Why spend money when you can make it?

July 26, 2012 in Personal Finance by Amber Yowler

My daughter Sophia and I are extreme couponers. Often times we leave the store with either the store owing us money or extra products because of coupon overage. Many of our local stores will not allow a transaction to be in the negative but will allow the consumer to use that overage on other items. How this works is when a coupon exceeds the asking price of the merchandise this generates overage on that particular product.

Wal-Mart is one of few retail stores that will allow a transaction to be negative. Sophia and I generally will purchase other merchandise with our overage but have walked out of Wal-Mart with them owing us money. For example, we had a coupon for $3 off any aspirin, which costs $2.22 – a 78¢ moneymaker. We recently purchased 30 items and after coupons Wal-Mart paid us $8.04 in overage. We know that this is not an easy task with the coupon craze but it can be done.

Dollar General and CVS will not allow a transaction to be negative but will allow overage to pay for other items to be purchased. The balance may be zero or one cent but it just cannot have a negative balance. Many times Sophia and I choose items that we do not receive high value coupons for such as trash bags, light bulbs, soft drinks, milk etc.

Just recently we shopped at CVS to purchase 17 items. We had a CVS coupon worth four dollars off $20.00 purchase and a 25% off CVS coupon to use as well. Our grand total was $180.00 after all our manufacturer coupons and CVS coupons our total out of pocket was $25.00. We then received $26.00 back in ECB (extra care bucks) and $15.00 ECB for CVS beauty Club, essentially making this a $16.00 moneymaker.

As we all know not all stores treat couponing the same and it is the responsibility of the consumer to know exactly how their favorite retail stores deal with transactions or coupons that have overage. Some stores will mark the coupon down to the sale price or clearance price.

It always a great feeling when the stores pay you to shop.

Legal concerns when starting a business

July 26, 2012 in Personal Finance by Submission For The Southside Times

By Chuck Roach

Starting a business can seem overwhelming. The legal organization of the business alone will have a major impact on its long-term success. Among the first decisions that the business owner will make is its structure. The decision has long-term implications, so the advice of an attorney or accountant is strongly encouraged.

Organization of a business entity is done for several reasons, the most important being to limit liability and financial expenses to the capital dedicated to the venture. The entity should be kept separate, with proper records and documentation to ensure the distinct nature of the business from its owner, and preserve the owner’s insulation from personal liability.

While there are several factors to consider in this decision, tax factors generally play a primary role. Start-ups often are organized as a “flow-through entity”, which is an entity that is subject to a single level of tax. Specific types of flow-through entities include partnerships, LLCs and S corporations. Subject to certain restrictions, losses and distributions of such an entity may “flow-through” to its owners personally. Alternatively, a company may be organized as a regular or “C” corporation. A significant disadvantage of a C corporation is that its earnings are exposed to “double taxation” meaning that the company is subject to income tax on its earnings, and the owners are taxed when the company distributes the earnings as a dividend. The most flexible entity, and often simplest to maintain, is the LLC. It has the “flow through” benefit of single taxation, while still limiting the personal liability of the owners. This makes it the entity of choice for many new businesses. Ultimately the structure will depend on the nature of the business, its owners, and the advice of your attorney and accountant.

When the decision is made, a number of documents will need to be executed to commence existence. It starts with a filing with the Secretary of State. In addition, documents governing the operations of the business, such as Bylaws or an Operating Agreement, must be prepared. In order to open a bank account, a business typically must obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN), to act as the company’s “social security number”. Thereafter, Indiana has specific record-keeping and reporting requirements with which entities must comply. These generally include preparing director and shareholder meeting minutes (for corporations), and filing a biennial report with the Secretary of State’s office every two years.

Torry's Top Ten: Top ten ways I’m coping with the drought #2

July 26, 2012 in Torry's Top Ten by Torry Stiles

10. Saving money by cooking all my meals on the asphalt road in front of my house.

9. Offering my front yard for cheap Brickyard parking. Sure, I’m on the wrong side of town but think about how you’ll miss the race traffic.

