveigle some unsuspecting counterpart into getting stuck with it…at least until the next exchange…and better wrapping. There are some exchanges where the same utterly ridiculous heirloom has been going back and forth for decades–sort of like fruitcake.
Sometimes getting out of town will work–just for new ideas, like reading up on the Neiman-Marcus catalog about the offered sequin tank tunic (Been there, done that), the ten Hacker-Craft speedboats or Ferrari FF models, the $75,000 luxury yurt(Don’t go for any yurt unless it’s a luxury model; Kazakhs and Kyrgyz tribes use them in Mongolia and Siberia–it’s about sheepskin and/or felt )–keeping in mind that $5ooo of your yurt money will go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (Check out the shape). You could also purchase a $1 million “dancing fountain or get a $5000 private tasting of Johnny Walker (No relation. My WCTU ancestors would be appalled.) or a custom-designed library with seating, shelving, objets d’ art, floor and wall-covering and 250 selected books in your preferred genre. That one will also get you a donation to First Book, a non-profit organization devoted to getting books into the hands and homes of disadvantaged children and youth. N-M aims to offer “once-in-a-lifetime experiences that evoke beauty, culinary perfection and whimsy.” Well,…me too.
So, I did head out of town, to an up-scale shopping mecca. Did I see solutions to my shopping dilemma? Did I see perfect gifts for all and sundry on my list–which I made and checked MORE than twice–clutched in my hot little hand? Alas, no!
I saw one chick in a spiffy car boppin’ out on some sort of in-car music system…didn’t appear to be Christmas carols, but she was really getting into the tunes.
I saw women wearing 4-5-inch heels walking around on pavement in shoes that were simply astounding. Don’t their toes get cold? Don’t their calves cramp up? Don’t they occasionally pitch forward into the Salvation Army kettles? Goodness gracious! Shopping requires track shoes and arch supports, not to mention coats and jackets with many pockets.
I saw children who should have been at home being dragged past things that they wanted but couldn’t have, past things that they didn’t want anyway, past other kids who were being disgruntled at the top of their lungs. They were not enjoying the sight-seeing. They were not enjoying much of anything. There were other kids clinging and crying, still others whining and wheedling, and the really upset ones were screaming like banshees. Not inspiring.
The music is still out there. The red kettles are still filling (Somebody put in gold coins; another somebody dropped in a diamond; others gave what they could). The People Tree and Shop-with-a Cop and Fill-a-Cruiser and such programs are still working their magic…quiet magic, but magic all the same. Same old tunes, new hearts to hear them. Hallelujah!
Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

The first frost of the fall occurred on October 27 at my house. This was considerably later than in past years. Since then, we have had several more heavy frosts but the recent warm and sunny days of “Indian Summer” may have pushed the thought of winter from your mind (technically, Indian Summer is a warm and dry period following the first frost). However, the days are getting shorter and the nights longer and colder. No doubt winter is on its way. You probably have been preparing for winter by raking leaves, cleaning the lawnmower, hauling wood, storing the lawn chairs and unpacking the warm coats, hats and gloves.

We have all heard or told childhood nursery rhymes, but what are we really looking at? Suffice it to say the sky has played a major role in civilizations from the beginning of time. From the ancient Aztec, Mayan and Incan cultures whose daily lives revolved around celestial events to the time of the great philosophers Aristotle, Plato, and Ptleomy who developed the first theories relating too many of the celestial objects. Ptleomy identified 48 of the 88 constellations in the sky today. From Copernicus who was excommunicated from the holy Catholic Church for proving the earth revolved around the sun to Kepler and Galileo who improved the telescope and developed what we now call modern astronomy. Without the human desire to make sense of the unknown universe, Neil Armstrong would never have uttered his immortal quote “This is one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind”, the breathtaking pictures from the Hubble telescope would have never been seen, and the eventual trip to Mars would never happen. Who could live without WD 40, Velcro, Teflon, Tupperware, and of course Tang all products developed by NASA for use in the space program to quench mans fascination with reaching the stars. 

Recently my son was photographing nature by our pond; he photographed several different types of dragonflies. This got us wondering just how many different types there were. So the search began. When you see a dragonfly, the images of a large fierce flying insect quickly flitting from place to place come to mind. Though dragonflies/damselflies are excellent predators and have a ferocious appearance, they are harmless to people. They do not sting, but they are serious predators of flying insects such as mosquitoes, gnats and midges. So dragonflies/damselflies are great to have around. During this time of year you might see large swarms of dragonflies congregating in one area. There are several explanations for this phenomenon. Some species of dragonflies congregate just before they migrate south for the winter and/or there is a large swarm of tasty insects that they are dining on. Whatever the reason a flock of these fast flying insects are sure to catch your eye.

“What makes a rock maple table different from a regular maple table?” The Newton Falls Public Library staff began their investigation in the library’s woodworking books. We found a complete list of various woods with photographs and descriptions in The Complete Manual of Woodworking by Albert Jackson, David Dan and Simon Jennings, p. 26. There are two kinds of maple, hard and soft. Other names for hard maple are rock and sugar maple. The characteristics of this type of wood, besides hard, are heavy and straight-grained with fine texture. It is considered to be more difficult to work with than the soft maples. It is commonly used for furniture, musical instruments, flooring and other items.

Extending the search online we discovered some interesting information about rock maple on www.mckinnonfurniture.com.  “. . . this species has been a favorite of furniture makers since early Colonial times . . . Hard maple is abrasion resistant and polishes to a smooth natural finish. As maple ages, the tone changes from a white to a golden hue. The aging process of maple is slower than cherry. This wood is extremely hard and is used for bowling alleys, gymnasium floors, flooring and millwork. Because it does not impart a taste or odor, it is the standard for cutting boards and butcher blocks.”

