There is almost a Shaker aesthetic to the old Stockbridge, Massachusetts, studio where Norman Rockwell once worked. “One thing that surprises people, even our staff, is just how spare the space was,” says the Norman Rockwell Museum’s chief curator and deputy director, Stephanie Plunkett. “Rockwell was extremely neat. He cleaned up several times a day. Generally there wasn’t a lot of clutter around.”
The sparseness is still there in the old studio that has been on display for more than two decades. Hundreds of thousands of visitors have toured the one-room structure, seeing it pretty much as it looked at the time of the artist’s death in 1978. But beginning in May, visitors will have a new experience, one that Plunkett says will be more representative of “what Rockwell’s work life was really like.” Thanks to a cache of faded old negatives in the museum’s archives, the staff have been able to recast the studio as it looked nearly two decades earlier in October of 1960. That was the month when Nikita Khrushchev pounded his shoe on a table at the United Nations in New York, and by coincidence, Rockwell was at work in his studio on a cover painting based on a United Nations scene, The Golden Rule.
An over zealous photographer hired by the artist at the time captured the unfinished painting on film as it sat on Rockwell’s easel. Not only did he take pictures of the painting, but of everything else in the room as well.
For the past year, museum staff have been studying those photos and bringing all the pieces together to reinstall the studio exactly as it was. And the whole, as they say, is more engaging than the sum of its parts. Rockwell’s work life and personal life came together in his studio, and if you know what to look for, it can be seen in his finished works.
Visitors will now be able to view the unfinished painting that depicts the Biblical injunction: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. (The Golden Rule painting eventually appeared on the April 1, 1961 cover of The Saturday Evening Post.) Around Rockwell’s easel viewers will see mounted some of the model photos and magazine pictures the artist was using for the people in the painting. Some faces were simply transferred from the original, unfinished U.N. drawing, which can be seen on the floor of the studio. Others, notes the curator of archival collections, Corry Kanzenberg, were modeled from Rockwell’s Stockbridge neighbors. “His assistant’s daughter was the model for the girl at the bottom of the painting with red hair, holding a rosary,” she says. The Rabbi with the big white beard at the center of the painting was actually Stockbridge’s retired postmaster. Rockwell added the beard and the religion; the man was actually a Catholic.
In the top right-hand corner of the painting, one can see Rockwell’s most personal touch, he has added the image of his late wife, Mary, who had died the previous year. She is holding their first grandson that she never lived to see.
Numerous mementos of Mary appear in the old photos, Kanzenberg says, including an abstract pastel painting she had created for an art course. The original no longer survives, but a local artist was hired to paint an exact replica from the single old faded color transparency that existed of the painting.
Other items that needed replacing, says Kanzenberg, included an old Philco radio and a large cylindrical tobacco can seen on a desk by the west wall. The staff located identical items on eBay. The old radio still worked.
For an added touch of authenticity the exhibit now even features sound—a mock broadcast will play the favorite music the artist liked listening to on the radio as he worked perfecting his paintings—all opera.
“People who were there recall Rockwell listening to opera as he worked,” Kanzenberg says. “We have been having fun figuring out what opera he might have heard.” The program includes selections from Verdi’s Nabucco that premiered at the Metropolitan Opera in October of 1960 as well as recordings by Emmy Destinn and Enrico Caruso, performers Rockwell actually interacted with as a young art student when he worked part-time as an extra at the Met.
As they listen to the music, visitors will tread a new path through the studio over a hand-dyed rug, an exact reproduction by the same company that made the studio rug Rockwell used for years. “We are allowing visitors to move into the central part of the room, where before they were only able to walk along a straight path,” says Plunkett. “I think it’s going to be a lot of fun because they can really see interesting details, such as all of the materials that were on his desk where his secretary answered his fan mail. They can see the writing on the wall around his Princess telephone including his analyst’s phone number. It will be a more intimate experience.”
The new studio exhibit, A Day in the Life: Norman Rockwell’s Stockbridge Studio, is one element of the Norman Rockwell Museum’s 40th anniversary celebration. In July, as part of the special year marking the museum’s founding in 1969, American Chronicles, a traveling major retrospective of Norman Rockwell’s life and work, will return to Stockbridge from July 4 through September 7 before continuing on around the country. Also in November, the museum will launch the “first wave” of its Project NORMAN online digitized archive, making 40,000 items from its 200,000-item collection of photographs, objects, and documents available to scholars and the public worldwide at the Museum’s Web site.
New York Chef Anthony Schulz had never heard of Hocking Hills, Ohio, when he applied for a position at The Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls, a snug retreat in the state’s remote and picturesque southern third. Trained at the French Culinary Institute and working on Long Island, he was ready for a change, although he admits, “My knowledge of Ohio was limited to Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati.”
A phone interview led to an invitation to travel west for the ultimate test-to create a four-course meal for the innkeepers, using whatever he found in the kitchen’s lander. Not only did he pass the test, he the also caught the vision. “We want to take the inn to the next level, and one way to do that is by offering a heart-healthy menu,” explains Ellen Grinsfelder, who operates the facility with her husband. Two years later, Chef Anthony, now a confirmed Buckeye, oversees the kitchen staff, teaches occasional cooking classes, and scours the local markets for the freshest produce to serve guests who come from as far away as Chicago and Detroit.
Grinsfelder’s plan is to preserve the delicate balance between the inn’s rustic setting and its first-clas service. The dining room is housed in an 1840s log cabin, but the art on the walls is original, the food on the tables is elegant, and the wines on the list are diverse. Guests can watch Chef Anthony prepare their North Atlantic flounder stuffed with ricotta and sweet basil knowing that the basil came from the herb garden located atop the inn’s roof, safely out of reach of the deer that wander the grounds.
