October has been a bit damp and drizzly so far this year, but there have been some absolutely gorgeous, beautiful days. Let's hope that continues 'til say Deer Season. Then we could have snow on the ground - not on the roads - for about two months before it turns nice again. Wouldn't that be great?
GHOSTS AND GOBLINS
Halloween decorations are popping up all over. Literally. The most popular one's lately seem to be the large blow up kind, and they are impressive.
Predict that in a few years going around to view Halloween decorations will become just as popular as our traditional December rides to enjoy the Christmas lights.
Have been told in some history books that in the old days, scary displays were put up on Halloween to frighten off the ghosts that supposedly were allowed to roam the earth on All Hallows Eve, which comes on the last day in October, preceding All Saints Day on Nov. 1, when we are supposed to honor all those who died and went to Heaven.
FIRE PREVENTION MONTH
It's still October, and that means it's still Fire Prevention Month.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries in America. In 2011, cooking ws involved in an estimated 156,300 home fires, which caused 470 deaths, 5,390 injuries and $1 billion in property damage.
Tips for helping prevent kitchen fires include keeping things that can catch fire away from stove tops, burners, hot plates,etc.
I personally as a teen almost burned down our family's home when heating a baby bottle while babysitting my younger siblings. A dish towel caught fire. Doused it in a nearby sink full of water and tossed it down the laundry chute, right into a container of discarded wrappings from Christmas.
That dousing was not enough. A live spark remained in the fabric, and that was enough to get the paper burning.
The fire was so bad that we called the fire department, but my little brother and I had managed to put it out before the firefighters arrived.
We were happy they were there to eliminate the danger that it could flare up again.
Years later, a sister got extremely serious burns on her leg because she tried to get a flaming pan of popcorn out of her house instead of just covering it and leaving it on the stove.
NFPA advises when you grill, fry, or broil food, say in the kitchen. Turn off the burners if you leave, even for a short time.
Stay home when you simmer, bake, roast or boil food, check regularly and use a timer to remind yourself that you're cooking.
As a newlywed, I put a pan of biscuits into the oven in our upstairs apartment in Appleton. Windows near the stove were open. Forgot about the biscuits and went downtown.
When I got back, the fire department had already left. A neighbor saw the black smoke pouring out the windows and reported the house was on fire. Not so. , only the biscuits were burning.
We were lucky. The only thing damaged was my pride!
Some other bits of fire safety advice from NFPA is to wear short, tight-fitting or tightly rolled up sleeves when you are cooking. Even loose sweaters can be risky, for example if it catches a kettle handle as you walk by. Probably wouldn't start a fire but could cause some serious personal injuries.
Keep a kid-free zone for about three feet around the stove, cooktop or other cooking appliance. Kids can reach surprisingly high, and some are just the right height for their hair to catch fire if they walk too close when a burner is in use.
Other tips are:
When in doubt, get out.
If a small grease fire is still confined to the pan, put the lid on or slide a cookie sheet over the pan to keep air out and let it sit there. Do not try to move the pan! Do not throw water on burning grease. It will splatter and the fire will spread.
If there's an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the oven door closed. Watch closely to be sure that only what's in the oven is burning.
For a microwave fire, shut off the power and keep the door closed.
Have an escape plan for every room in your home and practice it twice a year so family members know what to do.
There should be two routes of escape from every room.
That final bit of advice - about having at least two ways out - is repeated in connection with fire safety advice for public places as well.
Which leads to a worry that I have - fires can happen in nursing homes and most of their rooms have only one way out. Don't like adding regulations, but maybe there should be a rule that when new nursing home facilities are built the rooms must include windows that can function as ways out or ways in.
ON THE SOAP BOX
When you read some of the headlines in the obviously biased national press you get the notion that Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump invented the notion that there might be voter fraud in this country, and that elections - particularly the upcoming presidential election - could be rigged.
They make it sound like he's a bit paranoid on the subject.
It's true that in low population areas like almost all of TIMESland pretty much everybody knows everybody else, so widespread voter fraud is highly unlikely.
But that is not true everywhere.
Let's look at the facts.
