TIMESland has been pretty much snow covered and slippery for the last few days, and that doesn't appear likely to change soon. If it isn't brutally cold it's snowing. Guess that's a fact of life when it's winter in Wisconsin.
We've pretty much had everything winter can throw at us already in this almost brand-new year - a week of subzero with wind, rain, snow, sleet, ice. We had a taste of everything on Tuesday alone.
In and around the Marinette/Peshtigo area on Tuesday, the snow turned into rain as the day wore on, and then Arctic winds Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning created almost impossibly icy conditions that defied everyone's best efforts to make walking and driving at least a little less hazardous. Just to take a step outdoors on Wednesday morning put lives and bones at risk.
In northern parts of TIMESland the precipitation stayed snow. By 5 p.m. there were more than eight inches of new snow reported on the ground in the Twin Bridge area. Don't know how deep the snow may have gotten farther north and west or how treacherous the ice was. More nastiness is predicted for Wednesday and maybe Thursday. Hope the weatherman is wrong...afraid he's not.
To all the snowbirds and family members who make their permanent homes in the Sunny South - congratulations on a wise decision. Wish we were there!
To everyone else: dress warm, wear the most sensible boots you own, carry some salt sand to get you over icy patches if you need to walk anywhere, and keep your cell phone handy in case of a fall.
FRIDAY THE 13TH
Beware of Friday this week if you have fear of the number 13, which is sort of scientifically known as triskaidekaphobia. There's a Friday the 13th coming up this week, the first of two for 2017, and almost in conjunction with the full moon, which happens the night before!
The next triskaidekaphobia day isn't until October, so if you have a real paranoia you can relax until then.
My Grandma was very superstitious about the number 13 in general, and Friday the 13th in particular. Jesus was betrayed at the Last Supper with 13 people at the table, and He was crucified on a Friday. There are those who believe Eve gave Adam that forbidden apple on a Friday, and that Cain slew Abel on a Friday.
If there were to be 13 people at the table at Grandma's house, Friday or not, she would take her plate and eat in the kitchen. She was scheduled for surgery, and changed the date when she found out it was to happen on Friday the 13th.
Thomas Fernsler, an associate policy scientist in the Mathematics and Science Education Resource Center at the University of Delaware in Newark, said the number 13 suffers because of its position after 12.
According to Fernsler, numerologists consider 12 a "complete" number. There are 12 months in a year, 12 signs of the zodiac, 12 gods of Olympus, 12 labors of Hercules, 12 tribes of Israel, and 12 apostles of Jesus. The number 13, coming right after it, is considered an "incomplete" number, and therefore uncomfortable.
The arrests of the Knights Templar, orchestrated by King Philip the Fair, took place Friday, October 13, 1307, and this is also believed to be the start of a series of legends and myths that persist about the date to this day.
We're in the Winter doldrums, with nothing much going on except football playoffs, ice fishing, and enjoy the outdoors via ATV and snowmobile. There are some fishing contests and outhouse races coming up. Some enterprising bars and resorts should be hosting indoor golf soon. Watch the publicity. These events are always fun.
THE MIGHTY HAS FALLEN
Since childhood, I've read that sooner or later California would be hit by another major earthquake, possibly one with enough force to drop at least part of that state into the Pacific Ocean.
In light of the politics and shenanigans going on there these days, can't feel that would be much of a tragedy, except of course, for the good people who still live there, and some very precious scenic landscapes.
Have visited parts of California, but never did make it to what I most wanted to see - the giant Sequoias - the centuries-old ones big enough to drive a car through.
Always hoped California would hang around at least long enough for me to stand in awe at the base of one of those majestic trees.
Guess I should have gotten there sooner. On Sunday, Jan. 8, without the drama of an earthquake, a winter storm felled the famed Pioneer Cabin Tree, one of the last of the mighty giant Sequoias with the drive-through tunnels. The tunnels were mostly carved during the 1800s, in trees are gone now. Even the mightiest must eventually bow to the laws of nature. Their lifespans are long, but ultimately, like those of lesser plants and animals, they are finite.
Wikipedia says the Pioneer Cabin Tree was more than 1,000 years old, but Sequoias can live for more than 3,000 years. It lists the diameter as 33 feet, and says In 1900, the United States Forest Service wrote that it was 280 feet tall. That was before the top broke off. The entire tree reportedly had only one living branch by the time it went down.