Hocking Hills—all 11,000 square acres of it—is a sprawling community of cottage industries in the truest sense of the term. Some 200 innkeepers offer cottages, cabins, and rooms to the thousands of tourists who visit each year. Although summer and fall are considered high season for guests, “winter and early spring are my favorite times,” says Grinsfelder, whose mother opened the inn in 1987 to provide a place where city dwellers could retreat to a natural setting. Less than an hour’s drive southeast of Columbus, the region is a doable destination for urbanites in need of rejuvenation.
“Baby boomers are our largest single group of visitors,” says Karen Raymore, a recent transplant from northern Wisconsin and now the executive director of the local tourism association. “People that age—and I’m one of them—like to prove that they can still hike, climb, and zipline.”
Zipline? The latest craze to hit the area has adventure-seekers locked in harnesses and zipping along a network of cables at speeds up to 50 mph. The thrill begins with a 1.5-mile drive via golf cart through the woods to where a giant oak awaits. Guests climb up to a launch pad and for the next two and a half hours are airborne as they soar from one platform to another, some located as high as 70 feet above ground. The views are incredible (if you dare look down) and include the Hocking River, a waterfall, and dramatic rock and cliff formations.
The same rough terrain that draws zipliners also lures hikers who prefer to enjoy the scenery with their boots planted firmly on the ground. Nearby Hocking Hills State Park is massive, as is the state forest that surrounds it. A series of caves is easily accessible through trails and bridges that were built as public works projects during the Great Depression. The steps are still sturdy and the passages from cave to cave are large and airy, causing one claustrophobic hiker to remark with relief, “It’s not like slipping through a birth canal.”
To generate tourism after the spectacular fall foliage season, park officials schedule events that help fill the inns and cabins during the slow months. A six-mile winter trek draws 3,000 and has been a January tradition since 1965; a “sweethearts hike” commemorates Valentine’s Day; and March guests learn the process of turning maple sap into syrup before sitting down for a hardy pancake breakfast. Innkeepers collaborate with local venues to put together “packages” that offer a variety of places to stay, things to do, and restaurants to sample.
Working independently, the scores of inns carve out niches that set each one apart from its competition. For example, the Bear’s Den Cottages is a “nature and wellness retreat” that focuses on fitness and health. The Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls has a full-service spa that offers mother-daughter getaways and a “desperate housewives package.” The Hocking Hills Resort enjoys a reputation as a one-stop wedding destination with an outdoor chapel and an in-house minister.
“We’re not on Main Street, so we knew we had to be versatile,” explains innkeeper Melody Strickland, whose husband, Randy, is certified to officiate at wedding services. Working together, the Stricklands host about 100 weddings each year. Among the most memorable was the formal event they arranged for a New York City couple who were so precise in their plans that they sent recipes for the foods they wanted served at the reception. The pressure was on, but the inn passed the test, recalls Melody. “If we can do that, we can do anything.”
Read more about “stops along the way” by clicking here.
When to Plant Your Veggies
You have all the seed packets ready to go, so when should you start planting your garden? The National Gardening Association has a suggestion: watch what’s coming up in your flower beds.
You may already have started your broccoli, Brussel sprouts, garlic, onion sets, cabbage, kale, spinach, turnips, radishes, potatoes, peas, and shallots, since they can tolerate late frosts.
For the next plantings, keep your eye on the blossoms. When you see tulips, daffodils, and maple trees in flower, it’s time to plant beets and Swiss chard, which can survive light frost.
When the apple trees and lilacs are in bloom, it’s generally safe to plant squash, pumpkin, bush beans, and sweet corn that can all germinate in cool soil, although they eventually need the summer heat.
When the bearded iris are in bloom and the apple blossoms are falling, plant the more tender items: pole and lima beans, peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers, and cantaloupes.
Frost is, of course, the spoiler in the early planting of seeds and seedlings. Many vegetables including tomatoes can survive temperatures as low as 28 degrees F, but they can’t survive frost, which can occur at temperatures as high as 40 degrees F. Frost is crystallized dew that destroys the cell walls of plants as it melts.
If you have already planted and frost threatens, you can often prevent damage by covering plants with sheets or blankets overnight, but be sure to remove them during warm days. Make sure coverings are of light material to avoid damaging the plants. You may use plastic as long as it doesn’t come in contact with the plants, since plastic can convey freezing cold to tender leaves.
To get the jump on your neighbor with tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants, you can protect them with a homemade Wall-O-Water. Duct tape together seven or so two-quart plastic containers around the middle to form a circle. Fill with water and place around the young plant. The water will soak up warmth during the day and keep plants from freezing at night.
If you believe in The Farmers Almanac moon gardening guide, here is the planting outlook predicted for the coming week: April 24-26 and April 30 will be favorable for planting the above grown crops including beans, corn, cotton, tomatoes, and peppers. Avoid April 27-29. Seeds may rot in the ground. Definitely not good!
“Man’s work is from sun to sun, but woman’s work is never done,” reads the distich in the article “The Health of Working-Women” by Woods Hutchinson, A.M., M.D., from the November 20, 1909 issue of The Saturday Evening Post.
The good doctor examined the changing roles of women in America. He discussed the long hours and meager rewards of the a housewife during the early part of the 20th century, comparing the hours, wages, and conditions of men working in industry to women working at home.