8. Setting up a sweet corn stand. “Fresh picked. Fresh cooked”

7. “I’m not watering my lawn, officer. This is a battle to the death with a swarm of invisible fire ants.”

6. Turning my non-air-conditioned truck into a convertible. Could someone loan me an air chisel?

5. Settling down into Margaritaville and not coming back until October.

4. Covering all my bases by going to church on Sunday, temple on Saturday and sacrificing the occasional goat.

3. Freezing my BVD’s and packing ice in my pockets.

2. Organizing daily neighborhood water balloon fights.

1. Starting my own lawn painting business. We offer three colors; Fescue Green, Kentucky Blue and (for you folks still living in the ‘70’s) Acapulco Gold.

Skip the ‘sticks’ with fresh fish

July 26, 2012 in Recipes by Clint Smith

If you’ve noticed the trend that I gravitate more toward fish dishes during the summer months, then good for you. But to be honest, this compulsion often goes uncalculated. Most people are aware about the benefits of fish as a good-oil, good-fat protein; but—all gastronomic pedagogy aside—sometimes fresh fish just feels right.

Unfortunately, the Hoosier state is far from being a seafood “hub,” it would be equally unfortunate if the culinarily inclined chose to shrug their shoulders and settle for freezer-burned fish sticks. (I don’t care how sagely the Gorton’s Fisherman carries himself.) Decent cod is not only widely available in most chain markets and grocery stores, but it’s relatively accessible for a cook who’s unsure of their fish skills. You’ll notice that this portion of cod is quite hearty, coming in at eight ounces—that’s half of a pound. But for me, I’ll opt for a few extra ounces of fresh, flavorful, and keenly-cooked fish in lieu of starch any day. I think asparagus goes well with this dish, but I think asparagus goes well with just about all fish.

So march up to the fish monger’s glass counter at your grocery store—ask incisive questions. Don’t settle for something “fishy,” and I don’t mean the “sticks.”

Recipe:

Pan-seared cod with arugula vinaigrette

Serves 2

2, 8-ounce cod fillets
As needed, all-purpose flour
1 ounce fresh arugula
1 tablespoon white or sherry vinegar
5 tablespoons olive oil
Pinch sugar, kosher salt, and cracked black pepper
4 ounces tomato sauce (prepared or canned)

1. Heat a small amount of olive oil in a sauté pan over moderate to high heat. Season cod with kosher salt and cracked black pepper, and lightly dust with flour. Gently settled the cod into the sauté pan; allow fish to sear on all sides before placing it in a 425° F. oven to finish cooking through.

2. Meanwhile, in a blender or food processor, add arugula, vinegar, sugar, salt and cracked black pepper, and puree, slowly drizzling in the oil as you blend ingredients together. When vinaigrette has emulsified, reserve in a bowl. Once fish is cooked through, allow to rest for a few minutes before serving with arugula vinaigrette, tomato sauce and vegetable of choice.

Are we there yet?

July 26, 2012 in Living by Wendell Fowler

Summer road trips are when folks detour healthy eating habits and dent their health by pigging out on free-way, convenient store Road Kill. You can make wiser choices when away from home, but you must take control and plan ahead to by-pass foods congested with fat, sugar, salt, chemicals and calories.  

For a high-energy start and to the day, top your tank with a good breakfast. Opt for lean protein, not fatty bacon. Drop the hotel Danish and bagel for a vegetable omelet with whole-wheat toast, or Greek yogurt with fresh fruit. Oatmeal and whole grain natural cereals with skim milk, coconut or almond milk are also brilliant choices. Dodge artery-detonating non-dairy creamers, too. Homemade smoothies make excellent breakfast food.

Slap together peanut or almond butter sandwiches on Ezekiel bread. Bring along nuts, washed fruits or granola, though Trail Mix is not a wise choice. A protein power or granola bar is good, but be sure it doesn’t contain unpronounceable chemicals, soy protein isolate, hydrogenated oil, Palm oil or un-holy high fructose corn syrup. Observe calorie, fat and sugar content and opt for one with the best nutritional profile. Air-pop popcorn and take it along. 