The Pioneer Cabin Tree has a somewhat unique history. Lightning strikes and a forest fire hollowed out the base of the massive tree in the 1800s, and led to it being given its unique name, but it survived almost another 200 years
The fire left the tree with small compartments inside, as there would be in a log cabin. The tree's burnt core served as a chimney, and there was a small opening as a back door.
In 1881, at the request of the then-property owner, the burned out hole in its base was squared off, creating a tunnel that allowed people, horses, carriages and eventually automobiles, to pass through.
Some years ago vehicular traffic through the tree was halted, and people were forbidden to carve their names in its trunk.
The tree was reportedly brought down last Sunday by a combination of the shallow Sequoia root system, heavy storm runoff and root decay, which caused it to shatter at its base.
In much the same way, but on a far smaller scale, a mighty white pine fell on our family property near Crivitz a decade or so ago, victim of a wicked winter. That massive tree somehow had survived over a century of tornadoes and lightning storms, survived the logging era that stripped Marinette County of most of its ancient timber, and also survived a disease of the forest that a few years later killed most of the remaining giant white pines. Those awesome trees covered pretty much all of Marinette County before the lumberjacks came with axes and two-man cross cut saws.
We mourned the loss of that tree, but now some young white pines are coming back, as well as some birch trees that also were decimated by disease all through Marinette county about half a century ago.
Forests, and the trees that live in them, evolve over the years and the centuries. The circle of life goes on. Large-scale changes generally happen because of nature, not the puny impact of man. That is, of course, except where man cuts, and then builds, plants and paves, or otherwise prevents the forest from regenerating.
Even on one of our long plowed fields that has been dormant for a decade or so, the forest is making a valiant effort to come back on its own. Succeeding, too.
Many of us are plagued with dry skin in winter. Heated winter air is dry. There are lots of commercial remedies, but some of the old home remedies work very well indeed.
Grandma used to say to improve a rough, dry complexion mix a teaspoon of almond oil with half a teaspoon each of cream, milk and lime juice. Apply each night on the face, neck and hands before going to bed.
An excellent cleaner for a dry skin is made by mixing yolk of an egg with half a teaspoon of olive oil and a few drops of lime or lemon juice. Apply on face and neck. Leave on for 15 minutes and wash first with warm and then with cold water. Pat dry.
To cure all-over dry, itchy skin, take cod liver oil by mouth at the rate of one teaspoon a day for one whole month. Tastes terrible, but mama used to make us do it for all kinds of health reasons. There are cod liver oil capsules today, which are a lot more palatable.
ON THE SOAP BOX
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
Our elected and hired officials are held to very high standards, at least on a local level, when it comes to ethics, which includes not accepting gifts or voting on issues in which they may have a conflict of interest.
A good example is the recent decision of Sheriff Jerry Sauve that his officers could not accept gift certificates to a local business place offered by the family of a fallen deputy in memory of their relative. Violation of ethics. Conflict of interest.
County, school and municipal officials regularly abstain from voting where their personal finances or those of family members may be affected. Conflict of interest.
Elected office holders set salaries for those who will serve the next term, not the one they are in.
Elected officials are prohibited from serving on a board that hires them or the company they work for, awards contracts to them, or purchases from them. Conflict of interest.
Therefore, consider this: Shouldn't people who collect government welfare checks over an extended period without having gainful employment be somehow prohibited from voting for the legislators who set the requirements and amounts of those checks and the governors and presidents who sign the benefits into law? After all, that too is conflict of interest.
HOW ABOUT THOSE PACKERS?
Once again, our Green Bay Packers are on a trail that may lead to the Super Bowl. Hope it does.
Remember about a decade ago when the TV show "Survivors" was a big hit?
Friend Linda at that time had some suggestions for a Wisconsin variation on that show.
She thought it would be a great hit, because people seem to love intrigue, mayhem, violence, and football.
Contestants would start in Milwaukee (in January, with Packer fever in full swing), travel up to Sheboygan and on to Manitowoc and Green Bay. Then head over to Wausau and up to Rhinelander and Minocqua. From there they would proceed up to Ashland and Superior. Then back down through Rice Lake, Eau Claire and all the way down to Madison and back over to Milwaukee.