The blog, Lumberjocks.com has a discussion about the differences between these two types of maple. One contributor states that “The Janka hardness index is about 700 for soft maple and about 1400 for hard maple. That does not translate directly into strength. It really only indicates how much pressure is required to push a bee-bee into the wood.—Rich”  Others in the discussion consider the soft maple to be a paint grade wood and prefer rock maple for cabinetry and furniture which will be stained or clear coated.

Our patron was curious about the Janka hardness index. TinyTimbers.com/janka.htm has a slightly different hardness index from the blog, rating hard/sugar maple at 1450 and soft/ambrosia maple at 950. The ratings are of “the side hardness measure of the force required to embed a .444 inch steel ball to half its diameter. This is one of the best measures of the ability of wood species to withstand denting and wear.” Because of this she felt that a rock maple table would better be able to withstand the wear and tear of daily use, and was worth the difference in cost.


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 or our Facebook page.

As we prepare for the upcoming holiday seasons much of what we enjoy in Nearby Nature has either migrated, gone dormant, burrowed into the mud, or found a warm place to overwinter. So we thought we would get into the holiday spirit with topics relating to Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Sorry,  Aunt Bee,  no stuffing, cranberries, pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, or even green bean casserole……

Thanks to the mass marketing machines of Ocean Spray Cranberries, Green Giant, and other agri-business of the food industry what we commonly think of as Thanksgiving dinner is not even close to what the first Thanksgiving dinner had to offer. What struck me as I was researching various internet sites and historical accountings of the first Thanksgiving in writing this article was the incredible amount of food that was available to the pilgrims naturally. There were no supermarkets, turkey farms, or mega fruit and vegetable farms.  In addition, if it were not for the Wampanoag Indians understanding of their natural world and sharing it with the Pilgrims, they would have been a minor foot note in history.

The first Thanksgiving feast lasted three whole days, providing enough food for 53 pilgrims and 90 Indians. In November, 1621, after the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest proved successful, Governor William Bradford organized a celebratory feast and invited their newfound  friends, the Wampanoag. There are only two historical accounts detailing what the fare was at the first Thanksgiving table. Edward Winslow and William Bradford talked of killing five deer, fish (cod, bass, eel, mussels, lobster), fowl and Indian corn. Through other historical accounts it is assumed that vegetables such as squash, pumpkin, beetroot, and beans were eaten. Fruits such as currants, grapes, and red plums were common and on the table as well. Cranberries didn’t come along for quite a while.  Due to the diminishing supply of flour there was no bread of any kind, so no stuffing. Sugar stocks were almost non-existent and used primarily to sweeten the corn mush and boiled pumpkin. This, coupled with the fact that they had no ovens for baking, meant that there was no pumpkin or pecan pie.  Potatoes weren’t part of the feast, either. Neither the sweet potato nor the white potato was yet available to the Pilgrims. The term turkey covered any type of fowl that the pilgrims hunted such as ducks, geese, pheasant, grouse and of course the wild turkey.


Did you Know!

The agriculture term Three Sisters comes from a common practice followed by Native Americans  planting maize, squash and climbing beans together in a mound. The three crops benefit from each other. The maize provides a structure for the beans to climb, eliminating the need for poles. The beans provide the nitrogen to the soil that the other plants utilize, and the squash spreads along the ground, blocking the sunlight helping prevent establishment of weeds. This was one of the most important agriculture practices passed from the Indians to the Pilgrims.

The difference between the wild turkey you see in the woods today and the farm-raised Bronze breasted turkey is striking. Not only is there a greater percentage of white meat on the farm raised turkey, they are unable to fly, cannot mate naturally (must be artificially inseminated) and have a faster weight gain, getting to market weight in four to five months.

As  you  enjoy  this   Thanksgiving season full of fellowship and feasting, it is only appropriate that we stop for a second and appreciate our natural surroundings and give thanks for the glory and splendor Mother Nature has to offer. From our families to yours… Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy Nearby Nature!

 Interested in more Nearby Nature?

Tracing the Trolleys (December 4, 1:00-5:00pm): Discover the artifacts of a bygone era when the towns and villages of northeast Ohio were linked by a web of electric rail lines. A trolley system connected Garrettsville, Middlefield, and Chardon to Cleveland but not each other. Each of the three rail lines left clues scattered across the landscape of Portage and Geauga that will help us understand this bygone era. Transportation will be by college van, so space is limited. Pre-registration is required (330.569.6003 or sorrickmw@hiram.edu). Sponsored by Friends of the Hiram College Field Station (fee: $7 for members, $10 for non-members)

Send your questions or comments to: nearbynature@weeklyvillager.com

Matt Sorrick is Director of The Center for Science Education at Hiram College.   Joe Malmisur is an executive member of the Northeast Ohio Forestry Association and amateur naturalist.

As I started to think about how the five senses impact a wine tasting, I was challenged to find out how touch impacts wine. You can always touch a wine and hopefully you will feel that it is wet and in some cases you may even feel a little sediment in the touch. But how boring would that be to write about how much sediment you can touch?

So…I missed the Rotary meeting on the 24th.  They were working away at their Reverse Raffle and Silent Auction…as they have been for some time;  get your tickets now.  The array of donated items and services  should make for spirited bidding and a good time for all.  It’s a regular social event around these parts, starts off the holiday season and more holiday-minded folks are always welcome.

