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Dear Rusty: My 71-year-old mother has a very small Social Security income. It is not enough to find her housing. I am working to file for increased VA benefits, as she is a veteran. Her partner of 21 years (common law spouse) has passed away, and we have an appointment next week to apply for…

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Let me level with you all for a second: this pandemic is the worst. I hate wearing a mask. I hate that my hands are always dried out from how often I wash them. I hate that all of my music festivals and concerts are canceled this year. We’re all missing out on things important to us, whether…

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Someone needs to explain to me why, after oh-so-many decades of pampering vacations, I suddenly decided camping was a good way to relax. Because apparently, I don’t know myself.

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Every day, as we all go about trying to live our lives as normally as possible, we should be proud to be Ohioans. Times are stressful, to say the least, and Buckeyes are rising to the occasion. Case in point: area restaurants. The social distancing and masking is inspiring. As we still enjoy…

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The news that the first presidential debate will be held in Cleveland Sept. 29 amid a pandemic was surprising. The fact that it is sponsored, in part, by The Cleveland Clinic is shocking.

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Many of West Life’s readers will remember it well: Chicago, 1968. If you were a teenager or young adult during those times, do you recall your reaction to violence at the Democratic National Convention? The convention was regarded as one of the most tense and confrontational political conven…

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That skunk smell a couple of weeks ago that wafted your way on your nightly Dairy Queen drive-through run? Well, that might have emanated from your next door neighbors. Or your husband. Or wife. Or child. Or … your own armpit.

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Starting about May, right when stay-at-home orders were being eased, I entered what could probably be termed my “toddler” stage. I love summer. I obsessively take every opportunity to go to Cedar Point, even though I now need to take Dramamine for many of the rides. I adore spending every av…

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There's a card on my refrigerator that says “Focus on the Good.” It is a simple, handwritten note from a girlfriend that was attached to a gift she presented attendees at her 70th birthday party.

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So many new words have entered our lexicon. COVID. Social distancing. Anti-maskers. Maskers. And, of course, frontline workers and essential industry. We all know that these frontline workers are out there, putting themselves in danger to keep the economy moving, albeit at a safe, snail’s pa…

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Last week, we editorialized about how grateful we are for teachers and school support staff. We understand, we said, how the state of the world is scary and uncharted territory with no historical precedent on how to approach education in a pandemic. We were grateful for the guidance so far f…

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Let’s ponder labels, shall we? In the past four years, labels have been created and thrown around like confetti at a toddler’s birthday party. An apt comparison, I think. But political insults are nothing new. For fun, I decided to investigate historical political insults. I am amazed at the…

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As we pass what is traditionally considered the midpoint of summer — the first week of July — let us consider the stress of teachers right now. Their world is uncertain, the path unclear. School districts and private schools are frantically rubbing their crystal balls to see the future. Will…

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I like carrots. Cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce are good, too. But when the chips were down and the stress was up during recent virus shutdowns, I wanted comfort food in the form of a cookie or a sandwich. Wait. Cookie? Ha! Have you ever had just one Thin Mint?

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Sometimes, when I need a break from my never-ending “To Do” list, I turn to YouTube videos. Lord help me. Inevitably, I end up in a hypnotic, addictive cycle of letting “next video” automatically queue up. Suddenly it’s 2 a.m. and I have no idea what happened since 8 p.m.

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In the mid 1990s, my husband and I moved our little family — the two of us and one toddler — to a wonderful bungalow in western Lakewood. One of the reasons we picked Lakewood was its “hometown” feel. The neighborhoods were friendly and small. The schools were awesome. The parks were well-ke…

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In January, just 10 weeks before the world changed, my husband and I made a life-changing decision. Even though we already had a boisterous, loud and lovable dog in our lives, we stumbled into a 2-year-old Toy Fox Terrier rescue. We think she was 2 … we weren’t really sure.

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When I think of masks, I think of The Lone Ranger, masquerade balls, kids' Halloween costumes and every single person in the hospital operating theater.

