Monarch Matters: What to Do?
Last month I rang the alarm bell regarding the decimation of the Monarch butterfly due to, among other issues, habitat destruction. I want urge each of us, no matter if we live in an apartment or on an acre, to help create habitat for Monarchs and other pollinators. Start this fall by sowing milkweed seeds easily gathered from unmown lots or roadsides. Pick the brown and drying pods before they break open and allow them to dry a bit more indoors before opening to remove the seeds. Done indoors, one can easily separate the seeds from the silky “fluff” meant to send them airborne in nature.
If you collect seeds, please follow this link to know what to do with your collected seeds: https://www.saveourmonarchs.org/blog/its-time-to-start-cold-stratifying-your-milkweed-seeds Of course, you can also purchase seeds in the spring of the Common Milkweed and other more beautiful milkweed species indigenous to our area including Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) and Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa). It is critical to only plant milkweed native to our area which, for milkweed and Monarchs is labeled the “Northeast Region.” Planting the wrong species will confuse Monarchs regarding how far they’ve migrated—so, don’t sow more southern varieties.
Milkweed is the host plant upon which Monarchs lay their eggs and the emerging caterpillars feast, but it’s not the only flower Monarchs visit. For most gardeners, a yard full of milkweed may not look the prettiest so I suggest small plots of common milkweed on garden edges or in nearby empty lots, ditches, or unmown areas. Plant the lovelier species in garden beds along with Joe Pyeweed, Phlox, Sedum, Purple Coneflower, and other annuals and perennials. Monarchs and other pollinators will be attracted to the smorgasbord of flowers and the Monarchs will also find the Milkweed and lay their eggs. Our job is to first get the Monarchs into the yard with our many flowers, then to have them find the Milkweed.
Though our highway departments and local governments may see unmown slopes and empty lots as troublesome and overflowing with noxious weeds, I believe we are called to find balance between nature and humanity; we are called to care for our planet. Dr Bruno Oberle, director of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) which has placed the Monarch on the Endangered species list said in order “to preserve the rich diversity of nature we need effective, fairly governed protected and conserved areas, alongside decisive action to tackle climate change and restore ecosystems.”
We are each empowered to establish areas to conserve for our pollinators. We are each empowered to help turn a crises into a celebration. I challenge all my readers to make a difference starting now. Much can be done between October and spring 2023 to transform our gardens for the Monarchs as they return from their winter homes in Mexico. Be proactive! Spend time reading online about Monarchs. Welcome them with flowers to pollinate. Together we can continue to watch the Monarchs, bees, and other pollinators continue to multiply. Just once more on my life’s journey I want to see a tree shimmering with the orange movement of Monarchs resting during their migration.
Guinea Pigs Hide Signs of Illness
DEAR PAW’S CORNER: My male guinea pig, Dale, was always healthy. He was fat and not losing weight. One day, we cleaned his cage and noticed that he was sticking his head out repeatedly and opening his mouth — like yawning. The vet said to come in right away, and within five minutes of hanging up, Dale was dead. The vet looked at him and said he looked healthy and that maybe he had a heart attack or stroke, but I didn’t see any symptoms. Any help would be great, because we have two others. — Julie G., via e-mail
DEAR JULIE: Sadly, it often can be difficult to tell when a guinea pig is getting ill. They’re very good at hiding signs of illness, and often they are acutely ill before their owners can tell what’s wrong. It’s clear that you pay close attention to your guinea pigs, as you were aware of Dale’s weight and normal behavior.
However, guinea pigs can become ill very quickly. You were right to contact the veterinarian immediately after noticing Dale’s strange behavior, which I agree, could have been a sign of a stroke or heart attack.
I’ll refer to the late Peter Gurney’s brilliant Guinea Pig Health Guide. One suggestion, which you may be able to apply to your surviving guinea pigs, is to have the vet listen to their heartbeat. A heart murmur can indicate valve problems. Another possibility is an undetected fungal or bacterial infection that got into Dale’s system, eventually causing a heart attack. But as you pointed out, he showed no external signs of illness.