So why did I miss the meeting?  The Amazing Amishman was working in my trees again.  It was quite something to watch him climb up and stand on some spindly branch that I wouldn’t send a cat out on (And I have several who might volunteer) then lop off limbs of all sorts and descriptions–leafy, dead, gnarled, etc.–and let them either drop to the ground or be swung down on a rope.   All the while he’s managing various belts and tools–including a chain saw which he sometimes wield with ONE HAND–and climbing around the trunk of the tree being dealt with using a belt that sort of ratchets him upward and a pair of spikes fastened at the knee and ankle and featuring a grip-point at about the instep of his foot…and a safety rope (didn’t look all that safe to me from my perspective on the ground).  Wowzaa!

This is all going on in my side yard where a number of “junk” trees were about to go to that Big Wood Burner in the Sky…and in the back where some very mature trees needed to lose some weight (Don’t we all?), namely a selection of truly dead wood that was doing no one any good and possibly threatening the rhododendrons, poor babies.  One dead limb had actually leaned against a large neighbor for so long that the healthy tree was starting to grow bark around the freeloader to hold it up; dead branch had to be pulled out of the notch it had created, even when it was cut off from its base.   In addition, I needed a place to plant the newest addition, a young pawpaw bush that’s gone in as a companion to the one which did really well this summer.  They’re apparently not able to produce fruit unless there are at least two of them within pollinating distance of one another…and the whole purpose of planting fruit trees is–wait for it–to get fruit, right?  “Way Down Yonder in the Pawpaw Patch” will now be on the east side of the house.  Actually, I have no idea at all what pawpaws taste like; this is just another “go native” effort in landscaping.  I might try for a Rattlesnake Master or Queen of the Prairie next, now that there’s so much sunlight available.  Of course, what I might really get with the newly-opened space is more poison ivy.  It nearly always homes in on edge spaces like this…and hardly anything stops it.

Additionally, I made an effort to get the hatches battened down for winter(Boy, aren’t we glad we’re not in eastern Pennsylvania or anywhere along the eastern seaboard).  Took the cushions off the front and back porch furniture, stashed chairs and cushions in the basement.  Put the kitty condos on the front porch (They’re worm boxes from Garrettsville Hardware; the worms weren’t using them now that they’re in some fish gullet somewhere), attached the heating pads for those(No cool kitties around here).  Rounded up the lawn furniture and swept the deck.  Planted one lone Jack-in-the-Pulpit bulb.  This is as ready as I’m going to get.

As for what we’re going to get, who are you going to believe, some nice old farmer from Vermont or the Accu-Weather   people?  If so far is any indication, it could be a toss-up.  The old guy was saying early, mild and moist, with a bear of a February.  Officialdom says wicked cold and wet and/or snowy.  We’ve had near-record rainfall and  an early nor-easter.  How long is this going to go on?  Hang on to your hats–also earmuffs, long johns, boots and woolies–it could be a wild one!


Kevin Autry is a new and much younger member of the 1949-’53 Ford Mercury Club. He is the forty one year old new blood that each and every antique car club in this country is in desperate need of these days. How often have you heard it said that the young people aren’t interested in the old cars like “WE” were, and “All the young people are interested in these days are computers and electronics. They don’t care about old cars.”   “We” are now in our 60’s and older—the mainstay of the antique car hobby. Who is going to carry on the old car interest when we’re gone or too old to work on ‘em?  Despite almost 25 years difference in age between us there is remarkable similarity in how we- Kevin and I– got hooked on this old car hobby.  Specifically, Grandpa left us 1950 automobiles—he a 1950 Ford and me a 1950 Mercury.

Kevin and I recently met through corresponding on the Internet Shoebox Ford Forum when he realized that we lived about 10 miles from each other. He lives in Shalersville.  I now have a 1951 Ford and, as it turned out, was having many of the same problems that he was experiencing with his 1950 Ford—basically stalling, sputtering, overheating, and vapor lock– the things that shoebox Fords are especially known for with our modern ethanol laced gasoline.  He is afraid to drive his car more than 10-20 miles locally and I am too.  It gets frustrating getting towed home on a regular basis—rough on the ego. But we are making progress!

Kevin’s car has been a Portage County car kept in the family since 1955.  Grandpa,  from Palmyra, bought it used in that year.  His Mom learned to drive in it. It was the family’s mainstay back then.  By 1960 the body was rusted pretty well –“It was shot, they said”, so Grandpa pushed the Standard Deluxe body off the frame and replaced it with the Custom Deluxe body that sits on it now.  Now, if you think about it, this was no small undertaking even back in 1960. Grandpa obviously was quite mechanically inclined. Actually, he was an ex-Marine who worked as a custodian for Southeast Schools and could fix anything.  He drove the car for a few more years and then the car got traded around the family to cousins, aunts and uncles.  Ultimately it was considered too old and worn out by 1968 so Grandpa put it in the barn in Palmyra where it sat for the next 18 years. During this time Kevin, as a kid played in it and like all kids fantasized about one day driving it.

Grandpa died in 1986 and at the funeral an uncle handed the title over to 16-year-old Kevin and said, “Do something with it.” So at 16 years of age he and his Dad began to work on the car. They put a new motor in it, rebuilt the transmission and put new king pins in the front end.

As the world turns, young men grow up, go off to college, get married, and have kids of their own. The Ford was put on the back burner, in the barn.  These antique cars of ours are not exactly a cheap undertaking anymore and a young family man, well, he needs to be frugal and this car would need to wait.

In 2010 Kevin decided it was time to sink or swim with this car so he pulled it out of the barn and tore it apart.  Over the course of the next year he stripped the body and repaired and replaced rusted panels.  He removed and replaced the interior, designing the new interior by himself.   He replaced the wiring. Because he had replaced the engine some 24 years ago he didn’t have to do much beside replace the head gaskets, install a new distributor and clean the gas tank.  Working on a budget Kevin performed 99% of the restoration work himself. Kevin refers to his car as ”The (shoe) Box on a Budget”.

