Harvesting garden vegetables at the right time

*Source: 2018 W. Atlee Burpee & Company article on “Harvesting Vegetables”

When harvest time comes for your vegetable garden, it comes big-time. For many gardeners, the challenge may now be staying ahead of a tsunami of vegetables that need harvesting. A great practice in harvesting vegetables is taking a basket out to the garden every day to see what has ripened. Picking vegetables as soon as they are ripe often encourages the plant to produce even more.

Bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better. Most vegetables are at their peak of tenderness and flavor when they are relatively small. Zucchini, for example, are best when they are no more than six or seven inches long. As they get larger, then they get tough. If you discover an overlooked whopper, grate it and make zucchini cookies or zucchini bread.

It’s crucial to keep track of what you planted and when it was planted. Keep the seed packet so you know what to expect in terms of when it is ready for harvest. There are many cultivars of vegetables today, bred for different characteristics such as size and flavor.

When you harvest, look out for signs of trouble, such as yellowing leaves or rotting fruit, and remove the problem parts. Even if it’s something you can do little about such as blossom end rot or cracking from too much rain, there’s no point in letting the plant put energy into fruit you won’t be able to eat.

More tips for harvesting vegetables from your garden:

•Herbs. Pinch or cut back herbs frequently to keep them producing more stems and leaves (the parts we eat) and to keep them from blooming, which changes the flavor. Basil, especially, needs frequent pinching back to keep it bushy and productive.

•Tomatoes. There is a huge range of tomato varieties. Many kinds are red when ripe, but some are orange, yellow, striped or even green. So learn what to expect from your variety and monitor the plant closely as its due date nears. Generally, a tomato is fully ripe when it releases easily from the stem. If you misjudge a bit it’s no tragedy, because tomatoes will ripen somewhat after picking, but they develop the fullest sweet flavor if they ripen in the sun on the vine.

•Peppers. Peppers are mature and ready to eat when full-sized but still green. If left on the vine longer, they will change color to red, orange, yellow or brown, depending on the variety, and will deepen in flavor and become less crisp in texture.
Hot peppers left to change color will get hotter. So whether you pick at the green stage or later will depend on the variety and what you plan to use the pepper for.

• Lettuce. It’s important to pick lettuce before hot weather encourages the plant to “bolt,” or develop a flower stalk, which makes the leaves taste bitter. With leaf lettuce and many other greens, you can “cut and come again” while the leaves are young and tender, no more than five inches long. Use scissors to cut the largest leaves individually from the plants. When the smaller leaves get big enough, harvest those. You may be able to come back to a plant two, three or four times, a few days apart, before it gives up in the summer heat. To prolong the lettuce harvest, look for bolt-resistant varieties and sow seeds several times at two-week intervals. A tent of shade cloth or translucent row cover or a site in part shade may also delay bolting in hot climates. In late summer, sow seeds again for a fall crop.

•Green beans. Green beans are an easy vegetable to harvest. Pick the pods when they are a little shy of their maximum size, to be sure that they are tender, with immature seeds. If you delay, the seeds will mature and harden and the pod will become tough. Don’t pick green beans in the morning when the dew is still on the vines; wait until they are fully dry to avoid spreading disease. Be sure to keep up with regular picking to encourage the vine to keep flowering and producing pods.

•Peas. For garden peas, pick a test pod and open it when the seeds have begun to swell inside. You’re looking for peas that are round but still tender. Pick peas just before you are ready to shell and cook them. For snow peas and sugar snaps, taste a pod when it nears full size. You want a crisp, crunchy, fresh-tasting pod, in which the seeds have started developing but are nowhere near round. Pods left too long on the vine get tough and stringy.

•Cantaloupes, muskmelons and honeydews: Harvesting melons can be tricky, even for melon farmers. You can thump the melon and listen for a dull, hollow sound or sniff it to see if it smells sweet. A ripe cantaloupe or muskmelon will begin to have a tan or yellowish color beneath the corky “netting” on its skin. A honeydew will feel smooth, not hairy. Cut the stem rather than breaking the fruit off, which creates a wound that invites the fruit to rot. Let the fruit ripen for another day or two at room temperature before cutting into it.

•Watermelons. When the spot beneath the melon, where it sits on the ground, turns yellowish, rather than white or green, the melon is close to ripe. The rind also gets tougher, so test it with your thumbnail to how easily it dents. For old-fashioned full-sized watermelons, the traditional ripeness test is to thump and listen for a dull, hollow sound, but this may not work as well with the smaller “icebox” varieties. Ultimately, you’ll have to cut one open and decide if it’s ripe, and use that as a standard for the rest of the crop.

•Cucumbers. Check the seed packet to see how large your variety of cucumber will get and how long that is expected to take. But bear in mind that you can pick cucumbers at any stage, depending on what you want to use them for. Smaller ones will be more tender, with thinner skins and few or immature seeds. Too-old cucumbers get dry and seedy. Like melons, cucumbers should be cut from the vine, not pulled.

•Sweet corn. Timing is everything with sweet corn. The kernels begin to lose sweetness and flavor the instant the ear is picked, so the great advantage of growing your own is so you can wait until the last minute. Sweet corn is ready to eat when you can feel full, rounded kernels beneath the husk; the silk at the top of the ear is drying out; and a squished kernel produces a milky sap.

•Root vegetables. Read the seed packet to see how long it should take before you start checking to see if your variety of carrots, beets, turnips, radishes or parsnips is ready for harvest. When it’s about time, loosen the soil gently and pull one up to see how big it is. Root vegetables are more tender and delicate in flavor if eaten younger and smaller; as they get older and larger, they get tougher. You can store some root crops right in the cold ground after the tops die. Spread a thick layer of leaves, straw or other mulch to keep the ground from freezing so you can still dig them up, and you may be able to harvest carrots, turnips or parsnips at Thanksgiving.Happy harvesting.

5 Ways Cooking Benefits Your Mental State


It’s no secret that cooking healthy food provides benefits to our bodies, but there’s also evidence that the act of preparing meals can benefit our minds as well. Mental health experts credit cooking with helping to relieve depression, anxiety, eating disorders and other conditions. As various forms of meditation have become in vogue as ways to relax in our busy world, cooking is joining that genre, according to health professionals, working adults and people who cook for a living.

“Cooking at its core is comprehensive meditation with the assurance of a good, healthy meal as the reward,” says Zipora Einav (www.chefzipora.com), a chef to celebrities and author of Recipe for a Delicious Life. “Cooking can lift you to a meditative place you often don’t get in the outside world. It starts with the environment you create in your kitchen. Mine is filled with music. Combining cooking with music provides the optimal environment to experience the many benefits of meditation.

