Gardening with Arthritis
I have undergone several surgeries for severe arthritis. Both knees have been replaced, both hands have been tinkered with, and my right foot has been messed with and messed up. It seems that the 30 or so years I spent landscaping, pressing down hard on the edges of spades, not wearing knee pads in those earlier years, and dropping down to the ground thousands of times to plant did a number on the bones in my feet, knees and hands. In reality, arthritis has been a part of me for well over a decade; in fact, several years ago before my mother’s death she often wondered how someone so young could have such problems. Nonetheless, each morning the pain clearly reminds me of the reality.
I take my medication and generally it helps me through the day. Yet, as one who loves to bury his hands in the richness of spring loam, I can not help but wonder what many of you feel from the pangs of arthritis as you think ahead to our next planting season. How difficult will it be to plant your annuals, rake your lawn, or do any of the innumerable tasks in the garden. Help is out there, my friends, because I want you to be in the garden as long as you can move! Following are some hints I gleaned from the Arthritis Foundation.
Some of what follows may seem obvious, but allow me to offer the best suggestions I found for remaining active in the garden even with arthritis. 1) Choose a time when you feel best and also limber up your joints before going into the yard. 2) Change positions in the garden and wear braces which can effectively support sore or weak joints. 3) Conserve your movements by planning where water sources are and by locating tools in a nearby shed out in the garden. 4) Use trellises and containers to avoid excessive bending. Also build raised beds accessible by wheelchairs or by sitting on a stool. 5) Avoid heavy containers by using plastic ones, more numerous small ones, and by placing the pots at various heights. 6) Regarding plants, choose low maintenance ones that require little pruning, less water, or are easily grown in pots.
Perhaps selecting the right tools is the single most effective way to avoid garden stress and pain. Following are tool tips. 1) Wear a carpenter’s apron with pockets for frequently used tools such as shears or a trowel. 2) Wrap tool grips with soft foam to enlarge the grip and lessen the need to squeeze tightly. 3) Use a stool and/or handrails to help move you about the garden area. 4) Choose ergonomic tools with large grips and support braces for your lower arm. Sometimes children’s lightweight tools work well. 5) Avoid tools with heavier wood handles in favor of tubular steel handles. 6) Wear gloves to protect your joints. 7) Finally, keep your tools sharp and adjusted to make cutting easier. Though our planting season is still months away now might be an excellent time to do a little research and investigation regarding the various resources available for those of us with arthritis who are also unwilling to give up our gardens. Following are a few resources for excellent garden tools for those with arthritis.
Yellow handled ergonomic tools by PETA, call
1-800-227-0877 for a catalog.
Lightweight hand tools by OXO available at most hardware stores.
Wedgie by Wherry Enterprises of Illinois at http://www.wedgie.biz.
Lawn Buddy by Ames available online http://www.walmart.com.
I hope none of you who suffer from the pain of arthritis will allow it to keep you from one of the most life-giving and life-sustaining things we can do: communing with nature. Though my mother was past ninety, she still got down to the ground and pulled weeds—albeit with my brother nearby to help her back up! Yet, she actually derived her greatest pleasure from sitting on a chair on his deck and planting the dozen or so planters my brother had around his home. So, take your meds,
get some tools and start planning for the 2018 gardening season!
What’s the Law
No, it’s not a saltshaker — this is a smelling-salt bottle made in about 1850. It auctioned for $293.
Smelling salts have been used to revive someone who is feeling faint or has lost consciousness since the days of the Romans. But it was not until the 18th century that smelling-salt holders became fashionable. Smelling salts (ammonium carbonate and water) release an ammonia gas that irritates the inside of the nose and causes rapid breathing. This means more oxygen is inhaled. Ammonia was made from shaved deer horns in ancient times and often was called “spirit of hartshorn.” Victorians often used perfume with the smelling salts.
The smelling-salt holder was opened and waved near the nose of the troubled patient. Many of the bottles were curved. Some were made of decorated metal and worn as part of a necklace. Some just looked like small saltshakers. A 2 5/8-inch marbleized glass “shaker” made of light blue and milk glass with a threaded cap sold for $293 at a Norman Heckler sale in Connecticut. It probably was made in Boston about 1850.
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Our church owns an 1892 German Bible signed by Kaiser Wilhelm. It’s been stored for many years in a safety deposit box. It’s now on unprotected display in our church. I believe it has some value and should be protected, if only for the historic value of the Kaiser personally giving it to the church. I would appreciate any information you can give me about the Bible.
Most old Bibles aren’t worth a lot of money, but Kaiser Wilhelm’s signature could make it very valuable. It would have to be seen by an expert to authenticate the signature. Wilhelm II (1859-1941) was Germany’s last Kaiser. He reigned from 1881 to 1918, when he abdicated and left Germany.
If the church is going to display the Bible publicly, you may want to get an idea of its value for insurance purposes. If the book has a leather cover, it should not be displayed on a wood surface unless the surface is covered by acid-free paper. Wood is acidic and can damage leather. The pages should not be left open and exposed to light or they will discolor. Special archival display cases are available that allow the book to remain open, but they are very pricey.
If an autograph expert determines the book is not very valuable, it can be kept on display as long as it isn’t exposed to light for long periods of time.
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HOLIDAY TIP: Chocolate molds can be used to make candy and other party food. Pour melted butter into
the mold, put the filled mold into the freezer. Take the
mold out and unmold the fancy shaped pieces of
butter for parties.
There is hidden value in contemporary pottery. You find it at shops and garage sales at low prices because the marks are unknown. Our special report, “Kovels’ Identification Guide to Contemporary American Pottery 1960s to Present,” includes more than 180 marks and 60 featured artists. Available only from Kovels for $19.95, plus $4.95 postage and handling.
Order by phone at 800-303-1996, online at Kovelsonlinestore.com; or mail to
Kovels, Box 22900, Beachwood, OH 44122.
© 2017 King Features Synd., Inc.