Planet Mom will return soon...
By Jerry Westbrook
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By Gerry Ayers
Gerry will return next week...
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Buy One, Get One Free
My parents divided household chores in
a very traditional way. Dad handled yard work Ė mowing grass in
the summer, raking leaves in the fall and shoveling snow in the
winter. Except for maintaining the coal furnace, momís
day-to-day household chores were all inside our home. Cleaning,
washing, dusting, polishing, ironing, cooking, canning and all
the tasks that either came with the seasons like Spring Cleaning
or her weekly schedule. On Mondays, laundry seemed to be a
neighborhood schedule, since every backyard clothesline was
filled with sheets, towels, shirts; all flapping in the cool
breezes, momís included. As a kid, I was usually too busy
playing hopscotch or hide-n-seek with other neighborhood kids to
notice momís routine but as I look back now, I realize how much
discipline was required for her work schedule.
One of Momís tasks that was outside
our home was grocery shopping. Her childhood memories were of
trips across the Market Street Bridge from South Side on
Saturdays with her mother. They walked from Percy Street to
Williamsportís Growerís Market, that large building where
"butchers, bakers and candlestick makers" set up their stands
each week. Nana and her two daughters carried a wicker basket
full of fresh meats and produce back across the bridge to their
home in South Williamsport. That rectangle basket became a
family treasure because long after momís weekly trips for
Growerís Market house groceries ended, the basket would be
filled with Dadís backyard garden vegetables or Momís fresh
baked cookies when they visited their grandchildren on Sunday
My own childhood memories included our
grocery shopping at neighborhood grocery stores just a few
blocks from our home. Long before large commercial grocery
stores, there were mom and pop stores; ours was the first floor
of the ownerís home within walking distance. What I remember
most was the set of dishes that mom earned with her grocery
purchases. That may have been the first time I realized that
something so routine could produce interesting benefits.
Iím not sure when coupon clipping
started in my own household but mom was the Queen of Coupon
Clipping. She enthusiastically scanned the newspaper and
magazines for grocery savings. As my family grew and our budget
got tighter, my mom added her treasure trove of coupons to the
wicker basket on their weekly visits. Gradually, I appreciated
the savings, especially when supermarkets offered to double the
coupon value. Even when mom no longer did the shopping, she
continued to enjoy clipping coupons from the Sunday paper,
making sure she reminded me of the great bargains-buy one, get
one free items-even if we never bought those foods at any other
times! Now, I find myself with an accumulation of coupons that
most expire before I use them since, as a single person, these
savings are no longer a benefit but still are a reminder of two
generations of a middle class family who stretched a budget with
the simple act of clipping newspaper ads that offered "buy one,
get one free."
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The Bookworm Sez
By Terri Schlichenmeyer
"Confessions of a Wild Child" by
c.2014, St. Martinís Press
$26.99 / $29.99 Canada
Oh, the things you got away with when
you were a teen!
Cutting classes and hanging out in the
school parking lot. Sneaking out of the house when your parents
thought you were asleep, parties when they werenít home,
"borrowing" their car, busting curfew, stupid stuff you hope
your kids never do.
You got away with a lot. Itís a good
thing your mother never knew.
Then again, as youíll see in
"Confessions of a Wild Child" by Jackie Collins, she probably
did the same things when she was a kid.
Santangelo was tired of being in prison.
Ever since her mother was murdered ten
years prior, Luckyís father, Gino, kept Lucky and her brother,
Dario, locked in their posh Bel Air mansion. They werenít
allowed to go anywhere unchaperoned, though Lucky was good at
sneaking out. Outwitting Gino was fun - until the day he
informed her that she was being shipped to a "very expensive"
boarding school in Switzerland.
As it turned out, it wasnít the worst
thing that ever happened. Eager to find out about boys and sex,
Lucky and her boarding school roommate escaped every night,
biked into town, drank, and played a game Lucky called "Almost."
It was a fun, empowering game in which she "almost" lost her
virginity to several local boys.
Kicked out of the Swiss school for
"Almost," Lucky was sent to a different school in Connecticut
but she didnít stay long: her former roomie, a Greek heiress
named Olivia, invited Lucky to the south of France. It was easy
to get there. It was even easier to forget to tell Gino where
Caught once again, Lucky was dragged
to Las Vegas, where Gino told her that heíd figured out how to
tame her. As much as she wanted to walk in her fatherís
footsteps and go into business, Lucky wasnít destined to run the
Santangelo Empire. No, that would be Darioís future. For Lucky,
marriage and babies were inevitable.