For protein take along humus, single-serving packets of tuna or salmon and whole grain pita bread to make simple, satisfying sandwiches.  Guacamole or Salsa turn you on? Along with salty, greasy potato or corn chips, avoid bagels, croissants, hard rolls, or anything made with white flour. You’ll get dangerously drowsy after eating French fries, burgers, processed and fried chicken patties or nuggets. Swerve around non-dairy creamers, sauce packages, high glycemic fruit juice, soda and sugary snacks. Forget diet soda with its toxic artificial sweeteners and cancer-causing caramel coloring.

Take pit-stops; get the blood moving and visit community farmer’s markets. Chill out, enjoy your food. It’s better for digestion and will leave you alert. Don’t go more than four or five hours without eating and stay hydrated with water, not sugary, acidic soda. Pack eating utensils, plates and cups, and enjoy a picnic of fresh green salad and rotisserie chicken. Fancy deli food? Ask for mustard or oil and vinegar instead of fatty mayo and special sauces. 

Read dinner and lunch menus thoughtfully. Focus on fresh vegetables and grilled, broiled, baked or roasted lean dead animal protein. Decline the bread basket then start with easy-to-digest, lower calorie foods first, such as soup or salad. Wholesome road food doesn’t equate deprivation. You can enjoy enjoyable good-for-your holy temple food when the rubber meets the road. Eat smart food, not road kill. Follow these easy tips and have a safe, groovy vacation. You deserve it.

Tough decisions are a gardening necessity

July 26, 2012 in Outdoors by Carol Michel

“Are you cruel enough to be a gardener?” The garden writer Elizabeth Lawrence, author of several books about gardening in the south and hundreds of newspaper columns, once posed this question to a friend who was visiting her garden. She asked this question because many gardens are so small that to grow everything a gardener wants to grow, he may have to dig up some plants and give them away or throw them out to make room for new plants.

It is true that when space is limited, every plant counts in a garden. However, when there is a lot of room, we often leave some plants alone even if they are under performing or we don’t particularly like them. We don’t have to rip out plants to make room for more plants. But whether your garden is large or small, this question about cruelty still comes to mind when you are gardening during an extreme drought with watering restrictions. You have to make some choices about which plants to water and which to leave alone.

In my garden, I’ve pushed aside a few container plantings that weren’t much to look at. It seems pointless to water them. I’ve also stopped watering plants that aren’t likely to produce much in the vegetable garden, like the green beans that have been mostly eaten by rabbits and then were attacked by bean beetles.

I’m hopeful that everything else around the garden will pull through the drought with minimal watering until it rains again. I talked to a friend who gardens in Oklahoma where it was extremely hot and dry last summer. She said everything looked like it had been baked and fried in the hot sun, but once it started to rain in the fall many plants perked up and the plant losses were less than she feared. I’m hoping it will be that way here this year.

In the meantime, to answer the question – yes, I think I am “cruel enough to be a gardener”, at least when it comes to deciding on how to use my time and water wisely in watering plants around my garden in an extreme drought. Are you?

Obituaries – July 26, 2012

July 26, 2012 in Obituaries by Submission For The Southside Times

Allen Morris Below

Allen Morris Below, 90, died July 21, 2012. He was born in Lisman, Ky. on April 11, 1922 to A.M. and Minnie Below and was the youngest brother to, Carson, Forrest, Jettie, Lloyd, Norman, Lynn, Minnie and Irene. They all preceded him in death. He had a career at Naval Avionics. In retirement, he developed lake properties. He was a member of St. Matthew Catholic Church and Christ the King Catholic Church. He was preceded in death by his wife, Mary Patricia. He is survived by his daughter, Dr. Mary E. Below; and his son, James F. Below. In the last years of his life, he had the caring kindness of Gloria Garwood, Jim Mehallick and Jo Kane. Funeral services were held July 24 at Christ the King Catholic Church. Memorial contributions may be made to your favorite animal welfare charity.

