Last fall my worker bees reconstructed a railroad tie wall and in the process built in some steps and another wall opposite those steps. I used ties to finish the top edges and thus created 8’x 20’ and 8’x 12’ planters for my garden. I looked forward to planting a fantastic vegetable garden in 2016 and all was going well until: The Rabbits. They decimated the new seedlings and transplants in late April so we built a fence around the main garden and they were stopped.
Grandson Jacob and I planted sweet onion sets, bush green beans, Brussel Sprouts, beets, red peppers, hot peppers cherry, grape and Sun Gold tomatoes, gourds, zucchini, cucumbers, ice-box watermelons, and cantaloupe. I was not big on trying the melons, but Jacob really wanted to grow some so we bought three plants of each melon and placed them in a mound.
WOW! The return on our investment is beyond expectations. We have yellow onions and beans a plenty, red peppers are tasty, we have a “chocolate” brown sweet pepper yet to be cut into but looking beautiful, all the gourds and squash are plentiful and the melons—yes, Jacob has watermelons and cantaloupe! As I write, there are at least eight watermelons and three cantaloupes maturing on the vines.
All of my local grandchildren, Jacob and his younger brother and sister (the twins) have been very helpful in watering, weeding and harvesting. Leah specializes in picking our raspberries and I wonder if more are going into her belly than my bowl! Josh is the main waterer and in my absence of a week—Christine and I went to the Black Hills—he did an excellent job of keeping everything healthy. Josh also discovered how tasty fresh veggies can be and has decided he prefers his green beans raw. I told him my story of growing up in Chicago and how my parents would drive out of the city to the neighboring farm stands and buy all sorts of fresh produce. Among our regular purchases were green beans and I, too, loved to eat them right out of the bag. I am convinced that many untold lessons have been learned this year from being among the plants and gardens of my back yard.
Whenever the grandkids were there, they left their electronics at home. In doing so, they obviously could visit more easily with me, but they also were able to hear the birds and take notice of other activity going on around them. I want to urge all of you to engage young people in your gardens be they large or as small as a tomato plant growing in a pot on the patio. The operative word is engage. Talk with young people, share your stories and urge them to taste and see for themselves just what produce from the garden, from their efforts, really tastes like.
In our garden, we’ve not only learned that raw green beans taste way different (and better) than the cooked ones, but that Sun Gold tomatoes are sweet like candy and we can pick them off the vine and pop them into our mouths for a delicious taste sensation. My grandchildren have also learned we use virtually no environmentally harmful pesticides and use only the occasional insecticidal soap spray so we have no fear of just eating off the vines. Yes, some leaves look chewed a bit because a caterpillar moved in, but nothing overwhelmed the garden. Indeed, I received not only a bountiful harvest but also a whole bunch of time to gently teach life-long lessons to my grandchildren.
Stuffed Whole Chicken Breast
With the talk of poultry prices being so high, chicken is still a great value.
2–1/2 to 3 lb. oven ready seasoned chicken breast with Cremer’s homemade stuffing
Thaw chicken breasts completely. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place chicken breasts in a casserole dish. Add 1/2 inch water to the dish. Bake for 1–1/2 to 2 hours. Serve with your favorite side dishes.
I have a Parker fountain pen that was used by my uncle during the 1930s. He was a banker and considered it his favorite writing instrument. It is the “Thrift Time” model in brown. What is it worth? — Stan, Kent, Washington
The first fountain pen was invented in 1830, but they were not really manufactured commercially until the 1880s, when a suitable metal for the tips was perfected. The first successful commercial fountain pen producers were Waterman (1884) and Parker (1888). Parker entered the market with a fountain pen named “Lucky Curve.”
Vintage fountain pens are collectible, and some have become quite pricey. I found your pen referenced in “Collecting Pens” by Edward Kiersh and published by House of Collectibles. According to Kiersh, your Parker Thrift Time was produced in 1932 and is worth about $150. The Pen Collectors of America can be contacted at www.pencollectorsofamerica.com.
I have a Mickey Mouse Club projector with films and in its original box. The box is falling apart. It is model 488, and I am curious if it has much value. — Erna, Falls City, Texas
Your projector was manufactured during the early 1950s by Stephens Products, a company based in Middletown, Connecticut. I found several of these projectors on eBay, most priced in the $75-$100 range. One featured the hand-cranked projector in its original box with 14 film strips, including ones featuring Hopalong Cassidy, Chip ‘n Dale and Pluto. It had a requested opening bid of $69. As this column was being written, no bids had been submitted.
I have my dad’s pocketwatch. It was made by Elgin. My problem is I would like to have it cleaned and don’t know how to go about this. --Norma, Decatur, Illinois
The Elgin National Watch Company was founded in 1864 in Elgin, Illinois, and produced more jeweled watches than any other company during its more than 90-year history. The company made many low-end watches, all the way up to its famous high-quality railroad grade. The railroad watches are especially collectible. Although you didn’t specify the model or grade of your watch, it is best to have it professionally cleaned by a jeweler.
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© 2016 King Features Synd., Inc.
Preparing Pets for Disasters
DEAR PAW’S CORNER: I live in a part of the country that rarely sees extreme weather events like tornadoes, hurricanes, floods or blizzards. So I never gave much thought to having a disaster-preparedness kit. However, a couple of weeks ago my neighbor’s house caught fire and burned down. Thankfully no one was injured, and they did not own pets, but it got me thinking about how I would care for my cat and dog in an unforeseen disaster.
I put together a small disaster kit that I keep in the trunk of my car, stowed out of the way. It has copies of my pets’ medical records, two extra leashes and collars with extra ID tags attached, a few single-meal pouches of dog and cat food, a gallon of water and a couple of old T-shirts for emergency bedding (which hopefully have a familiar scent to help them feel at home). If we have to leave very quickly — and in a fire there is no time to try and grab anything, except family — I have a little less to worry about afterward. —
Sara in Washington
DEAR SARA: That’s a great idea, and a very important point about priorities in a disaster — natural or otherwise, like a house fire. Time is essential, so first, get to safety, and worry about paperwork much later.
Preparing a pet-care kit is an important part of disaster planning. Sit down with your family to discuss how you will handle events like house fires, evacuation orders or other emergencies. You also should put together a list of local and federal agencies and organizations that can help you during and after a disaster.
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© 2016 King Features Synd., Inc.