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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Reading rodents for the Old Slice Almanac

I’ve been watching our backyard squirrels in the hopes of gleaning some clues about what sort of winter we’re going to have.

So far, this hasn’t produced significant insights.

In autumns past, especially frenetic rodent activity might suggest a hard winter was coming. At least according to the Old Slice Almanac.

But I have to admit, I have not kept detailed records correlating squirrel busyness and subsequent weather patterns. I’m not really sure how accurate the rodents are as forecasters.

So I’m thinking of trying a new approach. One of my neighbors has chickens now. Maybe I’ll listen to them and see if they know anything.

What’s your favorite folk-life method of predicting what kind of winter we’re in for?

Just wondering: When someone speaks to you while you are flossing your teeth, do you stop what you’re doing and reply in a reasonable manner or do you continue flossing and respond with a series of unintelligible grunts and groans? How about when someone speaks to you while you are swishing mouthwash around and are not ready to spit it out yet? Do you make sounds that seem like the guttural utterances of someone bound and gagged?

How to get noticed: “It seems to me that drivers are much more likely to stop and let me cross the street if I have the dog with me,” wrote Ellen Sherriffs. “As a driver, I don’t think I do this, but I probably do pay more attention to the dog than the human. Does some enterprising high school student need a research paper topic?”

Rock ’em, Sock ’em Robots, Easy-Bake Oven, et cetera: Can you remember yearning for a certain toy and then seeing it in action at another kid’s house and realizing it really wasn’t all that great?

Slice answer: In the matter of momentarily forgetting someone was gone, Carol Baxter had an answer.

For some time after her cat died, she would absent-mindedly go to the door and call him to come in. “And then realize he would never again come running to my voice. To this day, I miss him.”

Warm-up question: If “The Jetsons” had been set in Spokane instead of Orbit City, how would it have altered the storyline?

Today’s Slice question: What finally convinced you that eating or drinking directly over your keyboard or electronic device is not a good idea?

Write The Slice at P. O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; email Readers said you can’t beat maple trees and burning bush shrubs for fall color, but horse chestnut seeds make the best miniature kickballs.