“However you cook, do it with real peace and genuine happiness for yourself in mind. You’re giving to others; now give some of this to yourself.”

Chef Zipora lists five mental health benefits that cooking brings:

Relieves stress
Cooking can clear the head and relax the body. Family therapist Lisa Bahar toldPsychology Today that a mindfulness on the moment – kitchen tasks such as chopping and stirring – makes the act of cooking meditative. “You are present in the task, doing something physical, and not distracted by the stresses of the day,” Zipora says. “It’s a nourishing, centering act that gets you to slow down.”

Gives joy
It’s easy to dismiss cooking as just another household chore, but you may derive joy from cooking that you don’t get from mundane tasks. “Cooking is an innately rewarding experience,” says Zipora. “You can enhance it however you like. Music happens to be the seasoning of my life. Classical puts me in a zone when I’m cooking. When you’re enjoying working in the kitchen and listening to your favorite music, all of a sudden you’re not just cooking, it’s like you’re flying with your feet on the ground. Cooking has all the ingredients of good vibrations.”

Provides better brain health
The clearest link between cooking and mental health is good nutrition; numerous studies have found compounds like antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins and minerals found naturally in food can help protect your brain. “It’s easier to control the quality of your diet when you prepare much of the food yourself,” Zipora says.

Makes you more creative
Part of the fun of cooking is thinking outside the box. “Cooking should be considered an art, and with new ingredients, you can explore new areas of cooking and surprise your family with a meal that they will have never seen coming,” Zipora says. “Perfect recipes, come up with new ones, and let your creative juices flow.”

Boosts self-confidence
“You feel a strong sense of accomplishment when you’ve prepared something satisfying,” Zipora says. “When you’ve prepared a nice meal for several people that confidence will surge, and it can spread into other areas of your life. It will inspire you to try new things.”

“Cooking without a doubt nourishes your psychological well-being,” Zipora says. “At the end of a long work day, it soothes the soul and the mind.”

My piece of the world

By Jinifer Rae

My neighbor gave me a swing. This may sound like a simple thing, but to me, it was a wonderful gift. Some of the best gifts are bestowed out of need, and my swing was no exception. Upon arriving at my new home in Mountain City, I quickly discovered none of my outdoor furniture made it on the moving truck. This was almost a crisis. I love being outdoors, even if I only have ten minutes to sit on the porch, I find those few minutes can revitalize me. But if I thought being outdoors was special before I moved here, I had a lot to learn. The town of Mountain City is a treasure trove of wonderful things to experience and see.

The views from my former home’s porch had nothing in comparison to the beauty of God’s country found in Tennessee. In the past, I would sit on my porch and watch people walk their dogs, or see children playing in the park. Occasionally I would smell the fresh cut grass as a neighbor manicured their yard. Never to be taken for granted, it was always a joy to behold the beauty of the neighborhood. However, my new home had an unexpected surprise in store.

A beautiful brook runs the entire length of my backyard. The water that surges over the pebbles and rocks makes the most peaceful sound. Bella, my husband’s dog, and I walk down to the edge of the water and enjoy this special spot. Up until I received my swing, I sat on a bump of a log. While not the most comfortable of seating arrangements, sitting on that hard piece of wood was my absolute favorite place to be. Anyone who has come to see our home has been given a three-second tour of the house, and then I drag them outside to show off the water. After compelling them to plop down on that log, I ask them to listen, just listen, to the birds and the water. Nature makes her own music with that babbling brook, and the stress just melts away while listening and swinging. The brook combined with the birds singing is the most soothing, relaxing sound I have ever heard. I decided that this special area of the yard would be the perfect spot for my swing.

Maintain routines on Summer break

Beth Hail, LCSW

Summer break is in full swing—and some parents have already started the countdown to their child’s first day of school!
Without the routine and structure of going to school, summer break might not feel like a break at all and can
present stressful moments for both parent and child. Recent studies have found that
having a normal daily rhythm can help diffuse stress and depression. Routines can also contribute to multiple health benefits and improve an individual’s mood and cognitive functions.
Here are several ways parents and children can incorporate and maintain healthy routines to help reduce stress during the summer break:

Time off from school doesn’t mean time off from sleep. Keep a bedtime routine during summer to help maintain balance and reduce stress. According to the Centers for Disease Control, short sleep duration can be associated with greater likelihoods of frequent mental distress. The bedtime routine may vary depending on a person’s age, but everyone needs regular sleep which serves as the body’s reset button. A good night’s rest supports mental and emotional resilience.

Family Time
Unplugging from technology and spending quality time with loved ones can help shrink stress and anxiety, and it can boost the mental and physical health of the entire family. Traditions and rituals like vacations can enrich relationships and provide opportunities for family members to talk with one another, discover new interests, explore places together and create new memories.

Playtime has powerful benefits for children and adults by providing life balance. Amidst the hectic schedules and daily demands of life, take time out to play and enjoy the freedom from time, rules and responsibilities. Children who see adults having fun, laughing and enjoying life can learn valuable lessons about their own lives. Many times, children communicate their thoughts and feelings through play more naturally than they do through verbal communication.
Routines let you know what to expect, but they should be flexible and adjusted when necessary. Some stress is normal for all of us, but when stress constantly interrupts a person’s daily life, professional help may be needed. Centerstone’s staff is trained to help anyone deal with stress in a healthy way and to incorporate successful routines tailored to an individual’s needs.

This summer, assess which routines should be incorporated to make the break an enjoyable one for you and your family.
Beth Hail is regional vice president for Centerstone, serving its central Tennessee region. She holds a master’s degree in social work administration and is a licensed clinical social worker. For more advice on health-related topics, visit centerstone.org.

Add space, beauty and ease with elevated gardens

Elevated Gardens

By Melinda Myers

Elevate your gardens to waist high level for convenience and easy access. Elevated gardens are easy on your back and knees and are perfect for the patio, balcony, deck or any area where a bit of planting space is desired. Place them near your kitchen door, grill or table for easy cooking and serving access. You’ll be able to plant, weed and harvest with minimal bending or even from a chair.

Purchase one on wheels or add casters to the legs of your elevated garden for added mobility. Then wheel it into the sun or shade as needed each day or out of the way when you entertain. Set the garden in place first. Once it’s filled with soil, it will be very heavy and difficult to move. Those gardening on a balcony should confirm the space will hold the weight of the elevated garden you select when filled with soil and mature plants.

Make sure you have easy access to water. Since this is basically a container, you will need to check the soil moisture daily and water thoroughly as needed. Fill the elevated garden with a well-drained planting mix that holds moisture while providing needed drainage.