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Dear Rusty: We served overseas for several years, not earning many quarters for Social Security. However, we have made sure that we paid in over time so we can receive a benefit, but it will not amount to much. For the past several years now, we have been back in the U.S., earning some profe…

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For many, the past five years have maxed out stress levels. Yes, I’m including 2015 because in case you forgot, the whole presidential election season was gruesome. Fights. Name-calling. More name-calling. Did I mention the grade-school playground name-calling?

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Well, at least President Donald Trump kept his promise. In the last three years, the Trump administration has dismantled most of the major climate and environmental policies he demonized as a candidate, calling them “unnecessary and burdensome to the fossil fuel industry and other businesses.”

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Ohio and the 49 other states are slowly opening up, trying to avoid Grand Canyon-size potholes and navigating uncertainties about basic health issues and protections. We are so fortunate to have a governor who was proactive, sensible and, frankly, way ahead of the pack in protecting citizens…

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Organized sports have pretty much gone down the drain this summer, thanks to COVID-19. But I've noticed a resurgence of kids doing things other than organized sports. I've seen baseball – gasp – without uniforms and umpires. I've seen kids riding bicycles. I've seen kids walking around. I've…

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Thousands protested peacefully in Cleveland and many hundreds more in other communities including Bay Village and Avon to decry the death of George Floyd. After decades, and arguably centuries, of unequal treatment for African Americans, protesters want to see that change.

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George Floyd’s life mattered. He was a human being. Want to talk about Constitutional rights, a term being thrown around like confetti lately? George Floyd had a Constitutional right to live. He had a right to due process. He had a right to not die while desperately trying to get oxygen into…

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This past week has been tough to watch, tough to live in. It pains me to see history repeat itself over and over again. To see how desensitized some of us have become to racial injustice.

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Dear Rusty: I have been hearing reports that Social Security and Medicare will run out of money by 2035 and will only pay approximately 75% of benefits. First, is that true about Social Security? And second, will they reduce benefits to people who are already on it or just the new people sig…

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Bragging rights, increased property values and, last but not least, ego boosts. Those are all the byproducts every year when Cleveland Magazine publishes its annual “Rating the Suburbs” list. We are always proud of our Westshore suburbs (honestly, I can’t imagine living anywhere but West). B…

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If you need a good belly laugh, take a look at Progressive Insurance Co.'s latest television commercial. Flo, Jamie, Mara and the rest of the gang — just like so many of us — are relying on a videoconference platform to communicate from home. And just like us, they are working through some t…

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We were so lucky. Two days before New Year’s Eve, my daughter and I discovered a rescue dog up for adoption during an “I am so bored” trip. It seems about a dozen (by my memory) dogs were taken from an area puppy mill. I was drawn instantly to the tiny — only 6 pounds of shivering white-and-…

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It seems that never before in American history have its citizens been more divided. Politics spark fights. Health issues spark fights. One side is perfectly OK with armed men and women in masks and camouflage storming statehouses and demanding their “Constitutional rights” to potentially inf…

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This week, just 72 hours before Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced community pools could open May 26, the mayor of Avon announced that the city’s Aquatic Center would not be open this year due to COVID-19 concerns and uncertainties.

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Dear Rusty: Does tax filing status matter when calculating how much you can earn without a reduction in your monthly SS payout? My wife and I have filed a joint income tax return for years. My wife is working and I'm 62 and wondering, if I start drawing SS, does the earnings limit only relat…

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Growing up in Fairview Park, I remember summers filled with friends, fun and unstructured play. I guess, to a certain extent, I’m dating myself. But I have been thinking of those summers more and more as cities and parents decide what to do now about traditional hot weather activities.

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Ohio has never been completely shut down. Just ask those employees deemed essential, who have been working throughout the stay-at-home order. Still, most people consider the governor’s orders taking effect this week as reopening of the state.

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Avon Lake resident Lori Kolofer Burk has a giving soul. She’s spent her career helping teachers and working with children. But for the last few weeks, it’s her kindness to those needing a boost in Avon Lake … and surrounding communities … that has made a difference. Burk has been the city’s …