Garden for the Health of It!
Recently I read that gardening helps 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 health issues, including adult on-set diabetes, and failing vision, she controlled those problems with medication and regular check-ups with her physician. I read 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 easily planting the annuals. Mom also enjoyed picking out the 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 2007, the flowers quietly and uniquely acknowledged her passing. When I returned from her memorial service in 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 will be 74 this month—I hope one of my last acts is to put out some spring annuals, walk through a rose garden in bloom, or plant a tree for the future. We have eleven grandchildren and on our residential lot we have planted eleven trees to commemorate their births. Each grandchild was introduced to his or her tree and when they visit us, they visit their tree.
A final affirmation for gardening is from me. For the past decade my feet became heavily arthritic and severely damaged. 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 several surgeries to try and 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 (even if your joints ache a bit!), your nerves will be soothed, and any frowns you may have had will become smiles. Smiles that will spread across your face each time you see your plants in bloom.
Neighbor’s Dog Is Giving Him the Eye
DEAR PAW’S CORNER: My neighbor’s dog, every day since I moved into this house in rural New York, has a habit of coming up to the property line when I go out to check on my garden. She will stand right at the edge, lift a paw, bark at me, then turn around and leave. What’s up with that behavior? — Jim G., via email
DEAR JIM: That sounds like a well-behaved, well-trained dog. Or, your next-door neighbor has, or had, a low-power wire along the property edge that delivers a shock to a dog when it crosses the line. Whatever it is, she was trained not to cross into the neighbor’s yard.
I like that you noted her body mannerisms. Raising a paw is a signal that she is alerted and checking you out. A nonaggressive bark is an attention signal. It’s something like, “I see you, and I want you to know that I’ve got my eye on you.” And her turning back after that bark is a good sign. She doesn’t see you as a threat. She’s said her piece, and now she’s off on her way.
Being aware of a dog’s body language and barking is important even if you don’t own a dog. A bark followed by a growl (or vice versa) is a warning signal meaning “back off.” A raised paw and an intent stare at a specific object is typical of an alert and energetic but calm dog. A dog that charges and stops is being aggressive and there’s a good chance that behavior can escalate into an attack.
If you get the opportunity to meet your neighbors, compliment them on their dog’s good behavior.
Send your questions, comments or tips to
© 2021 King Features Synd., Inc.
Penny toys are becoming harder to find,
but at an appropriate auction of an old collection,
they rarely sell for less than $50.
Children’s toys are valuable records of what life was like in the past. From about 1880 to 1914, inexpensive, mechanical lithographed tin toys known as “penny toys” were popular and affordable in America. A toy rickshaw with a driver and a lady in a small cart was made by George Fischer of Nuremberg, Germany in the early 1900s. The company made many different penny toys, all based on the life of the times. His trademark on most toys was “G.F.” in capital letters. But was there really a rickshaw powered by a man riding a bicycle?
Yes. It is thought that the first rickshaw was invented about 1869 by an American missionary to Japan who used it to transport his invalid wife. The idea became popular, and by 1872 there were about 40,000 rickshaws in use in Japan. There are many styles and names like bike taxi, pedicab, tricycle taxi and even modern electric models. Men pushed or pedaled the rickshaw because they were less expensive to hire than a horse. The driver and passenger of the Fischer rickshaw pictured here are wearing 1910 clothes, so the toy may have been made then. The price for this toy is no longer a penny; it sold for $5,400 at a Bertoia auction.
• • •
I have a J.H. Cutter bottle similar to a bottle pictured on your website that sold for over $300 a few years ago. Mine isn’t a clear amber color like the one pictured on your site, unless it’s held up to the light. It has an iridescent color down one side with shades of blue-green and orange, maybe from something that was stored in it. I found it near the Boston seaport. Any information would be greatly appreciated.
The color of a bottle affects the price. Bottles in rare or desirable colors sell for more than those in other colors. “Amber” can include honey amber, olive amber, orange amber, deep tobacco amber and other shades. Sun turns glass lavender or dirty brownish beige. Iridescence on the outside can come from being in water; on the inside it might be from contact with food. It takes an expert to tell the difference and determine the value of the bottle.
• • •
Birdcage, green base, shell door, hoop shaped stand, 66 inches, $25.
Popeye game, dexterity puzzle, Popeye the Juggler, painted metal frame, metal balls, Whimpy and Olive Oyl, Bar Zim Toys, 1920s, $195.
Folk art wood carving, eagle, wings tucked in, remnants of gilding, American, early 19th century,14 x 8 inches, $340.
Butter print, maple, round, carved, 6 leaves, 2 hearts, lollipop handle, signed & dated, WR 1846, Pennsylvania, 8 x 4 inches, $470.
• • •
TIP: If you are remodeling or redecorating, think about any antiques and collectibles displayed in the work area. Someone could hammer on a wall without worrying about the shelves on the other side.
For more collecting news, tips and resources, and to subscribe to the Kovels’ free weekly email, Kovels Komments, visit www.Kovels.com.
© 2021 King Features Synd., Inc.
Cremer’s Baked Cod
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 sleeve Townhouse crackers, crushed
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound thick-cut cod loin
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped green onion
1 lemon, cut into wedges
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
Place 2 tablespoons butter in a microwave-safe bowl; melt in microwave on high, about 30 seconds. Stir buttery round crackers into melted butter.
Place remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a 7x11 inch baking dish. Melt in the preheated oven, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove dish from oven.
Coat both sides of cod in melted butter in the baking dish.
Bake cod in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven; top with lemon juice, wine, and cracker mixture. Place back in oven and bake until fish is opaque and flakes easily with a fork, about 10 more minutes.
Serve with lemon wedges.