Incorporate a low nitrogen slow release fertilizer like Milorganite (milorganite.com) at planting. It contains 85% organic matter, feeding the plants and soil. Slow release fertilizers provide plants with needed nutrients for several months, eliminating the need for weekly fertilization.

Grow a variety of your favorite herbs and vegetables like basil, parsley, compact tomatoes, and peppers. Support vining plants or try compact ones like Mascotte compact bush bean. Add color and dress up your planter with flowers like edible nasturtiums and trailing herbs like thyme and oregano which will cascade over the edge of the planter.

Maximize your growing space by planting quick maturing vegetables like radishes, beets and lettuce in between tomatoes, peppers, cabbage and other vegetables that take longer to reach their mature size. You’ll be harvesting the short season vegetables just as the bigger plants need the space.

Further increase your garden’s productivity with succession plantings. Fill vacant spaces that are left once a row or block of vegetables are harvested. Add more planting mix if needed.

Select seeds and transplants that will have time to reach maturity for harvesting before the growing season ends. Broccoli, cabbage, compact Patio Pride peas, lettuce, spinach and other greens taste best when harvested in cooler fall temperatures.

Replace weather-worn flowers with cool weather beauties like pansies, nemesias, dianthus, alyssum and snapdragons. Fertilize the whole planter so new plantings and existing plants have the nutrients they need to finish out the season.
Protect your fall flowers, herbs and vegetables from hard frosts with floating row covers. These fabrics allow air, light and water through while trapping the heat around the plant.

Once you discover the fun, flavor and ease of waist high gardening, you’ll likely make room for more elevated planters for your future gardening endeavors.

Tips to prevent and reduce baled hay fires this season

Article Source: Preventing fires in baled hay and straw. (2012). Farm and Ranch eXtension in Safety and Health (FReSH) Community of Practice.

Most hay fires occur within the first six weeks after baling.  Understanding the causes of fires in stored hay and learning how to reduce fire hazards will protect your feed supply and could prevent the loss of time and money associated with a fire. Moisture content is the main factor that causes hay to spontaneously combust.  Additional factors that contribute to the risk of hay fires include the volume of the bale stack, bale density, and ventilation or air flow around the stacked bales.  Bales with a lower density that are stacked lower and have good air flow and ventilation have a lower risk of overheating.

The best way to reduce the risk of a hay fire is to bale hay at a moisture content of 20% or less because at this moisture level, microbial activity decreases.  There are several ways of reducing moisture content in baled hay:

·Baling under appropriate conditions: Weather plays a critical role in achieving the appropriate moisture level in baled hay.  The recommended weather conditions for haymaking are a slight wind and a humidity level of 50% or less.  Because hay has a higher moisture content in the morning, it is recommended that you bale later in the day.  The recommended practice for haymaking is to mow hay in the morning and allow it to dry in the field for a minimum of one full day prior to baling.

·Using specialized equipment: Another way of decreasing moisture content is to use specialized haying equipment designed to increase drying rates.  Such equipment includes tedders, windrow inverters, hay rakes, and conditioning equipment.

·Using hay preservatives: Hay preservatives, such as liquid propionic acid, applied to the hay during baling inhibit or reduce the growth of bacteria in hay with a high moisture content.  Another way to reduce the risk of a hay fire is to ensure that stored hay remains dry.

· When storing hay inside, make sure the barn or storage area is weather tight and has proper drainage to prevent water from entering the barn.

·When storing hay outside, cover the hay with plastic or another type of waterproof material.  If you are unable to cover the bales, arrange the bales so that air can circulate between them to promote drying.  Bales can be protected from ground moisture by storing them on a bed of gravel or lifting them off the ground on used tires, poles, or pallets.  DO NOT STORE BALES UNDER TREES OR IN THE FENCEROW.

If you are concerned that hay may have been baled at too high a moisture content, monitor the internal bale temperature twice daily for the first six weeks after baling.  For safety reasons, you must work with a partner when checking the temperature of stacked bales.  One of you stands atop the bales to measure the internal temperature while the other observes.  The person testing the hay should wear a harness and a lifeline that is attached to a secure object.  In the event of an emergency, such a system allows the observer to pull the person checking the temperature out of the hay.  Due to the potential dangers of this situation, this task should not be assigned to youth workers.

The following temperature chart outlines further actions that may need to be taken depending on the temperature of the hay.

Temp chart

(Source: National Resource, Agriculture, and Engineering Service [NRAES])

This ‘n’ that: Swift-Cole reunion great success

By Jack Swift
Johnson County Historian

Swifts and Coles, their connections and others converged on Mountain City June 23, for the Swift-Cole Family Reunion. The reunion had been in the planning stage for some months. A number of folks were instrumental in making the event possible. Held at the First Christian Church fellowship center, the reunion was well attended with several locals on hand as well as some from distant areas. Included were people from Texas, Maryland, Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina and perhaps others as well. The delicious food was varied and plentiful.

First Christian’s fellowship center was spacious enough to accommodate the crowd comfortably. On a personal note: My wife, Mary, and I are members of First Christian and it was good to have the reunion at our home church. For the last several years the event has been held at Sugar Hollow Park near Bristol. Sadly, a vote was taken and it was decided to discontinue the reunions. All the reunions I have attended have been great and Kudos to those who have been a vital part in planning and implementing the event each year.

I understand my Swift ge-nealogy can be traced back to England. But, the first for sure account of my Swift ancestry is Baltimore. From there my ancestral Swifts migrated to a farm in the Yadkin River Valley and from there to the Beaver Dams area of what was then Ashe County, North Carolina (later to become Watauga County, North Carolina.) From there they migrated to the headwaters of Doe Creek in what is the Seventh District of Johnson County.

My grandfather and grandmother Swift were David Elkanah and Sarah Fine Grindstaff Swift. To them were born Joseph, Elizabeth, Richard, Clyda Bell, Arrie, Wilburn and Allen who was my father. After teaching in Johnson County for a few years Joseph (Joe) journeyed to the Philippines and worked there six years in the U. S. Civil Service. He returned to the states, married Leita Cole from Shady Valley and with her returned to the Philippines to spend five years more before coming back to settle into a farmers life in Washington County Virginia. The Cole Family history has been traced to England I’ve been told.

“My piece of the world”

By Jinifer Rae

“Anywhere but Tennessee!” I exclaimed upon hearing our family would be moving out of state. The thought of moving to a small town conjured up feelings of loss in my heart. I could not help but think of all the things I would be losing. I would miss my friends, my congregation, my favorite coffee place, and most of all the sunshine.