Wilma Boyd

Wilma Boyd, 94, died July 19, 2012. She was a graduate, cum laude, of Butler University. Early in her married life she worked for World Call, a Disciples of Christ magazine. Later she taught in the Indianapolis Public Schools, and also used her teaching skills as a leader of the Campfire Girls. She was a lifelong member and elder emeritus of Central Christian Church, where she was active in establishing a church library, teaching Sunday school classes, serving on the board of elders and supporting the women’s missionary outreach programs. With her husband Don, she sponsored youth group activities, and later in her life she helped to run the church thrift store. She is survived by her husband, Donald Boyd; and her two daughters, Beverly Colgan and Marjorie Boyd. Funeral services were held July 23 at Central Christian Church, with the burial in Crown Hill Cemetery. Arrangements have been entrusted to G.H. Herrmann Madison Avenue Funeral Home.

Elizabeth Ann Chew

Elizabeth Ann Chew, 73, Indianapolis, died July 21, 2012. She was born on Aug. 24, 1938 in Indianapolis to the late John and Alice Chew. After retiring from Thompson Electronics, Elizabeth worked for Executive Management Services in Indianapolis. She is survived by her daughters, Dwan (Stephen) Bowman, Cheryl Thrasher, Michelle (Brian) Todd; grandchildren, Kristina (David) Coffman, Robert D. Thrasher, Shelly (Joseph) Wood, Gina Televito, Frank Televito, Angela Televito; great-grandchildren, Robert Waylon Thrasher, and Garrett Lee Oliver; brother, William (Gale) Chew; and uncle, Rick Chew. She was preceded in death by daughter, Robin Lee Oaks. Funeral services were held July 25 at G.H. Herrmann Madison Avenue Funeral Home, with the burial in Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, Greenwood.

LuAnn Coffman

LuAnn Coffman, 52, Trafalgar, died July 23, 2012. She was born June 20, 1960 in Franklin. She is survived by her mother, LaVonda Coffman; brother, Mark Coffman; sister, Michelle Smogor; nieces and nephews, Brian, Amanda, Amber, Evan and Austin. She was preceded in death by her father, John Kelly Coffman. Services will be held Friday, July 27, 7 p.m. at Wilson St. Pierre Funeral Service & Crematory, Greenwood Chapel, 481 W. Main St., Greenwood. Memorial contributions may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, 50 E. 91st St. Suite 100, Indianapolis, IN 46209-4830 or Indy Feral Inc., P.O. Box 30054, Indianapolis, IN 46230.

Margaret L. Connelley

Margaret LaVerne Haverstick Connelley died July 15, 2012. She was the daughter of O.B. and Fern Reed Hanger. She graduated from Tech High School. She was a member of a Sub-Deb Club called the SWAMIs (Subtle Women Are Most Intriguing). She started taking classes part-time at Indiana Central College in 1965 and graduated with honors (Magna Cum Laude) in 1975 and she was a member of the Alpha Sigma Lambda Honor Society. She began her teaching career at Triton Central High School and when she received her Masters Degree at Butler University, she became a Guidance Counselor at New Palestine High School. She was a member of Faith Assembly of God Church in Beech Grove for many years. She was preceded in death by her husband Gerald Connelley and her parents. She is survived by her sisters, Tanya and Jau Nae Hanger; brother, Steve Hanger; and two sons, Bob (Cathy Kane) and Paul (Nancy); three grandsons and seven great-grandchildren. A celebration of life service was held July 20, at Little & Sons Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers, a memorial contribution could be made to Faith Assembly of God, 186 Royal Road, Beech Grove, IN 46107, or The Voice of the Martyrs, P.O. Box 443, Bartlesville, OK 74005.  

Thelma Feltner

Thelma “Bootsie” Feltner, 82, died July 19, 2012.  She was born to Marshall and Sue Rhodes of Busy, Ky. on June 25, 1930. She is survived by her daughter, Marsha Feltner; grandchildren, Ruth Ann Stokes (Nick Kendall), Elizabeth Stokes (Sabino Tapia) and Darrel Feltner, Jr.; great-grandchildren, Ashley Kendall and Eliana Tapia-Stokes; and brother, Frank Rhodes (Toni).  She was preceded in death by her parents; husband, Ted Feltner; children, Darrel Feltner, Sr. and Sarah Stokes; and siblings, Marshall Rhodes and Billie Klingelhoffer. The funeral was held July 23 at Lauck & Veldhof Funeral & Cremation Services. Burial followed in Washington Park East Cemetery.

