An Open Letter to Summer


Dear Summer,

As we approach the autumnal equinox, we’d like to look back on your 2016.

First, we want to thank you for all your hard work this year. You set some records:

  • Tied 1947 for the hottest August on record (average 77.8 degrees)
  • August was the hottest month for the first time since 1947.

We have to say, we feel a little sorry for 1947, being that they had almost no air conditioning back them. But they were only two years removed from a pretty big win in WWII, and were busy with the whole Jackie Robinson thing.

When it comes to humidity, you averaged 62 degrees dew point. While you neither know nor care about what that means, let us just say, it was sticky. So thank you for the ability to take a shirt straight from the pile of rumpled clothing next to the bed, put it on, go outside and have it de-wrinkled for free.

Talking about moisture, thank you for the drought. We were able to control theexact amount of water for our tomatoes, rather than rely on the heavens to dump whatever rain they felt like dumping. It’s one good way to avoid splitting and watery tasting fruits.

Changing topics, thank you for the sports successes that were nurtured in your bosom: The Cavs filled our hearts to bursting with joy in June, and the Indians announced themselves as the real deal in July. It’s halfway through September and they still haven’t faded (but the pitching has suddenly become worrisome).

But now we want to give you permission to rest. It’s very close to the official end of Summer and we want to let you know that Autumn’s got this now. You may turn down the ovens and let the new season toss us a cool breeze or two. Let’s see if Autumn can be as good at its job as you were at yours.

We look forward to next year, when you kick Spring to the curb and get us all into our shorts and flip flops, as we celebrate back to back NBA championships by heading to Progressive Field to watch the defending World Champion Cleveland Indians.

Have a good three season vacation, rest up and get ready for 2017. We will miss you.

Signed, your faithful summer lovers.

P.S. A little less rain for the Fourth of July next year, if you please.

Remembering Springs and Easters

daffodil kaleidoscope

Spring is a metaphor for renewal, some would even say it’s a cliched metaphor. Literary snobbery aside, there’s nothing like a warm, sunny Spring day, with crocus and daffodils dotting our drab landscape,  to make us glad we didn’t set the alarm clock for June.

Growing up, we remember how the big thing every year was to get new dress-up clothes for Easter. No suit or dress ever lasted more than a year, unless it was handed down to the younger kids. The boys would chafe at the buttoned collars and the clip-on ties; the girls would twirl and giggle in their lacy dresses, and Mom and Dad would take pictures of them before church, while everything was freshly pressed and clean.

Often times those pictures would be outside because it was Spring, doggone it, and “we’re all going to go outside and get a picture.” Mom didn’t care that it was colder than it looked, and if Dad had any sort of eye for composition, he managed to get the daffodils in the shot.

So it is those images that live in our memories, and those moments that are conjured up when we see the spring flowers poking up through the mulch. Spring isn’t just a metaphor for renewal, it’s a reminder of family and of the days we loved.

A Little Home Security Slide Show

A friend of ours told us that whenever he goes on vacation, he speeds up the final 100 miles returning home because he convinces himself that someone is breaking into his home, right…that…minute. They are not, of course, but they could be.

Our friend could use a little peace of mind, as could we all. And fortunately, Home Handyman has made a list of inexpensive ways to theft-proof your home. They should probably say, ‘make theft-resistant,’ because theft-proof’ is a pretty high bar to reach, but we get the idea. Reinforcing your entry door strike plate, and installing a small safe are just two of the ideas. Some are easy, and some may need the help of someone who knows a thing or two about being handy.

Not mentioned? Buying a pair of rottweilers, which certainly would deter anyone who hasn’t seen a cartoon where someone slips a mickey in a t-bone steak.

Making Healthy Eating a Little More Do-Able


Mark Twain said (if we twist his actual quote just a little), “Everyone wants to have read the classics, but no one wants to read the classics.” And the same thing goes for healthy food. Everyone wants to have eaten healthier, but no one wants to eat healthy.

We all know we should eat better. We all know the benefits. And yet we often don’t. Why? If you Google “reasons people don’t eat healthfully,” you will find ‘cost’ listed as one of the big reasons. Yes, fresh, healthy foods do cost more. Yes you can go buy 10 blue boxes of mac and cheese for $10 at the local Humongo Mart. And yes, for many people, the cost difference is a deterrent.

So AARP decided to make a list of 11 foods with the biggest nutritional bang for the buck. In fact, that’s the title, “11 Foods With the Biggest Nutritional Bang For The Buck.” Carrots and whole breast turkey are on the list. And frozen peas. (If you’re not counting there are 8 more).

If you want to add to the list, feel free to email us.