Indeed moving to a new state would offer challenges. However, a few days ago someone asked me how I like living in Mountain City, and while contemplating my response, a warm fuzzy feeling came upon me. I was surprised to realize I had fallen in love with this city. That warm feeling led me to contemplate all the things I have gained by moving here.
One of the most significant sources of unending pleasure is the scenery.

Every morning, I wake up and thank God for allowing me to see such beauty. The sunrise cresting the mountains surrounding this town is a glory to behold, and the evergreens peeking through the snow in the winter is a view my camera has not been able to capture completely.

Now the snow has melted, and an entirely new look has appeared. The iris has bloomed, every color of the rainbow, and the blueberries are ripe for the picking. I find myself taking more pictures to share with my friends back home.
Of course, taking a picture is only a snapshot of the surface beauty of this town; the real treasure is found among the daily interactions with the city’s residents.

Ordinary, daily events have given ample opportunities to experience the kindness of Mountain City’s inhabitants including the one I came across during an early morning walk. A motorist stopped me to see if my car was OK or if I needed a lift. That simple offer made my entire day. I walk everywhere we have lived, and I have never had anyone ask me
if I needed assistance. I must say that was incredibly nice.

A second experience that made me smile happened while shopping at the local grocery store. I noticed a disabled person in front of me was struggling with the computer technology required to pay. I admit, sometimes those small keypad boxes can be tricky to maneuver, but before I could offer some assistance, the cashier came around and addressed the problem. The act of kindness was noted in how patient she was with the customer. My son is disabled, and I have observed that people can be unkind to those who struggle. To witness such a pure moment of caring in the grocery line warmed my heart immensely. While these tiny, yet emotionally powerful moments in my new city could have easily happened to anyone, I am glad that I am able to be here to experience them.

Thank you

Lifestyle choices that can decrease cancer risk

The United Nations estimates that the world is home to 7.6 billion people. None of those people, regardless of their ethnicity, race or gender, are immune to cancer.
According to the World Health Organization, cancer is the second-leading cause of death across the globe. Responsible for nearly nine million deaths in 2015, cancer is a formidable foe but one that can be defeated. For example, the SEER Cancer Statistics Review released in spring of 2018 indicated that cancer death rates among women decreased by 1.4 percent between 2006 and 2015. Even more encouraging is the decline in breast cancer death rates, which the American Cancer Society says decreased by 39 percent between 1989 and 2015.
Various factors have contributed to the decline in cancer death rates. While advancements in treatment protocols and education programs that have emphasized the importance of cancer screenings have had profound impacts, individuals avoiding unhealthy lifestyle choices also has made a difference in reversing cancer death rates. Research into cancer prevention is ongoing, but the following are some healthy lifestyle choices that may help people reduce their cancer risk.

· Avoid tobacco. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that cigarette smoking kills almost half a million people in America alone each year. Nearly 10 percent of those deaths occur due to exposure to secondhand smoke. Lung cancer is not the only type of cancer that smoking has been linked to, as the Mayo Clinic notes smoking also has been connected to cancers of the mouth, throat, larynx, pancreas, bladder, cervix, and kidney. By avoiding or quitting tobacco, men and women can reduce their own cancer risk and reduce the likelihood that their nonsmoking loved ones will develop cancer related to secondhand smoke.
· Eat right. The WHO notes that many countries have implemented programs encouraging the consumption of five or more portions of fruits and vegetables per day. Those programs are a result of studies showing the potential relationship between a healthy diet and a reduced risk of cancer. For example, the National Cancer Institute says studies conducted on animals have shown that antioxidants, which can be found in various fruits and vegetables, can prevent the type of cell damage associated with the development of cancer.
· Protect skin from the sun. In 2018, the American Cancer Society notes that more people are diagnosed with skin cancer in the United States each year than all other cancers combined. While overexposure to the sun is not the only way a person can develop skin cancer, protecting skin from the sun is a great way for people to significantly reduce their risk for the disease. The Mayo Clinic recommends people avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m, when the sun’s rays are strongest. People also should apply and reapply generous amounts of sunscreen when spending time outdoors.
· Speak with a physician about immunizations. The Mayo Clinic notes that protecting oneself against certain viral infections also may help men and women reduce their cancer risk. For example, hepatitis B has been linked to liver cancer. Certain people, including those who are sexually active but not monogamous, intravenous drug users and health care or public safety workers who may be exposed to infected blood or body fluids, are at greater risk of hepatitis B than others, and such people should speak with their physicians about being vaccinated.
Cancer can affect both healthy and unhealthy people. But certain cancer prevention strategies may help men and women lower their cancer risk.

When does clumsiness become something to worry about?

Who hasn’t tripped over his own feet or knocked over a water glass on a table? No one is immune to the occasional clumsiness, but some people may grow concerned that their bouts of clumsiness are becoming more frequent.
For healthy people, bumping into a wall when misjudging a corner or dropping silverware on the floor is often a minor, isolated incident. Lack of concentration or multitasking often may be to blame. In 2007, Professor Charles Swanik and a research team at the University of Delaware studied athletes to discover why some seem to be more injury prone than others. Researchers found that clumsy athletes’ brains seemed to have “slowed processing speed,” which referred to how their brains understand new information and respond to it.

But clumsiness also can be a sign of a bigger issue at play, namely motor problems within the brain. According to Taylor Harrison, MD, clinical instructor in the neuromuscular division of Emory University, coordination of the body is complicated and tied to both motor and senory systems. That means the eyes, brain, nerves, cerebellum, which specializes in coordination and balance, muscles, and bones must work together.
Clumsiness can result from stroke, seizure disorders, brain trauma or the presence of tumors, and other conditions. Healthline also says that clumsiness may be an early symptom of Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s. Parkinson’s affects the central nervous system and can impair motor skills. Alzheimer’s slowly damages and kills brain cells and may cause issues with coordination. This may be the case with other dementias as well.

Clumsiness may sometimes result from a lack of sleep or overconsumption of alcohol. Arthritis also can lead to clumsiness when joint pain and restrictive movements make it challenging to get around.
Psychologists may suggest cognitive behavioral therapy or propose performing tasks with more mindfulness to reduce clumsiness. If that doesn’t work, men and women should visit their physicians, who can conduct tests to rule out certain things and provide peace of mind.

Understanding panic disorder

Various disorders can disrupt daily life and compromise people’s productivity while adversely affecting their happiness. Panic disorder is one such condition and can be especially problematic because of the seeming spontaneity of panic attacks.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America notes that roughly 3 percent of Americans experience panic disorder, or PD, in a given year. While that might seem like a small percentage, it still translates to nearly 10 million people, many of whom may benefit from taking the time to understand PD.

What is PD?
The ADAA says panic disorder is diagnosed in people who experience spontaneous panic attacks. These people are preoccupied with the fear of a recurring attack.