2011 was the year to actually get the car on the road after 43 years in the barn. The Ford now runs, better and better as the summer and fall unfold.  But like most antique restorations done by working men (as opposed to those who can afford to farm the work out to specialty shops) the forward progress often seems like two steps forward, one step back.  You get one thing fixed and then two other things go bad.

Kevin has managed to make it to several local cruise-ins and car shows in Garrettsville and in Brimfield.  The car is painted; the interior is pretty well done. It has a lot of new chrome.  Yes, the car is a work in progress, but enough progress has been made so that it does show well.

Plans for the coming year include suspension work, getting the rear springs re-arched, new shocks, and getting the squeaks out of the front suspension.  It needs mufflers and tailpipes. “I like the stock appearance but I might decide to do a bit of modernizing like maybe installing bucket seats and a console.  I also want to carpet the trunk”, he says.

Will it become a daily driver?  Probably not.  In the first place these old cars were not, and are not now great on gas.  Secondly, they don’t like the alcohol in our modern gas.  Third, the lack of power steering (a.k.a. Armstrong Steering) makes for an arduous daily commute.  “But the car is a part of the family”, Kevin notes.  “Maybe my daughter will drive it someday.  This summer my mother got her first ride in it after many, many years.  She was delighted.”


The Old Road is a column that features antique automobiles, old cars, their owners, and their stories of the road, the restoration, and the acquisitions.  Do you have a restored antique auto?  Perhaps you have an old daily driver or a no longer drivable derelict with an endearing family history sitting out in the barn or a field?  Maybe you have questions about restoration.  Drop me a line: E-mail me at Skipstaxidermy@yahoo.com, or give me a call at 330-562-9801, I’d like to hear from you.



There are so many social networking sites now that it is amazing how people are changing something so basic and putting it on a networking site. For example, I have found sites where you are on a website attending a cooking class while in your own kitchen. Or another site where quilters are getting together using their webcams to talk, knit and never leave their house. But favorite now is how it is becoming acceptable for wine tastings to take place online.

Whether it’s through LinkedIn.com, Facebook.com or in some cases now Twitter.com people are “gathering” to have their own wine tasting party across the world. I was intrigued so I joined my first online wine party a couple of weeks ago through a group on Facebook. A week before the tasting 2 “hosts” selected a couple of wines that everyone had to purchase for the tasting. The day before, the hosts reminded us on how long to chill the wines for and to make sure we had the right foods on hand to pair the wines with.

The night of the tasting 8 of us logged onto Facebook. I had the chance to meet a couple from Temecula, California, a gentleman from Japan, a college student in Maine and a group of friends that had three computers set up in someone’s kitchen just outside of Atlanta Georgia. Our hosts walked us through each wine and while we sampled the wines we had the chance to comment on the bouquet, the color and the taste of each wine. It was amazing to see how many comments were similar and how many comments were complete opposites from the wines we were trying.

Overall it was a great experience. I had the chance to meet and drink with people that I would otherwise have never met. I did learn a lot about each wine and how different people perceive different flavors and smells. And I had the chance to try some wines that I might not have bought myself. The only downside I found to the online tasting is it can be quite expensive. Instead of each guest bringing a bottle of wine to the wine tasting, I had to supply my own wine and own food. The group in Atlanta had the right idea of still having a face to face wine tasting so the costs were down but it was still an amazing experience.

I’m thinking that maybe we should host an online wine tasting with local Ohio wines. If you are interested friend us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/CandlelightWinery) and let us know!

Amanda is the Co-Owner of Candlelight Winery located at 11325 Center Road, Garrettsville. For more information on other winery topics, please visit www.candlelightwinery.com

October is my kind of month.  It’s interesting.
The harvest is winding down; those shocks of corn so prized by decorators are actually passe’ .  Nobody uses them any more, unless they’re Amish, of course.  Corn pickers are where it’s at as far as harvesting corn is concerned.  They’re also one of the reasons why farming has always ranked as one of the most dangerous occupations.  Somebody is always tempted to just reach into the machinery to pull or loosen or wiggle some little glitch in the feed-in stream, just real quick, just a twitch…aarrgh!  Lotsa farmers named “Lefty “out there.  Of course, the alternative is to leave the corn standing in the field and go out with a wagon to pick the ears by hand and toss them into the wagon.  Sometimes this doesn’t happen until ‘way into the winter and it’s a very cold way to spend a day.  One of my most vivid memories was of being the driver (at age seven or thereabouts) of the tractor pulling the wagon while my dad walked along picking ears of corn–probably husking them too–and tossing them into the box of the wagon.  Coldest I have ever been in my life!  Holy Schmoley!  Thought that my fingers and toes were going to snap off like the icicles they were to rattle around in my mittens and boots like the pebbles in a pair of maracas.  Cold!
It IS the season of the pumpkin harvest though, and they’re everywhere around here.  New England, now, the whole northeast, actually, is suffering from The Great Pumpkin Shortage of 2011.  The heavy rain and subsequent flooding delayed the planting in the spring.  Then a fungus called phytophtora–which just happens to thrive indampness –appeared to wipe out a lot of patches.  Then Hurricane Irene administered the coupe de grace and knocked out whatever was left.  One farmer said that he watched his entire crop–15,000 to 20,000 of the orange orbs–washed into Lake Champlain.  Uh, oh!
We don’t have to worry about that.   Neither did the guy in Rhode Island who grew this year’s biggest pumpkin, 1,661 pounds (150 lbs. short of the world record 1,810.5 lbs, raised last year in Wisconsin).  It must have been feeling a little peaked after all of the surrounding disaster. There have been rumors of some unscrupulous types hauling truckloads of “hot” pumpkins to some of the more deprived states : pumpkin profiteers! Anyway, some of the more creative folks deprived of their usual carving canvas have suggested squash-o-lanterns or watermelon-o-lanterns…. How about  going historical and carving scary faces on turnips as the original folkloric version has it, long story about a guy named Jack who tricked the Devil–not an easy thing to do–then was tricked in return and had to wander the earth looking for a place to rest, since he could not get into Heaven and he’d made the Devil promise not to take him to Hell.  He asked the Devil how he could see to wander about at night so the Devil tossed him an inextinguishable coal from Hades and Jack carved out a turnip–his favorite vegetable–to put the light in and he roamed the earth looking for a resting place.  Some times the ignis fatuus or will-o-the-wisp phosphorescence of the swamps is thought to be Jack, still out there looking.
And speaking of fungus…that was in a paragraph up there someplace, right?…the mushrooms are really something this year.   In the woods, on the lawn on the backside of rocks, on the trunks of trees, yellow ones, white ones, big ones, small ones, wow, what an assortment!  (See scientific descriptions elsewhere.  DO NOT eat just to see if you can.  Could be hard on your next of kin)

