Don't call us on Jan. 17 or 18, Feb. 4 or 5, March 12, 13....

One pithy pronouncement hit me right hard before I had skimmed by page four. “You know you’re getting older when you sit in a rocker and can’t get it going.” I thought that was what grandkids were for. And my lazy uncle Luke once looped one end of a string around a cat’s tail and the other to the rocker leg, a system that worked well until Aunt Sadie caught him at it and requisitioned the cat for herself.

Another question from this page, cleverly titled “Philosofacts,” asks: “How did a fool and his money get together in the first place?” Probably inherited it or bought some of those nifty Internet stocks that popped through the ceiling a few years back. Good guess that he didn’t work for it.

And now for the weather. The Farmer’s Almanac predicts a “rough winter.” What other kinds are there? Even mild winters seem rough to those of us who prefer to keep heavy coats in the closet and fishing reels close at hand.

Precipitation is supposed to be above normal in all regions except the Pacific Northwest, which, as I understand, always has too much anyway. That does bode well for the Southwest, however, which never seems to get enough moisture and certainly could use a bit extra this year. Can we litigate if it turns day again?

“Showery weather should be the characteristic of the spring.” Well there’s a shock. I expect hot weather will be a characteristic of the summer and falling leaves will be prominent in autumn.

The Almanac explains that its forecast, which have been included since the early 1800s, come from “a long-standing (and secret) formula.”

Less mysterious is the sheer volume of miscellaneous facts included in the Farmer’s Almanac. For instance, someone did a survey to determine what U.S. town is the safest. Crossroads, New Mexico, wins. A more dubious distinction goes to Mexico City, tagged as the city with the worst case of pollution in the world. Caramba!

Mary Anderson of Lowell, Ind., won the apple pie recipe contest. That’s worth knowing. Have any of you noticed that you can hardly ever find plain old apple pie in restaurants any more? They offer apple crisp, apply crunch, and apple explosion. But no one serves apple pie like my grandma used to make: crust on the bottom, apples, sugar and cinnamon in the middle, and another crust on top, golden brown with amber traces of butter around the edges, filling oozing from the fork holes. Can’t find it.

Jan. 17 and 18 will be the best days of the month for fishing. They’ll bite best on Feb. 4 and 5; March 12, 13, 20, 21 and 29. In April, I’ll be out of the office on the 8th, 9th, 17th, 18th, 26th and 27th.

I’ll get back to you on the rest of the year, after I see how reliable these suggestions turn out.

Jan. 3, 4, 10-12 and 17 are good days to bake. Cutting firewood is best from Jan. 2-17, unless it’s awfully cold on the 1st and then you’d better go ahead and fire up the chainsaw.

A number of days in January are good for castrating a farm animal, unless you’re a farm animal and then the perspective is somewhat different. You can dig holes from Jan. 2-17 (if you aren’t cutting wood and if the holes in question aren’t post holes, which are better left for Jan.1, and 18-31). A number of days are listed throughout the year as good days to quit smoking. Can’t imagine there’s a bad day to kick that habit.

If you need a rain barrel, and who doesn’t, you can find where to get one. If you need to relieve arthritis pain, this is the catalog you want. And if you need a composting toilet, the information for ordering is at your fingertips. Where was this book when I was doing my Christmas shopping?

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