What is a panic attack?
A panic attack is the abrupt onset of intense fear or discomfort. Panic attacks peak within minutes and are characterized by a host of symptoms, not all of which must be present to qualify an incident as a panic attack. Attacks occur unexpectedly and may even cause sufferers to awake from sleep.

Can anyone have PD?
No one is immune to PD, though some people are more likely to experience PD than others. The ADAA notes that panic disorder is twice as common in women than in men. While even children can have panic disorder and may experience panic-like symptoms, PD typically begins in adults age 20 or older.

What are the symptoms of a panic attack?
Various symptoms are associated with panic attacks. But the ADAA notes that not all symptoms linked to panic attacks must be present to confirm an attack. In fact, some people may experience limited-symptom panic attacks, which are similar to full-blown panic attacks but consist of fewer than four symptoms. Men and women should never self-diagnose, and anyone who suspects he or she suffered a panic attack should consult a physician immediately. But if at least four of the following symptoms are present, a person may have suffered a full-blown panic attack.

· Palpitations, pounding heart or accelerated heart rate
· Sweating
· Trembling or shaking
· Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering
· Feelings of choking
· Chest pain or discomfort
· Nausea or abdominal distress
· Feeling dizzy, unsteady, light-headed, or faint
· Chills or heat sensations
· Paresthesia (numbness or tingling sensations)
· Derealization (feelings of unreality) or depersonalization (being detached from oneself)
· Fear of losing control or “going crazy”
· Fear of dying

People who have experienced panic attacks and have not been diagnosed with PD may feel as though they are dealing with a life-threatening issue, as the intensity of attack symptoms can mimic those of conditions such as heart disease, thyroid problems and other issues. Individuals who think they might have experienced a panic attack or those who suddenly exhibited any of the aforementioned symptoms are advised to exercise caution and report incidents to their physicians as soon as possible.

Is PD treatable?
The ADAA notes that PD is highly treatable and that people who suspect they have experienced panic attacks should not hesitate to report incidents to their physicians out of embarrassment or fear.

More information about panic disorder is available at www.adaa.org.

This ‘n’ That-Old almanac draws interest

By Jack Swift

Johnson County Historian

I was browsing through my books and magazines recently and one of the publications drew my interest. It was the Blum’s Farmer’s and Planter’s Almanac for the year 1937. That is only a year before I entered the world.
At 10 cents per copy, that was quite a bargain. But I guess when you take into consideration the economy of that time, maybe it wasn’t such a great deal after all. In 1938, around ten cents would buy a loaf of bread or a gallon of gas.
I wasn’t sure of the definition of the word “almanac.” So, I looked it up and found the basic definition of the word is “a publication containing astronomical and meteorological data arranged according to the days, weeks and months of a given year and often including a miscellany of other information.”
Included in the writings and inventions of the almanac are a number of important people, including Ben Franklin who published Poor Richards Almanac that became very popular. That almanac included a number of wise sayings and jokes as well as other items of interest.
Others who were important figures in almanac publishing were Marion Barber Stowell, Timothy Feist, Robert Andrews, Benjamin Bates, Ezra Gleason and John Tobler.

5 Ways for parents to empower daughters in an unkind world

Editor’s Note: The Women’s World section in this week’s edition of The Tomahawk is featuring many talented ladies in leadership positions in education in business, government positions as well as the private sector. Of course, aside from personal or natural ability, success is the outcome of much hard work, dedication and commitment on the part of our ladies, all of which start long before the fruit of their labor is noticed.

Staff reports

While opportunities for women have advanced significantly in recent decades, studies reflect that the path to personal independence and growth isn’t always smooth – starting in early childhood up through high school. Gender stereotypes persist. According to a survey of 1,900 girls and young women between 7 and 21, conducted by the charity Girlguiding, many feel that pressure from social media, TV, friends, teachers and parents affects how they think and act. Another study in the Journal of Adolescent Health reported that stereotypes of girls were reinforced by schools, parents and the media, thereby limiting their mobility and access to opportunities.
One possible answer, says mentor and author Sheri Engler, is for parents to empower their daughters from a young age.

“We parents need to take the necessary time from our busy lives to find out what our daughters are experiencing on a daily basis,” says Engler, author of The Pearls of Wisdom: A Fairy Tale Guide to Life’s Magic Secrets for All Ages (www.ThePearlsOfWisdomBook.com).
“We must break down barriers to success early on. Otherwise, girls frequently surrender their ‘surplus’ qualities before they even leave grade school, because they feel they won’t be accepted if they are ‘too much.’ They are not allowed too many gifts for fear of alienating boys and competing with other girls. This has to stop.”

Engler says five ways parents can empower their daughters and help them grow into strong, successful women are:

 Explain the social dynamic.
“Help them understand the reasons why boys may be intimidated by powerful girls, and why girls may become jealous and pull down a girl who has too much,” Engler says.

Help them avoid social programming.
Engler says that most forms of mass media “bombard girls with destructive messages.” With character development so important, Engler says parents need to offer more positive influences. “Discouraging Facebook is a good place to start,” Engler says, “due to its entrainment of a ‘me-oriented’ society.”

Provide social alternatives.
Connecting with other parents and families who hold similar values is one option. Engler says, “Parents need to find out what’s really going on with their daughters, both at home and at school. Perhaps consider online or home schooling if your child is being affected by negative conditioning from peers and/or misguided authority figures. Sadly, damaging messages come from every direction.”

Teach them to help others.
Parents can role-model strengthening values. These values could be exemplified by going together to volunteer in soup kitchens, to foster homeless animals, or to visit lonely, old people in nursing homes. “Learning compassion for others supports strong self-esteem through character building,” Engler says.

Help them identify their unique desires and abilities.
“Encourage pride in being who they are on an authentic level,” Engler says. “Help them experience life’s many aspects so they may explore their natural abilities and interests, while paying particular attention to what truly brings them joy – because that is usually where their authentic selves reside.”
“We need to prevent damage early on,” Engler says, “instead of trying to fix it after it’s too late.”

About Sheri Engler
Sheri Engler is the author/illustrator of The Pearls of Wisdom: A Fairy Tale Guide to Life’s Magic Secrets for All Ages (www.ThePearlsOfWisdomBook.com). She is an experienced mentor, medium, and metaphysicist with a background in psychology, counseling and research. She received a BA in Clinical Psychology
at San Francisco State University.