And October is National Cookie Month!  What’s not to like?

Our caller said, “I really enjoy audio books, but my CD player broke. I would like to try something other than a CD one. Is there another portable way to listen to books?” Many members of the Newton Falls Public Library staff also enjoy listening to works by their favorite authors while driving or doing chores.

Many of us listen to books on Playaways, each holding just one title. The more popular choices are MP3 players and iPods. Our patron asked for a recommendation. Since we felt that her choice needed to be dependent on her personal preferences of product capabilities, price, etc., we recommended that she either talk to others who own them, visit local stores that carry them, or view online reviews.

Consumer Reports last reviewed MP3 players in December of 2010. Technology changes so quickly and our patron wanted newer information, so we looked online. We typed in “MP3 players reviews” and found several sites for her including http://reviews.cnet.com/mp3-players and http://mp3-players.toptenreviews.com/flash-drive.  We recommended that she duplicate our search to learn more about what was available.

Once our patron decides which player she would like; she can download free audio books from the library’s catalog. Newton Falls Public Library is presently part of the Ohio eBook Project, http://ohdbks.lib.overdrive.com.  Beginning November 1st, titles can be downloaded from our new Clevnet catalog, http://emedia.clevnet.org.

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 or our new Facebook page..

As medical science continues to find ways to help Americans live longer, it also requires us to examine some of the challenges of people living longer lives. The biggest, from both an emotional and financial point of view, may be providing ongoing care for a disabled adult.

By the numbers
According to the Family Caregivers Alliance National Center on Caregiving, 34 million adults provide care to a person age 50 or older. Almost 9 million of those caregivers are caring for someone with dementia, perhaps the most draining and lengthiest type of caregiving. Family caregiving falls disproportionately on females — up to 75% of caregivers are women.*
Choosing a family member as caregiver may seem like the automatic and least costly choice. But balancing being a spouse, parent and employee with caregiving responsibilities can exact a physical and emotional toll on caregivers. You may opt, instead, to provide professional caregiving for a loved one in need.

Questions for potential caregivers

When choosing an outside care provider, you should ask as many questions as will make you feel comfortable. You may hire a care company, but know the following about your individual caregiver, too. Ask:

  • Do you have references?
  • What type of training do you have?
  • What are your professional qualifications?
  • What is your experience with this particular type of caregiving?


Additionally, the company providing care should be licensed if required in your area, accredited by a recognized care organization or government agency and certified by Medicare. You might also ask your area’s eldercare agency or business watchdog if the care provider or individual providing the care has complaints against them. If the care will be provided outside your home, make an unannounced visit to the facility where the care will be given to get a real view of the day-to-day condition of the facility.

Paying for care
The financial cost for providing long-term care isn’t cheap. Whether buying in-home care services or care in a facility, these costs can be especially overwhelming for long-lasting conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Long-term care insurance may help you meet some or all of these costs. Learn how owning this insurance, especially when you’re younger and healthy, can be a cost-efficient way to provide potential future care.
* Family Caregivers Alliance, Selected Caregivers Statistics, 2005

FINRA Reference #FR2010-1129-0196/E 03/30/11

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 mushrooms have been in the news of late, we thought we would try to enlighten our readers about one of the most unusual and extremely important organisms in nature. Ominous sounding names like Destroying Angel, Deadly Galerina, and Poision Pie, are obviously poisonous; but Sulfer Tuft,  Jack O’Lantern, and Fly Agaric are equally as dangerous. However Morels, Meadow Mushrooms, and White Matsutake are a culinary delight.
Dead organisms provide food for other living things to survive. The most important decomposers are FBI’s … fungus, bacteria and insects. Although they live  underground and out-of-site for most of the year, Autumn is a wonderful time to observe fungi as they reveal their colorful reproductive structures in the form of mushrooms, puffballs and brackets.

