Stewardship of the Earth
In preparing some comments for a panel discussion on stewardship at Wartburg Seminary, I found the following words from Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov:
“Love all creation, the whole of it and every grain of sand. Love every leaf, every ray of God’s life! Love the animals. Love the plants; love everything. If you love everything, you will soon perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love.”
I believe in my 68 years I have come to embrace these words completely. Little did I know that back in 1955 in Chicago was where I first learned what all this meant. I always observed my father putting what I thought were just pieces of junk, broken parts to different things, cut off pieces of pipe and different pieces of metal into boxes in the garage. Then every few months, believe this if you will, down through our alley came a man with a cart pulled by a horse. I could hear him coming not from the sounds of the horse but from his words “Rags, old iron! Rags, old iron”! He was a junkman and my father either gave or sold the man what he had been collecting. My parents and grandparents—who lived upstairs of us in our two-flat—also put coffee grounds, eggshells and even bits of old wet newspaper into the earth of our small back yard.
It should have been no great surprise that people often paused as they walked past our yard and admired the roses in bloom. Nor should I have been surprised that after a good soaking of that ground around dusk that I could go out an hour later with my flashlight and harvest enough night crawlers to go fishing the next morning. All my life I have conserved resources and to this day in my garage are boxes into which I sort recyclables I take to the scrap yard to sell less for the money—since my latest check was for $1.32—but more about caring for the earth.
So this is my stewardship of the earth message to all my readers: in the coming season, care for the earth and that inhabits that earth. I plant native flowers to attract bees and butterflies (especially Monarchs) because bees are being decimated by colony collapse and the Monarchs by habitat losses; I carefully stop along roadways and remove animals struck by cars because all living things are to be honored and treated with dignity; I feed the birds and the squirrels because both are hungry; I diminish my use of pesticides and herbicides in favor of natural means of balancing the good and the bad in my gardens; I recycle my grass clippings back into the soil because we must nourish that from which we take so much; and I teach my grandchildren—and taught my children before them—to care for the earth by having them help me and by modeling behaviors not unlike those of my father.
The growing season for 2015 has not yet begun. Take time now to implement at least one new idea to help the earth. If you use bottled pesticides, exchange them for naturals like lady bugs or mantis; if you need to replenish the soil, use peat and products from your home including grass clippings; if you are going to add plants to your garden, consider native plants and plants to attract bees and butterflies. In other words, think first about the earth; second about what you want.
Cremer’s Baked Cod
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
Place 2 tablespoons butter in a microwave-safe bowl; melt in microwave on high, about 30 seconds. Stir buttery round crackers into melted butter.
Place remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a 7x11 inch baking dish. Melt in the preheated oven, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove dish from oven.
Coat both sides of cod in melted butter in the baking dish.
Bake cod in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven; top with lemon juice, wine, and cracker mixture. Place back in oven and bake until fish is opaque and flakes easily with a fork, about 10 more minutes.
Serve with lemon wedges.
Q: I have inherited a cast-iron bank from the Victorian era. It is the Little Red Riding Hood bank. What can you tell me about it, and how much do you think it is worth? I have been offered $5,000 for it by a collector. —Sam, Conway, Arkansas
A: I am always cautious when I receive a question about cast-iron banks, since many reproductions have flooded the marketplace in recent years. I found your bank referenced in “The Official Price Guide to Mechanical Banks” by Dan Morphy and published by House of Collectibles books. According to Morphy, the “Little Red Riding Hood” bank was produced during the 1880s by W.S. Reed and Company in Leominister, Massachusetts. When a coin was inserted in the slot and the lever activated, Grandma’s mask pivots forward exposing the wolf’s face as Red Riding Hood moves her head backward and the coin falls into the bank.
Morphy thinks your bank is quite rare and valuable. How rare and valuable? He believes it is worth somewhere in the $15,000 to $120,000 range depending, of course, on condition.
Q: I love older paperbacks and have been collecting them for at least 20 years. Most of the ones in my collection were purchased at garage sales and at flea markets for less than a dollar each. There is one I am especially interested about, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” the Armed Service Edition No. 862. — Charlie, Pensacola, Florida
A: The Armed Service Editions are difficult to date. I suspect the one you have was issued in about 1945 or 1946. Your paperback is valued in the $45 to $325 range, again, depending on condition.
Q: My uncle brought home a bracelet from Germany after World War II. He gave it to me. How can I find information about it, especially its value? — Anon.
A: If you are truly interested in your bracelet and its value, it’s time to contact either a professional appraiser or an expert. Don’t rely on a neighbor or friend. This service might not be free, so ask for a verbal appraisal, which is always less expensive. Keep in mind that researching an item takes both time and expertise.
Write to Larry Cox in care of KFWS, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475, 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 do appraisals. Do not send any materials requiring return mail.
© 2015 King Features Synd., Inc.
Q: My bathroom sink drains pretty slowly, and fills up at least halfway when I’m brushing my teeth with the water running. I’m not sure if I should use a drain cleaner on it. What do you recommend? — Sara in Melbourne, Florida
A: Before taking the drain-cleaner route, try a couple of other things first. A slow-flowing bathroom sink drain’s problem may be sitting right in front of you, at the bottom of the sink, with the stopper.
Most of today’s standard bathroom sinks use a pop-up sink stopper, controlled by a push-pull rod behind and below the sink. The bottom of the stopper is typically attached to a control rod; this ensures that the stopper pops up far enough to allow a good, steady drain of water, and that it seals tightly when you want to fill the sink.
A couple of things can happen to the stopper over time: Hair and soap can get stuck at the bottom of the stopper, where the pivot rod attaches to it, causing a clog or slowdown. Or, the attachment to the pivot rod can break. Even if the stopper still pops up or closes, it may not be doing either very well.
So check your stopper first: grab it from the top with your index finger and thumb and pull gently upward. If it comes out easily, its attachment is likely broken. There’s a great step-by-step guide at instructables (http://www.instructables.com/id/Fix-a-Sink-Stopper/) on replacing a pop-up stopper.
If the stopper is attached to the pivot rod, you can go ahead and check for a clog at the base. Dive under the sink and locate the pivot rod. This is a round metal rod jutting horizontally into the back of the drain pipe. It’s held in place by a nut; loosen this nut and ease out the pivot rod. You may want to have a helper hold onto the stopper from above so that it doesn’t fall flush into place, making it hard to get out. Once the rod is pulled back, lift out the stopper.
Clean the gunk from the bottom of the stopper; if you see more gunk in the area around where the pivot rod sits, try fishing out the clog using a wire hanger bent into a hook, or an old bottle brush, or feed a pipe snake to the spot and swirl it a couple of times.
Using a helper to position the stopper, move the pivot rod back into place and hand-tighten the nut. Run the water to see if the slow drain problem is fixed, making sure water doesn’t leak from the pivot nut.
HOME TIP: To de-gunk a slow-flowing drain without drain cleaner, pour a tablespoon of baking soda into the drain followed by two tablespoons of white vingar; let sit for a few minutes, then flush with hot water.
Send your home tips and questions to
© 2015 King Features Synd., Inc.