The October issue of Judicial Watch, a highly respected government watchdog publication, includes an editorial on the very real problem of voter fraud and the fight for election integrity on national and local levels.
According to that article, only 39 percent of the American population in 2013 believed elections are fair. That's a pretty sad commentary on faith in our political system. It's also sad that attempts by states to clean up voter fraud opportunities have been fought by the Obama Justice Department all along the way.
In Indiana, the number of people listed on voter registration rolls in 12 counties exceeded 100 percent of the total number of residents of legal voting age.
In Florida the Federal Justice Department fought the state's efforts to get the names of 53,000 deceased registered voters off the polls, as well as an additional 2,700 non-citizens who were on the eligible voter list.
The article also cites a 2014 study by Old Dominion University showing that a significant number of non-citizens were registered to vote in U.S. elections - 6.4 percent in 2008 and 2.2 percent in 2010. That was enough to turn the election outcomes in some states.
Recall after the last election a mainstream newspaper story quoted a woman in the Milwaukee or Chicago area as proudly assuring the reporter that she had done her patriotic duty by voting. In fact she had done it so well that she voted four times that day, in four different precincts. Wonder how many others felt that was okay?
Democrats and liberals in general have been fighting hard against stricter voter ID laws, and liberal judges have been ruling against voter photo ID requirements, while they're making it easier for illegal immigrants to get into this country and stay.
Ask yourself why.
Look hard at reasons anyone may have for keeping it easy for people to vote multiple times, easier for illegal immigrants and other non-citizens to influence the outcome of our elections.
In this country we need photo IDs to get into a school building, drive a vehicle or get on an airplane.
But supposedly intelligent people seriously suggest that persons unable to get a photo ID - supplied free in all states that require them - should be allowed to help chose our President?
A recently released book, "Clean House; Exposing Our Government's Secrets and Lies," includes a chapter on stealing elections and the danger of voter fraud.
According to the Judicial Watch editorial message, the Obama Administration's Justice Department has worked hard to thwart state attempts to clean up registration rolls, require voter ID at the polls and prevent voter intimidation.
Again, ask yourself why.
Should we be worried?
Should we watch closely to be sure illegal voters do not change the direction of our country?
The outcome of this fall's elections could change the direction of our country, possibly forever, turn it into something our forefathers fought hard to prevent. Let's not let fraud, prejudice against the working class, or foot in mouth syndrome influence the results.
Just attending college does not guarantee brilliance. According to a book, "Stupidest Things Ever Done," in 1995, undergraduate journalism students at Arizona State University were given a quiz including names and terms that every aspiring journalist should recognize.
The answers were eye opening. Kind of like the answers TV interviewers get today when they ask students why they support a well known liberal political candidate.
Anyway, here are some of the answers:
Alzheimer's - imported beer.
Apartheid - a building in Athens.
Louis Armstrong - first man on the moon.
Count Basie - a vampire.
Jessie Jackson - leader of the moral majority.
Some of these people probably graduated and are writing the news reports that we're reading today in the national press.
Ah, yes. That explains it!
The same book tells of a 1976 study financed by the Wisconsin state government. The state's law Enforcement Assistance Association spent over $200,000 asking criminals why they wanted to escape punishment.
I recall a better known study that had results announced in all the major newspapers. Can't remember all the details, but scientists in a federally funded study concluded that there are indeed genetic differences between males and females.
No kidding! Anthropologists can tell from bones whether the deceased from centuries ago were male or female. Just check out the birds and the beasts.
Any fool can see that hens and roosters differ, that bucks and does are not alike, that lions and lionesses are not the same.
Even Dr. Spock, the famed child rearing author, pointed out personality differences between girl children and boy children. He observed that both tiny boys and tiny girls will play lovingly with dolls for a time. There are always exceptions, but in general, the girl child will continue loving and caring for that doll, but the boy child will sooner or later pull off an arm or a leg and use it as a gun or a club.
And that's not training or outside influences. Like it or not, that's just the way things are, the way nature intended.
Ran out of cat food the other day, and didn't feel like going to town. Instead, cooked up some oatmeal and added butter, eggs and other things I thought the cats would like. They didn't!
