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Garden report of sorts: On Dec. 3 there was a bright-yellow dandelion in my lawn.

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I have been reading about the increase in fires in the papers now that people are using wood stoves with the cold weather and lighting candles for holiday celebrations. The Amherst Fire Department suggests that people check smoke detector batteries when they change their clocks. If you haven’t tested the batteries yet, the winter solstice is a good annual reminder.

When I was covering the Fire Department for the Bulletin, a standard line was the fire was caused “by unattended candles.” If you have lit candles put them out whenever you leave the room.

As for stove ashes, put them in metal cans (not plastic or paper please). Douse them with a lot of water. Don’t leave them near any structures when you take them out.

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It was a good week for Family Outreach of Amherst, which provides services to those in need. The organization’s Warm Up the Night fundraiser featured a food bazaar with restaurants and individuals serving their specialties. I helped Youngmi Yoon, who is from Korea and a visiting computer science scholar at the University of Massachusetts. She made kim chee, a fermented cabbage dish, and bulgogi, a tasty beef dish. By the end of the evening the kim chee was gone. Some people came back for seconds and thirds.

According to Family Outreach organizers, the money raised helped offset the loss of town funding.

Last week the Amherst Rotary Club held its 12th annual dinner for Family Outreach families at the Courtyard by Marriott. After the turkey dinner with all the fixings, families won raffle prizes while Santa Claus gave the children presents. Some of the gift bags were as big the youngsters. Ed Popielarczyk did his magic literally (I was watching and couldn’t see how the rubber balls disappeared) and with his sculptured balloon figures.

Please send items of interest to phyllehrer@gmail.com.

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