Where we get dangerously close to trademarking Valentine’s Day


Do you know why there is a seemingly endless supply of hearts, everywhere? Yes, partly because it’s profitable. But aside from that, it’s symbolic. You can’t have too many hearts, because humans cannot have too many people to love. There’s always room for one more. This is why we would ask that everyone try to add one person to love to their “heart database” every day (yes, we just coined a phrase, mark it down).

We meet people all the time, and usually it’s ephemeral, a waitress, a delivery guy, the cable repair person, but what if we tried to use that brief moment to feel a little love for them? What if we put the world on pause and focused on that person as someone we are connected to? Six degrees of Kevin Bacon aside, we ARE all connected. What if we took a moment to memorize their face, maybe get their name, gently pluck them up and tuck them into our hearts?

Yes, it sounds like we’re harking back to hippy times, but they weren’t wrong about that. We’d still like to buy the world a Coke. 

We heart you, Dear Reader. We wish we could heart you in person.

Have a great Valentine’s Day with your loved ones. You are officially in our heart database.

Pie or Fiber? Why can’t we have both?

February is Great American Pies Month. It’s also National Fiber Focus Month. While these would seem contradictory, let’s see if we can make sense of it.

First, what are Great American Pies? For this we turn to the great American pie maker herself, Mrs. Smith, or at least to her corporate facsimile. 

The top pies, in order, are:



Chocolate cream


Apple crumb


Lemon meringue


Key lime


The top two have major ingredients which are high in fiber. There you go. That’s how you celebrate Great American Pies Month and Fiber Focus Month, all at the same time.

Buckeye Chuck Need a New Publicist

buckeye chuck from Facebook
Photo from Buckeye Chuck’s Facebook page

It’s been a mild winter, that’s for sure. We don’t know how it’s going to shake out in the end, but we bet it will be among the mildest in a long time. Of course, we still have February and March (and in Cleveland, April and some of May) to contend with and we could get six feet of snow, but so far we have to call it a win.

Showing homes is so much easier when the weather is good. But we Clevelanders are sturdy folk, and even in harsh climate, we can troop around with the best of them.

Still, this is the week when Punxsutawney Phil, Buckeye Chuck, Sir Walter Wally et al give their forecasts. Since America loves ranking stuff, The Weather Channel last year ranked their top 11 goundhogs.  Marion’s own Buckeye Chuck made the list, but he’s got to step up his game to crack the top five.

So here’s to six more weeks of winter, as long as it’s exactly like the winter we’ve had so far.

The Snow We Don’t Have


snow photo for blog hi contrast.jpg
Photo by F. John Sharp


We’re never ones to participate in schadenfreude, because we all have our troubles, but how beautiful is it to see all that snow we don’t have to shovel? It sure looks better on TV than it does on our driveways.

It’s been a quiet year for the snow machine in most of our service area. Yes, the folks in the heart of the snow belt have been nailed a couple of times, but even they would admit it’s been an easy winter.

But it comes at a cost. Besides all the snowmen and snow angels that were never made, and the snowball fights that were never started, think of the snow plow drivers, the ones who need the winter income to bridge the gap from Fall to Spring, when they can get back to their regular jobs as landscapers and contractors and such. It’s hard enough to budget for this type of work anyway, and when the weather doesn’t cooperate it makes for a long winter.

So hats off to our friends who push the snow. And if you employ a reliable snow removal service, think about sending them a note of thanks for being at the ready. And maybe a Starbucks card. And pie. They love pie.

If you are without a reliable snow removal service, please ask us. We know people.

And if we all get dumped on next week, feel free to call us and say we jinxed Northeast Ohio. We like hearing your voice.

Let us turn our thoughts today…

Craig Claiborne’s pecan pie, from Food 52 blog (see link below).


For many of you the title of today’s post will be a song cue, and will create an ear worm for the rest of the day. You’re welcome. (Bonus: excellent song link at the end of this post).

If the internet is to be believed, Martin Luther King’s favorite dessert was pecan pie. Go ahead, look it up. We’ll wait. And as long as we are believing the internet, we discovered that January 18 is National Peking Duck Day. We’re not waiting any longer, you’ll have to trust us on this one.

Side note–one site said it was also National Gourmet Coffee Day, but isn’t that pretty much every day?

Anyway, wouldn’t it be grand to celebrate the late Dr. King by having pecan pie for dessert? Call your favorite bakery and have them set one aside. Or if you have the time, you can make the one in the picture above, which is from Food 52 blog. Either way, while you’re enjoying it, take a moment to turn your thoughts.

And now, as we promised: A beautiful version of a James Taylor classic.