Fungi form  one of the kingdoms of living things. This kingdom includes many fungus that have become closely involved with our lives, such as yeast for brewing and baking, Penicillium for the production of important antibiotics, and many more for eating on pizza, salads and other delicious foods. Fungi lack chlorophyll, so are unable to make their own food through photosynthesis, unless you’re a lichen. They must consume organic matter just as animals do. Food for fungus usually comes in the form of dead leaves, needles, roots, logs, dead animals, and feces, but may include some living plant and animal matter (that constant itching between your toes is caused by Athlete’s Foot fungus). Fungi grow on or into their food sources, penetrating the organic matter with thin strands called hyphae. Hyphae secrete digestive enzymes and dissolve the food. This energy is transported through a dense underground network of hyphae, called mycelium. For the most part, hyphae and mycelia are microscopic. Lifting a thick layer of leaf litter or rolling over a nicely rotting log may reveal white web-like strands of larger mycelia. The mycelia is the main body of a fungus and can survive for hundreds of years, constantly growing and replacing broken or dead hyphae. Only when the mycelia generate their reproductive structures do most people observe the fungus. Reproductive structures come in three main forms: mushrooms, puffballs and brackets. Other variations on the theme include cup, coral, and jelly fungi, as well as stinkhorns and chanterelles. Despite the wide variety of shapes, these reproductive structures serve one purpose, to produce millions of tiny, dust-like spores which are spread by wind, rain or animals. If a spore is fortunate enough to land in an ideal location that is dark, moist and provides a food source, it may begin to grow new mycelia.

Fungi play three major roles in nature: as decomposers recycling matter into soil, as parasites, and through symbiotic relationships. Symbiosis is when two or more organisms live in close contact and help each other survive. Lichens fall into this category where a fungus and algae coexist to form some interesting structures.   In other situations, the hyphae grow in very close contact with rootlets of trees and other plants. The fungus provides the tree with valuable nitrogen and phosphorus to grow, while the tree provides carbon to the fungus for food. This mutual relationship benefits both the fungus and the tree, and is essential to forest health.

August through October is an ideal time to observe a wide variety of fungal fruiting bodies especially in years where there has been above average rainfall. Although fungi can be found throughout the late spring and entire summer, the display in fall is most spectacular. Keep in mind, these decomposers can be delicious, but also very dangerous. There are no simple guidelines that can be used to distinguish edible from poisonous mushrooms. This task should be left to experts since in depth knowledge is necessary to correctly identify similar-looking species. Each year, people get sick and even die from unknowingly eating poisonous mushrooms.
A good, local source to learn more about mushrooms and other fungus is the Ohio Mushroom Society (visit www.ohiomushroom.org). The recent wet weather, followed by last week’s warm, sunny days should provide for a splendid display of mushrooms and other fungi. Find some fabulous fungi in nearby nature yourself.

Interested in more nearby nature activities? Hike the lost trails & treasures of Camp Asbury on October 22 (9:00am). The diverse landscape of the Asbury Valley ranges from historical mill ponds and millraces to upland bog ponds, springs and hidden rock ledges with shelter caves and waterfalls. Eagle Creek and the surrounding wetlands are the home for a variety of birds and other wildlife including river otters, mink and beavers. Register at 330.569.6003 or sorrickmw@hiram.edu. Sponsored by Friends of the Hiram College Field Station.

For the bird enthusiasts, the Lake Erie birding trail is an hour’s drive north. Fall is a great time to see many different species migrating south for the winter. If interested go to www.lakeerieohiobirding.info/
Did you Know!
The largest puffball mushroom in the world measured almost 67inches around. The heaviest fungus in the world is a bracket fungus called “chicken of the woods”. It tipped the scales at an even 100 pounds.

Send your questions or comments to: nearbynature@weeklyvillager.com

Matt Sorrick is Director of The Center for Science Education at Hiram College.   Joe Malmisur is an executive member of the Northeast Ohio Forestry Association and amateur naturalist.

What an amazing Summer we had. A good mixture of temperatures, a great mix of sun and rain and a few days just hot enough to perk up the vines. Unfortunately, this Summer has flown by and we are quickly greeted by Fall! While Fall is not my favorite time of year I sure do enjoy watching the leaves change colors. Since Fall usually keeps me hopping around the vineyard and cellar, I don’t really get the chance to enjoy the season, so when I finally do have a few minutes to relax I just love to see what Mother Nature has painted in the trees each year. Sure, most people are not happy about raking the leaves every year but they are so important to the winery that I don’t mind the clean-up.
Leaves from the grapevine are very important to a great harvest. As with most leaves, grape leaves go through the photosynthesis process but what’s unique about this process is it also helps convert the starches in the vine to sugar which help ripen the grapes. If grape vines did not have leaves the grapes would never ripen.
Another important reason for the leaves on a grapevine is to help viticulturists identify the grape variety. Just as an oak leaf is different than a maple leaf, the leaves you see on a Cabernet Sauvignon vine look different than the leaf from a Concord vine. Viticulturists can study a leaf to determine the health of the vine, the amount of water a vine is getting and how well the grape clusters are doing.
Finally, one of my favorite reasons for grape leaves is, of course, serving stuffed grape leaves. Usually I make stuffed grape leaves early in the season so the leaves are tenderer but there have been times that I’ll have stuffed grape leaves later in the season. This Lebanese recipe from a friend of mine is perfect treat after putting in a good day’s work in the vineyard.

16 ounces grape leaves
2 1/4 lbs ground lamb
2 1/4 cups long grain white rice
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
12 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon mint
3 lemons

Place rice in a medium sized bowl and cover with 3 cups of cold water. Let stand for 30-60 minutes. Drain and rinse grape leaves in a colander. Cut leaves in half removing the thick center stem. Save five or six large leaves for bottom of pan- discard any extremely tough or ragged leaves. Drain all water from rice. Add lamb, salt, pepper, and cinnamon. Mix by hand thoroughly. Line bottom of large kettle or dutch oven with five or six large leaves to prevent scorching. Lay a leaf flat on a plate, shiny side down. Put approximately 1 heaping teaspoon of meat mixture towards bottom of leaf. Roll in one edge to seal, then roll leaf up firmly but not too tight (you need to leave a little room for the rice to expand while cooking). Place leaves in kettle in circular fashion leaving a small circle in the center for water to circulate. When you have one full row on bottom of pan, slice two cloves of garlic over the top of the leaves. Sprinkle with a little of the mint.
Continue rolling the leaves and layering them with the garlic/ mint. You should have approximately five rows of leaves when you are done. Place a heatproof plate over the top of the leaves- large enough to hold them in place, but with a little room on the edges. Put a bowl on top of the plate filled with water to hold the plate down while cooking. Fill kettle with water over the top of the plate. Cook on top of stove on high heat until it begins to boil. Lower heat to medium so that water does not boil over and continue cooking. Total cooking time after it starts to boil is 16-19 minutes. Remove bowl. Carefully drain water from kettle. Remove plate. Arrange leaves on a platter.