Paul Leonard Hollcraft

Paul Leonard Hollcraft, 78, Indianapolis, died July 20, 2012. He was born on March 13, 1934 in Indianapolis to the late Charles and Gertrude Hollcraft. He was a US Army Veteran. Often times he would spend time volunteering for Meals on Wheels. He owned and operated Carpet Fashions from 1961-1994. He was a member of St. Roch Catholic Church. Survivors include his children, Michael (Brigitte) Hollcraft and Cindy Lyles; six grandchildren, Adam Gutzwiller, Michael, Noah & Alyssa Rincker, Nathan and Rachel Hollcraft; one great grandchild, Samantha Gutzwiller; brother, Richard Hollcraft. He was preceded in death by wife of 40 years, Carolyn J. Hollcraft; brother, Charles Hollcraft; and sister, Barbara Turner. A mass was held July 24 at St. Roch Catholic Church, with the burial in Calvary Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to the church.

Barbara Ann Hotseller

Barbara Ann Hotseller, 62, Indianapolis, died July 22, 2012. She was born on Dec. 27, 1949 to Theodore and Helen (Gullett) Lowder. She was a member of the Shelby Street Pentecostal Lighthouse Church and the Red Hat Society. She is survived by her husband, Mike Hotseller; mother, Helen Lowder; daughter, Tonia (Troy) Creech; son, Michael Andrew Hotseller; brothers, Glen Odel, John Michael, Claude Thomas, and Robin Lee Lowder; sisters, Debra Jo Tyree, and Tina Marie Lowder; and grandchildren, Victoria Hotseller, Haley, Hannah, Josiah, and Danielle Creech. She was preceded in death by her father, Theodore Lowder; and brothers, Theodore Edmond, and Hubert Lowder. Funeral services were held July 25 at G.H. Herrmann Madison Avenue Funeral Home, with the burial in Floral Park Cemetery.

L. Ruth Jeter

L. Ruth Jeter, 89, died July 18, 2012. She was born in Clay Co. Ky. to the late Walker and Ada Farmer. She retired from the Indianapolis Fire Department where she was secretary and was very active in voter registration for the Republican Party. She is survived by her children, Diana (Paul) Palusko, Ada Carol (Bill) Murray, Charles (Vera) Jeter, Jerry (Marilyn) Jeter, and Terry (Lisa) Jeter; 11 grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren; and sister, Donna Jean Mathews. She was preceded in death by her husband, Harry J. Jeter; and sisters, Roberta Layman and Lucille Dodson.
Funeral services will be held July 26 at 10:30 a.m. at Little & Sons Funeral Home Beech Grove Chapel. Burial will follow at Forest Lawn Memory Gardens, Greenwood.

Daniel Robert Pea

Daniel Robert Pea, 62, Indianapolis, died July 23, 2012. He was born on Feb. 1, 1950 in Vincennes to the late Arnold and Betty Pea. He is survived by his wife, Rhea Coomer Pea; children, William and Colleen Pea; brothers, Richard (Patty) Pea, William (Debbie) Pea, Dexter (Marilyn) Pea and John Pea and several nieces and nephews. Visitation will be held from 4 – 8 p.m. on July 26 at G.H. Herrmann Madison Avenue Funeral Home, 5141 Madison Avenue Indianapolis. Memorial mass will be conducted at 12 p.m. on July 28 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Vincennes, Ind., with a graveside service immediately after mass. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation or Holy Name St. Vincent DePaul Society.

