Garden for the Health of It!
Recently I read that gardening can help our overall health as we get older. It didn’t take a scientific study to confirm that notion for my mother. Mom lived to be 93 and dug about in the soil all her life. In the house I grew up in Chicago, we had a small yard, but she and dad managed to fill it with roses and annuals every year. I was hired on as chief weed puller at one cent a dandelion—if its root was attached!
Though mom had some health issues, including adult on-set diabetes and failing vision, she controlled those problems with medication and regular check-ups with her physician. The article I read suggested that people who garden had 19 percent lower health-care expenses than non-gardeners. The groups studied were composed of 3,000 people over 65 and they were compared on lifestyles and total Medicare claims. Obviously, it pays to stay active, but the study made a comparison with other forms of activity including swimming and walking, but no other single activity came even close to the 19 percent of gardening. As I reflected on this I also realized my grandfather—mom’s dad—lived to be 90 and in his later years was in the yard every summer pulling dandelions or watering the grass.
Until mom was 91, my older brother prepared his planter boxes with new soil and amendments to be filled with flowers by mom as she sat on his deck in the early morning hours. Though clearly difficult at 91 to plop down on the ground, sitting in a chair on the deck and planting the annuals was an easy task. Mom also enjoyed picking out the various plants that went into the boxes and she often reported to me over the phone about the various plants she found at the grocery store or garden center. Gardening, for Mom and many others, can also be the journey to find the plants. When she died peacefully in late November 2006, the flowers acknowledged her passing quite uniquely. When I returned from her memorial service in Chicago, I immediately noted a flash of purple and yellow as I got out of the car. There, huddled close to the ground was a cluster of Violas in full bloom! Violas and their cousins the Pansies were mom’s favorite flowers.
What I found refreshing in my mother’s efforts—and the efforts of so many older adults I encounter—is the hope that comes from the promise of new life every spring and summer. Mom relished the opportunity to sit on my brother’s deck and plant the six packs of annuals. If I am given the opportunity to live long—I will be 70 this March—I hope one of my last acts is to put out some spring annuals, walk through a rose garden in bloom, or plant a tree for the future. We have eleven grandchildren and on our residential lot we have planted eleven trees to commemorate their births. Each grandchild was introduced to his or her tree and each will also learn to care for that tree.
A final affirmation for gardening is from me. For the past decade my feet became heavily arthritic and severely damaged. I found my feet in far less pain as I worked and walked among my friends in the garden. No, my arthritis did not disappear, and I have since had surgery to repair the damage; none the less, the soft earth and my overall lifted spirits reduced inflammation and pain. So, no matter the size of your garden plot, even if it’s only a planter or two, plunge your hands into the fertile soil and plant, plant, plant! Your body will thank you for it, your nerves will be soothed, and any frowns you may have had will become smiles.
Cremer’s E–Z Whole Beef Tenderloin
• 4-4-1/2 lb whole beef tenderloin
• Cremer’s Rub-Me-Tender Seasoning
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Season tenderloin with Cremer’s Rub-Me-Tender seasoning.
Place tenderloin in roasting pan or on cookie sheet.
Roast tenderloin for 30 minutes or until 130 degrees internal temperature for medium rare (10 minutes additional for medium well).
Remove tenderloin from oven, cover with foil tent, and let rest for 15-20 minutes.
Internal temperature may increase 5–10 degrees while resting—due to residual heat.
Slice tenderloin into 1/4” to 1/2” slices. End piece will be more done and center of roast more rare.
Shoes of Glass
My late aunt had a small collection of about a dozen glass shoes. Are they worth keeping?
— Beth, Waco, Texas
Little glass shoes were made in hundreds of styles, shapes and colors. They were a favorite of Victorian-era collectors and cluttered parlors throughout the country, especially during the early decades of the past century. One of the better guides is “Collectible Shoes of Glass,” by Earlene Wheatley and published by Collector Books.
Some typical prices are: Slipper by Daisy & Button, $75; Slipper with daisy design by Gillinder, $100; and high-button boot in frosted amber, $75. Many of the more common examples sell in the $25 to $50 range.
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I have a collection of about 50 VCR tapes featuring mostly science-fiction movies and oddities. I have been told that they aren’t worth keeping. What is your opinion? — Steve, Fort Smith, Arkansas
Most VCR tapes sell in the $1 to $3 range. Values depend on several factors, including condition, rarity and collectability. There are always exceptions. For example, some VCR tapes are worth several hundred dollars each, including such titles as “Evil Dead,” “Savage Intruder,” “Back for Revenge,” “Dr. Frankenstein’s Castle of Freaks,” “Petrodactyl Woman” and the “Star Wars” triology. I suggest you monitor eBay to determine current prices.
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I have a Bucky Beaver cookie jar made by Metlox.
It is in near-mint condition. I am curious about both the company and the value of my cookie jar.
— Lou, Des Moines, Iowa
The Metlox Pottery Company was founded in 1927 in Manhattan Beach, California. Some of its most desirable pieces were designed by well-known sculptor Carl Romanelli, who worked from the late 1930s through the 1950s. The company closed in 1989. After checking eBay and several other sources, I believe your cookie jar to be worth about $175.
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I have a Jim Beam bottle issued during the 1971 Bing Crosby National Pro-Am tournament. What is it worth? — Stan, Colorado Springs, Colorado
A: I found your bottle referenced in “Bottles: Identification and Price Guide,” by Michael Polak and published by Krause Books. According to Polak, your bottle is valued in the $5 to $7 range.
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