“Most factories have got down to the ten-hour day and many to the eight, and all are rapidly approaching this standard; but the average household day, whether for housekeeper or for domestic, still runs from fourteen to sixteen hours,” reads the Post article. The author also noted that while men working in factories leave their work behind, women do not share these same benefits. “He would certainly be a rash man who would assert that the hours of any factory or sweatshop were longer than those of housework, or that the wages were lower. For almost every man or boy who has to rise in the gray dawn of the winter morning to report for work in the factory or shop at six or seven a.m., some woman has to rise an hour or more earlier in order to prepare his breakfast. And at whatever hour he plods wearily home in the dusk of evening to his supper, some woman has to go on working an hour longer to clear up the table and wash the dishes.”
A century later…
The February 2, 2009, issue of The New York Times reported: “With the recession on the brink of becoming the longest in the postwar era, a milestone may be at hand: Women are poised to surpass men on the nation’s payrolls, taking the majority for the first time in American history,” from the article “As Layoffs Surge, Women May Pass Men in Job Force,” by Catherine Rampell.
Today, though job security is rare during an economic downfall, statistics show women are more likely to retain jobs for a number of reasons, including the fact that men were heavily represented in distressed industries such as manufacturing and construction.
This raises the question: With record numbers of women whose primary positions were once full-time housewives now becoming breadwinners for their families, will the lot of household responsibilities shift as well?
“Many women say they expect their family roles to remain the same, even if economic circumstances have changed for now,” reads The New York Times story.
Who makes the best chicken salad on the block? Your neighbors will be begging for this mayo-free recipe.
Shredded-Chicken Salad with Sesame Seed Dressing
(Makes 4 servings)
- 4 chicken cutlets
- 1 1/2 teaspoons any salt-free blended seasoning
- 1 large cucumber, peeled and shredded
- 4 medium carrots, peeled and shredded
- Sesame Seed Dressing (recipe to follow)
- Bring ½ inch water to boil in large skillet fitted with round wire rack.
- Sprinkle chicken with blended seasoning.
- Place chicken on rack, cover pan, and steam 8 minutes, until springy to touch.
- Remove and let cool.
- Tear into long shreds and mix with dressing.
- To serve: Divide cucumber and carrot among 4 plates and top with chicken and dressing; or shred cucumbers and carrots, mix with chicken and dressing, and serve over bed of greens.
Per Serving: 1 cup with dressing
Fat: 13.1 g
Cholesterol: 63 g
Carbohydrate: 14.5 g
Protein: 22.6 g
Sesame Seed Dressing
(Makes 4 servings)
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 2 tablespoons safflower oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted
- 1 teaspoon salt-free extra spicy seasoning
- 1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
In small bowl, combine all ingredients. Pour over chicken and toss.
Per Serving: about 3 tablespoons
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 58 mg
Carbohydrate: 3.9 g
Protein: 0.8 g
This week’s featured recipe is from The Saturday Evening Post Antioxidant Cookbook by Cory SerVaas, M.D.
© 1995 The Saturday Evening Post Society. All rights reserved.
To order a copy of this book, visit store.sepstore.org/cookbooks.html.
Like many prominent Post cover artists, Anton Otto Fischer, noted for his stunning seascapes, did work between the magazine’s covers as well. Fischer illustrated well over 400 stories for the Post. So associated is he with resplendent masted ships and sailboats on choppy waves (where the observer can almost taste the salt air), one tends to forget he painted characters as well as sea scenes for the Cappy Ricks stories beginning in 1915, the Mr. Glencannon series beginning in 1930, and Tugboat Annie, 1931. He confessed his favorite character was “that old reprobate Glencannon,” with the big broom moustache.
U.S. Navy Commander Lincoln Lothrop had once written to the artist: “My two lads, one of whom is now a twenty-two-year-old lieutenant in the Navy … used to cut out your pictures and pin them on the walls of their rooms. … You are responsible for recruiting many a seagoing lad.” They must have been brave lads, for Fischer’s paintings not only depicted the majestic beauty of the oceans, but the terrors they held as well.
Fischer was invited to lunch one day by none other than Vice Admiral Russell Waesche, Commandant of the Coast Guard for the purpose of recruiting. The January 9, 1943, Post describes it thus: “Did the admiral know that he was an anti-New Dealer? The admiral didn’t know—or care. But did the admiral know that he was born in Germany? Oh, yes, the admiral knew that, all right; his record had been checked.
“That record included, among other things, the fact that young Fischer had come to America as a deck hand on a German vessel, that he sacrificed two months’ pay to obtain his freedom, and then sailed on American ships for three years.”
By late that same afternoon, Fischer was sworn in as a lieutenant commander in the Coast Guard. “His duties? Putting on canvas some of the heroic deeds of our Merchant Mariners and Coast Guardsmen—the least-publicized men, perhaps, in all of our armed forces.”
This called for a wartime sacrifice at The Saturday Evening Post. Concluded the 1943 story, “and that is why Fischer’s glorious living seascapes will be out of the Post for the duration.”
Also known for illustrating books such as Moby Dick, Treasure Island, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Anton Otto Fischer died far from his beloved coastlines in the Catskill Mountains of Woodstock, New York, in 1962 at the age of 70.
With the baseball season under way, we can be sure that the Leagues’ commissioners will be watching their players closely, trying to spot signs of steroid abuse.
Long before there were performance-enhancing drugs, though, players were cheating by less sophisticated means. In the article “Dirty Baseball” from the April 11, 1946, Saturday Evening Post, broadcaster Ernie Harwell explains:
“Years ago, crafty pitchers discovered that a ball which is roughed up will jitterbug through the air and be very difficult to hit. Hence, they began to doctor the spheres. Some used saliva, some tobacco juice. Others scraped the covers of balls with sandpaper or rocks. A few even stuck phonograph needles into the balls, forcing their rotation off center.
“Under so many quack treatments, the game began to suffer. So the powwowers-that-be passed a rule forbidding such tactics. However, the officials, realizing that a new ball is hard to grip, did authorize the umpires to take off the gloss.”
