Remnant Prairies: Nature’s Last Stand
As I’ve stated many times, our house in Asbury is a property that slopes down to a city-owned flood plain. There will never be houses down in that valley because water flows through it—at least during normal years of average rain. The fact there is a flood plain and valley behind our house was a key reason we purchased it. I’ve planted, at my own expense, many shrubs and flowers on this city property to both enhance the area and attract wildlife. In a decade of effort, I’ve been successful, and the area is a gentle respite to the hectic life above the plain.
In similar fashion there are other areas in Dubuque that offer calm respites from the noise of the city. The Bee Branch Project is an excellent example of creating an inviting area to walk or bike through and one can see native plants taking hold in several areas of the extensive project. One of those areas is on 32nd Street near Central where you’ll find native plants abounding and surrounding a retention area for storm water run-off. There are paved walks and benches so visitors can linger and watch the wildlife that has taken up residency in the area.
Another area that amazed me on a recent visit is a remnant prairie situated right in the city of Dubuque. Unlike the prairie associated with the Mines of Spain or E.B. Lyons, this remnant of a prairie that was present 5,000 years ago is situated right in the middle of developed land. When I visited, I looked through a window of time back to what the settlers who came to the area walked through as they searched for land upon which to build homes and futures businesses. Herein lies our problem.
This small bit of untouched prairie could be in jeopardy because pieces of it are privately owned and those owners could build houses on it—especially since the view is spectacular. Unlike my flood plain area, this remnant prairie is prime land for housing and thus I remain vague about its exact location. On this patch of prairie are rare plants like the Prairie Shooting Star along with Leadplant and a variety of short native grasses. Ironically, what keeps this prairie “alive” are the frequent fires that occur because of teens smoking or small bonfires that get out of control and inadvertently setting the prairie afire. Sadly, there are also several invasive plants like the Buckthorn and efforts to keep it in check by the Iowa Conservancy group’s work with removal of the shrubs are having some success.
On the other hand, a prairie worth a visit is the 23-acre Pohlman Prairie Preserve located adjacent to Highway 3 & 52 just south of Durango. Once you park near the highway it’s a bit of a steep trail that leads up to a limestone bluff. Switchbacks make the climb manageable and worth the effort. This is a “goat prairie” because it was essentially reachable only by grazing animals and not able to be plowed—thus it remains. This prairie blooms throughout the summer and soon the fall blooms will come on which include the beautiful lavender colored Cylindrical Blazing Stars.
We must appreciate these prairie lands and other pockets of natural beauty in our area. Development need not encroach upon the remnants of prairies simply because the view is beautiful. I urge owners of these bits of land to consider giving (or selling at a reasonable amount) the land to the Conservancy for protection. Once these lands are developed, they’re gone forever. It is up to all of us to care about the land and to realize we are inextricably connected to our earth and that we must make every effort to maintain the delicate balance we have with the web of life of which we are a part.
Therapy Dog Flunks Training Test
DEAR PAW’S CORNER: My friend’s Golden Retriever, “Janey,” was training to be a therapy dog, but flunked an important test and needs more training to qualify. What does she mean? I wasn’t aware that emotional support dogs needed extra training — they’re not service dogs. — Barron L., Birmingham, Alabama
DEAR BARRON: It’s true that no training or certification is needed for an owner to declare their pet a companion or emotional support pet. However, the growing need for therapy dogs who provide temporary emotional support to humans going through a crisis or an emotionally difficult time has led to calls for more standardized training in these roles. The American Kennel Club is perhaps the most prominent organization to approve therapy dog certification organizations under specific criteria.
Therapy dogs frequently visit hospitals, nursing homes, classrooms, shelters and even courtrooms to provide comfort to people of all ages. Because of their unique role in working with many different people over the course of a day, these dogs need to be even-tempered and well-socialized, and respond instantly to commands from their handler. Handlers need to pass a background check, because the pair will be working with vulnerable populations.
Some certification groups such as the Alliance of Therapy Dogs will test and observe a potential therapy animal. Their instructor/observer will give the owner advice and guidance during this process. If the dog needs more training or doesn’t have the right temperament, then it won’t be recommended for certification.
