Start the Revolution: Remove Grass!
It seems there are people who believe every bit of ground not occupied by one’s house, garage, shed or other out building must be planted in grass. As readers of my past columns might remember, I ran a piece about anonymous complaints filed against my gardening practices and erection of a Pergola
(shade house) for hostas. To recap, our property slopes severely down about thirty or so feet past our house
and down to the flood plain valley. I’ve been naturalizing the slope and it’s becoming a veritable paradise for everything from insects to birds to a few wild critters with four legs. The City of Asbury seems to agree
and they give me a lot of latitude regarding my naturalization practices.
Well it seems the City does not agree in similar fashion to the efforts on my daughter’s part to allow her severe slope to remain naturalized nor do they take kindly to her next door neighbor who is doing likewise. Both these houses are four and five doors down from ours and the lots slope down to the valley floor in similar fashion to how mine originally sloped before I began planting in tiers and the like. Someone filed a complaint about the hills not being cut and the City of Asbury issued letters requiring my daughter and her neighbor
to cut their slopes. I trimmed my daughter’s a bit, but
did not cut into the native flowers just beginning to
Whether such is sufficient remains to be seen because the City has not gotten back to us. It’s sad that an anonymous phone call from a disgruntled neighbor—all of the houses past the above two have grass all the way down to the valley floor—can suddenly cause a dictatorial decision to be made through the enforcement of one of the zoning restrictions regarding maintaining one’s property. There is much to be said about keeping all the hills on my side of Whitetail native ranging from the practical sense of keeping small children from running down the slope to the creek below and to the sense of maintaining natural habitat. If all is grassed, and if others continue to remove scrub trees from the flood plain, we will have effectively destroyed the habitat for innumerable species of plants and animals not to mention the unbalancing of the small ecosystem that has been in place since before Asbury was a city.
I recently talked with elder brother Bob about my outrage. He suggested I go to some web sites about planting less lawn in order to have a better environment. Come spring I’ll say more about all this, but let me offer you two tidbits I gleaned from Heather Coburn, as excerpted from her book Food Not Lawns published in 2005 and found at http://www.foodnotlawns.com/lawns_to_gardens.html.
We spend upwards of $30 billion every year to maintain over 23 million acres of lawn.
Our lawns use over 10 times as many chemical per acre as farmland and all these fertilizers and herbicides run off into our groundwater.
In the Whitetail scenario, if any of the homeowners use chemicals on their slopes, then the run off goes directly into the creek and eventually into the Mississippi River. I could go on and on about the waste of sloped lawns from the time it takes to mow, to the inherent dangers of mowing slopes to the extra pollution emitted from lawn mowers, but let’s just end this month with a challenge.
As gardeners, think long about this problem over the winter. I am not in any way advocating the removal of all turf grass—quite the contrary. But I am suggesting that we can better balance our land use and recognize that some can be left natural, some can become flower or vegetable gardens and some can be turf. It’s really not about what we think is right; rather, it’s about what our environment needs.
12 Cremer’s Homemade Brats
2 or 3 Large Onions
Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
Slice onions into 1/2” thick slices, layer a baking dish with onions and place Cremer’s Homemade Lean Brats on bed of onions.
Pour enough water to cover onions.
Cover and bake for one hour.
Remove brats from oven and place on medium-hot grill until you have grill marks (5–10 minutes).
You can also chill brats and use them at a later time, throwing them on grill to heat through to an internal temp of 165° (10– 15 minutes).
Chicago Cubs Yearbooks
I have some Chicago Cubs yearbooks from the 1950s. How and where can I sell them?
— Janet, Oswego, Illinois
I checked eBay and found dozens of Chicago Cubs yearbooks being offered for sale, including editions from 1948 ($35), 1949 ($26), 1950 ($20), 1955 ($27) and 1956 ($40). I suggest you sell your yearbooks there in order to get — in my opinion — the best possible price.
My late uncle loved paperback novels and managed to collect several hundred titles, mostly from the 1940s and ‘50s. They are extremely interesting, and I understand some have become quite collectible. Can you recommend a good price guide? — Art, St. Charles, Missouri
The mass-market paperback was introduced by Robert de Graff in 1938 with a special “Pocket Book” edition of “The Good Earth” by Pearl Buck. It was such a success that other titles quickly followed.
There are several references, but I especially like the “Collectible Paperback Price Guide,” by Gary Lovisi and published by Krause Books. It features up-to-date values for thousands of the most collectible American mass-market paperbacks, each with three grades of condition. It also has more than 1,000 cover illustrations in full color.
This nifty guide explains how to collect, value, buy and sell paperback books with special sections on cover art, key authors, important artists, hot series, pen names, how and what to collect, recommended dealers and book shows. It is $20 and should be a good resource for you and others who enjoy paperbacks.
I have a radio that I listened to as a child. I am now 76 years old. It is a Philco Model 39-85 with three knobs: One is the off/on switch, the second for tuning and the third for short wave. Could you give me any information about it?
— William, Litchfield Park, Arizona
The model number is a good clue since it indicates that your radio was manufactured in 1939 and is identified as the production model 85. There were 20,050 of this model made with an original price of $52.50. For owners of Philco radios, I recommend an excellent Internet site, philcoradio.com/gallery. Incidentally, the first Philco radio was manufactured in 1928.
Write to Larry Cox in care of KFWS, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803, or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Due to the large volume of mail he receives, Mr. Cox cannot personally answer all reader questions, nor does he do appraisals. Do not send any materials requiring return mail.
© 2016 King Features Synd., Inc.
Cats in the Window
DEAR PAW’S CORNER: I’m writing this not long after returning from the vet, where my cat “Trix” was treated after falling from my apartment’s second-floor window. Fortunately his injuries aren’t serious and he’ll recover, but it was a scary day that was all my fault.
Can you please tell your readers to make sure their cats cannot push through the screen windows? Many cats like to sit on the windowsill and watch the outside world, but if something attracts them or if they lean up against a loose screen, it could give way — which is what happened with Trix. —
Jan in Quincy, Massachusetts
DEAR JAN: Thank you! I’m glad Trix will be OK.
Readers, screen windows often aren’t secured solidly enough to keep a cat from pushing or falling through one. Cats also can tear the screen with their claws (and sometimes get their claws tangled in the screen, another scary moment). The damage from a small screen rip may not seem like much, but over time constant clawing can open up the screen entirely.
To keep your cat safe, try keeping the lower casement of windows shut, and screen the upper casement so you can open that part to let air in.
If you have a screened-in porch that your cat likes sitting in, make sure the screen stays in good repair so it can’t escape.
Keep your cat even safer around windows by making sure curtain pull cords are either cut short to stay out of reach, or wrapped tightly around mounting hooks. Avoid floor-to-ceiling curtains that cats love to climb; use shorter curtains and make sure curtain rods are mounted securely.
Send your questions or pet care tips to email@example.com.
© 2016 King Features Synd., Inc.