Between the Lines

Between the Lines By David Lias I hold in my hands The 2000 Old Farmer's Almanac.

It won't be available to the general public until Sept. 14. I always find this to be a fascinating publication, and can never resist sharing a few tidbits from the almanac.

Here is what we can expect in 2000, according to the Old Farmer:

* Themes: The beginning of the new century will focus on simplicity and quality, nostalgia, glowing color (celestial blue is the color of the millennium) and a sense of community.

* Fashion trends: "Casual luxe" is the buzz among clothing designers, with lots of cuddly cashmere still in style. Women's fashions will be very feminine, with florals, soft-washed linens, embroidery and the like. Men's styles will show "rural hardiness" � modern clothes that exude nonchalance.

* Hot collectibles: With baby boomers leading the charge, Hollywood memorabilia and Barbie are still hot commodities. Old fishing rods, lures and gear can also "reel" in big bucks. But if you're looking for items sure to "rev up" your collection, old pistons and connecting rods from famous race cars are accelerating in value.

* Home news: Decorators predict a push toward blue and shades of purple, as well as orange accenting earthy browns. Furniture will feature brushed aluminum, steel and brass, with dark woods popular as well.

* Food trends: Watch for spicy, exotic flavors both at home and in restaurants. This trend is the result of the growing numbers of foreign-born people enriching the cuisine, and the aging baby boomers whose taste buds have also aged. The result is a demand for food with more boldness and intensity.

Here are a few timely tips from the new almanac:

"So you want to make a time capsule?" The editors of The Old Farmer's Almanac recognize that communities across the country likely will want to bury time capsules filled with momentos to mark the beginning of the new millennium. The almanac advises against this, however.

Time capsules are fine, as long as they aren't buried. Why? According to the almanac, 80 percent of buried time capsules are lost. Over time, I guess, people just forget where the capsules are buried.

"Best sky sights of the next century � guaranteed!" The 21st century promises to bring some super spectacles, many of which are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. The total solar eclipse on Aug. 12, 2045 (be sure to mark your calendars) will be the longest (six minutes) in U.S. history � an inspiration for today's observers to stay healthy.

"Don't throw out that old VCR" Older models that can't be programmed due to the Y2K problem need not end up in the dump, according to the almanac. Owners of such machines should simply set them back to 1972 � the days of the week have the same dates as in 2000.

"Weather: the good, the bad, the ugly." The weather predictions in The Old Farmer's Almanac always generate attention. This year's forecast calls for favorable weather across the nation, interrupted by several bouts of nature's worst, such a floods, hurricanes and drought.

Watch for a summer that is very hot with below-normal precipitation. The prediction for winter features below-normal snowfall in most of the country except New England, the Great Lakes, the Appalachians, the Rockies and the Pacific Northwest.

The almanac even includes a forecast for millennium party-goers � the folks celebrating in Times Square better bring an umbrella.

According to The Old Farmer's Almanac 1999-2000 U.S. Weather Map that was sent along with my copy of the publication, we can expect a cold winter in the Upper Midwest. I'm already getting shivers, because even with all of the wacky global weather occurrences that have affected the climate in recent years, the almanac claims an 80 percent accuracy rate on its forecasts on a seasonal basis.

There are other features in the almanac that you just won't find anywhere else, such as:

"12 Garden Myths and Why They're Wrong." Gardening is a hobby drenched in tradition, but there are longtime myths associated with the hobby that don't hold water anymore. For example, you can't grow certain plants to repel mosquitoes, and you can forget about poinsettias being toxic.

The almanac also lists the most important inventions of the past 2,000 years, ranging from reading glasses to the contraceptive pill.

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