Stood by their food dish and cried. I was just as stubborn as they were.
Went to bed, and got up to find a dead mouse by my chair at the kitchen table. We have a cat door, so they go in and out at will.
Don't know if cats really think that way, but like to think one of them felt sorry for me and decided if that oatmeal was the best I had to eat she'd share her catch with me.
By the way, those same cats a day or two earlier had gobbled up things they don't normally eat, things like green beans with tomatoes, and boiled dinner, complete with cabbage, rutabagas and potatoes. Normally they don't eat any of those, but perhaps there was something their bodies need at this time of year. Human bodies also seem to crave those things, just as we crave greens and berries in spring.
Pumpkins, squash, zucchini and other good things remain plentiful. Bell peppers are also still available at bargain prices.
QUICK ITALIAN SAUSAGE CASSEROLE
This quick and easy meal in a dish, a "dry soup" with flavors from Italy, cooks up from start to finish in less than half an hour, and uses only one pan. It's made with orzo, that little rice-shaped pasta. Great served with cottage cheese, a tossed green salad and an apple or pumpkin dessert.
1 pound sweet Italian sausage links, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 cup uncooked orzo
1/4 teaspoon fennel seed (optional)
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 medium green pepper, cut into 1/4-inch strips
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch strips
In large skillet cook sausage until well brown. Drain if necessary. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes or until the orzo is tender and liquid is absorbed.
PUMPKIN PIE CAKE
Makes 12 servings. Make one now as a dress rehearsal for Thanksgiving.
1 (30 oz.) can pumpkin pie mix
1 box spice cake mix
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
1 container white or vanilla frosting
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray the bottom only of a 9x13" baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. In a large mixing bowl beat together the pumpkin pie mix and eggs. Beat in cake mix and melted butter and mix for a full 2 minutes. Pour batter into prepared baking dish and bake for about 45-55 minutes. The center of the cake should no longer be jiggly. Allow cake to cool completely then spread the frosting on top.
PUMPKIN BREAD WITH BROWN SUGAR GLAZE
1 3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking pwoder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 can pumpkin puree or 2 cups home prepared pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup water For the glaze:
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons milk 1/4 cup chopped pecans, optional
Preheat oven to 325 degrees (350 if using a metal loaf pan). Spray loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices. In a separate mixing bowl, mix together brown sugar, canned pumpkin, eggs, oil and water. Stir well to combine. Add dry ingredients to wet and stir just until blended together. Be careful not to over mix. Pour into loaf pan and bake for about an hour to an hour and 15 minutes. Oven times will vary so just be sure to check your bread after the first 50 minutes. Insert a toothpick to test if it is completely baked through. Do not over bake. A trifle soft in the very center doesn't hurt. When bread is almost finished, prepare the glaze. In a small saucepan, whisk together butter, brown sugar and milk. Bring it to a boil for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly so it doesn't burn. When your bread is finished (while still warm), start poking a bunch of holes in it using a fork. This will allow some of the glaze to seep into the bread. Be sure to put a paper towel under your loaf pan too because some of the glaze may go a little over the edge. Slowly pour the warm glaze over the warm bread. do this slow enough to allow some of the glaze to seep into the holes you poked.
Try to pour slowly to allow that glaze to seep in the holes you poked. Scatter the chopped pecans over the top of the glazed loaf, if you're using them, and press slightly into the top of the bread so they will stay there when the bread is sliced.
The Country Cousin
Thought for the week: There is much to be said for sin, repentance and forgiveness - especially forgiving ourselves and knowing that God will forgive us for our human weaknesses. As Richard Rohr said in Adam's Return: "Salvation is sin forgiven much more than sin avoided. Couples begin to love only after their first fight and reconciliation. A man who owns his limitations and weeps over his sin is much more effective than one who thinks he has neither."
Incidentally, that person who thinks he (or she) has no sins to repent is almost certainly wrong.
(This column is written by Shirley Prudhomme of Crivitz. Views expressed are her own and are in no way intended to be an official statement of the opinions of Peshtigo Times editors and publishers. She may be contacted by phone at 715-291-9002 or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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