Ask Rusty: Social Security matters

by AMAC Certified Social Security Advisor Russell Gloor Association of	Mature American Citizens          Ask Rusty – Turning 70 and Still Working: What about Social Security? Dear Rusty: I turn 70 on March 13, 2018 and I’m single. I was told to apply for Social Security one month before I turn 70, but now I’m hearing that I should have applied 4 months in advance. I have also been told not to apply for Social Security because I plan on still working. I think this is not right, but thought I’d ask anyway. I plan on working after 70 and I’m wondering what happens to the Medicare and Social Security deductions. Are they still deducted? Any other hints would be appreciated. Signed: 70 but Still Kicking  Dear Still Kicking: I’m happy to be able to clarify these things for you. The Social Security Administration recommends that you apply for your benefits up to 3 months before you want them to start, but you won’t lose anything because you didn’t. Just be sure you specify in your application that you want your “Benefit Start Month” to be March 2018. They will make sure your benefits start for that month, even if they must pay you retroactively.  Working after your benefits start will not affect your Social Security payments in any way. Social Security’s annual “earnings limit” goes away once a person reaches their full retirement age, which in your case was age 66. So now at age 70, you can earn as much as you like and your benefits won’t be reduced as they might normally be for someone who had not yet reached their full retirement age. But if you continue to work, even though you are on Medicare and collecting Social Security, FICA taxes (which include both Medicare and Social Security contributions) will continue to be withheld from your earnings. There is no exemption because you are already on Medicare or receiving Social Security benefits, nor because you’ve attained a certain age.  By claiming your benefits at age 70, your Social Security check will be 32% higher than it would have been at age 66. Please be aware also that depending on your income level, some of your Social Security benefits may be taxable income when you file your Federal taxes. As a single filer, if your “combined income”, also known as your Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI), exceeds $25,000 then up to 50% of your benefits may be taxable; if your MAGI exceeds $34,000 up to 85% of your benefits may be taxable.   To clarify, your “combined income” includes your regular Adjusted Gross Income for income tax purposes, plus 50% of your Social Security income, plus any non-taxable interest you received but did not need to claim on your IRS Form 1040.. You should include this potential additional tax obligation in your thinking as you consider your income tax situation.

By AMAC Certified Social Security Advisor Russell Gloor
Association of Mature American Citizens

Ask Rusty – Turning 70 and Still Working: What about Social Security?
Dear Rusty: I turn 70 on March 13, 2018 and I’m single. I was told to apply for Social Security one month before I turn 70, but now I’m hearing that I should have applied 4 months in advance. I have also been told not to apply for Social Security because I plan on still working. I think this is not right, but thought I’d ask anyway. I plan on working after 70 and I’m wondering what happens to the Medicare and Social Security deductions. Are they still deducted? Any other hints would be appreciated. Signed: 70 but Still Kicking

Dear Still Kicking: I’m happy to be able to clarify these things for you. The Social Security Administration recommends that you apply for your benefits up to 3 months before you want them to start, but you won’t lose anything because you didn’t. Just be sure you specify in your application that you want your “Benefit Start Month” to be March 2018. They will make sure your benefits start for that month, even if they must pay you retroactively.

Working after your benefits start will not affect your Social Security payments in any way. Social Security’s annual “earnings limit” goes away once a person reaches their full retirement age, which in your case was age 66. So now at age 70, you can earn as much as you like and your benefits won’t be reduced as they might normally be for someone who had not yet reached their full retirement age. But if you continue to work, even though you are on Medicare and collecting Social Security, FICA taxes (which include both Medicare and Social Security contributions) will continue to be withheld from your earnings. There is no exemption because you are already on Medicare or receiving Social Security benefits, nor because you’ve attained a certain age.

By claiming your benefits at age 70, your Social Security check will be 32% higher than it would have been at age 66. Please be aware also that depending on your income level, some of your Social Security benefits may be taxable income when you file your Federal taxes. As a single filer, if your “combined income”, also known as your Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI), exceeds $25,000 then up to 50% of your benefits may be taxable; if your MAGI exceeds $34,000 up to 85% of your benefits may be taxable.

To clarify, your “combined income” includes your regular Adjusted Gross Income for income tax purposes, plus 50% of your Social Security income, plus any non-taxable interest you received but did not need to claim on your IRS Form 1040.. You should include this potential additional tax obligation in your thinking as you consider your income tax situation.

Strength training knowledge for women

Strength training should be an important part of women’s workout regimens. Despite this, the National Center for Health Statistics says only about 20 percent of women lift weights. Poor advice may be to blame. Women often fall victim to false information circulating about lifting weights. By getting educated, women can do much to improve their workouts.

One of the more widely circulated myths regarding women and weightlifting is that women who lift heavy weights will get bulky. According to the exercise resource Nerd Fitness, when any person picks up progressively heavier weights as he or she gets acclimated to lifting, that individual will get stronger, but not necessarily bigger. People who “bulk up” eat and train specifically for that purpose. In addition, women simply do not have the amount of testosterone necessary to bulk up without taking added measures designed to add bulk.

IDEA Health and Fitness Network says strength training will help the average woman lose more fat than she’ll gain in muscle. One who trains two to three times a week for two months can gain roughly two pounds of muscle, but will lose 3.5 pounds of fat. Women who want to lose weight may employ strength training to reach their goals.

Strength training also can help decrease one’s risk of osteoporosis, strengthen bones, improve posture, and reduce back pain. Weight training strengthens the muscles and bones that support the body. Women should be open to the idea of lifting weights as part of a balanced workout regimen.

Older Americans who neglect oral care put overall health at risk

elderly and oral care

Proper oral care is a necessity for all ages. Bad oral care can have a negative impact on your overall health.

Conscientious parents constantly remind their children to brush and floss, and routinely schedule dental checkups to make sure their teeth and gums are healthy – and staying that way. But youngsters aren’t the only ones who who can use such reminders. Older Americans need to put a priority on their oral health as well, and research shows that as a group they aren’t doing so.

In fact, the statistics are grim. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that almost every single American over age 65 (96 percent) has had a cavity, and 20 percent have untreated tooth decay. Another 65 percent suffer from gum disease, an ailment that has been linked to a host of other problems, such as strokes, heart disease and diabetes.

“Anyone who thinks they can ease up on dental care as they age is making a big mistake,” says Dr. Harold Katz, a dentist, bacteriologist and developer of TheraBreath Healthy Gums Oral Rinse (www.therabreath.com). “Not only do poor dental habits affect what’s going on in your mouth, they also affect your overall health.”

Some of the CDC’s findings that Katz says are troubling include:

Tooth loss
Nearly one in five adults aged 65 or older have lost all of their teeth. Complete tooth loss is twice as prevalent among adults aged 75 and older (26 percent) compared with adults aged 65 to 74 (13 percent). The CDC points out that having missing teeth, or wearing dentures, can have a detrimental effect on nutrition.