Thus, for years, umpires in the American League rubbed all new baseballs with mud before the game.
“The man who supplies muck to club owners is ‘Lena’ Blackburn, former coach with the Philadelphia Athletics. ‘Lena’ dredges it from the Delaware River, which flows behind his home in Palmyra, New Jersey. One small can of it is enough for an entire season of ball massaging.”
Today’s baseballs are manufactured to allow a better grip. Both American and National Leagues use the same standard ball, 9 to 9.25 inches in circumference.
For those of you unfamiliar with the name, Ernie Harwell went on to become one of the great sportscasters in American history. He was the official voice of the Detroit Tigers from 1960 to 2002 and still appears on sports programs.
For a boost of Vitamin C, Beta Carotene, and Vitamin E, try this healthy and delicious side dish.
Herbed Broccoli Salad
(Makes six cups)
- 2 tablespoons salad oil
- 2 tablespoons apple-cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon basil leaves, crushed
- 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/16 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 1/2 cups broccoli medallions*
- 2 1/2 cups broccoli florets
1. Combine oil, vinegar, thyme, basil, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper; set aside.
2. In medium saucepan, bring 2 inches water to boil.
3. Add medallions and carrots; simmer 2 minutes.
4. Add broccoli florets; simmer 1 minute.
5. Drain and place in bowl; toss with dressing. Cover and refrigerate overnight or until chilled.
6. Serve garnished with lettuce leaves, if desired.
*To make medallions, slice broccoli stems crosswise, ¼-inch thick.
Per Serving: about 1 cup
Fat: 4.9 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 51 mg
Carbohydrates: 8.8 g
Protein: 2.4 g
This week’s featured recipe is from The Saturday Evening Post Antioxidant Cookbook by Cory SerVaas, M.D.
© 1995 The Saturday Evening Post Society. All rights reserved.
To order a copy of this book, visit store.sepstore.org/cookbooks.html
There is an anonymous saying that goes: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” Since National Arbor Day is coming up fast, you might as well start the process by choosing and planting a tree of your choice before summer heat makes tree planting impractical.
Planting in cool weather gives a tree’s roots time to establish before rain and sun force their energy instead into making top leaves.
When you purchase a tree at a nursery, its roots will have been trimmed by 90 percent or more and confined in burlap or a plastic bucket. All trees that have been dug up and prepared for transplanting are suffering from transplant shock, meaning they will be slow growing for a time until they recover. By taking care when you plant a tree, you can help it overcome the shock and start growing faster.
Dig a hole for the tree that is wide and shallow and no deeper than the root ball. The wideness allows roots to push into the surrounding soil. Most of the roots from a newly planted tree will go into the top 12 inches of soil.
Make sure the soil under the tree is firm. Don’t dig and backfill before placing the roots, or the tree may gradually sink down.
The trunk flare at the base of the tree should just break the soil after planting.
Stand back from the tree and adjust it to make sure it is vertical before you begin backfilling. Best of all have your spouse view the tree from several directions while you are planting. Then if it goes in crooked it won’t be your fault, and you won’t have to hear about it until the end of time.
Remove the burlap from the root ball. Some nurseries use synthetic burlap that will not decay. Even genuine burlap may take up moisture from the soil depriving the tree of the water it needs to recover quickly from transplant shock.
If you are planting in heavy clay soil, leave the top third of the root ball above the backfill and fill the rest with good soil and cover with mulch. This will help get roots from languishing in soggy, moisture soaked clay.
Begin fertilizing a tree once a year, one year after it has been planted. Apply a time release or an organic fertilizer which helps release soil minerals under the tree and up to three feet beyond the tree’s branches. Drilling holes in the soil will help the fertilizer reach the roots. Be sure to water thoroughly after applying fertilizer.
Decorative Tree Choices
If you want to make your neighbor’s sit up and take notice of your landscaping skills, here is a short list of trees that are likely to have them coming around to ask, “What’s that?”
Full Moon Maple
A small size Japanese maple has wide leaves which are a brilliant lime green in spring and turn an amazing array of bright colors in fall.
Another small maple which has branches that remind one of both yellow and red dogwood branches in winter, but without the nasty aptitude for spreading.
Paper Bark Maple
A large growing maple (20 to 30 feet) with exfoliating bark in hues from cinnamon to reddish brown and purplish older bark, a remarkable combination of color and interest.
Unlike typical ginko trees, these have the additional interest of green and white striped leaves.
My dog let me down. Or so it seemed. I know that man’s best friend is above reproach. And I may have just made a false accusation. But let me tell you exactly what happened.
A few hundred yards behind our property in northwestern Michigan, there’s the start of an alluring trail. Its floor is coated with pine needles. Mixed deciduous and pine woods stand on either side. This trail is one of hundreds of old logging roads and newer snowmobile paths that wind through untold miles of forest. My dog —Beans by name—and I walk the trail frequently. Normally, we saunter along this one trail for half a mile, then turn right on another trail for about a mile. By this amount of time spent, Beans has sniffed at ferns and other flora and has ducked into the woods alongside the trail several times to follow the scent of a deer track or investigate some cause known only to him—as beagles do.
Beans is a vigorous 30-pound black and white dog with a brown head. He is quite handsome and very intelligent (taking after his adoptive “father”). He can shake hands. He can jump through a hoop. And he loves classical music, which quickly puts him to sleep.
He not only understands what we tell him, but he also often makes sounds as if he were trying to speak back. Am I being buffaloed by my love for him? Maybe so.
On this particular fateful day, we started our walk before 9 a.m. Narrow patches of sunlight shone through the trees and lit the trail.