It sounds like Janey has the right temperament but needs more behavioral training. I hope her owner goes forward with it, because the world could use more of these wonderful dogs.
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© 2019 King Features Synd., Inc.
Mermaid Lawn Sprinkler
Underground sprinkler systems have replaced the need for a sprinkler attached to a hose in many yards, but the antique figural mermaid sprinkler still is a popular but scarce collectible often considered folk art. This painted sprinkler sold at auction for $2,040.
Lawn sprinklers could not be used before the first water distribution systems were invented in the 1870s. The new ways to provide water through underground pipes were used by public buildings, then private water tanks. Farms, public landscapes and public parks were the next to install the systems. So by the 1880s, there was a way to use a sprinkler. At first, a plain metal piece with holes was screwed on a hose. Water sprinkled out of the holes. But by the 1890s, some clever companies started making decorative figural iron sprinklers to be used in a private yard. There were sprinklers shaped like monkeys, frogs, ducks, alligators, turtles, a two-faced man and even a mermaid.
At a recent auction, a two-sided mermaid sprinkler sold for $2,040. Some experts say only about 18 different characters were used as iron sprinkler figures, although at least six companies made them. Most unusual probably is the 30-inch high cowboy who spins a lasso flinging water on the grass. It is thought that less than 100 were made. If iron sprinklers are too pricey to collect, look for the colorful Bakelite examples that are not figural made the 1940s and ‘50s. They often are found at garage sales.
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What kind of dishes would my ancestors have used? Pewter? Wood? Porcelain?
Dishes used for dinner were made of wood before the 16th century. Then thick ceramics like stoneware was used. It was easier to clean. The Chinese were making thin porcelain dishes from the 1st century to the 21st century, and thick pewter plates and pottery dishes were popular in the United States by the 1700s. It also was possible for the rich to order Chinese export porcelain that was delivered by ship in about a year. By the 19th century, all these wares were being made in Europe, China and the United States.
In 1945, plastic dishes were sold in a few department stores, although they had been tested by the armed forces since 1940. By 1948 plastic dishes were often considered the “best” dishes and were used for company. At least 20 companies were making plastic dinnerware. Best were the sets made of Beetle or Melamine plastic by companies like Brookpark or Boontonware. Cheap copies were made, popularity went down, and by the 1960s, plastic dishes were suitable for picnics — not major entertaining.
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Bed warmer, brass, punched decoration, turned wooden handle, green paint, 1800s, 45 inches, $40.
Bowl, black, inlay, schooling fish, 3 fish-shaped feet, porcelain, 2 1/2 x 6 3/4 inches, $300.
Donald Duck figurine, golfing, checkered hat, swinging club, Disney, c. 1947, 8 inches, $950.
Tiffany silver, teapot, chased, repousse, birds, flowers, branches, ebonized wood handle, 7 x 10 1/4 inches, $1,500.
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TIP: Antique clocks should be level both back to front and side to side to keep correct time.
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© 2019 King Features Synd., Inc.
Grilled Tri-Tip Beef
Whole Tri-Tip, about 2 pounds
3 Tbsp Cremer’s Rub Me Tender Seasoning
1. Sprinkle meat with rub and massage lightly alll over. Cover and refrigerate at least an hour or as long as overnight. Remove from refrigerator an hour before cooking.
2. Prepare charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to high. Place roast on grill and sear one side well, 6 to 8 minutes, checking for flare-ups. Turn the roast and sear the other for about the same time. Then lower gas to medium-high or move the meat to a cooler part of the charcoal grill.
3. Turn meat again and cook another 8 to 10 minutes. Flip and cook again. A 2-pound roast will require about 20 to 25 minutes total cooking time. The roast is ready when an instant-read thermometer reaches 130 degrees when inserted into the thickest part of the meat.
4. Rest roast on a cutting board 10 to 20 minutes. Slice against the grain. The roast is shaped like a boomerang, so either cut it in half at the center of the angle, or slice against the grain on one side, turn the roast and slice against the grain on the other side.