“It’s not surprising that people who have lost teeth, or wear denture, often are going to choose soft food they chew easily,” Katz says. “They will pass up fresh fruits and vegetables that are more nutritious, but are more difficult for them to eat.”

Oral cancer
Cancers of the mouth (oral and pharyngeal cancers) are primarily diagnosed in older adults; median age at diagnosis is 62 years. “That’s another reason it’s important for older people to have regular checkups,” Katz says. “Your dentist can check for signs of oral cancer during those visits.”

Dry mouth caused by medications
Most older Americans take both prescription and over-the-counter drugs, many of which can cause dry mouth. Reduced saliva flow increases the risk of cavities. Saliva helps prevent tooth decay, gum disease and bad breath, and also lubricates the mouth, making it easier to eat, swallow, speak and taste food.

“Sometimes dry mouth might just cause mild discomfort,” Katz says. “At other times it can lead to significant oral disease that can compromise the person’s health, dietary intake and quality of life.”

“As you age, proper oral care is just as important as ever,” Katz says. “It’s not something you want to ignore because your overall health is at stake.”

Wow guests with unique edibles

Mad Hatter Sweet Peppers. Photo courtesy of All America Selections.

By Melinda Meyers

Make your next gathering one to remember by including a few unique vegetables on the relish tray, as a side dish or for dessert. Your guests will be “wowed” not only because you grew your own ingredients, but because of the unique shape, color or flavor of the vegetables you serve.

Create a memorable dining experience with attractive edible containers adorning the patio, balcony or deck. Include a few Candle Fire Okra plants in large containers to create a tropical feel. The dark green leaves, hibiscus flowers and colorful red pods make a striking display in a container or the garden.

Surprise guests with roasted Candle Fire okra and Candyland Red currant tomatoes. Roasting okra eliminates the slime that prevents many from eating this unique vegetable. And don’t discard any overripe pods, use them in flower arrangements to dress up any event.

Allow your guests to harvest their own greens, herbs and cherry tomatoes to toss into their salads or season their meal. Use Prizm kale as a vertical dark green accent in your containers. Then add a contrasting ornamental leaf lettuce like Red Sails, long lasting vibrant Red Kingdom Mizuna (Japanese mustard) and edible flowers like calendulas, nasturtiums and pansies. The new Patio Choice tomatoes produce up to 100 yellow cherry tomatoes on an 18” plant. Plant it in a container for a splendid display then watch as guests harvest fresh tomatoes from your centerpiece.

Dress up the table, indoors or out, by using a few potted herbs as centerpieces. Include Dark Opal Basil with dark purple leaves and compact Dolce Fresca in a simple container or more decorative pot to create a splendid display. Just place a pair of garden snips on the table and let your guests flavor their meals.
Make any meal special with a Bok Choy Frittata. Your guests will be impressed when you create this popular dish from your own homegrown ingredients. Asian Delight Pak Choi (or Bok Choy) is slow to flower so you will enjoy season-long harvests. The mild flavored tender white stems and textured dark green leaves look good in containers, the garden and when served fresh in a salad, frittata or stir fry.

Serve a colorful platter of sliced tomatoes with the Chef’s Choice series of red, pink, orange, yellow and green fruit. The globe shaped beefsteak tomatoes have the perfect balance of acid to sugar. Their disease resistance, productivity, yield, flavor, color and performance made them winners in the non-profit All-America Selections national trials (all-americaselections.org).

Stuff a few of the uniquely shaped Mad Hatter sweet peppers with cheese. Your guests will enjoy the beauty and refreshing citrusy floral flavor of this three-sided red pepper. The vigorous plant produces an abundance of fruit, so you’ll have plenty to use fresh in appetizers and salads throughout the growing season or pickled for future enjoyment.

End the evening with a surprise. Serve each guest their own watermelon for dessert. Mini Love watermelon packs lots of sweet flavor into individual size fruit. Or brighten their dessert plates with a slice or two of Gold in Gold. This eye-catching watermelon has a yellow rind with golden stripes. The orange-gold flesh is crisp and sugary.

With just a little planning, you can plant unique and beautiful edibles in your garden and containers this season. Then find fun ways to include these in dishes shared at potlucks, meals for family and friends, or as a snack to enjoy on a summer afternoon.

Learn how to protect beef cattle from fly infestation

Article source: Dr. Lew Strickland, UT Extension Veterinarian

Now that warm weather has arrived, everyone will start to focus on all the chores that have to be done to “gear” up for the upcoming season, including fly control. Fly infestation reduces performance and the economic loss from each horn fly biting an animal 30 times/day can also be substantial. Certain flies are responsible for spreading diseases such as pink eye and potentially Anaplasmosis and or Bovine Leukosis, so to decrease disease risk to your livestock here are a few tips to reduce the flies’ impact on your farm’s production.· Feed a larvicide or an insect growth regulator early in the season starting 30 days before flies typically emerge. Continue to feed until 30 days after a killing frost.

·Pour-ons. During spring turnout time, you can use a product that is labeled to control internal parasites, as these products also have efficacy against horn flies. Later in the year, use products only labeled for flies and/or lice. Using pour-on dewormers multiple times throughout the year could lead to internal parasite resistance issues.

· Dust bags/cattle rubs. The advantage of a dust bag or rub is that, if placed at a site where all cattle must use it (watering trough, mineral lick), it can provide economical control of face and horn flies. Proper placement and keeping it charged with insecticide are the keys. Also, strips that can be mounted to mineral feeders can also be an efficient way to apply insecticide to the face of cattle.

· Topical sprays. Timely application of fly sprays or paint ball style packets throughout the year can be effective in reducing the fly population, but can be time-consuming if cattle are grazing an extensive area.

·Fly tags. The key to using tags is to wait until you have 200 flies/cow to place the tags. If applied too early, there will be decreased efficiency. Use pyrethroid tags for two consecutive years, then switch to an organophosphate tag for one year to reduce pyrethroid resistance. Also, there are new generation fly tags that contain different insecticides and are quite helpful in controlling fly populations. Always follow label directions on the number of tags/cow. Be sure to remove tags at the end of the season to prevent resistance problems.

· Don’t mix classes of chemicals in the pour-ons, topicals, and fly tags within the same year. Use the same class 1-2 years, then rotate.

· Fly predators. Not all flies are bad. Fly predators, nature’s own self-inflicted enemy, can be your ally in the fight against pest flies. These are tiny, non-stinging, non-biting wasps that feed on fly larvae and interrupt the breeding cycle of flies, destroying the next generation of flies before they hatch into disease-carrying adults. These predators can be used in areas where cattle tend to congregate and manure tends to accumulate, just apply the predators to manure piles in these areas. Replenish your fly predator supply once a month from April to September; otherwise the fly life cycle will only be broken for a few weeks.