I always walk Beans on a leash, which can stretch to 20 feet and rewind. Without the leash, Beans would take off to chase a deer or squirrel. Beans’ piercing full-throated bark-of-the-chase bashes the normal silence surrounding us.
On this day, we took a different route, which led us to a different and unfamiliar trail. Beans sniffed and darted back and forth. I was sure this trail would lead us to one that eventually came back to our amiliar path. But, no. We seemed to be far off course. The first hint of concern sneaked into my mind.
I had no compass. One would have been useless anyway. I could see the sun still only part way toward high noon. So, believing that the sun still rises in the East, I knew that if we kept finding trails that took us in an easterly direction, we could eventually reach Detroit —240 miles away. On second thought, trying to head toward Lake Michigan, to our west, must not have been more than several miles away.
But no trail we took seemed to have a consistent direction. And we saw not a soul on any trail. Meanwhile, Beans seemed utterly unconcerned. The sniffing and investigating was going well for him.
Finally, after more than two hours, I suddenly realized that Beans probably knew the way home. So I said: “Beans, go home. Beans, take me home.” We started down another trail with Beans pulling ahead on his leash. But this trail merely led to an intersection of trails.
“Take me home, Beans,” I urged. He turned left down a new trail. After 15 or 20 minutes, it became apparent we were getting nowhere.
“Pull me home, Beans,” I was pleading by this time—picturing the rest of the day and the night in the forest, without food or drink. Maybe lost permanently. We had walked about 10 miles. And these old legs were getting sore. Beans didn’t seem to mind. But he has twice as many legs as I do.
Finally, the trail we stumbled down led beside a field, and in the distance I spotted a highway with cars zipping by. We trudged through a field of grasses and swampy ground, and slowly scrambled up an embankment to the road.
I decided to walk left. Because it was near noon, I had no idea in what direction we were headed. Soon we came to a crossroad. The name was familiar. Lady Luck suggested I should turn left. We did and shortly came to a house.
I knocked on the door and explained my predicament to an elderly lady. She chuckled and said she would go and get someone to help me.
As I plunked down wearily on a porch chair, I saw out of the corner of my eye a good friend from church climbing up the hill from the house next door. Here was Sid Snyder coming to the rescue. He laughed as I told him of our travails on the trails. Then he drove us home.
I said earlier that Beans had let me down. I also said that he understands what we tell him. But that doesn’t mean he always obeys.
Since our adventure, I concluded that Beans probably knew all along how to get home. He was just having too much fun exploring new trails.
Negative 44 percent. That’s what one of my investment statements pegged my return for last year.
I tried to cope with the bad news by trotting out phrases I’d shared with clients as a financial representative for 16 years: Stocks will go up and down, but over time outperform all other investments. Even if a return was down for years, the market ultimately rebounded, as dependable as a happy ending in a romance novel.
But my years of levelheaded investment planning failed me when the chips were down-more literally when the blue chip stocks dropped, then dropped some more.
As the negative economic news continued to roll in, I was in near panic. How could my husband and I retire? What about sending our kids to college? Forget about going on vacation.
Seeing our assets deteriorate in the worst economic downturn in decades is both alarming and discouraging.
However, we must not forget that our real treasure is time spent with loved ones and enjoying the priceless gift of good health, which allows us to enjoy life.
No matter what our financial futures hold, we can follow practical tips that I learned while growing up on my parents’ small farm in the Midwest to survive and thrive.
1. You reap what you sow. It’s discouraging when an investment loses money, but you can’t let it derail your investment strategy by sitting out the market. Consistent investing over time is the best way to accumulate a nest egg and allows the advantage of dollar cost averaging. That means when you invest regularly, sometimes high, so you should make more over time. Continue your investment plans unless something in your personal situation changes that warrants a different strategy. For example, if you lose your job or are within 10 years of retiring, you may need to adjust your plans.
2. The early bird gets the worm. Much of the success of an investment strategy is the added value of compounding interest and reinvested dividends. Waiting to see what happens next with the economy is not a good idea. There is never a better time to invest than right now, so go full stream ahead and consider investing more. Your individual efforts at saving are more important than outside events.
3. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Although investing can be exciting in some ways, be careful about investments that make claims that are “too good to be true.” Many investors have lost money by being tempted by claims of investments that “beat the market.” Weight the risk versus the reward in analyzing an investment. Even something as steady as U.S. Savings Bonds can be a good option.
4. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. Many stocks made significant returns in the years prior to the market’s decline. Investors thought of those increases as permanent money in their pockets. However, the return on an investment can and will go up and down, until the money is withdrawn. Keep in mind that shopping on sale or buying low works in the stock market as well as at grocery and department stores. When your investment return is down, the stock market offerings are essentially “on sale.” Conversely, when you’ve seen a nice increase, maybe it’s time to move some into less volatile investments.
5. Save for a rainy day. Always have some money in liquid accounts, such as savings and money market accounts. Aim to have six to nine months of household expenses set aside. The silver lining to the economic may be that, if your credit is good, you could refinance a mortgage, which can help you accumulate more savings. Also in tough economic times some consumer goods are sold at deep discounts and the interest charged on loans may be lower.
6. Get your ducks in a row. To make good decisions, keep your financial information together and know where you stand. You won’t be able to take advantage of lowered interest rates if you don’t know your current mortgage rate, how much you owe, or don’t keep important papers handy to prove your income and liabilities.
7. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Diversify your investments by owning a mix of stocks and bonds based on your individual needs and your philosophy about investment risks. Get expert advice if you need help. Also, don’t invest all your retirement money so that it is tied in with your job. Think of Enron employees who lost jobs and retirement simultaneously. Take advantage of your employer’s discounted stocks, if available, but convert them into other investments when you can. And consider having some money in a couple carefully chosen places outside of your pension.
