Siren Song of the Garden
In Homer’s The Odyssey, there’s a point where he tells his men to put wax in their ears and to tie him to the mast without wax so he could hear the Sirens call. These were not sirens like we might think of them; rather they were beautiful women whose enchanting song lured men toward them only for their ships to be smashed upon the rocks. Such is how I see my forays into the garden.
This past year has been especially difficult for me and I found myself hiring more help for tasks I once routinely knocked off before lunch. I work alongside my grandchildren or other workers but my stamina fades sooner than theirs though I try to cover up that reality. My efforts for this gardening season were aimed at getting my infrastructure in place. I covered my redesigned hosta house with shade cloth, we built a cinder block wall to hopefully hold back the ever-creeping hill slide, and we rebuilt the retaining wall with newer railroad ties so that the raspberries have a nice home and the weed patches have been effectively destroyed.
All this effort has taken a toll on me and as I sit here in September I wonder if maybe it’s time to call it quits. We could sell the house, get a small duplex or apartment and be done with all the yard maintenance and flower planting. Then the Sirens call. I think of bulbs to plant now and into October for next spring or of how I will fill the planter boxes we made this summer. Then there’s the new vegetable garden to consider—the one I overlooked this year because I was busy with rebuilding projects. No I cannot stop plunging my hands into the soil.
I am beyond certain that for many of us we must garden to survive. For me, rich, dark soil runs through my veins from my father back to my grandfather and beyond. We have all had our hands deep in the soil over the past two centuries and our lives have been enriched for that experience. I am certain that come next spring I will gladly venture out into the garden and enjoy each unfolding flower from the tulips and daffodils to lilies and the irises. But I will keep a promise made to a few of my closest family members: I am finished doing the gardening for others. What strength and energy I have I promise to devote to my gardens—and maybe those of my children.
Yes, I hope to hear the Siren Song next spring and for as many more springs as I am granted. I will answer that call even if, in time, it comes down to planting a few hanging baskets for around my entryway. So long as I have breath to take, I will eagerly answer the song I hear.
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.
Q: I have inherited a small tabletop radio, a Zenith Model SR-312. My dad bought it just before he joined the service in 1942. Since it still works, I assume it has value. — Ken,
Sioux City, Iowa
A: Your radio is probably in a dark brown case with pushbutton controls and two knobs. According to “The Radio and Television Price Guide” edited by Kyle Husfloen and published
by Krause Books, your radio was manufactured
in 1939 and is worth about $130. This amount can vary depending on what part of the country you sell it. Pre-1940 radios are especially popular in California, where prices are generally above book value.
Q: My great-grandfather was an attorney in Santa Fe before New Mexico joined the union. I have some of his old files from the 1880s and 1890s that concern mostly land matters. I think some might be valuable. Is there someone I can contact about them? — Maria, Rio Rancho,
A: Your documents sound interesting, and hopefully they are, indeed, valuable. To find out for certain, you need to contact an expert. Brian Kathenes is a certified appraiser who specializes in autographs and historical documents. His contact information is P.O. Box 482, Hope, NJ 07844; www.NacValue.com; and 800-323-5996.
Q: I have an old $100 bill issued by the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1862. Does it have any value? — Mary, Belvedere, Illinois
A: You might be able to find your currency referenced in the latest edition of the Official Blackbook Price Guide to United States Paper Money, by Marc, Tom Jr., and Tom Sr. Hudgens (House of Collectibles, $8.99). It has a section on Confederate bills and has been updated to reflect current prices in the marketplace.
Q: I am in the process of liquidating an estate in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Since there are numerous valuable antiques, I need an appraiser who can help me determine what to sell and what to keep. — Phyllis, Muskogee, Oklahoma
A: The International Society of Appraisers was founded in 1979 and is one of the largest such groups in the United States and Canada. You can find an appraiser near you by using its website: www.isa-appraisers.org/find-an-appraiser.
Write to Larry Cox in care of KFWS, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803, or send e-mail to email@example.com. 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.
© 2015 King Features Synd., Inc.
DEAR PAW’S CORNER: You recently updated readers about ways to help pets, including volunteering at shelters. Another place to volunteer is at an assisted-living, or senior-care, facility. Many residents have their pets and sometimes aren’t able to exercise them enough, and they appreciate someone to take their pets on walks or to help bathe them. There is even a need of “babysitting” if the owner goes in for a procedure. — David P., via email
DEAR DAVID: That’s a great idea! While not all assisted-living facilities permit pets, many do, since they often have residential facilities in which the residents have varying levels of independence.
Most facilities have a volunteer coordinator; if not, there’s always an activities director. Contact information for a facility near you can be found on the Web or in the local phone book.
According to AARP’s Create the Good organization, senior-care facilities have a great need for volunteers at many levels, from simple visits to say hello to more involved care or administrative assistance. To volunteer, you generally will need to pass a background check and follow the facility’s regulations about visits and volunteer activities, including pet care. You can learn more at www.createthegood.org.
If there isn’t a pet-friendly senior-care facility in your area, you still can reach out to seniors in your community. Talk to seniors that you know in the neighborhood on a regular basis to make sure things are going OK, and ask if they ever need free pet-sitting from time to time. Or, look for senior-care organizations locally and ask if their clients have pet-care needs.
Send your questions about pet care to firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2015 King Features Synd., Inc.