Daisy Mae Phillips

Daisy Mae (Smith) Phillips, 68, Indianapolis, died July 21, 2012.She was born in London, Ky. on May 29, 1944 to Walter & Ida Mae (Barger) Smith who preceded her in death along with her siblings and sons; Randall Scott Sizemore and James Kalvin Phillips. A homemaker, she is survived by her companion of 36 years, Carl Sizemore, Sr.; sons, Paul Carter (Penny), Tony, and Dale Phillips, Jeff (Tammy) Botkines, Carl and William (Angie) Sizemore; daughters, Jaquline Phillips, Daisy Mae Stevens and Emily Anne Phillips; several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Visitation will take place July 26 from 12:00 p.m. until service at 1:30 p.m. Burial is at Bethel Cemetery.

Charline Tran

Charline Tran, 76, Greenwood, died July 24, 2012. She was born June 14, 1936 in Bowling Green, Ky. to the late Ezra and Kate Runner. She worked as a matron at IPS School System retiring after 25 years. Survivors include, Donna (David) Noel; seven grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren; and sister, Genell Bolin. She was preceded in death by daughter, Teresa Morris. Visitation will be July 27 from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. at G.H. Herrmann Greenwood Funeral Home at The Gardens at Olive Branch followed by the funeral service at 1 p.m. The burial will be at The Gardens at Olive Branch.

Chester Lee Woods

Chester Lee Woods, 83, Indianapolis, died July 18, 2012.  He was born on April 1, 1929 in Garrard County, Ky. to Benjamin and Cora (Harison) Woods.  He was a veteran of the United States Army who served during World War II. He retired from Renners Express Trucking in 1980 after 33 years of dedication as a truck driver. He was a member of Teamsters Local #135. He is survived by his children, Barbara Glowner, Vicky Bates, Chester Woods II, Michael Woods, Rhonda Shifflett, Ricky Hamilton, and Brenda Woods; brother, Damon Woods; 21 grandchildren and many great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife, Lydia Woods. A graveside service was held July 23 at New Crown Cemetery.

Pad Thai: an inclusive noodle

July 19, 2012 in Recipes by Clint Smith

Most cultures have a mind-numbing variety of noodle or pasta dishes, but one of the most versatile and flavorfully complex is the popular Pad Thai.

Pad Thai is composed of, well…it depends. Like many stir-fry specimens, the profile for pad Thai will have requisite variations, but it is the homogenous arrangement of often numerous individual ingredients that contribute to its singular personality. What you can be certain of is the presence of rice noodles, sautéed onion, perhaps some for form of protein (pork, chicken, tofu, eggs), with hints of citrus and sweetness along with a nuttiness from the oil and crushed peanuts. And then there’s the issue of heat. If you’re dining out, you can often request a heat level for many stir-fry dishes; but if you’re cooking at home, you won’t have that problem, will you? All it takes is a little Pad Thai tinkering and crushed pepper experimentation.

My suggestion is that you take advantage of the season’s fruits and vegetables by incorporating generous amounts of citrus and fresh herbs (pad Thai is known for fresh scallion). Stir-fries are inclusive and unpretentious dishes, so approach this with a friendly attitude, because you should be prepared to share.

Recipe:

Pad Thai

Serves 4 – 6

1 pound dried, rice-stick noodles
½ cup fish sauce
½ rice wine vinegar
6 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon oil
2 ounces garlic, mashed to paste
10 ounces chicken, cut into thin strips
2 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons or to taste Thai chili powder or cayenne
4 ounces scallion, bias-cut into thin rings
4 ounces unsalted peanuts, fine chop
3 cups mung bean sprouts
¼ cup minced fresh cilantro

Condiments
Bean sprouts
Fine chop unsalted peanuts
Lime wedges
Thai chiles, thin slice
Minced cilantro

1. Soak rice sticks in bowl of warm water until soft (about 15 minutes). Meanwhile, combine fish sauce, rice vinegar, sugar and ketchup in a small bowl. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Drain noodles—reserve until needed.

2. Heat oil in wok or wide-bottomed sauté pan; add chicken and sauté until meat begins to turn white; add garlic and cook briefly (don’t burn). Add fish sauce mixture, and bring to a boil; add noodles and gently toss with sauce. Continue to cook until noodles have absorbed sauce (about 2 minutes).