8. You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Although an investment prospectus can be challenging to read, learn to find the details about the expenses of an investment. If you can’t find it in print, ask. Numerous studies have found that some investments with the highest initial and ongoing fees are not outperforming the market. Even good investment returns cannot offset excessive fees. Always compare fees among similar investments before deciding where to invest. Consider index mutual funds, which often have lower fees because the stocks are not individually chosen but are preselected based on specified criteria.
9. Don’t let the foxes guard the henhouse. It has been widely reported that the institutions created as watchdogs for the financial industry broke this rule. And some “experts” have stolen their clients’ money. Investors must carefully research their current as well as their potential investments and advisors. If you seek expert advice, meet with more than one person and compare information. By educating yourself and moving cautiously, you may stay clear of fraud. Seek out the best advice available and double-check everything by going to national consumer Web sites, such as helpforinvestors.org or investoreducation .org, and calling your state regulator. Find out what a legitimate investment statement looks like so that you will recognize fake documents.
10. Separate the wheat from the chaff. When bombarded with economic news and investment information, work through a mental checklist. Ask yourself if the news is something that affects you personally or could in the future. Decide if there is action you should take now. If appropriate, do more research or consult an expert on the topic, such as a financial advisor, banker, or accountant.
Whether the market is up or down, you can have a solid investment plan if you remember to think like a farmer. No matter if the previous season brought good times or bad, drought or flood, farmers return to their fields as each spring arrives. They optimistically sow the new season’s crop with resolve and hope for the future.
“A man is a worker. If he is not that, he is nothing.” – Joseph Conrad
Work! Some people claim to love it. Others vow they hate it. Some are notably better acquainted with it than others, but we won’t name names.
“What work I have done, I have done because it has been play. If it had been work, I shouldn’t have done it,” Mark Twain said.
Thomas Edison observed, “As a cure for worrying, work is better than whiskey.”
The British humorist, Jerome K. Jerome, summed up many peoples’ view on the subject: “I like work. It fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours.”
Which brings us to our famous cover artists. From a place of relative safety behind their easels, unfettered by nine-to-five jobs and the usual drudgery (except when their wives pulled them away to put up storm windows), they were free to sit back and observe the American “workscape” in all its glory, from window washers and sign painters to plumbers and construction workers.
They even turned a lady riveter into the most famous cover girl of all.
In keeping with the theme of this issue, we put our own shoulders to the task and created this tribute to the art of work. Now we’re going to take a break while you sit back and enjoy it.
With signs of winter in the rear view mirror and May flowers on the horizon, spring is filling the air with all things new, including a new look for your home. Whether preparing to sell or ready to redecorate, the Post caught up with HGTV’s “go-to” interior design girl, Lisa LaPorta, for the best budget-friendly advice on the market.
The biggest mistake people make when they put their home up for sale is doing “nothing at all!” says the home staging expert and designer for HGTV’s hit show Designed to Sell. “People tend to let their egos get in the way with the notion that, ‘If it’s good enough for me, it’s good enough.’ ” Yet LaPorta is quick to point out that people stop noticing things in their home that send up red flags to an objective eye. She recommends asking a friend (or former friend) to do a walk-through as if they were the potential buyer. “You know that person you no longer talk to because they’re too blunt? Invite them over for a fresh set of eyes.”
Next, make a list of obvious maintenance needs, including rooms that will require special attention, keeping in mind that “curb appeal, kitchens, and baths are what sell a home,” LaPorta explains. But before tackling the wear and tear items, give your home a good bath-from the outside, in. Power spraying walkways, windows, patios, or porches can make big impact on curb appeal. Dress up the front door (and shutters) with a fresh coat of paint-a bold accent color perhaps-and some shiny new hardware, taking into consideration the overall style and architecture of the home. Accessorize the entrance with simple oversized pots planters. For the porch and patio, the designer offers this cleaning mantra: “Never underestimate the power of vinegar and water for cleaning outdoor furniture.”
Inside, clear out the clutter and neutralize your personal style as much as possible. “Most people have too much furniture-lots of little tables, accent pieces, inherited furniture,” she notes. “Pack it up and store it away. Clean out the closets, too. Overstuffed closets are an indication to buyers that there is not enough storage space in the home.” If it’s not practical for you to rent a storage unit, designate one area (or the garage) for storage.
Revive kitchen and bathroom cabinets with a colored stain. Although the idea is to use neutral tones, a wide assortment of attractive stain colors are often overlooked. “It doesn’t always have to be brown, oak, or cherry; you can get some beautiful reds, sage greens, blue-greys, or oyster.”
As with any new do-it-yourself project, it’s advisable to begin in a less noticeable area. For example, stain the inside of a cabinet first to practice your technique and see how it’s going to look.
“Next, clean, clean, clean!” LaPorta is quick to repeat. People tend not to notice the filth and dust in their own homes, so pay close atention to the dirty details.
Once your home is spotless, look at the arrangement of the furniture. People are often guilty of pushing their furniture up against the walls. “For some reason, they think this makes a room look bigger, when in fact, it draws attention to the boundaries of the space,” the designer says. “Try floating sofas across from one another in such a way as to create inviting viewpoints.”
But be cautious when moving heavy furniture. A petite home stager herself, LaPorta uses furniture discs to position heavy furniture.
If you’re new to do-it-yourself projects such as staining, painting, or tiling, many big name hardware stores offer workshops and classes for beginners. Even on a budget, with a little labor and a strong will, you can set the stage for a show-stopping performance.