Amanda is the Co-Owner of Candlelight Winery located at 11325 Center Road, Garrettsville. For more information on other winery topics, please visit www.candlelightwinery.com

How do you picture your retirement? Do you envision visiting old friends and traveling to new places? Do you plan to take up a new hobby or pursue an old interest? If you have high hopes for your retirement, you aren’t alone. The retirement script is being rewritten by today’s generation who don’t plan to spend their retirement days quietly.
People today tend to be healthier and more active. They may also live longer than their parents’ or grandparents’ generation. The average life expectancy for a baby born in the U.S. at the turn of the previous century was 47.3 years.
1 Fifty years later, the life expectancy for newborns was 68.2 years. According to projections, babies born in 2010 can look forward to an average life expectancy of 78.3 years.
2 That’s an increase of over 65% in a little more than 100 years.
Whatever your plans for retirement, the fact is that a longer retirement with greater opportunities will require more money — probably more than you think.
Where will your retirement income come from?
Traditionally, retirement has been funded by what is known as a “three-legged stool” — Social Security benefits, pensions and personal savings. However, the average Social Security benefit provides only 37% of retirement income for retirees aged 65 and older, according to the Social Security Administration.
3 What’s more, only 31% of workers had access to a pension plan in 2009.
4 If you don’t have a pension plan, it may be tough to cover all the expenses you are likely to face in retirement. While some of your expenses may decrease in retirement (your mortgage may be paid off and your children may be on their own), other expenses will probably increase — health care and travel expenses, for example. And don’t forget the potential for inflation and its impact on the cost of food, utilities and other essential goods and services.
Getting from here to there
The bottom line is that you have to take responsibility for your own future financial security. One way to do that is by joining your employer’s retirement savings plan (if offered) and making regular, uninterrupted contributions to the plan. Also consider using individual retirement accounts, annuities and taxable accounts to help lay the foundation for a secure future.
Talk to your financial professional about what you can do now to prepare for the retirement you want and deserve.

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Vital Statistics Reports, www.cdc.gov

2 The 2010 Statistical Abstract, U.S. Census Bureau, www.census.gov

3 Fast Facts & Figures About Social Security, 2010, Social Security Administration, August 2010, www.ssa.gov

4 National Compensation Survey: Employee Benefits in the United States, March 2009, September 2009, Bulletin 2731, Bureau of Labor Statistics, www.bls.gov

FINRA Reference #FR2011-0315-0296/E 05/31/11

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.

The Settlers “Ye Old” State Renaissance Faire has shuffled off into history once again, leaving bags of gold for the Middlefield “Shop With a Cop” program and the “Middlefield Cares! Food Cupboard”.  Generous supporters included the Nauvoo Family Market, White House Chocolates, Alley’s Grille,  Mary Yoder’s Kitchen, Zeppe’s Pizzaria, EarthLight Art Source, Mangia! Mangia! and The Ghosts of Burton Historical Tours as well as the Vancura Gallery of Fine Art and Framing and the other businesses of Settlers’ Landing in Middlefield.

The grounds were peopled by minstrels and bards, gypsies and pirates, jousters, blacksmiths, costume outfitters, purveyors of jewelry sword-fighters (who occasionally had to visit the blacksmith for repairs), highlanders of various clans (sometimes “tossing the caber”), ponies and face-painters, Tarot readers, a riot of thespians, knaves and wenches of every description.  No varlets were   spotted.

What was spotted was the imposing sculpture of a Holstein cow on the front lawn, created largely of recycled car hoods (Its eye was a baseball, I think)  by Chris McConnell.  There was a contest during this particular edition of the Faire to select an appropriate name for the striking bovine.  Tapping into what is likely the most-recognized Medieval/Renaissance/Romantic meme  (the latest buzzword, dontcha know), the winner submitted “Muliet” (As in “Juliet”… no “Romoo-eo”  was in evidence, alas).  Maybe the beast will get a cowbell with her name on it.

The talent show at the Pavilion Stage was won by a buxom lass singing a naughty little ditty about the uncertainty of paternity.  She was awarded the $200 top prize.  Standing second was a stalwart sort of chap who demonstrated his prowess with a black bullwhip, with fearsome cracks and the snapping asunder of a water-filled cup.  The tale-telling blacksmith brought a narrative on the encounters of the Picts and the Scots (both an anathema to the Romans who were intending to “civilize” them and ended up just building walls to keep from being attacked by them.  Maybe the fact that the Picts went into battle naked and painted blue with a hallucinogenic substance had something to do with it).  Another singer and a storyteller stepped up to the microphone to perform. A nine-year-old singer took the youth division.

Judging the competition were local notables : a bit-player in royal garb from Garrettsville, the police chief of Middlefield in a kilt, looking perfectly capable of tossing a caber…or anything else that got in the way of his enforcing the law, the mayor of Middlefield in  jester’s motley (All politicians have these at the back of their closets).  The “cow stage” in front featured various farces and divertissements through out the day and the players were about the grounds when not on stage; the buffoon with a codpiece made an impression, certainly.
The Chinese auction (Do Chinese groups have American auctions?) was held at 5:45 to close the day and cap off the funding for the sponsored groups.  Well met!