A multifaceted approach is best for attaining your goal of “controlling” flies, so using just one strategy from the above list probably won’t give you the results you anticipate. Since there are so many products on the market for fly control, work with your veterinarian to develop a plan to control flies that best suits your cattle operation.

The Cure for Obesity, Heart Disease, and Anxiety? Puppies!

Dogs can have a positive impact on your health.

By Satesh Bidaisee

Researchers just discovered a simple way to fight obesity, heart disease, and mental illness — by giving people puppies.

That may sound barking mad. But new medical research shows that dogs, cats, and other four-legged friends can significantly boost people’s physical and mental health — to the point where interacting with pets can actually be an effective form of therapy.

Consider how pets could help the 75 million Americans who suffer from high blood pressure, which increases the likelihood of experiencing a heart attack or stroke. In one study of more than 1,500 people aged 60 and over, dog owners had systolic blood pressure that was 3.34 milligrams of mercury lower than that for non-owners. Systolic blood pressure is the pressure in a person’s blood vessels when his heart beats — the first number in a blood pressure reading.

A difference of just over 3.34 milligrams of mercury may not sound like much. But for each milligram of mercury decline in blood pressure, a person’s risk of stroke goes down by 5 percent.

Pet owners also exercise more. A study conducted by Australian researchers found that dog owners were physically active for an hour more each week than those who didn’t have dogs.

My own research aligns with these findings. In a survey of people in Grenada — home to St. George’s University, where I teach — my team found that less than 13 percent of pet-owners were obese. By contrast, half of the people in our sample who did not own pets were obese.

Keeping blood pressure low and staying active is great for the heart. One analysis of 3.4 million people spanning 12 years revealed that those who owned pets had a significantly lower risk of cardiovascular disease than those who were pet-less.

Pets also improve people’s mental health. In one Israeli study, scientists elevated participants’ stress levels by telling them that they might have to hold a tarantula. Then, to calm the participants down, researchers gave them either toy rabbits, toy turtles, real rabbits, or real turtles. The toys did nothing to relieve stress. But petting both the hard shell of real turtles and the soft fur of real bunnies calmed participants.

A survey of veterinary school students produced similar results. Investigators asked students to report their stress levels on a scale from one to ten, as well as whether they had a pet at home. Six in ten people who did not own pets reported stress levels of eight or higher; only four in ten pet-owners said that they were similarly stressed.
Another review of 17 studies found that pets helped people with mental illnesses — including post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder.

Some hospitals and schools are acting on this research. At Indiana University Health North Hospital, dogs wander the hallways and spend time with patients who request a visit. Virginia Commonwealth University offers therapy dogs to students during finals week.

All this research exemplifies the interconnection between human health, animal health, and the environment. That interconnection is the foundation of the One Health movement, to which a number of universities, including St. George’s, adhere in their teaching and research efforts.

Pets are the perfect antidote to all sorts of ailments. It’s time to unleash this knowledge across our healthcare system.

What Happened? Assessing the Singapore Summit

“Peace and prosperity,” “lasting and stable peace,” “peace regime,” “denuclearization,” “new US-DPRK relations”—these fine words and phrases dominate the joint statement of Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un. Yet it’s difficult to describe in a concrete way what they agreed to actually do. The joint statement stands as one of hope, nothing more, similar to the tone of the Pyongyang Declaration between Kim Jong-un and South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in. The Trump-Kim statement has nothing of substance to say about denuclearization, a Korean peninsula at peace, normalization of US-North Korea relations, economic or military incentives, verification of promises, and schedules for implementation.

Whatever substantive agreements were reached took place between Trump and Kim alone, without any top advisers. And here’s where the trouble begins: the contrary claims that are bound to emerge about who promised what. Already, North Korean state media are saying that Trump promised to ease sanctions, whereas Trump insisted that sanctions will continue. Trump said US military exercises will be suspended, but surely many kinds of small-scale joint exercises with South Korea’s military will go on. And what about Kim’s promise of denuclearization? Does it apply to US nuclear-capable ships and planes in East Asia that comprise extended deterrence? Will “denuclearization” mean anything at all?

The joint statement is thus fair game for critics of Trump, myself included. Yet I have to acknowledge that for all the weaknesses not only of the statement but also of Trump’s entire approach to dealing with North Korea—the sanctions, the threats, the boasts, the ignoring of experts, the false claims about previous administrations’ policies, the insensitivity to South Korean and Japanese interests—in the end we are better off having had the summit than not. Surely no one wants a return to trading threats and insults, with use of a nuclear weapon a possibility.

Still, the summit was more photo-op than peace building project. Some observers believe, with good reason, that Kim Jong-un outfoxed Trump—elevating North Korea’s international standing, obtaining a suspension of US military exercises, and gaining sanctions relief from China in exchange for a repetition of previous North Korean promises to denuclearize. Trump can respond that getting to denuclearization is a lengthy “process”—a word he used quite a bit recently, and certainly not one John Bolton likes. But the process should have preceded the summit, with diplomatic engagement paving the way to agreement on step-by-step de-escalation of tensions and time points for establishing diplomatic relations and reducing nuclear weapons in a verifiable way.

Now Trump must, and fairly soon, show that his “terrific relationship” with Kim is paying off, not just on the nuclear issue but also with regard to improved North-South Korea relations, North Korea’s missiles and cyber war capabilities, and repression of human-rights. Otherwise, his gamble will have failed and he will look like a fool for having tried. As he acknowledged after the summit, “I think he’s [Kim] going to do these things. I may be wrong. I mean, I may stand before you in six months and say, ‘Hey, I was wrong.’ I don’t know that I’ll ever admit that, but I’ll find some kind of an excuse.” Yes, he will.

Trump has already created yet another problem: his effusive praise of Kim Jong-un. Ignoring the North Korea gulag and the Stalinist character of Kim’s regime, Trump has actually said (twice) that Kim “loves his people,” assured us that Kim is “very honorable,” and expressed appreciation for the difficult job Kim has had maintaining order in his society. Such extraordinarily ignorant and politically explosive comments speak to Trump’s fascination with dictators and envy (previously expressed about Putin and Xi Jinping) for their iron-fisted rule. Too bad he can’t find equally laudable words for democratic leaders.

Thus, Donald Trump’s effort to create a diplomatic triumph that might divert attention from the Russia investigation may implode early.  He has the monumental job of convincing Americans, including many in his party, that the Singapore summit solved the problem of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and took the measure of a dictator. His undeserved reputation as a deal maker is about to be sorely tested.