Six Secret Solutions
Fresh Floors: Peel-and-stick vinyl tile is an affordable way to modernize an outdated floor. When placing the tile, make sure to switch up the direction and placement of the tiles to mix the tones.
Shower Power: Instead of replacing a grimy glass shower door, clean it by mixing one part muriatic acid and about 10 parts water. Scrub it with steel wool and wipe it down for a door that sines.
Fired Up: Scrub the fireplace with soap and water. Polish bricks with a tone color enhancer to make them shine. To update the screen, remove and dust it thoroughly. Mask off the windows and use a can of heat-resistant spray paint to give the screen a fresh look. Hold the can about 18 inches away and use long strokes.
Top It Off: Granite countertops, although expensive, are a good investment. Save money by requesting a 9- or 12-inch squares. Easier to install than running-foot slabs, they often cost less.
Kitchen Update: Resurface old appliances for under $20 by removing the front panels and cleaning them. Then, apply a stainless-steel stick-on covering and cut it to fit.
Creative Curtains: Dress up a window for $12 with this easy trick using place mats: Apply a hook-and-loop fastener to each place mat; attach them in a row to a basic curtain rod; and pin them together at the bottom for a stylish valance.
The one-time Chicago nurse turned actress and television host hit it big in Hollywood, but still cherishes her Midwestern roots.
It’s 40 days until the Cub’s April 13 home opener against the Rockies. Bonnie Hunt has been counting down for months. A die-hard Cubs fan, she hasn’t missed an opening day at Wrigley Field since 1977.
And Hunt is not going to start now, even though she’s busy producing and hosting The Bonnie Hunt Show in Culver City, California.
“When I took this job, I told them we had to work the job around opening day,” she laughs. “Wrigley Field is a just a smaller, condensed version of what Chicago is all about. Everybody talks to each other, drinks beer, eats a hot dog, and hangs out. It’s just a romantic, great place.”
The Chicago native loves the tradition so much that she has her crew pass out hot dogs and root beer to members of her talk show audience. Ushers on the set wear Cubs jerseys and hats or warm-up jackets to fend off the cold studio air. When talking about her favorite place, Hunt’s voice rings with excitement.
“If I could, I would live in Chicago,” says the 47-year-old who grew up the sixth of seven children in a large Catholic family, “I just love it so much.”
In high school, Hunt worked part-time as a nurse’s aide, later earning a nursing degree and working as an oncology and emergency room nurse at Northwestern University Hospital in the 1980s. It was in the Windy City that Hunt co-founded an improvisational comedy troupe, An Impulsive Thing, and performed at the famed Second City. While still working as a nurse, Hunt auditioned on her lunch break, winning the role of waitress Sally Dibbs in the award-winning film Rain Man. The part launched her acting career that includes roles in box office hits such as Jerry Maguire, Cheaper by the Dozen, and The Green Mile. The two-time Golden Globe- and Emmy Award-nominated actress also has directed movies—the romantic comedy Return to Me, starring David Duchovny and Minnie Driver—and voiced animated movies including A Bug’s Life, Monsters, Inc., and Cars, which she helped write.
Hunt is a passionate fund-raiser who, through ventures such as her show’s “Bonnie’s Basement,” has raised money for The Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University and the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation for spinal cord injury research.
The Post caught up with daytime television’s most down-to-earth and approachable host.
SEP: Why are you so passionate about your hometown?
Hunt: Chicago is a big part of who I am. Being in the city helps you to develop lifelong skills. (Laughing) The weather alone in Chicago teaches you teamwork. Everybody has to shovel their cars out to get back on the road or you wait for the buses. You earn spring. When it turns 40 degrees in Chicago, everyone has shorts on. Out here in L.A., it hits 40 degrees and everyone has a parka on. Chicago has always felt like a giant Mayberry to me. It’s all about remembering where you came from and the strength that it gives you. Sometimes life gets cloudy, and remembering your roots keeps everything in perspective, especially when you are trying to survive in a self-obsessed industry.
SEP: Were you always a Cubs fan, and what’s it like to go to games now?
Hunt: I grew up with scrapbooks of the Cubs. It was part of the family tradition. When I moved out of my parents’ house, I had to get reception to Chicago’s radio station WGN. Just having the sound of a ball game in the background is calming. It’s the soundtrack of our lives.
My brother Tom and the guys we grew up with from the old neighborhood always go. Tommy gets the tickets, and we usually sit behind third base. I always end up looking like Neapolitan ice cream—one arm tan, the other white, and I’m mostly bright red. Going to the ball game is just fun. I was born into a team—the sixth of seven children. As a nurse at the hospital, it was all about teamwork. Even at Second City, making an audience laugh and participate is about teamwork. At the end of the day, working together is what life is all about.
SEP: You are so approachable and candid. Is there something people might not know about you?
Hunt: (Laughs) Most people know just about everything about me. I do love gardening —it’s one of my favorite pastimes. I have an herb garden, but I also plant a traditional spring garden, like I’m in Chicago, even though everything grows year-round here in L.A. I plant irises, hyacinths, and lots of tulips. It’s like an orchestra when they bloom a couple of weeks apart from each other.
SEP: You have your own personal style as a TV host, but did others influence you?
Hunt: I learned a lot from Johnny [Carson], from how to welcome a guest to a show to respecting who they are and their story. He always did that. There was nothing desperate or anxious about him. That is sometimes a lost art in television. David [Letterman] has always been so supportive and encouraging to me. He’s had me on his show and has been a business partner. He’s a friend —someone I call if I need advice or to bounce an idea off someone. Johnny and David knew and understood me. We are all from the Midwest. With that comes a certain sensibility and humor. We are all grateful for the opportunities, and it’s been a great honor to work with both of them.