And Gino Santangelo believed that was
But if he thought he had a wild child
before, he hadnít seen anything yetÖ
Every once in awhile, I get in the
mood for a good trashy novel and, really, you canít beat a book
by author Jackie Collins. You canít. Still, there are bumps and
bruises inside "Confessions of a Wild Child."
Itís often hard, first of all, for an
adult to write in the voice of a young teenager, and the first
few pages of this book reflect it: Lucky sounds like a
middle-aged woman. That bump passes quickly, but occasionally
returns; there are also light continuity errors in here, and
some preening repetition. Turn up the heat, though, and youíve
got a story that has its flaws but is, overall, a delightfully
Though Lucky is a teenager in this
book, this is an escapist-novel for adults. If youíre
looking, in fact, for something to take on that mid-winter
vacation, "Confessions of a Wild Child" is a great book to get
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Guests from the North
By Margarita Shkurko
Have you ever seen an owl flying
right by you? This winter, you might get this chance. Just make
sure to contact the Audubon society if you do see a snowy owl.
If you ever saw the Harry Potter
movies, you know exactly what snowy owls look like. They look
like Hedwig, Harry Potterís friendly owl. This year, these
majestic birds were noticed in our area, a very unusual habitat
for cold and snow-loving animals, which is why there is a big
buzz about them in the Audubon Society.
The Audubon Society is a national
organization whose mission is "conserving and restoring natural
ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their
habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth's biological
diversity." Basically, their goal is protection and recovery of
The Audubon Societyís goal is to
help people better understand wildlife around them. It is
divided into chapters nationwide. Each of the chapters acts
locally to protect the wildlife. Lycoming Audubon Society has
lots of events going on, including field trips, bird counts,
cleanups and plantings in local parks. And now they also do the
headcount of snowy owls in our area.
The beautiful snowy owls are not
used to being seen by people. They naturally inhabit the Arctic,
Greenland, Alaska, northern parts of Scandinavia and Canada.
Itís hard to count their total population (estimated to be
around 300,000) as it varies for many different reasons, one of
which is food. The number of eggs a snowy owl lays is very much
proportional to the amount of food they have. But during the
last decade their number has (most likely) declined. In order to
find food during not-so-abundant years, owls travel east and
south from their natural areas. This phenomenon is called
irruption and it is not an unfamiliar one for scientists; it
happens pretty much every year. This year, there is another one
of these irruptions. This time it is much more evident and
widespread than usual. Some say it is the greatest number of
snowy owls southern areas have seen in a century. The birds
travel as far south as North Carolina (six or seven confirmed
birds in the area) and the state of New York. Last time a
similar situation happened more than 10 years ago. However, the
majority of this yearís birds look young; this can hardly be a
return trip for them.
It is hard to say what exactly the
reason is for birds to travel so far away from their homelands.
It may be the food (it is confirmed that lemmings Ė snowy owlsí
favorite food in the summer Ė were quite abundant last year in
northern Quebec; the birds could be travelling farther south
looking for more of the delicacy). It can all be also caused by
the climate change: warmer temperatures allow more food for
lemmings to grow, which increases population of the animals,
and, respectively, of snowy owls.
The good news is that the birds are
able to go back to Arctic. When winter comes to Arctic, lemmings
become almost impossible to catch as they hide underneath the
snow. Younger snowy owls have to travel to southern regions to
feed themselves. For summer, they go back up north. Scientists
trap and capture the birds and tag them with "identification
bracelets," and then release. With these devices, they are able
to approximate the number of birds and track them down. Thatís
why it is so important for them to know about every snowy owl
seen in our area.
If you happen to see a snowy owl,
be sure you observe them from a respectful distance. Although
they are not dangerous for people, they are certainly not used
to being around humans or even seeing them (remember, snowy owls
live in the Arctic!) And they canít be good pets: these birds
are strong and can cause some serious damage to people, and they
are not likely to become emotionally attached to people; not to
mention the fact that it is illegal to keep these owls as pets.
In case you see snowy owls here,
you should contact Lycoming Audubon Society. You can mail them
at Lycoming Audubon Society, P.O. Box 4053, Williamsport PA,
17701. You can also call Stephen Pinkerton at 570-567-4680.
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