“My husband and I enjoy feeding the squirrels peanuts in the shell. We recently bought salted ones and my niece told me it wasn’t safe to give them salted ones. Is that true?” The Newton Falls Public Library staff understands people wanting to make sure they are giving animals proper foods.

The library’s copy of Squirrels: a wildlife handbook by Kim Long had a great deal of interesting information including the favorite foods of different kinds of squirrels. Unfortunately it did not address the issue of salted nuts.

We visited the website of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). The section on squirrels did not have the information we needed, so we telephoned them. While waiting we listened to bird sounds and their identification.  When we spoke with an individual, we were told that they “recommend not feeding wildlife.”

Continuing our online search, the website, Black Mouth Cur [www.blackmouthcur.com/Gray%20Squirrels.htm] had the following pertaining to gray squirrels: “The amount of salt a squirrel requires can be easily obtained in its diet and the extra amount of salt . . . can affect its heart, raises the blood pressure and increases its pulse. This tends to shorten a squirrel’s lifespan. This is not too dissimilar to salt’s effects on a human.”

AvianWeb.com has an entire section titled Attracting to & Controlling Squirrels in Your Garden [www.avianweb.com/attractingsquirrels.html]. Within are several paragraphs about peanuts. While a good source of protein, the site discourages feeding raw peanuts to animals because it often contains “aflatoxin, a fungal toxin. Aflatoxin is carcinogenic and causes liver damage in birds, squirrels and other animals — even humans.” Roasting can reduce the toxin but does not eliminate it.

“Also, raw peanuts and other legumes contain a . . . substance that inhibits or prevents the pancreas from producing trypsin, an enzyme essential for the absorption of protein by the intestine. . . Squirrels fed a steady diet of raw peanuts, soybeans, other legumes, and sweet potatoes could easily develop severe malnutrition. . . According to the Washington State Cooperative Extension Service, roasting hulled raw peanuts for 20 to 30 minutes at 300 degrees Fahrenheit, stirring them frequently, will destroy the trypsin inhibitor and render them suitable for feed. If that sounds like a lot of work, buy roasted peanuts but be sure they aren’t salted. (Salted nuts of any kind should never be fed to wild animals.)”
We passed the information on to our patron so she could determine what they would choose to feed their backyard wildlife. For answers to your questions, visit the Newton Falls Public Library, 204 S. Canal Street, Newton Falls or phone 330-872-1282.

The rain pitter-pattered on the windowpane as Doodle Dog looked out at the dewy, misty morning. With his paws up on the windowsill, he could see up the street this way and down the street that way, watching the people of the town on their morning routines. There was the lady in jogging shorts and a T-shirt, her hair pulled back against the wet drops falling from the clouds as the tiny speakers in her ears let her ignore the world. There was the man in a business suit holding a dark umbrella, pacing back and forth, nervously checking his watch as he seemed to be having a conversation with a curvy black object sticking out of his ear rather than making small talk about the weather with the other man sitting on a bench and quietly enjoying a morning cup of coffee. There were the shopkeepers opening their window shades and turning their signs to “OPEN” undoubtedly hoping today’s sales would be better than yesterday. Doodle Dog hoped the door would open soon for the delivery man carrying too many boxes and forced to stand in the rain until someone remembered to let him in.

Doodle Dog continued to watch as everyone went about their ordinary mornings. But today was not an ordinary morning and the little floppy-eared puppy waited patiently to see the reason why it wasn’t.
Soon enough, out of the front doors of most of the houses up the street this way and down the street that way, came the little children of the town. The gloomy gray of the morning brightened by their colorful backpacks, fresh and clean for a hopeful start of a brand new school year, as they carefully followed the pathway out of each of their houses, across each of their yards, and met on the main sidewalk that connected them all together. Just at that moment, the slow drizzle stopped and Doodle Dog knew this was his chance to venture out before the children would be off to school. Little kids were his favorite humans of all – they always had time to give him a pat or a hug and they were always more interested in swinging on swings or hanging from monkey bars or playing chase or fetch and catch with pets than they were in spending time with one of those stressful little robots that bigger humans seemed to love so much.

He excitedly made his way to the bus stop, carefully weaving in and out between all the little legs. All summer Doodle Dog remembered how his tiny human friends would wiggle their bare toes as they ran around in the cool, soft grass of the playground park. But now Doodle Dog could smell the fresh rubber of the bright new shoes that covered up the little feet and he knew that was a sign that summer was almost over. As he stepped through the small crowd, he happily wagged his tail to let the children know he was a friendly dog and wouldn’t bite. Not every dog on the sidewalk likes to be around kids, but Doodle Dog sure does! Many of the children he knew from the park and some patted him on the top of his head as he went by. One little girl looked quite nervous to be going to school, so Doodle Dog circled around her and gently nudged her hand with his nose to make her giggle.

Through the excited chatter of the older children, Doodle Dog could hear a loud noise coming down the street and growing louder as it came closer. The school bus reminded Doodle Dog of a giant bumblebee, with its bright yellow body and black markings. As it pulled to a stop near the group, the driver pulled a lever to open the door, and the little kids with their colorful backpacks and bright new shoes filed into a line and piled into the big yellow bus. Some of them leaned out the windows to wave at Doodle Dog and he wagged his tail to return the greeting. And then, as the little floppy-eared puppy watched from the sidewalk, the big yellow bus with all of his little summer friends drove up the street in the direction of the school. As it disappeared over the hill, Doodle Dog turned back in the direction of the office. He has lots of places to go and things to learn while his friends are in school, but no matter what, he’ll make sure to be there to greet them when they all come home!

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?