Not so easy, especially in winter. But here's the kicker:
Each contestant would be driving a pink Volvo with Illinois license plates and large stickers that read:
"Save the wolves."
"Love those Bears!"
"Only Neanderthals eat meat!."
"Bratwurst clogs your arteries."
"Back the Bears...."
"Cheese is high in cholesterol."
"Deer hunting is murder."
"I'm here to confiscate your guns."
If the show had come to fruition, contestants would have been obligated to bring back proof that they had stopped in at least one bar in each of the cities they passed through. The first one to make it back to Milwaukee alive would have won.
That show never did happen, but must agree that then and now, such a trip would indeed be a challenge!
If you're following through on New Years resolutions to cut down on salt, fats, carbs and calories, or follow a diabetic diet more carefully, here a few recipes that should help. The best part is they're worth eating. If you're a non dieter, you might want to add salt or use the regular products instead of low sodium and low fat substitutes, the choice is yours. Cook, eat, enjoy - in moderate quantities - and watch the pounds fade away!
THICK "N CREAMY MUSHROOM SOUP
Makes five servings, one cup each. Each has 89 calories, no saturated fat, and 14 grams of carbs. Costs 1 carbohydrate on the diabetic Exchange. Quite a bargain!
1 pound fresh sliced mushrooms
2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) ready to use reduced sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup low fat milk
5 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon browning and seasoning sauce
Coat a soup pot with nonstick cooking spray. Add the mushrooms and sauté over high heat for 4 to 5 minutes, or until soft, stirring frequently. Add the chicken broth, onion powder, and pepper; bring to a boil then reduce the heat to medium-low. In a small bowl, mix the milk and flour until smooth. Gradually add to the soup, stirring constantly. Stir in the browning and seasoning sauce and simmer for 5 more minutes, or until thickened.
GREEK ROASTED CHICKEN
Don't have the calorie, carb or fat counts on this, but it's low if you don't eat the whole potato. If there is chicken left, and there almost certainly will be, save it to reheat and serve for another meal with the Grecian Broccoli With Rice recipe that follows.
6 pound roasting chicken
Salt and pepper
2 to 3 tablespoons dried oregano
4 to 6 baking potatoes, peeled and quartered
1/4 cup butter, melted
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 cup chicken broth
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour broth into bottom of a roasting pan. Put chicken on a rack in pan; arrange potatoes around and sprinkle with salt, pepper and oregano. Pour butter and lemon juice over top of chicken and potatoes. Bake 2 - 2 1/2 hours until chicken is tender and browned, basting with pan juices frequently. You could thicken the pan juices with cornstarch and serve as a gravy with the chicken and potatoes if you like.
GRECIAN BROCCOLI WITH RICE
1 cup uncooked rice
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium tomatoes, cored, seeded, and diced
1 bunch broccoli, cut into florets (about 5 cups)
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 cup water
Ground black pepper to taste
Cook rice according to package directions. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Sauté garlic for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and sauté for 2 minutes. Add broccoli and oregano and toss. Pour in water and cover. Cook for 5 minutes, or until broccoli is done as you like it. Stir in hot rice, feta cheese, and pepper to taste.
Have your cheesecake and diet too. Makes 12 servings. On the Diabetic Exchange equals 1 carbohydrate and 1 1/2 fat. Has 169 calories, 7 grams saturated fat, 12 grams carbohydrate. A real bargain, and there aren't even any artificial sweeteners. But the pieces are small.
2 packages (8 ounces each) reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, divided
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, divided
1 cup reduced fat sour cream
Preheat the over to 325 degrees. Coat an 8-inch square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese and 1/2 cup sugar; beat well. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then beat in 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice until well combined. Spoon the mixture into the baking dish and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Do not turn off the oven. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the sour cream and the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice; mix well. Spread over the top of the cheesecake and bake for 10 minutes. Let the cheesecake cool, then cover and chill for at least 4 hours, or overnight. Cut into 12 squares.
The Country Cousin
Thought for the week: We shouldn't take ourselves too seriously. As an anonymous philosopher once said, "God must enjoy laughter. He has given us a sense of humor, not only to laugh at things but to laugh off things. The art of laughing at yourself is the highest kind of laughter."
(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.)
Recent stories, opinions and photos