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 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 hope one of my last acts on earth is to put out some spring annuals, walk through a rose garden in bloom, or plant a tree for the future. In fact, we have marked the birth of each of our eleven grandchildren with the planting of a tree on our property. Each grandchild has been introduced to his or her tree when appropriate and each grandchild will also learn to care for that tree over the coming years. On more than one occasion, I’ve heard my grandchildren introduce their tree to our neighborhood kids. What a subtle way to introduce the fun of gardening!
A final affirmation for gardening is from me. For the past decade my feet became heavily arthritic and severely damaged. I kept putting off surgery because I didn’t want to lose teaching time. This past summer, 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.
EZ Apple Pan Gravy
Follow the cooking instructions on the label of either the pork chops or chicken breast. Finish off this go to meal with a simple apple pan gravy that is sure to add a little sweetness to your Valentines dinner. In the same pan you browned the chops/breast in, melt 2 Tbsp butter. Add a small sliced onion and 1/2 chopped apple until soft. Add 2 cups of chicken broth and simmer. Mix 2 Tbsp of flour with 1/2 cup cold apple juice, whisk into broth mixture until thickened.
I have a 50-piece set of ruby glass. Several years ago, I was offered $75 per glass, but I want to sell the entire set. Any suggestions? — Marilyn, Sonoma, California
Ruby glass is a flashed glass, deeply red in color, and was manufactured by numerous companies beginning during the 1890s and continuing through the 1940s. Although it is sometimes confused with red carnival glass, it is made differently and is not the same.
Values are tricky. It might be a good idea to consult the numerous price guides available and monitor ruby glass prices on eBay. Another suggestion is to contact a certified appraiser who specializes in glass. Although you will pay a nominal fee, you will get an expert’s opinion of what your collection is worth.
Can you recommend a good price guide for comics. My son has a collection of about 75 vintage issues, and I think we should investigate to see what the current values are. — Susan,
There are three comic references I consult on a regular basis: “Golden Age Comics” by Alex G. Malloy and Stuart W. Wells III (Krause Books); “Official Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide” by Robert W. Overstreet (House of Collectibles); and “Comic Book Checklist and Price Guide” by Maggie Thompson, Brent Frankenhoff and Peter Bickford (Krause Books). Since prices can vary from region to region, don’t assume values listed are chiseled in stone. Also, don’t hesitate to contact established comic-book dealers in your area.
I recently purchased four pieces of McCoy pottery at a yard sale. In addition to a large mixing bowl, I bought a pitcher with matching mug and a cookie jar shaped like a strawberry. I spent a total of $35 for the four pieces and hope it was a good deal. — Becky, Little Rock, Arkansas
Although I have several guidebooks for this type of pottery, my personal favorite is “Warman’s McCoy Pottery,” 2nd edition, by Mark F. Moran and published by KP Books. Your strawberry cookie jar was crafted during the 1950s and is valued in the $80 to $100 range, per Moran. It sounds like you made an
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.
Guinea Pig’s Death Sparks Questions
DEAR PAW’S CORNER: Tonight our dear guinea pig “Sparks” had a heart attack and left us within a couple of hours. There was no chance to take her to an emergency vet. Is tension in the house a cause of heart attack in guinea pigs? Is there anything we could have done to prevent this? — Yamile, via email
DEAR YAMILE: I’m sorry to hear of Sparks’ death. I’ll try to offer some explanation why, and I encourage my readers to send their advice as well.
Heart attack (and stroke) are, sadly, very common causes of sudden death in guinea pigs, a.k.a. cavies. Cavies are very sensitive to their environment, particularly changes in temperature. Being unable to rest peacefully also causes stress that affects their system. In short, cavies love a comfortable routine and a rest area sheltered from light and noise.
Deficiencies in diet also can be a factor. This can get tricky, so speaking with other cavy owners or vets who specialize in them can help deduce whether a cavy needs a specific type of feed or supplement (too much can be as bad as too little).
Because it’s often hard to detect illness in cavies until they suddenly decline, you should learn a bit of “cavy first aid.” One important step when a cavy takes ill is to contact the vet by phone first and describe the symptoms. Sometimes a cavy is too ill to safely be transported. The vet might tell you to make your pet comfortable and wait out a very long night — not because he or she doesn’t care, but because the added stress in moving the cavy could be fatal.
Send your questions or tips to email@example.com.
© 2016 King Features Synd., Inc.