SEP: Why did you decide to bring your mom, Alice, on your show for the “Ask Alice” segment?
Hunt: I’ve talked about my mom, like David Letterman has, for so many years. Everyone can relate to a mom. I’m lucky to still have my mom in my life. I just want to share her with everybody. She is still very much the same mom I had when I was 7 years old. She genuinely loves and cares about people and is very funny, which is why I have quite a sense of humor.
SEP: How did you make the transition from nursing to acting?
Hunt: It was a hobby. Growing up in my neighborhood, I didn’t really think it would be possible to act, but my dad always told us to go for our dreams. I was really lucky to be a nurse first, because it’s given me the gift of perspective. One of my patients told me, “When are you going to go out to L.A.?” I said, “I’m not going to because then I’d fail and have to come back and explain myself.” He told me, “Bonnie, facing the end of my own life and one of my biggest regrets is not going out and failing a few times.” So he made me promise I would. And I’ve failed many times, but I’ve learned from them. You always learn more from your failures than successes.
While caring full-time for his wife of almost 70 years, former Navy Captain and businessman Henry Tipton began to notice a decided difference in his health. After follow-up tests, Tipton was diagnosed with aortic stenosis—a severe narrowing of the aortic valve that restricts blood flow. When heart valves do not open normally, pressure builds up in the heart. As a result, patients may experience shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, and fainting.
Fortunately for Tipton, researchers were conducting a clinical trial to investigate the potential of a less invasive way to repair damaged valves, employing an investigational device called the Edwards Sapien transcatheter heart valve.
The new procedure offers a promising option for people who are not candidates for conventional open-chest surgery, due to age or other health factors, to repair the damaged valve—a process that requires placing patients on a heart-lung machine and a lengthy recovery process.
In 2007, Tipton enrolled in the study and underwent the groundbreaking procedure. The results were dramatic.
“This breakthrough technology could save the lives of patients with heart valve disease who have no other therapeutic options,” Dr. Martin Leon, associate director of the Cardiovascular Interventional Therapy (CIVT) Program at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/ Columbia University Medical Center, told the Post. “Heart valves are structures that separate chambers within the heart—like doors that separate rooms in a house. The heart valves must open and close without restrictions. If not, the valves can become narrowed or leaky. Failing heart valves can result in pressure buildup in the heart and fluid accumulation in the lungs, a condition called congestive heart failure. Well-established data show that the one-year mortality for this condition if left untreated is 40 percent worse than most cancers.”
A decade ago, doctors began to investigate the alternative procedure. ”Basically, a new valve is mounted on a stent then delivered via a catheter inserted through the femoral artery in the groin,” explains Dr. Leon. ”When in the right position, you inflate the balloon, expand the stent, and deploy the new heart valve as you push aside the old, nonfunctioning heart valve.”
While the trial is ongoing, no official data can be released, but the device is approved for use in Europe where more than 2,500 patients have been successfully treated. According to Dr. Leon, five-year follow-up data in a small number of patients reveal no reports of valve malfunction using the investigational heart valve.
”Today, we do about 60,000 aortic valve replacements in the U.S. alone,” says the leading interventional cardiologist. “If we are able to perform this procedure in the sickest patients, we should be able to refine our techniques and also apply this therapy to most patients who might require aortic valve surgery. In the next decade, we estimate that as many as 100,000 patients could benefit from this procedure annually.” As the first person to implant a drug eluting stent in the U.S., Dr. Leon is genuinely enthusiastic about this development. “I think it addresses a very needy population,” says Dr. Leon. “What impresses me most is that when we see these patients in follow-up, the magnitude of improvement is staggering. These patients were bedridden, frail, and barely able to walk across the room. A few months after the procedure, they look like different people. From a physician’s standpoint, it has been extremely fulfilling to provide a less invasive new therapy without surgery to this elderly population. If we can treat the aortic valve, we can potentially also treat the mitral valve and the pulmonary valve in children and adults with congenital heart disease. It’s the beginning of a new spectrum of therapies in patients with valvular heart disease that will not require surgery.”
Top doctors in the field are excited about the innovative new approach. The multicenter Phase 3 clinical trial, known as the PARTNER (Placement of AorTic traNscathetEr Valves Trial) led by principal coinvestigators Martin Leon, M.D., and Craig Smith, M.D., at New York–Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center remains open and is enrolling new patients.
Post testers agree that the meals from Diabetes & Heart Healthy Meals for Two will satisfy most appetites—whether or not people have diabetes or heart disease.
The new cookbook offers delicious and easy-to-prepare recipes to control blood glucose levels and boost heart health. Quick Herb-Tomato Soup, Zucchini-Tomato Salad, Salad Greens with Hoisin-Plum Dressing (shown in picture above), and Broccoli with Lemon-Dijon Sauce are some of our favorites. For starters, here’s how to make the tasty salad and a simple, four-ingredient appetizer.
Salad Greens with Hoisin-Plum Dressing
(makes 2 servings)
Salad Hoisin-Plum Dressing
- 2 cups mixed salad greens
- 2 tablespoons plum sauce
- 1 cup fresh snow peas
- 1 tablespoon orange juice trimmed
- 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon olive oil (extra dry roasted virgin preferred)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
In small bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients. Mound salad greens in salad bowls. Arrange the snow peas on top. Drizzle with dressing. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Goat Cheese and Garlic Spread
(makes 2 servings)
- 3/4 ounce low-fat soft goat cheese
- 2 tablespoons fat-free sour cream
- 1/2 medium garlic clove, minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, snipped
Combine first three ingredients in small bowl. Sprinkle with parsley and serve on raw vegetables such as cucumbers and bell peppers.