3. Pour eggs into the pad Thai mixture, and mix thoroughly until egg is set. Add chili powder or cayenne, along with scallions; cook until scallions are softened. Stir in peanuts and bean sprouts until incorporated well. Sprinkle pad Thai with cilantro and serve with condiments.

Where are the Japanese beetles?

July 19, 2012 in Outdoors by Carol Michel

Where are they? I looked at all the usual plants that they like to feast on, including roses, zinnias and grapes, and could not find a single Japanese beetle in my garden. Purdue entomologists told us this spring to expect to see the beetles earlier than usual this season because of the warm winter and early spring, but I haven’t seen one yet.

I suspect that this year’s low number of Japanese beetles is due to the dry conditions last year when they were attempting to lay eggs in the lawn in July. I would assume and hope that with fewer Japanese beetles this year and another dry summer, I’ll see fewer of them next year, too.

The lack of Japanese beetles is one positive aspect of these dry summers. While my plants struggle to survive in record heat and under extreme drought conditions, at least they don’t also have to endure their leaves being eaten up by these pests.

Because there are so few Japanese beetles this year, skip the beetle traps. Traps might just entice those in the vicinity to come over to your garden to feast. Even in years when we have an abundance of Japanese beetles, you should place any traps as far away from your garden as possible if you decide to use them. I also discourage anyone who wants to use an insecticide to kill off any Japanese beetles, especially if they don’t see many in their gardens. Spraying for beetles can inadvertently kill off bees and other beneficial insects. If I see any Japanese beetles, I just pick them off by hand and drown them in soapy water.

Fortunately, now that it is time for the Japanese beetles to lay their eggs again, my lawn is once again dry, dormant and a lovely shade of tan. Any adult Japanese beetles should find it difficult to lay their eggs in the sod this year, too. I will remind myself again that this is a positive aspect of the drought. If we have normal amounts of rain next year and plants are thriving in July, then the lack of Japanese beetles would be at least one consolation prize for enduring the drought this year.

Panama Canal: Engineering wonder of the world

July 19, 2012 in Living by Submission For The Southside Times

By Ann & John Cinnamon

People who like to travel often include a trip through the Panama Canal on their bucket list and with good reason. We recently sailed through it ourselves and it truly is an engineering marvel. Our 15-day cruise aboard the beautiful Celebrity Millennium started in Miami with a stop first in Cartagena, Columbia, the site of the recent CIA scandal. (Yes, we got pictures of the hotel at the center of the incident.) Then it was on to Panama, first visiting Panama City with its surprisingly pretty and modern skyline that includes a Trump tower. The next morning, we began our day-long journey through the canal with its set of three locks.

A little background: The French gave up on constructing the canal back around 1900. That’s when Teddy Roosevelt sent an American engineering team down to figure it out. What they determined was that it would be easier to raise the ships up and back down through a series of locks rather than attempt to dig through the mountainous terrain. They created the largest man-made lake in the world as the link between the locks. The canal is 50 miles long and goes through the Isthmus of Panama.

We began at the Caribbean side going through the first set of locks and onto Gatun Lake for a trip across that lasts several hours. Next, we sailed through a second, smaller set of locks and then finally through the third set before entering the Pacific Ocean on the other side. An observation tower full of spectators literally cheered as we sailed through. It was exciting.

We take it for granted now, but back in 1914 when it was first opened to ships to navigate through; the Panama Canal revolutionized international commerce by cutting 8000 miles off a ship’s journey from the Atlantic to the Pacific or vice-versa.

Our other stops included Costa Rica which is a beautiful, unspoiled country with lots of flora and fauna; Guatemala where we hiked three miles up an active volcano; Puerto Vallarta, Mexico where we drove ATV’s into the Sierra Madre Mountains; beautiful Cabo San Lucas, where we went kayaking and parasailing; and then San Diego, where we disembarked before flying home. All in all, a trip worthy of a bucket list and a very excellent Panama Canal adventure!