For this mystery, I’ll turn to my readers. Any suggestions for Julie on monitoring her two surviving cavies?
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© 2022 King Features Synd., Inc.
This 1930 Palmer Cox Ten Pin Set with 12-inch-high paper and wood Brownies sold at Bertoia Auctions for $354.
Comic characters are often used as models for toys, because they are already favorites of children. One group of toys was based on children’s books by Palmer Cox (1840-1924), an author who was born in Quebec, Canada, and lived in Panama and San Francisco as a railroad contractor and carpenter.
Around 1874, he began to study drawing and write and illustrate stories. Cox published his first Brownies in 1879. The Brownies were in many magazines, including Ladies’ Home Journal and a tobacco journal. Most Brownies were in books of humorous verse, comic strips, story books, and even on a cigar box label.
Each Brownie has a personality and trade, and was dressed appropriately for his job. You can see Uncle Sam, a policeman, Irish man, sailor and even a man in a top hat among the figures in the game of ten pins. Each figure is 12 inches high, made of lithographed paper over wood.
Brownies were so popular they were featured as paper dolls, trade cards, rubber stamps, card games, puzzles and cloth dolls. They were decorations on carpets, wallpaper, china, glassware and tableware. This boxed game of Brownie ten pins was estimated at $300 to $400 at a recent Bertoia auction and sold for $354, while a set in excellent condition would sell for $700 to $1,000.
A reader (T.K.) sent us an interesting answer to a question we published previously: “Does the old liquor in an old mid-1800s whiskey bottle add to the value? Is it safe to drink? Is it legal to sell the whiskey in an old whiskey bottle if you are not licensed by your state?”
There are different rules about selling whiskey in the states. A long stay in a glass bottle should not change the whiskey the way storage in an oak barrel does, but if it is opened, it probably should not be served. But our reader says there are collectors who pay lots of money for old, unopened, full whiskey bottles. They are called “dusties,” and some collectors hunt for them in liquor stores. The writer knows someone who sold filled bottles of bourbon to a shop owner who sells “pours” to customers.
TIP: If you use valuable glass or pottery vases for flowers, use dried plants unless you protect the vase. Put a smaller glass vase inside to hold the water and the flowers. Hard water will leave a stain on pottery or glass.
Sterling silver glove stretcher, hammered finish with sea creatures, beaded scrollwork, monogramed FA on handle, marked, Whiting, c. 1890, 9 inches, $125.
Blenko bottle, clear blown glass, pear form, flared and flattened rim, faceted hollow teardrop stopper, 20th century, 33 3/4 inches, $250.
Pair of Bohemian glass lusters, green cut to clear, thumbprint cutting, gold trim, notched rim with 10 hanging spear prisms, early 1900s, 11 x 5 5/8 inches, pair, $440.
Clothing, scarf, Hermes, Couvertures et Tenues de Jour, 10 horses under blankets with owners’ colors, yellow ground, gilt frame, 38 x 38 inches, $570.
For more collecting news, tips and resources, visit
© 2022 King Features Synd., Inc.
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
8 slices hearty rye bread
4 cooked Cremer’s Brat Patties
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon dill pickle relish
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 thin slices deli Swiss cheese (8 ounces)
1 cup sauerkraut, drained
1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Spread 1 teaspoon butter on 1 side of each bread slice. Place bread slices, buttered side down, on baking sheet; set aside.
2. Melt remaining 1 teaspoon butter in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add bratwurst in single layer, weigh down with Dutch oven, and cook until well browned, about 2 minutes per side.
3. Whisk mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, relish, and salt together in bowl and spread evenly on facing sides of each bread slice. Place 1 slice cheese on each of 4 bread slices, then layer each with one-quarter of sauerkraut and browned bratwurst, finishing with 1 slice cheese. Top with remaining 4 bread slices, buttered side up; press down to flatten. Bake until golden brown on both sides and cheese is melted, about 12 minutes, flipping sandwiched halfway through baking. Serve.